The latest stamp issue from the Irish Post Office shows it is doing its best to be edgy and contemporary in its approach. The new booklet and associated stamps are striking and the booklet provides an interesting insight into the development of street art over the last twenty years or so from an expression of political protect to an art form in its own right. Admirers of the genre will be pleased to see this new addition to some of the excellent art stamps issued by the Post Office since its first foray into contemporary art back in 1969 – remember the large format Evie Hone Eton Chapel window?
We attended the very well organised Finlandia stamp exhibition in Tampere earlier in the year which focused particularly on the centenary of Finnish independence. Sinn Fein’s propaganda labels, used here in the years before the 1916 rebellion, probably drew inspiration from a similar scheme drawn up by the Finns to highlight the desire for independence from Russia.
The Celtic Cross motif used here later, of course, became better known as part of Ireland’s first definitive issue.
Great event at Trinity College last night to launch a beautiful silver coin for this Irish engineering genius and inventor of the turbine. He was recognized many years ago on an Irish stamp series for science and technology.
This medal can be awarded to civil servants for particularly diligent, faithful and effective service and occasionally it was awarded to Irish Post Office staff in the days before independence in 1922. The example shown here was given to solicitor in the GPO over a century ago. It bears the insignia of Edward VII and the wording “For faithful service”.
A great new exhibition, A Message in Time, has just opened in Tipperay County Museum in Clonmel and there’s a chance to see there several items on loan from the An Post Museum & Archive. The exhibition takes as its starting point Tipperary County Museum’s rich post card collection and uses that to draw out local stories through multi-media, textile and traditional displays.
The exhibition opened earlier this week and a special post card, which uses a 1983 Robert Ballagh stamp design, can be posted in an old letter box on display.
Advertising slogans added by the Post Office to letters as they are postmarked are interesting pieces of ephemera. This envelope, addressed to the Gouldings’s fertiliser company back in 1964, with its advice of “June for your Irish holiday”, would have had it right for this year certainly!
We couldn’t le the 16th June go by without a nod to James Joyce. Here he is on a 2004 Irish post office stamp. Did you know that a first edition of Ulysses, sent from Davy Byrne’s pub in Dublin, was impounded by the British Post Office under censorship laws? Curiously, the book wasn’t banned at that stage in Ireland!
In the days before electricity, working lives in institutions like the Post Office were governed by daylight to a much greater extent than today. This candlestick (formerly on display in our museum and now back in the National Museum’s collection) from the old GPO in College Green Dublin is a reminder of those times. When the new GPO in Sackville Street (today’s O’Connell Street) was built, there was still a reliance on candles, of course, but gas light was also introduced not too long after the building was completed. Early gas was rather noxious stuff, however, and staff complained of feeling ill. The light might have been stronger but at least candle light was pure.
Ireland has produced many notable literary men and women over the centuries but fewer scientists. In recent years, there has however been an increasing awareness that there have been remarkable talents too in science, engineering and mathematics and one of the greatest was undoubtedly Hamilton whose work in mechanics and optics continues to have relevance today.
The excellent, A word a day, website recently featured the German Carl Friedrich Gauss and showed a stamp that had been issued for him by the German Post Office. That prompted me to find some Irish stamps featuring scientific men and since Hamilton has actually been commemorated twice by the Irish Post Office, once in 1943 and again – as shown here – in 2005 I thought he should take pride of place.