On condition that the kinds of people who find themselves smitten by dinosaurs and prehistory additionally are likely 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 gathering. (In spite of everything, isn’t all science apart from physics merely stamp gathering?) I’ve by no means a lot been into it myself – I’ve simply a few dinosaur-related units, purely due to the dinosaurs – nevertheless it’s straightforward to see the attraction. Fortunately, the 2 hobbies have been introduced collectively in Dinosaur Stamps of the World, written by Stuart Baldwin with assist from Beverly Halstead, and printed by, er, Baldwin’s Books in 1991. It’s a extremely endearing delve into palaeoartistic postage.
This ebook’s on mortgage to me from Agata Stachowiak, who discovered it within the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge in 2019. As a baby, Agata had a set of dinosaurs stamps collated by her grandfather, who was an enormous philaterer…ist. Sadly, they have been misplaced to time, so she was very completely happy to probability upon this specific quantity. The ebook’s manufacturing was apparently prompted by the issuing of a set of stamps, by the Royal Mail within the UK, which commemorated the a hundred and fiftieth anniverary of the naming of the Dinosauria. It’s that set that’s featured on the duvet (and elsewhere inside – see under), together with a big Jenny Halstead illustration of Iguanodon, why not.
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 type of Pure Historical past Museum Pandora’s field, is absolutely moderately beautiful. Choosing out and figuring out the person animals is nice enjoyable; naturally, they’re all creatures (or, you recognize, buildings) with a connection to Owen. One might argue that it’s ironic that the NHM’s Archaeopteryx specimen ought to loom so massive within the background – Owen was (I consider) instrumental in buying it for the NHM, however in the long term it grew to become the icon of the idea 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 ebook? Nicely, sure there’s. However that may spoil the enjoyable.
That’s sufficient Owen – let’s get to to some STAMPS. Naturally, the 1991 Royal Mail dinosaur set are featured first and given probably the most consideration; the extent of element given above isn’t actually indicative of the ebook as a complete. The dinosaurs are all skeletal, with silhouettes ripped from the Normanpedia offering an concept of their scale. Iguanodon is an apparent selection for inclusion, nevertheless it isn’t clear why the opposite dinosaurs that function on this sequence have been included. Baldwin options another (rejected) set by Jenny Halsted, which options Iguanodon, Hylaeosaurus, Megalosaurus, and Cetiosaurus – the ‘authentic’ dinosaurs.
They could look like a extra apparent match for a set entitled Owen’s Dinosauria 1841, moderately than the North American and Asian Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Protoceratops and Triceratops that made the minimize (as could be seen above). Certainly, Baldwin appears to suppose so, harrumphing that Halstead’s picks “would have been the best selection of topics” from a scientific view, however that “different issues” come into play when selecting stamp designs. Maybe the considering was that, as an anniversary celebration, it was proper to signify how Owen’s Dinosauria now included probably the most well-known extinct animals of all, immediately recognisable to even most of the 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, vibrant colors, giving a neon x-ray impact of kinds. The small particulars are a bit hit-and-miss – the Tyrannosaurus‘ cranium is a bit misshapen, the Stegosaurus‘ head is on the massive dimension, and the Triceratops seems to be primarily based on that bizarre mannequin within the NHM (which isn’t actually the artist’s fault). Nonetheless, I like them.
Aside from the Royal Mail set, numerous dino-stamps from different international locations are featured, albeit with a lot much less in the way in which of background data (other than scientific notes in regards to the animals). These are organized by nation, with the international locations in alphabetical order. As you may think, it could actually descend right into a barely tiresome cavalcade of Burian clones at instances. Agata would seemingly kill me if I didn’t embrace the above Nineteen Sixties set from Poland, however, sadly, they too are a reduction Burian parade. That stated, I actually just like the geometric, simplified foliage and block colors – charming stylistic touches that basically go well with the stamp format.
Among the many Burianfest, a set of Fantasia stamps from Grenada caught my eye (as you possibly can think about, Mickey Mouse stands proud a mile on this context). These function the Tyrannosaurus from The Ceremony of Spring section, seemingly caught because it’s about to chunk the mud in the course of 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, in some way, 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.)
One other exceptional little assortment of stamps is the above from Yemen, entitled Area 70: Conquest of Mars. Apparently. Once more, not loads of background data is given, apart from “an Iguanodon represents the age of Saurians.” Yeah, acquired 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, effectively, 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 Crimson Planet. Nice stuff.
Cuba contributes one other load of beautiful 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 standard Burian knock-offs alongside. However, the park’s Prehistoric Valley does look like it might be an absolute hoot to go to, ideally with a number of fellow palaeoart aficionados alongside. It’s huge, with complete herds of prehistoric mammals alongside quite a few ugly ugly saurians. Who desires to purchase me a flight to 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 wonderful Baconao creations. I’m significantly taken with the mangled Styracosaurus (which nonetheless manages to put its nostril horn on its, effectively, nostril – we haven’t forgiven you, Wolter Design) and Tyrannosaurus with penguin-like countershading.
And eventually, for now…it’s solely Proper and Correct that the ebook consists of the primary ever stamp to function 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 lovely life reconstruction. As famous by Baldwin, a trilobite and a deer fill out the gathering. Lately, 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…