vintage and contemporary postcards and stamps from around the world

30 December 2018

Sunday Stamps - S

1985, Singapore definitive insects

We always need honeybees - though maybe not such a supersized looking one?! The apis cerana javana is one of four bees found in Singapore and is not even the giant honey bee (apis dorsata). This is an Asian honey bee, and there is also a dwarf honey bee as well as a stingless bee.

for the letter S - Singapore

23 December 2018

Sunday Stamps - Christmas

1973, Canada Christmas
designer: Arnaud Maggs

Wishing everyone a bright and blessed Christmas

16 December 2018

Sunday Stamps - R

1976, Rwanda, African trees and shrubs
designer: J Van Noten

This Southern and Central African native tree, Ilex mitis, is commonly known as Cape or African Holly - or in the Kinyarwanda language of Rwanda as 'umunywande'. The stamp shows the tall, straight tree which can grow to 20 metres, and the leaves withe smooth edges which are unlike the traditional holly used for Christmas decoration in Europe and North America with its spiny leaves.

for the letter R - Republique Rwanda

09 December 2018

Sunday Stamps - Q

1972, Umm al-Qiwain, Masks of Africa
designer: Gyula Vasarhelyi

Most of the African masks in this set are rather scary or gruesome looking (as I imagine they are meant to be).  I could find no information on the masks as to where they originated, or why this theme was chosen. Umm al-Qiwain, or Quwain as it is sometimes spelt (or spelled), is one of the United Arab Emirates. It is the least populous within an area of around 300 square miles. The designer, Gyula (also known as Julian) Vasarhelyi is from Hungary and throughout his career as a freelance artist, designed  more than 7500 stamps in 650 countries.

for the letter Q - Umm al-Qiwain 

02 December 2018

Sunday Stamps - P

2010, Poland, Cats (koty = cats)
designer: Andrej Gosik

The Maine Coon is one of the oldest North American breeds of cats and is native to the state of Maine (and is their official state cat). Maine Coons are large, social creatures with long bushy tails and an uneven two layered coat.  No one knows exactly how the Maine Coon originated, but it may have been from a pairing of short-haired domestic cats with long-haired cats arriving on English or Norse ships (there is a resemblance to the Norwegian Forest Cat, a breed also thought to have traveled with the Norsemen).

for the letter P - Poland

25 November 2018

Sunday Stamps - O

2010, Austria, Churches
designer: Helga Herger

This Evangelical Church was first mentioned in documents in 927 and is thought to have been built in 888 for the visit of Arnulf of Carinthia, making it one of the oldest churches in Austria. It has been preserved in its original form with several Roman reliefs and inscription stones as well as remains of 13thC Romanesque murals.

for the letter O - Osterreich

18 November 2018

Sunday Stamps - N

1991, New Zealand, endangered species
artist: Pauline Morse

The Tuatara's ancestors have been known to have been around over 225 million years ago.  They are the only surviving members of the Sphenodontia (an order of lizard like reptiles).  There are still about 100,000 of them living on some of the off shore islands of NZ where predators such as rats, which eat their eggs and compete for food, are not present.  It is believed that there were no tuataras living on the North and South Islands by the time European settlers arrived.  An average tuatara life span is around 60 years, but they have been known to live to 100 years.

for the letter N - New Zealand

11 November 2018

Sunday Stamps - M

1975, Monaco, 125th anniversary of the Grammont Law
engraver - Pierre Gandon

In 1850, Jacques Delmas de Grammont, had a law passed in the National Legislative Assembly in France that would fine or imprison anyone caught abusing domestic animals. This became known as the Grammont Law.

for the letter M - Monaco

04 November 2018

Sunday Stamps - L

2004, Lithuania, Forest Fauna 
designer: A Ratkeviciene 

This is also known as an eagle-owl. He is a little smaller than a bald eagle and bigger than a snowy owl.  It has a wide range across much or Europe and Asia, but is also fairly sedentary in that they rarely travel out of their own territory.

for the letter L - Lithuania/Lietuva

28 October 2018

Sunday Stamps - K

2013, Kazakhstan, 15 years to Astana

Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country and shares borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.  (It does, however, have the Caspian Sea) It is also the world's ninth largest country. The capital city was renamed Astana - which literally means 'capital city' in Kazakh - in 1998, six years after declaring independence form Russia (the last of the republics to do so before the fall of the Soviet Union).  Its current president has been in power ever since and is known to be an authoritarian with a government that suppresses human rights freedoms. 
This stamp shows the Akorda, the Presidential Palace which was built in 2003. The palace has four floors of rooms each serving an individual purpose - a Marble Hall for signing agreements with other international heads of state, an Oval Hall for summit talks, and a Golden Hall for hosting meetings in privy. There is also a Guest Room for conversations between the President and Foreign Ambassadors, a Hall of Extended Negotiations, and a Hall of the Security Council. And an Oriental Hall which resembles a yurt. That's just one floor.  The first floor (ground floor) is 32' high and has a Grand Central Parade Hall, a Hall of Press Conferences, Gala Hall, and a Winter Garden.

for the letter K - Kazakhstan

21 October 2018

Sunday Stamps - J

2004, Jersey, Ducks and Swans

Mallards are one of the most common varieties of duck to be hunted for sport, although not in the UK. So, in 2001, when the Queen visited Jersey she was presented with two dead ducks as an act of homage from the Seigneur of Trinity they had to be imported from France. This was a tradition that goes back 800 years when the seigneurs of Jersey would pay tribute to the Duke of Normandy (William the Conqueror) and his successors whenever they visited the island. The ducks may, or may not, have been part of that evening's commemorative dinner.

for the letter J - Jersey

14 October 2018

Sunday Stamps - I

2015, India
designer: Kamleshwar Singh

International Day of Yoga is June 21st and was first established in 2014 by the UN.  It recognized that yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India ... and provides a holistic approach to health and well being ... and brings harmony in all walks of life and is known for disease prevention, health promotion, and management of many lifestyle related disorders.  
The stamp shows the logo of the International Day of Yoga
• folding of both hands symbolizes Yoga, a union of perfect harmony between mind and body, human and nature.
•  green leaves symbolize nature
•  blue symbolizes the water element 
•  brown leaves symbolizes the earth element
•  brightness symbolizes the fire element
•  the sun symbolizes the source of energy and inspiration

for the letter I - India, International Day of Yoga 


07 October 2018

Sunday Stamps - H

2006, Switzerland, traditional flora
designer: Flavia Travaglini

The Spatlauber is an old variety of rare apple cultivated in Switzerland since around 1750 and able to be stored for extended periods of time without shrivelling. These days, it is known for its anti-aging stem cells use in cosmetics.

for the letter H - Helvetia / Switzerland

30 September 2018

Sunday Stamps - G

1948, Gambia

Celebrating the Royal Silver Wedding of George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
The Republic of The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa and is surrounded almost entirely by Senegal with a coastline in the Atlantic. It is a long, narrow country that borders the Gambia River. It lies between latitudes 13° and 14°N and longitudes 13° and 17°W. It's only one of two countries whose short form of its name begins with 'The'.

for the letter G - Gambia, George VI

23 September 2018

Sunday Stamps - F

2018    France    Métiers d'art
designer: Florence Gendre
engraving: Pierre Albuisson

Another in France's series of stamps devoted to crafts, this one celebrating leather goods (maroquinier).

For the letter F - France

16 September 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'E'

2011, Estonia, Folk Costumes
designer: Mari Kaarma

Over the past 20 years, the tiny country of Estonia puts out an excellent, and exhaustive, array of stamps for folk costumes of its various regions.  these are all done by Mari Kaarma, whose mother was a fashion designer and his father a furniture designer.

for the letter E - Estonia

(I am still away on holidays, so please excuse my absence to your posts until I return next week!)

09 September 2018

Sunday Stamps - D

1987, Djbouti

These are also known as parasol mushrooms and are found in all kinds of wooded areas with subspecies in Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa. Apparently it is very tasty. But, only the caps are edible.

for the letter D - Djbouti

02 September 2018

Sunday Stamps C

2014, Czech Republic, My Own Stamps 
Z = international rate
designers:  Jaroslav and  Michal Weigel

Jara Cimrman ... creator of the world's first round stamp 
according to Ceska Post:
As a teacher in the Galician village of Nipple, Jara Cimrman met a local postmaster's daughter, Erika, T. who soon became his girlfriend and also the recorder of his ideas and principles.  We know from Erika T's records that Jara Cimrman presented to the Austrian Imperial and Royal Post Office his plan of using field artillery for delivery of express mail.  This innovative plan had the benefit of delivery within seconds to a given address.  The disadvantage was that it also reduced the number of addresses.  The plan was cancelled at the request of the Galician people. Inspired by the round postmark, Cimrman also designed a round postage stamp for these express consignments.

This is obviously not true as Jara Cimrman is a fictional character who spent his life in tireless pursuit of many disciplines. He is described as a "universal genius, inventor, sportsman, philosopher, criminologist, writer and philosopher". He first made an appearance on a radio show in 1966 and  became an immensely popular Czech national hero.
His wikipedia page (which records some of his exploits) is here

for the letter C - Czech Republic, Cimrman

26 August 2018

Sunday Stamps - B

2012, Belarus, definitive
Belarusian ornament
artist: Yauheniya Biadonik

The M is equal to the tariff for an international postcard. 
The design is of an embroidered ornamental pattern.

for the letter B - Belarus

19 August 2018

Sunday Stamps - A

2011 - Australia - Bush Babies Series
artist: Elise Martinson

The first bush babies series of stamps featured marsupials. He is sitting with a backdrop of golden wattle, waratah (a protea type plant that is also the emblem of NSW) and flowering gums. His flying friend is a cicada (which have certainly been sending a loud chorus around my neighbourhood these last few weeks!)

for the letter A - Australia

12 August 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'Z'

1967, France, Famous People
Emile Zola
engraved by Claude Durrens

Emile Zola was a French novelist, critic and political activist. In 1898 he wrote a  letter to a newspaper under the headline 'J'Accuse' where he accused the French Army of covering up its mistaken conviction of Alfred Dreyfus and acquitting Ferdinand Esterhazy on the orders of the Ministry of War. He gained a few enemies in the sharply divided country over the Dreyfus Affair and on his death by carbon monoxide poisoning was considered suspicious. (read about it here)

for the letter Z - Zola

05 August 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'Y'

1979, Barbados

This 1¢ Grassland Finch was the first of 17 definitives issued in 1979.  They have been found in Barbados since around 1960 and are known locally as Grass Canaries. Its colouring ranges from bright yellow underparts to olive yellow upperparts (males) to dull yellow underparts and pale brown upperparts (females). They are protected by law in Barbados, yet are still poached for pets.

for the letter Y - yellow

29 July 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'X'

1970, Canada
designer: Edward R.C. Bethune

Expo 70, held in Osaka Japan, was Asia's first World Exposition. Canada had four pavilions - Governments of Canada, British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario. This stamp shows the white garden lily which was the floral emblem of Quebec until 1999 when it was replaced with an iris. The other stamps in this set showed the trillium for Ontario and the dogwood for British Columbia. The Canada stamp had the Expo 67 logo. The Expo 70 logo was designed by Yusaku Kamekura. It is a stylized cherry blossom with five petals representing the five continents. The circle in the centre represents Japan.

for the letter X - EXPO

22 July 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'W'

1955, Rhodesia and Nyasaland

David Livingstone was the first European to set eyes on these waterfalls of the Zambezi River which he named after Queen Victoria. Until the railroad was built in 1905, very few other Europeans visited the area.  By 1955, it was possible to fly over the falls.  Livingstone can be seen in the foreground being carried by his servants. During the wet season, the width of the falls can grow to almost 1 mile wide. It is divided into five separate falls: Devils Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow Falls, and the Eastern Cataract.

for the letter W - waterfalls

15 July 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'V'

1996, Japan International Letter Writing Week
artist Katsushika Hokusai

Red Mt Fuji at Dawn,  around 1830 by Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai who was by then in his 70s. Ukiyo-e artists were well known for their wood block prints during the Edo period (1600-1868).  This stamp shows one of the '36 views of Mt Fuji', a series that shows Mt Fuji from different locations and in different seasons and weather.  Mt Fuji is on the island of Honshu and last erupted in 1708.

for the letter V - volcano

08 July 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'U'

1984, Great Britain, Urban Renewal
designer: Ronald Maddox

The stamp on the left shows Bush House at the docks on the Avon River in Bristol built in the 1830s as a warehouse for an iron foundry and later for tea. In the 1970s it was converted into an art gallery and performing arts centre and is now known as the Arnolfini. On the right, is a view of Commercial Street at the River Tay in Perth where architects have taken care to create a new housing development that harmonizes with the traditional, historical building style in the neighbourhood.

for the letter U - urban renewal

01 July 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'T'

2017, Germany, definitive 'baby animals'

Wildschwein, or wild boar, is one of the widest ranging mammals in the world and has become an invasive species in many places.  They are strong, intelligent and highly adaptable and can become quite the pests while damaging crops, eating birds eggs, and scaring of cattle. These tierkinder stamps are an ongoing series since 2014.

for the letter T - tierkinder

24 June 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'S'

2012, Lithuania, World Heritage Objects, Curonian Spit

The Kursiu Nerija, or Curonian Spit, has the largest rolling sand dunes in Europe.  It is 98 km long and  varies from 400 metres to 4 kms wide with the Curonian Lagoon on east side and the Baltic Sea on the west.  It has been a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2000 shared by Lithuania and Russia.

for the letter S - sand dunes, spit

17 June 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'R'

2003, Canada, Masterpieces of Art

Jean-Paul Riopelle died in 2002 after a successful career as a modernist painter and sculpture.  This is one of seven stamps of details of his Hommage de Rosa Luxembourg painted in 1992. It is a huge fresco (40 metres) made entirely by aerosol spray paint incorporating a succession of images of animals and nature.

for the letter R - Riopelle

10 June 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'Q'

2006 Ireland, Quercus petraea

The Sessile Oak is the national tree of the Republic of Ireland. It can grow up to 130' (40 metres) and is native to most of Europe.  Apart from being a good source of wood fuel, the timber is also used for building, cabinetmaking and veneers.  The acorns are used to fatten grazing animals in the autumn.

for the letter Q - Quercus

03 June 2018

Suynday Stamps - 'P'

1953, Canada, Polar Bear
designer: John A Crosby
engraver: Silas Robert Allen

As one of the ten stamps issued for the National Wildlife series (1953-57) this polar bear is of the lowest value. They are the largest animals in the world. The scientific name is Ursus  maritimus (sea bear) and the Inuktitut name is Nanuq (Nanuk). Two thirds of the population live in Canada, but they can also be found in Greenland, Russia, Alaska and Norway (on the Svalbard archipelago)

for the letter P - polar bear

27 May 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'O'

2015, Japan, Dekopon

A dekopon is a sweet, seedless variety of mandarin orange that was developed in 1972 in Japan.

for the letter O - orange

20 May 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'N'

1993, Germany

Issued for the 360th anniversary of Isaac Newtons birth. Newton developed three laws of motion, of which the second law is shown in the equation on the stamp. Also shown is his experiment where he refracts white light with a prism into its constituent colours of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

for the letter N - Newton

13 May 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'M'

1972, Canada, Mountain Sheep, definitive
designed by Reinhard Derreth
based on a photograph by Harry Rowed

These bighorn sheep live in the Canadian Rockies. These are rams, as can be seen by their massive curled horns which can be as long as 125cm and together can weigh up to 13kg.

for the letter M - mountain sheep 

06 May 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'L'

1998, Canada Wildlife
illustrator: Robert-Ralph Carmichael

The Common Loon is characterized by its large size and sharply pointed bill (unlike those of ducks and geese). Their legs are positioned far back on their bodies which makes them strong propellers in the water but also makes it difficult for walking on land. They spend almost all of their time on water, except to nest and even then, the nests are very close to water. Usually two eggs are laid in early June with an incubation period of around four weeks. 

for the letter L - loon

29 April 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'K'

2002, Greenland
engraver - Martin Morck

The Hvidbjornen was crushed by an iceberg after being trapped in some cliffs near Nunarsuit, an island in Greenland, in 1895. Greenland is the world's largest island (that is not a continent) and has only around 57,000 inhabitants. Denmark has sovereignty over the country and Greenlandic and Danish are its official languages. Kalaallit is Greenlandic for the name of the native Inuit people.

for the letter K - Kalaallit Nunaat, krone

4 krone would be 0.84 CAD, or 0.47 GBP, or 0.54 euros today

22 April 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'J'

2007,  US - Navajo Jewelry
illustrated by Lou Nolan from a painting by Peter Furst

A silver and turquoise squash blossom necklace with Naja pendant. The Naja is an inverted crescent believed to be based on colonial Spanish bridle designs that were in turn based on Moorish crescent design. For the Navajo it is decorative rather than spiritual yet is still held in high esteem. The squash blossom is based on a Spanish-Mexican ornament that was a stylized pomegranate blossom. The necklace shown on this stamp was made in the 1940s.

for the letter J - jewellery (or, if you prefer, 'jewelry')

15 April 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'I'

1981 Ciskei
artwork: Dick Findlay

David Findlay (b 1928) is a prolific ornithological artist and has produced over 30 stamps of birds of Ciskei from 1981-1991. This ibis lives in Sub Saharan Africa and has an extremely loud, and boisterous call - the name Ingangane is onomatopoeic in Zulu, resembling its cry. In English it is known as hadeda ibis.

for the letter I - ibis, ingangane

08 April 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'H'

1956, Canada
designer: James Simpkins
engraver: Silas Robert Allen

Issued in 1956 to honour the skill of Canada's amateur hockey players and the prestige they earned for international competition. 

In memory of the Humboldt Junior Hockey Team who were involved in a bus crash which killed 16 and injured 14 as they were en route to a semi-final playoff game in Saskatchewan.

for the letter H - Hockey, Humboldt

01 April 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'G'

1986 - Canada  Birds of Canada series

This stamp, with a painting of the Snow Goose in flight by Jean-Luc Grondin, was issued in 1986 during the year Canada hosted the XIX Ornithological Congress. Co-incidentally, the Congress will be again be hosted by Canada this year, for only the second time since 1884. The Snow Goose breeds in the high Arctic and migrate south for the winter in flocks of thousands.

for the letter G - goose

25 March 2018

Sunday Stamps - 'F'

1979, US

Toleware is tin, usually kitchen related such as this coffee pot, that has been painted and lacquered.

for the letter F - folk art

18 March 2018

Sunday Stamps - E

2010,  Finland,  Easter Twins

This year, Easter falls on April 1.  Both eggs and rabbits symbolize new life and fertility and are also closely associated with Spring and rebirth.

for the letter E: Easter

11 March 2018

Sunday Stamps - D

2014,       Netherlands, Ceramics of The Netherlands

This 1700s vase was featured as part of a 5 series of stamps for Mooi Nederland (Beautiful Netherlands).
Delftware is a tin-glazed earthenware (also called faience and majolica). The opaque glaze is added to the fired piece and then fired a second time. The potting industry in Delft began after the brewers left the town with several abandoned buildings and polluted canal water. Around the same time war in China put an end to the making of their blue and white porcelain and Delft deftly picked up the trade.

for the letter D - Delft

04 March 2018

Sunday Stamps II - C

2016, Russia, commemorative, joint issue

Russia and Slovenia issued this stamp to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Russian Chapel below Vrsic. In 1915, a Prisoner of War camp was opened near the present borders of Slovenia, Austria and Italy. Most of the POWs were Russian soldiers who were given the job of building a road across the Vrsic Pass. On March 12, 1916 a group of prisoners were clearing the road of snow when an avalanche killed more than 500 people. Local Slovenians buried the dead in a mass grave and to honour them, the remaining prisoners built a small wooden chapel at the site.

for the letter C - chapel, commemorative, centenary,

25 February 2018

Sunday Stamps II - B

2017, Belarus

This badger stamp is from a series of "The Red Book of Mammals of Belarus" which is a collection of animals that are rare and/or endangered. The book is updated every 10 years with the latest edition being in 2015. Badgers have been on the endangered list for 25 years.

The M on the stamp designates it as airmail postcard abroad.

for the letter B - Belarus, badger (barsuk in Russian)

18 February 2018

Sunday Stamps II - A

2018, Canada, Olympic
Female Athletes

Clara Hughes is the most decorated female Canadian Olympian and competed in both Summer (cycling) - Atlanta ('96), Sydney ('00) Salt Lake City ('02) London ('12) and Winter Games (long-track speed skating) - Salt Lake City ('02), Turin ('06) and Vancouver ('10)

Sonja Gaudet was the first wheelchair curler to win multiple Paralympic gold medals at Turin ('06), Vancouver ('10) and Sochi ('14)

Nancy Green won gold and silver at downhill skiing in Grenoble ('68) and was named Canadian female athlete of the century in 1999.

Shirley and Sharon Firth were twins who are the only female Canadian (cross country) skiers who competed in four consecutive Olympics (Sapporo ('72), Innsbruck ('76), Lake Placid ('80) and Sarajevo ('84)

for our new round of stamps by alphabet
A - athletes

11 February 2018

Sunday Stamps II - 165

2018, Canada
illustration: Meimei Mao
calligraphy: Albert Ng

The Year of the Dog begins on February 16, 2018 and ends on February 4th, 2019. People born under the sign of the Dog are said to be loyal, trustworthy and easy going. (full disclosure: me!) This stamp features an eager looking little dog in front of  a Chinese lantern with the traditional red and gold colour scheme.

for the Lunar New Year in China, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong

04 February 2018

Sunday Stamps II - 164

1968, Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa bordering eight other countries. The name comes from the Zambezi River which may mean 'River of God'. Before independence in 1964 it was known as Northern Rhodesia. About half the population are under 16 years of age. UNICEF is vital in helping with education, poverty, and widespread AID/HIV as well as malaria.

for the letter Z - Zambia

28 January 2018

Sunday Stamps II - 163

1981, Ciskei

Under Apartheid, Ciskei was designated as one of the 'homelands' for the Xhosa speaking people of South Africa. The Maxronyx capensis, or Cape longclaw, is found in coastal and mountain grasslands of Southern Africa and can often be found standing on top of stones or clumps of grass. This stamp shows a male with his bright orange throat and yellow underparts.

for the letter Y - yellow