Sunday 30 December 2012

Happy New Year

Pooches packed into a car posting their airmail letter and wishing you all A Happy New Year.   This pre-stamped card was sent to me last year and is one of Japan's New Year lottery cards (two numbers on the back) where you can win trips, electrical goods and of course sheets of stamps. They do the same with New Year stamps.  There are an enormous number of letters and cards sent at this time of year.   

At the corner of 100 Acre Wood a little bear is cogitating  "I wonder what Piglet is doing thought Pooh I wish I was there doing it too"
Hurray, Pooh Bear's wish has come true and he and Piglet having fun with their dragon kite on this postcard stamp.  To make up the postage Noriko also attached
one of the Flower definitives showing an Asiatic Honey Bee (Apis cerana) which likes to nest in small spaces such as tree trunks. It produces small honey yields  but their beeswax is used in natural medicine to treat and heal wounds. Winnie-the-Pooh perhaps would be more interested in eating honey than applying it...

“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” 

Japan issued their first New Year Greeting stamp in 1935 featuring Mount Fuji and the Imperial Chrysanthemum Seal at the top, I think the other flowers are cherry blossom.  They issued New Year stamps again in 1936 but that was the end of that until 1948 and then another gap until 1951 since when they have issued a stamp every year, nowadays usually more than on featuring the year's animal from the Lunar Calendar.

such as this from 2012 which I found on the net with an example of the lottery tab attached.

Wishing you all A Happy New Year

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Nomad and Postbox

Salthouse Road, Barrow in Furness
 It has been unremitting rain here, not a sign of snow. If I walk to town I'll pass this postbox but opposite there are usually cars parked by the boat, but on this snowy day a winter ago only the boat was there.  It was an opportunity I had waited for, click went my camera.

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season

Sunday 23 December 2012

Christmas Cheer for Sunday Stamps

Christmas 2012
In the dark of winter the Stable Lamp of the Finnish stamp shines out surrounded by snow. Brrr. Time to come indoors and admire the fully decked Christmas tree. Ever inventive this comes in a sheet of 20 with a special folds so it stands upright like a miniature Christmas tree, see it illustrated on Stamp Collecting Blog.
Both stamps designed by the Turku based Nina Rintala, her third set of stamps for Posti.

Travelling to the Åland Islands and the designer Minna Immonen says she was inspired by the sea but with a Christmas feel.   Is that little elf receiving or setting sail with the parcel?  My sender, Eeva, has sent the stamp with its gutter attached and those cute robins on the cracker.  They make another appearance on one of the this years Christmas seals (also designed by Minna Immonen)
Each year Åland choose a charity to benefit from the sale of seals and this year it is for children and families with cancer.
Eeva tells me that they have had a long and wet autumn but now the snow has arrived so why not join these two for a ski or perhaps a skate on the ice and then return home

hang up scarves, hat and skates and settle down for a hot drink. The Finns are one of the greatest coffee drinkers in the world.  I hope I'm getting a pastry which apparently they like to dip in their light roast coffee.  The cup and sugar bowl are from the 2011 Kaj Franck Centenary, pottery which can be found in almost every Finnish home.

 I will  finish with a stamp from a set featuring carols, songs that brighten up the darkness of winter but from a place where they sing them in the summer
2001: Christmas Carols (When Christ was born of Mary Free)
 The Susquehanne Chorale sing a pretty arrangement of of the carol featured on the stamp.

 Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme - Christmas or Holiday Stamps


Sunday 16 December 2012

Island In The Sun

I only have three Christmas Island stamps and happily they fit this week's Sunday Stamps perfectly. The first features a Robber Crab doing what its name suggests and going for that Christmas parcel. Are those its gleeful offspring?  Robber Crabs are the largest species of land crab in the world, so no arguing over that present.
Next, my favourite, a Frigatebird puffing up its pouch and its friend the starfish, although in real life I suspect the latter may be a tasty snack.  There are five types of Frigatebird and the Christmas Island species is the rarest. Some of its breeding colonies were polluted some decades ago by phosphate mining but today it faces a smaller but deadlier threat. The accidental introduction of the yellow crazy ant which is killing the island's native red crab, a major food source for the bird.
 Lastly the Golden Bosunbird, unique to Christmas Island,  sits on a flowery parcel.  Christmas Island is home to a large number of seabirds and despite being the peak of an underwater mountain it is large enough to have developed its own ecosystem.

All the stamps were designed by Rob Kiely.  This year the post have gone with a different designer and a Father Christmas theme, although our friend the Frigatebird still puts in an appearance see here.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of Christmas or Holiday Stamps

Sunday 9 December 2012

A Garden of a 100 Views

Unbelievably there have been ONE HUNDRED weeks of Sunday Stamps, how did that time go so fast.  We have almost been through the seasons twice so in celebration here is the passing of years in the stamps showing the
Quxi Tower in the Spring
Li Yuan Gardens of Suzhou, which are designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city of Suzhou is most famous for two things, its many canals and the gardens.  The gardens history can be traced back to the 6th Century BC but the real growth was from the 11th to 19th Century and the city's rise to  prosperity from the 16th to 18th century resulted in as many as 200 gardens being created.  The plum blossom festival in February and early March is considered one of the most beautiful times to visit.

This is the largest of the gardens covering about 6 or 10 acres (depending which description you read) and was first commissioned in 1593 during the Ming Dynasty but when it was bought by Liu Su in 1798 he added many elements of trees, bamboo groves, stones  and rock constructions.  For this reason the garden acquired a nickname of the Lingering Gardens, Liu Yuan -  a play on Liu Su's name.
Yuancui Pavilion in the Summer
Chinese gardens like this are known for their delicate design of hills, ponds, terraces, towers and represent a microcosm of the world, a landscape in miniature. The gardens of Suzhou have been called an earthly paradise.
Hanbi Shanfung in the Autumn
 The Lingering Gardens have the most building of all the gardens in Suzhou and the western area is considered most beautiful in autumn with the artificial hills covered with maple trees which shade the pavilions in summer and turn a rosy red in autumn.
Guanyun Peak in the Winter
It rarely snows in Suzhou and its winters tend to the damp but the stamp designer shows it under snow which always makes a winter garden's structure look beautiful. The town is famous for making a winter wine of osmanthus which sells out quickly in December so even if it does not snow perhaps you can listen to the rain dripping on the leaves while sipping your glass in the pavilion.

The designer of this set of stamps is Sun Chusnzhe who was born in 1915  and has created 150 sets of stamps, his first issued in 1947  so an appropriate record breaker for number 100 of Sunday Stamps.    

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps celebration of reaching 100


Sunday 2 December 2012

On The Road

Grab the wheel and take the ride from Bluff on South Island to the North Cape at the end of the North Auckland Peninsula but drive safely and don't run down any hobbits we need them on the cinema screens. This stamp was issued in 1964 in support of National Accident Free Day and is one of New Zealand's first stamps to address a social issue.  
So where shall I go next I can't see my destination on the Bluff signpost but I'm heading to Europe
1973: Road Safety
and to Hungary who also want to keep their roads safe.  The message in the 60f  is "Not Even A Glass" which is similar to our "Don't Drink and drive" message.  The 40f message is "Lets Be Friends".  The other stamp of the set, which I don't have, features a car and a cyclist.   Both stamps were designed by Sándor Légrády (1906-1987) who after designing over a hundred stamps had a stamp posthumously dedicated to him in 2006.  And finally the next stamp
1979: Road Safety
is of a speeding car out of control design by E. Aniskin. The Russian не злоупотребляите скоростю translates in Google as "speed is not abused" which I guess must mean  "Don't Speed"

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme - "Stamps with a Message" or

Sunday 25 November 2012

Postal History

In my local indoor market a philately shop has appeared, it took me two turns around the labyrinth to find it and that was only because I was heading for one of the doors having given up, thinking my information was incorrect, and there in the corner was big sign saying - STAMPS. Oh be still my beating heart. I changed my mind with what I was going to post for Sunday Stamps so here is my latest purchase which I realised when I got home would fit this week's theme perfectly.

Issued on the last day of return of Hong Kong to China (31 July 1997) from British Government this is from the 'History of the Hong Kong Post Office' series. In the spirit of "One Country, Two Systems" Hong Kong Post is a separate entity to China Post. Most of the original British red painted boxes with the royal cypher are now gone and replaced with the green boxes featuring a Hong Kong post logo but this sheet features an original Queen Elizabeth post box, who knows it may be this one now painted green.  The 150th anniversary of the Post Office took place in 1991 which featured post boxes from the different eras. Despite the post office being founded in 1841 they did not issue stamps until December 1862 with the Queen Victoria, one of which is shown on this sheet  followed by the first definitive stamps from the different reigns .  This year they are issuing some stamps on stamps to celebrate the anniversary of stamp issuance.  Before 1862 parcels and envelopes were postmarked as proof of postage.  Now lets cut to the chase  and those buildings (I especially like that street view on the right).  There is no need for me to do any research because turn over this mini sheet and voilà
there it all is. I found a photo on wikipedia of the 1911 post office (complete with tram) which I was going to show but this Library of Congress Carpenter collection photo has everything, a post office, rickshaws and a seafront.

It is of a similar post office which they say was taken between 1890 and 1925 by the Mee Fong Studio, it is either the same one on the sheet or they built them all in the same style.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of - "Commemorations"

Sunday 18 November 2012

Earth Rocks

1959 International Geophysical Year (2nd issue)
What better way to celebrate geology and the earth than these two stamps, although my choice may have been  influenced by the fact that an Emperor Penguin appears on one of them.  They both commemorated the International Geophysical Year which actually lasted for 18 months but when studying things that have been around for billions of years I guess a few months does not make a difference. The stamps feature a glaciologist and an Antarctic map with the Russian base.  The Punch magazine featured a cartoon at the time  that sent up the three UK, USA and USSR bases and their interaction with the penguins here.  The IGY's aim was to co-ordinate the collection of geophysical data from around the world. The work at the pole led to the Antarctic Treaty of 1961 whose aim is to  protect the area and devote it to peace and science.
1884: "Strategic Metals"
Doesn't look too peaceful here as Manganese is blasted out of the earth but I do like the stamp which is quite unusual by showing the process, the element and the chemical symbol. Manganese is essential to iron and steel making and South Africa provides 80% of the world's supply from the mines in a desert region of the North Cape. There are large thick continuous seams which Peter Toth a CEO said was a "dream from a mining and geological point of view", although getting it to a port is an altogether more difficult process.

The stamp designer Hein Botha has produced other geology stamps for Namibia and also the succulent plants definitive series for South Africa whose curious shapes have a rock shaped element to them.
But back to a classic view - the  "Minerals of China" stamps starting with Orpiment beloved by alchemists in their unsuccessful search for ways to make gold.
Stibnite used in the ancient world ground into fat pastes as eye liner and to darken brows and lashes known as Kohl.
And to complete the set here are the wonderfully named Cinnabar and Wolframite.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of - Geology and the Earth

Sunday 11 November 2012


As today is Remembrance Day for the fallen of all conflicts I thought I would do something connected to the First World War but far away from Flanders Field which is this Isle of Man miniature sheet commemorating the postal history of the Knockaloe Internment Camp.  This was a place where "enemy aliens" were detained for the duration of the war, mostly Germans and Austrians. The 24,000 men were in effect inside a self-contained township which was originally envisioned for 5,000.  It was built of wooden huts covering 23 acres and the left hand drawing on the sheet is from a coloured steel engraving of the camp by the internees and inserted are pictures of Peel Castle and Patrick Church where 200 of the internees, who died during internment were buried.  These were repatriated in the 1960s to the Cannock Chase German War Cemetery in Staffordshire apart from some Jewish and Turkish graves which still remain.

There was a wealth of talent within the camps of academics, artists, musicians and craftsmen but it was considered one of the toughest camps on the island, those with influence moved out to other camps so the remaining inmates of  Knockaloe were egalitarian and it was considered a socialist camp.  

The top pair of stamps show a postcard of drawings of the accommodation, just seen is a line of washing between the huts which is repeated on the background of the stamp

 and a 1915 envelope with a censors stamp.  The camp had a printing press and they produced Christmas cards and as can be seen in the bottom set of stamps "Easter Greetings to Home".  The camp did not close until 1919 when many of the inmates were deported, many against their will as they had established a life in Britain prior to the war, as can be inferred from the stamp of a registered letter sent in 1915 to Miss Hilda Reeves in London.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps

Friday 9 November 2012

Busy Line

 An entry to Sepia Saturday. "Using old images as new reflections"

A Bell telephone system and all the operators asking "what number do you require", from the US National Archives is this week's prompt.  I wonder if any are like Lily Tomlin's  amusing portrayal of the omnipotent Ernestine the operator?  And how many telephones were in America at this time?  I don't know but there were 1300 in the Lancashire town of Preston in 1922 because
this float tells me so. To get everyone involved the GPO has installed a telegraph pole on the back of the lorry, bet that was a high-ly sought after position.  The General Post Office at this time looked after all means of communication letters, parcels, telegraphs and telephones. From  the 1880s the Post Office were in charge of all telephone exchanges apart from in Hull, Portsmouth and Guernsey who had their own local companies.  You could always spot the Hull telephone directory in a library that had a full set of Telephone Yellow Pages because in contrast it was grey covered.  The GPO changed in the 1980s when the telephone system was privatised by the Thatcher government and that section became the behemoth that is British Telecommunications.

But back to the lorry and its crew of GPO workers.  The date is 1952 and the event is Preston Guild.  The famous expression when something rarely happens is "once every Preston Guild" and it was even more apt in 1952 as this once every 20 years event had been cancelled in 1942 because we were in the middle of a World War.  The Guild celebrations dates back to 1179 when Henry II granted Preston market town status and the 20 year gap was chosen in 1542 because that guaranteed the memberships of the guilds were renewed at least once for each generation.  This year was a Preston Guild year and there have been a variety of events and it once again had the trade floats but going back to 1952 and another form of communication
Harris Museum, Preston photo
the television. Here is the Horrockses "the greatest name in cotton" Television float. Clothes rationing had ended in 1949 and these 1950s cotton dresses could use as much fabric as they wanted and took full advantage.

Returning to the days when you asked the operator for a place and a number and the black and white TV detective series had someone asking the operator for the Scotland Yard number  - Whitehall 1212 and a time when companies didn't cold call, that would be bliss, here is Rose Murphy and the infectious  "Busy Line":

Sunday 4 November 2012

Cool Clear Water

All living things need water, this was the symbol of South Africa's 1970 Water Campaign
and for a country with a huge coastline their were waves as well on this set of stamps
National Water week in South Africa takes place in March, the same month as World Water Day.  For a water scarce country which depends for much of its water on rainwall the "save water" message is an important one.   I couldn't find the theme for the year of this stamp set (1997) but this year South Africa's slogan was "Water is Life Conserve it, Respect it, Enjoy it".
South Africa runs many campaigns both to preserve and protect from pollution water resources. Leaving Africa and journeying to a continent with more water and to the mountains
and the crystal clear water of the Almsee lake in upper Austria fed by springs and rivers but for 
1985: Europa Music Year
Water Music this may be the best stamp.  To save you swivelling your head around to see what is refelected in the water
here it is the 'wrong' way up.  Finally  I could not resist the combination of Handel's Water Music and Seahorses:-

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of - Water