Eleven forbidden stamps are at the centre stage of a very
interesting little book by Haris Mathiopoulos. They are in fact
different types of personal stamps with a specific peculiarity. The
vignettes are neither the "silent" pictures nor the "voiceless"
paintings, which we usually encounter. They are instead accompanied by a
sharp, penetrating message, sometimes quite provocative. The author has tried to legitimize his messages on
personal stamps at the Hellenic Post, and at its counterparts in the
USA, England, Germany, Austria and Luxembourg. What he has actually
tested is the tolerance of each postal service against the general
rule that "a personal stamp should not offend anybody or anything".
Of course, this rule is freely interpreted, therefore the limits of
tolerance are in each case different: one postal service might have
forbidden printing the stamps, while another might have approved.
The book with the forbidden stamps turned up a few days ago by an
article of Nicholas Yatromanolakis in protagon.gr. The columnist
says that he enjoyed philately since he was very young, and he
justly wonders what impact these stamps would have had on him, had
they fallen into his hands at a time he was discovering the world.
He then adds: "... maybe some of these phrases printed on the stamps
would have swirled in my mind more often today...".
So there you have, an unusual, intriguing and a definitely unexplored
feature of personal stamps.
Hellenic Philotelic Society 2001