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!

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Australia’s best (and worst) of 2016

Australia 2016 Jewel Beetles $1 Stigmodera gratiosa stamp

…In which I attempt to cover a year of review and bitching in one fell swoop.

Each year, Australia Post holds its annual survey in which stamp collectors can vote for their favourite – and least favourite – issue. This used to be an exercise on paper, with a few variations on a simple ‘What was your favourite?’ ‘What was your least favourite?’ type arrangement, with prize giveaways for random winners. Now it’s gone all high-tech, with a detailed SurveyMonkey page, in which all issues must be ranked in order from 1 to 32.

Australia Posts's Survey Monkey Stamp Poll 2016

On the upside, I enjoyed the OCD-triggering task of putting every single issue in its rightful place. On the downside, no prize giveaways. I guess AP has to pay for its CEO’s $4.8 million pay packet somehow.

I could swear I saw the final results somewhere, but I can’t seem to Google it anywhere, and the survey I’ve linked to above still seems to be open. Surely I’m not so lame that I dreamed it? I saw it in such detail! Maybe I was shown the running tallies when I finished the survey? Anyway, this isn’t your problem. The important thing is that I am going to tell you which were the best stamps and which were the worst, as judged by my own brain, so survey results don’t matter. Why Australia? Because I live there, silly.

In no particular order (and with each issue’s title linking to the extremely commendable Australia Post Collectables blog site for more info), Australia’s unquestionably best issues were: Continue reading

Well, smack my gob

Central African Republic 2016 Homage to David Bowie 3000f minisheet

Sorry for my long absence from the blog, folks! You’d think a hired assassin working for top dollar would be offered a decent wifi connection, but covert black ops budgets aren’t what they used to be. A big welcome to new followers. I promise not to hit you with a ninja star from behind a tree before you even know I’m there.

So, I’m home now and back to the hobby of punks. If you, like me, were a kid collecting stamps in the 70s or 80s or 90s – or even if you’re collecting now, in which case: hello! I thought you were dead –  your album was probably brimming with big, colourful stamps from developing countries that had little relevance to the issuing nation. Because who’s to say that Equatorial Guinea can’t celebrate the centenary of Japanese railroads?

Equatorial Guinea 1972 3ptas Centenary of Japanese Railroads

The motivation for this phenomenon is Continue reading

Another day, another dollar (and fifty cents)

Australia 2015 $2 Golden Rainbow wildflower stamp

Happy 22 days into the New Year, readers!

Sorry I buggered off there at the end of 2015. I was caught up in one of those day-jobs that subsidise my decadent lifestyle choices. Then I just surfed on through the festive season and enjoyed the break. Hope you enjoyed yours, if you’re in any of the countries that had one.

Australia 2015 $1 Love To Celebrate Birthday stampThis site just turned one year old! Thank you for your readership and contributions during 2015. I wasn’t sure if there would be an audience for this odd combination of geekdom and mildly foul-mouthed opinion, but WordPress’s stats wrap-up of 2015 tells me that if this blog were a show at the Sydney Opera House, I would have sold out three nights. Watch out for Punk Philatelist Live In Concert, coming soon to a venue near you! It will be riveting stuff.

Speaking of WordPress, I was chuffed to return from the break to find that I’d scored a mention in The Daily Post, WordPress’s in-house inspiration-meisters, as one of the editors’ favourite blogs of 2015. Aw shucks, thanks Michelle and thanks WordPress! You guys are too kind.

So on into 2016, and there are exciting times here in Australia. Let me explain Australia Post’s recent hi-jinks to international readers and see if you still believe me at the end.

Faced with falling revenue, like all postal administrations, AP just jacked up the domestic letter base rate from 70 cents to a dollar – by far the biggest domestic stamp price rise in our history. But get this: in a stroke of marketing genius, that price hike came with a promise of slower delivery!

Australia 2015 Wildflowers $1 stamps

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

2015 UK Star Wars Yoda stamp

…mainstream pop culture themes were only seen on stamps of desperately poor countries who churned out worthless collector-bait. So it was that nations like the Central African Republic and St Vincent and the Grenadines were among the first in the galaxy to bring us Star Wars stamps. The C.A.R. artwork was, admittedly, beautifully evocative of the era, even if they appear to think Han Solo was played by Ted Danson.

1994 CAR Star Wars strip

Fun fact: St Vincent and the Grenadines is my second-favourite Caribbean band after Bob Marley and the Wailers. Continue reading

Water on Mars (and all the other planets)

Australia 2015 Our Solar System Jupiter stamp

This week, everyone’s excited about water being found on Mars. But at the House of Punk, water has been covering the surface of Mars for at least a week now, thanks to the tears of joy I’ve been crying over Australia Post’s latest stamp issue, entitled Our Solar System. Cynicism be damned, just look at these gorgeous stamps and tell me they don’t make you similarly wet. As with real planets, they’re best viewed in the night sky (or in this case, in their minisheet).

Australia 2015 Our Solar System minisheet

You can, of course, buy many of these stamps separately, but if you’re spending $4.90 or more on parcel postage this week, and you let them slap a boring docket on that parcel instead of insisting on this beautiful minisheet, then YOU SHOULD BE SHOT AND I MEAN THAT LITERALLY I AM QUITE PREPARED TO PULL THE TRIGGER. Continue reading

The Queen isn’t dead. Long live the Queen!

Australia 2015 Queen's Birthday minisheet

Due to general busy-ness I’ve missed a few Australian releases of late. But I thought Aussie Post did a decent job of the Centenary of the Anzac landing, amid the appalling jingoism currently en vogue down under. No doubt they’ll release some hideous and overpriced Anzac-themed ‘Impressions’ products at year’s end, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Then we’ll blow it up behind us so the Germans won’t get us. Continue reading