Sunday 30 December 2018

Sliding with Slania in Sweden

1980: Swedish Comic Strips (Design - Rune Andreason)
Here comes Bamse the brown bear. Not only is Bamse the kindest bear he is also the world's strongest bear.  What is his secret?  Well like all bears he loves honey but the one he eats is magic honey prepared by his grandmother and called thunder honey (dunderhonung) which gives him his strength.  First published in 1966 and created by Rune Andreason he is still having adventures today.  The speech bubble is saying it is good (to go skiing) with friends but also with small friends. Here are some more friends going cross-country skiing with a four legged small friend
1970: Around the Arctic Circle (Design - Svenolov Ehrén; Engraver - Czeslaw Slania)
The stamp is captioned vitta vidder - white plains or white horizons and the artist Svenolov Ehrén (1927-2004) created 64 stamps in his career, four of which form part of this Arctic Circle set.
1970: Around the Arctic Circle (Design - Nils Nilsson Skum; Engraver - Czeslaw Slania)
The scene portrayed is a drawing by the Sami Reindeer herder Nils Nilsson Skum (1872-1951) who created about 3000 drawings on reindeer herding and the Sami life. In the 1930s a number of harsh winters with heavier snow than usual resulted in reindeer numbers crashing and like many Sami in this difficult decade he abandoned reindeer herding.  Nils became an artist full time and a couple of hundred of his drawings appear in the books Sami Village (1938) and Tending Reindeer published posthumously in 1955.  Now I go to an era when Nils was just a boy and living far away from a big city where
1971: Old-time Christmas
skaters were zooming over Mälar bay, Stockholm.  The city is situated on 14 islands where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea so I imagine there are lots of possibilities for skating.   The picture is a woodcut of 1867 by K A Ekwall
Here everyone is arriving in the Swedish countryside for the early service on Christmas Day in the 1870s and the artist August Malmaström pictures a fine set of horses and sled. The stamps are from a booklet of 10 stamps of 5 different designs each in a single colour engraved by Czeslaw Slania,

The Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter S - here for Sweden, skiing, skating, sled and Slania - slide over to See It On A Postcard for more on the Letter S

Sunday 23 December 2018

Christmas Greetings

2018: Christmas (Designer - Andrew Davidson)
Our Christmas stamps this year featured postboxes and as the George V boxes are among my favourites I show the stamp featuring one of the GR lamp boxes often seen in rural locations. The church lights shine out through the gloom with the energetic chorister running down the path to catch the post. The artist, Andrew Davidson's, local postbox in Gloucestershire is an Edward VIII and from this he got the idea of featuring one from each monarchs reign on the stamps (the full set can be seen here).

1982: Christmas Stamps II (Design - TT Trygvason)
A line of  Christmas music composed by Sigvaldi Kaldalon (1881-1946). He wrote about 350 songs mostly for solo voice and piano and it is said some have become part of Iceland's soul. The one on the stamp is a Christmas Carol called "It Was A Blessed Night" for which he put the poet Eimar Sigurdsson (1538-1626) words to music.
1982: Christmas Carols (Designer - Martin Newton)
A carol more familiar to me is 'While Shepherds Watched' and to whom "the angel of the lord appeared"
2010: Christmas (Design - Jenny Leibundgut)

This stamp has the sparkliest star ever but my scanner couldn't cope rendering it blue so I have pinched an illustration from the web which at least gives it some depth but no glitter. The difference between reality and representation struck me as appropriate when I noticed that earlier in 2010 Swiss Post issued a couple of  dazzling optical illusions stamps.  It may be easy for this angel to deliver good tidings
1992: Christmas Post (Design - Otto Moe)
but for tiny elves sometimes there are difficulties, but with a bit of teamwork all things are possible.
 Both the FDC and stamps were designed by the appropriately named Lotta Frost
1986: Christmas Post (Design - Lotta Frost; Engraver - Lars Sjööblom)
The Swedish Post Office celebrated its 350th Anniversary in 1986 and the Christmas stamps of that year featured four motifs forming a small town with its people and post.
2009: Christmas (Design - Stephen Fuller)
Of course the Three Wise Men had a lot longer distance to travel with their gifts
2003: Christmas (Design - Olwyn Whelan)
although perhaps this is the greatest gift of all.  The full set of stamps can be seen here.

A Happy Christmas to you all.

This week Sunday Stamps II is celebrating Christmas - come and See It On A Postcard

Sunday 16 December 2018

Russian Rockets

1978: Soviet-Polish Space Flight (Designer - G. Komlev)
The massive Russian rockets needed to break free of Earth's gravity are being transported into place.   This Soyuz 30 rocket took off in 1978 with Commander Pyotr Klimuk on his third and last spaceflight and for Major Miroslaw Hermaszewski, the first Polish cosmonaut in space, it would be his only flight.
Their destination was the Space Station Salyut 6 where Hermaszewski would conduct the Sirena crystallization experiment to produce semiconductors in weightlessness and the stamp shows the crystal. The other stamp is the space station, map and the scientific research ship Vladimir Komarov tracking the progress of Salyut.

The set is part of a long series which ran from 1978-81 devoted to the Intercosmos programme which took a succession of guest cosmonauts from countries that were political allies of the Soviet Union into space.
1978: Soviet-Czech Space Flight (Designer - G Komlev)
 The first Intercosmos flight was launched on 2nd March 1978 (Soyuz 28) with Vladimir Remek from Czechoslovakia who became the first man in space who did not come from either the USSR or USA. Remek was later, in 2004, elected as a member of the European Parliament and has an asteroid named after him. The commander on board was Alexsei Gubarev on his second and last space flight.

Two of the great Soviet stamp designers of the period , German Komlev and Yuri Levinovsky were commissioned to produce three stamps for each of the nine Intercosmos missions.  Komelev did the first four sets and Levinovsky the rest.  The concept was for each set of three to have one design illustrating preparation for the mission, one the flight itself and one an end-of mission scenario. These would be issued in real time with the 6k value available on the day of the launch, a 15k on the day of docking with the space station and a 32k on the day of re-entry and landing.  Only 26 of the 27 stamps were issued because the Soyuz 33 flight failed to dock with the Salyut 6 space station when its primary engine failed and had to make an emergency return to Earth.  The sometimes perilous nature of space travel.
1962: 40th Anniversary of All Union Lenin Pioneer Organisation (Designer - Yu. Ryakhovsky)
Perhaps it is safer to keep ones feet on the ground and build a model rocket with these budding aerospace engineers.

The Sunday Stamp II prompt this week is R - here for Russia and rockets - take off with See It On A Postcard

Sunday 9 December 2018

Fish Quest

1967: Fish of the Arabian Gulf
This is a satisfyingly large stamp (7cm) to stick on an airmail envelope from Umm Al Quiwain and features a pair of parrotfish.  These fish live on a diet of algae and dead coral, grinding the latter with teeth in their throat and famously pooping sand, which is the undigested coral.
1972: Tropical Fish
Don't know what these little fish are (goldfish?) but the stamp is one which came from a miniature sheet.  Today Umm Al Qiwain is part of the United Arab Emirates so to increase the number of stamps to show this week I journey to one of its other members
1971: Flowers and Fish (Design - Samir Ghantous)
Fujeira. This stamp features a paradise fish and the late ruler of the emirate Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqui succeeded by his son (who has the same name) in 1974. The duplicate names confused me for a while when I couldn't marry up the image on the stamp with the emirate's present ruler.  The stamp was designed by the Lebanese artist Samir Ghantous as is this one -
1971: Olympic Games, Munich, Germany (Design - Samir Ghantous)
issued as part of an Olympic set the same year.


Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter Q - for Qiwain - See It On A Postcard

Sunday 2 December 2018

Provincial Poland

1960: Provincial Costumes (Design - Cz Kaczmarczyk Engravers - M R Polak and J Miller)
This was Poland's second series on Provincial Costumes, which would continue to be a popular subject over the following years. I think these stamps possibly mark the end of a particular graphic style.  I wonder if the ornate borders are the embroidery of the region or perhaps they are the folk designs that appear painted and engraved on the Polish wooden buildings.  The whole set was drawn by Czeslaw Kaczmarczyk  but I have not been able to find anything about him.
Design: Cz Kaczmarczyk - Engravers - Stef Ľukaszewski and J Miller
The intricate decorative design needed many engravers of which J Miller appeared to be the busiest.  The engraver are also a mystery to me, I wonder where they lived in Poland, perhaps in the provinces the stamps show.
Design - Cz Kaczmarczyk; Engravers - B Brandtse and E Konecki
Design - Cz Kaczmarczyk; Engravers -  Stef Ľukaszewski and B Szymanska
Design - Cz Kaczmarczyk; Engravers - E Tirdiszek and J Miller
From historical costume to that of the moment
1967: Famous Paintings
in this case the 18th Century. The painting by Antoine Watteau is owned by the National Museum in Warsaw and called The Polish Woman.  Perhaps if she walks down the hill into the meadows
1967: Flowers of the Meadow (Design - M Chaluk)
she might gather a posy of wild flowers.
Polish Paper Cut Outs

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter P - for Poland, provincial, painting and posy - See It On A Postcard


Sunday 25 November 2018

Oman in Outer Space

1971: Apollo 14
It is lift off for the moon and the Apollo 14 crew (Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell).  Shepard and Mitchell are shown on the moon's surface on the commemorative sheet unfortunately not with Shepard famously playing a couple of golf shots.  Stuart Roosa was the Command Module Pilot and the photographs he took while Shepard and Mitchell were on the surface would help with later moon landings.

This is a rather spaced out sheet for although the Sultanate of Oman exists, the State of Oman didn't.  These were issued by a government in exile when Sultan Said bin Taimur defeated the followers of Iman Ghalib bin al-Hinai in 1957-9, years later in 1970 the reclusive Sultan Said bin Taimur was overthrown by his son in a civil war but troops loyal to the former sultan kept on fighting until around 1976 and the stamps of the exiled government kept coming.  The presses must have been running hot in 1971 (the year of the sheet I show) as they issued a huge number of stamps on every subject one could imagine.  But let someone who knows what he is talking about take up the story -

"The stamps were the brainchild of Youssef Salim Tadros, once (in 1963) postmaster in Sharjah and later a partner in Middle East Stamps, Beirut. He got himself appointed as postal adviser to the exiled government. The latter obtained some status with the Arab Postal Union in 1966 and Tadros started issuing stamps in 1967. Since the rebels had long left Oman and did not have any postal services there, the letters with the stamps were dispatched from Baghdad (January 1968 only), then from Amman (until 1971) and later from Damascus (until June 1972). This means that the issues from 1967 to 1972 had postal validity in the above mentioned places. When the stamps could no longer be used postally after June 1972, Tadros ceased to issue State of Oman stamps.

One of Tadros' partners, the late Clive Feigenbaum in London, continued to print new stamps for State of Oman (and also for Dhufar, a province of today's Sultanate of Oman) until 1986. These "Feigenbaum issues", of course, did not see any postal use. They were done in sheetlets of 8 different se-tenant stamps, same as Feigenbaum did for Staffa, Nagaland, Eynhallow, ISO, etc" (Source - Stamporama Discussion)

Another imaginary world but a 'real' stamp - The Voyage of Sinbad

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter O - for Oman and Outer Space - See It On A Postcard

Friday 23 November 2018

Dr Who Birthday

2013: Classic TV - 50 Years of Dr Who
The first episode of Dr Who 'An Unearthly Child' aired on 23d November 1963 so today is its 55th birthday although of course there was a big gap from 1989 until it was revived in 2005 (if ignoring the one off TV film with Paul McGann which I don't count). I show the first five Doctors in these stamps because everyone has 'their' doctor and mine is Patrick Troughton, the second doctor, although in full disclosure I've watched the series from that very first episode and the TARDIS finding itself in a junk yard on Earth.  Here the TARDIS has landed on the postmark of its filming location, Cardiff.  But what would Dr Who be without his arch nemesis
the Daleks who will celebrate their birthday on 21st December when in 1963 and the second series they bookended Christmas.  This year a bit of tradition is gone as there is no Christmas Day Dr Who -  Exterminated - instead there is a New Year's Day special.  The perfect way to start 2019. 

Sunday 18 November 2018

Nautical Norway

1982: Exhibition Card Philex, Paris - (the Sailing Ship Christian Radich)
On the reverse of this card it says that the Christian Radich sailing ship is one of the last 3 masted square riggers that still crosses the oceans of the world. Once used as a merchant navy training vessel today it takes part in the tall ships races and also as an experience for anyone who wants to sail or learn to sail. It certainly looks tempting on a beautiful calm blue sky day like the card but possibly not rounding Cape Horn in a storm.
1981: Sailing Ships (Design - Sverre Morken)
I like this combination of compass cancel and the stamp "Setting the Sail".
1985: Exhibition Card for Stampex, London
Now we are inside the Arctic Circle in the Lofoten islands and in particular the fishing village of Reine.  This view, taken from one of the mountains, is one that is often used on tourist publicity and indeed Reine always comes up as one of the most scenic places in Norway.
1983: North Norwegian Boats (Design - KE Harr)
The stamps show a Nordland boat , a type of fishing vessel used for centuries in the Lofoten and Versteralen islands which is closely related to old Viking longships. Today they are used for pleasure.
2006: Tourist Stamp (Design - Enzo Finger)
For those who want relaxed time on the water and perhaps a meal then the paddle steamer Skibladner which travels Norway's largest lake, the vast Lake Mjøsa would tick that box. Built in 1856 it has sunk twice in winter storage (1937 and 1967) and today it winters in a specially constructed glass shelter.  Its name comes from Norse mythology as the ship of the god Freyr (which could be folded up like a cloth and put in his pocket when not needed.
1999: Norway 2000 II - 'Pictures of Everyday Life' (Design - A. Horne)
For mere mortals then what better way to transport ones horse and trap than this. A horse ferry circa 1900 in Amli.  But what lies beneath?
2007: Norwegian Marine Life III (Design - Enzo Finger)
Perhaps a Nakensnegle which is a name that sounds as though it comes from the Lord of the Rings however I think it translates as a naked snail or a nudibrach. They live in shallow waters near the shore or in kelp forests.  The easiest time to see these colourful little creatures is in winter when they mate and come to the surface.  The Latin name of this particular naked snail is Polycara quadrilineata and sometimes referred to in general terms as a Sea Slug but these nudibrachs are not closely related and they come in all sorts of shapes and colours. The colours can  indicate that some naked snails are highly poisonous and some who are colourful just masquerade as poisonous for protection.
Flag of Nordland county

See It on A Postcard's prompt this week is the Letter N - for Norway, Nautical, Nordland, Nakensnegle and Nudibrachs.     

Sunday 11 November 2018

Mongolian Marionettes

1988: Puppets
Time to watch a marionette show.  I couldn't find anything to explain the folk stories told in these stamps but can imagine the stories are told with great gusto at the many traditional gatherings held across the country and at the Puppet Theatre in Ulaanbaatar. On my internet journey I did discover there are an amazing number of puppet theatre festivals held on every continent, the biggest is the 10 day 'Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionettes' held every two years in France and described as "bonkers and brilliant", yes I think that does sum up a puppet show.
High on a hill are two goats
1988: Goats
The wonderfully stylised clouds on both sets of stamps make me wonder if these two sets were drawn by the same stamp designer.
State Emblem of Mongolia

Sunday Stamps II prompt this week is the Letter M - for Mongolia, Marionettes and Mammals - more M on See It On A Postcard