Sunday, 18 August 2019

Zeniths of Switzerland

1993: Definitive (Design - H Schelbert; Engraveer - M Muller)
The stamp shows the dark blue waters of a mountain lake in Switzerland called Lac de Tanay which is described as a miniature paradise and was declared a national heritage site in the 1960s. The twin peaks rising up behind are the Jumelles (Grammont and the Col de Tanay).  Located on the Haute-Savoie border the stamp
has been co-opted on to a FDC from central Switzerland celebrating a mountain that is almost surrounded by lakes - Rigi.  As the postmark says it is known as the 'Queen of Mountains'.  Summer is recommended as a beautiful time to visit and it has 120k of hiking trails with enticing names like - the floral trail, panorama path and the nature trail.  It does not end there for there is also a scenic railway ride and summer is when the steam train runs, for Rigi also has Europe's oldest mountain railway which opened in May 1871.
1983: Europa - Human Genius (Design - A Hartmann)
This rack and pinion railway was the work of the Niklau Riggenbach, engineer and locomotive builder, inventor of the Riggenbach rack system and counter-pressure brakes.   Ah yes brakes, always a good thing to have on a mountain. The maximum card celebrates his invention and
I found a picture on the web of him testing the system in 1870 running from Vitznau on Lake Lucerne (the postmark) to a point near to the summit. 
The zenith of engineering.  Riggenbach would also drive the first train upon the opening of the railway in 1871. The locomotive is still with us and is the oldest Swiss loco and the only remaining standard gauge rack fitted vertical boiler in the world.
1941-1955: Airmail Definitive - Landscapes (Design - Albert Yersin)
Lastly we have one of the iconic Swiss Mountains, the Jungfrau, which is also the location of one of the great railway journeys, tunnels and viewpoints, with not only the highest railway station in Europe but also the highest post office.  The man in seat 61 takes us on the journey with travel tips.

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter Z - here for SwitZerland and zenith - See It On A Postcard.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Yesteryear Yugoslavia

1987: PTT (Posta, Telegrafa i Telefona) Museum Card
An Ericson phone but not one which would happily sit in a pocket. As much a desk ornament as an object to communicate. I would love to wind the handle.  The card says on the back "Desk phone Ericson system from 1900. These devices date from the first period of telephony development and are characterised by a local power source, an inductor and electric bell are used to establish connection. The first installations of telephone sets began in our country Zagreb (1881) and in Belgrade (1883)
Paddle Steamer towed by steam locomotive on Sip Canal
Here we are on the Sip Canal constructed to make navigation through the notorious Iron Gates gorge with its riverbed boulders, whirlpools and rapids easier.  The project was run by the Austro-Hungarian government and opened in 1896 but they miscalculated the fast river flow which meant that ships had to be navigated upstream by a steam powered tugboat and winding cable. Enter the Germans and their occupation of Serbia in WW1 and whose forces built a railway on the canal embankment and locomotives began towing boats instead of the tugboats. After the war the railway was reconstructed and  extended with 11 locomotives in service pulling boats.
1981: 125th Anniversary of European Danube Commission
You cannot see this scene today because of the Iron Gate Hydroelectric Power Station joint venture between Romania and Yugoslavia and the creation of the largest dam on the Danube meant it was flooded by the Derlap Lake in 1969.  Unfortunately this happened six month before it was projected with the waters rushing in flooding everything - the entire railway system and locomotives are now on the bottom of the lake. There was a scheme to try to raise the locomotives in recent times because these JZ Class 30 'Berliners' are the last remaining types but it came to nought.  The stamp was designed by the prolific artist Dušan Lučić(b1937) and the engraver Dušan Matić (b1939) who also collaborated on other Yugoslav stamps.

1951: Iron Gates, Danube

The Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter Y - here for Yugoslavia - See it on a Postcard 

Saturday, 20 July 2019

On the Road

I'm away on the highways and byways of England passing postboxes on the way south so there will be a slight pause of posts here.  I leave you with a mail van waiting to cross the Scourer or Fisherman's Bridge over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

United Nations

1991: ECE - For a Better Environment (United Nations - Vienna)
A trip to the seaside with this stamp set although I suspect that the FDC envelope illustration is the same one used for the New York headquarters stamp which featured an alpine lake. The blue water looks inviting although it would be rather more chilly
Mediterranean Coastline and Wildlife
than the balmy Mediterranean in summer featured on the UN Vienna stamps.  The perfect vacation destination.  Unfortunately I don't know who the artist is but the 
postmark deserves a feature of its own.  More fauna
1993: Endangered Species (1st series)
on the first of United Nations stamps series on endangered species, although we do not seem to be running out of species to feature on this ongoing stamp issue. The 2019 theme is "below the water" another environment in trouble.
1993: Endangered Species (Design - Steve Brennan)
But lets take a moment just to enjoy the animals - Grevy's Zebra, the largest of its species sometimes called the Imperial Zebra which can be found in Eastern Africa.  A pair of Humboldt penguins come next who can be seen along the coast of Chile and Peru, their rocky habitat has made them into excellent climbers and they jump with both legs using their flippers for balance.  News recently that London is projected to become as hot as Barcelona prompted a discussion of the best animal to be reincarnated as to cope with earth's rising temperature, maybe this one, the Desert Monitor, they are good swimmers so rising water levels would be no problem either.  Lastly we have of course a wolf gazing over its territory.

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter U - here for United Nations and as I am about to go on vacation there is a - V for Vienna - for next week too - See It On A Postcard  

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Anyone for Tennis

1994: Four Seasons - Summertime Events (Artist - Matthew Cook; Design - Silk Pearce)
We are right in the middle of Wimbledon and this week's Sunday Stamps letter suits the day to a T so settle down with a bowl of strawberries and cream and watch some tennis.
1998: Famous  German Women (Design - Gerd Aretz)
The first German to win Wimbledon's singles title was Cilly Aussem (1909-63) in 1931 but whose career was tragically cut short by injury and illness.
No mention of the Wimbledon singles title would be complete without the mention of Roger Federer.  The FDC celebrates him holding the ATP record in 2007 of being the World's Number 1 player for 161 consecutive weeks
2007: Roger Federer - Tennis World Champion (Design - Roger Hirter)
and he is still gliding across the court and breaking records this year.  The stamp shows him holding the glitzy Wimbledon trophy.   The Wimbledon Championships are the oldest in the world held since 1877
1965: History of Tennis (Design - Adam Cziglenyi)
but the history of tennis is much older although quite unlike today's game. This stamp shows a French 18th Century 'long court'
The 70+30 shows a drawing of a 16th century 'tennys courte' and the 1+50 is a 17th century game. The set consisted of 9 stamps and I live in hope some more will come my way.  The set can be seen here
1996: Olympic Games, Atlanta
The Olympics can trace its origin back through even older centuries and this is a stamp celebrating both the Atlanta games and the 100th anniversary of the Modern Olympics.   Tennis has a long Modern Olympic history but withdrew from the competition in 1924 due to the dispute over how to define amateur players.  The dilemma of amateur versus profession meant it did not return as a medal sport until 1988
1984: Olympic Games, Los Angles
although it was a demonstration sport in 1968 and in the year of the stamp, 1984, there was a competition for under 21s.  I like the tennis ball coming at us from the stamp
2000: Sports
which may be a reminder to keep your eye on the ball.

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter T - here for Tennis and Tanzania - See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Swedish Stories

1969: Swedish Fairy Tales (Engraver - Czeslaw Slania)
Today it is time for Swedish adventures.  Katie has met a friendly cat who takes her on his back for a magical ride.  This is from the lavishly illustrated book 'The Cat Journey' by the artist and illustrator Ivar Arosenius, published posthumously in 1909.  This is one of a set of stamps of  Swedish stories which were issued in booklet form, the next is

'Pelle's New Suit '(1912) written and illustrated by Elsa Beskow (1874-1953) who is sometimes called the Beatrix Potter of Sweden. The story is about Pelle who has a lamb whose coat grows longer and longer while Pelle's Sunday suit grows shorter. Pelle shears the lamb, cards, spins and dyes the wool . Finally the tailor makes a new suite for Pelle

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf (1906) and illustrated by John Bauer.  A journey across all of  Sweden by Nils and a farm goose

Another John Bauer illustration in Cyrus Granér's story Vill-Vallereman (1909) about a little fairy shepherd which belongs to the fairy-tale collection 'With Pucks and Elves'

No set of Swedish stories would be complete without Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and her first illustrator, Ingrid Vang Nyman (1916-1959). Pippi is using her superhuman strength to lift her friend the horse watched by the monkey, Mr Nilsson.
1987: Astrid Lindgren's Tales (Illustrator - I Wikland; Engraver - Z Jakus)
A set of 10 discount stamps were issued to celebrate Astrid Lindgren on the occasion of her 80th birthday.  I hope some of her birthday cards came with these stamps. Unfortunately I only have this one which is from a series of 7 books about a 7 year old girl called Madicken , her affectionate nickname, she only gets called her full name, Margareta Engström, when she misbehaves.  The artist is Maire-Ilon Wikland who has illustrated a large number of Astrid Lindgren's books.

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter S - for stories and Sweden - swing over for more of S on See It On A Postcard  


Sunday, 23 June 2019


I saw a photo of a summer solstice rainbow over the ancient stones of Stonehenge and wondered if I had any rainbows
1980: Nursery Tales - "above them the sky is always clear"
and found a cute duo out in the Mongolian countryside for a picnic.
2010: Greetings Stamps (Designer - Johannes Graf)
Best wishes are sent with this rainbow.  I enjoyed this set so as I am now out of rainbows lets see the rest
Designed by Johannes Graf who also does the intermittent series of lighthouse stamps, like these, a popular stamp to send on post. 
2012: 225th Birth Anniversary Joseph Von Fraunhofer (Design - Daniela Haufe and Detlef Fiedler; Engravers - Giesecke and Devrient)
A rainbow of colours celebrating the birth of Joseph Von Frauhofer, physicist, instrument maker and inventor of the spectroscope. The stamp shows the spectrum from red to violet broken by the dark lines now known as Fraunhofer lines or absorption lines.

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the letter R - here for Rainbow and red - See It On A Postcard