Sunday, 11 September 2011


Sunday Stamps is travelling the continents starting this week.  How could I resist using another cover from the Operation Drake circumnavigation of the world.  Last weeks the sailing boat had visited many destinations and travelled thousands of  miles, this one is from the first leg of the journey over the Atlantic from Portsmouth, England to Panama. They stopped in Caledonia Bay for four months in 1979 when amongst other things  they did archaeological research on land and under the ocean. The most exciting discovery was finding a sunken wreck of the 17th Century 'Maid of Perth' which appears in ghostly form at the back of the cover painting.  Can you spot the face in the stamp from  the 1976 Marine Fauna issue? I didn't realise it was a fish at first but it is the Spot Fin Porcupine fish (Diddon hystrix).  For a photo of this fascinating fish curled and flat see here 

To me two things I association with Panama are hats and the canal. As I have no stamps of hats I'll go straight to the canal
and the Canal Zone which had its own stamps for most of the 20th Century.  These are the air mail stamps issued in 1931.
and this one which luckily  has most of a rather nice 'short route' map cancellation,.

The building of the Panama must be one of the greatest civil engineering feats of the 20th Century. The French first attempted it but had not surveyed it properly and despite 21,900 workers dying  from disease, landslides and accidents they were unsuccessful.  The US also ran into trouble when they started it in 1904 but in 1907 the US President Theodore Roosevelt made an inspired appointment of  the army officer and civil engineer George Washington Goethals as chief engineer. This was to change everything and the building of the canal was completed in 1914 (two years ahead of target). Goethals paid particular attention to sanitation and control of disease from mosquitoes and reduced the incidence of disease and death amongst canal workers.  Despite this 5,600 still died but the toll would have been much greater without his efforts.
 In 1939 the USA issued a stamp celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic. Under treaty the US controlled the canal and the Canal Zone surrounding it until 1977 when it transitioned to Panama under joint control, the Panama Canal Authority taking complete control in December 1999.   

I now return to a little more of Mesoamerica
in this Panama stamp of 1968 issued to commemorate of the Mexico Olympics in art which I think is a piece of Mayan art and this one
is definitely Mayan because it says 'Maya Figures'.  A 1938 definitive of the British Honduras colony which is now the country of Belize.

An entry to Sunday Stamps


Postcardy said...

You have an interesting variety of stamps. I didn't know that France tried to build the canal and that so many workers died.

Bob Scotney said...

Joy, this is a fine collection of stamps. I had forgotten altogether about the Canal Zone. That's also the first British Honduras stamp I've seen.

viridian said...

It is shocking to read how many people died in the making of the canal. What a great set of stamps, and the cover up top is fantastic. Thank you for participating.

Deborah said...

Great stamps and cover. Always love the old stamps.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

A lovely selection of stamps and fascinating information. I'm sorry to say I've never really thought about who built the canal or when. Until now, that is.