Look at what I found at a yard sale a few weeks ago: someone took the time to carefully cut up postage stamps, most of them cancelled 20 and 22-cent stamps, and arrange them by color to create a collage of a visit to a park, ca. 1910. I made up the circa, but if you look at the clothing of the characters in the picture, the outfits convey an early 20th century feel with inflections of Mary Poppins. While the stamps are United States issue, the composition is certainly filled with British-isms, complete with the figure of a bobby gravely overseeing a little girl free of a parental gaze. The details get better and better the more you look at the picture, from the Chinese lanterns to the ticket seller to the nanny with a pram and a dog. The best part is, the entire collage is composed within the framework of a stamp itself, serrated edges and all — creating a composition worthy of the US Postal System.
This, frankly, is why pawing through other people’s cast off junk is worth it. Because every once in a while you encounter something that links you to the past — even if, as it is in this case, the past is just the mid-1980s when these stamps were issued — in a way that restores your spirit in the ability of human beings to create the good life, piece by tiny piece.