Monday, February 11, 2008

Ask the Filmatelist - Part I

For our first installment of a (hopefully) recurring feature, Ask The Filmatelist, we go to my friend Brian, who’s the host of, IMHO, the Best Bay Area Movie Blog around:

One question from a stamp ignoramus: why did you use three stamps for the "Fargo" postcard, instead of all four, or just one?
A good question, though I should address the “ignoramus” comment first—Believe me, I may be The Filmatelist, but my hobbying is truly Amateur Hour. I attend Westpex every year (more on that in a future post), and as much as I enjoy assembling this material, it is really just dabbling compared to what the old school philatelists commit themselves to. So I can’t speak as anything other than a stamp collecting fan, as opposed to a hardline purist in the field.
The conventional wisdom suggests that you’re probably right—it certainly seems to make more sense, particularly from an investment standpoint, to include all four stamps of the holiday issue together. There are a couple different reasons why I chose not to.
From an aesthetic standpoint, I didn’t want to include the fourth stamp (a knit snowman), because not only did the color of the stamp not quite balance with the colors of the postcard and the other three stamps, but also because I thought having stamps four-across would end up looking a little cluttered. As you’ll see in future posts, sometimes the sheer volume of stamps appropriate for a postcard trumps appearance or compositional concerns, but in this case, I thought it would look better without the fourth.
Another consideration, though, was that I had another use for that snowman stamp:

This is a postcard still from the Pixar short Knick-Knack (Lasseter, 1989), about a snowman trying to escape the snowglobe in which he’s encased. It’s probably my favorite of all the Pixar shorts, with a charming a cappella score by Bobby McFerrin, and I thought the snowman stamp would work better here. Although my emphasis has always been collecting the one-sheet movie advert postcards, I also occasionally will seek out other film-related postcards if I know I’ll be able to use them with an upcoming issue.
Similarly, if there’s a multi-stamp release that has some stamps I know I want to use, then I’ll make a concerted effort to find enough different postcards so I can use all the stamps from that issue—even ones that might not seem as obvious a candidate. Since my last post introduced both the Muppet and Marvel Comic stamp releases, here are two more one-sheets that use other stamps from those same issues:

Probably the most frustrating part of this hobby is knowing the perfect movie to match with a stamp, but not having the postcard for that film. That’s why having National Lampoon’s Animal House (Landis, 1978) was a particularly happy accident, Animal being my second favorite muppet as it is (just ahead of Beaker and behind the Swedish Chef).
Spider Woman’s inclusion in the Marvel Comics issue reeked of quota pandering (Spider Woman? over Thor? Daredevil?) But there was one unlikely film that she was perfect for: Kiss of the Spider Woman (Babenco, 1985). This postcard is actually a German one-sheet for the film. I would estimate maybe 10-15% of the postcards I have for American films are movie adverts from foreign countries, quite a few purchased in my international travels, though a majority still from American postcard companies licensing the images for domestic sale.

Hope that clarified things, and thanks for the question, Brian! To Ask The Filmatelist, you can e-mail me ( or just post your question in the comments field. See you soon…


Brian Darr said...

Thanks for the shout-out and for featuring my question! Great, detailed answer. I'm glad to hear that your collection is built on principles other than investment; ultimately I'd like to hope that a unique collection like yours has more intrinsic value than a by-the-book completist's.

I actually own a postcard that looks identical to that Wag the Dog card in the previous post. I got it in Thailand. - that's right, though I'm not a stamp collector at all, I have haphazardly amassed a small stack of one-sheet postcards as well. I'm a little surprised this never came up in conversation between us before.

The Filmatelist said...

I'd love to see that collection, Bri (and even buy anything you might be willing to part with).

Have a great weekend.