Sunday 28 December 2014


2010: Toys
Its playtime and these brightly coloured plastic toys would attract any child's attention.  The tipper truck and the ducks are self explanatory but what about that little green creature?  Apparently it is a scooter called "the moon creature" and, as you can see, comes complete with red antennae.  Åland Plasto started to make it in the 1960s, ending production in 1988 but they have been manufacturing the ducks and trucks since the 1970s and continue to do so.  These stamps originally came three to a booklet and the images were photographed by Kjell Soderlund who has been involved with other Åland stamps. 
1963: Folk Toys
In complete contrast, and perhaps more ecologically friendly, here is a "Mottled Straw Cock" from Shanghai, part of a set of "Folk Toys" stamps.  These toys have been made for centuries in all sorts of  materials
Left: Little Cloth Tiger (Tsingtao) and Big Cloth Tiger (Beijing)
Right: Cloth White Rabbit, Wooden Figure and Clay Cock (Beijing)
Clay Spring Ox with Boy Rider (Shanghai)

An entry to Sunday Stamps theme of - Toys - and hosted by Viridian Sky's 'See It on a Postcard'  here.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

A Kindly Wish

"Fortune favour you/that so you may/Have all that gladdens life/this Christmas day"
 Postage date: 24 December 1914

I have been rather neglecting my postcards over the past year so its the perfect time to share this one with its Christmas wishes and echo them.  I like the subtlety of its colouring.  These two pretty girls are well insulated against the cold weather and I am rather envious of their hats, but possibly not the explosion of stoats over the girl in the foreground.

The card was part of my Grandmother's collection although not sent to her but addressed to her Aunt.  Like all postcard collectors she would have always have been on the lookout for more and have been a very happy recipient of this one, as so too am I.

Joining up with Beth's Postcard Friendship Friday after a long absence (happily its open all week for link up). It may prompt me to post more cards. 

Sunday 21 December 2014

Let it Snow

With perfect timing a Christmas envelope arrived this week from Eeva with stamps that included these:

This was my first sight of  2014's Finnish Christmas stamps which are by the award winning book illustrator Kristina Segercrantz (graphic design by Olavi Hankimo) and show a snowy "Christmas Eve" with a little elf girl pulling her dog in the sledge, all lit by the glow of the reindeer's candle.  Then we have arrived at  "Christmas Morning" with the elf ringing out a joyful bell. No doubt the presents will be under the tree from 2012. 
Another book illustrator provided these happy gnomes delivering Christmas mail which appeared on the pre-stamped postcard Norway Post sent me wishing "God jul og godt nyt år!" (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year).  No need to  squint at the stamp because the postcard portrays a larger image
They are all wearing fingerless gloves, so much easier for sorting the post; I love the one in the side-car disappearing amongst the envelopes and peering at the address.  The artist is Kjell Midthun who has created lots of postcards, especially of Norwegian gnomes.  There are more of his gnomes here
Lastly here is one of Liechtenstein's "Mountain Chapels at Christmas" stamps who were painted by Erich Beck.  I was trying to decide whether it was a door or a window in the end of the building, the stamp shows a window but the photo makes it look as though it might be a door (which is where it would be on an English church).  Then I found this chapel had been featured before on a Liechtenstein stamp in 1964 and the entrance is actually around other side. Those handy wooden railings no doubt being useful to hang on to in icy weather.  This is St Theodul's Chapel at Masescha high over the Rhein valley near Triesenberg. The earliest mention of the chapel being here is in documents of 1465 so how marvelous to imagine all the people who have walked along this path for thousands of years.

Time to put on the yule log on this shortest day of the year and may it burn bright for all of you. 

An entry to Sunday Stamps, this week being hosted for the first time by Viridian Sky's See it on a Postcard

Saturday 13 December 2014

Sunday Stamps #200

There is a full tourist industry surrounding the story of  Ned Kelly and the postcard shows Kelly Country  in North-Eastern Victoria.  Whether one considers him a villain or a folk hero he is part of the psyche of Australia as a battle against the establishment and colonialism.  His life and death has inspired  many artistic works such as Peter Carey's novel The True History of the Kelly Gang and famously Australia's greatest artist Sidney Nolan (1917-1992) produced a whole series of painting on Ned Kelly in 1946 and 1947 which are the best known and loved of his work.  
The stamp shows one painted in 1946 showing a defiant Kelly in his  home-made plate armour, master of his domain and riding his horse into a wide deserted landscape.  The armour could protect him from bullets but not his capture and ultimately his hanging in Melbourne.  The series of  Nolan's 26 paintings today hang in a gallery specially built for them in the National Gallery of Australia.

This is an entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps on the theme of Art, a subject which started the meme way back in January 2011. Incredible that there have now been 200 wonderful opportunities to talk about stamps and 'meet' people across the world. All is not lost because the baton has been taken up by Violet Sky.  See you all next week on - See it on a Postcard.,

I'm posting this early because I'm away carrying Christmas parcels south, hopefully I'll manage to link up on my return.  

Sunday 7 December 2014


The first snow of the winter has not arrived yet but we have had our first hail showers so lets remember the summers by the sea. This miniature sheet was part of this year's Seaside Architecture issue, its decorative image shows the longest pleasure pier in the world, Southend.  It is 2.158 kilometre (1.341 miles) long and Santa is there at the moment bringing along his winter wonderland.  Like all piers it has had it share of disasters, the most recent being a fire in 2005 but everything is tickety-boo at the moment.

The stamps show:-
Top left - Llandudno Pier, the longest in Wales and is considered the finest surviving Victorian Pier in the country because it has been relatively disaster free.  When English Heritage gave it its listed status they described its style as 'Indian Gothic'.
Top right - Dunoon Pier in Scotland.  Paddle steamers used to ply between here and Glasgow.  Amazingly a paddle steamer is still taking passengers down the Clyde, and this is the Waverley (launched in 1945).  In 1977 she made her first trip away from there to celebrate the centenary of Llandudno Pier, sailing down to Fleetwood, Liverpool and then  Llandudno. 
Bottom left - Brighton Pier which is in actuality called Palace Pier because there used to be more than one at Brighton but this is the survivor and which, as can be see,  has a wonderful helter-skelter on it.
Bottom Right - Worthing Pier.  This has had the usual disasters of fire and storm damage but it must be the only one which was deliberately damaged when they blew a hole in it in World War 2 to prevent it being used in the event of an invasion. The stamp shows the 1935 amusement pavilion.

An entry to Viridian Postcards's Sunday Stamps theme of anything you like here

Sunday 30 November 2014

Island Birds

Guernsey and its smaller islands (the bailiwick) has about 80 breeding species of birds but its location in the Gulf of St Malo means that it has many visitors and upwards of 200 species are recorded in the Channel Islands every year.

7p Firecrest of which it was discovered when they did a count that Guernsey has more breeding pairs than those in England.  This pretty little bird is popular with Guernsey post because it has made another appearance on a more recent issue.
5p Gannet, having a squawk on the stamp but sitting peacefully on the FDC
11p Dartford Warbler - a bird of heathland which is shown perched on a gorse bush
13p Spotted Redshank

With such a diversity of habitats in a small area and perhaps the prospect of a paddle in a sea kayak to spot the puffins I imagine the Bailiwick is the perfect place for a birding holiday.  The Fat Birder says of the Channel Islands visitors

"The Channel Islands are a huge motorway cafe for migrating and over wintering birds. Falls of birds occur during the spring and autumn migrations and during hard winter weather huge movements of birds pass through when they are escaping frozen conditions on mainland Europe and Britain".

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

Sunday 23 November 2014

Sit on It

2009: Design Classics
I imagine we have all sat on one of these because it is estimated that over 14 million (and counting) of them have been made since its launch in 1963.  Designed by Robin Day this polypropylene stacking chair was one of the first chairs manufactured by injection moulding.
As the winter nights lengthen perhaps a little light is required.  George Carwardine was a car designer specialising in vehicle suspension systems when he designed and patented the anglepoise lamp in 1932.  He manufactured it himself until demand became so great that he arranged for it to be made by the Terry Spring Company, who still make a version of it today.  Originally designed for the working environment Carwardine adapted it for use in the home in 1935 and in 1937 the patent was bought by the Norwegian lighting designer Jacob Jacobson who continued to develop different versions throughout Scandinavia.
2014: Sit Comfortably!
I like the imaginative double images of these booklet stamps which highlight five modern Swedish furniture designs.  The stamps were designed by Hans Cogne, professor of graphic design and engraved by Martin Mörck and Piotr Naszarkowski.  Hans Cogne also designed the FDC and cancel.
Top row left : A chair called 'Hug' designed by Anna von Schewen who wanted to give the feeling of sitting in someone's arms and received the Excellence in Swedish Design Award in 2002.  The chair design (top middle) by Carl Malmsten (1888-1972) was inspired by a pair of old lathe Windsor style chairs during a visit to Finström Church on Åland and has become one of the most popular pieces of furniture in Sweden. The church itself has also been featured on an Åland stamp with a suitably snowy landscape.

  Yngve Ekström's (1913-1988) beautifully curved piece of furniture (top right) was voted 'Swedish Furniture of the Century' at the turn of the millennium.  A comfortable chair is what Gunilla Allard (1957-) was aiming for, her goal to make a small armchair as compact as the seat in her English sports car (bottom left). Lastly, bottom right, is an aluminium chair which was the first in production for Mats Theselius.
1992: Antique Cape Furniture

As a contrast here are some South African stamps on antique furniture from the Cape area used by the Dutch settlers. The 17th Century furniture in Cape Town workshops were made using imported wood and influenced by the styles in Holland and are known by the term Cape Dutch.  The country districts of the Cape such as Stellenbosch had Dutch style homes which were furnished with pieces made from local workshops and wood.
The styles continued to change through time but were still influence by European designs and trends.

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

Sunday 16 November 2014

Look to the Skies

The European Space Agency landing the Philae craft on a comet this week gave me the the idea to show a couple of Maximum Cards with the "Europe in Space" stamps from 1991.  Philae has now gone to sleep and will need sunlight to wake it up, they have rotated the solar panels and left it to fate.  The craft was named after Philae a rocky island in the middle of the Nile, famous for its temple which was moved when the water of the Aswan dam was going to submerge it. Here are some other rocky outcrops but these are the mountains of the Faroe Islands with one of my favourite weather events in the high hills, a temperature inversion, when you float above the clouds with feet firmly on the ground.  The stamp
shows a weather satellite and a weather map, appropriate for a place whose weather can change dramatically more than once in a day.  Possibly not the best place to journey to for next year's total solar eclipse in March but then you can't look directly at it anyway, so a nice layer of cloud cover might be just the thing. That is how I viewed my last solar eclipse in the UK, through cloud. Interested in what the weather is like on the Faroes today? Go here
Next is a card with a map of the Faroe Islands overlaid on the night sky.  I imagine they have beautifully dark skies to star gaze. The stamp cancel
has just that activity. The stamp features a Viking ship with a star map showing the North Star by which these fine navigators would steer their ships at night.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps "Anything You Wish" theme here

Sunday 9 November 2014

Berry Nice

2005: Cloudberries
If I hear the words Lingonberries or Cloudberries it conjurers up an image in my mind of Scandinavians sitting down together outdoors to eat the spoils of the wild, I suppose there would have to be roll mops on the menu and of course potatoes with dill, or perhaps I have watched too many Scandi dramas.  The stamps, or more accurately frama labels, were from a series on berries but I only have the cloudberry, a plant that grows in bogs and marshes and can tolerate extreme cold and despite its demand in Scandinavia is still primarily a wild plant.  The artist is Emilie Hage who also produced the theme that followed the berries, that of garden flowers.
2014: "Amongst Berries and Leaves"

     Staying in Scandinavia is a pretty set issued this year by Sweden which in fact only plopped through my door on Friday, oh happy day.  The artist, Jesús Verona (originally from Madrid but living in Stockholm) picked berries, flowers and leaves in gardens and forests and built a composite picture.  He has included some elements to surprise the viewer, a few porcelain mushrooms on a branch and small balloon berries plus a little balloon bird. The text is deliberately positioned at different angles so the user can rotate the stamp and place it anyway they like. I imagine the Swedish Mail Art fraternity will have fun with these.
Humans are not the only lovers of berries and they appear on some on the long running Birds definitive stamps of Belgium.  The nuthatch is from one of the first series of 1985, all illustrated by André Buzin.  They are so loved that there is even a special website dedicated to them - De Vogels van Buzin.
Fieldfare (from the 3rd series)
The fieldfare journeys from Scandinavia in search of warmer winter weather and the flocks start arriving in October, hawthorn hedges with berries are a particular favourite with them.
1995: Christmas Robins
The bird that always has a place in our hearts and stays all year long and who will brighten up any winter day is here portrayed by the wildlife artist Kenneth Lilly (1929-1996).  I am slightly amused by the fact that the only word of the cancel I can read is 'cheap', perhaps it should say cheep.  Ken Lilly specialised in portraying birds but he was a prolific illustrator and is famous for his contribution to the children's Look and Learn magazine which was published from 1962 to 1982 and  I remember mostly for its use of vivid colours.  Holly berries shine red amongst the glistening green leaves on a winters day when I wonder how it is possible that fragile birds survive the cold so don't forget to feed them,  for who knows an angel may come to your table.  
1985: Christmas Angels
An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme - Fruits of the Forest, nuts and berries here

Sunday 2 November 2014


"The king was unable to wait
The earth trembled, the sun rose - 
and only the nine islands of the Azores
and the Seven Cities remained,
later divided in two, one green and the other blue"
 For the Europa 2010 theme of Children's Books Portugal and its autonomous regions decided to go way back in time to traditional tales, rimances and  legends..  Rimances is a word I've never heard of before but I learn that they are short epic poems. This miniature sheet contains part of one such rimance from the Azores called the Lake of the Seven Cities (Lagoa das Sete Cidades).

In present times the two lakes inside a massive extinct volcano crater is a must see tourist destination in the Azores but the story which the miniature sheet shows tells the tale of the two lakes, one green and one blue, whose colours were caused by a princess and shepherd weeping when their love was thwarted by the King and the lakes took on the colours of their eyes. (The full legend is here).  The Legend of the Seven Cities is similar story to the lost cities of Atlantis.  Perhaps these were the seven cities created by Portuguese seamen fleeing from the Moors who went west into the Atlantic and were never seen again.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps which this week is "anything you wish"

Sunday 26 October 2014

Workers of the World

2013: Europa - Postman's Van
For the 'Professions and Trades" theme this week of course my first thought was of  the person we look forward to each day, Postie, and here we see three of them on their rounds.  The one featuring a postman on his bike and the one pushing a trolley looks to be by the side of the River Liffey in Dublin. An Post operate one of Ireland's largest fleets of motor vehicles and the green van is a familiar sight in town and country. The stamp design is by Steve Simpson working with the photographer Harry Weir.

Of course I always want to see stamps on my post so lets pay a visit to the printer
although in this case they are printing books.  This is from a series of definitive stamps issued by Yugoslavia in the 1950s featuring numerous workers at their trade.
In 1969 Belgium celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the International Labour Organisation with a stamp featuring a 1950 painting by Fernand Léger "Les Constructeurs".  The ILO was founded in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles in the  wake of World War 1 its objective was, and is, to "pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based in social justice".
So here is a bit of equal opportunities and perhaps could be working below the builders on the construction site, there certainly seems to be a ladder behind them, which may be made of wood
The building will have to be wired up so here comes the electrician
From all the hustle and bustle of the building site perhaps its time to retire to the hubble bubble of a chemistry laboratory
for in the 1950s Czechoslovakia also produced engraved definitive stamps on occupations, although I don't have many of this particular set, unlike the Yugoslavian ones which I think were issued for a longer time and in various printings, colours and denominations which may be the reason I seem to have rather a lot in my childhood album. 
Time to take a walk into the countryside and watch the fields of sunflowers being picked.

And then pay a visit to see other Professions and Trades at  Viridian Postcard's Sunday stamps meme here.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Autumn Dreams

1971: Maple Leaf in Four Seasons
The leaves are falling, time for a walk in the woods
2006: Seasons
with the burnished autumnal colours crunching underfoot leading along winding pathways.
2003: Mushrooms
Perhaps its time for a mushroom hunt. On the left the delicious chanterelle and on the right Boletlus edulis, the cep, which is sometimes called a penny bun in England but the Facit stamp catalogue has it listed as Karl Johan which intrigued me. It seems the reason is the French born King Charles XIV John (King of Sweden and Norway) popularised its use and cultivated it in the grounds of his residence, the Roserberg Palace and so it is named after him. 

We have been having some marvellous fiery autumn sunsets recently and one appears on a Finnish stamp
 with the added magic of flying swans
This is part of a five stamp miniature sheet issued in 2012 called 'Autumn Dream' described as "surrealistic" it is possibly a vision of the perfect Autumn.  The full dreamlike sheet can be seen here

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of -  Country Life/Harvest/Autumn