Saturday, 18 October 2014

Autumn Dreams

1971: Maple Leaf in Four Seasons
The leaves are falling, time for a walk in the woods
2006: Seasons
with the burnished autumnal colours crunching underfoot leading along winding pathways.
2003: Mushrooms
Perhaps its time for a mushroom hunt. On the left the delicious chanterelle and on the right Boletlus edulis, the cep, which is sometimes called a penny bun in England but the Facit stamp catalogue has it listed as Karl Johan which intrigued me. It seems the reason is the French born King Charles XIV John (King of Sweden and Norway) popularised its use and cultivated it in the grounds of his residence, the Roserberg Palace and so it is named after him. 

We have been having some marvellous fiery autumn sunsets recently and one appears on a Finnish stamp
 with the added magic of flying swans
This is part of a five stamp miniature sheet issued in 2012 called 'Autumn Dream' described as "surrealistic" it is possibly a vision of the perfect Autumn.  The full dreamlike sheet can be seen here

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of -  Country Life/Harvest/Autumn

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A Fair Wind

1980: Kites
The swallows have left us for the year and I will miss their swooping and darting flight but perhaps these Chinese Swallow Kites will stand in for them until they return next year.   The one on the left is a Swallow Chick and on the right is Slender Swallow
  Left, Semi-Slender Swallow and on the right a Duel Swallows. 
Traditionally made from bamboo canes covered with paper and silk kite designs and construction can vary from region to region.  The swallow is a symbol of love but the designs incorporated into the kite also have auspicious meanings with  wings of flowers and fish symbolising a lucky and bountiful life.

The stamps are designed by Pan Keming (b1940) whose art has appeared on other China Post stamps on a variety of subjects.  

One thing a kite can't do without is a good wind  just like a windjammer sailing ship.
Built in Ramsey on the Isle of Man as the Euterpe (the muse of music and poetry) she started her career on the jute run from Liverpool to Calcutta which only lasted a short time but was certainly not uneventful, a mutiny, collision and a cyclone were all part of her two voyages. Shaw Saville bought Euterpe in 1871 sailing from Liverpool to New Zealand carrying emigrants to the southern hemisphere. The ship changed hands again in 1901 when the Alaska Packers Association bought her to take fishermen and supplies up to Alaska and with her holds full of canned salmon returning back to San Francisco.  The ship was re-rigged and then renamed Star of India in 1906 although the original figurehead portraying Euterpe still remains on the ship today. The Star of India was laid up in 1923 and sold three years later to the Zoological Society of San Diego to be used as a museum but the great depression and a war intervened with fund raising and it was not until 1957 that work began to restore the Star of India to her former glory and in 1976 she once more sailed on the sea and today lays claim to being the oldest active sailing ship in the world.  Now part of the San Diego Maritime Museum in California she sails every November.

The stamp paintings are by the Manx artist John Hobson Nicholson (1911-1988) who designed stamps, coins and banknotes for the island. This miniature sheet must be the last one he ever produced.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps "Anything You Wish" of which   more here

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Blue Planet

2013: Restoring Waterscapes
 I knew as soon as Viridian Postcard stated the theme 'se-tenant' for this week's Sunday Stamps which ones I would use as I've been looking for an opportunity to share this beautiful composition of stamps.  Swiss Post used the headline "Making Switzerland even more beautiful" in their publicity, although sadly nothing about the artists that created the scene (Franchon Catier and Simon Moser).

Landlocked Switzerland has been called the Water Tower of Europe with its lakes and rivers, including major ones like the Rhone and the Rhine, add to that the water locked in glaciers and snow and its a whole lot of water.  Like many industrialised countries some of their waterscapes have become degraded over the years - rivers constrained by concrete and pipes, pollution and an extensive hydroelectricity network a barriers to migrating fish.  Environmental laws and long term financial support have started to address the problem with projects such as those on the River Aare between Thun and Berne where the bed of the Aare was broadened and returned to its natural state. The River Birs in Canton Basel where it flows into the Rhine was called a "neglected backyard" also has also been restored to give the river more space and as a by-product it absorbs more water which means that during high discharge it helps prevent flooding.  The stamps show how people, and what thankfully is a marvellously resilient nature, are returning to enjoy the river banks.

Our watery planet makes an appearance on the 2013Albanian se-tenant stamps
2013:  Europa - Postman's Van
but this time with lovely postal messages and parcels whizzing around the Earth.  I've just discovered that not only did they issue them in a sheet but also in a two stamp booklet which looks as though it may be in the shape of a Postman's Van from Europa Stamps blog.  I may be on the look out for that desirable item next time I'm browsing stamps. 

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of  Se-tenant stamps - of which more here

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Vosges Fauna

As autumn advances this card of the wildlife in the Vosges region of eastern France is redolent of the season, its colour and light.  The forests of the Vosges must be perfect habitat for all these creatures.  Seeing the lynx on the top right was a surprise to me but I learnt they were reintroduced into the area in the 1980s to link to those already in the Jura.  

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Extreme Sports

If you were to skip into the post office in Finland there would never be a disappointment of the stamps on offer and not only that but  international stamps can be bought all in one handy booklet. I dream of such moments (they had even run out of international stamps last time I was in a UK post office). This is the cover of the stamp folder that Eeva sent me from Finland which she says are about "extreme sports"; lets turn the page
and discover the stamps inside, including their air mail stickers plus a description of the sports.
Posti's website calls this set 'Finnish Oddity', sports that are just the thing for those fun filled long sunlit days of summer - wife carrying, boot throwing, air guitar, old geezer carting, ant nest sitting and swamp football.   The designs are by the Finnish painter Bruno Maximus who is influenced by surrealism, his style is described as "hypnotic, dreamlike realism".  I've seen another painting of his of the ant sitting 'sport' with a giant human sized ant which is even funnier.  Believe me nothing moves me as fast to a standing position as discovering I've parked myself by an ant's nest whatever size the ant is.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps, more to see here   

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Horns Out of Africa

Eastern Transvaal and Kwa/Zulu Natal
Two of the 1995 South African 'Tourism' series featuring one of the top reasons I would want to travel there, the wildlife.  Helpfully the stamps include a map so I'll know exactly where to head for.   The artist is the South African wilderness sculptor and painter Alan Ainslie who has designed stamps for various countries not only featuring wildlife but also well know people.
In the same decade as the 'Tourism' stamps South Africa's definitives were featuring endangered animals and these are ones from the 3rd series.

 For the completist the various South African definitives series throughout its history offer a dizzying variety of printings, gum, perforations, booklet and sheet stamps.  I noticed that the impala on the right has a franking date of 2000 which is the year when South Africa definitives changed to the wonderfully colourful birds, fish and flowers series. 
Waterbuck and Blue Wildebeest
An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of - Mammals

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ski and Microcars

"1923 Scania-Vabis Post Bus". Åland Exhibition Card 2013
My first thought on seeing this Swedish Post Bus was how I would love to get behind the wheel, although to be perfectly honest it was really my second thought because the first one was - whoa no way - what is that contraption?  What would have skis on the front. half track rear wheels and be topped it off with little curtains on the windows?  The answer was a 1923 Post Bus manufactured by  Scania-Vabis, a Swedish truck and car manufacturer from 1911 to 1968.  There was no way snowy conditions were going to stop the Swedish post getting through.

This is an  Åland Islands Exhibition Card from when they took part in the  October 2013 Norrtälje Stamp Fair in Sweden.  For each Stamp Fair Åland Post attend they produce a unique Maximum Card, which I think is normally on the Europa theme of the year, and of course last year it was the Postman's Van.  I seem to remember that this year they are doing clock towers which chimes nicely with this year's theme of musical instruments.
"2012 Ligier Be Sun". Åland Exhibition Card 2013

For the Paris Salon d'Automne Stamp Fair (which takes place every year in the first half of November) Åland Post featured a100% electric vehicle the 'Be Sun', manufactured by Ligier, one of whose specialities is microcars.  With a top speed of 45 km/h it means that in some parts of Europe the Be Sun can be driven without a licence. Costing about €10,000 it can carry 200 kg in its rear pod so plenty of room for post (they also do a pick up version). Ligier sold 110 of the ones portrayed on the post card to the French Post Office.

Going back in time to some early microcars -
these made their journey back to the Isle of Man this year, the place where they were originally manufactured by Peel Engineering. Their destination was the Manx Transport Heritage Museum based in the town of Peel hence the event name, 'Peels to Peel' Festival'.
Owners of the P50, Viking and Trident models travelled from the mainland to join up with those on the island and a full schedule of events took place over three days to commemorate fifty years since most of the Peel cars were made. (The stamps used on the cover were a set originally issued in 2006).  Peel Engineering were a boat builder who started to work with a 'new' material called glass-fibre in the 1950s.  Being based in the Isle of Man it is no surprise that as glass fibre developed they started to produce a successful line of  motor cycle fairings including ones for the motor bike legend Geoff Duke. After developing an unsuccessful three wheeler car prototype in 1955 Peels tried again in 1962 to target the city small car market and designed a single seater called the P50 (28p stamp above), the first production car ever manufactured on the Isle of Man which also currently holds the world record for the smallest automotive ever to go into production (54 inches (137 cm) long and 41 inches (104.1 cm) wide, weighing 130 lb (59 kg).  It is thought that about 28 of these survive today.  Encouraged by the sale of the P50 Peel Engineering developed a two-seater model known as the 'Trident' (31p stamp above) which had the same 50cc engine as the P50.  Those of us of a certain age would call these bubble cars.  Today about 30 Tridents still survive.      
Around 1966 Peel Engineering developed a fibre glass body shell aimed at the 'kit car' market and latched onto the fact that a large number of BMC Minis were starting to suffer badly from corrosion. The 'Viking Sport' (38p stamp) used the running gear and components from a standard Mini but had a Sports GT body.  Today the Viking Sport is a very rare car with only seven known surviving.  The 41p stamp shows a fibreglass mini built under licence in Chile for the manufacturer of the mini (BMC), who contracted with Peels for their expertise in fibreglass to provide production tooling for the plant.  
The early days are shown on the high value stamps - the 54p stamp shows the prototype that never went into production.  The doors were pivoted in the bottom rear corner, a third door gave access to a flat 16 cubic feet boot space which also had a trap door for access to the engine (a 322cc British Anzani twin cylinder two stroke), and that is not all for it had a foot well fitted to allow two children to be carried behind the main seats. The P1000 on the 94p stamp was Peels first production body shell, a 'kit car' designed for fitting to a Ford 8/10 or Morris 8 chassis, in all about 500 were sold.

No rust and 100 miles to the gallon what do you think? See a Trident and a P50 being driven here

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of Automobiles and Motor Transport here