I’m in the process of creating pages for my landscape stamp collection, and each page bears the name of the natural feature depicted on the stamp(s) it holds. That works just fine until I run across a stamp with a scene I can’t identify.
Such was the case with this 45¢ airmail stamp issued by the U.S. in 1990. It’s obviously a tropical island—but where?
For an answer, I contacted Mark Hess, the designer of this stamp and several others. I asked whether he had a specific location in mind when he created the design, or if it was intended to be a generic piece.
Mark was nice enough to respond, and wrote:
“The tropical image was a conceptualized idea of Columbus’ first visits to the continent; i.e., the tropical islands of the Caribbean. My initial painting included more palms and banana plants, however expert ‘checkers’ reported that many of these seemingly indigenous plants were actually transplants brought to the islands for commercial reasons and so were removed…
“So, in answer to your question, the tropical scene was intended to be the Caribbean, but in a generic way.”
That’s good enough for me. For my album page, I went with the heading “Tropical Coast, Caribbean Sea.”
It’s not often that I receive an unexpected cover in the mail, so imagine my surprise and delight when this first day cover bearing a copy of the new art deco bird nonprofit stamp showed up in my mailbox.
The American Philatelic Society, of which I’m a member, sent this to me from the AmeriStamp Expo held in Charleston, South Carolina, earlier this month.
The cover contains a solicitation for donations, but I still think it’s a nice gesture considering I’ve been a member for years.
As for the stamp itself, I have mixed feelings. The existing seacoast stamp used by nonprofits was issued in 2002, so it’s probably about time to replace that design.
On the other hand, the new design just kind of makes me go, “eh.” What do you think? Is the new stamp better or worse looking than the existing stamp for nonprofits?
In recent days, I’ve been musing over this question: why am I a stamp collector? There’s no single reason, but rather multiple reasons that I enjoy the hobby, and I intend to share them in a series of posts here.
Reason 1: stamp collecting stimulates the senses
We live in an age in which great value is assigned to entertainment and technology. We spend our time watching the television and surfing the Web; we communicate using 1s and 0s via e-mail and Facebook. Verily, I myself spend time working on this website, and at the end of the day it is nothing but a collection of bits and bytes. If the electricity is turned off, the things on which we spend our time suddenly cease to function.
Stamps, on the other hand, are tangible and stimulate the senses in a way that websites and the mass media cannot. I can touch the textured surface of a Thai stamp picturing Pa Hin Ngam National Park; I can run my finger across the surface of an envelope mailed when Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States. I can gaze at a beautiful modern landscape design or be absolutely amazed at the intricate engraving required to produce some of the true classics of philately. And when I open a box of old covers, I can smell the musty years.
In addition to that, I frankly just enjoy preparing a letter to go in the mail. Folding the paper, sealing the envelope, affixing a stamp—plus one of my own local post stamps—all feel real in a way that clicking “send” on an e-mail does not. Hinging a stamp into my album feels real in a way that uploading a digital photo to a website does not. I enjoy the experience.
I do not claim that stamp collecting tops other things in life—one’s faith, a loving marriage, strong relationships with family members, experiencing God’s creation. Even such a stamp nut as I can’t argue that. But there is a certain sense-based enjoyment that I derive from the hobby, and that, my friends, is one of the reasons I am a stamp collector.
Here we are nearly at the end of January; how time flies. I’ve been busy preparing first day covers for Philosateleian Post’s new Airmail Centennial stamp, which will be issued on Monday.
I recently received a generous donation from Suzanne M., a user of The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album. Suzanne is a repeat donor, and all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s the support of people like you that make it possible for me to keep Philosateleia online. Again, thank you.