Friday 30 January 2015

Musical Mounties

The mounties may ride off into the sunset accompanied by music in films but here they are performing one of their musical rides, the first of which was performed at Regina barracks in 1887 and since 1904 there have been regular public performances across Canada.

The police officers will stay with the musical ride for three years, this means there is an annual rotation of 33 percent of the riders although there are 32 riders and horses in the team so I'm not sure how that works out, perhaps there is a spare.  There is an emphasis on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police site on the ability to meet the horses and riders but even if one were to miss the show and that opportunity then a tour of their Ottawa centre is on the cards - stables, tack room and of course, The Mountie Shop.

Sunday 25 January 2015

On the Rails

2012: 150th Anniversary of the Railway
The Allegro high speed train crosses a Finnish lake on its way from Helsinki and over the border onwards to St Petersburg and Finland Station (Russian stations are always called after their destination).  The journey will only take three and a half hours.  Those on board will have seen the giant statue portrayed on the stamp as they entered the portals of the Central Railway Station in Helsinki, for it is one of two sets that flank the entrance and the lamps they hold will shine down in darkness (which in winter I think will last a long time).  Depending on the source Helsinki Station is described as Art Deco, Finnish Art Nouveau or Finnish Romanticism but that is unimportant as it is considered one of the great railway stations in the world. I'm a bit of a collector of railways stations but what would also attract me about this one is that it is dressed in pink granite.  Designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1909 and opened in 1919 it is Finland's busiest station. The statues are by Emil Wikstrom whose house where he lived by lake and forest is now a museum.  Appropriate then that the picture is of a still clear day with a beautiful reflection of forest and train.   
2010: Great Railway Journeys
This stamp too has a 'reflection' but of shadow in the heat of an Australian day as it crosses the deep heart of the country.  This is the famous Ghan train which links Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north travelling 1851 miles and taking 54 hours with a four hour stopover at Alice Springs.   The card below shows the train as it travels through the MacDonnell Ranges which run east and west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territories..
The name 'The Ghan' is a diminutive of  the nickname The Afghan Express which is a nod to the Afghan camel drivers who arrived in the 19th century to help find a way to travel to the country's interior. The card is too 'busy' to show the cancel to any great effect but it is of a train riding the rails. 

An entry to Violet Sky's Sunday Stamps II theme of - Shaped Stamps or Australian stamps here

Sunday 18 January 2015


My first thought was of Belgium when seeing this week's theme of 'organisations' because they seem to have issued a lot of stamps on the subject, or maybe I have accidentally accumulated them all.  The stamp shown above was issued for the 60th Anniversary of the Workers International Sports Organisation in 1973 and shows the poster for the first international meeting in Ghent in  1913.  The war interrupted further meetings until they reconvened afterwards to put on the Olympiads as a socialist alternative to the Olympics. The red flag was used rather than national flags as portrayed on the stamp.  Another war once again interrupted the Olympiads when the 1943 meeting in Helsinki had to be cancelled.
As a contrast to the socialist ideals of  Workers Sports here is the 300th anniversary of the Royal Guild and Knights of St Michael in 1963.
Of course I can't miss out postal organisations so here is a 19th Century Mail Coach which appeared on the 1963 'Stamp Day' stamp, overprinted in 1966 with the emblem of the Federation of Belgian Philately Circles (top right).  I bet the stage coach driver galloping over muddy roads of the 19th Century would love a smooth one like this on the next stamp
1973: Anniversary of the VAB Motoring Organisation
1970: "New UPU Headquarters"
The road may ultimately lead to the 'new' Universal Postal Union Building in Berne.
Whose centenary Belgium celebrated in 1974 showing the US Postmaster General Montgomery Blair who called the first meeting in Paris which laid down the general principals of a union.  The task was completed by the German Heinrich von Stephan in 1874 with a conference in Bern.
1970: Anniversary of the National Housing Association
Lastly is a stamp showing a sculpture called 'The Mason' by George Minne (1866-1941) a Belgium artist famous for "his idealised depictions of man's inner spiritual conflict" which was completed in 1893 and now lives in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris,  After Belgium's brave defence of its country in 1914 Minne was one of the thousands of refugees who fled to the Netherlands, France and Britain.  Somehow Minne ended up living in Aberystwyth, Wales for the duration of the war.

An entry to Sunday Stamps theme - Organisations/Special Events - hosted by Violet Sky here  

Sunday 11 January 2015

Print It

There are four famous people all on the same envelope for this week's theme but lets starts with the main man, Thomas De La Rue, a name synonymous with the security printing of stamps and banknotes.  Born in Guernsey his first commercial venture was in 1813 when he published the first edition of Le Miroir Politique newspaper on the island then, some years later, in 1821 he moved to London with his printing business and produced playing cards, which I guess would have some security printing issues as at that time they were taxed; the Ace of Spades usually the chosen card to show the tax (which was abolished in 1960).  In 1855 De La Rue started to print postage stamps and Guernsey Post show some of these.  I don't know the reasoning behind the stamps they have chosen for the issue, it is also possible they were all engraved by Ferdinand Joubert (two definitely are), but lets take a look at the top row -
Queen Victoria makes two appearances, first on the 2p showing the Hong Kong two cents stamp, the first stamp issued there in 1862,  The next is the one the envelope also features, the GB four penny carmine issued in 1855 which must be the first stamp the company printed.
Bottom row shows the President of the Confederate States during the American Civil War, Jefferson Davis.  This was a stamp of 1862 which De La Rue shipped out to the Confederacy together with plates and white printing paper,   Next the 4p stamp shows Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, a stamp produced in 1863.

Although I only possess two of the set, (Maxim Gorky and Pablo Picasso) the following are amongst my favourite stamps
1968: UNESCO Cultural Personality's of the 20th Century"
showing caricatures of famous cultural personalities drawn by Adolph Hoffmeister (1902-1973) who it is said met, and drew, most of the famous 20th century Europeans.  Hoffmeister was one of those multi talented individuals who could do everything, poet, novelist, translator, editor and of course artist.  He edited one of the main Czech newspapers but also set up an anti fascist magazine in the 1930s which the Nazi's banned. Escaping from an internment camp during WW2  he arrived in New York in 1941 via Morocco, Lisbon and Havana. Returning to Czechoslovakia in 1945 although a leftist, he eventually fell foul of the communist regime and after 1968 became a "non person".
1989: Bicentenary of the French Revolution
Lastly in this sad week for France I thought this stamp of Jean-Paul Marat, radical journalist, politician during the French Revolution and advocate of the basic human rights for all would be appropriate - lets hope that wickedness will end and there is Liberty, Fraternity and Equality for all people.

An entry to the Sunday Stamp theme of Famous People/Portraits hosted by Violet Sky here     

Sunday 4 January 2015

Happy New Year

I think I have shown all the small number of New Year stamps I possess before, apart from this one, which shows the Kremlin Spassky Tower with its chiming and musical clock.  The lit up towers of Red Square must look beautiful on New Year's Eve.

I remember at the millennium we were shown New Year as it arrived first in the South Pacific and then watched as the world celebrated and time moved across the globe.  The most spectacular New Year's celebration were those of Sydney Harbour, and they continues to be so, how can you beat that stunning setting with the iconic bridge. It is estimated that 1.6 million came to watch down at the harbour and it always features on the news here. For those who like numbers this year there were 10,000 aerial fireworks, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 pyrotechnic events.

This stamp is celebrating Sydney itself  and there is a cake involved  -  
One of the stamps of the second series of 'Road Trip' which appeared in 2013 featuring Gavin Ryan's artwork which
makes me smile. 

An entry to Sunday Stamps hosted by Violet Sky's See It on a Postcard here.
The themes this week are - Astrology, New Year celebrations or a favourite that makes you smile.