Sunday 30 October 2011

Australia Hot & Cold

Reaching the last destinations of Sunday Stamps' journey around the world I'm stopping off at the largest island and the smallest and flattest of the continents.  Here is its 1913 stamp which does not need to say Australia, the map and kangaroo says it all. I wonder how many times the kangaroo has featured on an Australian stamps since then?
Lots I would imagine. Australia has been an island for millions of years so its wildlife has evolved in a unique way  and the country's post has always featured its fascinating flora and fauna on definitive stamps.  The largest group of indigenous mammals are the marsupials which include the kangaroo
and the koala in its eucalyptus tree.  Next the laughing kookaburra beloved of film makers to create atmosphere (the New South Wales site has a link to listen to their sound here,). The next group of unique creatures is the  monotremes, the only egg-laying mammals in the world. So here comes the platypus
just about to go for a dive, they are expert swimmers.  Now I will jump in time from these stamps of 1937 to 2009 and the the "Australian Bush Babies" series of which I only have two examples but they feature
yes the long time favourite and national animal of Australia and their cutest
the Koala which came on a card with one of those evocative Australian name cancels of Toowoomba.  Now from the heat of Australia
wrap up warm its the Antarctic.  The local inhabitants shown on this stamp have evolved to thrive in cold conditions but
humans have to wrap up warm.  Here celebrating the first attainment of the Southern Magnetic Pole the trio under the union jack are Mackay, David and Mawson, the latter of who
would return to the Antarctic to explore the geology further  . Of the expedition celebrated in this stamp Douglas Mawson wrote in the introduction to his book "The Home of the Blizzard"   "One of the oft-repeated questions for which I usually had a ready answer, at the conclusion of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Expedition (1907-09) was, ``Would you like to go to the Antarctic again?'' In the first flush of the welcome home and for many months, during which the keen edge of pleasure under civilized conditions had not entirely worn away, I was inclined to reply with a somewhat emphatic negative. But, once more a man in the world of men, lulled in the easy repose of routine, and performing the ordinary duties of a workaday world, old emotions awakened. the grand sweet days returned in irresistible glamour, faraway ``voices'' called:......from the wilderness, the vast and Godlike spaces, The stark and sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole.

Lastly I finish this journey with a visit to the Crozet Islands, a sub-antarctic archipelago of small islands in the Indian Ocean home to four species of penguin, the Macaroni (love that name), the King, Gentoo and  
the one featured on this 1956 French Southern and Antarctic Territories stamp, the Rockhopper. 

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps

Monday 24 October 2011

Romantic Belarus

Tanya from Belarus sent me this photo of one her grandmothers old postcards. She says these cards were sold in Russia and Belarus from 1920-25 and translates the message on the bottom which says "You are my happiness and joy"  What a wonderfully romantic card , I love the colouring of her red dress, his handkerchief and the roses accentuating the black and white.

The card came with

a stamp issued in December 2007 as part of the Agricultural Animals series. An attractively designed set, I like the thee elements and it is very different from the other stamps of Belarus designed by its artist Maria Plakhotnjuk.  Look at that neat cancel in the corner as well, part of a nice frank from the Belarus Post, well done Belpochta
Designer: Marija Plohotnjuk
Paper: chalky
Printing process: offset
Perforation: comb 13 1/2
Size of a stamp: 52 x 29,60 mm.
Size of a Miniature Sheet: 114 x 104 mm.
Miniature Sheet composition: 6 (2 x 3) stamps
Printing run: 42.000 stamps or 7.000 Miniature Sheets.
Michel catalogue numbers: 694-698.

Thank you Tanya for sharing your Grandmother's beautiful card.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Papua New Guinea

For this week's Sunday Stamps theme of "Ocean and Island nations of the Pacific" I had lots of choice from my 'Eye of the Wind' covers, the ship visited Fiji, Sulawesi (Indonesia), Cocos Islands and Papua New Guinea. I chose these headdress stamps from Papua New Guinea which I thought would brighten up any weekend.  The two on the right portray a man from Kundiawa (a town on the Highlands Highway), the other stamp is a masked dancer of the Abelam area of Maprik.  The bird of paradise whose feathers are sometimes used for these headdresses is the national emblem of the country, and appears on the cover above the map of Papua New Guinea.  The map shows the Strickland and Fly Rivers where the young explorers were navigating using inflatable boats.  Because the country has no railways and few roads the possibility of the rivers being opened for transport was the idea behind the project of mapping the rivers. Permanent low cloud and spray from the falls means detailed maps from aerial photography at this time were impossible. Reconnaissance on the expedition had to be on foot to identify the main hazards around which the inflatables would have to be portaged. During the navigation of these rivers a second party concentrated on a crocodile survey.  Which of those projects would you choose, crocodiles or rapids?  I'd have liked to be on the coast watching birds
This Little Egret stands in front of the stilt houses which stand about 4 metres high allowing for water levels at high tide.
The White Faced Heron possibly competing with the man fishing in the background; as night falls the Nankeen Night Heron appears; the Crested Tern on the beach and the Bar-tailed Godwin. Lastly
 in the golden light sits a Little Pied Heron as a canoe paddles past.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps

Saturday 22 October 2011

Seeing Double

 Post Box Numbers LA4 247 and 248
Two pillar boxes outside the main post office in the coastal resort of Morecambe. Take your choice of which one to post your cards. I wonder if one fills more than the other.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Enter the Dragon (and flying horses)

If you were a stamp designer and the remit came in to produce three stamps for the National Exhibition of Industry and Communication, what would you put on the stamp?  Perhaps the above stamp, with its instruments of industry, no internet or ipads yet as this is 1958.  An attractive and clean design.  But wait a minute, what if there are two of you brainstorming to make this an exciting event. What about dragons?
Yes the Chinese people are riding the five-toed red dragon (once the symbol of emperors) over stormy seas
And my favourite, flying horses (possibly a symbol of speed and perseverance) with their riders carrying what I can only describe as widgets over the calm sea of industry.  The two Chinese stamp designers are Liu Shuoren and Wu Jiankun. Wu was greatly influenced by traditional Chinese painting and created other spectacular stamps.

I could not find what appeared in the exhibition and whether it lived up to the stamp images, apart from coming across a car message board photo requesting information on this:
The reply was  "Wonderful picture of the Haiyan (Sea swallow or petrel, a little bird), developed in Shanghai in 1958. Yes, as an alternative for the pedicabs. The car was exhibited at the National Exhibition of Industry and Communications in Beijing 1959. There are different sources describing the technical info: 248cc, or 400cc, or 579cc; 1-cylinder or 2-cylinder engine; 12hp; 75km/h or 80 km/h.  One source gives the Shanghai Bus Repair Corporation as manufacturer".  Not quite a dragon or flying horse but rather cute.

The mainland of Asia is the destination of  Sunday Stamps this week.

Friday 14 October 2011


When I did a swap with Clau in Portugal of course the thing I asked for was a tram and she sent me the sight of this wonderful traditional tram, which I learnt from Wikipedia is a Remodelada type. Above the Lisbon/Lisboa name I nearly missed the name "amarelo" which is Portuguese for yellow.  Is it the tram's name or just the colour? No matter I would love to ride on it and Clau says it is very nice to travel on one of these trams and see the beautiful "old Lisbon" from the windows. Yes this Number 18 is just the ticket, imagine it whirring through the city.  The trees are rather wonderful too, doesn't that just say warm weather.

The card came with
one of this year's Forest Europa stamps for the Azores.  The Azores Bullfinch sings on a tree as cattle graze beneath.  I think the words beneath the bird mean "Forests and Soil Protection".  This stamp is part of a pretty miniature sheet
I'm glad I got the one with both bird and cows.  There have been three sheets produced, one for Portugal, this one from the Azores and one for Madeira, all with their different ecology and can be used in any of the three places. They are all from paintings by the wildlife artist José Projecto who shows all three on his website  along with his stunning wildlife paintings, bird song thrown in too.

Thank you Clau for both for showing me Lisbon and the Azores, two places I would love to visit.

Monday 10 October 2011

A Picnic Toast

It is not quite the weather for picnics at the moment but we have had a brief Indian Summer when all these picnickers could have sat down, there have been plenty of mushrooms.  So pass the cowslip wine, I might help myself to one of those sandwiches too and, as it seems to be all friends together, I might fulfil a lifetime ambition and stroke a bee.

Denise attached lots and lots of wonderful stamps onto this card, including three different New Year stamps which Canada does so well but I am going to save those for a Lunar New Year post as they deserve to be the highlight of a day to themselves. That was not all for there were three of the delightful Beneficial Insects series, of course we are talking beneficial to humans not to their fellow insects.
This the accurately named Assassin Bug who could be a feature of a horror film as it uses its beak to suck the body fluids out of its victims but a gardener would be happy to see it land.  Keith Martin who designed this series used a strong light source to cast an assassin shadow and stand out from the foliage.
This next set (top) is the pretty Golden-eyed Lacewing according to Canada Post  "Often found fluttering slowly around a front porch light, this insect, with its thin, bright-green body and sweeping, translucent wings, is a gentle friend to humans".  Its larvae are voracious predators who are used as an alternative to pesticides, hence their appearance on the first of this series of stamps in 2007.

Next we are back to the 2010 insects of the garden here the sociable Paper Wasp who get their name from the nests which are made by chewing wood fibre and formed into a paper-like comb of hexagonal cells.

Sunday 9 October 2011


I am travelling to eastern Europe this week to the vastness of Russia. When these stamps were issued in 1961 they were part of a series called "Provincial Costumes", the provinces in question were part of the Soviet Union.  Now both the place of this first stamp, Georgia, and this one
of Byelorussia are countries in their own right. What a century of change Russia and eastern Europe has experienced, shifting borders, wars, social change and revolution. 
 The imperial Russian eagle of 1889
1943 Teheran Three Powers Conference and 26th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

Throughout the post has got through although I am not sure what these Young Pioneers are doing with this postbox in 1936.

An entry to Sunday Stamps sojourn in Europe

Saturday 8 October 2011

Giggle Alley

 Post Box Number CA19 56
I could not resist taking a photo of this postbox with the Giggle Alley sign, unfortunately the mailbox is not called the giggle box but by the more prosaic name of Eskdale Post Office box.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Aerial Post

Sunday Stamps trip round the world is spending two weeks in Europe so this week I am at home with this miniature sheet  issued in September to commemorate the first UK Aerial Post.  So easy today to stick an air mail sticker on an envelope, pop it in the box and away it flies to another country. These stamps take us back to another age and the day of 9th September 1911 when Gustav Hamel  flew from London Hendon Aerodrome to Windsor Castle as part of the celebrations for the coronation of King George V (an enthusiastic stamp collector).  The idea of Walter Windham who thought this would be the ideal occasion for the promotion of aerial post. He had experimented with a flight in India earlier in the year.

Things did not go too smoothly on the appointed day, the weather was very windy and of the four pilots only the German Gustav Hamel was able to get his Blériot XI monoplane aloft. He made a pass over the aerodrome which excited the crowd, who had paid between sixpence and five shillings to view the event, and he set off for Windsor Castle, (the journey of 21 miles took just 15 minutes) where another large crowd had gathered to welcome the flight.  The next day was Sunday so no flights took place (no Sunday shopping in those days). On Monday four flights were scheduled but this time Hamel was flying a Farman biplane which was too heavily loaded with eight bags of mail, it crashed from a height of 40 ft and Hamel broke both legs on impact. The other three pilots continued the service, after striking to ensure Humel received compensation for his injuries.   A total of 16 flights took place during the week carrying 37 bags of mail. With one plane lost and various departures cancelled due to heavy rain the regular airmail services did not happen again until after World War I when aviation technology had advanced to be more reliable and able to operate in adverse weather conditions. 

The stamps feature:-  1st Hamel receiving the first mail bag, 68p Hamel in the cockpit; £1 the British pilot Clement Gresswell's Bleriot plane and lastly, £1.10  showing the mail arriving at Windsor.  The miniature sheet also shows the actual advertising poster used for this historic event, a short one but the world's first scheduled airmail service.
An entry to  Sunday Stamps journey round the contintents