Sunday, 29 January 2017


2016: Innovation in Aerospace, 150 Years of the Royal Aeronautical Society
The International Space Station has been whizzing across our skies for a long time, I remember when it was first activated looking out for it and being very excited as it tracked across my vision, now it is so much part of our lives that it may just be chance I notice a bright light moving quickly overhead in the dark night. 

It is a wonderful piece of engineering, vision and international cooperation but it needs brute power to get both people and equipment into space.
1978: Soviet-East German Space Flight
Here is one of the early Soyuz rockets being assembled, Soyuz 31.  The destination was the Salyut 6 Space Station and it would carry the first German in space, Sigmund Jähn, accompanied by a Russian cosmonaut making his third flight,Valery Bykovsky. They swapped Soyuz craft with the long duration crew on Salyut and returned to earth in Suyuz 29.
The other stamps in the set show: 15k - a space photograph of the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia, which at the time would be mostly in the Soviet Union and the 32k -  undocking from the space station.
1991: Europa: Space
Of course no trip into space would be complete without calling in at the moon.  Guernsey chose to combine their set of space stamps with events on earth so 1969 saw the inauguration of Guernsey's independent post office and the first moon walk.  On the subject of space stamps I like Rich Cooper's ending paragraph on 'Pushing the Envelope' -  which he wrote for NASA's 50th birthday in 2008

"For 50 years, NASA has opened a universe of accomplishments, knowledge and possibilities once thought unimaginable. As powerful as they all may be, they can all still fit on something as small as a postage stamp. Just imagine what the next 50 years will bring to your mailbox.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Space - Boldly Go to See It On A Postcard

Saturday, 28 January 2017


L'Atlantique was a large and luxurious ocean liner which first set sail in 1930 taking passengers and cargo from France to South America.  Like the postcard the interior was in art deco style.  Those early passengers were lucky to experience the luxury as unfortunately the liner's sailing days were short lived. While travelling from Bordeaux to Le Harve in 1933 for an overhaul, with only the crew on-board, a fire started in one of the staterooms that quickly spread through the ship (helped on its way by the lacquered interiors and wooden panels).

The ship was eventually scrapped but the accident led to new rules for fire protection on ocean liners. 

Postcards for the Weekend 'Anything you wish' Linky Party is hosted by Connections to the World 

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Hugo and the Sea

Victor Hugo spent 15 years in exile from France on the island of Guernsey and lived there from October 1855-1870.  In modern times Les Miserables, which he wrote while on the island, has eclipsed his other works but the one that Guernsey celebrated in 2016 was the 150th anniversary of the publication of 'The Toilers of the Sea'.  A novel that was inspired by a holiday trip to the nearby island of Sark when his son Charles "tangled with an octopus" and he began to write the story in 1864.

The reverse of the envelope encapsulates the story = spoiler alert. 
I've not read 'The Toilers of the Sea' but Tom of Wuthering Expectations (the go to place for 19th Century novels) has and his impressions are here 

But enough of the story for the stamps tell it all.
Top:- 43p Déruchettee  57p Durante Wrecked 58p The Great Storm
Bottom:- 64p The Great Storm 70p Devilfish Octopus 78p Gilliat the Fisherman

The artist, Keith Robinson (who describes himself as a narrative illustrator) has done a number of stamp sets for Guernsey Post illustrating stories as  diverse as Sherlock Homes and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to name just two.  The original paintings of Toilers of the Sea (and other works) can be seen on his website here, as he illustrates Hugo's portrayal of "the capricious nature of the sea and the human heart"  Victor Hugo spent much of his time on Guernsey painting and I think he would have appreciated these tiny marvels.

Victor Hugo dedicated 'The Toilers of the Sea; to the people of Guernsey who provided him refuge "I dedicate this book to the rock of hospitality and liberty, to that portion of old Norman ground inhabited by the noble little nation of the sea, to the island of Guernsey, severe yet kind, my present asylum, my probable tomb"

The window of Hugo's writing room in his home, Hauteville House, looked towards his homeland but he was wrong about Guernsey being his final resting place, he returned to France and now lies with other literary greats in The Panthéon, Paris  and when he died his funeral procession was attended by two million people. 
1959 Bank Note with Victor Hugo and Panthéon
An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Books/Authors - read more at See It On A Postcard 

Friday, 20 January 2017


Sunset in the arctic where at this time of the year there is about 5 hours of daylight.  I had to tweak the scan of the postcard so that it looked as near as I could get it to the colour on the card however I did think that
the original scan looked almost likes sunrise. Reindeer know all about light because they are the only mammal that can see ultraviolet light and rely on it to see things other animals would miss in the snowy expanse of the arctic such as the lichen they rely on for food, and predators who look on them as food.  It also means the reindeer will be seeing a different and perhaps more colourful sunset than we do. 

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Sunrise/Sunset -  follow the sun at Connections to the World

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Winter Sports

1997: Nordic World Skiing Championships, Trondheim
Norway won the most medals at the 1997 Skiing Championships but lagged behind by one in the gold medal count coming second overall due to the one women phenomenon that was the Russian Yelena Välbe who won gold in all five cross country events.  I like the perspective of these stamps, the 3.70 is of course ski jumping and the 5.00 cross country skiing.  The stamp designer is Sarah Rosenbaum, who was born in Michigan, USA but on inheriting $1000 from an aunt she took the opportunity to travel to Norway, and stayed.  Her other connection with Trondheim is she also designed the stamps for the celebration of its millennium where you can see the same design sensibilities here.  Her other experience with winter sports was as one of the designers who created the pictograms for the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics.
1962: Nordic World Ski Championships, Zakopane (Design: S. Toepfer)
The Women's ski jumping and 5K Cross Country made their event debut at the 1962 World Ski Championships so it is appropriate the stamp shows two women on a cross country course. I think you can see from the scan that the two figures are slightly raised from the surface, an attractive effect, unfortunately this is the only stamp I have from the set.   The host of the championships, Zakopane, is called the winter capital of Poland.
1962: 1st Winter Military Spartakiad (Design: J. Grabiańksi)
Lets move indoors for a game of ice hockey or fly through the air in a ski jump with all the appropriate apparel.
1957: Outdoor Recreation
This stamp features more informal clothing and reflects its theme of outdoor recreation and the purity of just enjoying the great outdoors. The stamp is the work of Canada's most prolific engraver, Yves Baril, whose skill was recognised when he was chosen to engrave his first stamp in 1955 when he hadn't even completed his training.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II - Winter Sports - slide over to See It On A Postcard

Friday, 13 January 2017

Fly Away

"One Hour Before Departure"
The Polish painter, graphic artist and book illustrator Wiktor Najbor has a love of aviation and also likes to tell a story of the world he sees around him.
"Special Needs Passenger"
but sometimes with a twist.  I like aeroplanes but I'm not a great fan of travelling by air although I always enjoy the raw power of the actual take off.  In contrast I know someone who loves the whole experience and always arrives at the airport hours before the required check in time so he can watch all the planes coming and going.       

Postcards for the Weekend theme - transportation - be transported at Connections to the World

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Snow White

1977: Europa - Landscapes
Snow swirls through a Swedish forest, this atmospheric scene is based on a photograph by the author and photographer Svante Hedin (1928-2011). The forest is in the Hamra National Park, they say if one hikes among the trees it is a trip back in time to the forest as it once was before humans.  The Hamra National Park is a mix of forest, boglands and streams.  So what time of year to visit? In winter the snow will be a metre deep and "the landscape softened by a glistening blanket". Few people visit during the winter months but for those that do there are ski and dog-sled trails. I'm thinking either spring or autumn when it said of the latter "the buzz of mosquitoes has quieted"

 The theme of the next set of stamps is 'Winter Trees':-

These look like silver birch and are from a photograph by Gustaf Emanuelsson, a lover of trees as can be seen on his Flickr site and his project to document all the ancient trees in Sweden which he discusses with the Oak Society( illustrated with two beautiful photographs).  The stamp engraver is Piotr Naszarkowski, considered  the inheritor of Czeslaw Slania's technique for who he worked at Swedish Post.
2015: Winter Trees
The stamps are self adhesives from a internal post booklet and they glisten like a frosty morning however this means that a true reproduction is not spot on, the birches are black and white with just a hint of colour but of course when you scan in colour they come out as blue. No such problems with the snow laden trees because that is a blue stamp.  This is one of the three trees of the set photographed by Tore Hagman, the engraver is Lars Sjööblom who specializes in animals and nature. 

 The two stamps on the left and right are by Tore Hagman, a nature photographer since 1982, who said in an interview with PostNord  "In southern Sweden there are a few days a year when conditions are perfect.  The ash tree photograph was taken on New Year's Day on the southern part of the island of Ölond, snow storms had raged on New Year's Eve but then the wind disappeared and a fantastic light appeared", the other photos were taken in the forests of the mountains of Dalarna (central Sweden), and he says of these early days of the year "the days are short but the light is soft and beautiful". Both stamps are engraved by Piotr Naszarkowski. 

as is this one which is the other  blue one of the set. It is by yet another photographer, Johan Alp, who surprising specialises in portraiture and the urban area which may have been easier to get around in under snow than out in the countryside.
1984: Bicentenary of First Mail Coach Run
as the Edinburgh Mail experienced in 1831.  The stamp has a Scandinavian connection (a place where they know all about hard winters), in that it was engraved by the legendary Czeslaw Slania who worked for Swedish Post and one of the designers of the stamp set, Keith Bassford, moved to Denmark and has produced stamps for both the postal systems of Britain and Denmark. In 2009 Sweden and Denmark's postal services merged as PostNord.  The other designer associated with the set is Stanley Paine who I think is probably the designer of this stamp because he produced a first day cover to go with it.  The tragedy of this February day in 1831 with another picture of the stagecoach is told here

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Winter White - for all the white stuff visit See It On A Postcard

Friday, 6 January 2017

Flying Scotsman

LNER Poster "A smart turn out"
An icon of British locomotives and one of the best known names in the country is the Flying Scotsman. It returned to main line running only last year after a ten year restoration project and the crowds came out to see the first long journey, thousands lining the tracks and stations on its route from Kings Cross to York.  The above card takes us back to the romantic age of travel in the 1930s and the reason for its name and the route name, the nonstop journey from London's Kings Cross up the east coast line to Waverley Station , Edinburgh. The original publicity poster was by Curtis Moffat, photographer and artist.  I can't make my mind up whether the women is supposed to be a stewardess or passenger but she is welcoming us aboard. Flying Scotsman broke speed records and also appeared in the classic Hitchcock film, 'The 39 Steps' when Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) journeys on the train and escapes pursuers by clambering off it onto the Forth Railway Bridge.   
Not as glamorous as the first postcard as the crew have just arrived at Kings Cross in 1930 after the long miles from Edinburgh and pose on the buffer beam with the locomotive engineer Sir Nigel Gresley on the left.  Gresley a designer of powerful and elegant engines not only produced the Flying Scotsman record breaker but also the A4 Mallard with its streamline design which still holds the world speed record for a steam engine at 126mph.  The Flying Scot, an engine built in 1923 and almost scrapped in 1963 when diesel was replacing steam, is still thundering along the tracks and delighting steam enthusiasts everywhere, including me.

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Trains/Trams - travel in style to the Linky Party at Connections to the World.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Dog Hill

1994: Letter Writing
This stamp sheet is called 'Dog Hill Kids at the Post Office' and shows postmen, the post office, a post-horn and of course a letter box.  The fact that the postman is carrying a sword intrigued me but beyond the interesting fact that when one receives a PhD in Finland you wear a silk top hat and a sword for the ceremony I could find no information.  The stamp sheet scene is from the imagination of Mauri Kunnas, graphic designer, political cartoonist and children's author whose books have been translated into many languages, his Santa Claus books being especially popular.  He mostly sets his stories in Finland's past and the Dog Hill Kids series is no exception being set in the early 1800s based on the Yli-Kirra Peasant Museum in Punkalaidun which is near his hometown.  For the Dog Hill enthusiast there is even a Dog Hill section in Tampare's Adventure Park.  His anthropomorphic dogs have also appeared in a retelling of the Finnish epic poem, the Kalevala, whereas his King Arthur's Round Table feature cats.  Some more of his illustrations can be seen in the article 'Lovable, Instructive Canines' here.

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year filled with postal delight.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II - more favourite stamps at See It On A Postcard