Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Just a short post on this last day of 2008 to wish you all a very very happy new year.
I hope that 2009 will bring us a lot of philatelic surprises
The picture illustrating this post is the booklet of stamps issued on the 10th of November 2008 by the French post for the "season greetings". The stamps have been designed by students of an art school located in Epinal.
To be noticed that the booklet contains an unusual number of stamps : 14 instead of the usual 10. This is because six stamps have a smaller size (the size of a definitive Marianne stamps) to be used on smaller greeting cards and envelopes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Preserve the Polar Regions and Glaciers

2008 is slowly reaching an end, so this is time to speak about one of the important philatelic events that will take place in the first quarter of 2009.
As a closing action of the 2007-2009 International Polar Year, not less than 40 countries will issue a stamp or souvenir sheet with a common theme: Preserver the Polar Regions and Glaciers. Each country will be free to decide the design of the stamps, the only rule is that it must include the logo of the campaign, a protected ice crystal that must be put on the left part of the design.
Most of the Nordic Countries (Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway …) who issued a common block of stamps in March 2007 for the IPY’s opening are involved in this issue, as well as the countries pretending claims in Antarctica (like Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand …) or having stations on the White Continent (Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Rep., Ecuador, India, Japan, South Africa, Uruguay).
Some other countries having temporary research programs in the Polar Regions are also joining the stamp issue (like Estonia, Hungary or Switzerland for example). The program is still open to other goodwill countries involved in polar matters.

As an appetizer ;-), here is a picture of the souvenir sheet that will be issued by Aland on the 22nd of January 2009.

The souvenir sheet commemorates the 100th anniversary of the introduction of electricity in Mariehamn, Aland. Due to the very high prices for the electric current produced, this is not before the end of the 70s that the most remote parts of Aland have been connected to the main electrical network. The souvenir sheet pictures a more ecologic way to produce electricity: wind turbines. 22 wind turbines are installed in Aland.
The symbol of this joint issue, an ice crystal, can be seen in the upper left corner. The wind turbine is embossed and the rest of the sheet is supplied with Metal FX effect.

If you are interested to see more of the design of the stamps that are planned to be issued, you can check
this page on the Finnish post website.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Island

I know that the frenzy of Christmas is now over, but I would like to share with you an item I received end of last week: a very nice Fist Day Cover of the Christmas issue from Christmas Island!
Here it is.
First of all, let me give you some information about the island itself. Christmas Island is a small dot located in the Indian Ocean, 2600 km north-west of Perth, Australia and not very far (360 km) from Java.
The island was named “Christmas Island” by Captain William Mynors of the East India Ship Company vessel, the Royal Mary, on the day of his arrival, the 25th of December 1643. He was not able to land, and actually the first recorded landing on the island will only occur in 1688.
Nowadays Christmas Island is a territory of Australia. There are around 1600 residents on the island, and 63% of its surface is a national park, making it famous for its flora and fauna. You can find a lot of useful information about this island
on this website.

On the philatelic side, Christmas Island has started to issue its own postage stamp in 1958. It was an adaptation of Australia's 1 shilling 7 pence stamp of March 1955, using a bas-relief profile of Queen Elizabeth II with floral ornament. The design was reshaped to include a black "CHRISTMAS ISLAND" and encircled value in Malayan dollars overprint.
Since 1992 the stamps from Christmas Islands are produced by the Australian post, with three issues per year. One of these issues is a traditional Christmas set of stamps. The one on the cover have been issued on the 31st of October 2008.

The stamp on the right pictures a Robber crab (Birgus latro), the largest species of crab worldwide, so called because of its habit to steal shiny objects. The Robber crab is also called elsewhere the Coconut crab because of its ability to break coconuts with its claws. The stamp pictures a Robber crab disguised as a reindeer that tries to steal the Christmas gifts of a group of Red crabs. Red crabs are another species that can be found on the island. They are very numerous there and their annual mass migration to the sea has been described by ecologists as one of the wonders of the natural world.

The second stamp pictures a Christmas tree decorated with seashells, Red crabs and a smiling starfish. A bird is wrapping its long tail around the tree like a strand of tinsel. This bird is a Golden bosun (Phaetho letirus fulvus), a bird that is endemic to Christmas Island and that is also pictured on the flag of the island.

The pictorial postmark is very nice and clear, making this FDC a very nice item for my collection!

Friday, December 26, 2008


Even if the Christmas eve and day are over, I would like to keep the Christmas spirit for today, before entering the last run for the end of the year. I would like to share with you an item I received recently from Scott, a reader of my blog who also maintains the website Postively Postal that I invite you to visit. Thank you very much Scott.
Scott sent me this souvenir sheet.

If you are interested in British philately you know that this is the 2008 Christmas issue from Royal mail. A set of six stamps and a souvenir sheet picturing characters from the Pantomime : the ugly sisters from "Cinderella", Aladdin's genie, Peter Pan's Captain Hook and the wicked queen from "Snow White". Even if I think that the design of these stamps is rather... interesting, I'm still surprised by the choice of Royal Mail to celebrate Christmas! Can somebody tell me the link between Christmas and Pantomime ?
Anyway this is not the first time that Royal Mail selects a surprising subject for its Christmas issue.

Scott also sent me the postal card issued by Royal Mail and picturing this souvenir sheet.

If you are familiar with the stamp issues from Royal Mail you know that, for almost every commemorative stamps that are issued, a postal card is also issued, picturing the stamp. For this issue, Royal Mail has issued seven cards, one for each stamp and one for the souvenir sheet. I guess that collecting these postal card is a collection in itself !
What is interesting in this card is that if you look closely to the stamps, you will see that the perforation pictured on card is different from the actual perforation of the souvenir sheet. On the card the stamps seem to have these now-well-known elliptical security perforation, whereas in reality they have not ! What is also interesting is that if you check on the website of Royal Mail, the picture of the souvenir sheet used on the online shop also pictures the same elliptical perforation. Does it mean that the stamps were intended to be issued with such perforation and finnally were not ? Anybody has any information about that ?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to all

First of all I would like to wish to all of you a Merry Christmas !

Today I have selected the Christmas gifts that I just received from three postal administrations : Sweden, Finland and of course France.
The Swedish post has sent me a very nice item : an engraving proof of the Sailing ships issue, a set of stamps issued on the 15th of May 2008 and picturing saling ships. Here is the proof and a picture of the set of stamps. Nice set and nice gift, isn't it ?

I would also like to show you the cover that was used by the Swedish post to send me this gift, because it is simple, but nice (very clean postmark !)

Surprisingly this cover is franked with a rather old stamp, since this is a stamp issued in 1989 and picturing an Eurasian Eagle Owl (Buob buo).
Finish post sent me a large illustrated postcard bearing on the recto and on the verso both Chritsmas stamps issued on the 6th of November 2008, together with nice pictorial cancels.

And finally the French post sent be three bands picturing the various priting steps of three stamps belonging to the artistic series.
First the stamp dedicated to Van Dick and issued on the 11th of November 1999 (I show you also the final stamp) :
The second stamp is the one dedicated to Jean Baptiste Gueuze and issued on the 26th of September 2005 :

And the last one is the stamp celebrating Serusier and issued on the 15th of October 2007.

What about you ? Did you get any gift from your postal administration ?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

400th anniversary of the foundation of Quebec City

Earlier this year, Canada has commemorated the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Quebec. On the 3rd of July 1608, Samuel de Champlain (1575-1635), a French navigator, geographer, cartographer, explorer, also referred as The Father of New France, founded the city of Quebec, one of the major cities of the French Canada.

This anniversary was of course the occasion for the Canadian post to issue a stamp. More than that, a joint issue between Canada and France was issued. For Canada, the stamp is the fifth and last in a series dedicated to French settlement in North America that began in 2004. The stamp pictures Champlain on his ship greeting natives approaching in a canoe. Here is a picture of the Canadian and French stamps.

I personally think this is a really beautiful stamp!
At this occasion, a French philatelic newspaper (Timbre Magazine) has proposed to its readers to get up to six commemorative covers franked with this stamp and postmarked from different locations of the Quebec area. I decided to go for it, so I sent six self addressed envelopes (together with the requested amount of money) and here are the covers I got back in return.

One of the cover was postmarked from Montréal. The cancel is a bit light, this is a pity, and therefore hard to read.

The second cover was postmarked from Trois-Rivières, with a cancel announcing the 375th anniversary of the founding of the city that will be commemorated in 2009.

The third cover was coming from L’isle-verte.

The fourth one from Quebec itself, with a commemorative cancel.

The fifth one postmarked from Saint-Valentin bears a lovely cancel ;-)

The last one is the most disappointing one, with a dirty cancel from Belle Cote (Nova Scotia).

To be honest with you I was expecting a better result, but at the end I’m still rather happy with these commemorative covers.

Let me add some words about the other stamps that you can see on the covers.

On all of them you can see a stamp belonging to a set issued on the 12th of October 2007 and picturing beneficial insects. The stamp pictures a Northern Bumblebee (Bombus polaris). This is a very nice set that has also been issued in the form of a souvenir sheet.

Four of the covers are franked with a stamp belonging to a set issued on the 1st of October 2008 and picturing endangered species. This set of four is the third and last part of a series started in 2006 with creature of the land and continued in 2007 with creature of the water. This last set pictures flying creatures: the Taylor’s checker spot (Ephydras editha taylori, on the cover from Montréal), the roseate tern (Sterna gougalii, on the cover from Saint-Valentin), the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia, on the cover from L’isle-verte) and the prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea) on the cover from Quebec).

The cover from Belle Cote bears a stamp issued on the 8th of September 2008 and picturing Sam McLaughlin (1872-1976) the founder of the first major automobile manufacture in Canada. Here is a better picture of the stamp that is hard to see on the cover because of the heavy cancel.

Just to be complete the other stamps that can be found on the covers are flag definitive stamps or a flower definitive one, all issued in 2007.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Commonwealth games

I’m finally back on line! I must apology for the lack of update of my blog since several weeks. As you may have seen I was travelling for professional reason without much time to write about stamps, and last week, once I came back from all my trips, I got sick. Nothing very severe, but annoying enough to disturb my daily life. I feel much better even though I haven’t recovered completely. But I feel strong enough to write few lines on my blog.
I would like also to apology to all the readers who are expecting something from me. I’m awfully late in sending mails, so if you are still waiting something from me, please be patient. Thanks a lot!

For today I have selected a nice cover that I have received some times from India. Thank you very much, Mansoor, for this nice sending.

The cover is franked with two different sets of stamps. The first one, a band of four se-tenant stamps, has been issued on the 12th of October 2008 to commemorate the 3rd Commonwealth Youth Games that have been held from the 12th to the 18th of October 2008 in Pune. This is the first time that the Commonwealth youth Games were held in Asia, since the first edition was held in 2000 in Edinburg (Scotland) and the second one in Bendigo (Australia).
In the 2008 edition, India made a very good result winning 33 gold medals, 26 silver medals and 17 bronze ones, putting it at the first place of the competition!
The first stamp of the set, the one located on the left part of the band, pictures the mascot of this 3rd Youth Games, Jigrr. Jigrr is the younger brother of Shera that I will present below. Jigrr is an amalgam of the Hindi word Jigar (meaning courage) and the sounds of the roar of a tiger.
The other stamps of the set picture various sports that are part of the competition: wrestling, badminton and hurdles.
This se-tenant band of four stamp has also been issued in the form of a souvenir sheet.

The border of the sheet pictures again Jigrr, and the logo of the Games, that mixes tradition and modernity with an ancient seal bearing the name of Pune (the host city) and a modern pictogram. At the bottom of the sheet you can also see the pictograms of the nine sports that were part of the competition: athletics, badminton, boxing, shooting, swimming, tennis, table tennis, weight lifting and wrestling.

The isolated stamp on the cover has been issued on the 18th of October 2008 to celebrate the 19th Commonwealth Games that will be held in 2010 in Delhi.
The stamp pictures Shera, the mascot of the competition. Shera is a Royal Bengla Tiger, the national animal of India, and is the sister of Jigrr.

The stamp was issued also in the form of a souvenir sheet.

Interestingly this souvenir sheet pictures the mascot of the last eight editions of the Commonwealth games:
- Kegano for the 1978 Games held in Edmonton (Canada)
- Matilda for the 1982 Games held in Brisbane (Australia)
- Mac for the 1986 games held in Edinburg (Scitland)
- Goldie for the 1990 Games held in Auckland (New Zealand)
- Kleewych for the 1994 Games held in Victoria (Canada)
- Wina for the 1998 Games held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
- Kit for the 2002 Games held in Manchester (Great Britain)
- Karah for the 2006 Games held in Melbourne (Australia)

The first Commonwealth Games were held in 1930, since then they are held every four years.

Just to be complete, I already wrote about a similar postmark than the one of the cover. You read about it

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Stuttgart... this time

I'm currently in Stuttgart, the last stop of my professional trip. I'm still very busy with no time to write about stamps.
I wanted to share with you a link with a new blog, the one maintained by Maksym a collector of stamps, FDC and maximum cards picturing bridges.
Just have a look to :
Great job Maksym !

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Still no update

I'm back from Shanghai but in the mean time I have left for Timisoara and I still don't have the material with me to update my blog. So no update this week, sorry...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This week in Shanghai

I'm currently in Shanghai for the whole week. And I forgot to bring with me any material to update my blog :-( Sorry there won't be any update this week... See you next week.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pre-personalized stamps

A lot of postal administrations all over the world now propose personalized stamps : stamp attached to a label that can be personalized on demand from the customer. Several countries also issue what I call pre-personalized stamps, meaning personalized stamps for which the label has been already personalized by the postal administration itself. A lot of people consider that this is only another way for them to get money from stamp collectors and that those types of stamps are really not needed. Of course I agree with this, since the pre-personalized stamps are always sold at a higher price than their face value.

Today I would like to share with you such an item. I received it from a contact in China. It was probably issued in 2005, the year of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of HC.Andersen, the very famous fairy tales writer.

The stamp itself is a “phoenix” special usage stamp issued for the first time on the 1st of November 2004. The attached labels picture illustration of various fairy tales from Andersen :
- The little mermaid
- Thumbelina
- The emperor’s new clothes
- The little match-seller
- And probably The ugly duckling

You understand why my contact sent it to me ? Because of the frog pictured on the label illustrating Thumbelina !

This raises a question to my mind : is such pre-personalized item accepted in a topical collection ? I would rather answer no, because the subject is not pictured on the stamp itself, but on a label. On the other hand the sheet is issued like that by a postal administration, and does not correspond to the request of one single customer.
What is you opinion ?

And one additional question : is there any catalogue of such pre-personalized stamps ? I did not find any so far…

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cats and dogs souvenir sheets from Ukraine

For today I have selected a cover that I received from Ukraine. This is again an example of something that would not be possible from France. But first let me show you the cover.

The cover is franked with a full souvenir sheet that was issued on the 16th of May 2008 picturing six different types of cats. I love cats but I’m not able to identify each species of cat that is pictured on this souvenir sheet.
As you see, this cover is originally a FDC, postmarked on the 16th of May 2008 with a nice pictorial cancel, but then posted beginning of October (see the blue cancel). This is what is not possible in France, you can not send via the postal service a FDC that is already cancelled ! I wonder how this is possible, by the way. How the postal administration makes the difference between this and a double usage of the same stamps ?
This is not the first time I show such case on my blog, I could not find back the exact post but I’m pretty sure I already wrote about such an item in the past. Is this possible in you own country ? I would be happy to hear from you on this subject.

Coming back to the souvenir sheet, I must admit that when I saw it, I immediately thought that this is an example of stamps that are issued to please topical collectors and do not really answer to a postal need. This is a very interesting item for cat stamps collectors. This is why I’m happy to see them used on a cover that has gone through the postal service, at least they have served for the purpose for which they have been issued !
The sheet is nice, nevertheless. I like the line of coloured paws on the left top corner of the sheet, used as a “traffic light” indicator, the indicator to make sure no colour is missing. Another interesting fact on this souvenir sheet is that I you put under UV light you see that :

Look at the cats paws that appear as a security measure. Cute isn’t it ?

On the same day, the postal administration of Ukraine issued a second souvenir sheet dedicated to dogs this time. The sender of the cover has included a copy of this dog sheet, so here it is.

Again, under UV light it gives this picture.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Registered cover from South Africa

The cover that I want to show you today is a registered cover from South Africa. It does not come directly from a stamp collector through a cover circuit, but it is the cover used by an Ebay seller to send me an item I won. I’m always pleased when Ebay sellers take the care to send the items in a nice cover. As you will see, this one is stamped with a rather impressive number of stamps : eleven in total !

As you see the cover is a pre-stamped envelope for domestic mail, on which the sender has added stamps to cover the price of international mail and the price of the registration. The registration label (with the bar code) is actually on the reverse of the cover and therefore can not be seen on the scan.

Now to speak about the stamps I would like to start by the band of three, located of the bottom of the cover. This stamp is a part of a set of two, issued on the 15th of December 1980 to celebrate the centennial of the triumvirate government, the provisory government of the Transvaal during the first Boer war, which has led to the independence of this area from the British domination. The second stamp of the set pictures the Paardekraal monument built in 1891 to commemorate the funding of the government, but the stamp on the cover pictures the three men that were part of the triumvirate government in 1880 :

- Petrus Jacobus Joubert, also known as Piet Joubert (1834-1900). Left an orphan at an early age, Joubert became a successful farmer in Transvaal and started a political career. During the first British annexation of the Transvaal he took a leading part in creating and directing the agitation which led to the war of 1880-1881. He took part to the triumvirate government, but later failed to be elected as president of the Transvaal. During the second Boer war, he died from peritonitis. Piet Joubert is a direct descendant of Pierre Joubert who arrived at the Cape in 1688 from France. The Joubert name has retained its original spelling and is a common name among Afrikaans population.
- Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, better known as Paul Kruger (1825-1904), sometimes referred as Oom Paul (Afrikaans Uncle Paul). After his participation to the triumvirate government he succeeded to be elected as president of Transvaal, beating Joubert.
- Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1819-1901) who has given his name to the famous city of Pretoria

The other stamps of the cover belong all to the set of definitive stamps issued on the 15th of November 2000. This very colourful set contains stamps picturing flowers, butterflies, fishes and birds. The cover contains all the stamps picturing flowers. These are flowers that can be found in South Africa :

Botterblom (Gazania krebsiana) :This sun-loving, fast growing flower occurs in a variety of bright warm colours mainly in the red, orange and yellow range. It is hardy and drought resistant, which makes it a popular garden flower. The botterblom occurs naturally in the Karoo, Namaqualand, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and the northern regions of the country, as well as in Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana.

Blue marguerite (Felicia amelloides) : This delightful indigenous flower, also known as the blue daisy or bush felicia, bears sky-blue daisy-like flowers with prominent yellow centres. They are happy in almost any setting and the name felicia is aptly derived from the Latin word "felix" meaning "happy". They occur naturally and abundantly from Namaqualand to Caledon in the Northern and Western

Karoo violet (Aptosimum procumbens) : A densely tufted perennial found mainly in dry areas, especially the Karoo and Namaqualand. The plant is an excellent ground cover and because it is so well-adapted to dry conditions, the deep blue flowers often adorn the bare veld during periods of drought.

Tree pelargonium (Pelargonium cucullatum : This attractive indigenous pelargonium with its brightly coloured pinkish-purple flowers, is well-suited to coastal gardens. They occur naturally along the south-western Cape coast, from Gordon's Bay in the west to Gans Bay in the east, with a few isolated populations on the Cape Peninsula

Black-eyed Suzy (or Susan) (Thunbergia alata) : Described as a "cheerful, happy-go-lucky indigenous climber", the Black-eyed Suzy with its small bright flowers and distinctive black "eye", is a very popular garden flower. They occur naturally in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Swaziland.

And the bird pictured on the last stamps is a White-fronted bee-eater (Merops bullockoides), which belongs to the family of bee-eaters, so called because they eat bees ;-) and other animals. They have the particularity to hit the bees against a hard surface to remove the sting before eating the insect !

One last word about the cancels that I find very nice. Neat and clean, and quite unusual with this rectangular shape !

Friday, November 14, 2008

A special post for Gael !

Gael is a former colleague of mine (and a friend also !). She has moved to the United States of America some years ago together with her husband and her three kids. Because of the distance and a busy life on both sides, we have somehow lost contact. Recently I was trying to find a way to get back in contact with her when I received a cover from the USA, containing a nice frog card. This was Gael, who wrote me after finding me on the Internet through my blog ! I promised to her that I would show the cover and the card, so today is the day. A post specially dedicated to Gael.
The two stamps located on the top of the cover are part to a set of five stamps, issued on the 3rd of October 2008. This set is the second part of a series started in 2005 and entitled “America on the Move”. The stamps of the 2005 set pictured sporty cars from the 50’s and the one of 2008 is dedicated to luxurious cars from the 50’s.

The cars pictured on the stamps of the cover are (from left to right) a 1957 Lincoln Premiere and a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk. The three other stamps of the set picture respectively a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, a 1957 Pontiac Safari and a 1957 Chrysler 300C.
This set of stamps has also been sold in the form of pane of 20 stamps (USPS seems to appreciate this type of large panes of stamps !). Here is a picture of such a pane.

The third stamp of the cover is also a recent issue. It was issued on the 8th of September 2008 to celebrate the rich musical heritage of the United States of America. The stamp features a bold, graphic design by the artist and Latin jazz fan Michael Bartalos of San Francisco, California. The design conveys the multicultural aspects of the music, its percussive and improvisational nature, and its rhythmic complexity.
As I said, the cover included a very nice frog card that I would also like to share with you.

Nice, isn’t it ?

Thank you again Gael for this card. I was very happy to get news from you !

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Eric on stamp

It seems that these days are a time for discovery for me ! Discovery of new items that fit into my stamps collections ! After the stamp issued by USA and picturing Eric Sevareid, after the stamps issued by Slovenia and picturing frogs, here comes a new stamp issued by French Polynesia and picturing Eric de Bisschop.
The stamp has been issued on the 29th of August 2008 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Eric de Bisschop and the end of the “Tahiti Nui” expedition.

Eric de Bisschop was born in France in 1891. He died on the atoll of Rakahanga, in Cook Islands in 1958. He was a famous navigator, known for his transoceanic travels and his research on the population of Pacific islands.

After several adventurous expeditions in China he finally moved to French Polynesia. Inspired by the adventure of Thor Heyerdahl and the Kon Tiki, Eric de Bisschop built a boat called the Tahiti-Nui. At the end of 1956, almost ten years after Thor Heyerdhal, he leaves Papeete to go to Chile. Unfortunately the boat is highly damaged during the trip and has to be abandoned before the completion of the expedition. In 1958, Eric de Bisschop tries again. He builds a new boat, called the Tahiti-Nui II and tries to go from Peru to Polynesia. Again an accident puts an end to the expedition, and this time Eric de Bisschop is killed during the wreck.

A stamp has been issued already in 1988 by French Polynesia to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Frogs on new issue from Slovenia

Yesterday was a bank holiday in France, the commemoration of the armistice of the WW I. The weather was rather nice in Paris so I took this opportunity to spend the whole day out, without time to write on my blog, sorry for that.

I’m always thrilled when I discover new stamp issues that picture my favourite topic : frogs. During the weekend I discovered, almost by accident, a new issue from Slovenia that will fit very well into my collection. This is a set of three stamps and one souvenir sheet issued on the 29th of September 2008 picturing endangered fauna and focusing on amphibians and reptiles. Two stamps actually picture a frog.

Here is the first one.
It pictures an Italian agile frog (Rana latastei), also called sometimes Lataste’s frog. This frog species can be found in Italy, Switzerland, Croatia and Slovenia. This is one of the four species of brown frogs that can be found in Slovenia together with the Common Frog (Rana temporaria), the Moor Frog (Rana arvalis) and the Agile Frog (Rana dalmatina).
As far as I know this is the first stamp which is issued picturing this specific species of frog.
The second stamp pictures a Fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina).

The fire-bellied toad takes its name from the brightly coloured red pattern on the ventral region. It is used as a warning to predator. This type of toad can be found in Europe and Asia. It has already been pictured on stamps on several occasions, such as this stamp from Poland (part of a set issued in 1963) and this stamp from Turkey (part of set issued in 1990).

The fire-bellied toad is very similar to another toad of the same family, the yellow bellied toad (Bombina varietaga), that can also be found in Slovenia and that differs mainly by the colour of the belly.

The last stamp of the set issued by Slovenia pictured another amphibian, the Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex), which is one of the largest newt in Europe.

And finally the souvenir sheet belonging to the same set contains on stamp and pictures a snake, the four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata), so called because of the four lines that you can see all along its body, that lives mainly in south-eastern Europe and Asia.

I don’t resist also to the pleasure to show you the First Day Cover with its frog cancel !

Monday, November 10, 2008

FDC of the 9th of May 1966 !

I would like to start this post by a big THANK YOU to Andrzej. He sent me recently a nice cover, and this cover contained a gift, a FDC postmarked on the 9th of May 1966, the day of my birth ! You know that I collect stamps issued in 1966 and I am looking for such items since years. And now I get one ! Thanks again Andrzej for this very nice surprise.

Let me show you the FDC.
The stamp was issued on the 9th of May 1966 to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the victory against fascism, on the 9th of May 1945. The stamp pictures a peace dove and a war memorial. A stamp has also been issued in 1965, 1974, 1975 and 1980 to commemorate the 20th, 29th, 30th and 35th anniversaries. The design of those stamps always include a peace dove (sorry, I could not find a scan of these stamps).

I am very happy and proud to add this item to my 1966 stamps collection !

Now let see the cover that Andrzej used to send me the FDC.

The two horizontal stamps are part of a set of four stamps dedicated to extreme sports and issued on the 15th of April 2005. The one of the left pictures parachute jumping and thee other one pictures the bungee jumping. The two other stamps of the set pictures the rock-climbing and rafting. This set has been printed in the form of small sheets of eight stamps each. Here is a picture of such a sheet.

I must admit that extreme sports are not my favourite. I would be much too scared to do any of these activities !

The last stamp of the cover is very nice. It is a part of a set of four stamps issued on the 26th of June 1996 and dedicated to Polish Kings and Queens. The stamp pictures a portrait of Jadwiga (1374-1399) who was Queen of Poland from 1384 until her death. She has been canonized in 1997 as Saint Hedwig (Jadwiga) and she has become the patron saint of the Queens ! She is said to have accomplished several miracles during her life (this is a condition to become a saint), the two best known being named “Jadwiga’s cross” and “Jadwiga’s foot” :
- Jadwiga often prayed before a large black crucifix hanging in the north aisle of Wawel Cathedral. During one of these prayers, the Christ on the cross is said to have spoken to her. The crucifix, "Saint Jadwiga's cross", is still there, with her relics beneath it.
- According to another legend, Jadwiga took a piece of jewelry from her foot and gave it to a poor stonemason who had begged for her help. When the queen left, he noticed her footprint in the plaster floor of his workplace, even though the plaster had already hardened before her visit. The supposed footprint, known as "Jadwiga's foot", can still be seen in one of Kraków's churches.

The portrait has been realized by Jan Matejko (1838-1893) a polish painter who is known for his important gallery of portraits of Kings and Queens.

Here is a picture of the full set that I think is very nice.

The other kings pictured on the stamps are Wladyslaw II Jagiello, Wladyslaw III Warnenczyk and Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk.

Just to be complete you see that on the left corner of the cover there is a hand stamp which commemorates the 30th anniversary of the election of John Paul II as a pope. The mark pictures the coat of arms of John Paul II, the Marian cross. Here is a colour picture of those arms.