Continuing my conversation with T.H.E. Hill, the author of Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary, the Military Writers Society of America Book of the Month for September 2009, and the winner of a 2009 Branson Stars & Flags Book Award in the Thriller/Adventure Fiction category. For more background and information, read a review of Voices Under Berlin, and interviews with Hill about the novel, and about the craft of writing.
T.H.E. Hill is creating a sheet of Cinderella stamps commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall which led to the reunification of Germany. I asked him to explain what Cinderella stamps are, and to talk about the artistic process of creating postage-stamp art. The following, in Hill's own words, is taken from an email exchange with him.
For the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall I wanted to create a piece of art work to commemorate the almost 50 years that American troops spent in Berlin in the cause of peace and freedom. I had already designed a number of mugs and T-shirts commemorating the fall of the Wall, but I wanted something that provided a bit more scope to tell the story. While it may sound counter-intuitive, I decided that smaller was better, and created a sheet of poster stamps to show what happened.
Poster stamps are a sub-category of Cinderella stamps, stamps that would like to go to the ball of philately, but are generally snubbed by "serious" stamp collectors, whose only interest is in stamps that will move a piece of mail from point A to point B. Cinderella stamps are not valid for postage. They are in reality an art form that uses the medium of stamp-sized images on gummed, perforated paper. Modern practitioners of the art — of whom there are many --
prefer to use the term artistamps.
The name that I use for this medium was, in part, dictated by J.R.R. Tolkien, who drew "North Pole Post" Cinderella stamps with cancellations on the letters that "Father Christmas" wrote to Tolkien's children. Tolkienologists prefer the term Cinderella stamp, and I am a well-read student of Tolkien, therefore, Cinderella stamp is the term with which I am most familiar.