Politics is getting kind of wearisome, so I thought a quick diary on random stamp fun might be appropriate.
Image 1: Canadian stamp, 1950s
Image 1 is one of my favorite stamp designs, from Canada, and was first issued in 1954. It's a wonderful balanced design, produced by engraving. The process of engraving, which is also used for paper currency, produces subtle raised lines on the stamp, which can be felt with the fingers. Engraving also is extremely difficult to forge, which is why it is one of the principle anti-counterfeiting devices for paper currency.
This particular stamp, which was one of a series, also displays the bilingualism of Canada (postes /postage). The Queen's portrait is not the stiff effigy or profile view that is common, but rather a 3/4 view of a faintly-smiling young woman. This was based on a photograph by Dorothy Wilding (1893-1976), a prominent British society photographer. This was one of the best images of the Queen and really a splendid design.
Image 2: U.S. postage stamp, 1960s
Image 2 is a U.S. postage stamp issued in the 1960s. There were a lot of wonderful designs issued by the U.S. post office in those days, and Image 2 is a good example. It commemorates the National Grange, which was founded in 1867.
The stamp itself is set up as if an old poster had been unrolled, with the central figure portrayed in the old style of the 1870s. The lettering is old-fashioned and wraps in a circular fashion around the central figure. The use of green and orange lettering replicates the theme of agriculture. Overall this a very evocative and unique design, really a masterful design in the small space of a postage stamp.
More stamp fun (including the Melting Nazi Stamp) below the Squiggle of Doom
Image 3, U.S. postage stamp, 1930s
Image 3 was part of a three-stamp series issued in 1930. The values in the series were 65 cents, $1.30, and $2.60, at a time when it cost 2 cents to mail a letter. Equivalent modern prices might be $13, $26, and $52 -- high indeed for a postage stamp! The stamps themselves were controversial from the first, as they were printed by a special arrangement between the U.S. Post Office and the Graf Zeppelin company.
Image 4: Latvian semi-postal stamp, 1920s
Image 4 is a Latvian semi-postal stamp. Semi-postal stamps are stamps which are valid for postage, but the postal customer pays an extra charge for the stamp, which is collected by the post office and remitted to a particular charity. Often the stamp has a theme which is linked to the charity. These types of stamps were commonly issued in European countries. Image 4 is a semi-postal which supports the Latvian red cross. If you look closely, you can see the allegorical nurse holding off the figure of Death with her shield.
USSR postage stamp, overprinted 1993 for use in Latvia.
Image 5 is a stamp originally issued by the Soviet Union, and appears to me, with my highly deficient Russian, to be a stamp honoring a lighthouse or navigation aid off the mouth of the Dnepr river in the Ukraine. The stamp was overprinted in 1993 for use in Latvia; you can see the three heraldic stars of Latvia just above the country name.
Like many governments, the Soviet Union encouraged children to collect stamps. The usual reason governments do this is to sell stamps for which they won't have to carry the mail, as the stamps go into collections. For the Soviets too, stamp collecting offered an opportunity to propagandize youth. The Soviets issued a huge number of stamps, and was a major propaganda outlet for the regime. Even so, the Soviets did manage to produce many attractive designs, and image 5, with its nautical theme and motifs, is a good example.
Image 6: 1935 German stamp.
Image 6 is a German stamp, issued in 1935, commemorates the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. We all know the industrialization of evil that was the Nazi regime, but one side-element of this was the perversion of art into the service of the regime. This extended to the postage stamps as well. Most designs were dull, and in many cases simply ugly.
Image 6 is one of the ugliest. Compare it to image 1, at the top of the diary, the beautiful 1954 Canadian stamp, and you get a clear impression of what the two governments stand for.
In image 6, the figure, wearing the Nazi party uniform, is shown as a dull-faced automaton, who is lit from below (from a book bonfire maybe) -- which even by then should have been realized as the mark of evil used in movies.
This particular stamp (one of a pair of values) reminds me of that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the Nazis, having messed around with God by opening the Lost Ark of the Covenant, suffer the wrath of the Almighty:
There are a lot of major things going on in the world, a lot of legitimate fears of abuse of power and out of control government. There are a lot of things that need attention, or speaking out on... ...