All the stamps I loved this month

Over the past month I’ve been working with records in the Anne Innis Dagg fonds for an upcoming project. Although Dagg has published extensively about topics ranging from Canadian wildlife and camels to gender discrimination in academia and the prevalence of anthropomorphizing in science research reporting, she is best known for her ground breaking field research of the giraffe.

In 1956, at the age of 23, Dagg travelled alone to South Africa to observe giraffe in the wild – a first of its kind study. As part of her research, which led to the publication of The giraffe : its biology, behavior, and ecology (1976), she wrote letters to government officials regarding the distribution of giraffe populations, as well as biologists and conservation workers based in various African countries.

The responses she received were often accompanied by envelopes with visually striking postage stamps. Each one offers a unique look at the culturally significant symbols used by the origin countries to identify themselves at home and abroad and, in some cases, point to the influence or absence of colonial rule at the time the letters were sent. They also represent the inspiration for this blog post or, more to the point, all the stamps I loved this month!


Yellow stamp featuring a fire crowned bishop

1964 stamp from Ghana featuring a fire crowned bishop, now known as the black-winged red bishop. (GA146-35: Letter from R. F. Ewer to Dagg dated November 14, 1964)


Stamp featuring a coat of arms and a citizen holding the Kenyan flag

1967 stamp from Kenya celebrating Uhuru, the day in 1963 when the country declared independence from the British Empire. (GA146-35: Letter from Bristol Foster to Dagg dated August 18, 1967)


Stamp featuring Bronze Head from Ife

1960 stamp from Nigeria featuring an illustration of the Bronze Head from Ife believed to represent a Yoruba king. (GA146-37: Letter from [J.E.?] Webb to Dagg dated February 14, 1960)

Tanganyika (now Tanzania)

Stamp featuring a giraffe eating leaves and a profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth

1959 stamp from Tanganyika, a former African state, for a time under British rule, that is today a part of the United Republic of Tanzania. (GA146-37: Letter from H. F. Lamprey to Dagg dated December 30, 1959)


Stamp featuring labourer picking tobacco

1971 stamp from Zambia featuring a labourer picking tobacco. (GA146-37: Letter from W. F. H. Ansell to Dagg dated March 10, 1971)

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