Collections Collide

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“Special Delivery” Pikachu plush from The Pokemon Center.

                This year marks the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, the Japanese cartoon and game series about catching and battling monsters. I’ve been a huge Pokémon fan for years! What does that have to do with philately? Well, stamp collecting and Pokémon might have more in common than you think.

                Last year I visited the Pokémon National Championships in Indianapolis. While we were there, we sat and watched part of the Trading Card Game tournament. The Pokémon Trading Card Game (or TCG for short) was first published in Japan in 1996, since then over 9,000 different Pokémon cards have been designed and printed. Cards aren’t only for those who want to play the game, however, there is also a large number of fans to want the cards for collecting and display.

                Card collecting and stamp collecting are fairly similar hobbies. While Pokémon cards may not have quite the historical value of postage stamps, they certainly inspire a similar passion.

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Japan 2005 stamps.

                Japan has printed several postage stamps featuring the beloved characters. A set of the characters was issued in 2005; and additional Pikachu stamps were issued alongside other anime characters for the Philanippon 2011 stamp expo.

                If we’re going to compare stamp collection with Pokémon card collecting, however, I want to draw attention to a series of souvenir sheets issued by several countries around 2001. What draws me to these stamps in particular is how similar they are to trading cards.

                Each sheet includes one stamp and a large, decorative border that includes a description of the pokémon. The sheets themselves are slightly larger than one of the trading cards. The stamps are perforated, but each stamp is placed awkwardly in the middle of the sheet. If you wanted to separate the stamps for use, you’d have to rip through the entire sheet to get to it. Although they are valid for use, it is clear these stamps were intended to be collected, rather than used postally.

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Design comparison between Pokemon TCG card (left) and St. Vincent postage stamp souvenir sheet (right).  NOT to scale.  Note that the same descriptive text is used on both.

                These card-like stamps were issued primarily by Caribbean island nations, although two were issued by West African countries, one issued by a South American country, and one issued by an Oceanian country. Many of these countries are known for issuing hundreds of stamps primarily for philatelic purposes. Their stamps feature numerous pop culture references and historical commemoratives to appeal to collectors of all subjects. These kinds of stamps are sometimes called “wallpaper” because they are large, plentiful, and relatively cheap.

                These countries also issued sheets of six stamps, each featuring a different pokémon. I have chosen not to include them in this post, because they do not fit the “card-like” description. If you are interested in collecting Pokémon stamps, however, you might want to check these out as well!

                Following is a list of the card-like stamps I was able to find, in case you’d like to catch ‘em yourself:

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Seven of the card-like souvenir sheets from various countries.
  • Horsea – Guyana (South America)
  • Charizard – Antigua And Barbuda (Caribbean)
  • Pikachu – Grenada/Carriacou & Petite Martinique (Caribbean)
  • Jolteon – Grenada (Caribbean)
  • Togipi – Grenada (Caribbean)
  • Nidoking – Dominica (Caribbean)
  • Meowth – St. Vincent & The Grenadines (Caribbean)
  • Chinchou – Antigua & Barbuda (Caribbean)
  • Farfetch’d – Micronesia (Oceania)
  • Enti – Liberia (West Africa)
  • Articuno – Gambia (West Africa)
  • Lugia – Sierra Leone (West Africa)

 

      These “wallpaper” stamps might not be particularly special philatelic pieces, but it’s nice sometimes to see two awesome collections come together.

 To learn more about the Pokemon trading card game, check out the official website!

[ Images used on this post were pulled from the web, primarily from ebay.  Thanks to StampWorld.com for help searching for these stamps. ]

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