Printer is gumming: UK issues Game of Thrones stamps

UK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Iron Throne stampHappy New Year, readers! Hoping your year is as bloody awesome as the pun in my headline.

2018 has kicked off with the news that on January 23, the UK’s Royal Mail is releasing no less than 15 stamps commemorating “the significant British contribution” to the production of the TV series Game of Thrones.

Here’s the Royal Mail’s justification for jumping on the GoT band-dragon:

The Game of Thrones production involves a very significant British contribution. Principal filming of the series is at Titanic Studios in Belfast, at the Linen Hill Film Studio in Banbridge and on location elsewhere in Northern Ireland, with additional filming in Scotland and European locations including Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco and Spain.
Additionally, the acclaimed cast is predominantly British and Irish, and British expertise is to the fore in many areas of the production, including award-winning costume design and prosthetic special effects.

And here’s what they might as well have written:

Game of Thrones is huge and we are out to make a shipload of coin.

UK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Daenerys Targaryen stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Cersei Lannister stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Tyrion Lannister stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Jon Snow stamp

Masters of Coin

Regular readers would know I’m a fan of pop culture on stamps, and no one does it with more class than the UK. I’ve gushed over releases on Star Wars, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Classic Toys and the Great Fire of London narrated in comic-book style.

I’m also a long-time fan of Game of Thrones, at least since last year when I binged on the series so I could re-engage with people I hadn’t spoken to for five years, because all they would talk about was Game of Thrones, which was tedious, but my only other option was to spend the party talking to people whose only conversation point was how proud they are that they’re not into Game of Thrones, which is even more tedious. Long story short: big fan, now.

UK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Tywin Lannister stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Arya Stark stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Jaime Lannister stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Eddard Stark

British stamps do, of course, have a long tradition of depicting royals who are into bonking their own relatives, but… I dunno. It’s one thing to honour a long-time, culturally significant national contribution to pop culture like Star Wars, or Dr Who as the Royal Mail did in 2013. But immortalising a more recent TV series on your nation’s stamps before the show has even finished? That crosses a line even for me. It reeks of opportunistic money-grubbing. If Game of Thrones gets stamps, why not One Direction? 1D also involved a very significant British contribution, with a cast predominantly British and Irish. (In case you’re wondering: this is a negative analogy for the purpose of rhetoric. This is not me calling for an issue of stamps commemorating One Direction.)

And as with any stamp release susceptible to ongoing events, it’s fraught with danger. What if the final season sucks? What if one of the featured actors turns out to be a ped or gets buried under the #metoo avalanche? Your stamp will look like a First Class turnip.

None of this is to say that Game of Thrones isn’t worthy. It’s a magnificent production of extraordinary worldwide popularity. It’s just… why not wait until the finale, give it maybe ten years, and then see if it has reached the pantheon of stampworthy cultural touchstones?

UK 2018 Game of Thrones stamp sheet

Littlewhinger

I have one other problem with this issue. It features ten characters central to Game of Thrones (plus a sheetlet depicting dragons, direwolves, giants, White Walkers, the Night King and the Iron Throne)… and yet NO LORD PETYR BAELISH? What an OUTRAGE!

Olenna Tyrell gets a stamp for spending most of the show sitting around gossiping – and OK, fair enough, she does [spoiler redacted] – but they fail to run with the one character responsible for [a whole bunch of stuff that I won’t reveal]? I demand that smirking salt’n’pepper bad boy in my stamp album, thank you very much Royal Mail.

UK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Olenna Tyrell stampDon’t get me wrong, Olenna kicks arse and Diana Rigg is a legend, but come on, there are already 15 stamps in the series. Maximise that sweet profit and chuck in Littlefinger along with, say, Joffrey, Varis, and – well, I could say Bran or Margaery, but personally a girl would name Jaqen H’ghar. It’d sure make a girl buy a few more stamps. It’d be brilliant to see Brienne of Tarth and Yara Greyjoy too, and Caitlin Stark is suspiciously missing, and… OK, I’m starting realise how tricky this job must have been.

Happily, I CAN report that the designs are as sumptuous as the TV show itself, even if they do have Kit Harington in one of his I-couldn’t-possibly-put-more-clothes-on moments. I particularly love the use of a unique dominant-but-muted shade for each character, treating the eye to an intoxicating journey across the spectrum when viewed as a group.

So, just like when I watch the show, I’m going to put all my moral, political and personal beefs aside, and just soak in the pretty pictures. You win, Royal Mail.

UK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Sansa Stark stampFor more on the issue and to find out who any of these people are, head to the Royal Mail shop.

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Souvenirs, novelties, party tricks…

India 2017 100R scented coffee stamp(And yay to you if you know which film lent me that headline.)

I’m excited today, and not because I’ve been snorting lines of this coffee-scented stamp from India. It’s a big day. I’m launching a new category on this blog.

I get very easily excited.

As the use of snail mail for letter post continues to fall off a cliff, postal authorities around the world look more and more to stamp collectors to fluff up their bottom line.  Thus opens a new and technologically marvellous chapter in an old book: that of the novelty stamp. Continue reading

Hello and castles

Liechtenstein 2017 Europa 1.50f Gutenberg Castle stamp

Well, hello internet! Long time no see. Apologies to the regulars for my absence. Every now and then, in my day job, I get caught up on the kind of project that requires way too much commitment, and steals all of the little moments I normally use to jot down my philatelic fancies. And then, I took a holiday. Back now. Hi! Continue reading

Introducing tiresias1000: mint, unhinged

When I started this blog, I always intended to point readers to corners of the internet where crazy people are doing interesting philatelic things. I haven’t done much of it yet, but now one Instagram account has forced my hand.

If you know Instagram, skip two paragraphs. If not, and if you like design, or art, or stamps, you should investigate. This is not a How-To-Instagram post, but in brief: people go there, share pictures, and like and/or comment on each others’ pictures. That’s it.

The Instagram cliche is to post a restaurant meal, cocktail, bikini body or holiday snap to make your friends jealous. But lately I’ve been delighted to see an increasing number of philately-related users popping up. Some are so basic that they’re downright dull, but many are vibrant and fun, and some are nothing short of works of art.

You can decide for yourself which category my Instagram page belongs to, but for once I’m not here to talk about me. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you tiresias1000.

OK, this is going to take some explanation. Continue reading

How exhibitionism stripped me bare

Melbourne 2017 Stamp Exhibition entrance banner

If you’re the kind of reader who usually comes here for the pretty pictures and naughty words, be warned: I am hitting max geek with this one. Street cred be damned.

So a few weekends ago I popped into the Melbourne FIAP Stamp Exhibition, held in my hometown. It led to a rather unexpected journey of personal discovery that may affect the very blog you are reading. More on that later.

I can’t pretend a stamp exhibition is anything but exactly what it sounds like on the lid, but let me talk you through it so that if you ever accidentally find yourself at one, you won’t panic.

Continue reading

Rhodonites are a girl’s new best friend

Australia 2017 Rare Beauties $1 Rhodonite and $1 Golden Sapphire stamps

Smacking my lips at this issue from Australia Post. Rare Beauties, they’re calling them. They’re all gemstones from the collection of the Australian Museum in Sydney, and what a stunning tribute to the lapidary’s art they are.

The golden sapphire and pink diamond are used in jewellery. The fluorite and rhodonite aren’t, but that’s OK, you can still buy them for me. I simply adore that rich red in the rhodonite.

Australia 2017 Rare Beauties $2 Fluorite stampThe photography of the stones is stunning to start with, but the ‘shadow’ across the geometric background adds a 3-D feel that really makes them pop right out of the stamp.

Y’know what I like about this set the most? The simplicity. When stamp issuers start eyeing off gemstones, for some reason there’s a compulsion to show them in the context of the geological environment in which they are found, or in fugly uncut form (everything is fugly when uncut, amiright ladies), or in the context of an end product like jewellery or industrial product. But there’s no fucking about with this issue. You want gemstones? Fine. Here are some fat fucking gemstones. Straya!

Continue reading

Bowie’s latest release

UK 2017 David Bowie album stamps

UK 2017 David Bowie 1ST Aladdin Sane stamp

Well this is the most exciting thing to happen this year since I accidentally swiped right on Tinder and he turned out to be a match, a babe, and leaving for overseas two days later.

The UK is releasing a set of David Bowie stamps today!

David has been on a UK stamp before, as part of a Classic Album Covers release in 2010. (You can also spot a wild Bowie issue hiding in this post about tortoise stamps from Namibia. Yes, you read right.)

Now Royal Mail is releasing this fabulous set of six iconic Bowie album covers, plus four photos from live tours combined in a stamp sheet.

Continue reading

London’s burning

UK 2016 Great Fire of London stamp setHere’s a stamp issue I just have to share with you before 2016 becomes too tiny in the rear view mirror. It was undoubtedly my favourite release out of any that caught my eye last year. And you don’t have to be a stamp nerd to love it, though it’ll help if you are a history buff, comic book geek, or pyromaniac. Continue reading