The streaked shearwater gets it’s stamp

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. We have a lovely stamp to look at and talk about.

The look of todays stamp is exceptional. This is the case with so many stamps from Japan. Japanese stamps can be spotted by the word Nippon spelled out in western script on most of them. It is still possible to pick out Japanese stamps from other Asian countries by looking at the Asian characters. No I don’t expect you to learn how to read them. If you look at the characters, a stamp from Japan will always start with a simple rectangle with a straight lime through the center. You can see it in bold script in the bottom right corner of todays stamp.

When I first started collecting stamps 39 years ago, Japan stamp issues were about 80% of the Far Eastern Asian stamps in my collection. Today mainland China and South Korean stamps are much more common in the collections of newer collectors. Thankfully both Korea and China are nice enough to include their country name in western script. It is fun to think of the collectors from long ago who had to develop specialized knowledge to decipher their stamps. That was okay though, as stamp collecting was the hobby of kings.

Todays stamp is issue A1614, a 62 yen stamp issued by Japan in 1991. It is part of a 12 stamp issue that came out over a two year period displaying water-birds. This particular stamp displays the Streaked Shearwater. It is worth 35 cents cancelled.

The streaked shearwater bird measures 19 inches long and has a wingspan of 48 inches. It is known to fly behind fishing boats and feast on what the nets bring up. It is only native to the Pacific Ocean and is most common nesting on Japanese offshore islands.

It is estimated that there are 3 million streaked shearwaters in the world. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the bird is not endangered now or in the past. There is some fear of encroachment in their nesting areas, but so far so good.

Japanese stamps have always shown such artistry that they are a pleasure to take in. Politics are usually ignored on the stamps. Japan is a very homogenous country so the stamps can go all out on the shared history and culture. This is harder and harder to do in the west as the people do not have a common background. George Washington will mean a lot to an American who can trace his American ancestors back to independence. Only a tiny percentage of Americans can do that. Japan to date does not have such issues and is free to fully celebrate the history on it’s postal issues. I wonder if that means Japanese history buffs are more likely to collect stamps?

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.