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Print - One of  4 sheets of  20 stamps comprising the  project 'The Best Sewerage For The Best People'.
  • One of 4 sheets of 20 stamps comprising the project 'The Best Sewerage For The Best People'.
    Kholopov, Alexander, born 1948
  • Enlarge image

One of 4 sheets of 20 stamps comprising the project 'The Best Sewerage For The Best People'.

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Moscow (made)

  • Date:

    1996 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kholopov, Alexander, born 1948 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    offset lithograph printed in green and black

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of the Artist

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2G, shelf DR83, box MP334

Alexander Kholopov is a Moscow-based artist who has worked extensively with the format of the postage stamp and has become a leading exponent of Mail Art ( a form of art which uses the postal system as a medium). As a child he was fascinated by the exotic, unattainable world suggested in the tiny images found on the foreign stamps which he secretly acquired through the black market. His patriotic father destroyed his collection but not his obsession. As a grown man and artist he combined his knowledge of the kind of images found on official Soviet stamps, (produced by the government to counter the black market collectors) with the desire inspired by the foreign ones, usually with a good dose of humour and or satire.

While reflecting a universal spirit of national pride, which frequently seems to celebrate the bizarre within a national culture, the idea of a manhole cover celebrated as a national icon illustrates Kholopov's black humour and his deep awareness of the unpleasant realities lurking beneath the surface of Russian society. He carries the subversive message further by weaving in references to famous Western European or US celebrities or historic events which are more to do with having fun than intellectual endeavour or political leadership.

Physical description

Sheet of 20 stamps in lime green and black, with 5 lines of perforations horizontally and 6 lines vertically. The design of each stamp includes an image of a manhole cover in the centre, surrounded by text and numbers in Russian and English. The designs are all different from each other.

Place of Origin

Moscow (made)


1996 (made)


Kholopov, Alexander, born 1948 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

offset lithograph printed in green and black

Marks and inscriptions

The individual stamps which form E.217:3 and E.217:4-2006 are variously lettered in English, including with the caption across the tops of the stamps ' THE BEST SEWERAGE FOR THE BEST PEOPLE' and a value (from 5-7 gram/gold)The only lettering in Russian is, on the left margin, the name of a western European or US Celebrity or historic event (the name/event is in English on the right).


Height: 78.8 cm, Width: 53.9 cm

Descriptive line

Sheet of 20 from a set of 80 stamps '80 Moscow Manhole Covers' from the project 'The Best Sewerage For The Best People' , Alexander Kholopov. Artist's stamps, Russian, 1996

Labels and date

Alexander Kholopov was a leading exponent of mail art and the artist’s stamp. This ironic set of collectors’ stamps parodies the patriotic souvenir sets published by the Soviet government to celebrate architectural landmarks or technological achievements. Each stamp is dedicated to one of the events and personalities from history, the arts and popular culture that inspired the artist over the years. [22/10/2016]

Production Note

'The Best Sewerage For The Best People' is part of the project 'Sewers Of The World Unite' a collection of images of manhole covers and grills, which was started by Kholopov and Lamanova in the 1990s and now has an international web presence with to date (2009) 233 contributors with 3052 images from 71 countries.

Subjects depicted

Manhole cover; Satire; Postage stamp



Production Type

Limited edition


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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