Sunday, 24 September 2017

Hungarian Horses

1973: Hungarian Medal Winners, Munich Olympics
Hungary is a horse loving nation and horses make a lot of appearances on their stamps. Here is András Balczó leaping into view in the show jumping and winning the Modern Pentathlon gold medal at the Munich Olympic games.
1974: Centenary of the Universal Postal Union (Designer: Adam Czilényi)
Of course the stage coach with galloping horses was a popular subject for a lot of countries in UPU's centenary year.
1977: Historic Horse Drawn Vehicles
More white horse of the same decade make an appearance pulling an  Omnibus of 1870.

The major horse racing venue is Budapest's Kincsem Park named after a legendary racehorse that won every race (54). Kincsem means My Precious or My Treasure. I don't know if she appeared on any of Hungary's stamps but racehorses certainly do
1961: Racehorses
A few from the set designed by Adam Czilényi (1909-1998) which have been described as like a motion picture. A prolific graphic designer he produced 250 stamps for Hungary alone and over 1000 overall. 
I imagine it is far harder to fall off in a trotting race but hopefully everyone will arrive safely at the finish line and not be taken away in one of these -
1961: Health

Sunday Stamps II has drawn up at the letter H - here for Horses, Hungary and Health - gallop over to See It On A Postcard for more

Sunday, 17 September 2017


The Ammassalik Fjord on the east coast of Greenland, 60 miles south of the arctic circle. The view is of Solporten which translates as the Sun's Gate, a name which makes me think of ancient myths or sagas.  I wonder if the name means that the rising sun shines through the gap which would be an awe inspiring sight.
1999: Greenland National Museum and Archive (Design: Martin Morck)
Can you guess what object the stamp depicts?  I would never have got the answer but it is an old pincushion which I think is the 'must have' object when sewing the intricate Greenland traditional costume.  The postal cancel is from Tasiilaq which with 2,017 inhabitants is the largest community in the area, perhaps the pincushion originally came from there (I have no information). 

The massive shifts of plate tectonics when the continents were forming gave an uplift to Eastern Greenland taking it 3 kilometers above sea level and moving it north and into its now icy climate.  In geological terms the east of Greenland is younger than the west coming in at 70 million years which means the soaring peaks have had less erosion than those in western Greenland.  This takes us to 
1957: International Geophysical Year
the geophysics of earth which is such an interdisciplinary subject that the stamps of the International Geophysical Year were equally varied. This one featured the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, and its launch date of 4 October 1957.  Time to return from space to the green fields of earth
2016: Bailiwick Life
and land in the  Channel Islands where if one is lucky we might see a Golden Guernsey Goat, a rare species.  Lets look out for some birds
1959: Nature Preservation
a Grey Heron flies over the tree tops or perhaps takes off from its nest on this East German stamp
1959: Birds of the Homeland
A Great Cormorant survey the water and what lies beneath. 

Sunday Stamps II is featuring the letter G - here for Greenland, Geophysics, Guernsey, Goat and Germany - go to See It On A Postcard.  

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Flying the Flag

Lets take a trip to the Faroe Islands and ride the waves with the rowers in that cute but somehow perilous drawing on the FDC. Three stamps were issued on 1st April 1976 to commemorate the establishment of an independent Faroese postal service.
Of course the iconic Faroese rowing boat features on a stamp (from a drawing by Fridtjof Joensen).  The middle stamp features the Faroese Postman who carried the post for 60 years (who I have written about before here) and lastly The Faroese flag from a drawing by Zakarias Heinesen.  The engravings of the 125 and 800 øre stamps are by Czeslaw Slania.  The breeze is fluttering another flag 
1984: Definitive
In 1984 Åland obtained the right to have its name on the stamps and one of the designs chosen in collaboration with Finland was of the archipelago's flag. For a short period both Finland and  Åland stamps could be mixed for postage.
2017: Finnish Flag
This year is a big year in Finland's history for they celebrate a hundred years of independence and one of the first stamps they issued was of their flag. The illustrator is Ossi Hiekkala who also designed the FDC.  The magnificent whooper swan is the national bird of Finland so as well as flying in formation over the envelope one

also swoops over the postmark.

The centenary was also celebrated in the city of Turku with the Tall Ships Races in July when record crowds turned out (over half a million).  One might need some peace and quiet after that
2017: Sound of Silence
This is one of a set of three stamps depicting calm and tranquillity chosen by the graphic designer Stiina Hovi showing the water seasons in Finland.  What better way to portray the land of a thousand lakes.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II which features the Letter F - for Faroe Islands, Finland and Flags - find more on See It On A Postcard


Saturday, 9 September 2017

Nova Scotia

The postcard says on the back "This blacksmith's shop shown here circa 1910, has always been an important focus for community life in Sherbrooke".  The village is on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia by the St Mary River and indeed the blacksmiths shop is still there but as part of the Sherbrooke Living Museum which is open during the summer months.  If you have ever had a yen to be a blacksmith then the resident blacksmith runs training courses.

The postcard of course shows a working blacksmith and the gathered crowd, the blacksmiths leaning against the door opening. I especially like the bare footed boy at the front with his shoes in his hand, has he photo bombed the scene or is he the horse holders son who had gone for a paddle in the river while the horse was shod?  The sociable nature of the Joe McLane's shop is mentioned in 'The History of Sherbrooke Village' which says:-
"His shop was a modest size square building, about 22' wide, with a coal burning forge.  The McLane Blacksmith Shop was a busy but sociable place in those days. A fresh bucket of water hung by the door and people could help themselves, and then stop for a chat. The makings of farm implements,carts, plows, tools, chains, sled runners, as well as shoeing horses were all part of the work done by the blacksmith".

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Monochrome -  Connections to the World

Sunday, 3 September 2017

En Route

1974: 100th Anniversary UPU
Equatorial Guinea joined the Universal Postal Union in 1970, just in time to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1974.  Their stamp set featured a romantic idea of carrying post with horses, canoes, llamas, sledges, mountain climbing and of course camels with a large 'correos' bag.
2013: Europa: The Postman's Van (Designer: Jaan Saar)
Estonia Post kept it real with horse power for the Europa theme of 2013.  The FDC features a 1960 mail lorry built by Tartu Utode Remondi, a company which operated from 1949-1997 in various guises. In 1960 it operated under the name Tartu Automobile Service Factory Number 3, nothing says Soviet more with a name like that.  The mail lorry seems to be based on the company's GAZ51, a 23 seater bus,  which they manufactured in various other guises such as bread lorries, and mobile workshops for people like hairdressers and shoemakers travelling around rural districts.
The stamps show a government stage coach dating from 1840 and one of today's modern vans. I think there is a piece of whimsy on the stamp as the titles seem to say old stage coach and modern stagecoach.  The span of time on the stamps would fit nicely into the existence the Estonian History Museum which celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 2014

I like the years rolling by on the stamp background.  The sword was found as part of some excavated grave goods and is dated to the 11th-12th Century. The stamp sheets have have little artifacts from the museum on the selvedges which I do not own but I have the next best thing
2014: 150th Anniversary of the Estonian History Museum
this FDC showing an entrance ticket from 1907 and a display of objects from the Estonian History Museum.  The designer is Lembit Lõhmusknown both for his work on many stamps and also engraved bookplates. His design of a silhouetted map of Estonia which features on the Estonian euro coin was chosen to be used after a popular vote in a national poll.  

Sunday Stamps II this week has arrived at the letter E - for Equatorial Guinea, Estonia and Europa - exit to See It On A Postcard.    

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Keep on Dancing

1964: Native Dancers
The Kingdom of Dahomey (c1600-1894) was located near the former slave coast of Africa so it is not surprising that this dance, the Nago, is one that is also performed in Haiti today.  The French took over the area at the end of the 19th Century and independence came to the republic in 1960 and it would eventually change its name to Benin.  The French connection remained for these stamps were designed and engraved by the prolific Pierre Bequet (1932-2012) who designed over 700 stamps which included the ex French colonies, French Antarctica and France itself including the 1971 'Marianne' definitive whose portrait he based on his wife Gisele. 
The Sombo and their dance  live in the mountainous area of Dahomey but are also present in other countries.
1957: Native Costumes
Africa is continent full of music and dance so here is an Angolan Bocoio. This is from a very attractive set of stamps and was designed by Albano Neves e Sousa (1921-1995) who also produced other stamps for the country and whose short biography enigmatically says for "reasons beyond his control he had to leave Angola and settled in Brazil". Angola like Benin has had a turbulent modern history.

From one continent to another we dance towards 
1998: Youth Arts Australia
Australia and those starting out on a career in the arts.
1942: National Work and Joy Movement
Now we have happy folk dancers from Bulgaria but sometimes a darker story may be intuited through stamps for the Bulgarian government was pro-Nazi and I wonder if that work and joy movement may be linked to the Nazi Strength through Joy (Kraft durch Freude).
1959: Bulgarian Youth Festival
No  work and joy nonsense here, only the fun of  high kicking dancers.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II and is D for Dance and Dahomey - skip over to See It On A Postcard for more words starting with the letter D.  

Saturday, 26 August 2017


The octagonal Wedding Hall (Kalyana Mantapa) of the Mysore Palace in South India has a stained glass ceiling of geometric patterns featuring peacocks and floral mandala.  The floor has four large tiled panels also showing peacocks (a symbol of fidelity) of which the postcard shows a detail.  The Wedding Hall and its complex patterns took 2 years to complete involving the Maharaja, the architect, the executive engineer and the tile manufacturers chief designer, all that and then the numerous craftsmen needed to create and install.   The Mysore Palace was built from 1897-1912 after fire had destroyed the original.

A reproduction of one of the peacock panels also graces the entrance hall of the Jackfield Tile Museum because this was once the tile factory of Maw & Co who manufactured these particular ceramic encaustic or inlaid tiles and exported all over the world. 

I went looking for a photograph of the Wedding Hall but discovered that all picture taking is forbidden inside the Mysore Palace however it didn't stop this couple sneaking in the palace to create a video for their upcoming wedding, they got into a whole lot of trouble but I think it was worth it. See here

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Patterns and Prints - the Linky Party is at Connections to the World 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Castles in the Air

1932: Definitive 'Coffee Plantation'
We've got a busy day ahead, time to get buzzing with a fine cup of coffee from Colombia
1939: Definitive
on the way out perhaps passing by these workers on the coffee plantation.  Lets head to the teleporter which will beam us across the seas to the city of Prague
1918-1919: Definitives
and Hradcany Castle. This was the design of Czechoslovakia's first stamp which appeared in December 1918 just after the first world war as the country emerged from provinces of the collapsing Austro-Hungarian empire. The limited technical equipment available at the time meant that there are many plate flaws and varieties so it can be a popular subject for a specialist collection, with the added attraction that the stamps were designed by the great art nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.  He chose the ancient Hradcany Castle (also known as Prague Castle) which dates from the 9th Century as the subject because "the palladium embodys the past and future history" of the country.  In this ancient home of kings, emperors and presidents somewhere, in a hidden room, are the Bohemian Crown Jewels.

There are a lot more castles to explore
The Castles of Trencin, Bezdez and Kost

there seem to be hundreds in the country, so no wonder it was a popular subject for Czechoslovakia Post
The Castles of - Pernstejn and Kremnica
and indeed is still a popular subject for what are two countries today.
The Castles of Karestejn, Smolenice and Kokorin
This is an incomplete set of the 1960s definitives, the one missing is Krivoklat Castle which today is a museum.

Feel like doing something more sporty? 
1950: Tatra Cup Ski Championship
Lets zoom down a mountainside and the Tatra Mountains would be a beautiful destination although I think my preferred option might be to watch this championship competition
although I'll miss out on the efficiency badge.
2006: Christmas Cards from 1931 'Painters of Canada'
This skier is enjoying the view and a sun bathed landscape, illustrated by Edwin Holgate he called it  'Contemplation' so lets contemplate another natural wonder and
1957: National Wild Life Week
this beautiful waterbird, the Common Loon whose eerie call I would love to hear for real across a northern lake.  The designer is Lawrence Hyde (1914-1987) and one can see why he was famous for his wood engravings in this attractive stamp.
The Grand Cayman thrush that once flew over mangrove swamps but became extinct in the 20th Century due,it is thought, to habitat loss which was a mix of deforestation and storm damage from hurricanes in 1932 and 1944.  A creature that once was also once found in the Cayman Islands was
1982: Reptiles
a small species of crocodile now only found in Cuba so yes is called the Cuban Crocodile but only found in two swamps and is described as 'critically endangered' due to human hunting but captive breeding programmes are in place to  help the species recover.

An entry to the Sunday Stamps II -  this week's prompt is the letter C - so welcome to the countries of Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Canada, Cayman Islands and Cuba - drink the coffee, see the castles, watch the championships, contemplate a skiing Christmas, hear the Common Loon, mourn the Cayman Thrush and beware the small but feisty Cuban Crocodile.
C more at See It On A Postcard.