Holy geekgasm, Batman! Nerds collide!

USA 2014 Batman BatsignalThis probably won’t be news to my American friends (so many of you now! Hi!), but when this ginormous collision of nerd cultures occurred last year, I didn’t even exist.

Postal administrations worldwide are short of a dollar, so they’re replacing worthy topics with themes they hope will appeal to the masses beyond their base of stamp-collector suckers. This can lead to horrendous results, like the use of stamps to report sports results. But sometimes, it totally works.

The US Postal Service reported a $2 billion loss in the quarter to June last year, so come October, they sent up the Batsignal. Happy 75th Anniversary, Batman!

USA 2014 Batman Sheet Continue reading

80s Stamp of the Day

UK1986RoyallWeddingPrinceAndrewSarahFerguson12pYou’d think I’d be watching the Oscars glamour today, wouldn’t you? But no. I came across this blast from the past on the weekend, and I CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF THE HAIR!

Nor the shoulder pads. Nor the open-necked shirt with the collars under the lemon pullover. Nor the tres eighties grey curtains in the background.

And what colour shall we make the banner at the bottom? How about a dark puce? Delightful! Pour me a wine cooler, and with a tip of the hat to the Oscars, let us remember that joyous night in 1986 when Prince Andrew made his way tentatively down the red carpet.

Then let us leave the party before his dodgy mate invites his suspiciously young friends.

Riding the sheep’s back… or is it a goat?

Once upon a time, the Lunar (or “Chinese”) New Year was just a thing that Asians did. Whitey went to Chinatown to watch the firecrackers and eat yum cha, but that was about it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st Century.

Asia got richer, and China boomed. As the Chinese (and Indian) middle class grew, it reawakened the cobwebbed hobby of stamp collecting. It’s a very middle-class hobby, which appeals to people who are really, really into their country. And Chinese people are really, really into their country. Because if they’re not, they get sent to prison camp.

Then someone invented the Internet, and people stopped sending mail. Meanwhile, old people insisted on dying, game consoles turned children into zombies, and the supply of new stamp collectors to Western postal authorities stopped dead… just when their cash-strapped governments started demanding impossible profit margins.

Then Chinese stamps started to attract ridiculous figures at auction.

And that’s when the West decided it should issue Lunar New Year stamps.

Australia Post disguised its cash grab by suddenly remembering that there are lots of ethnically Chinese people on the Australian territory of Christmas Island (no, not in the immigration detention centre). Naturally, they deserved a stamp, and in 1994, they got one. Or two, actually. (And a mini-sheet if you want to go looking for it.)

Australia Christmas Island 1994 Year of the DogIn 1996, AP began a 12-year cycle in which all the Lunar New Year stamps complemented each other, often with colours of red and gold. I wasn’t too interested in these at first, but over the course of the zodiac, I must admit, they won me over with their riotous vibrancy and playful cocks. Continue reading

Hello, #InCoWriMo!

Thank you so much to everyone who’s been liking and following this blog. It’s nice to know this barely disguised nerdiness is finding an audience in some surprising corners of the world.

I do try to return the favour, and it was while checking out Skiye Mail’s blog that I stumbled across the concept of InCoWriMo. How have I never heard of this? It’s totally what I’m all about!

Inaugurated by a fountain pen enthusiast called Eric Schneider and unashamedly tipping its hat to NaNoWriMo, InCoWriMo is short for International Correspondence Writing Month. Participants pledge to spend the month of February handwriting one letter a day to recipients of their choice. This came a year after a similar challenge, A Month of Letters, was launched by author Mary Robinette Kowal when she took herself offline for a month. Continue reading

Come, sail your ships around me

It’s New Issue Day down under and Australia Post is giving me the absolute ships.

Australia 2015 Era of Sail: Clipper 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.

Burundi 2001 Titanic 100th Anniversary
Australia 1984 Clipper Ships ThermopylaeBut cynicism can walk the plank. Truth is Continue reading

Happy (not quite) Valentine’s Day

Love2013Australia Post would never release Valentine’s Day stamps. That would be commercial and crass – something Australia Post would never stand for.

But it just so happens that most years, AP releases love-themed stamps just weeks before Valentine’s Day. How amazingly convenient!

I’m not sure when ‘Love’ became so Australian that it deserved to be featured on our stamps. Asylum seekers on Manus Island would surely think we were playing mind games if a Love stamp turned up on a letter delivered to them as they queued up in the sun to ask permission to apply for the tampon raffle or to not get beaten up by guards that week.

Love2014But of course, these stamps aren’t celebrating an Australian phenomenon; they’re celebrating a worldwide trend among postal administrations to encourage romantics to put some thought into the stamps that will adorn their love letters, while encouraging stamp collectors to put their hands in their pockets and give postal administrations more money. Collectors are used to this by now, but if the gimmick encourages any thoughtful written communication from Romeos and Juliets in this internet age, then it’s all right by me.

Australia isn’t the only country in on this game. I put some other countries’ contributions in a separate post here.

Much as I might be the target demographic, Australia’s Love stamps often leave me cold. I’m over the girly pinks and the constant barrage of roses. (Not in real life, of course. Keep ’em coming.)

They’re also highly susceptible to a scourge infesting modern stamp design, which is WRITING the THEME of the ISSUE in BIG TYPOGRAPHY so that you KNOW what it’s ABOUT.

Love2014b

Oh! The pink rose means LOVE! I get it now.

So it’s with great delight Continue reading

Lots of love from abroad

As I wrote this rant on Australia Post’s annual stamp issue that isn’t really a Valentine’s Day stamp issue but just happens to always feature lots of love and roses, I came across a few examples of similar issues from overseas. So I thought I’d add them here for hopeless romantics or equally hopeless philatelists.

This year, the US has gone with this complicated little number tying eternal love in with their idea of Forever stamps (which I touched on in this entry.) Erm… yawn.

US 2015 Love Forever Valentine's Day stamp
Here’s a Filipino stamp from last year that I’m not allowed to make fun of because it was designed by a child.

Philippines 2015 Valentine's Day Love

The French, naturellement, embrace the idea of putting out a stamp de l’amour, and being French, they get fashion designers to design their annual ‘heart’ issue. This year Jean-Charles de Castelbajac followed in the footsteps of YSL, Lacroix, Chanel, Givenchy, Hermes and others, giving us this issue, pictured in stamp and minisheet form. I assume those people are French kissing.

France 2015 Jean-Charles de Castelbajac Heart stamp
France 2015 Jean-Charles de Castelbajac Heart minisheet

But Taiwan takes the heart-shaped cake in 2015 – if not for romance, then at least for cuteness. Chunghwa Post went with ten stamps depicting pairs of animals entwined in an embrace. Some of them are dressed as princes and princesses! Some of them are brides and grooms! Has heteronormativity ever looked so ADORABLE?!

Taiwan Chunghwa Post 2015 Personal Greetings Stamps Best Wishes
Finally, New Zealand Post released its Valentine’s Day stamp in January.

It's a picture of a sheep

YEAH! I WENT THERE BRO

Happy Valentine’s Day. x

This blog is brand new! If you enjoy my work, feel free to like, link, share, and generally big me up to your friends. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Thanks!

You Can Own A Little Piece Of The Creepy Multimillionaire Who Steve Carell Got An Academy Award Nomination For Playing

Lately, Steve Carell has been creeping out moviegoers with his portrayal of John E. Du Pont in the film Foxcatcher. Academy voters even gave him a Best Actor nomination, hoping it would make him go away and stop haunting their nightmares.

John E. Du Pont was an heir to the fortune of the American chemical company. Foxcatcher traces his obsession with the sport of wrestling, which so saw him go so far as to build a live-in training facility for some of the USA’s top wrestlers.

Steve Carell as John E. Du Pont in Foxcatcher“Do you mean to tell me you haven’t RSS’d the Punk Philatelist?”

I don’t want to spoil the film’s twists, so let’s just say yada yada yada things didn’t quite work out and Du Pont died in 2010. I won’t even tell you where he died. It would give too much away.

1c 1856 British Guiana black on magentaYou may not know that Du Pont’s death was met with barely concealed boners among serious stamp collectors, because Continue reading