The first document to survey artist's stamps was produced by photocopying the master pages of the catalogue for Jas W Felter's 1974 traveling exhibition Artist's Stamps and Stamp Images. The catalogue was finally published in 1976 with a grant from the Canada Council and included additional works added to the exhibition after its first showing at Simon Fraser University. Since then there have been several other projects designed to provide a detailed and comprehensive look at the phenomenon of artist-created pseudo postage stamps.
The next to make such an attempt was T. Michael Bidner, an artist and an avid stamp collector from London, Ontario. Bidner began his project to "compile a comprehensive catalogue of Artistamps to be used as a basic reference text by collectors, philatelists and those interested in the medium" in 1982. He coined and copyrighted the term 'Artistamp' to distinguish this new medium and then freely granted the use of his term to everyone. After Bidner had identified and catalogued the Artistamps in his large mail-art collection, he solicited everyone he could think of for information on other known Artistamps. He produced a series of 15 Artistamp Pre-publication Supplements prior to the intended publication in 1984 (the International Year of the Artist) of his Standard Artistamp Catalogue & Handbook. Bidner first thought this would be an interesting exercise that might run to 50 pages. Unable to obtain sufficient funding to complete his project, he continued to collect and catalogue Artistamp data. By 1988 he was approaching potential printers with a manuscript of 1024 pages. Bidner's goal was to catalogue each Artistamp and Artistamp design as if it were a discrete entry separate from the sheet it was printed on. This approach, rising out of his philatelic background, made the job incredibly difficult and time consuming. By the time Bidner passed away in 1989, his project had turned into a life work which was still incomplete and unpublished.
Anna Banana began publishing Artistamp News in 1991. This newsletter contains examples, illustrations and catalogue information of many new Artistamp issues. It also includes informative biographies of Artistamp creators and provides a forum for discussion and dissemination of Artistamp and Networker concerns. A complete collection of this periodical provides an ongoing documentation of the current evolution of Artistamps.
In 1992 artist and philatelist, Dominique, the Bugmaster General in Seattle, began a five year project to document in philatelic terms, each individual Artistamp. Since the beginning of his project he has, through the PMTTTD Corporation, published three illustrated editions of The Standard Artist Stamp Catalogue: "Being the only listing of stamps issued by artists, with extensive information and a picture of nearly every major stamp design." The Fourth Edition will be available in May of 1995.
Jas W Felter took a different approach to the subject in 1991. Focusing on the Artist rather than the Artistamp, he produced a directory of 72 artists who were creating Artistamps. Not satisfied, he continued to search the world for Artistamp creators, located a number of important Artistamp collections, gathered as many catalogues of Artistamp exhibitions as possible and surveyed more Artistamp creators. With this data he edited the first edition of the International Directory of Artistamp Creators in 1993. The burst of Artistamp activity since then and the location of older catalogues of Artistamp exhibitions created the need for a second edition. This directory, like the publications described above, is an indispensable locus for understanding the medium and locating its practitioners.
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