Sunday 27 February 2011

Information Technology

A stamp issued in 1982, one of two that celebrated Information Technology. I like the span of time it features,  how knowledge and ideas have been communicated through the ages.

Staring with Egyptian hieroglyphics which are both beautiful and practical.  The first full sentence in hieroglyphs was discovered on a seal of the second dynasty tomb of Seth-Peribsen.  Always a difficult period to date objects as there was a lot of upheaval but it would be sometime between 2890 and 2686BC.  Seth-Peribsen's stele is on display in the British Museum which leads neatly to the second illustration of scholars in the British Museum's reading room. Started in 1753 the British Museum founded the library at the same time. Now it is part of the British Library where every book and periodical published has to be deposited. In 2004 they started to capture and preserve selected website so in their words "there would not be a digital black hole" in the nation's memory.  At present due to copyright restrictions the library is able to capture only 1% of on-line content. But they are also digitising and putting on the web some of their treasures such as Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" printed by William Caxton's printing press. How amazed would Caxton be to see you can just press the print button on a computer to copy off one of his pages (introduction page here)

Lastly is a man working on a computer but as this was 1982 we are a long way from today's sophistication. In 1981 IBM announced their first personal computer running the MS-DOS system. Which happens to be the first computer that I ever used when working in a small industrial library. It stood in glorious isolation on its own desk.  The next computer I used was an Apple Macintosh and by that time everyone had a computer on their desks. In 1982 Apple was the first computer manufacturer to hit $1B annual sales and Steve Jobs made his first appearance on the cover of Time Magazine.
Sunday Stamps themes this week are stamps of the internet age, zazzle style, or featuring computers. Join in at Viridian's Postcards here

Friday 25 February 2011

The Blackfoot

Two postcards on linen paper from the "Canadian Indian Series" published by A.Y. and Co.  This was of the then largest gathering in the Northwest on 30th August 1907 in Macleod, Alberta.  My card, as can be seen, is black and white but they must have also produced tinted versions because I came across the same image on the Internet looking like this:
It is like one of those "spot the difference" quizzes.  The pole and the electricity pole in the right background having disappeared. An early Photoshop.  The first card was numbered To.158-6 and the next card I have is
To.158-7 showing the same Blackfoot tribe with full war-bonnets.  These were traditionally made out of golden eagle feathers, each feather had to be earned by an act of bravery and each feather had its own story. Although in old western films Native Americans  were generally show wearing war-bonnets they were only worn by a few dozen tribes in the Great Plains such as the Sioux, Crow, Blackfoot, Cheyenne and Plains Cree.

The Blackfoot people call themselves Niitsttapi meaning "original people", their historic territory ranging from Alberta to Montana.  In present times there are 4 separate tribes, 3 in Canada and 1 in the USA. They are apparently called Blackfoot in Canada and Blackfeet in the US.  This name originates from the English translation of Siksika which refers to the dark coloured moccasins. The women of the tribe would make and decorate the clothing for everyone, usually made out of antelope and deer hides.

 "Dear Winnie, I thought these PC would help to fill your PC Album. hoping they find you quite well as they leave me champion. yours truly Abe".   These cards were sent to my Grandmother. I never saw an album, perhaps she had one in the past, but like me she kept them in a box. 

Beth of The Best Hearts Are Crunchy is our hostess for Postcard Friendship Friday 

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Well Lane Postbox

LA5 102, Well Lane by Borwick Lane, Warton

Postbox on the outskirts of Warton, Lancashire, you can see exactly where it is with the handily located street sign.  Postie can store delivery bags in the attached box. So much more attractive than the modern dull grey free-standing storage boxes.

Monday 21 February 2011

Snow in Finland

We had snow on the Lake District hills this weekend so here is a suitably snowy card from a country that knows how to enjoy snow.  Dog sled or skis which would be the best way to travel across Finland in winter?   The card came from my postcrossing friend Eeva for what is know as Friendship Day in Finland or St Valentines and two great stamps, one from
this year's miniature sheet 'Branches of Friendship' featuring happy birds in their nest. They are so unusually and of course, as can be seen, rather cute.  The designer of the stamps, Janne Harju shows the full set here, and yes Janne has also designed postcards. Be still my beating heart.  The other stamp is one of the 2009 minature set for Valentines Day with a little cupid on a cloud drawing a bow. The sheet was called
 drops of happiness, this photo shows the colour better than my scanner.

Sunday 20 February 2011

One Stamp Two Countries

This week's theme of Sunday Stamps is Presidents/Heads of Government so here is a stamp where you get two for the price of a 5 cent stamp.  Issued on 7 July 1942 for the Chinese War Effort it commemorates China's resistance to Japanese invasion and  the 5th Anniversary of the Sino-Japanese War .  By this time of course the USA was also at war with Japan.  To be able to see the stamp more clearly and so much more blue, without the postmark, here it is courtesy of Wikipedea.

The map of China, with an image of the sun and dates of the conflict.  On the left  Abraham Lincoln with  the Gettysburg Address quote, "Of the people, by the people, for the people".  On the right is Sun Yat-Sen, founder of modern China with underneath, (depending on which explanation you read) is either a repeat in Chinese of "Of the people" or his three principles doctrine.  That is Nationalism, Democracy and People's Livelihood.  Not too different from the Lincoln's ideals of  nationalism, equal rights and democracy.  Both men were born poor, revolutionaries and died before their time.

Viridian's Postcard Blog is the host of Sunday Stamps

Friday 18 February 2011

The Fairy Lake

Dragonflies are one of my favourite insects but that pixie looks far too large for it, or perhaps being a creature of magic it is as light as gossamer. The Fairy Lake, painted by LR Steele who did a lot of paintings of fairy tales and mythology for the postcard publishers Salmon.  The lake portrayed as magical place, I love the colours. The pointed ears and caps I think suggest Pixies, a part of Celtic folklore who are rather mischievous so indeed would have fun riding fish. In country districts in times past a bowl of milk and bread would be put outside so that pixies wouldn't play pranks on the owner.   Of course fairies were more benign creatures but they also liked to test humans.  No wings are evident on the lilly pad fairy, maybe she has tucked them away, or perhaps is an enchanted child.

The card was sent on 17 September 1947 from an aunt staying in Ross on Wye, (a pretty place lying on a bend of the River Wye on the Welsh borders, and if anywhere were to have a fairy lake it would be there), to her niece. A nice clear postmark but the message was written in pencil so has faded
but Auntie says "Just to let you know I am having a lovely holiday"

Beth of The Best Hearts Are Crunchy is the hostess of Postcard Friendship Friday

Monday 14 February 2011


A heart shaped atoll for St Valentine's day.  Is that a love boat making its way in the middle?  The card had a rough journey from Russia and arrived with a curl, as can be seen by the marks, however the stamps it came with were in perfect condition:
The two dogs are Belka (Squirrel) and Strelka (Little Arrow). The stamp was issued in October 2010 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their space flight.  After being launched into space on 19th August 1960 and sharing the Sputnik 5 capsule with a squirrel, 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants and fungi they spent a day in orbit, the retrorocket fired and the landing capsule and the dogs returned to Earth and  were recovered. The first living animals to survive a space orbit. Strelka later gave birth to 6 puppies, one of which was called Pushinka (fluffy) and was given to President John Kennedy's daughter Caroline by Nikita Khrushchev.  Strelka's line does not end there for the Kennedy family had a dog called Charlie and he and Pushinka produced 4 puppies which Kennedy humorously referred to as the pupniks.

The 1909 painting "At The Dressing Table" is a self portrait by Zinaida E.Serebryakova (1884-1967) and was her breakthrough painting when it was exhibited. Her main subject matter at this time was rural life, for a biography of her life and paintings see here  The stamp was issued in July 2009 for her 125th Birth Anniversary.

Lastly we have the world wildlife stamp issued as part of a set of Rare Animals in October 2007.  This one features the Oriental Stork which is on the red list of  threatened species and now this beautiful bird is only found in Russia and China.  

Thank you Marina for the cards and stamps which are a perfect combination of some of my favourite things - sea, space, art and fauna.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Red Hot

A stamp from the 1971 series "Flowers, Fruits and Folklore".  I only have this one but each design includes a scene from Tunisian folklore. The stamps feature, mint, pear, laurel rose, quince, grapefruit and of course this one, of a Pimento - Capsicum annuum.  I can find nothing about the sword wielding figure but he is rather cute. Perhaps he is a character from one of the old Tunisian marionette shows.

There is an expression in Tunisia that Tunisians get hungry when they see the colour red, the colour of appetite and passion. It is also the colour of their famous Harissa, a fire-red chilli blend made from crushed dried red peppers, garlic, salt, coriander, caraway seeds and mint leaves, known for its heat.  It can be served on a side plate with French bread, olives and olive oil or used in soups, salads, meats, fish, stews, couscous and rice. Harissa recipes can vary but it is certainly versatile ingredient.  Tunisian cuisine is the spiciest in North Africa and the country is a major exporter of pimentos.

Viridian Postcard is the hostess of Sunday Stamps, this week no theme,  just pick any kind of stamp.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Red Fox

A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) its fluffed fir keeping it warm in a Finnish winter. My postcrossing friend Eeva says she can sometimes see foxes even in the neighbouring woods of Helsinki. That foxy face lives up to the saying that the fox knows many things.  The card came with a lovely faux stamp of the
4 masted barque Herzogin Cecilie, named after a German Crown Princess and launched in 1902. Painted white it was one of the fastest windjammers ever built and logged a speed of 21 knots at Skagen off the Jutland peninsula. She won the famous Grain Race from Australia 4 times (her fastest journey was 86 days), but making for Ipswich on the east of England in April 1936 she grounded on the Ham Stone Rocks in dense fog, eventually drifting onto the cliffs. The crew were taken off and the ship beached, people came from miles around to watch.  Stranded the grain fermented and  swelled, cracking the deck. The ship affectionately known as The Duchess broke up.  The figurehead was sent to a museum and the remains sold for scrap.  (Her cabin and figurehead are preserved at the Ålands Sjöfartsmuseum). The wreck still lies near Salcombe.  Her fascinating story and description of a dive round the wreck is on the site - Submerged  

Friday 11 February 2011

Unrequited Love

By chance I came across this 'Red Letter' card while looking for something else. I laughed just to look at it for it sums up the silent film stars skills in portraying meaning by facial expressions. Chaplin  intends to hold the hand of the woman but instead it is her husbands.   The title of the card  "unrequited love" also chimes in with some of those anonymous cards that will be sent for Valentine's day on Monday.

The film is the 1915 "A Night in the Show" (hence the subtitle Charlie at the Show), filmed for Essanay studies (the logo in the corner), Chaplin took on two roles, that of  the two inebriates  Mr Pest and Mr Rowdy.  Here he is Mr Pest who keeps moving into different seats before the show eventually starts, ending up in the best seat in the house, the front balcony by the side of the stage.  The woman of his attraction is Edna Purviance, who appeared as female lead in more of his films than any other actress, although in this one she only has a small part.  The plot and the scenes of the film were taken from the stage show that Chaplin performed as part of the Fred Karno Company called "A Night at the English Music Hall" when it toured the USA.  Mr Rowdy will pour beer down on the audience, there will be escaped snakes, a minor custard pie incident, a lady pushed in a fountain, and it will all end with a fire eater and a fire hose out of control.  The usual comedy mayhem.
The poster featuring the scary lady that makes Chaplin move seats yet again. 

Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy is the hostess of Postal Friendship Friday


Wednesday 9 February 2011

Winter Day

"Brilliant Winter Day" by Risto Toivonen

Crisp bright winter days are like jewels spread amongst the dark. My sender lives towards the north of Finland and when she sent this card at the end of January the sun was shining, it was -26 degrees and the trees were covered in frost. She recommends coming to ski in winter, but then quips, that winter every season.  It came with a 2009 stamp

from a miniature sheet on Fashion. This outfit was designed by Tuomas Laitinen and his sister, the artist Anna Laitinen. On its own the stamp looks a attractively spooky as though it is from some fairy tale (or is that just me) but seen as a whole sheet it gives a different feel:
The Top of the World site goes into lots more detail on shoes and more here (page a third of the way down)

Thank you Pirjo. Hope the temperature is heading upwards

Monday 7 February 2011

Black Bear

The reverse of the card says: "Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Weighing about ½ lb at birth, black bear cubs usually arrive in Lake Tahoe area in early February".  One cute cub, guess they will all be arriving about now. There has been quite a baby boom in the Lake Tahoe area. The usual diet of these bears are berries, plants, nuts, roots, honey, insects, carrion and small mammals but the bears have discovered that human food is so much more tasty.  It is thought that the high protein of this food of this is causing the rise in bear births.

Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada bordering California and Nevada, a year round tourist destination. It looks a beautiful place and my sender says it is one of her favourite places to visit.

The card came with
a wedding rings stamp, photographed by Renée Comet on a white pillow with a piece of white silk joining the rings. And look it also came franked with a heart. How good is that. A nice stamp to use if there is a wedding in the offing and there is also a matching higher value wedding cake stamp, for the heavier weight of wedding invitations.

Thank you JenNifer. Hope you get to see some cute cubs.   

Sunday 6 February 2011

Lift Off

 One of the GB commemoratives "The Genius of Gerry Anderson" issued 11 Jan 2011
5-4-3-2-1, Lift Off.  The excitement mounts as the huge engines roar and the rocket starts to move, the supports falling away. Little has changed over the years, technology has improved but the basic way of heading into space has not change. Perhaps some day we might find the secret of anti-gravity as James Blish imagined in his Cities In Flight series but until then we need thundering engines to break free of earth.
 Mongolia 1963 Rocket Blasting Off
 Laika, the first animal in space. It was unknown what the impact of space flight would be on living things. So when Laika was trained and chosen to take flight on Sputnik 2,she was launched into space on 3 November 1957. Unlucky for Laika the Russians did not have the technology to re-enter at this time so her end was not as glorious as her flight unlike
 1961 Czechoslovakia "Gagarin's visit to Prague"
Yuri Gagarin who 4 years later on 12 April 1961 became the first man in space and went on a celebratory tour on his return. His worldwide fame meant that despite being involved in the development of designs for reusable aircraft the Soviet officials were not keen on him returning to space. Probably with good reason for the rockets were very crude and it must have been a hair-raising ride. Sadly he died in a routine training flight in 1968.

The 60s of course were at the hight of the cold war and the race for space was watched all over the world
 USA 1962 - "US Man in Space"
The Project Mercury program ran from 1959 to 1963 with the aim of putting a human in orbit round the world. The astronauts eventually chosen were named the Mercury 7 one of which was

Togo 1962 - Space Flight Commemoration
Alan Shepard, the second person, and the first American into space on 5 May 1961.  He piloted the Freedom 7 mission.  On return he was asked how he felt sitting on to of the rocket waiting for lift-off and he said that it was the fact that every part of the ship was built by the lowest bidder. It did not put Shepard off for he returned to space as commander of Apollo 14 ten years later.
These were the first faltering steps into space and we looked forward to more as John Kennedy made his speech with the famous words:
"We choose to go to the moon. We chose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..." 
 As I watched the Apollo missions and those grainy black and white photographs of the first steps on the moon it was if the journey into space had just begun and the planets were next.  It was not to be and those dreams of a generation were never fulfilled.  But tomorrow we may go to the stars.
"Apollo 11 launch from Cape Kennedy on 16 July 1969. This mission landed men on the moon for the first time." NASA photograph, City of Liverpool Museum postcard.

The Sunday Stamps meme is hosted by Viridian Postcard. whose suggested theme was Space and Rockets

Friday 4 February 2011

Spring Festival

One of the set of Chinese Lunar New Year cards showing flowers of the republic, hand-painted in the traditional Chinese art style on linen-finished cards. I think this is plumb blossom, a symbol of luck. Chinese New Year is commonly referred to as Spring Festival in China.  Sighting the first Swallows as they arrive back from Africa to England is one of the joys of the natural year for me. We have had some warm springs in previous years which has meant that they have arrived early. How do they know?

I will gloss over the fact that this card was actually issued in the year of the rat but to compensate here is the Chinese stamp for this year of the rabbit.

Apparently they were selling like hot cakes in China.  Or should I say hot dumplings, one of the traditional things to eat for this festival along with sticky rice pudding or nian gao.  Its stickiness will hold or bind families together.

Kung Hei Fat Choi. Cantonese for Congratulations (that it has happened) and be prosperous.

Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy is the hostess of Postal Friendship Friday

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Industrial Heritage Trail

When this card plopped through my letterbox I did a little happy dance. I love looking around sites from the industrial past.  This card celebrates the Route Industriekultur which is a thematic tourist route of the most important and most attractive monuments in the Ruhr, Germany. There are bike trails and holiday routes but here I take a postcard journey.  On the back is a faint map but lets journey from left to right:

Top Row
  • Henrichshütte Hattingen - Former steel mill now a museum. Built in 1854 poor transportation links eventually led to its closure in the 1990s
  • Zeche Nachtigall Witten or Nightingale Collery, a coal mine, part of a mining trail
  • Schiffshebewerk Henrichenburg - A boat lift on the Dortmund-Ems Canal (I would love to see this piece of intricate engineering working)
  • Lindenbrauerel Unna - Linden Brewery which brewed Unna Linden beers from 1859-1979. One can still stop off here for a refreshing beer because they started to brewing this naturally cloudy beer again in 2002 to serve in the restaurant. The building is also used for concerts and exhibitions.
Middle Row
  • Zeche Zollern Dortmund - A photo of only part of the opulent frontage which looks like a house but is actually a pit west of Dortmund. Called the Castle of Work it was almost demolished in the 1960s after closure but its gardens and buildings are now a museum of industry, a social and cultural history.
  • Frellichtmuseum Hagen - An open air museum of crafts and technology from the 18th to 20th Century set in a scenic valley. There are 60 workshops such as forges and rope-making together with shops selling the produce made, such as smoked meats, bread and, yes, another place to stop for beer. 
  • Glaselefant Hamm - The Glass Elephant was a coal washing plant but has been turned into an elephant by the artist Horst Rellecke, inside a garden, art exhibitions and robotic animals.
  • Deutsche Beregbau; Museum Bochum - Mining museum, research centre of mining history and open mine.
Bottom Row
  • Aquarius Mülheim - Water Museum located in a disused water tower. Originally built for Thyssen in 1892/93 to supply their nearby tube and rolling mills. Now a museum is on 14 levels with a ride in a glass elevator which travels through a 5000,000 litre water tank.
  • Zeche Zollverein Essen - Coal mine operating 1847-1986 in Essen.  Since 2001 it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Gasometer Oberhausen - Built in the 1920s this gasometer it is now a landmark of Oberhausen. There seem to be many installations inside and it is described as a "Cathedral of Industry".  Great night view and info here
  • Duisburg Ruhrart - Museum of German Inland Navigation, at the heart of the largest river port complex in Europe. Museum founded  in 1974 with the purchase of the ship shown, the Oscar Huber
My sender lives in the Nord-Rhein Westfalen region which if my geography is right  includes the Ruhr, she doesn't say whether she has visited any of these sights but perhaps her other interests take her time.

The card came with
a pretty marigold (Tagetes) and one the four April 2010 'Post' stamps showing an angel and envelope. The words at the bottom Mit Guten Wünschen mean With Best Wishes.  An ongoing series over several years, I like this theme it has produced some attractive stamps.

Thank you Mecki. As you may guess I think this card is rather wonderful.