Guest stamp blog: inventive philately


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07 April 2019
In his latest blog the self-titled 'Punk Philatelist' takes a look at innovations across the world, often revealed to use by stamps

I only recently learned that instant coffee was invented in New Zealand. So I was stoked to spot it alongside other Kiwi innovations in a recent issue, Think Outside The Square. They also invented child-proof caps, jogging (it wasn’t Forrest Gump?!) and the referee’s whistle (they didn’t invent the whistle. Apparently they were just the first to blow one on the sporting field).

I love learning who invented what from stamps.

The 2004 Australian Innovations issue surprised a few Australians with the black box flight recorder, ultrasounds, and Racecam.

Denmark churned up ready-mix concrete
Brazil dialed up the phonecard
Austria was key to the typewriter
…and Ukraine eyed off the corneal transplant. 

Some cases deserve a footnote, sharing credit with other nations for their contributions. But a stamp is no place for fine print.

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The world turns so fast these days that some recent inventions are already things of the past. So good on Canada for commemorating the BlackBerry while people still remember what it was.

Sometimes, designers need to depict some pretty deep science on a stamp.

The usual approach is to show an end-user product resulting from an innovation. That’s why, for its difference, I adored 2015’s conceptual Inventive Britain issue. The DNA sequencing stamp, inspired by sequencing ladders with hints of the radioactivity and fluorescence involved, is one of my favourite stamps of this century. Another fave from that issue: stainless steel. And fibre optics. Look, they’re all winners, go and buy the set.

Inventions and innovations would make for a fun thematic collection. Throw in some letters and postal history from relevant smart people, and I will take the time to read your exhibit. Sadly, I’ll only be able to commence such a collection myself when somebody invents the fifty-hour day and the endless bookshelf.

Read more biting stamp comment on the Punk Philatelist blog.

The Punk Philatelist