France might have its annual heart-shaped stamps but I’m lucky in that I don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day to find a bit of love in my mailbox! I wanted to share two amazing stamps that brought me huge smiles and that wonderful feeling that someone is thinking about you. Both stamps are unique in that they contain real lace and fabric!
The first stamp above shows off France’s lace-making tradition and as you can see has actual Puy-en-Velay lace on it! It was one of four lace stamps issued by LaPoste last fall. The other three stamps feature Chantilly, Alençon and Calais lace respectively. While lace making has a long history in France, it really took off in the 17th century when authorities began to encourage the production of home-grown lace over imported lace from the rest of Europe. Bobbin, needle, and machine-made lace all flourished in France over the years. The tradition continues today and Kate Middleton’s wedding dress even contained French lace! In 2010, UNESCO recognized the the point d’Alençon on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity! (See Alençon lace being made here.)
With the exception of the Puy-en-Velay stamp, the stamps feature the symbol of La Poste in the lace itself. Each of the four stamps had its own First Day cancellation. I was lucky enough to receive a First Day Cover of the Puy-en-Velay lace from my friend Daniel. All four stamps sold for 2.50€. I’m still amazed that this envelope arrived intact! Due to the use of actual lace, the stamps are rather fragile and not designed for today’s postal machines. I tried sending two of these stamps to friends and both times, the stamp arrived minus the lace.
The second stamp comes from my friend Shinta in Indonesia and just as amazing! Instead of lace, the Indonesian Post chose to honor its own cultural heritage–batik fabric. Like Alençon lace, Indonesian Batik is inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. (See it being made here.) Batik fabric is hand-dyed and uses wax patterns to ensure the color and design of the fabric. When I received this stamp, I started looking at different batik fabrics online out of curiosity–the variety of designs and colors blew me away! Aren’t stamps a wonderful way to discover the world? I wonder what I’ll discover next in my mailbox!