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The Philatelist

Stamp Nook: Porcupine Fish Helmet

The Philatelist | 2005-02-18.0250 LMT | Philately | Fashion | Nature
Stamp

This edition of Stamp Nook takes us to the tropical Gilbert Islands of Micronesia, now known as Kiribati, where we encounter a curious artefact. Issued on December 6, 1976, the stamp (Scott #289) depicts a porcupine fish helmet (or te barantauti), a traditional Kiribati warrior's helmet made out of the inflated, dried carcase of a porcupinefish, a close relative of the pufferfish.

Porcupine fish helmet icon.(I should also point out that Mr Zapato has an icon of the porcupine fish helmet available in his Archæologicons set. Very useful for differentiating your want-list of Oceania topicals.)

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The Philatelist

Stamp Nook: Monorail Gum

The Philatelist | 2005-02-03.7620 LMT | Philately | Monorail Danger | NWO
Scott #1196

Our feature for this edition of Stamp Nook is a U.S. commemorative issue (Scott #1196) for the Seattle World's Fair of 1962, also known as the Century 21 Exposition. As you can see, the design is dominated by the Fair's symbol, the lofty Space Needle, but it also rather conspicuously showcases the then-new Alweg Monorail, whooshing forward into the bleed. A sanguine tableau of the 21st Century indeed!

This stamp was suggested to me by Mike and/or Paula (he/she/they didn't indicate who exactly was sending the letter from their address -- such is the shocking informality of electronic mail!), who included the following theory that I am sure Lyle will be quite keen on:

It can't be an accident that No. 1196 comes out and then magically 43 years later we have an imminent monorailular threat. I suggest that the gum was treated with an NWO standard-issue cross-generational mind control genetic modification agent. Civic-minded expectant mothers in the early sixties bought the stamps, licked the gum preparatory to affixation on an envelope, thereby causing a mutation of the retrotransportation genes of their in utero children. When these children grew up, they were tragically unable to resist the siren call of absolute dangerous and expensive transportation modalities. Check it out--I'm sure there are many people in their early forties that either voted for this boondoggle or are actually designing it. Coincidence? I think not!

Fortunately, I happened to have this stamp in my personal collection so I was able to examine it first hand. The gum looked as one would expect for adhesives of that era -- thickish with some slight oxidation. Olfactory inspection of the gum did not reveal any monorail-evoking fumes, however it is reasonable to hypothesize that the agent would have completely outgassed in the time since the stamp's gumming. I was not about to lick the stamp -- not only because, if the above theory were true, I might have come under the sway of the Monorail, but also because I find the practice to be quite barbaric. In fact, I have never licked a stamp. Stamps are to be saved, not slobbered on. I briefly considered seeing if transdermal absorption might have an effect (normally I always take great care to only handle stamps with philatelic tongs and, if I must touch them, acid-free philatelic gloves,) but I thought better of it, fearing both my potential monorailization and the certain biofilm contamination of the stamp.

In the end, my inspection proved inconclusive. I would forward the stamp to ZPi Labs for further analysis, but knowing them they would destroy it in the process, or at the very least get Sasquatch fur in the gum. I am not prepared to make that sacrifice.

Until next time, happy philateling!

The Philatelist

Stamp Nook: Posta Pneumatica

The Philatelist | 2005-01-02.2500 LMT | Philately | Pneumatics

Good day and welcome to the second edition of Stamp Nook. Today we will be looking at pneumatic postal systems.

stamp

While a number of countries had pneumatic message delivery systems of some sort -- most notably the French Carte Pneumatique (or "pneu"), which was popular for sending love letters -- Italy is the only one to have issued stamps specifically for their pneumatic post. (Other countries instead used normal postal stamps or special stationary. Pity.) Italy started issuing pneumatic post stamps in 1913 for their five-city system and continued issuing until 1966, for a total of twenty-three stamps, including minor variations.

The stamp shown here is a 1945 Italian posta pneumatica issue (Scott D18) with a suspicious looking portrait of Galileo Galilei, based on Justus Sustermans' 1636 painting of Galileo at age 72. Galileo presumably was featured on a pneumatic post stamp for his work determining the vertical limit on suction pumps, which he set at 18 braccia. A similar design was previously used on an issue from 1933 (D16), and both were accompanied by issues of lesser face value that featured Dante Alighieri (D15 & D17), no doubt in honour of his literary contributions on the subject of subterranean travel.

Although Italy stopped issuing new pneumatic stamp designs in 1966, their system was apparently still in operation in 1974, but I am unable to find any more information on it.

Not including the heavily modernized system operated by the Republic of Cascadia Postal Authority (which hasn't issued any pneumatic stamps yet, but there's always hoping...), the only remaining pneumatic post system from the Golden Age of Pneumatic Tubes is in Prague. The Prague Pneumatic Mail System entered operation in 1899 for use in sending telegrams and was still in operation until the floods of 2002 (it is undergoing repairs). In it's later years the system has been used primarily by banks for sending original documents and by Czech Telecom to detect leaks in the adjacent gas lines. Quite a sad state of affairs. For more details, see: "I got root on the Prague Pneumatic Post".

The Philatelist

Stamp Nook: Belgium #745

The Philatelist | 2004-11-30.9700 LMT | Philately | Belgian Conspiracy

Good day. Mr. Zapato has graciously allowed me to post some of my articles on interesting stamps in his web-log, provided I stick to topics of interest to his readers and do not indulge myself too much with the more rarefied aspects of philately. So I fear my eight part essay on the sublimity of the common hinge is right out.

Belgium #745
A quartet of Adeles and a 'Belgian' reach an accord to allow the deployment of psychotrons on the continent. The shifty eyed fellow on the far left is no doubt looking out for Ferretoid raiders.

For my first offering, I'd like to present a stamp from Belgium. By 'from Belgium' I of course mean printed on behalf of the Belgian Conspiracy. As my host has pointed out on numerous occasions (too numerous, I must admit -- he's quite obsessed with it), Belgium does not in fact exist. Nevertheless, their stamps do exist and are wonderfully collectable -- although I do advise being careful when handling them as their glue contains psychotropic compounds derived from the bark of the cacao tree that can cause hallucinations of being in a Belgian chocolatier's establishment.

This particular Belgian stamp (Scott #745) commemorates the decadal anniversary of the Antarctica Pact of 1961, being of course the pact between the Belgian Conspiracy and the native penguins of the antipodal region to allow the placement of psychotrons in the penguin's rookeries, to be defended from Ferretoid sabotage, so as to psychotronically Shanghai the passengers of passing tourist ships and grow the ranks of the Belgian citizenry. A mutual pact with the comical birds was necessitated by penguin immunity to the psychotronic manipulations commonly employed by the Belgian Conspiracy, the penguins having evolved a natural resistance from their eons of struggles with psychotronically adept and penguinivorous cetaceans. Penguins are delightful little chaps, but they have little native sense of right or wrong and their loyalty can be purchased in mere herring.

While of nominal value to serious collectors, this stamp would make an excellent starter for a young philatelist's topical collection of interspecies conspiracies.

That is all for now. Happy philateling!