“One of the best advertising mediums the country can have:” Postage Stamps and National Identity in Canada, New Zealand and Australia

Michael Maloney

Abstract


This article examines the transformation of postage
stamp imagery in Canada, New Zealand and Australia from the late 19th century to the 1990s. It
documents the manner in which this imagery evolved from a predominately ethnic representation
during the first half of the 20th century to a preponderance of civic–nationalistic designs in
the post-1960s period. By highlighting the largely similar ways in which the governments of
these three nations used postage stamps to guide and reflect the revision of their respective
national identities, the article seeks to encourage greater comparative work among scholars
examining the political and cultural histories of these nations. It also emphasizes the utility
of recognizing postage stamps as rich primary sources of material culture that can facilitate
comparative research that focuses on broad temporal and geographic
parameters.

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