Sunday, 16 November 2014

Look to the Skies

The European Space Agency landing the Philae craft on a comet this week gave me the the idea to show a couple of Maximum Cards with the "Europe in Space" stamps from 1991.  Philae has now gone to sleep and will need sunlight to wake it up, they have rotated the solar panels and left it to fate.  The craft was named after Philae a rocky island in the middle of the Nile, famous for its temple which was moved when the water of the Aswan dam was going to submerge it. Here are some other rocky outcrops but these are the mountains of the Faroe Islands with one of my favourite weather events in the high hills, a temperature inversion, when you float above the clouds with feet firmly on the ground.  The stamp
shows a weather satellite and a weather map, appropriate for a place whose weather can change dramatically more than once in a day.  Possibly not the best place to journey to for next year's total solar eclipse in March but then you can't look directly at it anyway, so a nice layer of cloud cover might be just the thing. That is how I viewed my last solar eclipse in the UK, through cloud. Interested in what the weather is like on the Faroes today? Go here
Next is a card with a map of the Faroe Islands overlaid on the night sky.  I imagine they have beautifully dark skies to star gaze. The stamp cancel
has just that activity. The stamp features a Viking ship with a star map showing the North Star by which these fine navigators would steer their ships at night.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps "Anything You Wish" theme here

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Berry Nice

2005: Cloudberries
If I hear the words Lingonberries or Cloudberries it conjurers up an image in my mind of Scandinavians sitting down together outdoors to eat the spoils of the wild, I suppose there would have to be roll mops on the menu and of course potatoes with dill, or perhaps I have watched too many Scandi dramas.  The stamps, or more accurately frama labels, were from a series on berries but I only have the cloudberry, a plant that grows in bogs and marshes and can tolerate extreme cold and despite its demand in Scandinavia is still primarily a wild plant.  The artist is Emilie Hage who also produced the theme that followed the berries, that of garden flowers.
2014: "Amongst Berries and Leaves"

     Staying in Scandinavia is a pretty set issued this year by Sweden which in fact only plopped through my door on Friday, oh happy day.  The artist, Jesús Verona (originally from Madrid but living in Stockholm) picked berries, flowers and leaves in gardens and forests and built a composite picture.  He has included some elements to surprise the viewer, a few porcelain mushrooms on a branch and small balloon berries plus a little balloon bird. The text is deliberately positioned at different angles so the user can rotate the stamp and place it anyway they like. I imagine the Swedish Mail Art fraternity will have fun with these.
Nuthatch
Humans are not the only lovers of berries and they appear on some on the long running Birds definitive stamps of Belgium.  The nuthatch is from one of the first series of 1985, all illustrated by André Buzin.  They are so loved that there is even a special website dedicated to them - De Vogels van Buzin.
Fieldfare (from the 3rd series)
The fieldfare journeys from Scandinavia in search of warmer winter weather and the flocks start arriving in October, hawthorn hedges with berries are a particular favourite with them.
1995: Christmas Robins
The bird that always has a place in our hearts and stays all year long and who will brighten up any winter day is here portrayed by the wildlife artist Kenneth Lilly (1929-1996).  I am slightly amused by the fact that the only word of the cancel I can read is 'cheap', perhaps it should say cheep.  Ken Lilly specialised in portraying birds but he was a prolific illustrator and is famous for his contribution to the children's Look and Learn magazine which was published from 1962 to 1982 and  I remember mostly for its use of vivid colours.  Holly berries shine red amongst the glistening green leaves on a winters day when I wonder how it is possible that fragile birds survive the cold so don't forget to feed them,  for who knows an angel may come to your table.  
1985: Christmas Angels
An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme - Fruits of the Forest, nuts and berries here
         

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Rimances

"The king was unable to wait
The earth trembled, the sun rose - 
and only the nine islands of the Azores
and the Seven Cities remained,
later divided in two, one green and the other blue"
 For the Europa 2010 theme of Children's Books Portugal and its autonomous regions decided to go way back in time to traditional tales, rimances and  legends..  Rimances is a word I've never heard of before but I learn that they are short epic poems. This miniature sheet contains part of one such rimance from the Azores called the Lake of the Seven Cities (Lagoa das Sete Cidades).

In present times the two lakes inside a massive extinct volcano crater is a must see tourist destination in the Azores but the story which the miniature sheet shows tells the tale of the two lakes, one green and one blue, whose colours were caused by a princess and shepherd weeping when their love was thwarted by the King and the lakes took on the colours of their eyes. (The full legend is here).  The Legend of the Seven Cities is similar story to the lost cities of Atlantis.  Perhaps these were the seven cities created by Portuguese seamen fleeing from the Moors who went west into the Atlantic and were never seen again.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps which this week is "anything you wish"

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Workers of the World

2013: Europa - Postman's Van
For the 'Professions and Trades" theme this week of course my first thought was of  the person we look forward to each day, Postie, and here we see three of them on their rounds.  The one featuring a postman on his bike and the one pushing a trolley looks to be by the side of the River Liffey in Dublin. An Post operate one of Ireland's largest fleets of motor vehicles and the green van is a familiar sight in town and country. The stamp design is by Steve Simpson working with the photographer Harry Weir.

Of course I always want to see stamps on my post so lets pay a visit to the printer
although in this case they are printing books.  This is from a series of definitive stamps issued by Yugoslavia in the 1950s featuring numerous workers at their trade.
In 1969 Belgium celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the International Labour Organisation with a stamp featuring a 1950 painting by Fernand Léger "Les Constructeurs".  The ILO was founded in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles in the  wake of World War 1 its objective was, and is, to "pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based in social justice".
So here is a bit of equal opportunities and perhaps could be working below the builders on the construction site, there certainly seems to be a ladder behind them, which may be made of wood
Lumbering
The building will have to be wired up so here comes the electrician
From all the hustle and bustle of the building site perhaps its time to retire to the hubble bubble of a chemistry laboratory
for in the 1950s Czechoslovakia also produced engraved definitive stamps on occupations, although I don't have many of this particular set, unlike the Yugoslavian ones which I think were issued for a longer time and in various printings, colours and denominations which may be the reason I seem to have rather a lot in my childhood album. 
Time to take a walk into the countryside and watch the fields of sunflowers being picked.

And then pay a visit to see other Professions and Trades at  Viridian Postcard's Sunday stamps meme here.

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