Apotheosis

5 01 2008


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By milkfish, shot with HP Scanjet G3010 at 2008-02-02
Scott 138, 1896 Lithograph, 34mm x 26 mm

The map depicts lines of communication and the border between Guayana Venezolano and Guayana Inglesa established earlier that century. Although he isn’t shown, Gen. Francisco Antonio Gabriel de Miranda is the subject of the inscription Apoteosis de Miranda that commemorates the 80th anniversary of his death in 1816. He was a revolutionary against the Spanish who died in prison, but whose campaign for independence was successfully fought by Bolívar and Sucre.

I am a little curious about the thinking of the designer, who evidently was content to illustrate the idea of apotheosisthe elevation or exaltation of a person to the rank of a god” using a rather plain-looking map with inscrutable lines drawn on it, in the space of something I can easily cover with my thumb. I would guess that his defense would be that the land is the chief glory of the one who had the vision for the land.

The Scott catalogue has a note about how the stamps in this series are frequently forged, and that the genuine articles have thin, semitransparent paper and thin, crackled gum. The one I have has both, along with a conspicuous gummed hinge mark on the back from some previous collector.

Of course, the nation of Venezuela appears in the news off and on these days over a hundred years later owing to the flamboyant behavior of their present leader and their key role in the petroleum economy. Oil was not discovered in Venezuela until nearly thirty years after this stamp was issued, transforming it into a wealthy and largely urbanized power in the region.

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