Particles of volcanic ash from the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull were silk-screened onto this stamp from Iceland.
Three stamps from Iceland depict dramatic scenes from the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull from March to May 2010. To add impact to these stamps, Iceland Post had pieces of volcanic ash embedded in the designs.
According to Iceland Post, this very fine grained trachyandesite ash fell at Eyjafjallajokull on April 17, a little more than three months before the stamps' issue date of July 22. Joh. Enschede, a security printer in the Netherlands, silk-screened the ash onto the stamps.
Pieces of the Rock of Gibraltar were incorporated in this stamp by a heated process known as thermography
Other items, including soil, rock, meteorite dust and even jewels, also have been embedded in stamps.
For example, soil from a school for children with special needs was silk-screened onto a set of 10 South African stamps showing traffic hand signs for the blind. The stamps were issued on Jan. 29.
Many of the roads on Aland, an island archipelago in the Baltic Sea, are made of the native red granite. When rally driver Marcus Gronholm was asked to design a stamp for Aland, the first thing that came to mind was these roads.
Aland's post office decided to add another dimension to Gronholm's stamp design (Scott 278) by burning pieces of the red granite onto the stamp by a heated process known as thermography. The stamp was issued July 26, 2008.
You also can feel the road on a 2005 Brazilian stamp. Pieces of stone are affixed to this 80-centavo stamp, the center stamp in a se-tenant (side-by-side) strip of three (Scott 2965) featuring the estrada real, also known as the royal or king's road. Constructed in the late 17th century to speed the transport of gold, diamonds and other gemstones, it is one of the oldest roads in the Americas.
To give everyone an opportunity to "get a piece of the rock," Gibraltar added particles of its famous landmark to four se-tenant Rock of Gibraltar stamps issued Sept. 13, 2002 (Scott 917). According to Gibraltar's philatelic bureau, this was the first stamp issue produced with actual rock incorporated in it.
The philatelic bureau explained how the rock was obtained: "Limestone was bored out of the center of the rock, as accessed by the rock's World War II tunnels. The limestone was first powdered and then sintered within the image of Gibraltar where there is rock showing."
Other rocky stamps were issued by Thailand in 2007 (Scott 2301-04) and Guernsey in 2008 (1004-09). The Thai set pictures rock formations in Pa Hing Nigam National Park, while the set from Guernsey celebrates the 300th anniversary of the topping of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
Guernsey provided granite for the steps of the cathedral. Guernsey Post reported that according to some sources, the original granite came from the tiny island of Crevichon. More recently, granite from Les Vardes Quarry in St. Sampson has been used for maintenance of the cathedral. Granite from this quarry was ground into powder for inclusion on the stamps.
Meteorite dust can be seen and felt on a circular €3.75 stamp in an Austrian souvenir sheet called "Post from Another World" (Scott 2042). Part of the meteor's tail extends onto the border area of this sheet issued March 24, 2006.
According to Austria Post, the unused portion of the meteorite is on display at the Vienna Natural History Museum, which houses one of the world's largest collections of meteorites.
At least two countries have incorporated seeds into their stamp designs: the Netherlands in 2007 (Scott 1290) and Morocco on a new 2010 stamp honoring Earth Day. Also, Belgium added a seed to the border of a pane of 10 stamps issued March 15 to promote the Ghent Flower Show.
Another natural substance, wood, is found on several stamps in a 2005 multination series commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, the decisive naval victory in which Great Britain's Adm. Horatio Nelson lost his life.
The wood came from oak timbers removed from Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, during restoration.
Also from 2005, a maritime-themed souvenir sheet from the United Arab Emirates is embellished with pearls. The sheet includes five stamps featuring pearl diving tools (Scott 824-28).
According to a note in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, pearl halves were affixed to the stamps in the sheet. It sold for 100 dirhams, 90d more than the face value of the stamps.
Swarovski, the famous Austrian crystal manufacturer, has produced crystals for three stamp issues. The first, a souvenir sheet released Sept. 20, 2004, by Austria (Scott 1966) includes two stamps, each encrusted with six crystals. One stamp shows Swarovski's swan logo.
In 2006, Austria and Hong Kong participated in a joint issue featuring fireworks made from colorful Swarovski crystals (Scott Austria 2060, Hong Kong 1206-08c).
To commemorate the 2008 European soccer championships hosted by Austria and Switzerland, Austria released a souvenir sheet June 5, 2008 (Scott 2161) adorned with four Swarovski crystals, two on each side of the Union of European Football Associations' Henri Delaunay trophy cup. Austria Post reported that the crystals, which it described as "particularly large," were affixed to the stamp in a "complex week-long production process."
Others items found embedded or affixed to stamps include beads, glitter, clay, wax and a variety of fabrics.
— Denise McCarty, Linn's senior editor and World of New Issues columnist