PostEurop, the association of European public postal operators, has set the theme "National Musical Instruments" for the EUROPA 2014 stamp competition.
The EUROPA stamp issues encourage cooperation between European postal operators, particularly with regard to the promotion of philately by creating awareness of Europe's common roots, culture and history and common goals.
For this year's issue, Malta chose to highlight musical instruments, which were popular in the 19th century. The stamps portray details from the oil painting of the renowned Italian artist Girolamo Gianni who was active in Malta in the latter part of the 19th century. The stamps portray bagpipe and drum musicians performing at Valletta's Porta Reale.
The Maltese bagpipe is made of a whole animal skin, usually goat or calf. The instrument is tucked under the arm with legs pointing upwards and inflated through a blowpipe inserted into one of the skin's forelegs. It is played on a two-piped chanter terminating in a cattle horn. A frame drum always accompanies the bagpipe. The musical duo is particularly associated with the Christmas season.
The bagpipe featured on the 0.59 stamp will be Malta's entry for the Best EUROPA Stamp Contest. The contest is an annual online event where creative entries from across Europe compete for the best design. The best EUROPA stamp will be voted-for by, web viewers and PostEurop members. The online voting competition is open to the public while the jury competition is conducted from among philatelic experts.