Sunday, 20 April 2014


I was sure I had some zodiac sign stamps with star constellations but it looks as though those must have been in my imaginary stamp collection.  In the real world I could find just two from a set  issued in 1998 by the Czech Republic.  Above is Gemini, the twins.  People born under this sign are smart, cheerful, quick witted and charming but can also be gossipy and fickle. Two famous Gemini are John F Kennedy and Queen Victoria.
Aries, the ram.  Energetic, honest, adventurous but can also be impulsive and impatient. Famous Gemini are Hans Christian Anderson and Jackie Chan.   As the latter was born in Hong Kong this gives me the opportunity to pad out my lack of western Zodiac stamps with the Chinese Zodiac
and the "Twelve Animals of the Lunar New Year Cycle" miniature sheet which Hong Kong issued in 1999. I then wondered what Lunar Year Sign  Jackie Chan (birthday 7 April 1954) was born in and discovered it was the Year of the Horse -
2014: Year of the Horse (Designed by Chrissy Lau)

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of -  Zodiac Signs  here

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Wings of Time

A photograph of the Menzies Creek Post Office around 1900 was the theme of this stamp from the "200 Years of Australia Post" series issued in 2009.  The post office opened on the 2nd May 1887 which was before the country of Australia had issued its first (and famous), kangaroo on a map stamp in 1913. Before that date State stamps were issued to meet the postal needs of the public. Perhaps about the time of the photograph someone in Menzies Creek would receive postcards from Britain with a stamp like this.
Definitive c1887
I know the postcard rate was a halfpenny at this time, but would that carry it to Australia?  I don't know. 
For a more substantial  package maybe a threepenny stamp would be needed
Definitive c1887
The Menzies Creek Post Office closed in 1980 and if one of their small population (present day numbered 911) was a stamp collector this might have arrived in the post that year.
1980: Centenary of Wild Bird Protection Act

One of the last stamps issued by the post office counter to their customers would have been the 1980 Australian Birds (2nd series) stamps.
Menzies Creek is 42k south east of Melbourne, Victoria and by coincidence this stamp was posted not very far away in Clayton South (21k south east of Melbourne).  The slogan says "Check Address if Incorrect Advise Writer".   By the time of the 8 Feb 1982 cancel both Menzies Creek and Clayton South post offices were closed, guess that must mean a trip into Melbourne.   

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps - theme this week Anything You Like and next week "old or vintage stamps of your country" but as I am away again next week I have slipped a couple of this theme into this week.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Down on the Farm

French Definitive c1962

Cock-a.-doodle-doo, it must be time to get up, down on the farm
1992: 120th Anniversary of the Royal Guernsey Agricultural and Horticultural Society
because there are cows to be milked. If the cows are Guernsey ones like these the milk will be golden and very rich in cream which makes a deep yellow butter and is also perfect for ice cream. The cancel incorporates a traditional Guernsey milk can.
2009: Sheep Gathering
Time to bring in the sheep down from the fells.
Icelandic sheep have high quality wool and the herder is wearing the iconic Icelandic sweater.  The Icelandic name for the circular yoke sweater is "lopapeysa." ("Lopi" is the name of the yarn traditionally used in its making, and "peysa" means sweater.)
1976: Students and Country Life
The daffodils are out and lambs are in the fields here, it must be spring
Agricultural Student Testing Wheat
and the summer in front of us which will determine the quality of the wheat.
Agriculture "History of Maltese Industry" definitives c1981   

Well, time to gather our produce together, wait at the bus stop, and take it to the farmers market

As I am away for next week's Sunday Stamps I couldn't miss out on buses so here are some old Maltese ones.  The only ones of these that survive are Malta's best known buses (shown in the background and bottom right). Loved by tourists, like me, who have visited the island in the past, The Maggie (a Magirus-Deutz with locally built bodywork) which were withdrawn in 2003 but some have been preserved and are now in the care of Heritage Malta.

An entry to Viridian Postcards's Sunday Stamps theme of Farms and Farm Animals and in anticipation of next weeks theme of Buses.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Letter Post

West Berlin issued its own stamps from 1948 until German reunification and in 42 years they issued 800 stamps, this set was the last one issued in 1990 on the theme of Posts and Telecommunications.  Happily each stamp is marked with what it is so  first we have Railway Mail in 1900 with the distinctive green mail vans. The letters were sorted on board and had a special oval cancellation with train number, route and date. Next are telecommunications in 1900.  I wonder, are that man's arms out to catch the workers if they fall off as they precariously hang on the lines. 
The stamps of West Berlin could also be used in West Germany and the separation of the postal systems was only symbolic and indeed they used the same post code system. The stamp shows a mail van being loaded in 1930.
Another small stamp issuing entity is the 61 square kilometres of San Marino, possibly the world's oldest republic. They issued two stamps for the 2013 Europa Postman's Van theme designed by  the artist Stafano Morri, I love how the letters are stacked up in the car.  It is a vehicle from the beginning of the 20th Century parked in front of the city of Porta San Franceso
Next is a classic VW van of the 1950s in the colours of the San Marino flag loading its large letter in front of the Parva Domus, which is near where mail used to be sorted.
The large letter theme is continued in this Romanian issue of the winged par avion bi-plane zooming over the countryside and someone delivering a letter from his penny farthing with a horse and cart in the background. The sheet was designed by the artist Victor Telibassa
Our jolly postman waves an air mail letter from his van as imagined by Aleksandra Ubukala in this Polish issue for the 2013 Europa theme.  I like the little sketch on the sheet's margin.
2013: Europa Postman's Van
And lastly a happy postman makes his way up a Swiss mountain road on his Electric Trike Kyburz DXP as shown on this Maximum card, fully loaded and letters and postcards stacked for delivery.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of - Letters, Postcards and The Post here

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Votes for Women

1999: "Millennium - The Citizens' Tale"

The 48 stamps that Royal Mail produced for the millennium presented British history as chapters in a story, each done by a different artist. This one was created by Natasha Kerr, originally a textile designer with an interest in Italian renaissance frescoes.  Her career took an unexpected turn in the 1990s when her mother gave her family photos that had been languishing in plastic bag and she discovered an unknown family and her own story.  Inspired by this discovery she created art where she combines textiles and photographs, transferring family photographs onto antique bedlinen, painting and stitching pieces together to create individual pieces. She talks about it here   She also works to commission and I think that Royal Mail now owns this piece. I wonder if they have it on display?  Many suffragettes ended up in prison in their quest for the vote which would be a long campaign imaginatively using all means of publicity to make their point

 The vote was eventually obtained by British women in 1918 and this stamp celebrates the 50th anniverssary:
However not everyone had the vote as you had to be over 30 and own property and it was not until ten years later that all women over the age of 21 were enfranchised.  The Norwegians were slightly ahead of the curve
 and they commemorated the bicentanry of Camilla Collett and also the Centenary of Women's' Suffrage in 2013
The one of the left is of Camilla Collett (1813-1895)  in front of her novel  'Amtmandens Døtre (The Governor's Daughter),  A feminist pioneer, her novel explores the difficulties of women in a patriarchal society. A pioneer in literary and cultural history of Norway she experienced tremendous change in society and the older she got the more radical she became producing essays and books on the annoyances of women's everyday life and more general problems.  Her portrait also adorned the Norwegian 100 kroner note from 1977-1994.

The other stamp and the cover itself concerns Gina Krog and nine other campaigners who founded the Norwegian Association for Women's Suffrage in 1885 and embarked on a long struggle. Their first small victory was in 1901 when women were allowed to vote in local elections but this was restricted to those of a certain income. In 1907 women were given the same restricted rights to vote in general elections. By 1910, unlike the British parliament, the Norwegian parliament (the Storting) were in favour of all women being entitled to vote. When Anna Rogstad (shown on the stamp on the right) became the first female member of the Storting in 1911 this gave impetus to universal voting rights for women which occurred in 1913.

In a continuation of the great tradition of Norwegian stamp engraving both stamps were designed and engraved by Arild Yttri who works as an engraver at the Norges Bank.  I wonder if he did the 100 kroner note of Collett. 

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of - Women's History Month

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Transports of Delight

The perfect day out, a steam train and a Victorian postbox.  The miniature sheet shows Locomotive Number 1 'Sutherland' at Douglas station.  Built in 1873 it was, as the number indicates, the first train to run on the Isle of Man railways and was named after one of the directors, the Duke of Sutherland.  Once there was about 50 miles of 3' narrow gauge track covering the island, but today only the southern line remains which runs from Douglas to Port Erin.  'Sutherland'  after her working life remained in store, then was painted and put on display in Douglas and for the 125th Anniversary of the Isle of Man Steam Railway (which this sheet commemorates) was brought back into service.  In 2013 she was once again put back into store pending a rebuild.

The railways proved a great attraction to the Victorian tourist and as the saying goes "build it and they will come" 
2013 saw the Isle of Man issue stamps of railway posters to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Steam Railway and 120th of the Electric Railway to Laxey and reminding us of the happy holidays people have had over the years on the island.  I rather like the one that says "Breezy and Invigorating" as we have had a lot of those breezy and invigorating winds this winter.   
An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps, and more lovely stamps here

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Bears and Roses

These fluffy teddy bears are this year's Finland Posti's stamps for Valentines Day. I like how in Finland Valentines Day is not only for romance but also friendship.  They say this (one of a set of six) sends a message of friendship and remembrance of others and have called it 'Bear Friends'.  Drawn by the artist Henna Takkinen (b1969) she specialises in bears and indeed has written a masters thesis on them from ancient bear gods to to teddy bears of modern times. This is the first time her art has been designed for stamps and she says
 "Teddy bears have taken me on an endless adventure, everything is possible in their world. I want to share through art a teddy bear world of universal peace and love. Through stamps that message of caring and friendship can be shared with the world,"
This is the first issue of a continuing Australian series of Greeting stamps and was released in time for Valentines Day.  The stamp was designed by Kate Linton but the cover which repeats the romantic red rose was designed by Melinda Coombes.  Australia Post have used the small settlement (pop 1,077) of Rosedale, Victoria as the cancel which also has a sweet story as this small town was the site of a  station owned by David Parry-Okedon who in the 1840s called his livestock run Rosedale after his wife Rosalie.  In earlier times when the it was just a staging post it lived by the name of Blind Joe's Hut after a Chinese man who was blind in one eye and, you've guessed it,  had a hut on the Lantrobe River. Not quite as romantic for use as a rose themed cover.