Monday 31 May 2010


My sender is very informative and tells me that this is the Green (Vegetable) Market in Brno in 1921.  What a great card, I love the historic feel and colouring.  The 17th century Parnas fountain is in the foreground. The market selling vegetables, fruit and flowers still takes place.

Brno is the second biggest city in the Czech Republic, founded in 1243 and  located in the South Moravian Region.  In the industrial revolution it became an industrial centre and was sometimes called the Moravian Manchester, where do they think these things up.

It came with the October 2008 issue of 'Historic Stoves' and a wonderfully clear cancel.
The title is - Rococo Stove, Archbishops Palace in Prague - a white glazed stove with relief decoration and gilt details. At first I could only find the 2009 issues of this series until I used the Czech Post site which has a great system, just put the value of the stamp and a date and they show you all those of that year. How easy is that.

They go into great detail about this stove but basically the 18th century "characteristic of rococo stoves are mainly asymmetry, details and playful decorations..."  It does look very ornate.

This card travelled 920 miles (1480k) from  a village near Brno. Thank you Jana.       

Friday 28 May 2010

Children at School and Play

Dress rehearsals for a children's concert 1912 and these boys are acting out their roles. I like the one at the back taking aim with one eye closed and can imagine the noise of the trumpet. What fun. The village is Wray in the Forest of Bowland  an area designated in present times as an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).  At one time, because it is located by two fast running rivers, it was a local textile centre and there are many old houses in the village, the doorway on this card looks typical of the period.

Children depositing their savings in the Yorkshire Penny Bank at Scotforth School, about 1927. There is a certain air of concentration about the rows as the teacher at the back is checking their work and their fellow pupils line up to deposit their savings.   The blackboard says "Scotforth Schoool Branch. Average Number of Deposits 4500. Average Value £800"  The notice at the end of the table states "Every Monday"

Scotforth was a village in Lancashire but in the 19th Century as the town of Lancaster grew it became a suburb.  The Yorkshire Penny Bank was founded by the textile manufacturer Edward Akroyd of Halifax one of the great Victorian philanthropists.  He was concerned about the social conditions of his workers and tried to improve their living conditions and health, building a model town, and starting a savings bank in 1859.  Individual deposits were restricted to £30 per annum up to a cumulative balance of £150.  The bank was operated on a non-profit basis and in the early days would be only open one evening a week.   The number of banks grew and sub branches were opened in schools and church halls.  In 1865 the first school bank in the world was created, its idea to encourage the idea of saving.

At the time of this photo the bank had been taken over by a consortium of banks in 1911 and I would assume no longer operated on a non profit basis. The bank changed its name in 1959 to become the Yorkshire Bank, you can't buy much with a penny,  and at the present time is now a subsidiary of the National Australian Bank Group. 

Both these postcards are produced by the Lancaster Museum who have a small but interesting selection.

Beth of The Best Heart Are Crunchy,  is our hostess for Postcard Friendship Friday.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Postal Service in the First World War

Love this picture of the sorting office used on Lancaster Museum's poster for their current exhibition, with items from the British Postal Museum and the Kings Own Royal Regiment.  It is a fascinating collection of items, we were in the room so long the woman on the desk looked round the corner to check on us. I don't know if she thought we had keeled over in the heat, or perhaps were loading suitcases and looking for a quick getaway.  There were unique items under glass, photographs,  letters and artifacts but also files of cards and letters sent from the front.
One of the items in this folder struck me as particularly poignant with the it short message - "To my Little Girl, Many Happy Returns, Your Dada. France June 23 1915"  So many died I wonder if he returned from the front to see his little girl. One of the things I learnt from this exhibition is that if someone was killed or went missing the letters were returned with that message on them to the sender.

The exhibition also had a full size hut as used by the sorting officer to distribute letter and parcels to the boys on the front line, everything that could be sent was, even neatly wrapped footballs.

Keeping in touch with family, friends and loved ones was as  important then as is is now and the Post Office was a significant part of that link.  When the First World War started in 1914 and it was not "all over by Christmas"  it soon became apparent that not only would there be increased costs , which eventually led to the universal postage rate of a penny being abolished, (and it has been going up regularly ever since!) but there was also a shortage of manpower. Posters went up to recruit men of over 45 and then for the first time they recruited women in numbers, where previously they had only been employed as postmistresses or in rural areas where no male employee could be found.

At first the letters were sorted by the army units in France, but it soon became apparent that it would be better to do it in the UK so they built the Home Depot sorting office in Regent's Park, London.  When completed it was the largest wooden building in the world.  The average time for a letter to be delivered to the western front was 2 days, if it did not have to be censored.  Letters were censored at the port of Le Harve and then later in Boulogne so the enemy could not learn any information from the letter, but they also had a great deal of sucess in catching spies this way.
Hatched cancels like this were used so the letter would not give away positions of ships or troops.

At its peak the Post Office was dealing with 13 million items and by the end of the war owned 22,000 carrier pigeons. What a mind-boggling number of pigeons.

Monday 24 May 2010

Sea Holly House - Netherlands

A great summery card to receive in the middle of some warm weather, a little house called 'Stranddistel' nestling amongst the sunflowers, which translates as Beach Thistle, or as we know them here Sea Holly. These plants like sand dunes and I think I can just catch a glimpse of some at the back.  I could find no information about the artist, Annemarie Bethke, I wonder if she has a dachshund.  My sender cycles 15K to work by farmland and woods in both the sun and rain, ah the joys of cycling, I'm a sunshine rider myself but the Netherlands is a great cycle friendly country.

It came with an eclectic mix of stamps
Starting from the left we have the Olympic Torch Lighting stamps of 1996, which was the centennial of the modern Olympics and held in Atlanta, USA. The Dutch  won 19 medals (4 gold, 5 silver & 10 bronze) which by coincidence was the same total medal haul as when they last hosted the event in 1928. The 1920s and 30s were a great era for posters

The other two stamps are charity issues of 1979 the middle one for the International Year of the Child entitled the "right to food", one of the basic human rights.

The right hand one is for Cultural, Health and Social Welfare Funds and represents a fragment of the 'Psalmen Trilogie' by the Dutch composer Jurriaan Andriessen.

The card travelled 414 miles (667k) and took 8 days. Thank you Yvon for this pretty card.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Yellow's On The Broom

Card picked up near Manchester at the Charnock Richards services on the M6 for the 'Yellow's on the Broom' festival this weekend, they are spreading their advertising wide for this takes place in the highlands of Scotland in Aberdeenshire.  May is a great time in the north of Scotland, there will still be snow on the tops, the weather will be dry and sunny and those pesky midges won't have arrived yet.
Tells you how to get there and promises "two evenings packed with live music and surprises from a host international and local performers. Send this card to a friend...".  If you like roots music this is for you. Mainly Scottish with Donnie Munro from the Isle of Skye who used to be the lead singer of Runrig and the electric folk of Skerryvore and for the international bit, Latin American from Manosanta and indie rock from My Albatross who come all the way from.... Manchester, England.

Just to get in the mood here is some wonderful Highland scenery with a backing track from Skerryvore.

Monday 17 May 2010


The cable stayed Vansu Bridge (Vansu Tilts) or Shroud Bridge in English is over a kilometre long and one of five bridges in Riga crossing the Daugava River.  Opened in 1981 and originally called Gorky Bridge (Gorky Tilts) but guess because of his Bolshevik links the name had to go as Latvia reinstated its independence in the 1990s.

The shiny skyscraper is Saules Akmens or Stone of Sun built in 2004 for the Hansa Bank. Originally this was going to be 15 story high but was increased to the present 27 floors and became the tallest building in Latvia, and part of the plan to expand the centre of Riga to the west side of the river.  My card gives the address as 1a Balasta Dam and the date 2004, which I would guess is when this photo was taken because Hansa Bank, which had a presence in all the Baltic countries, was fully bought by Swedbank and the building rebranded at the end of 2008. A turbulent year for all the worlds banking companies.

So far so Latvian, but my card came with a Danish stamp, the sender is studying in Denmark, but missing her city of  Riga.

The stamp is one of two from photographs by Steen Larsen. This one is of Aarhus, Denmark's largest container port, and depicts the crane grab of a quayside crane unloading animal feed from the tall grain-house, the grey building on the left used to be a salt store but is now a general warehouse.

The postal services of the Nordic countries are issuing a three part stamp series entitled 'Nordic Coastline'.  All eight countries will be issuing stamps in this series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.  The theme of the first part is 'Life by the Coast'.  Living by a coast, so slightly obsessed, I was hoping someone from one of the eight countries would use one of these series. Only seven to go now!

Thank you Kristine for showing me your world. The card travelled 549 miles (883k) and took 3 days.

Friday 14 May 2010

Yellow Emperor

This is a series of three Chinese maximum cards issued in April 1983. The first is the tomb or mausoleum of Xuan Yuan, the Yellow Emperor in Huangling county although it was probably built long after the emperor died, so does anyone reside there, who can tell.
  The palace of the Yellow Emperor, who probably lived from about 2697 BC to 2597 BC.  He unified and brought stability to the Han Chinese nation and is considered to be a symbol of Chinese civilization.  The stamp is called 'the hall of the legendary father'.  The area he ruled in the north China plain is by the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, hence his name, although some sources say it is because he wore yellow clothing. His story over all these thousands of years has become a mix of history and myth.  What is know is that he produced treatises on medicine, astrology and the martial arts which were probably written by scholars resident in his court. One famous tome is The Book of the Yellow Emperor on Acupuncture, covering all the aspects of this traditional medicine.  He also produced one of the first calendars so according to his calculations we are now in the year 5009.

He was considered a benevolent and wise ruler and is one of the founders of Taoism . Here is where the myths come in, he was supposed to have lived 100 years and after his physical death became immortal.  One story has a yellow dragon appearing in the sky summoning the emperor to heaven.     

The area around these building is surrounded by cypress woods and this is one of trees supposedly planted by the Emperor, which has a huge girth and is 19 metres (62 feet) high.  One of Taoisms aims is for peaceful and harmonious living and daily meditations can be based on the passing seasons.

A modern day Taoist, Deng Ming-Dao uses 365 different meditations over the year and today's in the northern hemisphere is "Relaxation / is total peace" aiming for a sense of tranquillity with no thoughts or problems entering the mind.   Posting about postcards may do the same thing.

Here is the reverse of the cards whose pale printing my scanner seemed to have a problem.  It gives the name of the designer of the stamps and postcards, Zhang Kerang and the photographer who took the photographs on that beautiful blue sky day, Wang Zhunghu.

Our hostess of Postal Friendship Friday can be found on The Best Hearts Are Crunchy

Monday 10 May 2010

Litchfield Cathedral

Lichfield is an old cathedral city and birthplace of Dr Samuel Johnson, famous, amongst other things, for producing a Dictionary of the English Language.  The little boxy car in the foreground probably dates the card to the 1970s.

The impressive carved west front dominated by three balanced spires is a wonderful sight on this, the smallest Cathedral in England. Its full name is the Cathedral of St Mary and St Chad. The latter name gives the clue that the sites origin is of an older Saxon church of 700, Lichfield at that time was the centre of the Kingdom of Mercia. One of the consequences of the Norman invasion of 1066 was that Saxon churches and Cathedrals were replaced by Norman ones. In Lichfield this Norman Cathedral was then replaced by the current Gothic Cathedral, started in 1195.  The building continued to grow and expand and by the 1500s had 20 alters.  All this was going to change with the coming of the Reformation when Henry VIII  in 1538destroyed St Chad's shrine, which meant no more pilgrims visiting so no money flowing into the coffers of the church.

More turbulent times were ahead during the 17th Century English Civil War between king and Parliament.  The cathedral was under siege three times, once by the Royalist and twice by the Parliamentarians as battles raged to and fro. The result was not only was the exterior was considerably damaged, including one of the spires, but also much of the glass and memorials inside. There have been a number of restorations over time, one it is said by Sir Christopher Wren, builder of St Paul's Cathedral, but the one that brought the building back to its Gothic glory was that done by the great Victorian architect George Gilbert Scott when many of over 100 carved figures on the front were replaced.

Friday 7 May 2010


"The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it. "No room! No room!" they cried out when they saw Alice coming. "There's plenty of room!" said Alice indignantly, and see sat down in a large armchair at one end of the table"
Having recently seen Tim Burton's wonderful take on Alice in Wonderland with a returning grown up Alice to Wonderland, and Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter striding down the table, here is the original Tenniel drawing.
I loved Lewis Carroll's Alice as a child and still have my book of Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and always will love the characters and the poems.
 The card was produced by Alice's Shop in Oxford which is supposed to be where Alice Liddell, (Lewis Carroll's Alice) used to buy her barley sugar sweets. Tenniel sketched two illustrations for the book here and it appears as the Old Sheep Shop. The story goes that the owner of the shop had a voice like a bleating sheep so Carrol made her into a character in Alice Through the Looking Glass. Could she knit with fourteen pairs of needles all at once like Sheep in the story? A useful skill.  The shop has been in existence since 1830 and became an Alice themed gift shop in 1965.  I looked on their website but there were no sign of postcards only greeting cards.

I have never visited Oxford but according to the Qype reviews the shop is very small, so difficult to move around. Like the original:
"The shop seemed to be full of all manner of curious things - but the oddest part of all was, that whenever she looked hard at any shelf, to make out exactly what it had on it, that particular shelf was always quite empty: although the others round it were crowded as full as they could hold.
"Things flow about so here!" she said at last in a plaintive tone, after she had spent a minute or so in vainly pursing a large bright thing, that looked sometimes like a doll and sometimes like a work-box, and was always in the shelf next above the one she was looking at."
But I mentioned Johnny Depp at the beginning so I couldn't leave without a very short trail from the film could I:

For more lovely postcards visit Postcard Friendship Friday' hostess The Best Hearts Are Crunchy

Tuesday 4 May 2010


Cathedral Square in the heart of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. New year celebrations and other events take place here. The cathedral seems to be mix of architectural styles and has a separate bell tower just like the campanile of Italy.  The statue to be seen to the right is a modern one (1996) of the first ruler of Lithuania, Gediminas. The postcard had a silhouette of this on the back.  The sender says she enjoys going for long walks around the Old Town and it does look like lovely centre with all the green spaces mixed in with the buildings.  The legendary violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz was born in Vilnius.

The capital city location in the south east of the country is as a consequence of changing national borders over the centuries.  The card came with one of the February 2010
Coats of Arms of Lithuanian Towns series stamps. 

These arms are the town of Varena, also located in the south of the country.  The area has a tradition of wild hive bee-keeping so I presume this is the origin of the design.  There is a mushroom festival every September in this area of forests and their development priorities are "unconventional rural businesses to preserve natural heritage and nature".  Isn't that an intriguing statement.

The card travelled 1,141 miles (1837k) and took 20 days. An Ejyafjallajokull volcano delay. Thank you Kristina for showing me your world.