World Stamps

Austria’s new embroidered stamp pays homage to masks

Nov 13, 2021, 10 AM
While this image may be all-too-familiar for many people throughout the world, the level of care and attention given to the details of the image and materials used to print Austria’s Mask stamp issued Sept. 16 gives a refreshing take on what we might see as mundane.

By David Hartwig

Austrian Post issued a timely stamp on Sept. 16. Embroidered with nonwoven material, the new stamp gives a detailed portrayal of the masks that have dominated daily life since the spring of 2020.

Austrian Post said that this unusual stamp “should be a light-hearted reminder of how easily we can protect ourselves against infection by wearing a mask.”

Designed by David Gruber, the €2.75 stamp features the embroidered shape of a face mask, complete with ear loops. “Austria 275” is embroidered in red on the white background, next to a similarly colored illustration of the coronavirus — the fuzz-ball image that has become so common in visual media. The detail of this embroidery is significant. Even a casual glance reveals the distinctive nose strip and folds in the mask.

While the stamp features an image of something that has become ubiquitous in everyday life, the process of making the stamp is anything but normal. Hammerle & Vogel, experts in both embroidery and textile postage stamps, embroidered the stamps in two layers of nonwoven materials. According to Austrian Post, these are the same materials “produced within Europe for the making of masks.”

The ear loops especially portray the detail in this stamp, as they were stitched separately and attached in a process that the Austrian Post understates as complex. After the embroidery, the stamps were cut using laser technology.

The stamp, which is sold in a sheet of one, measures 60 millimeters by 41mm. The print run was 150,000 stamps. This is half of the 300,000 print run for Austrian Post’s 2020 COVID-19 semipostal stamp printed on toilet paper (Linn’s, Nov. 23, 2020, page 4).

Mask usage and the rules surrounding masks have differed from country to country.

Austrian Post said: “While at the outset simple, often home-made, brightly coloured cloth masks were thought to be enough to protect us against infection, as the number of infections rose in January 2021, the requirement to wear so-called FFP2 masks was introduced for certain situations such as in shops and on public transport.”

These FFP2 (filtering facepiece) masks have a specialized ability to filter particles and thus have proven to be more effective than cloth or surgical masks for providing protection, according to Austrian Post.

Regardless of how prevention strategies and resources change in the coming weeks as they pertain to the pandemic, masks will remain the tools and accessories that have already defined an era. The intricate detail given in this straightforward stamp is a fitting homage to this prevention strategy that has been so effective in no small part because of its simplicity.

For more details about the new stamp, visit the Austrian Post website.

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