Sunday 25 May 2014

Fly the Flag

The Faroe's flag was first flown officially in war.  When Denmark was occupied in April 1940 British troops had to act quickly to ensure the islands in a strategically important area (at the time under Danish control)  were not occupied by the Germans.  British troops landed on the islands in April 1940 in an operation codenamed 'Operation Valentine'.  As it turned out this was a prophetic name because one of the results of what has been called "the friendly invasion" was ultimately lots of marriages between local Faroese girls and British soldiers.  A figure of 170 has been quoted.

The flag shown on the stamp was devised by Jens Oliver Lisberg with two other Faroese students while studying in Copenhagen in 1919 and was first raised for a wedding in June of that year.  By the 1930s it was in common, but unofficial, use.  With the events of 1940 the British government approved and recognised the flag for use by Faroese vessels to distinguish them as friendly ships.

The Faroes sailors provided vital food for Britain during the war and they fed Britain by sailing for fish. This was at a cost for the waters around the Faroe islands were patrolled by German U Boats and drifting sea mines were a considerable problem.  The two ships shown on the mini sheet both were lost.
On the left is the trawler 'Nyggjaberg' torpedoed and sunk on the 28 March 1942 near Iceland and the worst single loss of Faroese life with 21 seamen. The sailing ship is the schooner 'Sanna' sunk by a German aeroplane in 1942 north of the Faroes with a loss of 8 lives. In all 210 Faroe sailors lost their life at sea and a monument was erected to them at Tórshavn in 1956.
After the war the Home Rule Act of 23 March 1946 was passed by the Danish parliament and the flag was now official, but the Faroe Islanders celebrate Flaggdagur on the original day it was first flown and recognised by another country, 25 April, a national holiday. Its creator did not live to see the occasion for he had died in 1920 of pneumonia and is buried at Fámjin where the church displays the original copy of the flag or Merkið , which means 'the banner' or 'the mark'.  The white symbolises the pure sky and the foam of waves breaking against the island and the red and blue are colours found on other Nordic nation's crosses.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme inspired by Memorial Day.
Stamps commemorating a person or event worth remembering here.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Delivering the Mail

Coming out of Holker Hall gardens having enjoyed the rhododendrons in full flower I stopped to take a photo of the Victorian postbox and with perfect timing postie parked his van across the road, walked down the hill  and towards the door of this house in Cark post in hand.  My cup runneth over.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Sunny Days

We are having beautiful warm weather and the forecast is good so the shorts and summer tops are out, just like these people in Finland making their way across to the island of Seurasaari.  Located just a few kilometre from Helsinki the island has been described as "a tranquil oasis in the midst of the city".  The traditional Finnish way of life is displayed in cottages, farmsteads and manors of the last four centuries in buildings that have been relocated from all over Finland. 
"Open air museum, Seurassaari, Helsinki"
and are scattered amongst the forest landscape of the island. The stamp is one of two on the theme of 'Tourism' issued in 1991, the 9th time of Norden, when the Nordic countries of Finland, Faroes, Greenland and  Åland issued stamps on a common theme. On midsummer's eve a huge bonfire is built on a small isle off the coast of Seurasaari and a newly wedded couple is rowed to the island in a traditional rowing boat and they will light the bonfire to great celebration.
Here is the largest lake in Finland, the Saimaa, and a lovely old boat making its way along some of its 1,700 square miles.
Steamer on lake Saimaa
The back of the card paints a most inviting picture when it says "Cruising in Saimaa Lake District offers unforgettable experiences in a labyrinth of islands and lakes - a most typical Finnish scenery.  Cruising on Saimaa also reminds us of the time of old romantic steamers, when ships were an important means of transport in this area".

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps "anything you like" theme here.

Sunday 11 May 2014

Its Spring Again

Yes its spring again and this red squirrel is enjoying the blossom. It is one of this year's 'Congratulations' set designed by Kaarina Toivanan who is well know for her woodland creatures and has designed other stamps for Finland Posti such as the Christmas Elves. The 'Congratulations' stamps come in a book with matching 'priority' stickers, the one that Eeva attached on her envelope to me was of red berries which I am sure the squirrels enjoy as much as humans do.
More blossom covers the trees on this German stamp.  In 2006 they issued one stamp for each season throughout the year and for summer it was a field of flowering rapeseed.
The 'flowers' theme of Sunday Stamps is well timed for it is also the theme chosen for all this year's machine stamps or 'post and go'.  The nearest machine to me is about a hundred miles away and I have never actually attached any to an envelope, or indeed seen a machine, so instead here they are on a FDC. One of the first blossom to appear as we emerge from winter is the blackthorn (bottom right), it stands out amongst the bare hedges and that is time for me to make a mental note of where it blooms well so a return can be made later in the year to pick sloes to make Sloe Gin for Christmas and of course to ward off winter colds.
2004: Greetings
How appropriate that the camellia appears on this German stamp for it was the German botanist Engelbert Kaemfer who first reported this 'Japan Rose' which grew wild in Asia's woodland but was also cultivated for the garden and we have been growing it in English gardens since the 18th Century.
The hot ticket for every gardener is the Chelsea Flower Show which celebrated its anniversary in 2013.  I don't think I would relish striding across a water feature with a crowd watching but the Queen is wisely concentrating where she is putting her feet on the stones.   The cover comes with a Lilium 'Lemon Pixie' flower stamp as photographed by Barbara and Zafer Barran together with a 'Celebration' stamp with attached label.  The label features a photograph of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee flower display in 2012 which had a Jersey stamp on the top.  The climate of the Channel Islands makes it perfect for growing cut flowers but a sight seen there and all around the coasts of the UK are the little
Guernsey Definitive c2008
Sea Campion which flower from March onwards.  They would have shrugged off the salt laden winds of winter for they are highly tolerant of salt and can even be found in drift zones. It does not show up on the scan but the flower is actually raised up from the stamp surface and has a slight glisten.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps whose theme this week is  - Flowers.

Friday 9 May 2014


Pond (1912) by Stanislav Zhukovsky
The postal service have decided to add an other mark to this card by putting it through their rubbing machine. Do they have a special machine to randomly mark cards?  Feckless.  Perhaps I should get out my brushes and colour in the water and reflection except I don't have the talent of the impressionist landscape artist Stanislav Zhukovsky (1875-1944).  He did not have a good time with the people in charge either as his fondness for lavish things made him suspect to the Bolsheviks so in 1923 he moved to Poland.  Maybe not the best of moves because during the German occupation of Poland in World War Two he was arrested by the Nazis and held in a transit camp at Pruszhow where he died in 1944.

Zhukovsky was born in Yendrikovtsy, Grodno Province of the then Russian Empire, now it is Belarus.   A collection of his "Russian Period" works are on display at the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus in Minsk. They had their own troubles with the Nazis as large parts of the collection were plundered and disappeared during WW2 however, as they put it, they have risen from the ashes and the present day collection continues to grow.  Apart from its little museum stamp the card came with

the 2013 History of  National Communication stamp.  The stamp features a dove symbolising the "elements of protection" and the other pieces featured in the design are philatelic items from the collection of Lev L. Kolosov

The stamp is one of series started in 2011 by the Communications Administrators, members of the RCC (Regional Commonwealth in the field of Communication), who signed an agreement on issuing postage stamps on a RCC theme. The stamps display the RCC emblem.   Its aim is to develop cultural, social and economic cooperation between states and to consolidate friendship between their people.  For the first issue in 2011 they celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the RCC, then in 2012 Belarus National Clothes. 

Sunday 4 May 2014

Two Artists One Centenary

Two artists born in the same year (1878) each got their own set of stamps in 1978 to celebrate their birth centenary. The first stamps to appear featured works by Boris M Kustodiev, the one above is  "Celebration in a Village".  Born in Astrakhan his subjects were of the Volga countryside he remembered from his childhood and youth and his fascination with village festivals.
He said " I do not know if I have been successful in expressing what I wanted in my works - love of life, happiness and cheerfulness, love of all things Russian - this was the only subject of my paintings..."
He visited Paris and Madrid in 1904, one of the works he painted there was (left) "Morning" but yearned to be back in Russia. In childhood after the death of his father his mother had rented a wing in a rich merchant's house so perhaps the opulent portrait on the right of the "Merchant's Wife Drinking Tea" (1912) is another memory.

He was depressed by the revolutionary events of 1905 and his contribution was drawing caricatures of the tsarist officials in satirical journals.  He started to paint the worker's struggle as well as producing book illustrations for Russian classical literature.  Developing tuberculosis of the spine he travelled to a Swiss clinic for treatment.  On his return to Russia he further expanded his oeuvre by painting calendars, book covers and stage scenery.
Post revolutionary Russia  gained him many commissions and he painted the work above from 1919-20 "The Bolshevik" as national hero portraying him as full of energy, strength and will.  Kustodiev continued to paint political subjects until his death in 26 May 1927.
Here is the set's miniature sheet with his self portrait of 1904-6 which brings us nicely to the other self portrait on the miniature sheet on the right of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, whose life has many similarities with Kustodiev.  Also born on the Volga in 1878 but in the village of Khvalynsk he was the son of shoemakers and took painting lessons from a local sign maker and icon painter. His ambition was to get into rail-road college but alas for him, but not posterity, he failed the entrance exam and turned back to painting.  His most famous painting is possibly the arresting
 "Bathing of the Red Horse"

A true Renaissance man who played the violin, wrote and tried to combine art and science his ambition was to synthesise the art of east and west; he also for good measure ran into trouble with the Russian Orthodox Church who destroyed some of his paintings. The painting on the left is "Petrograd 1918" and on the right "Commissar's Death".  The latter shows nicely his technique of spherical perspective which distorts the perspective, the viewer feels both high up at a distance yet close to the action while the globe curves in the distance. 

Petrov-Vodkin developed pulmonary tuberculosis in 1927 and had to give up painting (the oils affected his lungs) so he turned to writing and produced self illustrated and semi-autobiographical books which are highly regarded.  He died in Leningrad in 1939.
Left - "Rose Still Life" Right - "Morning Still Life"
His art was then largely forgotten but happily rediscovered in the late 1960s (when his books were also republished) and brought to the philatelists attention here in 1978. 

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of - Russia or former Soviet Union Countries

Thursday 1 May 2014


Lights twinkling and the reflecting in the water with fairytale towers rising above the water this postcard shows "The Kremlin in Izmailovo" Moscow.  But all is not what it seems.  Unlike the famous and historic Moscow Kremlin this one, sometimes called the "Unknown Second Kremlin"  is a mixture of Russian history and fairytale and is actually a recreation of a Tsar's Palace of the 16th and 17th Century, an open air museum of Old Russia, perhaps we would call it a Russian Disney.  The postcard also says "City of Masters" but I don't know what that means although an old Russian wooden church was relocated here, so maybe the masters refer to craftspeople. 

It is a popular place to get married and these building would certainly make a super backdrop in wedding photographs.   It is also a place to see folk art, visit the market and museums (including one devoted entirely to Vodka). 

Thank you Dasha for this Fairyland view