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News & Information

 

LATEST NEWS

(details at our discussion board)

22 Jan 2022 Website goes live for Volcano Stamps of the World Click here

20 Sep 2021 Write up in 'TAG' magazine of the Geological Society of Australia Click here

17 Jul 2021 Local residents up in arms about Mt Warning volcano stamp!! Click here

23 Jun 2021 Official launch postponed, but Alice Springs launch proceeds with an eruption Click here

14 Jun 2021 Australia Post releases 'Australia's Volcanic Past' stamp series (initiated by Glenn, read below) Click here

INFORMATION
(click on a heading to read more)

Tips to collect your own volcano stamps

  Request the excel database of volcano stamps (14,000 of them)

Learn how the Volcano Stamps database was populated (big job!)

  Hear Glenn Marshall's story on collecting volcano stamps

Tribute to Jim Whitford-Stark (the first big volcano stamp collector)

  What will happen to Glenn Marshall's collection?

Australia Post releases a 2021 volcano stamp series, inspired by us

  Watch the eruption of Lillecrapp Volcano (in Alice Springs)

Offering stamp images to the Global Volcanism Program

  Run your own Volcano Stamp Quiz

Buy a volcano stamp t-shirt (a true collectors item, only A$20)

  Help us add searchable tags to our stamps

Tips to collect your own volcano stamps

There are several ways to buy volcano stamps:

  • Physical stamp shops

  • Online stamp sites

  • National post offices

  • Stamperija (for mass African releases)

 

Stamp shops. If you have a stamp shop nearby (this is getting rarer), go in and ask to flick through the following countries: Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Iceland, Japan, Chile, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guinea-Bissau, Nicaragua, Mexico, Sao Tome, New Zealand, Tristan da Cunha, Guatemala, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

You will come upon plenty of volcano stamps this way.

Online stamp sites. There are several major websites that list stamps from hundreds of sellers. Here are my favourites:

  • StampWorld. This is a fantastic site. It lists every stamp in the world including images (the only free site of its kind). It uses its own catalogue numbers, which I have used for my database. For every stamp listed, it shows who is selling it, their price and the condition of the stamp. Not all stamps have a seller. Prices are mid-range and postage can be expensive, so it's best to order several stamps per order to minimise postage.

  • Stamps 2 Go. Mainly USA sellers offering pre-1980 stamps. Cheaper than most other sites. Search by Scott number, year or 'volcano'. A really good site to accumulate a lot of volcano stamps at a relatively cheap price.

  • Delcampe. A European site with worldwide sellers (not many USA sellers). Not the cheapest site but often has stamps that others don't. You cannot search by Scott or SG numbers, so you have to narrow your search down by country, year or phrase ('volcano' is a good start!). Postage can be expensive from some sellers, so check this before committing to buy.

  • eBay. This is good for more recent stamps (post-1990) and the myriad releases from African and Caribbean countries (think Elvis, dinosaurs and John F Kennedy). It is harder to find multiple stamps for sale by individual sellers, so it's harder to save on postage. But it has many stamps that other sites don't. Price is mid-range.

  • Individual webstores. There are hundreds of these. You can identify most from the websites above and go to them directly. I don't do this much as its easier to deal with the bigger sites.

 

National Post Offices. This is the least expensive way to buy new stamps. Search online for the relevant PO, but not all countries offer this service (for example Japan). Click here to see available post offices.

Stamperija. Sadly, some countries (mainly African) release thousands of stamps each year to make money off theme-collectors. Stamperija is the company who prints them, based in Lithuania. If you choose to keep up with this stream, it is cheapest to buy direct from their website. eBay and StampWorld also list many of these stamps but are more expensive. For volcano stamps the guilty countries include Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Maldives, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Togo. Even Japan is releasing heaps of volcano stamps (primarily Fuji) but not through Stamperija.

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Request the Excel database of Volcano Stamps

If you want a copy of the database, click here to send a request to Glenn Marshall.

It is A$30 for anyone with an interest, I ask that you use it respectfully.

It is a normal Excel file.

Read below on how Glenn compiled it.

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How the database was populated

Glenn Marshall reflects "This was a big job that took about a year. I started with Jim Whitford-Stark's fantastic database which had 7,000 stamps from 188 countries up to 2007. I expanded it to 14,700 stamps from 271 countries up to 2020. I included minerals on stamps that derive from volcanic processes (Jim only had a few of those). When I say 'countries' it includes where a country has changed its name, amalgamated or split (e.g. Djibouti was called Afars & Issas until 1977).

I used the Stampworld website. It has an image of virtually every stamp ever issued, roughly 760,000. I looked at all of them over a 6-month period, most evenings.

When I found a volcanic feature on a stamp, I'd log it in the database, under one of seven categories: 

  • 1 = obvious volcano or volcanic feature on a stamp

  • 2 = volcano-based geological feature on a stamp, obvious to an enthusiast (e.g. volcanic plug)

  • 3 = volcano present in background; volcanic island or range profiles; country emblems or flags that include volcanoes; 

  • 4 = human constructions made from volcanic rocks or volcanic processes (e.g. Easter Island statues)

  • 5 = landscape features derived from volcanic processes, but not obviously volcanic on the stamp

  • 6 = map of volcano-created islands or atolls (e.g. Pitcairn Island)

  • 7 = minerals or gems created by volcanic or igneous processes

 

If a country had no volcano stamps, this was recorded as 'No stamps' in the database. There were 601 such countries or provinces, many now non-existent.

I then downloaded an image of all 14,700 stamps from the StampWorld website (I sometimes used Jim's images). I lodged them all on Google Drive, per country, and then transferred them all to this website.

I then uploaded what it cost me to buy each stamp in my collection. This made me nervous as I had never tried to guess how much I spent on them. It turned out my 3,500 stamps have cost A$7,800, which includes probably $2,000 of postage costs. But I've been collecting for 14 years, so that's $560 per year which is less than lots of hobbies (please, back me up here!).

The next significant task will be to do high resolution scans of my stamps and upload them to this website. It is difficult to find high-res versions online.

I have not-yet commenced the last (huge) task to add searchable tags to every stamp in the database. There will be up to 7 tags per stamp, so the collection is searchable in detail. For example, if you search for 'dinosaur',  it will display every stamp with a dinosaur on it. I'd really appreciate help with tagging these stamps, contact Glenn.

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Glenn Marshall's story on collecting volcano stamps

Why do we collect things? David Attenborough is a collector, and tells a lovely story about his obsession.

I started collecting volcano stamps in 2007. I had 3 young daughters and thought I'd introduce them to stamp collecting, like I enjoyed when I was a kid. Their interest faded quickly, but whilst poking around a stamp shop in Melbourne (Australia), I stumbled upon an Ecuadorian stamp with a volcano on it.

'Gees that looks good....' I thought.

A year earlier, I had rekindled my enthusiasm for volcano climbing when my wife Jane and I took our kids to live in Indonesia for a year. I studied geology at university in the mid-1980s and had worked in gold and diamond exploration for several years after that, so I had a solid grounding on how volcanoes work. I fondly remember my volcanology lecturers Ray Cas and Ian Nichols at Monash University. Indeed I always remember Ian lecturing about the Mt St Helens' eruption in 1980. He lamented that a few volcanologists died after rushing to the imminent eruption and getting too close. He paused for a second, looked wistfully into space and sighed ".....but what a way to go".

I had climbed about 10 volcanoes that year (2006), but then we returned to Australia and it wasn't easy to get to volcanoes any more.

So collecting volcano stamps became my proxy for continuing to enjoy volcanoes. My early technique was to visit Peter Strich's stamp shop in the Melbourne CBD. He was a lovely man and allowed me to flip through albums from countries that had lots of volcanoes including Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Iceland, Japan and Chile. I would stumble upon a stamp and buy it (if it wasn't too dear) and soon I built up a small collection of lovely stamps.

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Jim Whitford-Stark. Then one night I was surfing the internet and stumbled upon Jim Whitfield-Stark's website 'Io moon'. Jim was a UK geologist living in the USA, with a passion for collecting volcano stamps. He had built up a nice collection of stamps, but more importantly had recently compiled a database of about 7,000 volcano stamps. Jim was selling his database for $30 so I sent him some money and a few weeks later a CD arrived in the mail. It was amazing, it listed 7,000 stamps from 180 countries, all with Scott numbers, and a small colour image for each stamp. I communicated a few times with Jim over the next few years, but sadly never asked him how he had compiled such an amazing list before he passed away in 2018. I printed out Jim's list and images into a physical catalogue, and began marking off each stamp as I bought them. I still have that catalogue, with its now well-worn pages.

Even without Jim's catalogue, it was easy to type 'volcano' into eBay. I bought many of my early stamps like that.

Of course I have spent a LOT of money on postage over the years. Most cost roughly $2 to $6 per order as most come from overseas. But it is a joyful part of my hobby to open our post office box and find a fresh envelope from Azerbaijan or Japan, Russia, Singapore, USA or New Zealand in there. Delightfully, these sellers mostly use proper old (mint) stamps on their envelopes (presumably bought cheap at auctions) so they are inevitably very colourful and entertaining. Occasionally they use volcano stamps for their postage (deliberately I assume) and I duly insert these envelopes into my collection as well.

Over the years, I have had hot and cold patches with my collecting. Sometimes I go 9 months without buying anything, other times I have my wife saying 'Hey, there are too many emails saying 'congratulations on buying heaps of stamps'!". It brings me pleasure. I like the idea of slowly building up a substantial body of work, I have around 3,500 stamps now and presume it might be the biggest volcano stamp collection in the world (maybe Jim's is bigger?). It has taught me much about volcanic events and consequences around the world. For example, Indonesia released two stamps in 1963 showing the eruption of Agung volcano on Bali that year. Earlier that year, Hindu priests wanted to postpone a hundred-year ceremony on Agung which was meant to appease the gods, saying it wasn't a good time. But President Sukarno insisted it go ahead and the mountain erupted a fortnight later, killing more than a thousand people. Political unrest followed. I would not have known any of that if I didn't collect those stamps and enquired as to their origins.

The range of volcano stamp topics is vast, from big eruptions to undersea smokers, tectonic plate diagrams, minerals, geologists, the Olympics, lava lakes and much more. Indeed, I am trying to convince a geology lecturer friend of mine to present their entire first year course using only volcano stamps for powerpoint presentations (no luck yet).

I currently have 8 albums to house my collection, sorted by continents and countries. When I get a new stamp I write a label for it, mark it off the Excel database (I stopped marking Jim's catalogue when I finished the database) and put it into my collection. I am yet to systematically scan each stamp so that I have a high resolution image of each. I have kept a low profile over the years, never engaging enough with enjoyable websites like the StampBoard forums. I read it alot, especially their Volcano Stamp posts, but haven't contributed much.

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What will happen to Glenn Marshall's collection?

By 2020 I realised I had a big unique (expensive) collection - what would I do with it after I was done? I'm told Jim Whitford-Stark's collection went to his daughter when he died and will go to his granddaughter, but my kids aren't interested in mine. So I started searching volcano institutes or stamp museums that might value such a collection. I contacted the Global Volcanism Program at the Smithsonian Institution in New York, USA but they said they don't have capacity to curate such a collection (but would love scans, read here). There are no geology-specific museums or major institutions in Australia so I'm stumped on that one. I found out that Indonesia has a National Stamp Museum in Bandung near Jakarta and visited there in 2015 but it was a tired old Dutch building with a poorly-curated collection and few stamps on display, so that didn't suit. Right now, I'm not sure what I'll do with the collection! Any ideas are happily received.

Aside from the physical collection, I started thinking how I could share my enjoyment of volcano stamps. Firstly, I decided to update Jim's database from 2007. It has been a VERY BIG task, not yet finished. Read about it here.

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Inspiring Australia Post to release a volcano stamp series in 2021

Back in 2017, I emailed Australia Post suggesting a stamp series highlighting Australian volcanoes. Whilst there are no active volcanoes on the Australian mainland now (except the Lillecrapp volcano), there are plenty of volcanic landscapes in eastern Australia from the last 20 million years. There have been several Australian stamps that include volcanic features (click here for an image gallery) but generally as a backdrop for other themes, and never a focused series.

So I sent them an email. I was quite surprised to get a reply, but it said 'sorry it's not in our 3-year plan'. I took that as encouraging news, and emailed them each year afterwards. Finally in October 2020 they said 'Ok, ok, we'll do it in mid-2021' and to my great delight they included me in their planning discussions. They proposed a 3-stamp series. I suggested the Undara lava tubes (nth Qld), Glasshouse Mountains (SE Qld), Blue Lake (SA), the Warrumbungles (NSW) and Heard Island (4000km SW of Perth) and emailed them lovely images of each (from the internet). Australia Post rejected the first three, saying they'd already been on other stamps (as backdrops). So I suggested Mt Elephant (Vic) or Mt Schank (SA), the last volcano to erupt in Australia 5000 years ago.  They agreed to Mt Elephant (a finely shaped scoria cone from 180,000 years ago), but wanted Mt Warning/Wollumbin (northern NSW) and Cape Raoull (Tas) to give 'geographic representation'. I suggested they not use Mt Raoull, as it is columnar basalt formation that cooled 2km below the ground and was never volcanic. They agreed, and we switched to Table Cape in NW Tasmania, a lovely flat-topped volcanic plug that farmers grow colourful tulips on top of (and my friend Ali Hood's uncle used to run dairy cattle on). Later they added a fourth stamp of Lord Howe Island, 700km off the NSW coast, being an extinct shield volcano from 7 million years ago. I tried to get it swapped to Heard Island, as it is the only active erupting volcano within Australia's territories, but to no avail.

I then started lobbying for the design of the First Day Covers and Stamp Packs (I was really enjoying myself by this stage). I wanted to include a map that showed there were lots of volcanic features up and down the east and south-east of Australia's mainland. I found an old map from Geoscience Australia and Australia Post had it re-drafted into a beautiful representation. I was given the opportunity to review and note some errors and it now features on the Stamp Pack. The FDC has a photo of The Nut on it, last seen on a 1936 stamp as the backdrop to a Bass Strait telephone cable stamp.

A great bonus of this project was reconnecting with Professor Ray Cas, my volcanology and sedimentology lecturer from Monash University back in 1986-1988. His name kept popping up during my research, so I contacted one of my old geology classmates Graeme Beardsmore and asked if Ray was still alive. I genuinely thought he might be dead from old age given he seemed pretty old when he was lecturing us as 19-20 year olds. Graeme was perplexed, it turns out Ray was only in his early 30s when he taught us, and so was only 60-something now and solidly alive. So I got in touch with Ray and he contributed valuable validations to the stamp designs. Another significant contributor was Dr Heather Handley (PhD in volcanology), I got in touch with her to progress a different volcano project I was pursuing, and it turns out she is a volcano educator/promotor extraordinaire. She put together four fabulous short YouTube clips on each of the volcanoes and did great media to Australia Geographic and others.

So on 13 July 2021, Australia Post released their 4-stamp series 'Australia's Volcanic Past'. It is a lovely series. I was delighted and honoured to see my name included on the back of the Stamp Pack "Thanks to Glenn Marshall and Emeritus Professor Raymond Cas for their advice". I will forever be part of an official volcano stamp release, which is a huge honour for a volcano stamp collector like me.

CONTROVERSY ERUPTS. Things got a bit wobbly a few days after the stamps were released. The Mt Warning/Wollumbin stamp actually highlighted 'Doughboy', an exposed volcanic plug near Mt Warning peak, rather than Mt Warning itself. Locals were up in arms, and their Facebooks lit up for 24 hours. The story even got a run on the Daily Mail website, a UK-based online site, so we can forever claim we made international headlines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, Mt Warning itself could just been seen in the corner of the stamp, so Australia Post held their nerve, arguing that they were celebrating the entire Tweed Volcanic Complex. They said later that it was the most publicity they had got for a stamp launch in years, cementing the adage 'All publicity is good publicity'.

Australia Post, bless them, mailed me 4 big foam boards with the stamps on them, including perforated edges. They now hang pride of place in my 'volcano room' (actually a corner of the lounge that my wife lets me have). 

I co-arranged an official stamp launch day at Mt Elephant in Victoria in late July, to coincide with a 20-year celebration by the Mt Elephant Management Committee, but it was scuttled by covid 19 lockdowns. We hope to do it sometime in 2022. I held a big launch party at my house in late July 2021 with about 60 mates (no covid restrictions in the NT at that time) and we blew up my Lillecrapp Volcano many times to celebrate. A few days earlier I had gotten online and designed/ordered a few t-shirts with volcano stamps on them (not the new ones), to celebrate. Well after dark on the night of the party, my daughter's boyfriend's sister Anthea Connelly, her dad Brian and mate Jacob arrived at the party wearing volcano t-shirts featuring the new Aussie stamps, and they had one for me too! I'd had a few drinks by then and was utterly confused - had my t-shirts already arrived, and why did they have different designs on them??? No, Anthea had printed out the new stamps on A4 paper, wrapped them in gladwrap and ironed/melted them onto t-shirts she had bought that day. What a genius! So we wore them for the rest of the night.

My last homage to the stamp series peaked in early Sept 2021. Australia Post (bravely) allows people to print their own 'MyStamps' personalised stamps, and use them as legal postage tender. How could I resist? I got my own volcano stamp printed up, featuring me on the rim of Lillecrapp Volcano as it erupts behind me. I affixed them to multiple copies of the marvellous First Day Cover, took them to the post office, got them postmarked and mailed a bunch to various good mates around Australia. They are genuine collectors items.....

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Lillecrapp Volcano - the only active volcano on Australia's mainland

Watch the volcano erupt here or on Youtube.

My family lives in Lillecrapp Rd, Alice Springs, Australia. In 2011, my kids and I built a volcano in our yard. It erupts, by blasting fireplace ash out the top using compressed air. It is the first volcano to erupt in central Australia for 500 million years, and is (officially) the only active volcano on the Australian mainland, the last one being Mt Schank 5,000 years ago. It has been the backdrop for many good parties over the years, showering ash onto unsuspecting partygoers and providing hours of fun for kids charging it up and clambering all over it.

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Run your own Volcano Stamp Quiz

Click here to download a 17-question quiz that will light up a night with mates.

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Help add searchable tags to stamps

I aim to make the database fully searchable using tags (specific search terms).

There will be up to 7 tags per stamp.

Ultimately, when people type 'train' into the search bar,  all volcano stamps with trains on them will be displayed.

​But this is a big job, and I need help to make it a reality.

If you can spare some time, contact me to get instructions. I suggest you pick a country of your choice and work on that. It's a great way to learn more about volcanoes, geology and geography.

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Scanning stamps for the Global Volcanism Program

In 2020 Glenn Marshall asked the GVP in New York if they wanted his stamp collection when he was done. They said no, but offered to upload images to their GVP website. Glenn recently sent his first tranche of images to them, and is waiting to hear next steps.

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Post Offices selling new stamps

A list will be uploaded soon.

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Excel database
Tips to collect
How database was populated
australia0000.jpg
Post offices
Glenns story
Jim W-S story
Glenns collecton
Aust Post
Lillecrapp volc
Quiz
Tags
GVP
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