World Stamps

The ‘Strange Stamp Squad’

Apr 29, 2021, 7 AM

What country issued this stamp? The answer is hidden in the stamp’s design.

As new issue editor of the Scott stamp catalogs, I see thousands of pieces of miniature works of art every year listing the new stamps of the world for the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue and the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.

I regularly encounter stamps exhibiting odd qualities — the ones that, in the words of Maxwell Smart, “missed it by that much.” Such items are worthy of inclusion in what might be called the “Strange Stamp Squad.”

A recent stamp for your consideration is one issued Jan. 21. No, it’s not a maze or a scannable code box for a new electronic gadget.

If you stare at it long enough, you may figure out the issuing country and the denomination. Stare at it too long, and you risk a migraine.

Give up? The stamp is inscribed “Osterreich 62 cent.”

This stamp issued by Austria celebrates an artistic concept of dubious merit — the creation of the modern world’s most unreadable type font.

This stamp violates the first rule for creating a postage stamp, which is to ensure that people know that the item is indeed a stamp.

The stamp is sure to put befuddled looks on the faces of customers and postal clerks everywhere.

I won’t be surprised if postal clerks put rubber stamp markings on envelopes bearing this stamp that say the equivalent of “Return to Sender — Please Use Postage Stamp.”

The stamp is available from Austria Post’s online shop.

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