Without a doubt, one of the things I love the most about postage stamps is that they are miniature masterpieces of art (or photography) I also love that they help record history, and they do that not only by carrying letters and documents, but by being marked on their journey across the world so that we can easily revisit our past. That's why today I want to write about the beauty of postmarks and postage cancellation, which can bring me to absolute delight, and can enhance the desirability of a stamp after its use.
For the uninitiated, a postage cancellation is a stamped mark placed on a postage stamp by the postal service to prevent it being used postally again, while a postmark is a stamp that details where and when a piece of mail has been processed, and sometimes other information is included, which can make a stamp even more interesting for collectors and crafters. Most of the examples I'm talking about today, are technically postmarks however as they partly cover the stamps they have cancelled them. I'm going to use the word postmark in this article.
The beautiful ballerinas above were mailed at Christmas in 1982, during a campaign by the Royal Mail (UK) to remind people to make sure their envelopes were properly addressed, so these elegant beauties in their tutus have the postmark "properly dressed" stamped over them, which made me quite pleased, I've held onto them from sheer delight.
I have to admit the main reason I bought the stamps above, is not just that I love the funky flowers and metallic gold highlights, but I couldn't resist the postmark "hurricane relief" which reminds me of a part of history. The stamps are vintage from the Cook Islands in the 1960'. And the bottom row, middle stamp postmark reads "Kia Orana Apollo 13 Astronauts" which is a greeting that means may you have a long life.
As a history buff, I love stumbling across postmarks that trigger memories of cultural and historical events, although I'm too young to have been around for Apollo 13, the movie captured my interest when it came out.
I have a lot of these Marjorie Atherton rose stamps, from Australia in the 1980's but this is the first I've received with the Commonwealth Games postmark from 1982, which interests me because my cousin was competing in those games when I was in the first grade at primary school, we had the television running in my class room though I can't clearly remember the event in which my cousin was beaten by Debbie Flintoff in the hurdles.
Another way that postmarks have personally touched me, was after my Aunt passed away and Mum and I had to close up her house. I came home with crates of postage stamps and one day rifling through, looking to make some postage stamp necklaces, I found a bird still attached to a piece of envelope. The postmark said Kadina Jan 3 and I knew immediately this was a stamp that had carried a birthday card to my late Aunt (birthday Jan 6) from my Mum's cousin in Kadina. I made a necklace though I would never list it for sale - that necklace connects me to two very dear family members and I wouldn't part with it for all the world.
So when I create postage stamp jewellery, I do so with an eagle eye for postmarks - some are too heavy, they obliterate a beautiful piece of art, but many can truly add to the stamp and its meaning to us as individuals and also as a community. All the jewellery I create uses the original postage stamp, and genuine postmarks.
The necklace above is one of my handmade pieces, featuring a Russian postage stamp from 1991. I have a lot of jewellery available here in my shop, organised by decade, and also a section for unisex and men's jewellery designs.
What would you like to do next?Get crafty with some of my themed sets of stamps ready for you to create with? Check them out here
Browse completed jewellery for yourself or a special gift? Find them here