Sunday, November 26, 2006

SuperSeventies Treasure Trove

Treasure Trove

I had a large time this afternoon rummaging through this SuperSeventies floral suitcase, which contains some of the ephemera of my youth. A few of the things I found: a library card (expiration date: April 25, 1982), a waxpaper bag containing a remnant of my matchbook collection (with matches from places such as The Rusty Harpoon, The Yankee Clipper, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, The Prime Rib Rack [Leo and Wanda Stork, your hosts], and a letter that my sister wrote to my mom from some camp or other (in it my sister waxes lyrical about an activity known as Groking)—I have no idea how it got into my SuperSeventies treasure trove.

The reason I retrieved the case from the top shelf of the haunted closet (brrrr!) was that I knew it contained thousands of postage stamps that I had amassed by sending away for every free stamp offer I saw in newspapers and magazines (and there were many) and by cutting every stamp off of every envelope that came through our mail slot and instructing relatives to do the same, which they did for years and years after I had abandoned the hobby. I’m not exaggerating when I say I have thousands of stamps stuffed willy-nilly into that suitcase. I never did get around to mounting most of them in my stamp album. Why I still have all the stamps decades later I cannot explain.

Stamps from the Trove

Good thing I did, though, because today I thought of a scathingly brilliant use for at least a few of them. Make them into magnets! It was great fun to paw through the stamps searching for images that might look good on a magnet. It brought back memories, too. Spain: Every ding-dong stamp featured King Juan Carlos. Snore. The UK: the blue Queen Elizabeth stamp; the red Queen Elizabeth stamp; the purple Queen Elizabeth stamp. The green Queen Elizabeth stamp. You've seen one you've seen them all. Ho-hum.

Then there were countries like Rwanda and Mozambique that had these absolutely gorgeous triangular stamps with butterlies and flowers on them. Now that’s more like it! Those stamps went straight into the album as soon as I got them, so the suitcase contains mainly stamps that didn’t excite me as a kid, so lots of QEIIs and Juan Carloses. But also lots of stamps from the Eastern Bloc. They failed to capture my imagination back when I was a kid, but I now realize their Social Realism images lend themselves perfectly to repurposing as magnets!

Here’s the beginning of my Iron Curtain Series. (Unfortunately, there is no way to light these things and, though I took half a dozen photos they all suck ass. The magnets look a lot brighter and more detailed in real life.)

Iron Curtain Series

Clockwise from top left: Bare-chested East German miner, generic Soviet comrade saluting the State, Hungarian village, Soviet solider (can you see the hammer and sickle on his helmet?), and Soviet rocket blasting off to kick the U.S.’s ass in the space race.

Wow. Those little stamps had quite a propaganda burden to carry. I'm thinking of adding some Romanian stamps later. Romania had this whole series of Progress with a capital P stamps that feature very modest industrial achievements, e.g., there’s a stamp with a picture of a dial telephone on it and another one with a bus on it. I can just hear Ceausescu crowing, “Look, we haff phone!” “Look, we haff bus!” Oh, dear. Really, it’s tragic when you think about all the deprivations the Romanians suffered and how little the so-called Progress benefited them. Maybe I shouldn’t make the Romanian stamps into magnets.

Anyway, I'm going to guess that not everyone would be thrilled to be the recipient of the Iron Curtain series so I’m not going to be taking it to the handmade gift exchange. (I'll keep it for myself!) My gift will likely include all or some of magnets shown below (images culled from Sunset and the Sierra Club magazine [the only two magazines I have in the house—see why I had to ransack my stamp collection?]).


Green Series

Again, the photos are pretty damn awful. They do look a lot niftier in reality.

Today’s NaBloPoMo blog: Knitting 40 Shades of Green


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