Postage stamps – printing and production

For those who still write letters, finding a stamp will probably mean a trip to the local post office and, more often than not nowadays, what will be sold to them will be a little label that is printed off by the clerk at the counter. The system is convenient in many respects and offers advantages to the Post Office but, for older customers and the traditional stamp collector, it certainly marks a change in the way in which stamps are produced and made available to the public. It is probably a good time, consequently, to recall something of the specialist printing work that went into the production of Irish stamps over the years and at the Irish national stamp exhibition, STAMPA, the An Post Museum & Archive will have some archive sheets on display this weekend.

Sir Rowland Hill 17p - 1979jpg

Understanding and using the different printing techniques and processes, from traditional letter-press or typography to photogravure and offset lithography, calls for specialist knowledge and making stamps requires the collaboration of many different people. Artists and engravers, printers and IT people all contribute to the stamp and along the way they need to draw on others who know about paper and gums as well.

The STAMPA 2013 exhibition is on at the RDS (Anglesea Road entrance) from Friday the 18th to Sunday the 20th October and is open from 11am to 6pm daily. Admission is €5 for adults and €2 for children.

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