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Music on Mail: The Playable Phonograph Stamps of Bhutan
- Bhutan Stamps /
- India /
The ingenious novelty of playable vinyl stamps from the Bhutan postal agency.
It’s no wonder that the so-called “happiest nation in the world” found a way to make sending handwritten letters even more delightful. In 1972 Bhutan sanctioned the world’s first playable stamps: a series of miniature records that contained in the grooves the capsule history of Bhutan, the national anthem and a range of domestic folk songs.
The Bhutan postal agency wasn’t established until 1962, and an enterprising American named Burt Kerr Todd brought this idea to life. Close friends with the Royal Family in Bhutan, he was convinced that this offering would bring riches to the country. In 1968, Todd failed at his first attempt at novel stamps but within five years the stamps were the country’s greatest source of revenue.
In their utility, the playable stamps didn’t differ much from a paper one. They had an easy-peel backing that revealed a sticky side B. Those that have survived are still playable to this day and generous owners of these delightful artifacts have shared what they sound like.
We first heard about this story from our friend Nishant over at Digging in India, so big thanks to him. He’s most definitely worth following for more historical insights and finds.
This was the announcement that advertised the playable Phonograph Records stamps in 1973.
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