You will have to agree, when home quarantining and travel restrictions has been the order of the year, it would be a great idea to get your fill of travel with postcards and stamps. Philatelists and postcard hoarders cannot brag enough about the thrill you get from collectng these. But for the uninitiated, here’s your chance to buckle up for a journey as I take you through my collection. And a tally of all the places and timelines I have checked out so far via postcards and stamps on this World Post Day.
Time Travel With Special Edition Stamps
Travelling in time needs no Tardis. All you need are some fantastic special edition stamps that were released to commemorate a day or an event.One of my earliest special edition stamps has been this Cuban stamp celebrating Che Guevara on his 15th death anniversary. While this was released in the year 1982, you can go find yours today, which also happens to be the 53rd death anniversary of Che!
Shop here: India Hobby CentreIndependent Bangladesh’s first issue of stamps in 1971, with some featuring Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the massacre of Dacca University, is another incredible set that I found in one of Calcutta’s old curio shop, India Hobby Centre.
Shop here: India Hobby CentreSpecial edition stamps released every year to mark festivals are equally fascinating. Royal Mail’s special edition Christmas stamps are of great delight to scores of people who look forward to those brilliant images, all showing the UK’s iconic Red Pillar Box with snow falling in the background!
Shop here: Royal Mail
Postcards for a City Tour
If the pandemic has caused you to binge on virtual city tours, then I suggest giving a city tour through postcards a try. Postcards with iconic city landmarks and cityscapes are an incredible way to explore its culture and character. While some have photographs to tell you the story, my favourite are the paintings that open a new window of experiences. Samir Biswas’s sketches of Calcutta are quintessential to experience the distinct flavours of the city. Postcards with his watercolour sketches of landmarks are a must collect when you visit the city and its iconic book store, The Oxford Bookstore on Park Street.
Shop here: The Oxford BookstoreAnother one of the most amazing postcards that reveals some new nugget every time you come back to it is Andrew Murray’s Buckingham Palace. Released by the Historic Royal Palaces, this oil painting by 20th century artist Andrew Murray (1917-1998) shows a colourful depiction of the change of guards in front of the Buckingham Palace.
Shop here: Historic Royal PalacesIf postcards with paintings capture the imagination and character of a city, then photographs take you a step closer to the actual scene and setting. This photograph postcard of the quintessential Darjeeling toy train chugging along the higher grounds of Batasia Loop is another favourite that I had picked up from the iconic,dust-laden and almost-always empty Das Studio in Darjeeling.
Shop here: Das Studio, Darjeeling
Walk Through the Library with Postcards
If you thought libraries stocked with tomes are the only places to discover literary heroes and characters, then you need to check out these amazing set of postcards that can pique your interest enough to pick up a book.Part of Andy Tuohy’s Shakespeare Character series released by the Royal Shakespeare Company, my Caesar postcard will always say more than just ‘Et tu, Brute!’ The Shakespeare Character series aside, Andy Tuohy’s Great Modern Artists are a must check too.
Shop here: Royal Shakespeare Company One of the last remaining publishers of the dying culture of Jatra (Bengali folk theatre) scripts, this postcard from the archives of the historic publishing house Diamond Library depicts a poster of a popular Jatra. Bright, colourful and brilliantly melodramatic, these take you back to the grassroot culture of Bengal that is dying a quick death.
Shop here: Sienna
Gallery Crawl with Postcards
Lovers of art would agree that sometimes size really doesn’t matter, especially if it’s fantastic art that you are getting in exchange. One of my favourite series of postcards, these are the most prized ones in my collection.One of Picasso’s early paintings, Tête de femme penchée, was released as a postcard by the iconic art and auction house Christie’s. A pastel on paper art, this bears Picasso’s signature on top right!
Shop here: Christie’sWhen in London, a visit to Tate Modern should never be downplayed. And while I’m yet to visit the city, I did get a glance of Tate through their postcards. This one captures Roy Lichtenstein’s iconic painting ‘Whaam!’
Shop here: Tate Modern