No matter what your topic is there are probably Disney stamps representing it
What is a Disney Stamp?
Disney topical collectors have it easier than most. They do not have to use a magnifier to see if that little speck beside the barn on a stamp is a cat or not. They do not have to decide if the post horn in the Europa symbol belongs in the music collection, and rarely do they have to break a set to get the one stamp they need for their topic.
What then is a Disney stamp? According to the now out of print, Handbook of Disney Philately, a Disney stamp must be drawn be Disney artists and authorized by the Walt Disney company. After all, a Picasso painted by anyone else is not a Picasso. The same premise holds true for all Disney philately. To qualify, postage meter slogans must be authorized, cachets on first day covers must be rendered by Disney artists, special cancels must be the result of cooperation between a post office and the Disney Company. Contrived philatelic pieces are not considered authentic Disney works and therefore are not an essential part of a Disney collection.
There are many different opinions as to what is and what is not collectible. The opinions expressed above are those of the author, and are mentioned here to define the scope of this article and not with any intention of dictating rules of collecting.
Why Disney Stamps?
Ever since the first Disney stamps were issued, they have been the subject of heated debate. In the early ’80’s virtually every issue of every stamp publication had a letter from an irate collector bemoaning the desecration of his hobby by Disney ‘wallpaper’. Times have changed. The Disney stamps have probably done more to recruit new collectors, young and old, than any other stamp issues. They encourage children (the future of our hobby), and delight all ages with their bright colours, humour and variety. People who start collecting Disney stamps often branch out into other topics or countries as their interest in philately expands.
It is unlikely that the Disney stamps will ever command large investment returns, though a few of the early issues are becoming increasingly hard to find. Thousands of people collect Disney stamps. Those dealers who stock them have a hard time keeping them on hand. Few collectors are willing to part with the Disney stamps they have.
The Disney artists are professionals. All have years of training behind them and each stamp is a work of art, issued in bright warm colours, and telling a story, which is often humourous. The characters are familiar to everyone, and the end result leaves you feeling warm inside.
The Early Issues
The first Disney stamp was issued by the United States in 1968 and commemorates the life of Walt Disney. Depicted on the stamp is Walt Disney surrounded by Children of the World. In 1970 San Marino released a set of ten stamps, the first time Disney characters were show on stamps. The high value shows Walt Disney and a scene from The Jungle Book, the last animated film that Walt worked on. It wasn’t until 1979 that the Disney on Stamps topic really took off. That year 6 sets of stamps were issued to commemorate the International Year of the Child. Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Grenada Grenadines, Maldives and Turks & Caicos Islands released colourful sets of 9 stamps and accompanying souvenir sheet.
In 1980 six more sets were issued that depicted scenes from classic Disney films, (a particular favourite of this author) including Sleeping Beauty (Antigua); Peter Pan (Dominica); Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Grenada); Bambi (Grenada Grenadines), Alice in Wonderland (Maldives) and Pinocchio (Turks & Caicos Islands). These animated films on stamps are actually a topic within a topic and if the whole Disney collection looks a bit daunting then try collecting just the sets with scenes from the animated films.
Hundreds of stamps have been issued over the ensuing thirty years showing Disney characters in scenes from animated films, visiting other countries, celebrating Christmas or Easter, marking important anniversaries, commemorating the Olympic Games and saluting famous people. Stamps have been issued from Anguilla to Zambia and dozens of countries in between. Even if you don’t collect Disney stamps as a topic there is a very good chance that there are Disney stamps in your topic.
Disneyana on Stamps Society was recently formed and accredited as a Study Unit of the American Topical Association (ATA). The Society has an introductory website at: http://www.disnemation.8m.com/HOME.htm and here a membership application can be found for DoSS. Members are entitled to access Disnemation, the Journal of Disneyana on Stamps Society as well as meet other members, find a complete checklist of Disney stamps from 1968 to 2011 and more.
Membership is free, totally online and guaranteed to be of interest to Disney philatelists.