Sunday 29 March 2015


A view of a pristine forest landscape in China.  After the establishment of the Chinese People's Republic in 1949 large scale afforestation activities by co-operatives and communes were encouraged and this set of stamps of 1958 called  "Afforestation Campaign" coincided with the central government issuing a call for large scale afforestation by the establishment of forest farms and mobilisation of the public.  This was against a rather schizophrenic backdrop of large areas being degraded with over-logging to meet the demand for timber to feed the "Iron and Steelmaking Campaigns" and "The Great Leap Forward" in the 1950s and 60s, as well as pressure on land for firewood and grazing.
So here in the depths of a forest we have a Forest Patrol who were not only trying to combat illegal logging and grazing  but also protect against another problem, that of fire.
Of course in managed forests tree felling continued, not only for wood but to create fire-breaks
and tree planting continued.  The 'Great Cultural Revolution' from 1966-76 brought much instability and the forestry administration descended into chaos

We arrive in 1980 with another campaign called "Afforestation of the Motherland" and this stamp shows an orchard.  In the present day, China and Vietnam are the only countries in the Asian region to increase forest cover, and China is on target to cover 23% of its landmass by 2020. This is not to say everything in the garden is lovely for there has been concern that not enough is done to protect the natural forests and their biodiversity and there is too much emphasis on plantation forestry and non indigenous trees, something familiar to me in my own county.
Here is a green and pleasant land with a highway lined with trees. 70% of the forested lands had poor road access and transport was difficult in the mountainous and hilly terrain so
aerial seeding was tried first in Wuchuan county in Guangdong in 1956 which led to a nationwide adoption of aerial seeding shown here in the 1980 stamp with an Antonov An-2 biplane sowing its seeds.
And the needs of industry and forestry are combined in this view of planting around factories and mines.
1980s definitive - 'North-east forest"
But lets move out of the depths of the forest and journey into the Pacific Ocean and the lap of waves and the islands of New Caledonia
Pointe des Paletuviers

 where 80% of the western coastline of the Grande Terre has those forests that live between water and land and the rhythm of the tides - mangroves.  The stamp, in various colours, denominations and overprints was used from the 1920s until the 1940s but I have been unable to find a photograph of the place it portrays, Mangrove Point or the Bay of Mangroves, but by accident found that it may actually be Pointe in Harcourt Bay.

An entry to Violet Sky's Sunday Stamps II theme of Woodlands, forests, parks and gardens, more here

Sunday 22 March 2015

Sea View

t2012: Europe - "Visit"
Here is where the tourist and indeed the photographer would head for a view of the Grand Harbour of Malta, the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Only a set of se-tenant stamps can fit it all in - the Three Cities opposite with the Fort of St Angelo in the centre.  In the foreground are part of the Barrakka Garden's 'Saluting Battery', which forms part of Valletta's old fortifications built in 1566 by the Knights of St John.

For a harbour with a more peaceful history lets travel to one of Malta's other islands, Gozo
where the fishing village of Mgarr basks in the sunlight on this miniature sheet. This was a joint issue between the northernmost and southernmost islands in Europe (Iceland and Malta) with the theme of "Fishing Villages".  Unfortunately I don't have Iceland's contribution which was of  Húsavík (see here).  In fact I discovered that I don't have any Icelandic fishing villages amongst my stamps so instead I'll include a stamp that is unrelated to either fish or fishing but is one of my favourites
portraying the hardy Icelandic pony/horse first brought to the island by Norse settlers. It is also an opportunity for me to show some map stamps of the Atlantic Ocean and its islands
1962: Transatlantic Telephone Cable
The first Icelandic telegraph cable was laid linking Iceland to the Shetlands and Faroes in 1906 and it failed in 1962 which by coincidence was the date this stamp was issued to commemorate the inauguration of the Transatlantic telephone cable via Iceland which started near Oban and ended in Newfoundland .  This too would suffer damage in the northern waters by icebergs and fishing vessels.

For two views of the Atlantic across time here is Iceland's stamp issued for their participation in Montreal's World Fair.  Considered the most successful Expo of the 20th century with its theme of 'Man and his world' Canada actually built an island for the event using 25 million tons of rock
1967: World Fair in Montreal : Maps of 1590 and 1967

1952: Portuguese Navigators - Map of c1471

and  I end travelling south  mid Atlantic in the archipelago of the Cape Verde islands.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme of - Islands - travel to more on See It On A Postcard here 

Sunday 15 March 2015

Everyones Gone to the Moon

2013: Newspaper Headlines
The Isle of Man chose for one of the significant headlines of recent history the moon landing of July 1969 from The Times which was celebrating its 225th anniversary in 2013.  The pictures look very crisp on the stamp but for those of us that were watching in 1969 one of the abiding memories is of the very grainy black and white pictures beamed from the moon to television sets around the world.
1988: Aviation Achievements
Although one sees stunning and awe inspiring photographs from the space today the excitement of the moon landings grainy images still stay with me.
By the time of Apollo 15 I was dreaming of bases on the moon as was Gerry Anderson who picked the likely year for his television series - Space 1999.  Similarly the 'envelope' above is in reality a postcard of the actual cover taken by the astronauts to the moon it was all a bit of a mirage.  I wonder who will ultimately set up that base on the moon?

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme of Time of Exploration Space hosted by Violet Sky here

Sunday 8 March 2015

Little Trains

2010:  "Great Australian Railway Journeys"
Here we are riding the rails on the West Coast Wilderness Railway through  the rainforest of Australia. This line is a remarkable survivor.  Originally built by the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company and opened in 1897 to carry copper from its mines it ceased to run on the 10 August 1963 when the rolling stock was dispersed to museums and the track removed, happily the bridges were left intact.  With the help of many funding sources and a lot of enthusiasm the line was restored to run again in December 2002 and some of the original locomotives returned, however the government removed funding support and once again its future was uncertain. Happily it reopened in 2014 so one can once again enjoy the spectacular views
as shown on this Maximum Card trundling through dense forestation above the King George River.  The reason I have chosen this card is because the photograph shows perfectly the rack and pinion system used on this narrow gauge track to be able to travel through mountainous terrain (steepest gradient 1 in 15).  To be more precise it is an Abt rack and pinion, invented by someone living in an even more mountainous country,  the Swiss engineer Roman Abt and first used on the Harzbahn, Germany in 1885.  It is also the system used on the Snowdon Mountain Railway which takes you to the top of Wales' highest peak, which brings me to another small train in a country which is full of narrow gauge tracks
2014: Classic Locomotives of Wales
and this Hunslet narrow gauge locomotive 'Blanche' who along with 'Linda' and 'Charles' worked between the Penrhyn Slate Quarry and Port Penrhyn
near Bethesda in Wales from the 1880s until 1962. Although Blanche is much altered mechanically since that time she and Linda are still working and carry passengers on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highlands Railway.   Their brother Charles is in the Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum.

An entry to the Sunday Stamps II theme of "Riding the Rails", travel to Violet Sky's "See it on a Postcard" to see more here.       

Sunday 1 March 2015

Heads and Tales

1961: Greek Stamp Centenary
The Greeks had a lot of history and mythology to choose from  when they deliberated in 1860 on the image they wanted to appear on their first stamp in 1861, but they made the perfect decision with this beautiful portrayal of Hermes, the messenger of the Gods, and they celebrated that choice in their anniversary stamp above.  I have none the stamps from the first forty years of Greek philately which encompassed various changes from the one shown on the centenary stamp, commonly called the Large Hermes, then the Small Hermes and latterly the Flying Mercury. The oldest Greek stamp I have was the one produced in 1911 to replace the Flying Mercury
with what is commonly called the "Engraved Issue" and here we have Hermes the messenger once again, although his head seems to be supporting something that looks more like a hat or hover-board than wings on his head.  There were different portrayals in this definitive issue, the one of Hermes face (as shown), his statue and the statue of  Iris the Rainbow goddess, all designed by Professor of Numismatology, J Svoronos (1863-1922) and G Jakovides (1853-1932), (The Greeks don't have a J or G in their alphabet so you can take a choice whether to replace the J and G with an I in these names) engraved in London by Thomas McDonald then printed in Corfu by the Gerasimos Aspiotis Brothers.   Professor Svoronos would design the commemorative stamps for the 1896 Olympics, which were  used as one of  the ways of funding the first games of the modern era.
"Youth's Head"
Greece with her rich history continues to use classical themes and in the 1950s their definitives were taken from "Antique Arts" depicting heroes and other themes from Ancient Greece. 
Alexander the Great
This portrait of Alexander the Great is as he appears on a coin, the Lysimachos tetradrachm.  Following Alexander's death in 323BC his generals divided the vast empire between themselves but not after lots of squabbling and the turmoil of the Successor Wars.  The image of Alexander played an important part as his successors tried to cast themselves as his heir.  Lysimachos was allotted the Kingdom of Thrace in Northern Greece, later adding parts of Asia Minor (modern Turkey).  Reigning from 306-281 BC he produced some stunning silver and gold coins but I have only seen photographs of the coins with their amazing raised surfaces, although I must have waltzed past many in museums without taking any notice.

Staying with coins here are some from the 1959/1963 definitive set which portray ones even older and show the gods
Jupiter's Head and his Eagle (Olympia 4th Century BC)
Athene and her Owl (Athens 5th Century BC)
Apollo and his Lyre (Chalcidice, Macedonia 4th Century BC)

  An entry to the Sunday Stamps II theme of - Faces - hosted by Violet Sky here