Sunday, 9 December 2018

Fish Quest

1967: Fish of the Arabian Gulf
This is a satisfyingly large stamp (7cm) to stick on an airmail envelope from Umm Al Quiwain and features a pair of parrotfish.  These fish live on a diet of algae and dead coral, grinding the latter with teeth in their throat and famously pooping sand, which is the undigested coral.
1972: Tropical Fish
Don't know what these little fish are (goldfish?) but the stamp is one which came from a miniature sheet.  Today Umm Al Qiwain is part of the United Arab Emirates so to increase the number of stamps to show this week I journey to one of its other members
1971: Flowers and Fish (Design - Samir Ghantous)
Fujeira. This stamp features a paradise fish and the late ruler of the emirate Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqui succeeded by his son (who has the same name) in 1974. The duplicate names confused me for a while when I couldn't marry up the image on the stamp with the emirate's present ruler.  The stamp was designed by the Lebanese artist Samir Ghantous as is this one -
1971: Olympic Games, Munich, Germany (Design - Samir Ghantous)
issued as part of an Olympic set the same year.


Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter Q - for Qiwain - See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Provincial Poland

1960: Provincial Costumes (Design - Cz Kaczmarczyk Engravers - M R Polak and J Miller)
This was Poland's second series on Provincial Costumes, which would continue to be a popular subject over the following years. I think these stamps possibly mark the end of a particular graphic style.  I wonder if the ornate borders are the embroidery of the region or perhaps they are the folk designs that appear painted and engraved on the Polish wooden buildings.  The whole set was drawn by Czeslaw Kaczmarczyk  but I have not been able to find anything about him.
Design: Cz Kaczmarczyk - Engravers - Stef Ľukaszewski and J Miller
The intricate decorative design needed many engravers of which J Miller appeared to be the busiest.  The engraver are also a mystery to me, I wonder where they lived in Poland, perhaps in the provinces the stamps show.
Design - Cz Kaczmarczyk; Engravers - B Brandtse and E Konecki
Design - Cz Kaczmarczyk; Engravers -  Stef Ľukaszewski and B Szymanska
Design - Cz Kaczmarczyk; Engravers - E Tirdiszek and J Miller
From historical costume to that of the moment
1967: Famous Paintings
in this case the 18th Century. The painting by Antoine Watteau is owned by the National Museum in Warsaw and called The Polish Woman.  Perhaps if she walks down the hill into the meadows
1967: Flowers of the Meadow (Design - M Chaluk)
she might gather a posy of wild flowers.
Polish Paper Cut Outs

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter P - for Poland, provincial, painting and posy - See It On A Postcard


Sunday, 25 November 2018

Oman in Outer Space

1971: Apollo 14
It is lift off for the moon and the Apollo 14 crew (Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell).  Shepard and Mitchell are shown on the moon's surface on the commemorative sheet unfortunately not with Shepard famously playing a couple of golf shots.  Stuart Roosa was the Command Module Pilot and the photographs he took while Shepard and Mitchell were on the surface would help with later moon landings.

This is a rather spaced out sheet for although the Sultanate of Oman exists, the State of Oman didn't.  These were issued by a government in exile when Sultan Said bin Taimur defeated the followers of Iman Ghalib bin al-Hinai in 1957-9, years later in 1970 the reclusive Sultan Said bin Taimur was overthrown by his son in a civil war but troops loyal to the former sultan kept on fighting until around 1976 and the stamps of the exiled government kept coming.  The presses must have been running hot in 1971 (the year of the sheet I show) as they issued a huge number of stamps on every subject one could imagine.  But let someone who knows what he is talking about take up the story -

"The stamps were the brainchild of Youssef Salim Tadros, once (in 1963) postmaster in Sharjah and later a partner in Middle East Stamps, Beirut. He got himself appointed as postal adviser to the exiled government. The latter obtained some status with the Arab Postal Union in 1966 and Tadros started issuing stamps in 1967. Since the rebels had long left Oman and did not have any postal services there, the letters with the stamps were dispatched from Baghdad (January 1968 only), then from Amman (until 1971) and later from Damascus (until June 1972). This means that the issues from 1967 to 1972 had postal validity in the above mentioned places. When the stamps could no longer be used postally after June 1972, Tadros ceased to issue State of Oman stamps.

One of Tadros' partners, the late Clive Feigenbaum in London, continued to print new stamps for State of Oman (and also for Dhufar, a province of today's Sultanate of Oman) until 1986. These "Feigenbaum issues", of course, did not see any postal use. They were done in sheetlets of 8 different se-tenant stamps, same as Feigenbaum did for Staffa, Nagaland, Eynhallow, ISO, etc" (Source - Stamporama Discussion)

Another imaginary world but a 'real' stamp - The Voyage of Sinbad

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter O - for Oman and Outer Space - See It On A Postcard

Friday, 23 November 2018

Dr Who Birthday

2013: Classic TV - 50 Years of Dr Who
The first episode of Dr Who 'An Unearthly Child' aired on 23d November 1963 so today is its 55th birthday although of course there was a big gap from 1989 until it was revived in 2005 (if ignoring the one off TV film with Paul McGann which I don't count). I show the first five Doctors in these stamps because everyone has 'their' doctor and mine is Patrick Troughton, the second doctor, although in full disclosure I've watched the series from that very first episode and the TARDIS finding itself in a junk yard on Earth.  Here the TARDIS has landed on the postmark of its filming location, Cardiff.  But what would Dr Who be without his arch nemesis
the Daleks who will celebrate their birthday on 21st December when in 1963 and the second series they bookended Christmas.  This year a bit of tradition is gone as there is no Christmas Day Dr Who -  Exterminated - instead there is a New Year's Day special.  The perfect way to start 2019. 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Nautical Norway

1982: Exhibition Card Philex, Paris - (the Sailing Ship Christian Radich)
On the reverse of this card it says that the Christian Radich sailing ship is one of the last 3 masted square riggers that still crosses the oceans of the world. Once used as a merchant navy training vessel today it takes part in the tall ships races and also as an experience for anyone who wants to sail or learn to sail. It certainly looks tempting on a beautiful calm blue sky day like the card but possibly not rounding Cape Horn in a storm.
1981: Sailing Ships (Design - Sverre Morken)
I like this combination of compass cancel and the stamp "Setting the Sail".
1985: Exhibition Card for Stampex, London
Now we are inside the Arctic Circle in the Lofoten islands and in particular the fishing village of Reine.  This view, taken from one of the mountains, is one that is often used on tourist publicity and indeed Reine always comes up as one of the most scenic places in Norway.
1983: North Norwegian Boats (Design - KE Harr)
The stamps show a Nordland boat , a type of fishing vessel used for centuries in the Lofoten and Versteralen islands which is closely related to old Viking longships. Today they are used for pleasure.
2006: Tourist Stamp (Design - Enzo Finger)
For those who want relaxed time on the water and perhaps a meal then the paddle steamer Skibladner which travels Norway's largest lake, the vast Lake Mjøsa would tick that box. Built in 1856 it has sunk twice in winter storage (1937 and 1967) and today it winters in a specially constructed glass shelter.  Its name comes from Norse mythology as the ship of the god Freyr (which could be folded up like a cloth and put in his pocket when not needed.
1999: Norway 2000 II - 'Pictures of Everyday Life' (Design - A. Horne)
For mere mortals then what better way to transport ones horse and trap than this. A horse ferry circa 1900 in Amli.  But what lies beneath?
2007: Norwegian Marine Life III (Design - Enzo Finger)
Perhaps a Nakensnegle which is a name that sounds as though it comes from the Lord of the Rings however I think it translates as a naked snail or a nudibrach. They live in shallow waters near the shore or in kelp forests.  The easiest time to see these colourful little creatures is in winter when they mate and come to the surface.  The Latin name of this particular naked snail is Polycara quadrilineata and sometimes referred to in general terms as a Sea Slug but these nudibrachs are not closely related and they come in all sorts of shapes and colours. The colours can  indicate that some naked snails are highly poisonous and some who are colourful just masquerade as poisonous for protection.
Flag of Nordland county

See It on A Postcard's prompt this week is the Letter N - for Norway, Nautical, Nordland, Nakensnegle and Nudibrachs.     

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Mongolian Marionettes

1988: Puppets
Time to watch a marionette show.  I couldn't find anything to explain the folk stories told in these stamps but can imagine the stories are told with great gusto at the many traditional gatherings held across the country and at the Puppet Theatre in Ulaanbaatar. On my internet journey I did discover there are an amazing number of puppet theatre festivals held on every continent, the biggest is the 10 day 'Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionettes' held every two years in France and described as "bonkers and brilliant", yes I think that does sum up a puppet show.
High on a hill are two goats
1988: Goats
The wonderfully stylised clouds on both sets of stamps make me wonder if these two sets were drawn by the same stamp designer.
State Emblem of Mongolia

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter M - for Mongolia, Marionettes and Mammals - more M on See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Letters from Liechtenstein

2017: 200 Years k.k. Briefsammelstelle, Balzers (Design - Christine Bohmwalder)
A mail coach in 1895 poses for a photograph outside the Balzers post office and collection station in Liechtenstein. The stagecoach on the stamp
is rather more flashy.  A miniature sheet of three stamps was issued to celebrate the opening of Balzers mail collection station in September 1817 which at the time was part of the Austrian postal administration. The early stamps of the country (first issued in 1912) bear the words 'Imperial and Royal Austrian Post in the Principality of Liechtenstein' until 1921 with the signing of the treaty of post, telephone and telegraph with Switzerland they became part of the Swiss postal system but with their own distinct stamps. A close postal relationship with Switzerland has existed ever since.
2017: SEPAC - Trades and Crafts (Design - René Wolfinger)
From letters to lettering which perhaps this stonemason is chiselling.
The set of stamps issued for three trades all include a hand and graphic symbols of tools of the trade seen here, a hammer, pointed chisels and drove chisel.
1982: Liba 82 Stamp Exhibition
One might have picked up some nice stamped letters at the Liba 82 Stamp Exhibition (a national stamp exhibition first held in 1934 and since 1962 LIBA happens every 10 years). The view on the card is of the castle above Liechtenstein's capital Vaduz, home to
Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie of Liechtenstein who celebrated their golden wedding last year.  Prince Hans-Adam is the richest monarch in Europe and appears on the world's 500 richest people list , it helps if you own your own bank.

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the letter L - for Letters, LIBA and Liechtenstein - See It On A Postcard. 

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Korean Kids

1977: Kim Il Sung's 65th Birthday (Paintings)
First day at school with Kim Il Sung, makes one wonder if the kids think school is like this everyday. There was also another stamp in 1977 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the country's 11 year education.  By the time they are well into the 11 years (today 12 years) schooling they will be happy to run off and play  
1979: International Year of the Child
North Korea Post went big on stamps for the International Year of the Child issuing four different sets of stamps and many miniature sheets.
1979: Sika Deer
More children but this time cute fauns and a male deer pacing outside. The deer on the stamp set are on a farm (very few are left in the wild in Korea) and I think the Bowl of Hygieia symbol (usually connected with pharmacy and medicine) might indicate the Sika deer's horns and antlers are being used in traditional medicine.  
1978: White-Bellied Black Woodpecker Preservation (Tristram's Woodpeckers)
It is thought that fewer than 50 of these woodpeckers exist and only in North Korea so those hungry chicks are very important.  The parents will be kept very busy.
Pyongyang Maternity Hospital baby sign

Sunday Stamps II prompt of the letter K - for Korea, kids and Kim - See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 21 October 2018

A Jaunt in Old Japan

2008: International Letter Writing Week
In 1832 Utagowa Hiroshige travelled the  length of Tōkaidō Road (the name translates as the eastern sea route) which ran from Edo (modern day Tokyo) to Kyoto and created a series of woodcuts from 1833-1834 called "The 53 Stations of the Tōkaidō Road" which were published by Hoeido so this first publication became known as the Hoeido Edition of which this stamp illustration is taken
1962: International Letter Writing Week
Here is the start of that journey on at Edo's Nihonbashi (Japan Bridge).  The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art own a print of this so helpfully they describe what is happening "...a daimyo procession crosses early in the morning as it begins its long journey out of Edo and towards the open gates of the district.  Ahead are a group of fishmongers who carry fresh fish from the nearby market into the city"
1964: International Letter Writing Week
Still on the Tōkaidō Highway but passing Mount Fuji at Hodogaya (the fourth station on the road) portrayed in Hokusai's "36 Views of Mount Fuji".  The British Museum have a print of this (their Japanese galleries are usually a beautiful oasis of calm on the top floor in contrast to the frenetic ground floor galleries).  Their print is rather more sharp than my stamp scan and describes the image
thus - "Travellers on a road lined with pine trees, foot traveller on the far right with itinerant Buddhist monk, deep sedge hat and bamboo flute, gazing at a roadside stone image of a deity carved into the rock-face of hillside (half cropped by the print), palanquin bearers resting to mop brow and re-tie sandal, man leading horse pointing herding stick towards Mt Fuji".  (The British Museum curator goes into more detail)
2011: Philatelic Week 140th Anniversary of Japan's Postal Service
After all that travelling one might want to send a letter home.  I wonder who will deliver it?  In the 19th Century it might have been Postal Man Otakichi as portrayed by Toyohara Kunichika.

Journey along the '53 Stations of the Tōkaidō Road' at the illustrated Wikipedia page here

This week's Sunday Stamps II prompt is of the letter J - for Japan and journey - See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Incredible Iceland

1989: Landscapes III (Design - Þ Magnússon)
Land of fire and ice with lava fields, mountains and glaciers Iceland provides some spectacular views which I show through stamps.  Helpfully the cancel shows the outline of the country (two thirds of the population live in the south west).  The stamp on the left is Mount Skeggi at Amarfjord the highest peak in the area with views from the peak of the surrounding mountains, glaciers and the capital city Reykjavik. Perhaps after one has climbed up and down this mountain a good place to ease those hard working feet is in the geothermal pool at Narmaskaro.
1986: Europa - Protection of Nature (Design - Þ Magnússon)
 Now we journey to south east Iceland and the icy tops of  Skaftafell (a hikers paradise) and the impressive glacial river canyon of Joekulságljúfur. The area also has a famous, large and powerful waterfall Dettifoss which is seen in the opening sequence of Ridley Scott's Alien prequel Prometheus.  Sadly I only have two stamps from the set that featured Dettifoss but one is a waterfall that combines beauty and power.
1956: Power Stations and Waterfalls (Design - S Jónsson)
I love this stamp especially the little dot of the horse rider putting the Skógafoss waterfall's 60m drop into perspective.  One can walk right up to the waterfall. or if feeling like some exercise climb up the 527 steps on the fellside to the viewing platform,  There is also a legend of a treasure chest hidden behind the waterfall. See the rainbows and and waterfall pictures here 
December 1948: Hekla (Design - H Pétursson)
No views of the natural wonders of Iceland would be complete without a volcano and here is a plume from the vent of the volcano Hekla.  It has erupted more than twenty times between 1104-2000 and this stamp set shows the most famous eruption in the modern era which lasted for 13 months from March 1947 to April 1948. Lava flows from the long fissure active along its entire length which contribute to its elongated shape
seen here from the sea. No wonder in the middle ages it was thought of as the Gateway to Hell.
Postbox in Reykjavik

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter I - for Iceland - See It On A Postcard