Stamps commemorating Finnish gay erotic artist Touko Laaksonen, who published his drawings under the name Tom of Finland, have been the biggest sellers in the history of Finland’s Posti postal service, with people pre-ordering the stamps in 178 countries.
The stamps went on sale on Monday, with the biggest overseas orders coming from Sweden, Britain, the United States and France.
An exhibition of Tom of Finland’s drawings and letters is being held in Tampere’s new postal museum to coincide with the release of the stamps and there were long queues outside the museum when the stamps began being sold there yesterday.
The demand for the stamps has taken the postal service by surprise.
‘We haven’t seen this kind of interest before in Posti’s history and we probably won’t again soon,’ Posti development chief Markku Penttinen told Finnish news service Yle Uutiset.
‘Our starting point was to get Touko Laaksonen’s artwork in our stamps. We know that he was very well-known globally. Of course the subject matter is also topical and much discussed. This equation has worked better than we anticipated.’
The stamp’s designer Timo Berry told Yle Uutiset that he had been overwhelmed by the response to the stamps.
‘I was really over the moon, I jumped around the office,’ he said.
‘Tom of Finland’s greatest significance is that these gay figures were given their masculinity. Previously they had been portrayed as “girlish”. It’s great that these sketches that had to be sold in secret can now be publicly viewed on envelopes and postcards.’
Tom of Finland produced more than 3,500 erotic sketches during his career, making him one of Finland’s internationally best known and prolific artists.