Sunday, 24 February 2013

Mongolian cosmonauts in space

This week marks the first year blogoversary of "I heart post"! Who knew that stamps could keep me entertained and propel a blog for a whole year?! In my second post on the blog, where I was really testing out the concept, I wrote about some stamps I bought in Mongolia as souvenirs during a trip back in 2004.

Well, this week we have come full circle, and I am returning to the country where I started, with space stamps from Mongolia.

The above stamps feature the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who was the first person to travel into space. Mongolia was the first former communist country I had ever visited, and I loved it. I chose quite a few space themed stamps as souvenirs, because I felt they had a real "soviet feel" about them.

In 1981 a Mongolian aerospace engineer/cosmonaut, J. Gürragchaa (Ж. Гүррагчаа),  went into space on March 22 1981, with the Soviet Interkosmos space program. He is a national hero, and the following stamp celebrates his journey into space (he is the dude on the right):

Gürragchaa spent 7 days, 20 hours and 42 minutes in space and docked with Salyut 6, a Soviet orbital space station. I also have another set of stamps with the symbol for the Interkosmos program on them, which also seem to celebrate Gürragchaa's mission. The stamps feature images of Mongolian and Russian co-operation, with the flags of both nations featuring on the stamps.

I love my Mongolian space stamps - I think they make a pretty gorgeous little collection.  I also love the look of the cyrillic alphabet, and I love the word 'cosmonaut'... so really there is a lot to love in these stamps.

I hope you have enjoyed this entry into Viridian's Sunday Stamps, and check out the link below for some more space stamps.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Year of the Snake

I have had lots of new things shifting my focus from blogging over the past few weeks (in a good way - hello Jake! hello turkish lessons! hello ridiculous notion of training for fun runs!), but on this sweltering hot night in Melbourne, I thought I would get back into it and participate in this week's Sunday Stamps. The theme this Sunday is related to the Chinese New Year, which on Feb 10 ticked over to being the year of the Snake. I've got a sneaking suspicion the Year of the Snake is going to be awesome.

I haven't picked up my 2013 Chinese zodiac "year of the snake" stamps as yet, but I do have the 2012 version, which marked the year of the Dragon. I think in a way the Christmas Island Chinese zodiac stamps, which are a regular issue for Australia Post, are quite similar to the Chinese series of stamps which I have previously blogged about here (and are shown below):

The scans didn't work so well, but the Christmas Island stamps feature gold embossing; the characters aren't black as they look in the picture.

The 2010 version for the year of the tiger is also pretty cool:

I think it is pretty clever typography to turn the Chinese symbol into the character, with the tail swish in the 2012 Dragon stamp, and the hairy claw in the 2010 tiger stamp. I am definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the Year of the Snake stamps at some stage soon.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Street Art and Stamps

Check it out: Stamp street-art! How wonderful. I spotted this at the Laneway Music Festival in Footscray (Melbourne) on the weekend. The festival was great fun - Bat for Lashes headlined, but Alt-J ( ∆ ) were possibly the highlight for me... they sounded amazing and were great fun to dance to.

Anyhow it is not all that regularly that the worlds of rock'n'roll and stamp nerds collide, so I was pretty thrilled to see these paste-up images of an early and iconic Australian Stamp at a music festival.
I do actually have this stamp in my collection, courtesy of Grandma Nellie. Although the stamp I have is not in great condition.
The stamp was part of the George VI series of definitives released in 1950-51. The thing that makes me uneasy about the image is that it was released in that time well before the 1967 referendum which recognised  indigenous people as citizens. So this image smacks of paternalism to me - while it is depicting, and in a way celebrating, the nameless Aborigine on the stamp, the image seems to be loaded with the racist ethnocentric assumptions of the day.

It is an enduring image, even if it is a racist one. And in 2009 another version of the stamp was celebrated as one of "Australia's favourite stamps." I think the image reads slightly differently in the 2009 version than it did in the 1950/51 version. It is a bit more like, "Look! We love Aborigines! We always have: check out this old stamp!" And of course that is blatantly untrue.  But I see an attempt at reconciliation in the 2009 stamp, a more genuine respect that doesn't have the same patronising tone of the 1951 release.

And what of the 2013 paste-up on a brick wall in Footscray of the same image?  I love it.