Sunday 29 June 2014

DIg It

1970: Archaeological Discoveries
The Halle State Museum houses the most important archaeology collection in Germany and this wonderfully preserved Germanic helmet from about AD500 is on display there.
Definitive 1960s "Queen Nefertari
Ones thoughts are drawn to Egypt when thinking of archeology and this stamp shows Queen Nefertari, one of the wives of Ramesses the Great, whose tomb is described as the most spectacular in the Valley of the Queens.
Princess of Tell-el-Amarna (about 1360BC)
In 1912 a dig located in the northern group of tombs near Cairo found a workshop and living quarters of a sculptor and his staff from the reign of Akhenaten and I think the stamp above shows one of the heads.  This is from a set of East German stamps called "Antique Art Treasures" issued in 1959 which also included
an Attic goddess from Greece (about 580 BC)
and the oldest artefact I show here on stamps which is the bronze horse of Toprak-kale, Armenia (present day Turkey) from the 7th Century BC.  These treasures are now in museums but I think that
many more treasures would be transported in the past along the road which starts from Chong'an (now Xi'an) and Luoyang, once capital cities of the Han (206BC-25AD) and Tang (618-907) which extends westwards to Europe and southwards to India from China.  This is "The Silk Road" set of of stamps China issued in 2012, no mention is made what the artefacts are but China Post have given the stamps suitably romantic titles Left to Right:
"Millennia old capital"; "The Magnificent Pass in the Desert"; "A Mysterious Kingdom" and lastly
"Extraordinary Scenery of the Western Region"

I do not have the miniature sheet which completes the set which is called "Exchange" but I imagine money was lost on this road and it seems to be a universal occurrence that it is coins which are things most likely to be found in the ground centuries later
1988: Ancient Chinese Coins (2nd Series)
It looks as though the  Chinese experimented with many different shapes of coins. I suspect their clothing did not have pockets for they all have holes which could perhaps be secured with cord.  The ones on the left and right are called shovel coins, the one in the middle has the descriptive title of  Monster Masque
Han Dan Shovel Coin and Pointed Head Knife Coin

 Ming Knife Coin, Jin Hua Knife Coin and lastly the Yi Liu Hua circular coin which is possibly the most familiar shape of old Chinese coins.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamp theme of Archaeology or Anthropology here

Sunday 22 June 2014

On Tour

This year's Tour de France Grand Depart in July  is from the north of England which will be just a short trip over the Pennines for me and I'm overexcited about that fact so I've chosen a cycling theme for Sunday Stamps. The above cover uses one of the 1978 Cycling stamps which featured what was then called The Milk Race, a road race named after the sponsors, the Milk Marketing Board.  The cover itself  is a commemoration of the World Cycling Championships which in 1982 were split between Goodwood and Leicester. (The distinctive striped jersey on the stamp is that of World Champion which will be worn for the year of racing by the winner of that accolade).  Leicester twice hosted the UCI World Championships in 1970 and 1982; both bikes and clothing have altered radically since then.
2012: Olympic Gold Medals
Here is Bradley Wiggins winning Olympic gold in the Men's Time Trial. Royal Mail issued stamps for all the gold medallists in super quick time reaching 500 key post offices by lunch time the day after the gold medal win, at least one of those post offices would be a branch in the winners home town. The year of 2012 was an amazing year for Wiggins as he also won the Tour de France
and the Isle of Man included him on their set celebrating the 100th edition of the race in 2013 ( bottom right).

The eight stamp images portray the great champions, starting on the top row with
  • 1p Eugène Christophe,, the first rider to wear the now famous Maillot Jaune of the race leader although he complained that the spectators called him a yellow canary.  Riding 11 tours he never won `overal victory but his career was full of incident such as the time he had to weld together his bike during the race. During World War 1 he was part of the French Cycling Battalion and was a pioneer of cyclo-cross. 
  • 40p The Manx Missile himself, Mark Cavendish wearing the green points jersey in the 2011 Tour.  He is the most successful sprinter in Tour de France history and has won many stages often propelled by his pedalling team mates when he he then takes off at high speed to the finishing line.
  • 42p Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage and pictured in the 1960 Tour. It is also significant because he is from Yorkshire where this year's Tour will start and is their cycling ambassador.
  • 60p Spain's Miguel Indurain who won from 1991 to 1995 (the stamp shows the 1992 Tour)
 Bottom Row L to R
  • 73p Jacques Anquetil, won in 1957 and then four in a row 1961 to 1964. The stamp shows him in 1963.
  • 108p Eddy Merckx, "The Cannibal' considered the greatest racing cyclist ever won on his Tour début in 1969 and would win five titles, the stamps shows him racing in the 1970 Tour.
  • 110p Bernard Hinault also won five times, injury preventing him from competing in some years, the stamp shows him in 1979.
  • 120p Bradley Wiggins, first British Tour de France winner in 2012.

For more than 50 years the Isle of Man has held the International Cycling Festival which has attracted many Tour de France riders to the island, and some of those featured on the stamps.  Its love affair with cycling continues for they are going to issue stamps and postcards for the Tour this year calling it "The Road to Paris". The ultimate destination being the iconic finishing point of the Champs-Élysées circuit when no doubt every Manx person will be urging Mark Cavendish to speed to the finish line and win the stage as he did his in his record breaking four years in a row (2009-2012).

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps here

Sunday 15 June 2014

Send in the Clowns

Here comes a 'helpful' clown to assist with the caravan wheel. Although not a great lover of the circus I do like the bit when the clowns come on in a car that keeps breaking down so I imagine this clown has great experience in mending motorised transport.
2013: Road Trip
Unusually the stamp shows more details than the postcard and expands the view outwards.  I like the joke pointing finger on the right and of course the little koala bear looking out of the window at the back. The first series of Australia Post's "Road Trip" in 2012 proved popular and they issued another set in 2013 but this time featuring urban centres of Australia. As can be seen by the banner this is Adelaide, sometimes called the City of Churches and Festivals so the artist, Gavin Ryan, has included both in his amusing view.  The four day WOMAD (World Music, Art and Dance) appears ever year in Adelaide.  For more of Gavin Ryan's art work of fantasy and humour see here.
1994: The Circus
With this stamp we have arrived at the circus and are inside the Big Top with a clown balancing dogs on a tightrope drawn by the graphic designer and illustrator Parvan Ioana
1989: 70th Anniversary of the Soviet Circus

Lastly, a clown with a name, Karandash, which means 'pencil'.  His real name was Mikhail Nikolayevich Rumyantsev (1901-1983) and was a hugely popular performer for 55 years, still working right up to the end of his life.  Karandash started off as an imitator of Charlie Chaplin but soon developed his own act with the same sort of hapless accidents but with satire and also his character tended to outwit his opponents.  The stamp shows him in his stage dress with a donkey and his Scottish Terrier, Klyaksa which means 'ink spot' or 'blot'. When he toured he learnt about the city he was visiting beforehand and fitted in references to parts of it into his act.  The appearance on the stamp for the Soviet Circus Anniversary is not only because of his popularity but also because he was also a teacher of clowns  (one of his students was Oleg Popov) and the Moscow Circus School is named after him.

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

Sunday 8 June 2014


2010: A Hundred Years of Aviation
Australia's early aviation history included this flight over Diggers Rest, Victoria in 1910 by the escapologist Harry Houdini.  He had imported a French Voisin biplane especially built for him and, as can be seen, it had his name on the tail.   After this Australian tour and some well-publicised flights Houdini put the Voisin in storage intending to fly from city to city during his next music hall tour but after his initial enthusiasm never flew again.   Unlike the RAF Red Arrows display team
who celebrate their 50th display season this year. The stamps significance is they always appear as part of the Isle of Man TT Festival with displays over Douglas, Peel and Ramsey and this year was no exception.  Coincidentally this week's Sunday Stamps theme falls just as the TT Motorbike Races finished on Friday.  The Red Arrow jets have specially up-rated Rolls Royce Turbomeca Adour engines and of course specially installed smoke generation systems for those red, white and blue smoke trails.  No major event goes by in the UK without a flypast by the Red Arrows.
The Belgian aerobatics team was called the Diables Rouges or in Flemish, Rode Duivels, but was disbanded in 1977, the year after this cover,  but has recently (in 2011) been reformed.  The Red Devils is also the nickname of the Belgian national Football team, who will be playing their first match of the World Cup on the 17th of this month and are favourites to win their group and progress to the second round.  RAF pilots always seem to have nicknames such as 'Bunny' Warren or Richard 'Dickie' Bird etc and  Belgian pilots are no exception as the one who has signed the cover was Lt Martial 'Stony' Vansteenkiste.

I have no idea why one of the first decimal currency regional definitive stamps for Northern Ireland was used on the cover but it does seem a bit random. The cover was flown at RAF Finnigley, decommissioned in 1996 as part of the defence cuts but later developed into Robin Hood International Airport which opened in 2005. RAF Finningley had a long flying history starting off in 1915 as the Royal Flying Corp military airfield.  Although the cover celebrates the Battle of Britain the airfield itself in World War II was part of RAF Bomber Command.  During the Cold War this would have been where the atomic weapons would have been taken out of store and put on aeroplanes. Yikes.   On a more positive note this was also where the RAF Search and Rescue teams operated from.

The Battle of Britain Air Display was first held at RAF Finningley in September 1948 and became the largest and most popular one day display of military hardware and aerobatics in the country. I found this photo of Belgium's 1976 Red Devils team on a site devoted to the different types of pilot helmets, yes really!
  From L to R, standing: Jean-Luc Storder, Martial 'Stony' Vansteenkiste, Charly Hubert, Guy Lambermont. 
From left to right, knealing: Gérald Dessart, Leo Lambermont, Phil Demoulin.

Coming back to the present day do you fancy a "Day Out with the Red Arrows"? 


An entry to Vridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of air planes here

Sunday 1 June 2014

Musical Instruments

2014: Europa - National Musical Instruments
I can never make up my mind which is my favourite stamp in the Europa stamps issued each year so never vote on the Post Europ site.  I think this year might be the exception as this set of Cyprus stamps designed by Ioanna Kalli  for the National Musical Instrument theme are so beautiful.
They show the pithkiavlin (Cyprus flute) which are made from reeds, each one has its own sound depending on the diameter and length.  It is the most ancient of Cypriot wind instruments and they have been found in archaelogical excavations such as at the Sanctuary of Aphrodite in Paphos, linking it in ancient times with celebrations and feasts in honour of Aphrodite and Apollo. The other stamp shows the laouton (lute) the principal musical instrument of Cyprus which is often accompanied by the violin in Cypriot dance melodies.
1966: Krishna Anniversary 
Next is the most famous flute player, the Hindu god Lord Krishna who is often portrayed as an infant or young boy playing the flute.  The stamp description in catalogues is "flute player and dancer" but perhaps it is Krishna and his consort Radha.  The stamp is for his birth anniversary which is one of the most important festivals for Hindus of the year.
1968: Polish Paintings
Marching around the corner is this 'Children's Band', a painting by Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932) which hangs in the National Museum, Warsaw. Makowski was a painter, illustrator, graphic artist and friend of Pablo Picasso.  He originally travelled to Paris intending to spend a year there but never returned home to Poland.  This painting of 1922 was made  in Brittany when he started to visit the French countryside and would lead to a series of painting with musical subjects in the late 1920s. Although he painted French landscapes there was always a feel of Polish villages.  (I apologise for the quality of the pictures but after a fight with my scanner I have had to take photos with my ipad which I need more practice at lining up).  From the fifes and drums to

1965: Musical Instruments
  the beat of Africa.  Here you can take your preference sit down and play the drum (left) or  put the strap on your shoulder (right) and beat out a rhythm.
Chad has an amazing variety of musical instruments and Northern Chad is known for its drums and stringed instruments.  As can be seen from the stamps these instruments portrayed are from the Chad National History Museum which was established in 1962 and has/had a notable collection of musical instruments. Unfortunately due to the instability of the country many of its artefacts have been lost or looted.  Despite this it has moved to new premises recently and someone on Trip Advisor has written  "If you have nothing to do in N'Djamena and want to take some pictures in a city where outdoor photography is forbidden, this museum is the place to go".

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of  - Music and Musical Instruments here