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Lest we forget, An Post is a commercial function, albeit owned by the Irish government. One function of a commercial company is advertising their products for sale. An Post does this in a low-key manner, but advertising is advertising.
The Irish Philatelic Service newsletter, The Collector, gives the story behind the stamps (Figure 1) and printing informayion. The magazine also lists the upcoming stamps, booklets and other items. (Figure 2) Another section lists those items going off-sale. (Figure 3) A preprinted order form is included. (Figure 4).
Special postcards are created with a printed version of stamps and sent to collectors listing special offers. These are quite collectable, but also are a form of advertising. (Figures 5 & 5a).
Finally, cards are sometimes sent listing shows or events where An Post representatives will have sales booths. These are quite an aid to collectors who like to look before they buy. (Figure 6). Note the black border on the City of Culture card does not appear on the stamp.
There is nothing wrong with advertising. It helps the hobby, disseminates information, and encourages new collectors. The by-products are collectable. By creating postal cards, it provides an added feature for collectors, and helps make An Post more viable. A "win-win" situation.