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!

Czech Republic 2017 Europa 32Kč Frýdlant Castle and Chateau stampParticular apologies to the wonderful Suzanne at ArtStamped, who was kind enough to write a lovely thing about me back in June. I’m not saying you should read it oh OK go on then but I rewarded her kind recommendation by disappearing from the face of the earth for two months. She deserves, and will get, a whole Punk entry of her own in good time, but in the meantime, help me make this up to her by going and following her gorgeous work on Instagram or the normal internet.

Speaking of Instagram, the subject of my previous post, Tiresias1000, has recently begun animating his/her/its signature philatelic madness. I highly recommend following Tiresias1000 if you didn’t already follow after reading my gushing tribute.

Hungary 2017 Europa 335Ft Andrássy Castle stampI might mention that even when I go quiet on this blog, I still pop up causing occasional mischief on Twitter, so if you’re a Twittererer, I hope we’re hooked up. Worth it jut to see how seriously the Americans took my FDR joke. Sheesh!

As per usual after any of my periodic absences, I return with a drafts page full of half-ideas that will be fleshed out and placed before your eyes over coming months. In the meantime, let’s feast our eyes on this year’s Europa issues, some of which I have scattered throughout this page.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 2017 Europa 3KM Počitelj stampEuropa is philatelic Eurovision. Lots of European countries issue stamps on a shared theme, and then people vote for their favourite. This year’s theme, tapping into the international obsession with Game of Thrones, is ‘castles’.

I know: castles, right? Should be easy. You can’t go anywhere in Europe without someone slapping you in the face with a castle. And yet, it proved a challenge for more than one country.Finland 2017 Europa no-value Snowcastle stamp

Finland’s Posti, for example, only just released a whole set of stamps with old castles on. What to do? Well, showing typical Finnish inventiveness and a healthy appreciation for Nordic cliché, designer Anssi Kähärä opted for a snow castle. And, credit where it’s due, he couldn’t find a photo he liked, so he built his own.

Belgium 2017 Europa 1 Sand Castle stampBelgium could, at first glance, be accused of taking the piss with this effort. But the Belgians aren’t stupid. Instead of featuring one castle and making all the other castles’ princes and princesses angry, they featured a sand castle incorporating elements of several Belgian castles. Presto! That’s how you avert a war. Break open the chocolate.

But spare a thought for poor Greenland, whose post office website achingly laments, “The nature of our country is magnificent, but we have no castles.” Luckily, they have ice that looks like castles. They don’t even have to build it – it just comes that way! Stick that in your sauna and sweat it up, Finland.

Greenland 2017 Europa 15kr Castle stamp
Next year’s Europa issues will feature bridges. I can’t wait. Greenland probably doesn’t have bridges either, but it won’t even have to paint a new painting. That ice castle could double as a bridge.

For more on Europa stamps past and present, blogger Euroswiss does a top job of keeping track of Europa issues here.


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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.

Mr Schqperia – ventriloquist. 'Say something mate' shouted the crowd. 'A gottle of geer' said the substandard entertainer. 'Yer lips are moving mate' screamed the restless mob. 'Ha ha ha' retorted the vegetarian stage act, 'what's your point?' 'Get off, your shit mate' replied the frantic assembly. 'Well your grammar and punctuation leaves something to be desired' came the testy reply from the lazy performer. Mr Schqperia's beard was twice as bad. He died with his hand inserted. 💀💀💀⚰⚰⚰#stamps #philately #pimpmystamp #mate #sayings #bottle #beer #entertainment #lips #moving #scream #mob #vegetarian #point #theshit #leave #desire #sharp #vegetarian #lazy #performer #beard #moustache #hairstyle #lifestyle #shoes #pose #portrait #art

A post shared by Tiresias (@tiresias1000) on

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.

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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.

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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

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

Lost in the System

Well, look who’s come crawling back to her sorry blog! Sorry, punksters, I’ve had a ridiculously busy year in both my top-secret work life and my even more mysterious private life. But it’s time to down tools and return to what I love. I’ve informed Mr Trump that the militia uniform designs would simply have to wait. He still hasn’t paid me for the preliminary design work, anyway, but he assures me the cheque is in the mail.

Given that it feels like I’ve been lost in outer space lately, it seems appropriate to return with one of the many doozies of new issues from 2016 that I missed while I was gone. Regular readers would know I’m mad for a pretty space stamp, and didn’t the USPS fire my rockets in May with its gorgeous Views of our Planets release?

usa-2016-views-of-our-planets-minisheet

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Retrogasm!

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels stamp set

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