Thursday 26 November 2020

Mango (Gabon, 1962)

You know how excited I get about a well-designed stamp, or something with great use of colour, or an image that expresses so much more than just a dignitary and a price? Well: imagine how excited I am right now as I introduce to you: a triangular stamp! From Gabon!

From what I can tell, this isn’t your general common or garden mango. This is in fact the Irvingia gabonensis, otherwise known as the African mango, the wild mango, dika, odika, andok or obgono. Alongside their fruit, they produce nuts which are rich in fat and protein. Traditionally, wild mango trees were just that – they pollinated via passing animals like gorillas and elephants, and were not systematically planted because it was believed that it took 15 years for them to bear fruit. They only really started to be planted and domesticated in the 1990s. Reductions in the numbers of elephants and gorillas led to a reduction in the distribution of wild mango, so there is now a moratorium on logging these trees in Gabon until 2034.

For completeness, I should tell you that the first triangular stamps were issued in the Cape of Good Hope colony (now South Africa) in 1853. Perhaps if paper resources are scarce, it’s more efficient: two stamps for the same amount of paper. That said the Gabon stamp pictured is pretty sizeable, so this one might be more about design than anything else.

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