Sunday, 19 April 2015

To the Rescue

This commemorative sheet (along with a stamp set) was issued for the 150th anniversary of the International Red Cross and released in May 2013 to coincide with the month of the island's liberation by British troops in 1945.

The ship is the 'Vega' built in Gothenburg (1913) and chartered from Svea Lines by the International Red Cross in World War 2 for their relief work.  It provided a vital link to the islanders when Germany occupied the Channel Islands in 1940 by enabling them to keep in contact with their families. They were allowed to mail 25 word messages (which were only to concern family matters) and taken by the Red Cross from Jersey to Geneva and then distributed from there to the addressees.  It also carried vital medical supplies.  In 1944 when the Allies started the D Day landings and began the final push into Europe the Vega also prevented the islanders from starvation in the last year of the war with food parcels which were brought from the British Commonwealth supply stores in Lisbon.  The painting, by the stamp designer Nick Shewring, shows the arrival of Vega into the harbour at St Helier at the end of 1944.

With the end of war in Europe the Vega, loaded with general cargo, set sail for her home port of Stockholm and was the first ship to arrive there from London after the war. Returned  to her owners, Svea Line, she would be scrapped at Travemunde in 1954 but  never forgotten by the inhabitants of Jersey for it also appeared on a set commemorating the 25th anniversary of liberation issued in 1970 which were given to all Jersey school children. 
1995: "Peace and Freedom"
The stamp above "symbolises the role of the British Red Cross Society (founded in 1870) in providing impartial care to people in need and in crisis, at home and abroad, in peace and in war". The design is by the Belgium artist Jean-Michel Folon. 
2001: Outback Services
Journeying to a much larger island with a smaller organisation responding to emergencies; this one travels in the remote Australian outback and it is the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDC).  A charitable organisation that provides emergency medical and primary health care services.  Established in 1928 it developed into a national service in the 1930s and the cancel couldn't be farther away from the sea of the first stamp for it is the famous town in the centre of Australia
Alice Springs. The graphic designer is Lynda Warner and all the stamps in the set show panoramic vistas with a symbolic graphic icon for the outback service portrayed.

An entry to Violet Sky's Sunday Stamps II theme - Health, medical or red cross - lots more here


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Working Life

To commemorate the inauguration of, what was then, the newly independent Faroese Postal Administration in 1976 three stamps were issued of which this was one - "The Old Postman".  It was a very particular old postman, Jákup Andreas Henriksen (known as Dia) who lived in the village of Gásadalur on the island of Vágar and who had carried the post between the villages on the island from 1915, when he was 20, until the end of February 1976 when he retired at the age of 80. Through snowstorms and over mountains it was a remarkable working life. For the last five years of his tenure he was not able to walk the route so only delivered in his own village, while his son Solberg Henrikson took on the responsibility of the rest of the route and then took over from his father and became the local postman.  The full story is here  

The stamp is an engraving by the prolific Czeslaw Slania (1921-2005) of a photograph, which is also the case with the following stamps but I am lucky enough to have both photo and stamp combined on maximum cards
and here are a group of young Faroese fishermen in the north Atlantic. I'm fascinated by the direct look into the camera and also by the gloves.  It appears to be a dry day 

 unlike this one which looks to shows a more challenging day  -
with the steersman at his rudder kitted up with full waterproofs
The stamps are a set issued in 1984 called Faroese Pinnaces or just simply, Smacks, but I haven't been able to find out about the date of the photographs themselves.  Is the clue in the stamp that completes the set?
Which shows the 'Westward Ho', a smack which would have a crew of 20, built in 1884 in Grimsby and sold to the Faroe Islands in 1895.  It got an engine in 1920 and continued fishing until 1964. ( During World War 2 it was in the dangerous occupation of bringing its catch to Scotland after fishing off Iceland).  Amazingly it is still in existence being restored in 1968 and then again in 2005 and now appearing at regattas and sea festivals (seen here today in full sail).

An entry Violet Sky's Sunday Stamps II, the theme this week -  'People at Work' - more workers here

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Happy Easter

I have a certain lack of Easter stamps but here is one I don't think I've shown on here before issued by the Czech Republic for Easter 2008 of the Pietà, Mary cradling the dead body of Christ.  The stamp portrays a detail from an altar cycle of Christ's life produced by an artist working in Prague in the middle of the 14th century, unknown by name, who is referred to as the Master of Vyšši, one of the treasures of Czech art.
Happily for this theme I received a Happy Easter postcard this week from Eeva with its Finland Red Cross prepaid charity stamp of a beautiful bowl of daffodils. They are in full bloom here, in gardens, by roadsides, in pots, and to top off a golden easter time have been joined by drifts of their later flowering wild ancestors in the woods.

As I have a lack of stamps here is the fun card it came on of Inge Löök's Aunties enjoying an action packed
and cosy time in a barn painting hen's eggs for Easter, they are possibly still warm. 

Like the card I wish you all Hyää Pääsiäistä - Happy Easter

An entry to Violet Sky's Sunday Stamps II theme of - Easter - more Easter related stamps here


Sunday, 29 March 2015


A view of a pristine forest landscape in China.  After the establishment of the Chinese People's Republic in 1949 large scale afforestation activities by co-operatives and communes were encouraged and this set of stamps of 1958 called  "Afforestation Campaign" coincided with the central government issuing a call for large scale afforestation by the establishment of forest farms and mobilisation of the public.  This was against a rather schizophrenic backdrop of large areas being degraded with over-logging to meet the demand for timber to feed the "Iron and Steelmaking Campaigns" and "The Great Leap Forward" in the 1950s and 60s, as well as pressure on land for firewood and grazing.
So here in the depths of a forest we have a Forest Patrol who were not only trying to combat illegal logging and grazing  but also protect against another problem, that of fire.
Of course in managed forests tree felling continued, not only for wood but to create fire-breaks
and tree planting continued.  The 'Great Cultural Revolution' from 1966-76 brought much instability and the forestry administration descended into chaos

We arrive in 1980 with another campaign called "Afforestation of the Motherland" and this stamp shows an orchard.  In the present day, China and Vietnam are the only countries in the Asian region to increase forest cover, and China is on target to cover 23% of its landmass by 2020. This is not to say everything in the garden is lovely for there has been concern that not enough is done to protect the natural forests and their biodiversity and there is too much emphasis on plantation forestry and non indigenous trees, something familiar to me in my own county.
Here is a green and pleasant land with a highway lined with trees. 70% of the forested lands had poor road access and transport was difficult in the mountainous and hilly terrain so
aerial seeding was tried first in Wuchuan county in Guangdong in 1956 which led to a nationwide adoption of aerial seeding shown here in the 1980 stamp with an Antonov An-2 biplane sowing its seeds.
And the needs of industry and forestry are combined in this view of planting around factories and mines.
1980s definitive - 'North-east forest"
But lets move out of the depths of the forest and journey into the Pacific Ocean and the lap of waves and the islands of New Caledonia
Pointe des Paletuviers

 where 80% of the western coastline of the Grande Terre has those forests that live between water and land and the rhythm of the tides - mangroves.  The stamp, in various colours, denominations and overprints was used from the 1920s until the 1940s but I have been unable to find a photograph of the place it portrays, Mangrove Point or the Bay of Mangroves, but by accident found that it may actually be Pointe in Harcourt Bay.

An entry to Violet Sky's Sunday Stamps II theme of Woodlands, forests, parks and gardens, more here

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sea View

t2012: Europe - "Visit"
Here is where the tourist and indeed the photographer would head for a view of the Grand Harbour of Malta, the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Only a set of se-tenant stamps can fit it all in - the Three Cities opposite with the Fort of St Angelo in the centre.  In the foreground are part of the Barrakka Garden's 'Saluting Battery', which forms part of Valletta's old fortifications built in 1566 by the Knights of St John.

For a harbour with a more peaceful history lets travel to one of Malta's other islands, Gozo
where the fishing village of Mgarr basks in the sunlight on this miniature sheet. This was a joint issue between the northernmost and southernmost islands in Europe (Iceland and Malta) with the theme of "Fishing Villages".  Unfortunately I don't have Iceland's contribution which was of  Húsavík (see here).  In fact I discovered that I don't have any Icelandic fishing villages amongst my stamps so instead I'll include a stamp that is unrelated to either fish or fishing but is one of my favourites
portraying the hardy Icelandic pony/horse first brought to the island by Norse settlers. It is also an opportunity for me to show some map stamps of the Atlantic Ocean and its islands
1962: Transatlantic Telephone Cable
The first Icelandic telegraph cable was laid linking Iceland to the Shetlands and Faroes in 1906 and it failed in 1962 which by coincidence was the date this stamp was issued to commemorate the inauguration of the Transatlantic telephone cable via Iceland which started near Oban and ended in Newfoundland .  This too would suffer damage in the northern waters by icebergs and fishing vessels.

For two views of the Atlantic across time here is Iceland's stamp issued for their participation in Montreal's World Fair.  Considered the most successful Expo of the 20th century with its theme of 'Man and his world' Canada actually built an island for the event using 25 million tons of rock
1967: World Fair in Montreal : Maps of 1590 and 1967

1952: Portuguese Navigators - Map of c1471

and  I end travelling south  mid Atlantic in the archipelago of the Cape Verde islands.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme of - Islands - travel to more on See It On A Postcard here 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Everyones Gone to the Moon

2013: Newspaper Headlines
The Isle of Man chose for one of the significant headlines of recent history the moon landing of July 1969 from The Times which was celebrating its 225th anniversary in 2013.  The pictures look very crisp on the stamp but for those of us that were watching in 1969 one of the abiding memories is of the very grainy black and white pictures beamed from the moon to television sets around the world.
1988: Aviation Achievements
Although one sees stunning and awe inspiring photographs from the space today the excitement of the moon landings grainy images still stay with me.
By the time of Apollo 15 I was dreaming of bases on the moon as was Gerry Anderson who picked the likely year for his television series - Space 1999.  Similarly the 'envelope' above is in reality a postcard of the actual cover taken by the astronauts to the moon it was all a bit of a mirage.  I wonder who will ultimately set up that base on the moon?

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme of Time of Exploration Space hosted by Violet Sky here

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Little Trains

2010:  "Great Australian Railway Journeys"
Here we are riding the rails on the West Coast Wilderness Railway through  the rainforest of Australia. This line is a remarkable survivor.  Originally built by the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company and opened in 1897 to carry copper from its mines it ceased to run on the 10 August 1963 when the rolling stock was dispersed to museums and the track removed, happily the bridges were left intact.  With the help of many funding sources and a lot of enthusiasm the line was restored to run again in December 2002 and some of the original locomotives returned, however the government removed funding support and once again its future was uncertain. Happily it reopened in 2014 so one can once again enjoy the spectacular views
as shown on this Maximum Card trundling through dense forestation above the King George River.  The reason I have chosen this card is because the photograph shows perfectly the rack and pinion system used on this narrow gauge track to be able to travel through mountainous terrain (steepest gradient 1 in 15).  To be more precise it is an Abt rack and pinion, invented by someone living in an even more mountainous country,  the Swiss engineer Roman Abt and first used on the Harzbahn, Germany in 1885.  It is also the system used on the Snowdon Mountain Railway which takes you to the top of Wales' highest peak, which brings me to another small train in a country which is full of narrow gauge tracks
2014: Classic Locomotives of Wales
and this Hunslet narrow gauge locomotive 'Blanche' who along with 'Linda' and 'Charles' worked between the Penrhyn Slate Quarry and Port Penrhyn
near Bethesda in Wales from the 1880s until 1962. Although Blanche is much altered mechanically since that time she and Linda are still working and carry passengers on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highlands Railway.   Their brother Charles is in the Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum.

An entry to the Sunday Stamps II theme of "Riding the Rails", travel to Violet Sky's "See it on a Postcard" to see more here.