micromuseum politics stamps

Inflation Stamps

I’m reading a biography of Kurt Weill by Ronald Taylor and when I reached the subject of hyper-inflation of the German currency during the early 1920s it gave me the idea to resurrect my stamps series. Desiring to keep it simple I won’t go into the possiblities of how the severe reparations of the Treaty of Versailles led to the rise of Nazism and any parallels between then and the world today. Here’s an excerpt from the book –

The urban middle classes, traditional exemplars of thrift and custodians of family welfare, who regarded themselves as the most loyal and stable elements in society, had their savings wiped out. They were powerless victims of forces over which they had no control, and they knew it. Mark values were becoming increasingly meaningless, and only goods, property or foreign currency provided a basis for setting real prices and values. With inflation at its height, a day’s work would earn a factory worker a pound of margarine, six weeks’ wages would buy him a pair of boots, and twenty weeks’ wages, a suit.

Let’s start with the simple 15 pfennig stamp. A reasonable amount to pay for a letter or postcard one would imagine back in 1920. There were 100 pfennigs in a mark.

Now a series which depicts the early days of inflation.

Obviously it got to a stage when as soon as a stamp was printed it was redundant. So new amounts were printed on top of the out-dated ones.

And finally we work up to the half a billion stamp that is the latest one I have.

anthropomorphism birds insects micromuseum spider stamps

insect stamps

It’s been a while since I’ve turned my attention to stamps. I’d just like to point out that I wouldn’t describe myself as a stamp-enthusiast. I collected stamps between the age of about 8 to 12, the stamps I collected I still possess and now I find them a fascinating remnant of past times – geography and history resonates through my lifetime and before my lifetime.

Ok now I’ve got that off my chest I’d like to introduce the new addition to the stamp category which is insect stamps. One of the things that stamps represent is an advertisement for the country they come from. Insects are one of those things that most countries don’t want to confess to. I’d love to have a stamp which had a common British house-fly on it but honestly I don’t think such things exist, certainly not in my collection anyway. Countries generally don’t want to admit to infestations of fleas, cockroaches, locusts etc and so insects haven’t been featured as much as they should be in the world of postage.

So sadly the category is a bit hard to populate. There’s only one insect that’s easy to find on stamps and that’s the butterfly. The inference is that you’ve got to be aesthetically pleasing to end up on a stamp – no probosces or weird hairy abdomens thank you. Here’s a butterfly stamp to show you what I mean. Most stamps from Bulgaria use a Cyrillic script and I have no idea why this one doesn’t.


The next one’s an insect that Chile was happy to celebrate back in 1944. Known either as Darwin’s beetle, Grant’s stag beetle or the Chilean stag beetle this is a male. The female is much less elaborate, which is sexual dimorphism as I’m sure you all know. The large horns and forelegs are purely for the purposes of combat between rival males. 1944 was a hundred years after the publication of Claude Gay‘s book, Historia fisica y politica de Chile and that resulted in a large number of stamps. I’ve got a lot of them but this is the only one which depicts an insect.


And while on the subject of beetles I would like to say that my opinion of the species is indebted to Primo Levi in his book Other People’s Trades drawing my attention to the comment of biologist Jack Haldane‘s when asked what his concept of God was – “He is inordinately fond of beetles”. Somehow I find this comforting. So here is an African beetle which is basically a flat-faced longhorns type of affair. Apparently an infestation of these little blighters can have a devastating effect on cashew. So thanks to Portuguese Guinea for breaking the mould and putting a pest on a stamp. Actually Portuguese Guinea doesn’t exist any more it’s Guinea-Bissau now.


Well I’m scraping the barrel here a bit now with insect stamps. To be perfectly honest there don’t seem to be too many about. So here’s another butterfly. limenitis populi or the Poplar Admiral is a widespread Eurasian insect. One of the interesting facts that can be gleaned from Wikipedia is that

Limenitis populi has never seen coupling naturally in captivity. The manual coupling is described by Marion Weidemann, this is the Austin Platt’s method which consists to partially suffocate the male (anaesthetize in a cyanide bottle) before hand pairing (Dr. A. Platt specialized on North American Limenitis species).

From my early years I’ve always had a sort of desire to be an entomologist but having read that I’m glad it never happened. William Blake famously once had a conversation with the soul of a flea. If ever I have a similar conversation it will be with the soul of a person who is involved in insect-cyborg research.


Finally I’ve completely run out of insects, but I’m sure that there must be some hidden in this stamp somewhere as apparently rhinoceroses and let’s face it most animals even some humans are riddled with insect-type parasites of some sort. This is a white rhinoceros though it doesn’t look all that white and sadly it no longer occurs in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. A couple of egrets contemplate this large muscular mammal and of course the 2 species have a symbiotic relationship related to the ticks that infest the rhinoceros. Actually ticks are more spiders than insects, but I would have included spiders in this category if I could have found some spider stamps. Another of the birds that might feed upon a large mammal in this way is the oxpecker. Apparently the oxpecker has got so much of a taste for the blood of the carrying mammal which is in effect the main flavour of eating a full-bellied tick that they will work at wounds and feed directly on the larger creature’s blood. The rhinoceros seems to accept the birds as a necessary evil.


micromuseum stamps trees

Tree Stamps

It’s been a long time since I last posted a stamp series so this time I’m combining another category to try and keep the whole category thing meaningful.

Malaysia gained independance in 1963 so this stamp must precede that. Trees usually feature on stamps as incidental but in this case they are central to the image. Deforestation rates are greater in Malaysia than anywhere else in the world.

The rand became currency of South Africa in 1961. The random quality of the criss-cross background to the fruit tree is weird.

Early shields of Ceylon under Portuguese, Dutch and British dominion all featured coconut trees (and elephants). It’s hardly surprising that Sri Lankan cuisine should feature coconuts so much. In 1432 a Chinese gentleman called Ma-Huan visited Hsi-Lan-Kuo (as he called it) and wrote

The cocoa-nut, which they have in abundance, supplies them with oil, wine, sugar, and food.

I think this is a commemoration of 50 years of Danish nature conservation

Finally a stamp from my own fair country, Britain I mean, not Sussex. I have 3 more from this series of paintings by Leonard Rosoman, who if he is still alive is about 98 years old. They feature Harlech Castle, The Cairngorms and Antrim. In 2002 Rosoman was the guest on the radio programme Desert Island Discs. The luxury item he chose to have on the desert island was a sloping lawn. I think to maintain a sloping lawn on a desert island would require magical powers.

One final point. The first and last stamps both feature the head of Elizabeth II. I think it’s highly probable that no other head has been featured on stamps more often than hers nor ever will be.

micromuseum stamps

Buildings Stamps

Time for some more stamps this time of an inanimate nature. The theme is buildings. What type of buildings appear on stamps? Usually there has to be some sort of significance – its picturesque quality. The first example is in my guess a religious building.

The Cuban Palacio de Comunicaciones on the other hand is a boast of modernity. Actually I really like the fact that there seems to be a gigantic brick wall behind it.

And now another religious building. Partly ruined? A ghostly presence drifts through the cloisters while in the light above the LIQ of REPUBLIQUE is that someone sitting in tranquil contemplation or is it a piece of modern sculpture? We have a name H.CHEFFER which is Henri-Louis Cheffer. Some websites think he was born in 1860, others 1880 but everyone seems to agree that he died in 1957.

If only I knew some Greek I would be able to explain what this building might possibly be. Looks like it could be a monastery. I’m more interested in what appear to be houses further up the hillside. They could be just ordinary dwellings and maybe that’s unusual.

And finally, from Japan. This building has probably got some sacred purpose too. So maybe most buildings on stamps have religious significance or otherwise it could be that the stamps I’ve chosen just happen to be that way.

birds micromuseum stamps

bird stamps

well we’ve had animal stamps and so I suppose it had to be bird ones next. I’ve written about birds before somewhere because I’ve got a lot of bird songs. anyway here are the stamps in no particular order.

let’s start with a bird of prey

an owl – maybe that was my first bird song. the version of the song that can be found below is on the messthetics release whose last trickle

on the nineteenth of july 1965 the penny was replaced by the pesawa as a small unit of currency in ghana

I find the stylised image of this bird to be refreshing after the first three naturalised pictures. islamic artists are good at that.

finally a light-mantled albatross. in the southern oceans you can watch this sooty-coloured seabird sweep through the sky. bye bye everybody, bye bye.

an owl

micromuseum stamps

animal stamps

here is the start of an exciting new series – animal stamps.

number 1 – a couple of chinese yaks

another of our bovine friends from cameroon – this one only seems to have 3 legs

our first european animal – a hungarian hedgehog – I assume that’s a mother handling one of her offspring with her teeth, but what do I know?

This one’s a male I think. Predictably elephants in Laos are now an endangered species.

our 2nd european animal this romanian ermine doesn’t look very friendly. I like the background colour.

finally a yugoslavian lynx. lynxes haven’t done too well for the last 100 years but there’s a lot of effort to replenish numbers. if approached by a lynx grab it by the scruff of the neck and drop it in the nearest wheelie bin you can find