Friday, June 6, 2008

8 Of The World's Most Unusual Postage Stamps

It's Fun Friday -- time for some fun for the weekend. Enjoy today's post and I'll see you back here on Monday with more philatelic news and notes.

If you were to ask the general public, most people would state that postage stamps are probably the most mundane item that could be collected. To many people, stamps are nothing but tiny rectangles of paper with pictures of flags or dead presidents on them.

In today's post, I will attempt to abolish the mundane classification by showcasing what I think are 8 of the most unusual stamps that exist. Every single one of them is valid as postage in their country of issue.

There are many other unusual stamps that I plan on discussing in future posts. So think of this as part 1 of an ongoing series.

  1. The Rock Dust Stamp.

    Gibraltar put their country's famous landmark on their stamps both figuratively and literally in 2002. The Rock of Gilbraltar, one of the most recognized natural landmarks in the world appeared on a 4-stamp set in 2002. The top layer of the stamp is embellished with finely pulverized pieces of geologic rock from the famous landmark. You can get a piece of the rock, in more ways than one, with this stamp.

  2. The Meteorite Dust Stamp.

    Speaking of rocks on stamps, in 2006, Austria Post issued a stamp with an other-worldly rock; this stamp contained 0.03 grams of meteorite dust. The dust came from a 19 kilogram stony meteorite found in Morocco in 2004. The meteorite is composed of olivine, a mineral chemically defined as magnesium iron silicate. The gemstone known as peridot is an example of gem-quality olivine.

    The meteorite was crushed into a very fine dust, which was then hand-affixed to the stamp using a special adhesive. The stamp issue, called Mail From a Different World, sold for 3.75 EU (about $5.80 US, today).

  3. The Cork Stamp.

    Near the opposite end of hardness would be Portugal's Cork Stamp. Issued in November 2007, this unique stamp is printed on very thinly sliced cork (0.35 mm). Printed on the cork substrate is a stylized image of a cork tree sitting atop a hill. The stamp has a denomination of 1 Euro.

    The stamp brings attention to Portugal's cork industry, which provides well over 30% of the world's market for cork. Some of it's non-philatelic uses are as stoppers for bottles, fishing floats, gaskets, and bulletin boards.

  4. The Wooden Stamp.

    Another stamp that was built using the product of trees is this beautiful Swiss 5-Franc postage stamp. The stamp, issued on September 7, 2004, is made from 120-year-old fir trees from Swiss forests. Like the cork stamp above, due to the nature of the underlying component's growth characteristics, every single stamp is naturally unique.

  5. The Embroidered Stamp.

    The Swiss have stayed busy trying to create unique stamps. Swiss Post issued the worlds first embroidered stamp on June 21, 2000. Even though the stamps were created by automated embroidery machinery, the stamps were time-consuming to create, especially when compared to typical paper stamps.

    The stamps were issued to call attention to the world-famous embroidery created in St. Gallen, a canton of Switzerland. Originating in the 15th century as a center for textiles, St. Gallen became the de facto home of embroidery after creating the first automated embroidery machines early in the 19th century.

  6. The Football (Soccer) Stamp.

    The world's first stamp made of soccer ball material was issued by Austria Post in March, 2008. The stamp celebrates the UEFA Euro soccer tournament, to take place in June 2008. The tournament is the largest sporting event ever held in Austria.

    It took many attempts to get the stamp developed and perfected enough to withstand the rigors of postal duty. Not only were special printing methods needed for the plastic material, but the adhesive was also submitted for many trials to see if it would hold up.

  7. Moving Image Stamps.

    Several countries have used lenticular technology to put changing images on their stamps. This technology uses a plastic prismatic lens atop a specially-formatted image to make it appear to change. Austria managed to put 48 images onto the stamp, which results in an approximately 3-second "movie" appearing when stamp is viewed from different angles.

    This previous post contains more detailed information on the technology and the representative moving image contained on the stamp.

  8. The CD-ROM Stamp.

    Bhutan, a tiny nation located at the east end of the Himalayas, is well-known in philatelic circles for producing unusual stamps. Some of their stamps include scratch-and-sniff flower stamps, lenticular stamps, stamps made of diverse materials such as silk and steel, and phonographic stamps. The sell of stamps is a key source of revenue for this small nation.

    This year, Bhutan has introduced postage stamps that are also CD-ROMs.

    There are two CD-ROMs in the series. The first is titled "Bhutan: 100 Years of Monarchy" and celebrates the history of the nation and its rulers. The second CD-ROM is called "Bhutan: In Harmony with Nature" and highlights their environmental efforts.

    The CD-ROM stamps come in a protective envelope that can be affixed to the letter being mailed, so that the CD-ROM can be safely delivered to the recipient.

Previous Fun Friday Posts


Anonymous said...

missed the swiss chocolate stamp :)

kavitha said...

Singapore has issued the first beaded stamp in 2008

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