Have a seat, and let’s look at some stamps, those mini posters on gummed paper that allow us to send packets of paper mail from A to B. Above from 2009 British Design Classics series, image from here, for eg.

Above design for Netherlands post by Gert Dumbar. Below for the Mexico Olympics by US designer Lance Wyman. Both from grainedit post on the collection of Iain Follett.

Swiss stamp on wood, Portugal on cork, USA in stitches

Above a beautiful set from Poland , 1963, celebrating space flight. From the very thoughtful ministry of type

Dutch modern architecture, found at one of many enthusiastic stamp blogs, my philately

Above celebration of Finish modern art. From here.

Above multiple, multi-colour celebration of Michelangelo from Italy. Seen here. (where if you can figure out the navigation, you can find a great pile of stamps from all over)

Which brings us back to Donald Evans, introduced in yesterday’s post.

Above images and the two that follow from my philately

“Before he died in an Amsterdam fire in 1977, at the age of 31, Donald Evans had created nearly 4,000 tiny paintings in the shape of postage stamps. It was a form of art he invented as a child, making up entire kingdoms with fanciful names and histories and then meticulously commemorating them with miniature paintings.”

Quoted at my philately from an article written for “Art in America”, April, 2000, by Carol Diehl.

I have a book full of what Donald Evans did in his short life. It is a wonder, as he was. If you can find a copy at at library or used book store have a look. You’ll smile and you’ll never forget it.

Stamps are the repository of a lot of great graphic design, whimsy, and creativity. You can buy packages of beautiful stamps for just a few dollars that you can stick on to things and make them more interesting (like a love note or a letter of resignation, maybe).

Some stamps become quite valuable, of course, and sell for a lot of money. The one below brought about $100,000 at auction in May 2009.

Story here, for e.g.

Stamps are ordinary, fragile, tiny, and subject to a lot of rough handling. We lick their backs, stick them on envelopes, and toss them into metal boxes, from which they are stuffed into bags by total strangers.

It is startling to think that something treated like that can be beautiful and sometimes reach a monetary value a million times its original price. My heart goes out to the stamp makers of our time and times gone by, along with my respect and gratitude. Small miracles are sometimes the best.

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