Bhutan’s One-Of-A-Kind ‘Talking Stamps’ Double Up As Playable Vinyl

Bhutan’s One-Of-A-Kind ‘Talking Stamps’ Double Up As Playable Vinyl

If you’re looking for memorabilia that truly stands out, look no further than these tiny record stamps. Made of plastic and embossed with a melody, and are probably the tiniest records you can play with a stylus. Issued in 1972, each stamp is one-sided and contains 33 1⁄3 rpm vinyl records you can play on a standard turntable. These stamps are often collectors items and can sometimes even be found on eBay, going for as much as £300.  

The Vinyl Factory

The stamps were the invention of the American adventurer Burt Todd, on the behest of friend Ashi Kesang Choden-Dorfi, the future queen of Bhutan. In the late 1950s, Dorji-Wangchuck asked Todd to help raise a $10m loan from the World Bank.

The loan was refused at Washington, as the bank wanted to stay on good terms with India and Bhutan and India had border disputes. An official suggested Bhutan raised the money by issuing postage stamps instead, so in 1960, with a royal warrant, Todd founded the Bhutan Stamp Agency. 

His designs featured the Bhutanese royal crest, yaks , a maharaja, Himalayan fortresses, a royal soldier and a monastery. Though the designs were intricate and beautiful, Todd realised he needed to grab more eyeballs.

He decided to create them as miniature records where he could narrate the stories of Bhutan, show the national anthem and other traditional music. Todd passed away in 2006 with his gift, but you can follow the agency’s fantastic work here.  

Feature Image Courtesy of The Vinyl Factory