US Stamps

George DeKornfeld

Stamps that make sense

September 27, 2015 12:11 PM

  • Ireland issued five stamps Sept. 10 representing the senses of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell. Each stamp includes a gimmick related to the sense it symbolizes.

Being at one time what I suppose some would term a purist (not that there's anything wrong with that), I've spent a fair amount of my philatelic journey ignoring anything but the so-called classics.

Regardless of the country of origin, stamps issued before 1940, especially the engraved ones, always made this collector's heart go pitter-patter throughout the entire happy process extending from their purchase to their settling into their new home on an album page.

I would eschew recent issues, especially the gimmicky ones many of which were issued for no other reason than to empty the collector's wallet while they served little if any postal utility. Tonga's coin and heart stamps of the 1960s and Bhutan's record stamps of the 1970s immediately come to mind, and although these were kind of neat, I just didn't want anything to do with them.

Then something changed. Perhaps I became more tolerant with age or I just followed some formerly repressed progression to the "dark side," but suddenly stamps like these started showing up in some of my stock books and to be honest, they're a lot of fun to collect and look at, simply because they are … gimmicky.

It is with this in mind that we take a look at a set of five stamps issued by Ireland’s An Post on Sept. 10 that celebrate the five traditionally recognized human senses:

Taste: a €0.70 stamp showing a tongue protruding from a pair of lips, with the added taste of strawberry flavored lick-and-stick adhesive.

Touch: a €1.05 stamp printed with thermo-chromic (heat- sensitive) ink illustrating a hand with index finger extended. The stamp changes color when touched.

Sight: a €1.25 stamp depicting an eye, printed on transparent backing.

Hearing: a €1.70 stamp picturing an ear. Particles embedded in the stamp create a sound when rubbed.

Smell: a €2.80 stamp depicting (you guessed it) a nose and with a mint fragrance.

Created by Zinc Design Consultants Ltd. of Dublin, these stamps are available individually and in panes of 16, and can even be scanned with a smart phone to access online videos that discuss the five senses. Amazing!

My guess is, given their novel designs, these stamps will indeed see legitimate postal use and will be a hit with both mailers and collectors alike.

What do you think? Is there room for these stamps in your collection?