Wednesday, 11 April 2012

I heart Australian Antarctic Territory stamps

Within my stamp collection my stamps from the Australian Antarctic Territory are particularly treasured. This is why I have used some of the AAT stamps for the background image of this blog (notice what I did there.. AAT: that is the stamp-nerd acronym for Australian Antarctic Territory) . This week I thought I would properly share with you the stamps that so tantalisingly peek out around the edges of my blog.

$1 - Parahelion "Mock Sun".
(I have never heard the word Parahelion before, but I like it. I will try to drop it into everyday conversation soon.)

I generally love AAT stamps because they feature beautiful icy landscapes and cute penguins. But this particular set is about my favourite set of stamps EVER. I just love the fluoro orange that features on them.

Doesn't this helicopter look like it has come straight off a James Bond set?
I love the romanticism of Antarctica - the deserts of ice rather than sand that are so inhibiting yet exhilarating. A frontier if ever there was one. I have always wanted to travel there. And this set of 1966 stamps makes me want to go there even more.

I bought an incomplete set at the end of last year from "Rusty's" in Rosedale while there on a fieldtrip for work. Rusty told me that the higher value stamps were harder to come by. I loved them immediately so I bought the incomplete set. But thanks once again to Grandma Nellie's collection, I now have the full set. Not only that, but Grandma had kept the original packaging.

The series of stamps is highlighting Australian scientific research in Antarctica and the brochure that goes with the stamps tells me that:

  • Antarctica was first circumnavigated by James Cook in 1772-5
  • The first Australian Expedition was that of Mawson in 1911-14
  • Australian scientists on Antarctica are involved in meteorology, cosmic rays (! More James Bond?), auroral displays, seismology, biology and geomagnetism. I don't know what geomagnetism is, but it sounds sexy.
Not only that, but the brochure gives a proper definition of what  a parahelion is:
"an antarctic mirage seen when microscopic ice crystals in the air reflect back the real sun and ghostly counterparts of it, ranged round the horizon and connected by bands of light."
I think I just found another reason to want to go to Antarctica.

As it turns out, when you used to buy philatelic material from the Australian Post Office in the 60s, not only did you get a brochure telling you all these cool facts - you also received a gorgeous little greeting card to match the stamp issue. And, oh how I am loving the ephemera! And on that note, just to prove once and for all that my collection is getting a little out of hand, last week I bought the following book - just because the illustrations were cool and it kind of matched my stamp collection:
1960 edition. This is the back cover - but I just love the orange snow-vehicle.
So. AAT stamps. Absolutely my favourite. Thanks for letting me show them off.

1c - Aurora and Camera Dome; 2c Banding Penguins.


  1. Did the same artist paint the picture on the brochure? I like it.

    1. Actually -- I am not sure. The brochure doesn't credit the artist who painted the cover picture. Mr John Mason designed the stamps. But the oil painting on the brochure looks like a different style. It is quite lovely though, isn't it? Penguins and ice. Can't go wrong.

  2. All I can say is God save Grandma Nellie.

  3. The stamps are lovely but i don't know about actually going to the Antarctic! Grandma nellie will be pleased that her collection is giving you and others lots of interest and pleasure.

  4. Very cool stamps (no pun intended). I will come to the Antarctic with you Helen!!

  5. Good afternoon Helen, I just stumbled upon your blog and saw that you are a collector of AAT stamps. I too share a love for stamps for the AAT. I dont know what it is; the remoteness, the political motivations to issue stamps for a territory that wouldnt send many letters; the natural beauty, the colors etc. It doesnt really matter as there is something beautiful about all the stamps issued from the AAT and I hope that we continue to see many more of these wonderful stamps for years to some!

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for stopping by my blog! I am glad you feel the same way about AAT stamps - they are generally just so beautiful! Thanks for your comment.


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