lørdag 14. juli 2018

On the podium: Hungary #C236-47 (1963)

This classic 1963 set of 12 space stamps has always been very popular. I remember seeing them often as a child, both in my own collection and in my friends'. I don't think I ever saw the whole set, though, and definitely not with the original stamps as companions. So I couldn't stop until I had them all.

1963 was only two years after John F. Kennedy announced that NASA was working towards the goal of sending a man to the moon. They had to catch up with the Soviets. Maybe he was partly spurred on by the kind of propaganda these stamps represent.

I quote Monica Rüthers from the book Soviet Space Culture (Palgrave Macmillan 2011): "The Soviet space flights were acknowledged as 'peak performances of socialism', even in the eyes of the capitalist rival. The Soviet lead in the competition of systems was widely exploited in media coverage and propaganda, inside the Soviet Union, in the socialist countries and in the Western world alike. Sputnik could be seen and heard from all over the world. Outer space became part of everyday culture in East and West. To strengthen the bond of friendship between the socialist countries, the Soviet Union let the brother countries participate in the glory of space travel. Soviet cosmonauts visited the brother countries. Stamps with space motifs were created in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the GDR, and from 1978 on those countries were invited to join Soviet space missions in the so-called Intercosmos Programme."

So the stamps on the stamps are actually just a few years older than the stamps themselves. The overall message is that we have a great era of cosmic space travel ahead of us, with Laika and Gagarin as pioneers worthy of cosmic fame. They go well with the books of one of my favourite authors: Stanislaw Lem.

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