World Stamps

American designer crafts playable postage for small Asian country

Jan 14, 2016, 11 AM
Burt Todd, a self-proclaimed "adventurer," from Pennsylvania designed these record-playing stamps in 1972 in order to raise government funds for the Southeast Asian country of Bhutan.

By Colin Sallee 

1. Playable postage transcends hobbies

This is a rare concept in the stamp hobby.

American adventurer and envelope-pushing (pun intended) designer, Burt Todd fell in love with the Southeast Asian country of Bhutan in 1972 – landlocked mass border by India, China, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Todd went on to befriend the king of Bhutan at the time, and convinced him to issue postage stamps as a means for raising government funds. The funds would help protect the country who was always under threat it’s world powers just across the border, while also raising it’s status with new, cutting edge postal material.

Kera News sat down with journalist Chris May of to learn more about these underrated designs and their current relevance in the stamp hobby.

Todd’s designs started with floral, fauna-esque depictions, but quickly evolved – citing lack of international impact in those features.

Ideas morphed into silk prints, dye options, steel-based stamps, and even 3-D issues. The outlandish options culminated in stamps that could be played on a record player.

300,000 sets would go on to sell, and no more were printed.

The price for these stamps is now in the $400-range and is only going up.

“I mean five years ago, they were worth a fraction of that,” May said of the current stamp price.

“And the reason they’ve gone up so much in price I think is you not only got stamp collectors appreciating them, but now – the angle from which I was originally interested in – people who were collecting vinyl, as well.”

2. Flemish paintings highlight new European issues

Romania, Monaco, and The Netherlands all focused their first 2016 postage issues around art.

“Romania pictures Flemish paintings, the Netherlands shows a work by Hieronymus Bosch, and Monaco features examples of circus poster art.”

Have a look at the some of the art

3. Expect plenty from the World Stamp Show-NY 2016

“For mountain climbers, the ultimate thrill is the summit of Mt. Everest: There are no higher peaks to climb. For stamp collectors in the United States and around the world, the equivalent of summiting Everest will be attending World Stamp Show-NY 2016 in New York City.”

The show will feature exhibits, forums, and countless variations of stamps and postage material.

Here’s what you can expect

4. Connect with Linn's Stamp News

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