Art Deco stamps

Art Deco stamps

Art deco stamps are postage stamps designed in the Art Deco style which was a popular international design style in the 1920s through the 1930s. The style is marked by the use of "geometric motifs, curvilinear forms, sharply defined outlines, often bold colors", [, from the "Random House Unabridged Dictionary" 2006.] and a fascination with machinery and modernity. [ Bevis Hillier, "The World of Art Deco", New York (1971), pp. 33-36. ] This style strongly influenced contemporary architecture, furniture, industrial design, books and posters. Art Deco was named for the 1925 exhibit in Paris called Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts). The exhibit lasted from April to October 1925 and displayed numerous objects in the new style. Examples of the style, however, are also found in the early twenties.

The Art Deco style also influenced postage stamp design in a number of countries in the twenties and thirties. [ [ Art History on Stamps – Art Deco] ] One of the focuses of Art Deco was transportation and machines, particularly airplanes, and airmail stamps of the period often were designed in this style. Stamps from some countries showed strong art deco influence, while in others it was absent or barely noticeable. The countries whose stamp designs were most influenced by Art Deco include a number of European countries such as France and the Netherlands, as well as several Latin American countries, particularly Mexico, Brazil and Chile. Stamps of the United States and Great Britain, in contrast, followed traditional design and showed little influence of this new style.

Notable Art Deco stamps

The Art Deco style originally developed in Europe and the earliest Art Deco stamps are from European countries in the 1920s. The style was used in some Latin American countries beginning in the mid-1930s, but never really spread to the United States, whose stamp designs remained traditional and conservative. Notable Art Deco stamps of this period include the following, some of which are small masterpieces of this style:


*France. In 1925, France issued a set of stamps to commemorate the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. [ Scott catalogue, France nos. 220-225.] The Paris Exposition Coloniale Internationale of 1931 [ [ THE EXPOSITION COLONIALE INTERNATIONALE DE PARIS, 1931 by Arthur Chandler] ] also was commemorated with a set, including a fine art deco image of the head of an African woman under which was block lettering within ruled lines, a common Art Deco device. [ Scott catalogue, France nos. 258-262. ]
*Germany. In 1925, Germany issued a stamp displaying a bold Art Deco “traffic wheel” [ Scott catalogue, Germany nos. 345-346. ] or traffic circle, in commemoration of the Deutsche Verkehrausstellung München 1925 or Munich Transport Exhibition of 1925. [ [ Brochure for the "Deutsche Verkehrausstellung München 1925." ] ] In 1934, it issued another striking image, two hands grasping a piece of coal, referring to the Saar Plebiscite held the following year which would determine that the coal-rich region would reunite with Germany.
*The Netherlands. The stamps of the Netherlands ahowed influence of the Art Deco style as early as the mid-1920s, when the country issued two stamps honoring the Centenary of the Dutch LIfeboat Society. The stamps depicted highly stylized boats in distress and a lifeboat, with lettering showing some influence of the style. A triangular airmail stamp issued in 1933, depicting a Fokker Pander, was surrounded by a border with bold lettering typical of the style. In 1934, Curacao, then a colony of the Netherlands, issued one of the iconic Art Deco stamps ever created, an airmail stamp carring the highly stylized profile of the messenger god Hermes.

*Austria. Austrian stamps of the 1920s showed influence of the Jugendstil or Art Nouveau style, but the new style made its influence known as the decade progressed. In 1925, Austria began a series of postage due stamps, and which included the country's name and an amount in a simple, bold design.
*Russia. Russia's stamps showed some influence of the Art Deco style, particularly in the lettering, beginning about 1929. , which display strong elements of the style.
*Switzerland. In 1932, Switzerland issued a stamp honoring the 1932 Disarmament Conference, and depicting an image of Peace in a bold Art Deco style -
*Portugal. In 1936, Portugal issued a series of airmail stamps with a highly stylized airplane propeller and cloud, forming a fine Art Deco image.

Latin America

The Art Deco style was popular with several Latin American countries, particularly Mexico, Chile and Brazil.

*Mexico. Mexico issued some airmail stamps in the mid-1930s with lettering in a distinct Art Deco style. [ Scott catalogue Mexico, nos. C65-73. ] . In the early 1940s, Mexico issued a number of stamps, commonly a larger format with strongly Art Deco influenced images [ Scott catalogue Mexico, nos. 764-766, C100-C102, C111-116, C126-C128. ] particularly including the artwork of Mexican artist

*Chile. In the mid-1930s, Chile issued a series of airmail stamps designed in a style clearly influenced by Art Deco. [ Scott catalogue Chile, nos. C30-C50.] These included a stylized airplane in flight and a stylized condor.
*Brazil. During the 1930s, Brazil issued a number of stamps influenced by the Art Deco style, especially in their lettering. [ Scott catalogue Brazil, nos. 372-73, 387-90.] The most striking Art Deco stamps, however, was the 1934 issue commemorating the 7th International Trade Fair, held in Rio de Janeiro, and depitcing silhouettes of buildings and a profile of a construction worker with highly stylized Art Deco lettering. -

United States

The 1939 stamp depicting the Trylon and Perisphere, the centerpiece and symbol of the 1939 New York World's Fair. Although the Trylon and Perisphere itself is an iconic Art Deco image, the lettering and numbers on the stamp were done in a traditional, not Art Deco, font. With this limited exception, United States stamps showed no Art Deco influence until 1998 when it issued a stamp in a strong Art Deco depicting Ayn Rand. [Scott Specialized United States, (2006) "no. 3308", p. 248]


The Art Deco style has been revived on stamps. In 1998, the United States issued a stamp honoring Ayn Rand in a distinct Art Deco style. [Scott Specialized United States, (2006) no. . ] In 2001, it issued two definitive stamps depicting a strongly Art Deco eagle on a mailbox, shown left. [Scott Specialized United States, (2006) "nos. 3471, 3471A", p. 258] In 2003, it issued a stamp honoring Rockefeller Center, shown right. [Scott Specialized United States, (2006) no. 3766. ]

ee also

* Postage stamp design




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