Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Would you like a glass of stamp?

(This post should be read with moderation ;-) )

I know what you think. The title of this post sounds weird. But you will see that it somehow makes sense.

I think that I have already mentioned in this blog that I like wines (some of you will think: “Of course you like wine, you’re a French guy!”). I like tasting wines from other countries and I do have tested already several wines from Australia. I recently came across a brand of wines names: The stamp of Australia! The bottles have a label illustrated with a color version of a pre decimal definitive stamp from Australia. I know three different types as shown on the picture below.
I do not know why the producer of the wine decided to call his wines like that. May be he is a philatelist? I think it is a funny idea!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Postcard from the Isle of Rona

Last week I decided to spend some time sorting out the mess of my stamps and covers at home. While doing that I found back a postcard that I wanted to share with you since a long time and that I never took the time to scan.

The postcard comes from the Isle of Rona, and somehow, makes an echo to my new collections of cows on stamps.

But first of all, let me say a word about the island of Rona. Rona is a small island lying between Scotland’s west coast and the Isle of Skye. There are no shops, no roads, no traffic, and only one permanent residence.
Despite its small size, on the Isle of Rona there is a local post. Stamps are issued since 2003. Of course they are mainly collectable items, but they are required for local carriage from Rona to Portree when a letter or a postcard is posted in the island postbox. Such mail receives a Rona postmark before its journey across the sea. All mail posted there requires in addition a Royal Mail stamp to cover onward delivery from Portree.

In 2009 a new set of four stamps has been issued by the Isle of Rona and picturing Rona Highland cattle. The postcard I received is in fact an ad about this new stamp issue.
Here is the picture side of the card.

And here is the verso side, with the Rona stamp on the left and the Royal Mail stamp on the right.

The full set contains four stamps with different face values.

The breed pictured on the card and on the stamps is the highland cattle. This is an ancient Scottish breed with long horns and long wavy coats which can be black, red, yellow or dun. Highland cattle have been introduced in 1996 on the Isle of Rona and have bred very successfully since then.

I wonder if this type of stamps should be considered as Cinderella or if they have their place in a topical stamp collection? Anyway I think that this postcard is an interesting item.

Does anybody know a resource on the Net that gives information about the local postal services that exist all over the world?

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Flight Cover

If you read my blog regularly you know that I was born in 1966 and that I try to collect stamps that were issued this specific year. I also try to collect postal covers that are postmarked on the 9th of May 1966, the exact day of my birth. So far I already got two FDCs that I showed in this blog: one from Bulgaria and one from Poland.
I recently got a new cover cancelled on this magical day. Not a first day cover this time but a first flight cover!
Here it is.
The cover commemorates the first flight between Graz (in Asutria) to Frankfurt (Germany) through Linz (in Austria) operated by Austrian Airlines on the 9th of May 1966.
This sort of event is the occasion for people found of aero philately to produce commemorative covers that receive special cancel as this one.

The text in the nice hexagonal cancel says:
First flight Graz-Linz-Frankfurt
With HS 748

HS 748 stands for Hawker Siddeley 748, a medium-sized turboprop airliner originally designed by the British firm Avro in the late 1950s as a replacement for the now-aged DC-3s.

The stamp is a definitive one picturing the Steiner Tor, a gate located in the city of Krems.

Nice item, isn’t it ?

Friday, August 13, 2010

My new collection

My frog stamp collection is growing rapidly and has reached a very impressive size. I did not expect that it would contain so many stamps and other philatelic items when I started more than ten years ago. It is still not complete, anyway it can not be complete since every year there are new stamps issued picturing frogs!
Despite this I have recently decided to start a new topical collection. I will stop collection new issues from the countries I was collecting because it does not bring so much fun (I will only buy new issues that I really like). I miss the excitement of starting a new topic, trying to gather as much information as possible on the stamps related to this topic. You wonder what topic I have chosen? I will collect picturing cows! Not bulls, calves, beefs. Just cows. Don’t ask me why chose this subject, it is a very, very long story.

If your country issues a stamp picturing a cow, just let me know. I may be interested. I will let you know through this blog the progress of my new collection.

While I was searching for stamps on this topic I found two interesting stamps from Austria that I would like to share with you today.

Both stamps are from the definitive series and share the same design. The first one was issued on the 1st of January 2002 and the second one on the 2nd of June 2003.

As you can see they picture a peaceful cow in a scenery from the Alps region (more precisely from the Tyrol, a part of Austria).

So far nothing very exceptional. The interesting point comes now. After a change of the postal rates, Austrian post decided to overprint the last definitive stamps, including those two ones, to indicate the new face value: 0.55 cents. But in order to do that, the Austrian post decided to launch a competition among students of University for Applied Arts in Vienna to create innovative overprints. The students of two master classes set about the project with great enthusiasm and came up with unexpected ideas. The best designs were selected by a panel of judges in conjunction with the Austrian Post. In 2005 eight definitive stamps were reissued as the new overprinted Euro 0.55 stamps. Among those eight here are the two previous stamps overprinted in a rather interesting way.
For the first one, the old face value is hidden behind the silhouette of the head of cow and a set of black stripes transform the cow into a zebra!

On the second one, the overprint looks like fences that surround the cow.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Frog on postmarks (III)

My quest for postmarks picturing frogs continues. I would like to share with you the recent findings I made in this domain.

First a spectacular postmark from the United States celebrating a “science in school” day at the elementary school of Readfield, ME.

This jumping frog is rather impressive, isn’t it?

Then a red first day cancel from Japan on a frog stamp issued on the 20th of July 1976. The frog pictured on the stamp (and on the cancel) is a Kinugasa Flying Frog (Rhacophorus arboreus).

This frog, endemic to Japan, was described by Okada and Kawano in 1924. It should not be mixed with the Rhacophorus arboreus described by Ahl in 1928 that is also named Boophis microtympanum (Boettger, 1881).

The next one comes from Italy and commemorates a streets festival called “La notte dei ranat”.
This festival is held every year in the city of Novara. This year, it was the first time that a dedicated postal cancellation was designed and used during the festival.

The last two ones come from the Czech Republic and commemorate the 11th and 12th edition of a National Sport even organized for the employees of the Czech postal administration. This even is held in the city of Pardubice and every year a new cancel is designed at this occasion. The two marks below come from the 2004 and 2005 editions.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First cover from Mount Athos

I recently posted an article about a set of stamps issued by Mount Athos early this year. I’m not proud to show you the first cover that I received from there. It is a very simple one, bearing on the stamps of the set I showed in my previous post.

The cancel is not very clear but I’m still happy since this is the first time I get a letter from this part of the world.
I also take this opportunity to share with you the second part of the series about the biodiversity of the Mount Athos. It was issued on the 21st of June 2010 and contains again five stamps picturing fauna and flora in the same style than the first part.

The first stamp picture a species of wildflower endemic to Mount Athos and in danger of extinction: Silene orphanidi.

The second stamp pictures a Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos).

The third stamp pictures the Europen roe deer (Capreolus capreolus).

The fourth one pictures the bay laurel (Laurus nobils), a bay tree that belongs to the laurel family.

And the last one pictures the European green lizard (Lacerta viridis).

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Eyjafjallajökul stamps

It has been in the daily news at the beginning of this year and it has disturbed a lot the flights over Europe. I remember that some of my colleagues have been stuck on one side or another of the Atlantic Ocean because of its ash cloud. I guess you recognized it: I’m speaking about the volcano Eyjafjallajökul located in Iceland whose eruption started on the 20th of March and actually ended on the 21st of May!

To commemorate this exceptional event, Iceland Post has issued a special set of three stamps on the 22nd of July 2010.
I recently received a FDC with these three stamps. Thank you very much Benedikt for sending me this very nice cover.
The three stamps picture various views of the volcano. The particularity of these stamps is that they are printed with very fine-grained ash which fell from the volcano on the 17th of April 2010. The trachyandesite magma, from which comes this ash, is made at 60% of silica and comes from a depth of 7km with a temperature of more than 1100°C when it reaches the glacial ice.
This is rather impressive that a part of this ash is finally ending on a set of stamps, isn’t it?

This is a very interesting set of stamps for people interested by volcano, and I know a lot!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

2010 international year of biodiversity (II)

I already mentioned a set of stamps issued by South Africa celebrating 2010 as the year of biodiversity. On the 15th of July, Hong Kong post has issued its own set of stamps on this subject. Thanks to Luke I was able to get the stamps, souvenir sheet and FDC that I would like to share with you. As you guessed it already, one of the stamp pictures my favorite subject: a frog.
Let’s start by the set of four stamps that illustrates the biodiversity of Hong Kong by presenting four endemic (and rare) species.

(As you will see Luke has sent me stamps located on the corner on the stamp sheet, so they are attached to a margin that contains the “traffic light markings”)

The first stamp pictures a Hong Kong Paradise Fish (Macropodus honkongensis).

The second one is the one that I am particularly interested in since it pictures a Romer’s Tree Frog (Liuixalus romemi).

The Romer’s Tree Frog is a species of frog that is endemic to Hong Kong and is one of the smallest amphibians that has been recorded in this area. Even though it is called “Tree Frog” it does not belong to the Hylidae family (the family where you can find tree frogs) but it belongs to the Rhacophoridae family. This frog is named after J.D. Romer who first discovered it on Lamma Island in 1952. It is highly endangered and is protected under the law of Hong Kong.

The third stamp pictures a tree of the laurel family (Sinopora hongkongensis) which was first discovered in 2005 so very recently.

The last stamp pictures a species of dragonfly (Fykienogomphus choifongae) also recently discovered since it was observed for the first time in 2004.

Here is the official FDC for this set of stamps, illustrated with a nice drawing picturing the four species pictured on the stamps.

Look at the nice first day cancel that also pictures a frog!
As this is an official FDC, the envelop contains some interesting information on the back. Here is a scan of the verso.

The four stamps have also been issued in a souvenir sheet.

And here is the FDC of the souvenir sheet.

Hong Kong post has also issued a set of postcards. Here is the frog one.

To conclude this post, let me share with you the cover used by Luke to send me these items. He stamped his cover with this specific issue. Thank you very much Luke.

Just to be complete the last stamp used by Luke on his cover is a definitive stamp issued in December 2006 and picturing a White-belied Sea Eagle.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Two FDC from Japan

Few weeks ago I have published here on my blog a nice example of bulls eye cancellation on a cover stamped with Hello Kitty stamps. I recently received this FDC with two stamps of the Hello Kitty issue and decided to share it with you.

If you are a fan of Hello Kitty and if you are interested by this cover, just let me know.
At the same time than the previous FDC I also received this one.

At first glance I thought that the FDC was franked with a full souvenir sheet. But after having looked for information about this stamp issue I realized that it is franked with the top half of a stamp sheet. Here is the full sheet as displayed on the Japan post website (hence the “specimen” marking).

This set is a set of prefecture stamps issued on the 14th of May 2010 for the Kochi prefecture to celebrate the 60th anniversary of local government law. In fact this set is part of a series where all prefectures issue a set of stamps to commemorate the same event.
Kochi prefecture is located on the south coast of Shikoku island. Kochi is also the name of its capital city. The map on the left side of the cover pictures the location of Kochi prefecture. There is a whale also on the cover because whale catching is very developed in this area.
The large stamp located on the top half of the sheet (and therefore on the cover) pictures Sakamoto Ryoma. Sakamoto Ryoma (1836-1867) was the leader of the movement to overthrow Togugawa shogunate, the feudal regime of Japan that existed from 1603 to 1868 (called the Edo period). Sakamot Ryoma is celebrated in various ways in the Kochi prefecture, for instance Kochi airport is named Kochi Rymoa Airport after him. His name has also been given to an asteroid (asteroid 2835 Ryoma)!

The design of this stamp has also been used to design commemorative yen coins.

The background of the sheet pictures Katsura-hama, a beach located in Kochi.

I take the opportunity of this post to call from some help. I’m always puzzled with cancellation on Japanese cover: I’m never able to understand the date. Can somebody explain me how dates should be read on such cover?