Adventures in Deltiology

Do people still send postcards these days…?


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Unelmointi on sallittua, toiminta suositeltavaa. Sampo Pankin Kissanpäivät infopuhelin 0200 2000 ma-pe S-[….]

Postmarked 23rd July 2015, from Virpi in Finland via Postcrossing

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A nondescript postcard here from Finland, and the sender has obscured some of the descriptive information on the reverse so I’m not certain if it’s an advertising or an artist card. Nevertheless, it’s a nice image. The interesting part, for me, is the stamp, the second of such that I have received although I haven’t written about before. Touko Laaksonen was born in 1920 and, under his moniker ‘Tom of Finland’, he became one of the most important artists in gay culture of the 20th century. His highly stylised pornographic and homoerotic images of muscular leather-clad men were a response to the ‘effeminacy’ of gay men portrayed in media and art and also to the postwar idea(l) of masculinity. It was in the late 1950s that his work first appeared in an American ‘beefcake’ magazine and over the course of the next three decades he was both revered and reviled by the art world. His status as a gay icon was cemented in the 1970s when his work was seen in the mainstream.

Always controversial, when Posti, the Finnish postal group, announced a set of stamps to feature his work in 2014 there was resistance from some quarters; it is heartening to see that not only did the publication go ahead but the stamps were met with approval by many, not only in Finland but from collectors around the world. I can’t really imagine the Royal Mail publishing anything like this but, as one of the defining pop-culture artists of the last century he deserves this recognition from his homeland and, by the power of the post, his imagery can now be disseminated across the world.

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