The Māori people brought the beginnings of their art with them from their ancient homeland in Polynesia when they migrated to New Zealand more than 1,000 years ago and they developed those beginnings to new plateaus over successive generations. Wood carving was the primary art form but it was just one of the Māori’s cultural accomplishments.

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Shown below is a small selection from the thousands of new stamps added to PostBeeld’s stock recently.

A 1956 stamp showing the provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan that came together to form modern Libya in 1951. We have added many more stamps from Libya.

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New Zealand 1994

The ancestors of New Zealand’s Māori people arrived in canoes from Pacific islands before 1300 AD. The Māori had no written language and thus their history and legends were passed on orally from generation to generation, and through carving and weaving.

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Yugoslavia 1994 Ship in a Bottle booklet

As a child I was always fascinated by the puzzle of how it was possible to place a quite sizeable model of a ship inside a narrow-necked bottle. One of my uncles, an ex-navy man, had a beautiful example in his house but he wouldn’t reveal the secret of how the thing was made.

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1981 was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations to be the International Year of Disabled Persons.

Although many countries issued stamps featuring various disabilities that year, they were by no means the first stamps issued regarding the subject.

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What do we see when we look at the drawing on the stamp from Austria (1981) above? Several artists, notably the Dutch ‘master of optical illusion’ Maurits Escher, have incorporated into their designs certain impossible features that cannot exist in three-dimensional space. These include the ‘impossible cube’ on the stamp above, inspired by his designs and the ‘impossible triangle’ by the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd, shown on the first of the three stamps from Sweden (1982) in the continuation of this article.

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The city of Appeldoorn in Holland has, aside from other interesting attractions, a fine museum which currently has an exhibition called Paper Art. One of the exhibitors whose work is featured is Dutch artist Erik van Maarschalkerwaard. He has on display many creations featuring postage stamps, some of which are shown here.

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The beauty of New Zealand is undisputed by those fortunate enough to have visited the country. Indeed, in 2010 NZ Post issued a lovely 25-value mini-sheet depicting some of the highlights to be seen on the country’s North and South Islands. The sheet is entitled “A Slice of Heaven”.

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The 1970s was a prominent period of large scale socio-political change and counterculture during which people felt increasingly at-ease to express themselves through music, fashion and leisure pursuits and this was no different in the Channel Island, Jersey.


The six-stamp souvenir sheet above, recently issued by the island, explore aspects of 1970s popular culture, including language, music, fashion, events, food and leisure. In addition the sheet has a timeline, showing significant events of the 1970s including the year the first email was sent, the year of the first test tube baby and, perhaps controversially, the year Margaret Thatcher became UK Prime Minister.

The miniature sheet (above) accompanying the stamps was created by fashion illustrator, Caroline Smith – who also illustrated the flared trousers for the 76p fashion stamp on the souvenir sheet. It features a colourful and vibrant representation of Jersey’s main shopping street using colours, styles and typical shop-fronts of the 1970s high street.

 

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The Spanish Civil War had a dramatic effect on the artist Pablo Picasso’s outlook on life. Not having previously been a man interested in politics, the 1936 Franco uprising in Spain was an event that dragged him out of this disinterest and made him a defender of peace and liberty. After he painted his famous response to the German bombing of the Basque village of Guernica in the north of Spain in 1937, Picasso became a symbol not only of anti-fascism but specifically a symbol of the opposition to fascism by artists and intellectuals.

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