Sunday, 13 August 2017

Balloons and Bugs

2012: Autumn Dream
Up, up and away this Finnish stamp's balloon floats over the golden glow of autumn as part of a miniature sheet.
A mass of balloons float across a clear blue sky portraying the sport of hot air ballooning.  These were two of a four stamp set the USA issued to mark Montgolfier's and the world's first manned flight over Paris in 1783 meanwhile France's neighbour marked the bicentenary
1983: Bicentenary of Manned Flight
with a balloon floating over an unnamed Belgium town. If it was floating over Brussels then this fine natural history museum would float into view on the Rue Vautier.

The Museum of Natural Sciences features on a stamp booklet cover and one of the museums etymologist, Morice Leponsce, uses hot air and helium balloons to float over tropical forests to study arboreal ant colonies and also collects plants and insects at 30m in the sky.   This year one of the balloons is on display elsewhere in Brussels in the magnificent surrounds of the Throne Room at the Royal Palace in an exhibition highlighting the museums research.   The stamp booklet however was issued back in 1996 to mark the 150th anniversary of  the Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences with a celebration of insects (one of their vast collections) and happily these are shown in their natural habitat on the stamps and feature
1996: 150th Anniversary of the Royal Belgium Inst of Natural Sciences
the Ruddy Darter Dragonfly (Sympetrum saguineum) and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) one of the first bees of the year to appear.
The magnificent European Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) and the Common Cockchafer (Melolantha melolontha) sometimes called the May bug for that is the month when it starts its uncertain whirling flight.
One may be more likely to hear the chirps of this dark brown insect than see it, the Field Cricket (Gryllus campestris) and lastly the lovely Seven Spotted Ladybird (Coccinella Septempunctata|) an insect the gardener always welcomes.  The stamps are the work of the Belgium watercolourist, miniaturist and engraver Jacques Duppée who has produced a number of stamps for Belgium.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II prompt of the Letter B - Belgium, bugs, beetles, bees and balloons - be quick  Bs at See It On A Postcard.  

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Albania in the Air

2013: Europa - Postman's Van
Letters are flying around the world carried in the yellow of Posta Shqiptare.  The Europa theme for 2013 was especially appropriate for Albania because it was also the centenary year of the first Albanian stamps (5 May 1913).  Laert Kraja was chosen to design both the Europa issue and the anniversary stamps (which are also se-tennant) and can be seen here.  The postal service was founded simultaneously with the modern Albanian state on 28 November 1912 but they continued to use the Ottoman Turkish stamps until the first Albanian stamps were issued in 1913.  Posta Shqiptare says " The first issue of the Albanian stamp consolidated the postal service of Albanian identity , which has always been the expression and part of our national identity. It was a long and beautiful way, the stamp is one of our valuable assets"

1950: Air
The airmail stamp features a Douglas DC-3 flying over Rozafa Castle, which  is located on top of a rocky hill which because of its strategic position archaeologists say has been occupied since antiquity.  The designer and engraver was Bohdan Roule (1921-1960) and I think this is the first stamp he designed and engraved, the set was the only one he produced that was for  a country other than his native Czechoslovakia. 
1960: 2nd Anniversary Tirana-Moscow Jet Air Service
We enter the jet age with the Tupolev TU-104A flying between the capitals of Albania and Russia.  Here is something that doesn't need anything more than a pair of wings to soar in the air -
1962: 50th Anniversary of Independence
 the name Albania is the Latin name of the nation but the name the people call it is, as on the stamp, Shqiperia, meaning 'Land of the Eagles' or 'Children of the Eagles' and on this stamp the text refers to the nation as a rock of granite
1965: 20th Anniversary of Frontier Force
which this child of the eagle is no doubt standing on.  I was surprised I didn't have any bird stamps for Albania, hence my use of their national symbol and this stamp has the added bonus of an Alsatian.   I wonder what the border guard will eat while standing on his eyrie?
1969: Fruit Trees - Blossom and Fruit
|Perhaps he has brought an apricot with him from the valley below.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II which is starting an alphabet adventure this week with the letter A at See It On A Postcard


Sunday, 23 July 2017


This week's Sunday Stamp theme about places and building you would like to visit set me a dilemma because that is usually a thought I have whenever I see somewhere I haven't been on a stamp or postcards, however a decision has to be made. I decided on a place that has fascinated me through travel films and books of its culture and scenery the 'Land of the Eternal Blue Sky' - Mongolia.
1982: Landscapes and Animals
From the Gobi Desert to the mountains Mongolia has an amazingly diverse landscape, and climate. This stamp shows a beaver and Lake Hovd but the others in the set show seven distinct landscapes.
1969: Landscapes and Flowers
This set features some of  Mongolia's wildflowers, here is variegated pink or carnation (dianthus).
1969: 10th Anniversary of Co-operative Movement
Of course I would want to see the horses that are eternally linked with Mongolia whether it is the history of the Golden Horde or the more peaceful herding as featured in this stamp of the painting 'Horse-herd' by A. Sengetsohyo which is displayed in the National Gallery in Ulan Bator.  Yes I would have to fit in a visit to an art gallery too and
1968: Mongolian Paintings
perhaps stay in a Mongolian ger or yurt. Ger in the Mongolian language refers to their traditional portable dwelling place but carries an added meaning of home, household or family. The stamp features the painting 'Camel Calf by B. Avarzad.  The temperature in Mongolia can range from -35 to +40 Celsius (-31 to +104 Fahrenheit) so as I am a bit of a softy spring or summer would be my preference
On Remote Roads by A. Sagatzohyo
although winter might have its charms or challenges.  Who might be met on this remote road?
1969: Mongolian Costumes
Costumes from the far west of Mongolia, a frontier land of snow-capped mountains, lakes, deserts and pastureland.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - place you would love to see - take a trip at See It On A Postcard


Leap for London Bridge

One of the postcards issued to support London's bid to stage the Olympics in 2012 featured Tower Bridge being hurdled. Another of the cards featured a gymnast on 'The Gherkin' skyscraper (30 St Mary Axe) which can be seen on the right through the bridge.  Despite visiting London many times I've never actually been on the trip inside the bridge towers to view among other things the Victorian Engine Room, which once used steam to raise the bascule and allow the tall ships up and down the Thames River.
The reverse of the card bullet points what London was promising to deliver.  Work had started on the bid in 1997 but I would guess the card dates from between 2003 when parliamentary approval and the associated funding needed was given and the games being awarded to the city in 2005. I found the card when browsing a second hand bookshop in central England, it hadn't travelled as far as some of the competitors who enthralled us in the weeks of the sporting competition.

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Bridges - cross over to Connections to the World 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Ancient Statues

Definitives issued 1914-1922
The mysterious Great Sphinx of Giza, in Arabic Abū al-Haul, which translates as The Terrifying One believed to have been created circa 2558–2532 BC. Photographs of the Sphinx from all its giant angles can be seen here.   A mythical creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. So what about seeing some lions
1950s: Official Stamps
which at 7ft (2.15m) are small in comparison to the sphinx but this once stood on a tall pillar in Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh) and this polished sandstone capitol is now in the museum there.  It is the most important of many lion columns that were put up by Ashoka and the most elaborate, there are four lions which symbolise the four noble truths of Buddhism.  Today it is also a national emblem of India
1984: Parthenon Marbles
Next we have a human statue although not quite for this is Dionysus, the god of the grape harvest or more particularly wine, but also madness, vegetation and the theatre
1959: Ancient Greek Theatre
where this fellow would perform because this 3rd Century statuette portrays an actor.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Statues or Monuments -  at See It On A Postcard

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Smolny Cathedral

The Smolny Cathedral in St Petersburg was originally built to be the central church of a monastery and with the other churches in the complex forms a cross.  Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, started to build a convent just before here 40th birthday for 120 young women with herself as prioress; I don't know if she was going to install her lovers here as well.  It did not look possible that she would ever rule Russia but after a coup by the royal guards, carried out with her involvement, she quickly decided that the religious life was not for her and accepted the offer of the Russian throne.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The architect is the famous Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli who created many of the iconic buildings in St Petersburg including the Winter Palace in the same baroque confection.  Thousands of people were involved in the construction but Elizabeth died in 1761 with the cathedral still unfinished, it was finally completed in 1835 but closed in 1923 after the Russian revolution and used as a storage facility when much of the original interior was destroyed . In 1990 it was made into a concert hall although I read it is presently undergoing refurbishment. 

Postcard for the Weekend theme - Places of Worship - pray visit Connections to the World

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Aerial Views

2008: Gorgeous Australia
The spectacular Grose River Gorge in the Blue Mountains of Australia, a labyrinths of gorges and and canyons which the Grose River has carved out over the millennia leaving these sheer sandstone cliffs.
2013: National Parks
A different terrain on one of Finland's attractive series of National Parks stamps, in this case a beautiful aerial view of Nuuksion National Park whose green forests and rocky crags are within easy access of those wanting to walk through nature from Helsinki.
1935/6- George V Definitives - Landscapes
I love a port so would enjoy sailing into this one because Colombo is one of the busiest ports in the world.
1963: 40th Anniversary of Sabina Airline
An aerial view requires an aircraft (or a drone) so here is an aeroplane  from what was Belgium's national airline flying over Brussels in a stamp celebrating its 40th anniversary.   Sabena went into liquidation in 2001 so didn't reach its centenary. 
1962|: Space Research (2nd Series)
For an even better aerial view lets take a rocket into space

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Aerial Views - for the overview See It On A Postcard