Retrogasm!

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels stamp setHelloooo! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post. I’m going to make up for my stony silence with loads of pretty pictures, inspired by Australia’s Nostalgic Fruit Label stamps, over which I’ve been soiling myself since their release in June.

They celebrate the paper labels that used to be slapped onto the wooden fruit crates in the olden days before Styrofoam boxes.

What I love about these stamps is that they retain the microscopic details of the original labels. I wonder how many of the three people still using stamps will take a moment to appreciate the artist’s work seen, for example, on this River’s Pride label, and take in the fenceposts, the orchard and the veining on the half-peeled orange.

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels $1 River's Pride stamp

If you, like me, are a little fascinated by oldey-timey culture, it’s not out of the question that something would appeal to you about both these designs and also ye olde schoole world of stamp collecting. You may have been given the impression that it involves a lot of old stamps with kings and queens and presidents on them that cost a lot of money. Well, I have good news. There are no rules. We collect whatever the fuck we want. And one could do worse than start with collecting vintage graphic designs on stamps, because it’s so hot right now. Continue reading

You crazy diamonds

UK 2016 Pink Floyd album cover stampsAs the header of my site attests, I love it when music, design and philately collide. And it’s happening again, thanks to the Royal Mail. Attention cool uncles and that boring guy who used to corner me at university house parties: Pink Floyd is being immortalised!

UK 2016 1st Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973) Album Cover StampLast year marked the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s founding, though it feels like they’ve been around for a lot longer, since every David Gilmour guitar solo goes for 50 years in its own right. Royal Mail’s tribute issue clocks in at no less than 10 stamps, which, much like a prog rock album, is more than anyone asked for and a lot more than was probably necessary to get the job done. Continue reading

Queen: 1. Punk: 0.

Australia 2016 $1 Queen's Birthday stampHer Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, turned 90 on April 21st, but she’s stretching celebrations out all the way from April until June, because She’s The Queen So Suck It Plebs.

Last year I wrote about Australia’s tradition of marking Her Majesty’s birthday with a stamp issue. In that post, I may have inadvertently given readers the impression that I’m not a fan, with ambiguous phrases such as “pointless allegiance to Empire”, “another country’s monarch is irrelevant to a nation half a planet away in the 21st century”, and “reliably some of the dullest Australian stamp issues each year”.

Well, didn’t I have to swallow my republican tongue with this year’s issue. I didn’t mention it here when it was released, but I keep seeing it at the Post Office, and it is no less stunning for the delay.

Australia 2016 Queen's Birthday $2.75 Golden Wattle Diamond BroochIt’s all about this Australian Golden Wattle diamond brooch. Continue reading

New Zealand has worms

Missed a few great releases during my time away from the blog, but wanted to give this one a mention. Back in March, New Zealand released an issue on native glowworms. And fittingly… these stamps GLOW IN THE DARK!

New Zealand 2016 Native Glowworms miniature sheet

Oh wait. You can’t see them glowing, can you? That’s always been the obstacle faced when advertising stamps with this gimmick.

Fear not! Continue reading

Well, smack my gob

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

Aussie Post touches my Special spot

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate partial stamp set

Thanks mainly to the recent postal rate hike, Australia Post has been churning out new issues faster than I can keep up with them, albeit still faster than is necessary given that no fucker sends letters these days. Recently we saw a new set of what are known as Greetings or Special Occasions stamps, these ones titled ‘Love to Celebrate.’ Six of the ten are up the top there.

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate heart stamp

You’re meant to stick these on your mail when you’re celebrating something. Cue birthday cakes, wedding rings, baby toys, lovehearts, and the like. There’s also a strong line in flags and maps and national icons that scream “Look! I’m in/from AUSTRALIA!” which must come in handy when writing to people too stupid to work out why the word AUSTRALIA appears on any other stamp you could have stuck on your mail.

I was a cynic at first. I’m old school. I like stamps to say something about the country they represent, and what shits me to this day about these stamps (and their equivalents from any country) is that they tell you nothing about the nation except that someone is having a birthday/wedding/baby/party/patriotic orgasm in it.

But I’ve softened over time. Most of the designs manage to capture some of the joy of whatever is going on. I even swallowed my pride and stuck champagne stamps on my own wedding invitations. (Yes, sorry boys and girls, I’m taken. For now.)

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate golden wattle stamp

What’s more, their appearance on the mail usually means someone’s gone to a bit of thought with their postage, which is a rarity in this age of dreary peel’n’stick definitives and boring cash register receipts where stamps used to go on parcels.

Australia Post’s latest lot really caught my eye, which is saying something, because I tend to sniff at minimalist designs. The roses, champagne and rings are all a bit same-old, though I appreciate that they have to look a certain way to appeal to the lucrative wedding market. (And I wouldn’t reject such items so quickly in the flesh. Send them to me c/o WordPress). And to be honest, I’m still trying to work out what the hell that disjointed map is trying to say.

But the balloon stamp is fun and joyous, and the eucalyptus flower makes a refreshing change from the usual cricket-bat-to-the-face jingoism of the Australia themes.

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate handprints stamp

Took me a little while to work out what was going on in the yellow-and-green stamp, and then I realised it was golden wattle, and then I realised it did a great job of capturing the downy texture of the round, beady flower and its feathery leaf, and then I decided I really liked it, and then I felt like a complete idiot for not seeing it in the first place.

But my favourite is the stamp with the handprints. I guess it means ‘kids’, though one could read some indigenous culture into it without too much trouble. But mainly, it just looks like the kind of fun you’re not meant to have as an adult.

There’s one stamp missing from the illustrations on this page. If you want birthday cake, check out this post.

Respect to Australia Post. Congratulations to design agency Sierra Delta for making me like these stamps, and also for having a name like a classy porn star.

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