Friday, May 30, 2008

The abominable snowman

(I can’t believe that this is already the end of the week and I updated my blog only once ! I had so much work and time is running so quickly…)

On top of stamps picturing frogs and toads I collect all stamps issued in 1966. Because this is the year of my birth. My collection of 1966 stamps is far from being complete. This is not my main collection so I do not spend enough time for it. Anyway I recently made the acquisition of an impressive set of fifteen triangular stamps issued by Bhutan in 1966. This is the only stamps I have from Bhutan so far in my 1966 stamps collection. Here it is.

As you see the subject of the set is the Yeti. The set is in fact made of five sets of three stamps, each set picturing a different representation of the Yeti. The Yeti, also known as the abominable snowman, is an apelike “animal” that is said to inhabit the Himalaya region of the Nepal and Tibet. The Yeti is a cryptid, i.e. an unconfirmed animal for which there is no scientific proof of existence (the study of such animal is called the crypto zoology). The Yeti is often compared to the legendary “Bigfoot” from America. For thousands of years, the legend of the Yeti remained confined to its remote area, where it was worshiped. The first time this creature was publicised in the western world was in the 19th century with the first expeditions of European in the Himalaya. Since then, the Yeti has become a tourist attraction.

The Yeti is a part of popular culture now. It appears in movies, books and video games. For instance in the famous movie series Star Wars, the creature called the Wampa is based on the Yeti in the appearance and the habitat it lives in. Another example is “Tintin in Tibet”, the comics from Hergé, where the Yeti saves Tintin’s friend. There are a lot of similar examples.
It is funny that the name “abominable snowman” comes from a translation error. This name comes from an article written by Henry Newman in the Calcutta Statesman. He translated “metoh kangmi”, the name used by local people, into “abominable snowman” whereas “metoh” means man-bear and “kangmi” means snowman. In fact he mixed up “metoh” with “metch” meaning filthy.
Bhutan has issued other stamps picturing the Yeti. It appears on a stamp with 3D effect issued in 1970 in a series about animals (at this time Bhutan was issuing a lot of stamps with this simulated 3D effect).

Another stamp issued in 1996 in a souvenir sheet about folktales pictures the Yeti.

I wonder if other countries have issued stamps picturing the Yeti ? Cryptids on stamps could be an interesting topic for collection…

Monday, May 26, 2008

More butterflies from Sweden

I have already mentioned here and here a new series of stamps initiated by Swedish post and picturing butterflies. The particularity of these stamps is that they picture the butterflies in an unusual way : they picture close up of the butterflies wings. On the 15th of May, the Swedish post has issued two new stamps in this series.

Here is the first one.

It pictures a close up of the wing of a Dark green fritillary a butterfly belong to the Nymphalidae family. The scientific name of this butterfly (Argynnis aglaja) is coming from Aglaia, one of the three graces who, in Roman religion, were goddesses who personified beauty and elegance !

The second stamp pictures an Apollo (Parnassius apollo) a butterfly of the Papilionidae family. It is found on mountains in Europe usually above 1000m up to 2000m. The Apollo population Sweden has decreased drastically during the 1950's. The reason for this is not known, but it is commonly thought to be because of a disease which could be linked to acid rain. The Apollo is also known as the “great eye”.

One point to be noted on the stamps of this series is the security aspect. Two particular point have been developed to enhance the security related to these stamps. First there is some gold paint over the denomination. Second, micro printing is used in the design of the stamps. If you look at the stamps with a magnifier you will see that the scientific and common names of the each butterfly is micro printed in one of the nervure of the wing. You can not see it without a magnifier.
Micro printing seems to be used more and more as a security measure in stamp design.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

May stamp issues from French post

Last week, I have received two mails of readers of my blog asking me if I could more regularly, speak about the stamps issued by French post. I’ll try to present, on a monthly basis, the stamps issued by my country. Let’s start by the May issues.

First of all, the stamps that have already been issued. On the 5th of May, La Poste has issued the EUROPA stamp. I have already written about my deception about the lack of originality that postal administrations have shown to illustrate the subject of this year (Letters writing). French post made no exception. Here is the stamp.

For the people who do not speak French the text written on the stamp (Le plaisir de vous écrire) means : the pleasure to write. Once again I’m surprised that for the EUROPA issue, French post has chosen a face value that corresponds to the rate of a standard letter to France (0.55 Euro) and not to the other European countries (0.65 Euro).

On the 19th of May, La Poste has issued a more interesting stamp. This is a joint issue with Canada post to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Quebec. Here is the stamp issued by France.

And the stamp issued by Canada.

The stamp depicts Samuel de Champlain (who founded the city of Quebec) on his ship greeting natives approaching in a canoe, while construction of the new settlement is on going in the background. This stamp is the fifth and last in the series dedicated to French settlement in North America that began with the 2004 St. Croix Island stamp.

Now, some information about the stamps to come.

On the 29th of May, a souvenir sheet of five stamps will be issued picturing “Oui-oui”. This is a “Happy birthday” stamp.
Oui-oui is the French name of Noddy, a character created by the British children’s author Enid Blyton in 1943 and who has appeared since then in various TV animated series. Noddy is a little wooden boy who lives in his own little house in Toyland. Noddy was carved by a woodsman but ran away after the man began to make a wooden lion, which Noddy was scared of. He then meets Big Ears, a friendly gnome. Big Ears decides that Noddy is a toy and takes him to live in Toyland. He provides Noddy with a set of clothing and buys a build-it-yourself house for him. This is the beginning of a lot of adventures that have filled the childhood of a lot of kids (including myself !).
French post issues annually such “Happy birthday” stamp picturing a character taken from literature for children. I’m not so sure that there is really a need to issue such stamp every year.

On the same day, La Poste will issue one booklet of ten auto-adhesive stamps. Last year, the subject of this “Holiday” booklet (“Vacances” means Holidays) was the colour BLUE this year the subject is the GREEN.

Still on the same day, La Poste will issue two other booklets of ten stamps. Again these are message stamps, but this time these are stamps to announce the birth of a boy (C’est un garcon) or a girl (C’est une fille).

The particularity of those stamps is that they contain a grey zone that needs to be scratched to discover if this is a girl of a boy !

The issue of such message stamps creates a real debate in France. Their design is very often criticized and their postal need is sometimes questioned. I must admit that I agree that there is no real need to have, every year, such stamps. But I must admit that this year I rather like the design of those stamps. The “scratch” thing is may be a gadget, nevertheless…

To finish, here is a stamp that will be issued on the 31st of May. It pictures the belfry of Evreux.

Evreux is a French town located in Normandy in the north west part of France. The belfry was constructed between 1490 and 1497. It had two different usages : it was first used to ensure the defence of the city but it was also used to give the time, thanks to a clock. This clock that has been renovated in the 19th century is named “La Louyse”. To be noted that the style of this nice belfry is rather unusual for this area of France.

So here are the may stamp issues of France. If you are interested to get some of them, don’t hesitate to contact. We’ll see together how I can help you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

First cover from Turkey

Yes ! Again a “first” for today. My first cover from Turkey ! What a week ;-)

I must admit that looking for information about both stamps of this cover helped me to learn a lot about the subject they picture.
Let’s start by the oldest stamp, the one located on the right. It was issued on the 13th of September and belongs to a set of three stamps. The subject of the set is : Turkish cultural assets – Shadow play characters. The shadow theatre is a puppet heather that involves two-dimensional figures casting their shadows on a screen. It had an important place in Turkey as well as throughout the larger area of the Ottoman Empire. A long–standing puppet tradition has been established by the Turks even before the sixteenth century, when the shadow theatre was introduced. There is virtually no kind of puppet show that Turkey has not tried. Puppet tradition came from Central Asia, but shadow theatre did not. It was borrowed from Egypt. One question remains however about the origin of the Egyptian shadow theatre. The three stamps of the set pictures characters of this shadow theatre. Let me show you the stamps, one by one, and give you some background information about the characters that are pictured.

Karagoz and Hacivat :
Karagoz is supposed to be a gypsy. Karagoz has a round face, his have a large black pupil, hence his name “Black Eye”. He has a pug nose and a curly black beard. His head is completely bald and he wears an enormous turban which always trigger laughter when it falls. Hacivat is a reflective character with a pointed turned-up beard. He always uses an erudite language whereas Karagoz uses the language of the common people. Hacivat can recite famous poems, he has a vast knowledge of music, he knows the names of various rare spices, the terminology of gardening. Each movement of Harcivat is well calculated. Karagoz, on the contrary is impulsive. Where Hacivat is always ready to accept the situation and maintain the status quo and establishment, Karagoz is always eager to try out new ideas and he constantly misbehaves himself.

Tuzsuz Deli Bekir and Efe : (the stamp of the cover)
Tuzsuz Deli Bekir is a drunkard that always blusters and threatens, carrying a sword and spreading terror. Efe is a swashbuckling character from the Western coast of Turkey. He wears an embroidered jacket which is so short that it barely reaches his elbows, and a high fez. Across his back is his long gun. He tries to restore discipline in the neighbourhood all by himself and is usually a man of good intentions.

Tiryaki and Celebi :
Tiryaki is and opium addict. He spends all his time smoking opium and. He can easily be identified by his pipe. He is a flippant type but always tries to look serious.
Celebi is usually presented in a sympathetic light. He is not caricatured as are so many of the other characters. He is a dandified young man whose love for a courtesan or a girl of good family is usually the subject of the play. He is a young and rich man, who assumes a careful and rather self-conscious elegance of dress. He is dressed in European style. He speaks with an educated Istanbul accent.

The second stamp of the cover was issued on the 7th of February 2008. It belongs to a set of four commemorating the 800th anniversary of the birth of Nasreddin Hodja. Here is the full set.
Nasreddin Hodja is a legendary satirical sufi figure who lived during the Middle Ages (around 13th century) in Turkey (in Akşehir and later in Konya). He was a populist philosopher and wise man. He is remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes.
The stories of Nasreddin are known throughout the Middle East and have touched a lot of cultures around the world. A Nasreddin story may be understood at many levels. There is the joke, followed by a moral and usually ae little extra which brings the consciousness of the potential mystic a little further on the way to realization.
The oldest manuscript of Nasreddin was found in 1571. If you are interested to know more about him and his tales, you can check HERE.
I could not really find information about the stamps themselves : what do they really picture ? Do they illustrate some tales of Nasreddin Hodja ? Do they picture events in his life ? If somebody is able to tell me more I will be very happy !

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

First cover from Qatar

Yesterday I have shown you my first cover received from Bolivia. Today another first : my first cover received from Qatar !
Here it is.

The postmark from Doha is unfortunately heavy and is impossible to read. But let’s speak about the stamps. The one located on the right is part of a set of six stamps printed se-tenant and issued on the 19th of July 1996 to celebrate the Summer Olympic Games of Atlanta. The stamp pictures the Olympic emblem and the map of Qatar. The other stamps of the set pictures various sport.
Here is a picture of the full set retrieved from Qatar Philatelic Bureau website.

To be noted that Qatar did not win any medal during the Atlanta Olympic games.

The second stamp of the cover was issued on the 20th of July 1998 and belongs to an impressive set of twenty stamps (!) and two souvenir sheets picturing insects. The stamp used on the cover pictures a Labidura riparia whose common name is a Shore earwig and not Shore earwing as written on the stamp (a new example of an error on stamps !).
Earwig is the common name of the insect order Dermaptera which contains ten families and more than 1800 species ! One of their particularity is that the abdomen extends well beyond the wings, and frequently, though not always, ends in a pair of forceps-like structures.
The name, earwig, is derived from Old English “eare” (ear) and wicga (insect). They take their names from old frightening tales according to which they could enter a human brain through the ear. This seems to be only a legend, which is sometimes used in some sci-fi or horror movies.
Here is a picture of the full set of twenty stamps and two souvenir sheets.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

First cover from Bolivia

Today I’m glad to show you the first cover I received from Bolivia. I must admit that I have a big number of stamps and covers in my collection, but so far I never got any from this country. I was thrilled when I got it, as you can imagine.The cover is franked with two large stamps that are related to very different subjects. But let’s show first the picture of the cover.

The stamp located on the right side has been issued on the 28th of August 2007. It belong to a set of two stamps, itself belonging to a series of eighteen stamps, all issued in 2007. The subject of this series is “Birds from Bolivia”. The series is made of nine set of two stamps : on set per department. Effectively Bolivia is divided into nine departments : Santa Cruz, La Paz, Tarija, Cochabamba, Pando, Beni, Potosi, Chuquisaca and Oruro. Each set of two stamps has been issued at a different date from the 20th of July until the 28th of August.
The stamp on the cover belongs to the set of stamps issued for the department of Oruro. It pictures a Roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja). This is a bird that can be found in South America, and in the Caribbean area. This pink bird sometimes mixed up with pink flamingo (even though they really look different) is 80cm tall has a wingspan of 120cm. It eats fishes, frogs :-( and all sort of water creatures.The second stamp that was issued in the set of Oruro is the following one.

It pictures a Black necked stilt. Interestingly the stamp mentions the scientific name as Hymantopus mexicanus but it seems it should be Himantopus. I don’t know if this is really an error on the stamp, or if both ways are accepted. I will not show you the complete series of eighteen stamps, don’t worry ;-). If you are interested you can see those stamps on a very interesting website Birds of the world on postage stamps.

Let’s come back to the cover. The stamp located on the left side belongs to a set of three stamps issued on the 21st of September 2006. Here is the complete set.

The subject of this set is the evolution of the flag of Bolivia. The first stamp in the set (the one on the left) pictures the flag at its creation on the 17th of August 1825, shortly after the creation of the republic of Bolivia. At this time the flag was green and dark red, with five ovals formed by laurel and tree branches with a star in the middle. Each star representing a department (at this time there were only five of them). The flag is pictured on the façade of the “Casa de la libertad” located in Sucre.
At this time, people (including government) thought the aspect of this flag did not really reflect what the country was. The laurel branches looked too “European” and not “South American” enough. So on the 25th of July 1826 (less than one year after) a new flag was introduced. This is the subject of the second stamp of the set. This new flag was yellow, red and green and contained the coat of arms in the middle. The flag is again pictured on the façade of the “Casa de la libertad”.

Finally, on the 5th of November 1851 a new version of the flag was chosen : same colour but in a different order : red, yellow and green, with still the coat of arms in the middle (but they had changed in the mean time). Here is a picture of the current coat of arms that is pictured in the centre of the state flag of Bolivia.

This new flag is pictured on the last stamp of the set which is the one on the cover. This time the flag is pictured on the façade of the “Palacio legislativo” located in La Paz and where the senate and the chamber of deputes regularly meet.
To be noted that we often see the flag of Bolivia without the coat of arms included in the middle.

One last remark about the cover : see the large cancel which seems very characteristic of cover from a South American country.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More covers from Japan

I am currently on holidays for one week. I don’t have any specific plan, I’ll stay at home. I’ll try to take opportunity of this time to sort out my stamps. I already started sorting the covers I have received these last years. I also took some time to scan the covers I got recently. I will share them with you over the week.
I realised that the country which is the most often represented in my collection is Japan ! I don’t know the reason. So today I selected two letters I received from Japan through the Asian Covers Collector Club.
Here is the first one.

When I first saw this cover I was quite sure that the stamp located on the right was a recent stamp. May be I was confused by the face value which is not so common for stamps issued these years by Japan. But as you will see this is not the case.

But let’s start by the stamp on the left side. This stamps was issued on the 3rd of December 1965 and celebrates the Chichibu night festival. Chichibu is a city located in Saitama prefecture. Every year, on the 2nd and 3rd of December, the city holds a night festival. The main attraction of this festival takes place on the 3rd. Two ”kasaboko” floats which are large parasol-like objects decorated on top with weapons such as spears, and artificial flowers together with four “yatai” floats shaped like small houses are paraded through the city streets.
In the afternoon, the floats are transformed into stages by pulling out wings on either side, where Kabuki plays are performed. The most exciting scene of the festival unfolds on the evening of the 3rd when kasaboko and yatai floats, weighing 10-20 tons each and lit up with countless lanterns, climb up a steep slope with a “mikoshi” (a portable shrine). The stamp pictures a scene of this festival. I got difficulties to find more information about this festival : for instance whose shrine is it ? what is symbolized by this parade through the city ? If you know more about it, I would be very happy to hear from you.

The second stamp was issued on the 25th of August 1977 and pictures the Matsumoto Castle. This castle is also known as the Fukachi castle. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano prefecture. It is rather easy to reach from Tokyo, making it a very popular destination for tourists from Japan and other countries. This castle is also called the Crow Castle because of its black walls and spreading wings. The construction of the castle started in 1590, most of it was completed in 1594. Some parts of the castle have been re-constructed in 1990 and 1999. The tower is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.
This tower has actually six floors, even though it looks like if it only has five from the outside. The third floor of the tower on the inside has no windows and was designed as a secret floor to the castle's enemies. It was used to hide soldiers during wartime. The sixth floor was used as a watchtower, but includes a shrine in the ceiling dedicated to the god Nijuroku-ya-shin (god of 26 nights).
If you know Japanese philately, you know that such castle is a subject that is rather common on Japanese stamps.

The second cover is quite different. Here it is.

The small stamp is a part of a definitive series about fauna and flora that I already mentioned in a previous article. This specific stamp was issued on the 28th of November 1997. The other stamp was issued on the 18th of April 2008 (therefore this cover is a first day cover since it was postmarked on the 18th of April !). It is a part of a nice set issued for the philatelic week. Here is a picture (coming from the website of Japanese post) of the full set issued in the form of a souvenir sheet.

I also like the postmark of this second cover which is rather unusual with this open circle. By the way both covers are nicely cancelled, which is always the case for covers I got from Japan so far. This is not the case for other countries (including France) !

Friday, May 16, 2008

The new seven world wonders : the story goes on

Last year, I have written about the vote that took place to choose the new seven world wonders. Click here, here and here to read my previous articles. Gibraltar postal administration is going to issue soon a set of seven stamps, picturing the winners of the vote, which are, just to remind you :
- The Christ redeemer in Brazil
- The coliseum in Rome, Italy
- Petra in Jordan
- The great wall in China
- The Machu Pichu in Peru
- Chichén Itza in Mexico
- The Taj Mahal in India
Here is a preview of the stamps that are going to be issued by Gibraltar post. I do not know the exact date of issue.

I must admit that I like the one with the Taj Mahal, which is definitely my favourite in this list of famous places.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Beaded stamp !

Singapore post has added its name to the list of postal administrations that have issued innovative stamps : innovative by their design, their printing process or the material used for the stamp. Effectively, on the 8th of April 2008, Singapore post has issued the first beaded stamp! Here is a picture of the souvenir sheet, taken from their website.

What is it exactly ? This is a souvenir sheet in the shape of a pouch where the stamp is beaded : the beads are stuck on the stamp manually ! This consists on a world Premiere according to the information available on the Singapore post website.
This souvenir sheet is part to a set containing the eight following other stamps

This whole set is in fact illustrated with items from the Peranakan Museum Collection. The word Peranakan means 'local born' in Malay. It refers to the Peranakan Chinese as well as other Peranakan communities which developed in South-east Asia. Peranakans are known for the beauty of their crafted furniture, jewellery, embroidery, beadwork, textiles, garments and porcelain. The Peranakan Museum houses the best collection of Peranakan artefacts in the world.

The four first stamps of the set picture details of embroidered items. The four other pictures details of porcelain work.

It gives a very colourful and attractive stamps set. But I wonder if a beaded stamp really answers to the postal need ;-) ? After the scented stamps, the stamps in wood, in metal, in plastic, the embroidered stamps, the moving stamps, now the stamp with beads. What will be next ?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

American scientists (additional information)

Last week I wrote about a FDC I received from the USA bearing two of the four stamps issued recently by USPS and honouring American scientists. I forgot to mention one interesting information related to the stamp picturing Gerty Cori. It appears that this stamp contains an error in the chemical formula displayed on the background of the stamp. I’m not qualified to explain you more in details the error, you can read more about it here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Italian cover

I’m back from a 4 days weekend in Rome where I had a very nice weather. Rome is definitely a wonderful city. Naturally, today, I have chosen to share with you cover coming from Italy, just to stay in the mood ;-)
Here is a cover, bearing a mixed franking with stamps denominated in Lira and in Euro.

Let’s start by the stamp located on the left. It belongs to the rather famous and very nice series about “Italian castles”, started in 1980. This specific stamp is a part of the first set of the series. It was issued on the 22nd of September 1980 and pictures the castle of Rocca Di Calascio. This castle is located in Abruzzo, in the territory of the commune of Calascio. It was founded around the year 1000. It originally consisted of a single square tower. Then between the 15th and 16th centuries, there were several additions consisting of four cylindrical towers that are very typical of this castle. This castle and the surroundings have been used several times as a movie set. Among the various movies that have used this place, there is a movie that I really like : Lady Hawke (1985). Also some scenes of The name of the Rose (1986) were shot there.
To be noted that this castle, located at an altitude of 1460 meters is the highest castle of Italy.

The second stamp located on the right of the previous one belongs to a set of two stamps issued on the 12th of June 1971 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Italian republic. The stamp pictures a portrait of Giuseppe Mazzini, with the Italian flag as a background. Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872) was an Italian philosopher and politician. He was an ardent patriot. His activities have helped creating the modern Italian state from the several separate states that were, for many if them, dominated by foreign powers until the 19th century. He is therefore a good choice to celebrate the anniversary of the creation of the Italian republic that was created following a referendum held on the 2nd of June 1946, a day which is now celebrated as Republic Day. This was the first election in Italy allowing women to vote !

The last stamp was issued on the 17th of September 2007. It belongs to a set of three stamps, that are a part of a series about Schools and University. The stamp is dedicated to the "S. Pio V" institute for political studies, located in Rome. It features the institute's emblem.
Here is a picture of the full set.

The two other stamps are dedicated to :
- Marco Foscarini High School located in Venice : the stamp pictures a view of the school’s cloister.
- Salernitana Medical School located in Salerno : the stamp pictured a reworking of the iconography known as “Doctor at the bedside of a patient” taken from the manuscript entitled “Galeni in Ippocratis Aphorismos et in Librum Pronosticorum" kept in the National Library in Naples.

This is a nice echo to my very relaxing weekend in Rome !

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Away to Rome

No update today. I'm flying to Rome for a long weekend. I'll be back on Monday next week. See you then. Enjoy your stamps !

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Update of my website

For people who are interested by frog stamps I have updated my websit The Philatelic Frog recently. Don't hesitate to visit it and to send me comments if you have any.

Letters from Romania

Romania is a country where I go regularly for my job since now several years. I go to Timisoara at least three times per year and can you imagine that I never took the time to go to a post office to check the stamps that they sell and to send some covers ? What a shame. Hopefully I have the opportunity to get mails from various contacts who live in Romania. This is the case of the two letters I want to show you today.

The first one illustrates a subject that is not really in season : Christmas.

The stamp was issued on the 3rd of November 2007 in the form of a souvenir sheet containing eight stamps and a label. Here is a picture of the full sheet.

As you see the cover is franked with a band taken from the middle of the sheet, so containing the label. Every year, Romfilatelia (the company that edits Romanian postage stamps) issues a stamp for Christmas. The 2007 issue pictures the Birth of Jesus Christ and the label pictures the Annunciation. The two icons used for the design of this stamp belong to the Scaune church located in the centre of Bucharest. This church was built 400 years ago, in the location of the butchers´ district that used to cut meat on large wooden blocks commonly known as "chairs" (Scaune). The church has ever since been known as the Butchers´ and Soap makers´ Church, or the Scaune (Chair) Church. The name of the painter who realized the two icons used on the stamp and label is unfortunately not known. Neither the date when they were painted.

The second letter I received is illustrated with a completely different subject.

The stamps used on the cover are part of the series issued by Romfilatelia since several years and picturing potteries. The stamp on the left was issued on the 24th of November 2005 together with six other stamps. This set is the third part of the series called Romanian Pottery. Here is a picture of the seven stamps.

The stamps picture the following items :

- RON 0.30 : ceramics items from Leheceni Bihor, this is the one on the cover
- RON 0.50 : ceramics items from Vlădeşti, Vâlcea
- RON 1.00 : wedding pitcher from Curtea de Argeş, Argeş
- RON 1.20 : ceramics dish from Vama, Satu Mare
- RON 2.20 : ceramics dish from Bârsa, Arad
- RON 2.50 : ceramics item from Corund, Harghita
- RON 14.50 : pitcher from Valea Izei, Maramureş

The second stamp of the cover was issued on 10th of August 2007 together with three other stamps. This is the first part of a series about Pots and Cups. Here is the full set of four stamps.

The stamps picture the following items :

- RON 1.40 : a pot handcrafted in Horezu (Valcea)
- RON 1.80 : a cup made in Baia Mare (Maramures) this is the one on the cover
- RON 2.90 : a cup made in Oboga (Olt)
- RON 7.70 : a pot handcrafted in Baia Mare (Maramures)

All those items are part of the collection inherited by the Romanian Peasant Museum.

I rather like these stamps picturing traditional potteries, even though I think the whole series contain too many stamps (I showed here only a small part of the whole series) !

Monday, May 05, 2008

American scientists

On the 6th of March 2008, USPS, the USA postal administration, has issued a set of four stamps honouring four famous American scientists. I recently received a first day cover bearing two stamps of this set. Here it is.

It is a pity that the postmark has been so badly placed on the stamps. I guess this is because of the position of the stamps themselves : the postal clerk tried to cancel all four stamps in one shot. Here is a picture of the four stamps of the set.

A long time ago, when I was 17, I decided to follow scientific studies, and in my dreams I was becoming the new Pierre Curie ! I did not become the new Pierre Curie, but I kept my admiration for all the scientists that, through their discoveries, participate to the progress of mankind. This is why I really like this type of stamps.

The four scientists that are honoured on this set of stamps are (clockwise) :
- Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) who was an American astronomer. He has profoundly marked astronomy by demonstrating the existence of other galaxies besides the Milky Way. He is also at the origin of what is now called the Hubble law, that indicates that the degree of red shift observed in light coming from a galaxy increases in proportion to the distance of this galaxy from the Milky Way : this law would help to establish that the universe is expending. At the difference of the three other scientists honoured on the stamp set, Edwin Hubble never received the Nobel prize. At this time, astronomical work was not eligible for the physics prize ! This is the work of astronomers such as Hubble that helped to change this.

- John Bardeen (1908-1991) who was an American physicist and electrical engineer who won the Nobel prize in Physics twice : in 1956 and in 1972. One of his discoveries is, together with William Shockley and Walter Brattain, the invention of the transistor, a major invention without which you could not use today a computer to read my blog ;-)

- Linus Pauling (1901-1994) who was an American scientist and a peace activist. He belongs to the small group of people who received twice the Nobel Prize, and even more : he is the only one who received two Nobel prizes in different fields without sharing them with someone else. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1954 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his campaign against above ground nuclear testing.

- Gerty Cori (1896-1957) who was an American biochemist born in Prague. She received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1947 together with her husband. She is the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science, and the third one worldwide (the two first ones being Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie).

As you see, the stamps picture a portrait of the scientists and contain in the background a reference to their work.

The two small stamps that you can see on the cover are definitive stamps that I already mentioned in a previous post.

I have received this first day cover wrapped in a plastic bag, hardened with a piece of cardboard. This is not the first time I get FDC from the USA in this way. I guess that this is a service proposed by USPS : you send a cover bearing the stamps, it gets the first day cancel and is sent through the postal service protected by this plastic bag. This is something we can not do in France. In France, as far as I know, if you want to have your FDC sent through the postal service then you need to be present at the first day ceremony. After the ceremony you can send a cover to get the first day cancel, but it will not be sent back directly through the postal service : it will be sent back inside another cover that you need to provide when sending your item.