This page includes The Topic-Corner columns from the 2003 issues of Across the Fence Post.
January issue No column this issue
February issue No column this issue
Topic: Triangular Stamps
Collecting stamps with only three sides can provide both interest and challenge
for a topical collector. Triangles are found on some of the earliest postage
stamps (Cape of Good Hope, 1853) as well as modern day stamps. They have been
issued by countries from all over the world. As for the designs and subjects
depicted on these stamps, they are as varied and interesting as a topical
collector could hope to imagine. Even from a philatelic standpoint, triangles
come in a variety of postal purposes, value changes, and separation styles.
Most collectors are aware that the Cape of Good Hope was the firsts country to have stamps triangular in shape. That design was by intent. It is reported that triangular stamps were produced so that illiterate postal workers could tell the difference between outgoing mail (triangular stamps) and mail coming into the colony (rectangular and square stamps, shapes common to most stamps).
The Cape triangles were separated by scissors. The first perforated triangular stamps were issued by Ecuador in 1908. Not only do triangular stamps pose a production problem for the issuing entity, but the postal consumer also has the problem of trying to separate the stamps without causing damage to the perforations.
Mathematicians delight in identifying triangles by their physical characteristics. A review of your old geometry book will yield such terms as acute, equivalent, isosceles, obtuse, right angle, and scalene. But no matter by what name it goes, triangular stamps have only three points and three sides.
The United States first issued a triangular shaped stamp on a 1956 postal card issued money from stamp collector’s pockets. There are, however, many “legitimate” stamp issues that can form a very rewarding collection.
Some interesting trivia on triangular stamps was found in the book Triangular Philatelics: A Guide for Beginning to Advanced Collectors by Christopher Green and published by Krause in 1998. For example, the largest set of triangular stamps was issued by Monaco in 1956 and depict various types of transportation on 22 stamps. Or consider the airmail stamps of Estonia. All were issued in triangular format, a good class of mail service. And as might be expected, the book details the “firsts”, largest, smallest, the only, etc.
The book contains a checklist of triangular stamps as well as revenue and Cinderella items. It is a must-have book for the philatelist considering collecting triangular stamps as a topic.
April issue No column this issue
May/June issue No column this issue
July/August issue No column this issue
September issue No column this issue
American Film Making
The theme of this column and also the basis for the WFSC mini-exhibit pages is the inspiration provided by a set of ten stamps issued February 25, 2003, in Beverly Hills, California, to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Oscars. The self-adhesive pane honored particular areas of artistry and skill: production, art direction, cinematography, film editing, special effects, sound, screenwriting, directing, costume design, music, and makeup. It is these many men and women "whose combined efforts bring entertainment—and art—to millions of moviegoers around the world." (USPS quote from the back of the Film Making sheet)
The story of American film continues with stamps from the Silent Screen era (#2819-2828) with the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, and Charlie Chaplin, to name just a few.
The Golden Age of Hollywood is generally considered to be between 1930 and 1945 when movies "came of age." Hollywood had mastered the art of making "talkies" and produced high quality pictures. Most films were shot in black and white, but a growing number used Technicolor. A setenant block of four stamps (#2445-2448) honored the 1939 Oscar winners on the Classic Films issue.
Animation is well-represented with stamps honoring Disney. Walt appears on #1355 and the 2004 schedule of new stamp releases hints at additional philatelic recognition. The Warner Brothers have already seen their well-loved characters (Bugs Bunny, Sylvester & Tweety, Daffy Duck, Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote, and Porky Pig) honored on stamp issues.
The Legends of Hollywood series depicting the likes of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, and others also deserve a spot in your collection. The selvage of these sheets adds to the actors’/actresses’ story and should be considered a collectible part of the sheet.
Different genres of movies can also be considered. Many are represented on US stamp issues. Comedy with the likes of W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Fanny Brice, and Abbott & Costello should be considered. The Musical is another art form that has been filmed. Consider adding Oklahoma, Show Boat, Porgy and Bess, and My Fair Lady to your movie collection.
Stamps have honored Hollywood Composers (#3339-3344) and the Broadway Songwriters (#3345-3350).
One need not confine their American Film Making collection to just US stamps. Many foreign countries have gotten into the act and have issued stamps that would help to tell your story.
It is not too late to find your club’s mini-exhibit pages and begin to put together a display of American movie culture. Share your pages with others through library displays. Your exhibit just might attract a new collector to our hobby.
November issue No column this issue
Cape Triangles Immortalized: Celebrating 150 Years of the Cape Triangle
The Cape triangle has long been considered one of the classics of philately by
stamp collectors. Simple in design and distinctive in shape, it is considered
one of the elite stamp designs whenever discussion turns to the classics. You
don’t have to be a well heeled collector to own Cape triangles! Collectors of
stamps-on-stamps can find examples to add to their collections. The hunt can be
expanded to reprints, facsimiles, forgeries, cinderellas, advertising covers,
souvenir sheets, and cancellations.
The earliest date of any Cape reprint has been put at 1883 when the Universal Postal Union asked for samples of the Woodblocks for their archives. This was accommodated with examples of both denominations in color slightly different than the originals. Later, the same plates with defacing lines were used to produce examples for books written by G. J. Allis and A. A. Juergens.
In 1902, the De La Rue Printing Company dusted off the old dies for the 6 pence and 1 shilling engraved triangle and proceeded to reproduce the two denominations in 12 different colors. These were to be used as salesmen’s samples to demonstrate their printing expertise in hopes of obtaining contracts from other countries.
By the 1900s, the triangles were riding an unprecedented wave of popularity. To accommodate the demand, many small print shops produced facsimiles (read forgeries) to fill spaces in collectors’ albums. Over 400 varieties eventually became available.
Dealers, philatelic organizations, and exhibitions soon caught the triangle fever, and many used the image to enhance their show souvenirs and covers. Both the 100th anniversary of the first triangle and the 150th anniversary of the first postage stamp offered new opportunities to honor the Cape triangle.
Old classics never die!
Latest update: June 14, 2005