The smiling Australian Stone
Nowadays it is nothing new, and almost all postal administrations in the world issue them: Personalized Stamps. Especially the countries in the Far East contribute their mite in the field of PS's.
But also the Western countries enthusiastically join in and actually it was Australia that made the first personalized stamps in the world, on the World Stamp Expo in Melbourne in 1999.
After England issued a comparable sheet on the Stampex of 2000, based on the smiling faces stamps from 1991, this kind of stamps is called "Smilers" in the British Commonwealth. Private persons send in an image, and that is printed on the tabs next to the stamps in the sheets.
On request larger numbers of sheets can be ordered with the possibility to place different images on the tabs. These sheets are called generic smilers.
Over the years also Australia has issued a large number of Smiler sheets, a lot of them with sports stars, sports clubs or sporting events. Now they have added to this list the sheet with 2 times MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner.
But let's first look at all Smilies that are important for us. In 1999 in Melbourne a stamp and a sheet have been issued for the general public with the image of a sailing ship on the sheet margin. But especially for postal employees a sheet with a different sheet margin has been used, which contains a motorcycle. This sheet is printed in an edition of 100 pieces, and is thus.... rare.
In 2003 the sheet on the occasion of 150 years Victoria Police, with in the sheet margin a motorcycle with sidecar which I still be believe to be a Brough Superior combination.
Than in 2005 a motorcycle in the category "small, smaller, smallest" on the 10 Years Foster's Australian Grand Prix sheet, in the lower right corner on the track between Schumacher and the first tree.
In 2009 200 years of Postal Service in Australia has been celebrated with, amongst others, a series of stamps and 2 smilers sheets that show postal uniforms and classic postal vehicles, with scooters, mopeds and motorcycles.
AG fest is an annual "bumpkin" feast (I hope that I don't get comments on this...) in Toowoomba on Tasmania. All different kinds of country things are shown there and there is a big party. The Post was also present on this feast and on the sheet margin of a Smilers Souvenir Sheet that could be made there is an image of a quad.
And now in 2011 the Stoner sheet to celebrate Casey's second World Championship title in the MotoGP. With the switch from Ducati to Honda HRC Stoner got for the second time a super machine which enabled him to obtain the World Championship. On the circuit of Philip Island, on his 26th birthday (October 16th 2011), he managed to finish his homeGrand Prix for the 5th time in winning position. This gave him such a big advantage in points to the number 2 in the competition, Jorge Lorenzo, that these could not pass him anymore, and so Stunning Stoner became again the World Champion MotoGP.
On the tab next to the stamp the start of the Winners Wheely, and on the right Stoner during his victory round over the Australian circuit.
Except from this smilers sheet you can also obtain a real Winners Print from the Australian Post for 39 Down-Under Dollars only.
Stoner was already earlier delighted with philatelic attention with the issue of sheets carrying his image by Guinea and Sao Tomé & Principe.
But by far the nicest (and most official) is his image in the Italian cancelation stamp on the occasion of the 52nd edition of BoPhilex, which added lustre to the World Championship of Ducati in 2007. For the image on the official postcard of the BoPhilex also racing driver Stoner, at that time riding for the motorcycle manufacturer from Bologna, was chosen.
And with a little bit of imagination we can also assume that the driver riding the Desmosedici GP7 machine that is depicted on the Italian stamp from 2008 is the same one as we are discussing here.
Hans de Kloet
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