Politics and human rights abuses aside, I love propaganda stamps. When I was very young, almost everything I knew of life behind the Iron Curtain came from my kiddie stamp collection. Countries like Poland, Romania and Hungary must have earned some sweet forex coin getting their stamps into the Western collector market. Eastern Europeans, I knew, were mad for Lenin, space, the Winter Olympics and military hardware.
This stamp isn’t the most propaganda-y of my propaganda collection, but it was always a fave (despite the damage at the bottom, marking this as a genuine Punk Philatelist artefact of the era).
I looked into it this week, and found that it was one of a 1973 set marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Polish People’s Army. That’s the kind of thing they called armies when the Soviets ruled the roost.
Look at that stamp again: it’s so action. It says more than “We have tanks.” It says “We have tanks and they are coming for YOU!”
The issue also featured a plane, a ship, and a missile, all of which are also coming for YOU.
What makes them so dynamic? Sure, there are streaks of color representing the dust being kicked up, and the turbulence caused by the various aircraft, and there are the foamy breakers against the battleship’s hull.
The answer lies in one simple design feature: Continue reading
Jersey is one of those funny little islands in the English Channel that are closer to France, and part of the UK, but get to put out their own stamps.
Interestingly, this practice began during the Nazi occupation of those islands, when they were cut off from the mother country. This is just one of the reasons why nerds who are into postal history find them so delectable. (If you think you might be one of those nerds, you should check out the Channel Islands Specialists’ Society.)
I’m not one of those nerds, but I do like how these islands churn out pretty stamps, because, let’s face it, what else have they got going on? I mean apart from tax avoidance schemes.
Recently Jersey jumped on the retro stamp bandwagon with a 1960s Popular Culture issue.
I love the Hendrix-inspired psychedelic guitar player with his groovy vibes and his remarkable fused fingers on his strumming hand.
The models (or are they just ’60s housewives?) on the fashion stamp take me back to a childhood spent rifling through Grandma’s sewing pattern magazines.
And it eludes me why more stamp administrations don’t honour the cheese and pineapple stick on their postal stamps. Continue reading
This Friday, January 26, is Australia Day, and that means it’s argument week down under. Crack open a tinny and celebrate with a very rare Punk Philatelist Longread!
Australia Day is Australia’s national day. It’s called Australia Day because obviously the names of all the other countries were already taken. Australia Day has been celebrated on many different dates in different regions in different eras, but it’s only since 1994 that it’s been uniformly observed on January 26.
We maybe should’ve thought that one through. Continue reading
It’s New Issue Day down under and this time around, Australia Post is giving me the absolute ships.
Let’s be frank, ships are a cliché on stamps. Any country with a coastline probably has good historical reasons to bung sailing ships on their stamps. Ships are also a popular thematic collecting area, because Old Men, so even countries with no open water access put ships on their stamps and collect Grandpa’s sweet pension money. This is not to deny the devastation that the loss of the Titanic wreaked upon the Republic of Burundi.
But cynicism can walk the plank. Truth is Continue reading