Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vintage Postage Stamps

When I was a kid my mom had a craft supply closet full of rubber stamps, paints, buttons, markers, glitter, decorative papers, and hundreds of other things. Tucked in the back was an unassuming cardboard box filled with old postage stamps collected for our art projects. My mother removed them from fan mail my father's band received from around the world. We spent many an afternoon arranging stamps on handmade notecards, licking the backs to secure them next to hand cut paper stars, bright strips of origami paper, and glitter glue line drawings.

Last weekend at a yard sale I happened upon the vintage postage stamp stash of a serious stamp collector. Two large tables were stacked high with envelopes stuffed full of old stamps organized by year and country. Most were from the 1930s and 40s. At the end of the table was a catch-all cardboard box chock full of beautiful vintage stamps from all over the world. I was suddenly back in my mom's craft supply closet, peering into our postage stamp box. Once I started pawing through the box, I didn't want to stop. Josh became impatient and my neck started to hurt from straining over the box, but I kept digging. I had forgotten how beautiful many of the old stamps are, how each one is a little work of art. I left the yard sale with the entire stamp box, a vintage vornado fan, and a 1940s Royal typewriter.

Old postage stamps are nothing rare or unusual. Large lots of them sell for cheap online and in antique stores. But pawing through an old box of stamps from hundreds of countries ranging from 1930 to 1988 is a treasure hunt to me. There's something so perfect about a piece of art printed on a tiny little stamp, and with an assorted box of stamps spanning fifty years, each one is a surprise. I was tempted to keep the entire box and make dozens of Stamp Rainbow posters like this one from OneShyMouse on Etsy, but instead I am resisting the hoard, saving only a few of my favorites and selling the rest in curated lots of 50 stamps for $3.50 in the shop.  Give them a try if you're looking for a fun, cheap, and easy art project to work on with kids or your own. The colors and designs are so lovely, it's hard to go wrong.


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