Inspiring S*T*A*M*P*S

What the heck is PHILATELY?

Well, I found out a few days ago, when I was inspired by the big, bright blue Oaxacan sky to get out and about to enjoy Oaxaca City by foot.  I decided to stroll the city and try to find something new.  The  unexpected gem I stumbled upon captivated me, and I learned something new. Philately.  Do you know what it is?  Read on, my friend.  Read on.

Don’t you love when something unexpected comes into your path?

Knight Service? Sounds fun.

I was wandering  along the sidewalk near the center of the city, and peered into the window of what looked to be a museum shop.  Poking my head in, I saw a security guard at a rather official-looking desk, surely there to take my money to see whatever there was to see behind the desk.  So I ask, “How much is it?”   Coming out from behind the desk, he told me with a smile that  it was by donation only, pointing to an old metal mail box that served as a donation box.  Fun! I had stumbled onto MUFIMuseo de Filatelia de Oaxaca or Museum of Stamp Collecting).

Who knew, but apparently philately  is as follows:

“the collection and study of postage and imprinted stamps: stamp collecting.” (

Basically it is the hobby of collecting all different types of stamps, envelopes, and postcards from different time periods and places in the world. (Can’t pronounce philately?  Listen to it pronounced here.)

Maybe this is a hobby I should pick up, considering I LOVE to send postcards, handwritten letters, and the thought of something traveling from one’s hands to another’s in a different location (sometimes on the other side of the world!).  I once sent a postcard to a friend from Dakar, Senegal to Leon, Mexico and it arrived I believe THREE months later.  At least it arrived, right?

It ended up being one of my favorite museums!! (the first being the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Fabulous.  Go if you get a chance. Totally turns stuffy, orderly museum displays on their head!). Currently there is an exhibit that combining postage stamps from around the world with fun art installations.

So, as some may know, I whole-heartedly believe in the magic of handwritten letters, and they would have no way to arrive if someone to not afix a stamp to them!  So, in honor of my love of handwritten communication and fun, whimsical art displays, this post is dedicated to small (postage stamp size, in fact!) but magical works of art  that surround us in our world!

I truly love when you see something and you think to yourself, “wow, I would have never thought of that!” I would have never thought to comnine postage stamps and art to make an exhibit, but it was totally fun! The human imagination is pretty amazing and the creative spirit is even more impressive I think.  It was fascinating to see little stamps from around the world, from different eras, featuring different subjects, all arranged whimsically next to each other.  Let me tell ya, a person sitting with their back facing you is alot different in Denmark then it is in Abruba !

Back shot from Aruba….
Back Shot from Denmark….

So here are a few images from my time there and some of the stamps displayed. My hopes in this post is to inspire you to notice the small artwork that surrounds us, offering simple beauty or a message.  I was happy I took the time to appreciate  the creative spirit that shows through in the diversity of these mini masterpieces.  Handwritten correspondence continues to be a dying art in our fast-paced world of high-speed internet, cell phones, and IPODS. MUFI is a fun, whimsical place to experience what the world has come up with through the years .

Lovely buidling and I would recommend a visit if you are in Oaxaca!

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I must admit, when I was writing this post, I was thinking, “come on Melissa, you gotta stick to a theme…sustainablability related and inspiring projects documented through your fabulous photography!” (maybe not fabulous YET, but it is improving!) But then, I remembered!  The USPS put out GO GREEN stamps last year!

So, to follow my theme, and to show big messages and creative expression can be displayed to these under-appreciated little pieces of sticky paper, I give you two of my favorite messages from the GO GREEN stamps.

“Compost” and “Let nature do the work” from the GO GREEN stamp series (USA, 2011)

For more information:

Other Fun Philately related pages:

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