Sunday, 21 August 2016


The Isle of Man issued four stamps (middle column above) for the Rio games and although I don't usually buy stamp sheets I couldn't resist this one which featured photos from the London Olympic Games.   They even produced a "Good Luck" poster (pdf warning) to the Manx participants of  the cyclist Mark Cavendish and  the shooter Tim Kneale and wished the cyclist Peter Kennaugh a speedy recovery (he had to withdraw from the GB Team after breaking his collarbone in the Tour of California as felt only 70 per cent fit).
What did Royal Mail produce for the event? Zilch. I know its a busy stamp year for anniversaries but they could have at least produced one, or even a stamp booklet.  I will turn instead to multi Gold Medal winner, Laura Trott

2012: London Olympics Gold Medal - Laura Trott
who also won Gold again in Rio so this stamp is still topical
and she is also GB's most successful female Olympian of all time with a total of four Gold Medals, not bad for a girl who began cycling to improve her breathing being born with a collapsed lung and asthma.

I've been lucky enough to visit Olympia so I always like to see a classic view harking back to the original games
which appeared on the 1932 USA stamp for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The famous c450BC Discobolus of Myron statue depicting harmony and balance.  The world globe spins in the background.  The cancel is a bit heavy but it does give me an excuse to show a postcard from the 1950s of
the Post Office of 1902 in Elgin, Illinois which it may have travelled through (found on the Post Marks Collectors site of pictures of US Post Offices). Alas it no longer exists and today one can only sit on a seat in its footmark (see the lament on Elgin Then and Now).

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Olympics - more Games at See It On A Postcard


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Taking A Swim

Hearing that the water temperature for the open swimming event at the Olympics was, to me, the very acceptable temperature of  21°C made me think about this postcard from Finland with the icy steps leading to the water. 

 Eeva told me there was a winter swimming place near their place in North Karelia - "Very refreshing".

Sunday, 14 August 2016


2014: Signs of the Sky
We've had a big thunder and lightning storm this summer maybe one of the storm cloud floated over to  Finland. Here it is designed by graphic artist Nina Rintala it is from a booklet which in addition to the eight stamps included lots of tiny stickers to, as they say, "modify the postal item to your liking". I think we can all relate to that. The booklet can be seen here

I'm not sure I would like to be at sea during a thunder and lightning storm, there might be the excitement of actually being in a storm at sea but with the worry that one is surrounded by a lot of metal.
2014: Nordic Maritime
This cover shows the Finnjet ferry and the route which operated between Helsinki and Travemünde in Germany from 1977 to 2008 carrying more than 5 million passengers.  The miniature sheet concluded the yearly Nordic Maritime series of stamps.
The graphic designer Klaus Welp has drawn on his own childhood experience when he used to journey to visit his German father's family.  What an opportunity to get your photo on a stamp sheet - the photograph depicts him at three years old  with his mother, father and brother when they travelled on the 'King of the Baltic'. He says "for 24 hours, my brother and I were able to roam around this floating miniature universe, exploring the orange-carpeted corridors and windy outdoor decks,”  The shape of the stamps are perfect for showing a ship to its best advantage.

Sail into Mariehamn, the capital of Åland and you have the choice of two ports.
It celebrated its 150 years of foundation in 2011.  The town was established on suggestion of the Russian Emperor Alexander II to have a port near the shelter of  Svibyviken Bay (Finland and Åland were part of the Russian Empire).
and is named after his wife, the German born Empress, Maria Alexandrovna (seen above).  A marriage that started as a love match but ended with her isolated and lonely. The commemorative sheet shows the Russian influence on the first town plan with its grid layout and long avenues and today the Esplanade Avenue which links the 2 harbours and major ports west to east is lined with linden or lime trees.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Shaped Stamps - more shape shifting at See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Rivers and Lakes

1936 Overprint of Gabon Stamp of 1933
A log raft on the fast flowing River Ogowe (or Ogooué) which is the principal river of Gabon, its dark waters flowing for 1,200km.  What better river to celebrate on the stamp of Gabon, however this overprint is from 1936 when it and the other French colonies of Middle Congo, Ubangi-Shari and Chad were combined into the one entity of French Equatorial Africa (stamp history here). The four countries had originally issued their own stamps and they would do so again but not until independence in 1960.
1941-44 Definitive - Croatian Scenery
A smaller river, Drina, but one of cool clear waters rising in the mountains of Montenegro and weaving for 346km forming a large part of the border between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.  The stamp shows it coming through a high sided gorge in Croatia.
1980: Scenes of Xishuang Banna
A peaceful scene, two people enjoying a rainbow by the side of the Lanchang River which flows through China from North to South and when it leaves China changes its name to the Mekong, eventually entering the Pacific south of Ho Che Min City in Vietnam.  Sometimes called the 'Danube of the East'.
1946: Re-conversion to Peacetime
To visit a vastness of water The Great Bear Lake in the Northern Territories is the place to go.  The largest lake located entirely in Canada and its 7 million acres and 26 islands could take you a lifetime to explore, wrap up warm for it is frozen from November to July.  Perhaps a canoe in balmy times would be ideal but for a shorter trip
1991: Tourism
 head for the Åland Islands.  On the reverse of the card it says -  with a canoe you are near nature.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Rivers and Lakes - go with the flow on See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 31 July 2016


Horses are a popular theme for GB stamps in a variety of guises, the latest in the long line of these favourites were the 2014 Working Horses set here shown on a FDC with a galloping Clydesdale.

The stamps show 1st - Riding for the Disabled, 1st - The King's Troop Ceremonial Horses (the 111 horses based in London are always seen on state occasions) and £1.28 Forestry Horses (my local logger uses Dales ponies).

88 - Royal Mews Carriage Horses, 88 - Dray Horses (the stamp shows the Hook Norton Brewery dray which regularly delivers beer barrels by shire horse in the village of Hook Norton in Oxforshire and for nostalgia fans there is also a Victorian steam engine in the brewery) Lastly £1.28 - Police Horses, of fascination to visiting foreign fan to football matches who like to have their picture taken with them. This is not the first time police horses have been on GB stamps but lets see a more famous mounted force,
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  Although the cancel is indistinct on this definitive stamp happily the year it travelled stands out.
1989: Horses
Poland issued a set of famous horse breeds, of which I only have two featuring a white Lipizzaner, the dancing white horses of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and an English Thoroughbred, a breed that was also included in the Royal Mail's  1978 Horses set   
designed by the wildlife artist Patrick Oxenham. 
2009: The Lusitano Horse
The Portuguese Lusitano horse got a whole set to itself, known for its bravery and agility it is considered by Portugal to be a cultural living treasure.  The first stamp shows 'Working Equitation' which involves all sorts of maneuvers of horse and rider, the next is horse education which to my eyes looks like a high speed dressage. Lastly bullfighting, nothing gets killed in the Portuguese version.
The left stamp above says Alta Escola which translates as high school and I think  may refer to the Royal Riding School of Lisbon, established in the 18th Century. Lastly the Google translate of Atrelagem de competicao is the rather impenetrable 'coupling of competition'.  I think it is the sport of Carriage Driving.
Continuing the Portuguese theme here are a couple of cavalinho (little horse) definitive stamps from the 1950s which refer to both the horse and the small size of the stamps.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - horses - for more gallop over to See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 24 July 2016

An Island Feast

1998: Horticulture
This cover illustration with the the word Jordbruk (Horticulture) shows a jar of pickled cucumbers and a jar of some sort of apple preserve I know not what.  The stamps show apple cheeked Ålanders picking the crops
The relatively mild winters, late springs and long mild autumns mean that the Åland Islands are perfect places for apple growing
2011: Apples
and they grow many varieties, a large proportion being exported to Finland. The Strömma apple shown takes its name from the village where Ålander Fridolf Sundberg first grew this variety.
2005: Europa - Gastronomy
Being Scandinavian there has to be fish gleaming on a plate as imagined by the artist Juha Pykälainen.  I'm a bit short on stamps featuring food so I'll pad this post out with a postcard
of the Great Yarmouth Fish Wharf Post Office and postal van in 1937. The home port at this time of a massive Herring Fleet which last sailed in the 1950s and coincidentally also the place the first frozen fish fingers were manufactured ( invented by he American Clarence Birdseye) in 1955.   Having had a stamp meal of fish, pickled cucumbers and perhaps then some Åland pancakes with apple preserve maybe we could finish with a piece of fruit.  This will have to be imported
c1926 Definitive - Orange Tree
from sunny South Africa.

An entry to this week's Sunday Stamps II theme - Food - tuck in at See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 17 July 2016


On the centenary of the birth of x-ray crystallography the UN designated 2014 to be the Year of Crystallography.  This process allows that the chemical bonds that draw atoms together can be seen and indeed the Curiosity Rover used x-ray crystallography to analyze soil samples on Mars.  Liechtenstein issued two stamps, called Metamorphosis Sequence 1 and
Metamorphosis  Sequence 2 which show how a crystal grows over thousands of years.

 The stamps have an image code that can be scanned by a free SEPAC app which enables a video animation of the metamorphosis of the crystal to be seen.
The visualisation theme is continued in the Maximum Cards which are screenshots from an interactive program where one can guide a spaceship through quartz, fluorite or diamond crystal structures.
The program called Crystal Flight was created by Jeff Weeks and shown at the Museum for Minerals and Mathematics, Oberwolfach whose collection contains unique minerals of the Black Forest region.  A very short Crystal Flight video can be seen here
Royal Mail did not join in the 2014 Year of Crystallography however the 2010 set celebrating the 350th Anniversary of the Royal Society had featured
Dorothy Hodgkin (19019-1994) who developed protein crystallography where she determined the structure of penicillin, Vitamin B12 and insulin.  Working in those early years she was continually trying to improve the technique of x ray crystallography and with the help of one of the first electronic computers solved the 100 atom structure of Vitamin B12 in 1957.   She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964.   Lawrence Bragg likened her B12 discovery to "breaking the sound barrier"  He too has a stamp as one of the pioneers of x-ray crystallography whose discovery of x-ray diffraction is basic for determining crystal structures.
1977: British Achievement in Chemistry
The stamp shows the regular cubic spacing of sodium and chlorine (which he predicted), in salt.  Lawrence Bragg was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1916 at the age of 25 for his work in crystal structures.  The other stamps shows the colourful patterns on paper produced by chromatography and celebrates Martin and Synge's Nobel Prize of 1952
The orange may be a clue to this stamp for it is the synthesis of a molecule for vitamin C. Norman Haworth shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1937 for vitamin research.  Lastly the stamp celebrates conformational analysis, a process pioneered by Derek Barton using steroids and deals with the shapes that molecules can adopt by rotations about single bonds. A Nobel Prize winner in 1969 his name is remembered in science by a number of reactions named after him in organic chemistry .

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Science - discover more at See It On A Postcard