Sunday 28 September 2014

Extreme Sports

If you were to skip into the post office in Finland there would never be a disappointment of the stamps on offer and not only that but  international stamps can be bought all in one handy booklet. I dream of such moments (they had even run out of international stamps last time I was in a UK post office). This is the cover of the stamp folder that Eeva sent me from Finland which she says are about "extreme sports"; lets turn the page
and discover the stamps inside, including their air mail stickers plus a description of the sports.
Posti's website calls this set 'Finnish Oddity', sports that are just the thing for those fun filled long sunlit days of summer - wife carrying, boot throwing, air guitar, old geezer carting, ant nest sitting and swamp football.   The designs are by the Finnish painter Bruno Maximus who is influenced by surrealism, his style is described as "hypnotic, dreamlike realism".  I've seen another painting of his of the ant sitting 'sport' with a giant human sized ant which is even funnier.  Believe me nothing moves me as fast to a standing position as discovering I've parked myself by an ant's nest whatever size the ant is.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps, more to see here   

Sunday 21 September 2014

Horns Out of Africa

Eastern Transvaal and Kwa/Zulu Natal
Two of the 1995 South African 'Tourism' series featuring one of the top reasons I would want to travel there, the wildlife.  Helpfully the stamps include a map so I'll know exactly where to head for.   The artist is the South African wilderness sculptor and painter Alan Ainslie who has designed stamps for various countries not only featuring wildlife but also well know people.
In the same decade as the 'Tourism' stamps South Africa's definitives were featuring endangered animals and these are ones from the 3rd series.

 For the completist the various South African definitives series throughout its history offer a dizzying variety of printings, gum, perforations, booklet and sheet stamps.  I noticed that the impala on the right has a franking date of 2000 which is the year when South Africa definitives changed to the wonderfully colourful birds, fish and flowers series. 
Waterbuck and Blue Wildebeest
An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of - Mammals

Sunday 14 September 2014

Ski and Microcars

"1923 Scania-Vabis Post Bus". Åland Exhibition Card 2013
My first thought on seeing this Swedish Post Bus was how I would love to get behind the wheel, although to be perfectly honest it was really my second thought because the first one was - whoa no way - what is that contraption?  What would have skis on the front. half track rear wheels and be topped it off with little curtains on the windows?  The answer was a 1923 Post Bus manufactured by  Scania-Vabis, a Swedish truck and car manufacturer from 1911 to 1968.  There was no way snowy conditions were going to stop the Swedish post getting through.

This is an  Åland Islands Exhibition Card from when they took part in the  October 2013 Norrtälje Stamp Fair in Sweden.  For each Stamp Fair Åland Post attend they produce a unique Maximum Card, which I think is normally on the Europa theme of the year, and of course last year it was the Postman's Van.  I seem to remember that this year they are doing clock towers which chimes nicely with this year's theme of musical instruments.
"2012 Ligier Be Sun". Åland Exhibition Card 2013

For the Paris Salon d'Automne Stamp Fair (which takes place every year in the first half of November) Åland Post featured a100% electric vehicle the 'Be Sun', manufactured by Ligier, one of whose specialities is microcars.  With a top speed of 45 km/h it means that in some parts of Europe the Be Sun can be driven without a licence. Costing about €10,000 it can carry 200 kg in its rear pod so plenty of room for post (they also do a pick up version). Ligier sold 110 of the ones portrayed on the post card to the French Post Office.

Going back in time to some early microcars -
these made their journey back to the Isle of Man this year, the place where they were originally manufactured by Peel Engineering. Their destination was the Manx Transport Heritage Museum based in the town of Peel hence the event name, 'Peels to Peel' Festival'.
Owners of the P50, Viking and Trident models travelled from the mainland to join up with those on the island and a full schedule of events took place over three days to commemorate fifty years since most of the Peel cars were made. (The stamps used on the cover were a set originally issued in 2006).  Peel Engineering were a boat builder who started to work with a 'new' material called glass-fibre in the 1950s.  Being based in the Isle of Man it is no surprise that as glass fibre developed they started to produce a successful line of  motor cycle fairings including ones for the motor bike legend Geoff Duke. After developing an unsuccessful three wheeler car prototype in 1955 Peels tried again in 1962 to target the city small car market and designed a single seater called the P50 (28p stamp above), the first production car ever manufactured on the Isle of Man which also currently holds the world record for the smallest automotive ever to go into production (54 inches (137 cm) long and 41 inches (104.1 cm) wide, weighing 130 lb (59 kg).  It is thought that about 28 of these survive today.  Encouraged by the sale of the P50 Peel Engineering developed a two-seater model known as the 'Trident' (31p stamp above) which had the same 50cc engine as the P50.  Those of us of a certain age would call these bubble cars.  Today about 30 Tridents still survive.      
Around 1966 Peel Engineering developed a fibre glass body shell aimed at the 'kit car' market and latched onto the fact that a large number of BMC Minis were starting to suffer badly from corrosion. The 'Viking Sport' (38p stamp) used the running gear and components from a standard Mini but had a Sports GT body.  Today the Viking Sport is a very rare car with only seven known surviving.  The 41p stamp shows a fibreglass mini built under licence in Chile for the manufacturer of the mini (BMC), who contracted with Peels for their expertise in fibreglass to provide production tooling for the plant.  
The early days are shown on the high value stamps - the 54p stamp shows the prototype that never went into production.  The doors were pivoted in the bottom rear corner, a third door gave access to a flat 16 cubic feet boot space which also had a trap door for access to the engine (a 322cc British Anzani twin cylinder two stroke), and that is not all for it had a foot well fitted to allow two children to be carried behind the main seats. The P1000 on the 94p stamp was Peels first production body shell, a 'kit car' designed for fitting to a Ford 8/10 or Morris 8 chassis, in all about 500 were sold.

No rust and 100 miles to the gallon what do you think? See a Trident and a P50 being driven here

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of Automobiles and Motor Transport here

Sunday 7 September 2014

North America

2004: Arts and Crafts
The only jewellery stamp I could think  in my collection was this Navajo silver and turquoise necklace and I imagine it is a stamp that might be owned by many others. A 2 cent increase of  postage in 2006 meant the US Post, in anticipation of demand, reprinted this 2004 2c stamp as a 'make up' stamp and then, another 2 cent increase occurred the following year in 2007 so demand remained.  For all you would ever need, or perhaps want to know, here is a whole page on it and its variations from Philatelic Mineralogy.

The fact that this is Navajo jewellery got me thinking that perhaps I might have some cultural artefacts from North America and thanks to a series of Canadian stamps, which started in 1972 and continued until 1976 about various indigenous tribes I did.  The series started with the theme of
the 'Indians of the Plains'.  By coincidence I saw a exhibition in the Manchester Museum last year called Warriors of the Plains where I lusted after the soft moccasins and boots displayed. Only one piece of footwear makes an appearance on this stamp of artefacts photographed by Ray Webber of objects from the Royal Ontario Museum and the National Museum of Man.  L to R a club, feather headdress, woman's saddle, beaded saddle bag, a moccasin, decorated bison skull, a parflèche bag and a calumet or pipe.
The stamp series were issued se-tenant and another continuing theme was the Thunderbird  a symbol of divinity and the spirit guides of sun and thunder.  We travel further north with these and a harsher life with the 'Indians of the Subarctic' and portrayed is an Ojibwa Thunderbird with a decorative strip from the coat of a Naskapi.  The stamp on the right is of the Kutchin Tribe (painted by Lewis Parker) well wrapped up against the cold.
L to R drum, scorched caribou scapula bone, a mitishi (beaded charm), woman's hat, decorated bear skull, toy bear and a model canoe.  The canoe is Chipewyan and all the other objects are Montagnais-Naskapi.

Next is 'The Algonquins' a family of languages spoken over a wide area of Canada
and the stamp shows the Miemac painted by an unknown person as they fish and live by the water where in common with other Algonquins birch bark was used extensively for all sorts of objects such as canoes, wigwams and containers.
L to R Tête-de-Boule birchbark basket, Ojibwa wooden papoose carrier, a pair of snowshoes for a Montagnais child, a Malecite birch bark basket, a Montagnais birch bark box, Montagnais knife and a Micmac birch bark basket decorated with porcupine quill work.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of Cultural Artifacts especially jewellery here