Dinosaur Stamps of the World – Half 1 – Love within the Time of Chasmosaurs

Provided that the types of people who find themselves obsessed with dinosaurs and prehistory additionally are inclined to possess rigorously curated collections of curious objects, it’s solely pure that there’s a robust overlap with philately, that’s to say, stamp accumulating. (In spite of everything, isn’t all science aside from physics merely stamp accumulating?) I’ve by no means a lot been into it myself – I’ve simply a few dinosaur-related units, purely due to the dinosaurs – however it’s straightforward to see the attraction. Fortunately, the 2 hobbies had been introduced collectively in Dinosaur Stamps of the World, written by Stuart Baldwin with assist from Beverly Halstead, and revealed by, er, Baldwin’s Books in 1991. It’s a extremely endearing delve into palaeoartistic postage.

Dinosaur Stamps cover

This e book’s on mortgage to me from Agata Stachowiak, who discovered it within the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge in 2019. As a toddler, Agata had a group of dinosaurs stamps collated by her grandfather, who was an enormous philaterer…ist. Sadly, they had been misplaced to time, so she was very blissful to probability upon this specific quantity. The e book’s manufacturing was apparently prompted by the issuing of a set of stamps, by the Royal Mail within the UK, which commemorated the one hundred and fiftieth anniverary of the naming of the Dinosauria. It’s that set that’s featured on the duvet (and elsewhere inside – see beneath), together with a big Jenny Halstead illustration of Iguanodon, why not.

Dinosaur Stamps of the World back cover by Jenny Halstead

I’ve by no means significantly loved Jenny Halstead’s palaeoart – it’s principally completely serviceable, though her theropods specifically usually seem crude, with blobby heads and fudged anatomy. Nonetheless, credit score the place it’s due – the above illustration, depicting diabolical genius Richard Owen opening a kind of Pure Historical past Museum Pandora’s field, is basically reasonably pretty. Choosing out and figuring out the person animals is nice enjoyable; naturally, they’re all creatures (or, you realize, buildings) with a connection to Owen. One may argue that it’s ironic that the NHM’s Archaeopteryx specimen ought to loom so massive within the background – Owen was (I imagine) instrumental in buying it for the NHM, however in the long term it turned the icon of the speculation of evolution, which Owen was notoriously vehemently against. And that’s how he misplaced his prime spot on the grand staircase. However I digress. This makes for a marvellous again cowl.

However what in regards to the swarm of tiny numbers – is there an identification information within the e book? Properly, sure there’s. However that may spoil the enjoyable.

Iguanodon (stamp) by Bryan Kneale

That’s sufficient Owen – let’s get to to some STAMPS. Naturally, the 1991 Royal Mail dinosaur set are featured first and given essentially the most consideration; the extent of element given above isn’t actually indicative of the e book as a complete. The dinosaurs are all skeletal, with silhouettes ripped from the Normanpedia offering an thought of their scale. Iguanodon is an apparent alternative for inclusion, however it isn’t clear why the opposite dinosaurs that characteristic on this sequence had been included. Baldwin options an alternate (rejected) set by Jenny Halsted, which options Iguanodon, Hylaeosaurus, Megalosaurus, and Cetiosaurus – the ‘authentic’ dinosaurs.

They may seem to be a extra apparent match for a set entitled Owen’s Dinosauria 1841, reasonably than the North American and Asian Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Protoceratops and Triceratops that made the minimize (as might be seen above). Certainly, Baldwin appears to suppose so, harrumphing that Halstead’s picks “would have been the best alternative of topics” from a scientific view, however that “different issues” come into play when selecting stamp designs. Maybe the pondering was that, as an anniversary celebration, it was proper to symbolize how Owen’s Dinosauria now included essentially the most well-known extinct animals of all, immediately recognisable to even most people. And Protoceratops. Why is Protoceratops right here? It’s most likely one thing to do with eggs.

As for the designs themselves (by Bryan Kneale), they’re putting sufficient. I just like the sketchiness of them and the usage of daring, brilliant colors, giving a neon x-ray impact of types. The small particulars are a bit hit-and-miss – the Tyrannosaurus‘ cranium is a bit misshapen, the Stegosaurus‘ head is on the big measurement, and the Triceratops seems to be based mostly on that bizarre mannequin within the NHM (which isn’t actually the artist’s fault). Nonetheless, I like them.

Polish dinosaur stamps from 1965

Aside from the Royal Mail set, a lot of dino-stamps from different nations are featured, albeit with a lot much less in the best way of background info (other than scientific notes in regards to the animals). These are organized by nation, with the nations in alphabetical order. As you may think, it might descend right into a barely tiresome cavalcade of Burian clones at instances. Agata would possible kill me if I didn’t embody the above Nineteen Sixties set from Poland, however, sadly, they too are a reduction Burian parade. That mentioned, I actually just like the geometric, simplified foliage and block colors – charming stylistic touches that actually swimsuit the stamp format.

Fantasia stamps from Grenada

Among the many Burianfest, a set of Fantasia stamps from Grenada caught my eye (as you’ll be able to think about, Mickey Mouse stands out a mile on this context). These characteristic the Tyrannosaurus from The Ceremony of Spring phase, seemingly caught because it’s about to chew the mud through the Nice Inexplicable Drought. Good. There’s additionally a stamp that includes Pteranodon, labelled “pterodactyls” (however see Baldwin’s notice, which could appear patronising to the likes of you and I, however is completely legitimate). It’s becoming, someway, that this set was additionally issued in 1991 to commemorate one other anniversary – the fiftieth of Fantasia. (And now it’s over EIGHTY years outdated! Good grief.)

Conquest of Mars stamps from Yemen

One other exceptional little assortment of stamps is the above from Yemen, entitled House 70: Conquest of Mars. Apparently. Once more, not a variety of background info is given, aside from “an Iguanodon represents the age of Saurians.” Yeah, obtained that. However by no means thoughts ol’ Captain Stabbythumbs – on the left there’s an outline of the trial of Gallileo alongside a “Mars photon rocket”! That’s completely, if I could so enterprise, rad. Presumably, it is a depiction of the progress from the primordial swamp to, nicely, the Conquest of Mars, with a very superior rocket taking an unknown variety of not-at-all-doomed and fully prepared contributors to the completely inhospitable Pink Planet. Nice stuff.

Baconao National Park Prehistoric Animals stamps from Cuba

Cuba contributes one other load of pretty stamps, this time notable for together with depictions of sculptures from the gorgeous-looking Baconao Nationwide Park. It’s maybe truthful to say that the sculptures are a little bit crude, which could clarify the inclusion of the same old Burian knock-offs alongside. Alternatively, the park’s Prehistoric Valley does seem to be it will be an absolute hoot to go to, ideally with a number of fellow palaeoart aficionados alongside. It’s huge, with whole herds of prehistoric mammals alongside quite a few ugly ugly saurians. Who needs to purchase me a flight to Cuba?

Baconao National Park Prehistoric Animals stamps from Cuba

There have been two sequence of those stamps, and the second sequence dispenses with the Burian clones, opting as an alternative for trustworthy illustrations of the fantastic Baconao creations. I’m significantly taken with the mangled Styracosaurus (which nonetheless manages to put its nostril horn on its, nicely, nostril – we haven’t forgiven you, Wolter Design) and Tyrannosaurus with penguin-like countershading.

Chinese Fossils stamps from 1958

And eventually, for now…it’s solely Proper and Correct that the e book consists of the primary ever stamp to characteristic a dinosaur, from China in 1958. Sure, extremely, nobody noticed match to stay a dinosaur on a stamp earlier than then (not even T. rex). The stamp itself options the entire skeleton in remarkably intricate element, whereas the ‘first day cowl’ (it’s a philately factor) consists of a fully cute life reconstruction. As famous by Baldwin, a trilobite and a deer fill out the gathering. Nowadays, it’d be laborious to know the place to start deciding which animals to incorporate in a celebratory stamp assortment devoted to China’s fossil fauna.

The stamps will return! In spite of everything, we haven’t even talked about Tanzania but…

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