Postage stamps can inspire nation-building
By Terence Roberts
Guyana Chronicle
April 27, 2003

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COLLECTING stamps remains one of lifeís educational hobbies which can inspire and teach without the use of rigid methods. But even more interesting is the ability of postage stamps to contain and convey vital information about nations and their aspirations toward social betterment.

Of course, such a potentially valid means of presentation can be abused by political regimes which seize the medium for propaganda purposes, but such manipulations would hardly deceive in todayís world of well-documented history, and can even backfire, injuring a nationís reputation.

The proper use of postage stamps, therefore, offers nations the opportunity to assert moral positions which inform the world about themselves, and influence citizens toward better social attitudes and nation-building.

Both historical periods of British Guiana and independent Guyana have produced postage stamps of keen interest to collectors worldwide. We should remember that the worldís rarest and most valuable stamp comes from late 18th century Demerara, when during the exchanges of power between the Dutch, British and French, our first stamps were printed, and due to the interchanges and cancellations made by succeeding powers in old Guyana, certain postage stamps became rare items very briefly in print.

However, the period of British Guiana would produce both beautiful and informative stamps about the nation, and this established the importance of this public medium for the preservation of the national heritage, and the national will toward the development and betterment of Guyana and Guyanese.

Post-colonial independent Guyana would see a brilliant renaissance of design and use of national stamps unequalled today. Perhaps this previous enthusiasm for the use of innovative stamps was ahead of its time. What such stamps promoted, and what was achieved in reality may seem discordant, but this does not reduce the moral value, good intentions, and visual importance still alive in these stamps, eleven of which are illustrated here. The value of such stamps to all citizens should be clear, and their continuation justified in our present society.

The printing of stamps provides the opportunity to foster a much needed sense of national pride in the nationís past, present and future. They also provide opportunities for the nationís artists, photographers, and printmakers to employ their talents. Certain artistic styles, however, have been proven more appropriate than others for stamp design. The vivid colourful hard-edge Pop-art style is quite useful here. Topics available would include all our historical ruins, public buildings, including famous cinemas, geographical terrain, national historical figures of ever era, race, and profession. For example, each historical figure which appears in the cupola painted by Stanley Greaves for the old Barclays Bank on Water Street should receive a stamp of its own, since it would be difficult. To reproduce a proper stamp of the entire cupola as it stands.

Paintings of national and social value in the National Collection should be selected and reproduced on stamps. In short, we should seize the opportunity to circulate as much knowledge and pride in our achievements as a nation as possible, exposing our best faces and features to the world as well.

Stamps priced for national and international postage obviously should be of various designs, topics and colours, so that many national items find daily exposure in and out of Guyana. This opportunity to inspire a better nation should not be allowed to pass us by.

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