We Still Like Ike
Volume III, Issue II - Fall 2012
  • I-ARC-3 RUSSIA A359. Issued in 1940 to commemorate the exploits of the officers and crew of the icebreaker George Sedov, which drifted in the Arctic Basin for 812 days.… The drift of the icebreaker on its scientific expedition is plainly shown on the map, which was charted from information recorded during the course of the observational voyage. The portraits of Captain Badigin and First Mate Trofimov and the crew, which make up the border of this regular postage stamp, impair somewhat the effectiveness of this map of the Arctic, nevertheless, it is still a Class I stamp map. The projection used in this instance was the stereographic.

    —William R. Horney, “Miniature Maps of the World,” Weekly Philatelic Gossip for August 14, 1948, Call #: JOURNAL Weekly Philatelic Gossip, Peggy J. Schlusser Memorial Philatelic Library

  • It’s far too small to see detail from the tiny reproduction of the stamp in Weekly Philatelic Gossip for August 14, 1948. An inch across at most, what use might be made of a map like this? As Horney notes, “This depiction of the North Pacific Ocean is purely incidental to the four-motor plane above it. The map, produced by a series of heavy horizontal lines, is ill-defined, and for the most part, is inaccurate. Issued in 1947, this stamp is Korea’s first air post.” Air post’s a good fit for stamp as map, since from above the world is more easily taken in, en route to a mailbox in Tucson, Arizona, in the year to come, illuminating the breath of globe.

    What wonder was opened up by the foreign coins and currencies my father kept from his years abroad—spent in Cote d’Ivoire or Morocco, he and my mother wandering Africa in the 1960s, first in the Peace Corps then on their own. I’d dump the bag, spread them on the bed and marvel, wonder at their wander, this evidence of their exotic, former lives before they settled down in Upper Michigan and made another life. Then when my mother died at 33, the borders of my father’s life blurred, became inaccurate, her memory in part contained in coins like this. When young, I was aware that there were places away of the frozen heart of Upper Michigan through these foreign coins and  ............

  • books. Like many children I played through a series of hobbies, wondering which might stick and anchor me in the world: rock polishing, philately, numismatics, mathematics, the early days of telephony, Boy Scout merit badge collection, gymnastics, piano, soccer, vandalism. That list goes on. Childhood is collection, when the world feels open: there are so many blanks. Then at 37, confronted by a tiny map in an obscure journal, I realize I’ve never been most places, wonder why the thought doesn’t make me want to travel.

    Horney’s list this week collects the seas, Group III, as collected on stamps. As of this date the Indian Ocean had not been printed on a stamp at all. Like the world, that would soon change. A previous map, I-W-1 Canada A33*, “Issued to commemorate the introduction of penny postage throughout most of the British Empire, effective December 25, 1898, has been written about as much, if not more than any stamp ever issued. As a map of the British Empire it is now out of date, but appropriately, it is the first, and, if not the best, it is to date the most complete map stamp of the whole world. Designed by the then Postmaster General of Canada, it was intended to acquaint Englishmen in the home islands with the vastness of the overseas dominions.” May  ............

  • we remember then how maps—and stamps—foreign coins—families—genealogies—lives—are backed by systems, made in, of systems. Their marks contain our fathers’ hearts. Never shall they part.

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