Many stamp collectors love finding stamps from small, faraway nations to add to their collections. But there are only so many nations on earth. A serious philatelist might wrinkle their nose at a stamp from Molossia, Bumbunga, Tui-Tui, or Sealand, because these are micronations that have no real legitimacy. Molossia, for example, is a neighborhood in Dayton, Nevada. However, there are collectors who love these stamps for what they are.
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Laura Steward, curator of public art at the University of Chicago, who organized an exhibition of stamps from micronations and other dubiously defined places, believes that these tiny squares are more than a toss-off: They’re art, proof of imagination, and rather sophisticated bids for public recognition. “A postage stamp is a small but mighty symbolic emissary from one particular nation to the rest of the world,” Steward writes in text accompanying the exhibit. “A functioning postal service, made visible in stamps, is an unmistakable expression of national legitimacy…. As a result, the postage stamp is an excellent vehicle for spurious, tenuous, or completely fictitious states to declare their existence.”
Steward even has stamps from Celestia, which is outer space. Read the story of those stamps and others in an interview with Steward at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: Laura Steward)