Birds on Stamps

August 1, 2023

A uniquely comprehensive series of stamp collections.

Topical stamp collecting can be rewarding, it’s certainly a feat to locate stamps bearing the same particular ‘thematic’ designs from SEVERAL HUNDRED different countries & colonies than to attempt, in the usual fashion, to hunt down stamps from just one place!

The following 56 lots represent possibly the most complete collection of Birds On Stamps
ever formed. It has been arranged, and nicely written-up, according to the Stanley Gibbons ‘Systematic Listing’ in their “Collect Birds on Stamps” which arranges the stamps by bird families as recognised by zoologists and fills 54 closely- arranged pages at the back of this excellent catalogue.

Birds provide an attractive, natural and uncontroversial subject that has been universally used by world postal services ever since the famous “Basel Dove” was issued by Switzerland in 1845. Western Australia followed in 1854, with the 1d Black and 4d Blue stamps both showing the Swan symbol of the British Colonial State.

Other stamps followed, often with small allegorical birds hidden within the design until in 1875 Japan produced the 12 sen Bean Goose, 15 sen Pied Wagtail & 45 sen Northern Goshawk stamps. Such stamps found favour amongst the ranks of people engaged in the new hobby of stamp collecting and so began a movement toward more pictorial stamp designing.

It is perhaps the exotic coloured plumage of many of the birds that make them so attractive and compatible to reproduce on stamps. Additionally, the remote habitats in which they sometimes live make them interesting and an inspiration to bird-watchers and collectors alike. This global following is understandable when one considers the world wide interest and the number of organisations that support, protect and encourage ornithology.

The range of stamps is vast and diverse, every country has its first bird stamp with such simple design classics as the Australian 1913 6d claret “Laughing Kookaburra” or the USA 1911 Official Postal Savings Department 10 Cents depicting an eagle with outspread wings.
Whilst not issued for postal purposes, it is worth mentioning the annual issuance of USA Federal Duck – Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation stamps that portray wonderful images of wild ducks. These have been issued since 1934 and were introduced to allow the licence holder to hunt wildfowl in a particular State. This is still the case to-day. Other countries, including Canada and Russia have implemented similar licensing procedures.

Part of the fee paid is used to fund conservation projects. These unusual stamps have a large international following and many are highly sought- after. As the 20th century progressed, accompanied by rapid developments in air-travel, it was predictable that air-mail stamps would incorporate flight related birds in different designs. The ‘Allegorical Figure of Flight’ shown in the 1923/4 Swiss Airmail stamp series is just one and there are many others.

Many pictorial Empire Colonial stamps were produced during the inter-war years. It is difficult to choose from such a varied selection. Two personal favourites are the 1933 series of stamps produced by the Falkland Islands that included the iconic 5/- “King Penguin” and more recently the French Antarctic Territories bird issues of which the 2003 €0.46 “Emperor Penguin” stamp exemplifies the sheer originality, artistic quality and beauty of the series.

We could go on, arguably birds on stamps represent the most beautiful of the stamp collecting topics. This vast collection is with a relatively high level of completion and not all of the stamps missing are the expensive ones! This is certainly an opportunity to own some beautiful & comprehensive collections.

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