Sunday, 19 March 2017


Two stamps for the price of one on this exhibition card produced by Åland. for the International Stamp Fair in Essen, Germany.   The featured German stamp is from the Humanitarian Relief Fund stamps of 1984 featuring Orchids and designed by Professor Günter Jacki.  This is Orchis ustulata, the burnt orchid which flowers in April and May.

The choice of a stamp from 1984 I think is no accident for that was the first year the name Åland appeared on stamps.  From 1984-1992 the stamps were issued by Finnish Post and you could use a combination of both Åland and Finnish stamps on envelopes.  In one of life's ironies today Åland act as agents for Finnish stamps.
1990: Orchids (Design: Allan Palmer)
I don't think one has to know the language to work out what this is called in the Åland Islands, Adam och Eva.  It is also known as the elder flowered orchid which grows in both purple and a yellow white.   I liked the description of it from Nature Gate which includes this paragraph:

"Elder-flowered orchid is one of the earliest-flowering orchids in the north. Its flowers adorn coppices on the Åland Islands from the end of May, when the queen bees wake up from their winter rest and establish a hive, flying tirelessly around to gather nutrition for the first generation of workers. From the bee’s point of view however it is a fruitless task to visit elder-flowered orchid because it has no nectar or pollen: the plant rather fools inexperienced bees into pollinating it without any reward. Insects learn to beware of cheaters, so evolution’s next step was to create two colours of elder-flowered orchid, red and yellow, which can appear in the same habitat. The red coloured variety is usually predominant in northern Finland, while in the south it is in the minority. The differently coloured varieties usually stay very separate, but sometimes plants that are different shades of orange can be found".

2015: Maximum Card 92
This maximum card features Campanula persicifolia, the fairy bell flower or peach-leaved bellflower.
2015: Peach-leaved Bellflower

I have never been happy with any of my photographs of bell flowers but the photographer here, Andy Horner, shows how it should be done.  The card also has postage paid image on the reverse
Lastly something tropical
1975: Flowers
the Giant granadilla (Passiflora quadrangularis).  I have read that this flowering vine can grow over 50 ft in a season, it also produces fruit. 

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Flowers - visit the garden at See It On A Postcard

Friday, 17 March 2017

Sri Lanka

This week I am travelling in my imagination to Sri Lanka. The postcard features some of the fauna of Yala National Park, a wildlife sanctuary in the south east of the country.  One of its strap lines is "Glorious Past and Spectacular Present" for the area was a centre of ancient civilizations, so this combines two things I love, nature and history. It sounds as though Yala National Park has everything, monsoon forests, freshwater and marine wetlands and many other ecosystems. It closes for a few months  during the drought season but last year the rains came early so it reopened early.  It also closes during the mating season of the native Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya).

Yala National Park is also known for the number of birds  that can be seen in this area of 378 square miles (979 sq kilometres) which totals 215 species.  It is appropriate that the stamps the card came with were two birds endemic to Sri Lanka -
1993: Birds of Sri Lanka
the Ceylon Hill Mynah and the Ceylon Brown Capped Babbler.  Both species are known for their calls.  The Capped Babbler nests on the ground in forest undergrowth and is difficult to see but they are noisy birds so one will definitely hear them.
 Yala is marked on the map by the Sri Lankan elephant on the south east corner. 

Postcards for the Weekend theme - a card from a country you would want to visit - dream of travel at Connections to the World

Sunday, 12 March 2017


1975: Faroese Stamps
On the 30th January 1975 the Faroe Islands issued the first definitive stamps as an independent postal authority and the first that bore the country's name. Two of the seven designs featured maps of which this is one
The figures and letters on the stamps are designed by Lydia Laksafoss and the steel engraving was made by Czeslaw Slania who would go on to have a long association with the islands stamps. The map of the Faroe Islands is a section of a map called  'North' from the 1573 edition of the wonderfully named 'Theatre of the World' (Theatrum Orbis Terrarum) by the geographer Abraham Ortelius considered the creator of the first modern atlas. If you are ever in Antwerp (his birth city) I can recommend a visit to the printing museum of Plantin-Moretus not only for the oldest surviving printing presses in the world and the building itself but but their collection of maps including Ortelius's atlas.  Oh and did I mention the postcards in the shop, I still regret not splurging the cash and buying the complete Dick Bruna alphabet set of cards.

But lets move on several centuries and a more modern map

1978: Mykines
of the westernmost of the Faroe Islands, Mykines, famous for its birds, as you might have guessed from those flying around the island on the FDC. There are certainly more birds than people as only 11 live on the island all year round, however there are forty houses.

The stamp artist was the Faroese painter Bárður Jákupsson and the set was the first of the projected  'island profile' series in which it was intended to show all eighteen islands.

Now lets head south to the Mediterranean 
1977: World Telecommunication Day (Design: Harry Borg)
and the distinctive boot of Italy and the Islands of Malta and Gozo in the middle with the radio aerial pulsing its sound waves from the coast of Africa. The stamp was issued on World Telecommunication Day, 17th May, but since the issue of the stamp it is now called World Telecommunication Day and Information Society Day. Not as snappy is it!  The theme for 2017 is 'Big Data for Big Impact'  I wonder could one call stamps small data, big impact.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Maps - plot your way to See It On A Postcard

Sunday, 5 March 2017


1981: Year of the Rooster
As flamboyant as one would wish a rooster to be and there is not just one rooster in this barnyard
Designer: Cheng Chuanli - Engraver: Sun Hongnian
I hope they are not going to fight.  As you can see these stamps are from a booklet.  I discovering that the original artist was Zhang Ding (1917-2010) who encompassed all types of art, design and calligraphy as well as being a teacher and art critic.  I am not sure but think this rooster was first designed as a tapestry and displayed at the Beijing Institute of Research for Carpets.  Zhang Ding was born in NE China first drawing caricatures and later shifting to design.  He participated in the creation of the national emblem of China and the first group of commemorative stamps after the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.
1981: Booklet Cover Year of the Rooster
Goodness this barnyard is full of roosters.  Room for any more?
1999: Twelve Animals of the Lunar New Year Cycle
The designer is Kan Tai-keung who has been involved in Hong Kong's Lunar New Year stamps for many years, more than 12 lunar cycles, and still doing it today. He also designed the 1997 definitive stamps after the return of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China.  

Do you want an early morning rooster call?
1996: 100 Years of Going to the Cinema - A Celebration
Here is the British Pathé News rooster whose cock-a-doodle-doo and then dramatic music heralded that weeks news at the cinema in the days when you got a news short before the one or two films showing that week. British Pathé was formed in 1896 when this was the only way to see what was happening in the world but with the advent of television and the immediacy of the news available it eventually ceased in 1970. Today it is still in business but as a fascinating film archive.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Roosters - more fine feathers at See It On A Postcard

Friday, 3 March 2017

Northern Maps

My town just sneaks onto this card at the bottom left (Barrow).  It is on the edge in more ways than one as it is on a peninsula surrounded by water which some comedians say is  'the longest cul-de-sac' in the country. The council prefers the line 'between sea and mountains'   The lakes of the Lake District span out like the spokes of a wheel and to feel completely surrounded by mountains then nothing is better than to head to the centre, Grasmere.

To give some context lets pan out a little to show where I am on the west coast 
with this card which shows a long distance footpath, The Pennine Way, which runs down the spine of the north of England.  Most people take three weeks to complete the walk however in July 1989  Mike Hartley ran the route in 2 days, 17 hours, 20 minutes and 15 seconds without stopping for sleep.  Mike only  rested only twice on this record breaking run and one of those was an 18-minute fish and chip break in Alston (which can be seen on the card near the man with the binoculars).

I think I would rather take a trip into the Lake District for the day
perhaps head for the Langdale Valley.   On a winter's day like this one could take a choice of stopping in the village on the postcard and sitting by the Britannia Inn's open fire in Elterwater or continue on for a walk up the Langdale Pikes whose names are Pike O'Stickle and Harrison's Stickle. The distinctive shape can be recognised from any direction.

Postcard's for the Weekend theme - Home Country - Go home to Connections to the World

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Top of the World

1994: Centenary of Greenwich Meridian
Our Sunday Stamps journey to the four corners of the earth ends at the top of the world and it is winter...
2014: 'Norden' The North by the Sea Part III: Ships (Designers: O. Nilsson and Norbert Tamas/Engraver: Martin Mörck)
The shipping lanes have to be kept open and here icebreakers are doing their work, these two cut through the ice of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. The souvenir sheets depicts two sister ships, the Atle and Ymer.  I suspect the Ymer was named after the Swedish icebreaker of the same name built in 1932 and the first icebreaker in the world to have a diesel electric engine. Both vessels on the sheet were built in the 1970s at the Wartsila Shipyard in Finland and they have undergone a refit in recent times to extend their working lives. Sweden has five icebreakers of the Atle class (which I think translates as athlete) and when they were built the crew accommodation was considered some of the best.
2009: Preserve the Polar Regions and Glaciers
I like Canada's choice to highlight species at especial risk due to global warming on this sheet and issued as part of the multi-country stamp initiative on the theme of preserving the polar regions and glaciers. (List here)  The PPRG logo is on the top right.  I always think the migration of the Arctic Tern or Sea Swallow from the arctic to the antarctic sounds like something from legend rather than reality. This little 100 gram bird during an average life time of thirty years will fly the distance of to the moon and back three time. This statistic is from the Arctic Tern Migration Project who tracked the terns 70,000+ kilometre pole to pole journey from Greenland to the Weddell Sea with surprising results. If you have time the follow the journey video is well worth watching.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Northern Hemisphere - head north to See It On A Postcard         

Friday, 24 February 2017


A picture of serenity, Avalokitehvara is said to be the embodiment of the Buddha's compassion and is always depicted in white and holding a lotus.  The four arms and hands signify the four immeasurables: loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity but like all religious art there is a whole lot more symbolism going on in the painting.  Avolokitehvara is the patron bodhisattva of Tibet under the name Chenarezig.  The Chinese buddhists portray him as a woman, Kuan-Yin (she who hears the cries of the world),  India sees Avalokitehavara as a cosmic being who takes countless shapes in whatever form will most effectively free beings from suffering.

The artist is Andy Weber whose spent seven years in the 1970s living and studying the iconographical art of Tibetan Buddhism in India and Nepal;  one of his teachers  had escaped from Tibet with some 250 year old scroll paintings (thankas).  Andy paints many thankas for western Buddhist centers and travels the world teaching but his studio is not far from where I live, as is the Manjushri Meditation Centre where I found this card last century and more years ago than I care to remember, since that time they have built a Peace Temple in the grounds with a golden top which glistens in the sunlight and no doubt serenity can be found inside. 

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Serenity - be serene at Connections to the World