A couple years ago, ANTIQUES’ editor Gregory Cerio and I were ambling through the Outsider Art Fair in New York City when a display of strange, brightly colored postage stamps and their accoutrements attracted our attention. Interplanetary correspondence from “Space Station Alpha”; stamps commemorating the “Year of Food” in the nation of “Ocussi-Ambino”; a (literal) invitation to a beheading taking place “in our beloved Capital City of Murdochville, at high noon,” sent from “King Ruperto” of “Manumbaland.” As you might have gathered, these weren’t just any stamps, and this wasn’t the post of ordinary nations. We were looking at “bogus cinderellas”: stamps sent from imaginary countries.
Maybe it’s fairer to call such countries “unrecognized.” For while the United Nations refuses to acknowledge their legality, the obscure countries— or “micronations”—represented at the OAF do exist. While most outsider artists work alone, the flags, stamps, and coats-of-arms that micronationalists create are a rare instance when art that exists on the edges of political, artistic, and social legitimacy has been created collaboratively. The next TMAexplains video will do a deep dive into the fascinating realm of self-appointed monarchs and the stamps they create, taking its cue from the emissaries of entities traditionally considered legitimate—Laura Steward, curator of public art at the University of Chicago; Jay Bigalke, editor of Linn’s Stamp News; Sandra Petermann, associate professor in the Institute of Geography, Mainz University—as well as those that aren’t: Grand Duke Travis, ruler of the micronation of Westarctica.
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With ANTIQUES’ podcast Curious Objects currently on hiatus (nothing to worry about—good things to come), I’d like to use this space to highlight our Antique of the Day series, the pre-eminent attraction of the magazine’s Instagram account (@antiquesmag) since editor-at-large Glenn Adamson introduced it in 2016. Each day for the past three years Antique of the Day has highlighted one intriguing and visually striking object—you might remember the jade bok choy from Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, or the more recent peppermint tuile “Zanfirico” glass cup and saucer—culled from the collections of the world’s art and design museums, and elsewhere. Adamson has since passed the reins to ANTIQUES’ digital manager (and Oxford University design history student), Sarah Bilotta, who, with the sterling assistance of editorial assistant Elizabeth Lanza, looks to expand the horizons of Antique of the Day over the coming months. Featured will be throwbacks from ANTIQUES’ early days, as well as glances at where those objects are now, and we’re excited to say that we’ll offer new opportunities for readers and followers to suggest objects from their own collections for us to feature. So, here’s to more antiques eye candy!