Sunday, 26 June 2016

Better Together

1967: European Free Trade Association
Perhaps these are the most appropriate stamps for me to show this week after some of my compatriots had a moment of madness and voted for the UK to leave the EU.  Ironically the FDC date of 1967 was the year General De Gaulle had vetoed British membership of what was then the European Economic Community for the second time.  The European Free Trade Association, the alternative for countries unable or unwilling to join the EEC is shown with their flags, today there are only two members, Norway and Switzerland.  I suspect we are going to hear a lot about tariffs and trade deals in the years ahead while hoping environmental and workers rights are not denuded. 
1973: Interpol 50th Anniversary
Another international organisation with a membership of 190 countries whose crime fighting headquarters are in Lyon, France.  The stamp shows Interpol's logo with the flag of Burundi.
1974: Malaysian Scout Jamboree
On first glance I thought this stamp was for the world gathering of scouts every four years, the Jamboree, but discovered that it is actually Malaysia's national Jamboree which each state takes it turn to hold.  This Jambori of 1974 was in Johor, one of the most populous states in Malaysia.
1963: 17th Balkan Games
In celebration of the sporting summer I'll end with the Balkan Games, first held in Athens in 1929.  As you have guessed from these stamps the 1963 games were held in Bulgaria (Sofia).

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Flags - more can be seen flying at See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Cartoon Characters

Solan Gundersen
One of the wonderful things about stamps and postcards is they introduce characters unknown to me and Norway's Christmas stamps of 2013 did just that.  These were two of the inhabitants of the fictional Norwegian village of Flåklypa dreamed up by Kjell Aukrust.
The grumpy neighbour
Norway Post showed the stamps and characters with an amusing post here. They mention one of Kjell Aukrust's other characters in the introduction "When Ludvig was featured on Norway Post’s Christmas stamps in 1988, Solan Gundersen was just a little jealous...".  I don't have those stamps but here is Ludvig in the stamp catalogue
Ludvig with Ski Stick and Ludvig reading a letter
and, as the entry says  he is one of the most popular characters, featuring in many films such as 'Solan and Ludvig' when something important was missing at Christmas, snow.

The next set of stamps are of characters well known all over the world their adventures having been translated into a hundred languages
Now you possibly may be wondering why Guernsey issued an Asterix set.  The reason was the exciting discovery by a local diver of a Gallo-Roman ship in 1982 which had caught fire and sunk near St Peter Port harbour.  Although the ship was Roman it was probably crewed by Gauls just like Asterix and his friends and built in roughly the same era the cartoon is set. Peter Rowlands (son of the Guernsey Maritime Trust's Geoff Rowlands) made this connection asking if this was Asterix's ship.  Dr Margaret Rule (leading the excavation) said no, but the little adventurer would have known ships like it.  The stamps issued in 1992 tell the story as if it were indeed one of Asterix's adventures (the preservation and display of the ship became Operation Asterix). There were stamps and a Prestige Booklet issued, the latter was in different languages and, as you see, the FDC sheet I happen to own is in German
16p - Building the ship Dogmatrix thinks it would be quicker with magic potion. 23p - Refused magic potion again Obelix sighs, loading the cargo 28p - Laden with wheat, tiles and pitch the ship sets sail for Guernsey
33p - Attacked and set alight, the pitch melts and the ship sinks quickly 39p - The crew and some cargo are saved. The ship settles slowly in the silt.  The last pane alters with the language of the sheet and who Asterix shakes hands with.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Cartoon Characters - meet them at See it On A Postcard

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Beau Jeu

2006: World Cup Winners
The excitement has been building but now the Euros are, at last, underway in France who won the European Football Championship in 2000 but of course they lifted an even more prestigious trophy in 1998, the World Cup, and were one of the teams that appeared on the 'Word Cup Winners' stamps designed by Madeleine Bennet.  They are off to a good start in 2016
In 2004 Portugal with home advantage were one of the favourites but the dark horses of Greece lifted the trophy.  The mascots chosen for sporting championships can be weird and random but historically the ones for the European Championships at least do tend to be playing football and Portugal featured a  little boy called Kinas in his Portuguese strip who appears on the stamps with the country flags.  As England's first game of the championships was against Russia I thought I choose this FDC of the 2004 Spain versus Russia match and hope we could emulate Spain. Things were going reasonably well and we were indeed winning 1-0 until the four minutes of added time and the resulting draw.  Happily with a Welsh surname I can jump ship and support the home nation team that won yesterday.  Did you say "fair weather fan"?
The European Championship opening ceremony featured cancan dancers so here is the home of cancan, the Moulin Rouge, the windmill of choice for Tord Nygren in his series of windmill watercolours for Åland's exhibition cards and stamps.  Åland Post traveled to Paris for the Salon D'Automne in November 2015.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II open theme week at  See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 5 June 2016


1980: 60th Anniversary of Guernsey Police
Walkies?  Well it looks rather more energetic than the usual cliff top amble.  Guernsey Police have two full time dog handlers with two dogs each (german shepherds and spaniels) and I don't suppose anything was any different back in 1980.

I was glad this week's theme was canines rather than just dogs as I think I used most of my dog stamps last time the theme was dogs in Sunday Stamps previous incarnation.  Saying that my next stamp is a dog, but just not the domesticated variety, and one that hunts in packs, 
c1993: Definitives: Endangered Fauna
a Wild Dog, sometimes called African Painted Dogs.  There are five different types and the South African species is the most colourful distinguished by the amount of yellow and orange in its coat. 
2011: World Wildlife Fund 50th Anniversary
Perhaps it is a face only a mother could love but one can see its eyes are similar to this more ubiquitous species, the red fox,
c1998: Red fox definitive
whose eyes are giving a very alert and knowing stare in the stamp designed by Robert Giusti, or perhaps they have just glazed over when I say that this was USA's first definitive to contain a 'Scrambled Indicia' image that can only be seen through a special acrylic decoder lens'.  I don't understand any of those words but you can read about it here

 The wildlife artist Robert Gillmor has taken a different approach on his portrayal of a fox
2015: Winter Fur and Feathers (Red Fox)
but then the Post and Go machine stamp set was called 'Winter Fur and Feathers' and it looks suitably snowy.  Happily in contrast I am sitting looking out of the window on to a sunny and warm June day.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Canines - bound over to See It On A Postcard for more  

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Shine A Light

Frothing salty waters make an appearance in all the stamps of the 1998 Lighthouse set designed by Dick Davis.  Lets set off to sea and start at the top left in Ireland with St John's Point lighthouse in County Down, which dates back to 1839. Then on to Wales and The Smalls Lighthouse and then perhaps sail down the country heading for Portsmouth and up the Solent passing by The Needles Rocks with their accompanying lighthouse which today is painted red and white but the stamp shows it at the turn of the century about 1900 in blue and white.
On the bottom is Bell Rock lighthouse off Arbroath, Scotland, built at the beginning of the 19th Century.  Lastly appears The Eddystone Light which the FDC celebrates its 300th Anniversary and the stamp shows the first of the lighthouses to stand on the Eddystone Rocks erected in 1698 and built of wood. Yes you know that is not going to end well, it was wrecked in a storm 5 years later.  The FDC came with an insert which tells the story of the four lighthouses which have stood on this point warning seafarers of danger.
The painting on the cover is by the wonderfully named Isaac Sailmaker (1633-1721) and called 'Men-o-War and other Vessels before the Eddystone Lighthouse'.

Next is a set of Lighthouse stamps which Åland issued in a booklet of eight stamps which showed four lights.
Two are photographed by Kjell Söderlund and are:  Marhällen in the Bothic Gulf and Gustaf Dahlen a light which was named after the Swedish Nobel Laureate of the same name and was the inventor of the Dahlen light. If the light name is not familiar his company will be, AGA.  The other two stamps of the set are taken from old sketches of lighthouses, the first is Bogskär which was damaged by winter storms in 1889 and destroyed by German bombardment in 1915.  The replacement station some years later was painted in the Finnish national colours of blue and white and can be seen when arriving by boat into Mariehamn.   The stamp was engraved by Martin Mörck.  The other stamp was engraved by Lars Sjööblom and is of Kökarsören but unfortunately I can find no other information so unlike the other lighthouse I can provide no link.  As can be seen the exact position of each light is shown on the bottom of the stamps.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Lighthouses - set sail to See It On A Postcard for more

Sunday, 22 May 2016


2013: British Butterflies
The previous time Royal Mail issued a butterfly set was way back in 1981 but then they treated us to ten stamps in 2013.  They chose the  artist Richard Lewington, who specialises in insects, to illustrate and he talks about it here on his website.  His initial submissions to Royal Mail persuaded them not to use photographs but they stipulated that they must appear on a white background as if the butterflies were in flight.  The species chosen were a mix of the common and rare which are, clockwise from the left:
1) the Comma (Polygonia c-album) whose numbers crashed in the mid 1800s but by the 1960s they had resumed high numbers once again, sometimes described for identification purposes rather unkindly as a tatty tortoiseshell.  2) Orange Tip (Anthocharisc cardamines) of which I saw my first one of the year last week so I know the season is well on the way now. 3) Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) 4) Swallowtail (Papillo machaon) the largest and rarest British native butterfly who can be seen in the fens of the Norfolk Broad with their plant of choice the Milk Parsley 5) Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon) found on chalk downlands and sometimes on limestone in the south of England. The inclusion of ants on the cancel above is because the larvae and pupae make secretions which attract ants and the presence of ants on bare ground gives the pupae protection at this vulnerable stage of their life cycle.
The other five of the set clockwise from the left:
1) Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) only present in southern England and always called 'His Majesty' by butterfly enthusiasts who are dazzled by its shimmering colours in sunlight. 2) Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) who as the name implies like a bit of damp under wing.  Their numbers can crash for no apparent reason and then recover again. 3) Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), one of the few species that hibernate as an adult, the females are a paler whitish green than the buttery yellow male.
Its angular shape and veining means when it roosts it can resemble a leaf but in postal life can disappear beneath anything but a light cancel.
4) Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) whose checkered black and white can be seen in chalk and limestone grassland
5) Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) arrive from the Mediterranean in spring or summer.  I imagine with this year's mild winter some may even have joined the very small number that  hibernate here.  

Our butterflies in the UK are small in the number of species but  now travel to a different continent and they are in abundance 
1965: Rwanda Butterflies
and although I'm envious of that fact Africa has other insects I'm rather glad aren't around here.  The designer, J Van Nolen, has shown a group of butterflies fluttering in the air which always brings to mind summer days. These are Colotis aurigineus, the African Golden Arab. Next is the Hesperus or Emperor Swallowtail (Papillo hesperus)
On the left is the Broadly Green-Banded Swallowtail (Papillo bromius Chrapkowskii).  Despite this set being called Rwanda Butterflies a day flying moth has sneaked in and happily and unexpectedly I can fully tick both boxes of this week's theme of Butterflies or Moths. This is the Amphicallia pactolicus moth, I haven't been able to find its common name.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Butterflies or Moths - flutter by See It On A Postcard for more 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

In A Postal Garden

2015: Links with China - Garden Flowers
Jersey boasts that it has more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the British Isles so no wonder it is an island full of flowers.  The flower stamps were painted by Wang Huming (who also created the FDC) and drawn by Martin Mörk.  They had first met in the past when Martin Mörk was training engravers at China Post where Wang Huming is Deputy Chief Designer.  A stamp power duo for Jersey Post.  

Jersey Post quotes the Chinese saying 'Hai Kai Fu Gui' (when garden flowers bloom, prosperity comes) and mentions the symbolism of each flower in China on the back of the envelope.  I thought it would be interesting to contrast the meanings from my 'Illuminated Language of Flowers' (the Victorians were great lovers of symbolism in flowers although there is really no definitive list).  Let's start from the top stamp and the Magnolia which in ancient times only the Chinese Emperor was allowed to own and is thought to symbolise a beautiful woman.  For us it symbolises a love of nature.
Camellia: China - a token of devotion between lovers. West - depends on the colour but red is unpretending excellence which sounds rather less exciting that the white camellia - Perfected Loveliness
Azalia: China - thoughtfulness and pensiveness. West - temperance
Hydrangea: China - love, gratitude and heartfelt feelings. West -  A boaster. Heartlessness
Chrysanthemum: longevity, representing a life of ease as well as attracting good luck into the home. West - the red - I love; the white - truth and the yellow - slighted love
Peony: China - prosperity, happiness and peace. West - shame bashfulness.

Whatever their meanings they are all wonderful in gardens as are
1970s: Definitives - Garden Roses (Designer: Alan G Mitchell)
roses, which have a myriad of meanings.  I always enjoy just browsing their names in garden centres.  New Zealand chose, 1c Sterling Silver, 2c Lili Marlene and 3c Queen Elizabeth
  4c  Super Star, 5c Diamond, 6c Cresset and 7c Michelle Meilland
and 8c Josephine Bruce (the one I don't have to complete the set is the 9c Iceberg). Later in 1979 and 1980 New Zealand post overprinted three roses for the increase in postage price. It's a rather nice definitive set which seems to encapsulate the country consisting of these garden roses which grow well in New Zealand (a little piece of home for those early British settlers) together with Maori artifacts, sea shells and the 'beehive' parliamentary building.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Flowers - more blooms growing at See It On A Postcard