Sunday, 7 February 2016

Dragonflies




2014: Baltic Hawker
 This cover is a real collaboration for it combines the talents of Sweden Post's in-house engraver Lars Sjööblom (who has been engraving stamps since 1982), the graphic designer Beata Boucht and

the cancellation is by Carina Länk.  I think they all live in Stockholm so meeting up would be easy.  The Baltic Hawker (Aeshna serrata) is one of twelve different hawker dragonflies found in Sweden and also one of the largest (wingspan 10 cm) and can be sighted from Skåne up to Uppland and is even the official insect of the Närke province in south central Sweden.  The Swedes have many folk names for the Dragonfly such as Trollslända which means hobgoblin fly, maybe it sports with their elves, trolls and brownies in forests.  There is also a legend that the devil weighs souls with dragonflies.


The Swedish speaking Åland Islands probably have the same legends or maybe even more. Here is another Hawker
2012: Dragonflies
which in England we call the Southern Hawker (Aeshna Cyonea) but in Swedish it is the Blue Darner which I guess is from their other folk name, the Devil's Darning Needle and the legend that dragonflies can sew up your ears or eyelids while asleep as punishment for wrongdoing.  In the real world they like small ponds but hunt away from water and "can be found hawking woodland rides well into the evening". I love the expression 'hawking woodland rides' for it brings to mind their determined and darting flight as they flash along footpaths and hover over vegetation. This species is also is one who is curious of people and will fly close to inspect the interloper before continuing with its patrol.

The Maximum Card is a prepaid postcard with a little watercolour dragonfly that almost looks like a piece of marginalia.  This Blue Darner/Southern Hawker is not found where I live but this one is
the Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) found by weedy ponds possibly perched on vegetation scanning for prey.  The artist of the two cards and stamps is the illustrator, artist and sculptor Torbjörn Östman

  
I enjoy the work of illustrators in field guides but with these philatelic examples they can also indulge their artistic side combined with scientific observation.  An old guide I found in a second hand book shop is a translation of Louis Figuier's The Insect World published in 1868 which features the life cycle of the Dragonfly on its frontispiece. Figuier intersperses his scientific descriptions with moments of lyricism and says of dragonflies:
"They may be seen fluttering about on the water during the whole summer, especially when the sun is at its highest. They fly with extreme rapidity, skimming over the water at intervals, and escaping easily when one wishes to catch them. Nothing is prettier than a troop of dragon-flies taking their sport on the side of a pond or on the banks of a river, on a fine summer's day, when a burning sun causes their wings to shine with the most vivid colours"

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Illustrations -  for more stamp finds See It On A Postcard  

5 comments:

Eva A. said...

This is a good theme for stamps, beautifully designed.

Bob Scotney said...

The designers have caught the delicacy of the dragonfly wings perfectly.

Ana said...

these are so beautiful! and that Swedish one looks so fragile and delicate, I have this feeling that if I touch it, it's gonna break.

FinnBadger said...

Dragonflies don't get nearly as much attention as stamp subjects as they should. These are wonderful stamps.

VioletSky said...

Dragonflies are lovely insects. Thank you for expanding my knowledge of them!