While recently re-reading George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, or 1984 if you so prefer, I ran across a brief reference to postage stamps, of all things. The passage reads thus:
Like an answer, the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back at him:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. There, too, in tiny clear lettering, the same slogans were inscribed, and on the other face of the coin the head of Big Brother. Even from the coin the eyes pursued you. On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on the wrappings of a cigarette packet—everywhere.
This brief mention of stamps got me wondering what stamps from Orwell’s Oceania might look like, and I came up with the cinderella stamp—or should I say the dystopian fantasy stamp?—pictured here. It is as you can probably tell very much inspired by the general aesthetic of British stamps, which I thought was not inappropriate considering that the story is set in London.
Nineteen Eighty-Four will still be under copyright protection for a long time here in the United States, and I have no intention of trying to sell my creation since I have no particular desire to run afoul of whoever owns the rights to the book. Consider it merely a bit of fan art. I do have ideas for another stamp or two if time permits, however, and will certainly share here if I do any more designing.
Bophuthatswana stamps feature verses from Book of John
Although I’m a professing Christian, I’ve never made a concerted effort to start a collection of Bible-themed stamps. It’s not that I have anything in particular against them; indeed, there are more than a few United States stamps, and I’m not talking about the many Christmas issues released since the 1960s, that have Christian links. It’s simply not something that I’ve ever pursued.
During the Texas Stamp Dealers Association’s recent bourse in San Antonio, however, I stumbled across this set of four stamps issued for the South African “Homeland” of Bophuthatswana in 1981. What really caught my eye was the wheat field on the 25¢ stamp since I didn’t have a copy of that for my somewhat neglected landscapes collection, but the scriptures on all four are extremely meaningful.
Will this acquisition be the beginning of a thematic collection of Bible-related stamps? Given how little time I feel like I have to work on my collection as it is, probably not, but they make for a nice little diversion from my normal areas of interest.
Although my own Philosateleian Post’s most recent new issue was in September, several other local posts have issued new stamps since the beginning of October.
First is a set of three stamps issued October 7 by Bat’s Private Post in Beverly Hills, California, in advance of Halloween. The 5¢ and $1.25 stamps depict a bat, while a black cat is featured on the 60¢ design. A press release included with the stamps identifies the 5¢ stamp as intended for postcards, the 60¢ stamp as intended for domestic letters, and the $1.25 stamp as intended for international letters of up to one ounce.
These self-adhesive stamps feature an interesting scalloped die cut, giving them a very eye-catching appearance when used on cover.
Next on our list, Como Park Post in Minnesota released a 3¢ stamp picturing a book with the word “READ” on the spine. I have not seen any official information regarding the stamp just yet, but the cover I received bears an October 1 postmark.
The stamp appears to be another of operator Tom B.’s woodcut designs, which although perhaps lacking the slickness of some other local posts’ stamps bears testament to the amount of time Tom puts into his creations.
Last but not least, New Hampshire-based Purgatory Post on October 6 issued a stamp commemorating late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933–2020). The 27-sola denomination represents the 27 years that Ginsburg served on the Supreme Court.
I might take a moment, if you’re interested in modern local post material, to recommend that you consider joining the Local Post Collectors Society. Our bimonthly journal, The Poster, includes announcements and articles about stamps of this nature.
Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch joins faux postage movement
I’m gradually getting caught up on things after time out of town, and wanted to share the latest interesting business reply envelope that I’ve received as part of a nonprofit mailing, this one from Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch.
The holiday-themed designs picture a Christmas tree, a present with the word “Noel,” and a bird.
At only 7″×4⅛″, this is an unusually small business reply envelope, and the faux postage stamp designs on the front are smaller than one would expect real stamps to be, but it’s obvious that the mailer was trying to give the impression of stamps being present.
Although I’ve received numerous BREs from Boys Town, which is the first organization that I knew was using stamp-sized labels or preprinted designs, this envelope is the first of that sort that I’ve received from Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch.
Philosateleian Post wedding anniversary FDC arrives
Last Friday was the first day of issue for Philosateleian Post’s new stamp commemorating Sarah’s and my 10th wedding anniversary, and the first day cover that I mailed to myself showed up in my post office box by Monday.
I’ve noticed that a lot of stamps with water-activated gum, both my own creations and older United States stamps used for postage in recent months, end up seriously scraped or scuffed, sometimes with a little scroll of paper hanging off the side; I presume something in the mail processing equipment is doing the damage. In this case, however, the only obvious damage was a tiny scrape near the upper point of the triangle, so I’ll count that as a win.
Also of note here is the surprising legibility of the postmark cancelling the Merced River stamp that I used to pay postage. Linn’s recently reported that mail processing centers around the United States began using new cancellation printers this month, and it looks like San Antonio must be one of them. In my opinion, it is a definite change for the better.