Sunday 27 March 2016


2014: 'Easter Surprise' Designer Paivi Unenge
I hope you all have had Easter surprises like this little girl with her vibrant coloured eggs
Finland always has great Easter stamps and this year's arrived in the post to me this weekend with immaculate timing from Eeva.  An Easter Bunny complete with a basket of eggs and  Finland's other symbol of  Easter, new birch leaves. This stamp features Elli the bunny,  pet of the photographer Anna-Mari West who she has dressed up for the occasion with a yellow bow. This is Elli and Anna-Mari's first stamp
No spring is complete without gambolling lambs and Åland celebrated the the season in April 2013 with a set of three prepaid postcards which they described as "merry sheep enjoying spring" and because I'm lacking spring stamps I'll show the front, well that and the fact that they make me smile
The are painted by Ammi Kogius, her first commission for Åland Post. Trained in ceramics she lived in France for 25 years running a pottery shop but always drew the sheep around her.  When her hands became damaged by her work she took up painting and says she enjoys painting mischievous sheep. Born in Sweden, she grew up in Finland and now lives in Åland's capital.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Spring or Easter - spring forward for more seasonal stamps here

Sunday 20 March 2016

Forty Shades of Green

1932 Definitive
Enter the Lyrebird which despite those feathers dwells on the ground and only occasionally leaves it when gliding downhill. The artist decided for impact to portray it with its feathers erect, although most often they are folded in line with the body.  In season it will sing all day and is well known as a mimic of sounds.  They scratch through leaf litter with their feet to uncover their food of choice, insects, although they will occasionally eat things like frogs
1999: Small Pond
Australia's Stamp Collecting Month theme was a small pond and its inhabitants all painted by the Wildlife Artist Kevin Stead. The stamps feature the Magnificent Tree Frog (Litoria splendida), the largest tree frog in Australia which I think must have the best name for a frog.  Maybe it calls itself El Splendida. I always enjoy a word playing cancel, and this one is Hoppers Crossing (a suburb of Melbourne)  The other stamp is the Sacred Kingfisher, its name derives from the fact that in legend it was believed to have power over the waves. Its iridescent colour doesn't really fit this week's theme so  
1994: Definitive
 I will have to travel to Japan for a suitably green themed stamp which shows the black and white Greater Pied Kingfisher against a green canopy

1993: Endangered Fauna
The first stamp I found when searching for this week's theme was on the Australian FDC so my original intention was to populate my post with frogs but it proved harder than I thought. They all seemed to be multicoloured or brown, however I did find another green one, The Table Mountain Ghost Frog (heleophryne rosei) or Rose's Ghost Frog. As the name implies it is only found on the slopes of Table Mountain and has adapted to life in fast flowing mountain streams. The tadpoles (which take longer than a year to metamorphose) have sucker like mouth parts which they can use to climb up, or hold on to wet, vertical rocks .  You will notice the marvellously long toes of the adult frog which also provide a good grip on wet rocks.  The stamp is from one of my favourite South African series (I think there were three) of 'Endangered Fauna' and indeed this little fellow is on the critically endangered red list because its habitat is being degraded.

The next stamp is green in all the senses because it celebrates
1965: Reafforestation
    Japan's reafforestation programme whose goal was to maintain the country's biodiversity by planting native trees.
1959: Birds of the Homeland
No lurking Black Stork though despite its enormous range from Europe to Asia. Its environment of choice are wooded areas and marshy wetlands.  The stamp of course is from East Germany so here is one from the other side of the divide at the time
1956: Stamp Day
 from West Germany's Stamp Day celebrated with a pigeon carrying post.  I like the cross-hatching of the stamp. Staying with pigeons this one is perched in a South African tree (from their definitive series of Flowers, Fish and Birds)

The African Green Pigeon rarely comes down to the ground as it forages for fruit in the canopies of trees where it climbs the trunks like parrot.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - the colour green - for more shades of green See It On A Postcard

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Its Spring

Spring has arrived at last, the crocus and daffodils are in full bloom, the days are sunny with just a zephyr of a breeze.  I'm celebrating the turn of the season with a Chinese New Year postcard of miniature daffodils. 

Sunday 13 March 2016

Health and Welfare

A year after the Second World War, when the armed forces were returning home, New Zealand's Health stamps of 1946 were heavily symbolic showing a soldier lifting a child over a fence to a golden future, as one of the campaigns slogans of the time goes "on the road to happiness and health".  The stamp artist was James Berry a regular designer of the Health Stamps.

 New Zealand's Health Stamps first appeared in 1929, inspired by Denmark's Christmas Seals issued to raise money for charity; in New Zealand the charity chosen was the Children's Health Camps.   These camps were for children with nutritional or minor physical problems and during the depression years of the 20th Century giving holiday relief for families.  They have helped thousands of children over the years and are one of New Zealand's longest running social services, although the organisation has now changed its name to Stand Children's Service but still with the same remit to help vulnerable children.  Health stamps are still issued and in 2015 their message was about being careful not to get sunburnt -  'Being Sun Smart'  

The Health Stamps do not raise as much money as they did in the past (peaking in 1996 at $158,000) however going back in time the subject matter of the next two stamp set was chosen because of the popularity of the previous issues featuring the then Princess Elizabeth  
and so in 1944 the issue showed the two royal sisters, Elizabeth in the uniform of a Sea Ranger and Margaret as a Girl Guide (they would be aged 18 and 14 at this time). The photograph was by Dorothy Wilding (whose Queen Elizabeth portrait featured on GB's definitive stamps from 1952-1971).  The decoration is the unofficial national flower of New Zealand which grows on the native Kowhai tree.
Here is a service that relies on volunteers , blood donation 
1965: Campaign for Blood Doners
and in Japan, unlike the UK when you get a biscuit and a cup of tea after your gift of blood, in Japan you get a drink of your choice from a vending machine before you donate.  
1986: Blood Doner Campaign
The stamp on the right shows a blood doner session under the rather heavy postmark and on the left where "blood saves lives", an operation is in progress.
and next an ambulance man and accident victim.  I think the car's a write-off, although thanks to blood donation I read into the story, not the victim.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Health and Welfare - for a healthy option  See It On A Postcard

Tuesday 8 March 2016

International Women's Day

Inge Löök's freewheeling aunties always enjoy life something I wish for all on International Women's Day.  

I could never get to grips with hula hooping but the aunties appear to be able to do it with ease while walking up the stairs. 

Sunday 6 March 2016

Women of the World Unite

2016: Royal Mail 500

This smiling River Post Woman rowing up stream with a bundle of letters was one of the stamps issued recently for the "500 Years of Royal Post".  Her name is not know but the photographer is, Horace Nicholls (1867-1941), a freelance photographer who became Official War Photographer in the First World War and in this role many of his photographs portrayed women's contribution to the war effort on the home front.  He is generally  referred to as a Photographic Artist and this beautiful composition shows why. 

Nicholls specialised in social and sporting events, one of his most famous subjects was Britain's first female racing driver Dorothy Levitt and his images were used in her book of 1909  'Woman and The Car', here is the frontispiece. 
She was also the holder of the world water speed record so lets stay on the water with two more speedsters
 the Rowing Women's Pair who started Britain's winning streak of the London 2012 Olympic Games with the first Gold, Heather Stanning and Helen Glover.
2015: Comedy Greats
Another duo, but this time a comedy one, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, who I think would fit in quite well
2014: 100th Anniversary of Tove Jansson
in Moominland. A stamp from a miniature sheet celebrating the life of Tove Jansson, although most famous for creating the Moomins she always considered herself equally an artist and writer. She adored the islands of the Finnish archipelago and built a cottage on Klovharu Island in the Gulf of Finland, a much loved place despite its barren nature and the fact that fresh water had to be transported from the mainland.  The cottage features on the miniature sheet which can be seen on The Philatelic Blogger.

Here is just the person to have on a remote Finnish island, cooking up a storm, Moominmamma
2007: 'Summer in Moominland'
More island dwelling writers for Åland's 2009 'Authors' booklet of stamps starting with Ulla-Lena Lundberg 
whose works have been translated into several languages.  Her maritime trilogy about Åland shipping is referenced by the ship Leo on the stamp and deals with the sweeping changes in society from the 19th Century to the present day.  She has lived and travelled widely and also written about Africa and Siberia.

Next is Anni Blomqvist (1909-90)

born into a fishing family in  Vårdö, Åland Islands she also married a fisherman but in 1961 both her husband and eldest son disappeared on a fishing trip (their bodies were never found). To deal with this tragedy she began a diary which ultimately led to the publication of her first novel  in 1966  'I stormens spår' (After the Storm).  Two years later the first of five books she became famous for was published.  These are know as the  Stormskärs (Storm Island) series and were eventually made into a popular television series which brought them to a wider audience. The house shown on the stamp is a typical Åland house which would have been lived in by Maja, the fisherman's wife whose life on a remote island in the 19th Century is chronicled in the Storm Island series. Blomqvist lived in Vårdö,.for her entire life and died in her home which is now a museum and a yearly scholarship is issued in her name.

The stamps are by the Finnish artist Juha Pykäläinen who now lives in Åland (Sund) and has designed more than a dozen Åland stamps. .

Lastly is an economist who specialised in the problems of developing countries and was passionate about the environment and sustainable development,
2015: Remarkable Lives
Barbara Ward ,whose vision was for a fair, just and sustainable world .  She founded the policy research organisation the International Institute for Environment and Development in 1971 and her ideas reached a larger public with the publication of the book she wrote with Rene Dubos 'Only One Earth: Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet'.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Women - for more herstory see here

Thursday 3 March 2016

Cree in Alberta

Alberta Cree Indian

Dressed to impress both horse and rider.  The Cree are the largest group of indigenous people in North America but here the postcard says we are in Alberta, I wonder if those wooded slopes are the Rocky Mountains?  The Cree feather headdresses were copied from their neighbours the Sioux but originally their warriors wore porcupine roach, that is the porcupine hair, not the sharp quills which I imagine would have been a danger to both themselves and others.  Never having seen a porcupine in real life I am no authority on porcupine roach but this photograph sure looks like how I would imagine it
Chief Duckhunter (HS85-10-27759)
Chief Duckhunter by A. W. Gelston via Wikimedia Commons
 The wonderfully named Chief Duckhunter photographed in 1913 by A W Gelston of Medicine Hat, a town in southeast Alberta in area that was historically a gathering place for the Blackfoot, Cree and Assiniboine people because  "the gently sloping valley with its converging water ways and hardy native cottonwood trees attracted both humans and the migratory bison herds which passed through the area".  

The Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in Medicine Hat in 1883 bridging the South Saskatchewan River as it steamed across Canada. By the time A W Gelston was taking Chief Duckhunter's photograph it looked like this, not much room for migrating bison  
Postcard Showing the Rail Yard c1911-1913
but an ideal hub for travelling around the area taking photographs to appear on postcards.