Friday, April 19, 2024

Swedish Polar Research

From the Swedish city of Gothenburg. This is a large cover with a large booklet pane from the 1989 "Polar Research" booklet. The stamps were issued to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The stamp on the left is a 2012 hairy violet. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

United Nations, Vienna Office

I've received a few covers from the UN, from the office in New York. These two from Vienna arrived on the same day. On the first cover is a 2022 stamp showing Montecatini Terme in Italy, from a series about European spa towns. And on the right is a 2018 World Health Day stamp.

On this cover from left to right, a 2010 International Year of Biodiversity definitive stamp with an illustration of a Aracana aurita, a 2008 definitive stamp featuring Austrian composer Johann Strauss II, and finally a World Humanitarian Aid Day added value stamp from 2022.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Senhora da Hora, Portugal

The postmark implies it was sent from Matosinhos: a municipality on the northern edge of Porto. But the extra postage label says Senhora da Hora which was a civil parish to the west of Matosinhos. The 2023 stamp on the left commemorates the 100th birth anniversary of opera singer Maria Callas. And the 2023 stamp on the right commemorates the 100th birth anniversary of pioneering aeronautical engineer Alberto Santos Dumont.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Niagara Falls, Canada - Total Solar Eclipse

The city of Niagara Falls is an hour and a half drive away for me. Around the other side of Lake Ontario. They were not right in the middle of the path of totality but close enough to enjoy three and a half minutes of darkness during the solar eclipse that was visible across parts of Mexico, Canada and the US on Monday. I sent this cover down to the main post office last week and it came back with a nice postmark dated 08 April 2024 - the day of the Eclipse.

The city of Niagara Falls is known for the famous horseshoe-shaped waterfalls on the Niagara River. Also some casinos, an indoor waterpark, and an overpriced entertainment district. Something to do for everyone. It was always fun to go down there when my kids were small. Personally though, I prefer touring the nearby wine region. Just across the river is Niagara Falls, New York. They have their own waterfall but it's not as nice :P

Canada Post issued this stamp last month to commemorate the Eclipse. It's an ok stamp but I kind of expected a bit more. It was advertised as having a "glow in the dark" effect but it's really just a faint UV activated glow around the moon. I would have liked to see an actual glow in the dark effect. 

I was in Toronto on the day of the Eclipse. To get under the path or totality I would have had to drive south-west towards nearby Hamilton, Ontario. But the cloud cover was pretty thick across the region all day. For a brief moment the sky opened up and we did get a quick view of the eclipse but mostly it just looked like a cloudy day that wanted to rain. I had a clear view of the horizon to the south and west and I could see the ominous shadow of the moon being cast onto the cloud cover as it traveled westward over Lake Ontario, south of the city. And then just like that, it was over.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Folding Screens of King Heonjong's Wedding Celebration

The stamp on this FDC from South Korea is from a set of six that together depict a set of folding silk screens that display a gathering at the royal palace to celebrate the marriage of King Heonjeong to his second wife Queen Hyojeong, in 1844. 

It was common practice at the time for officials to commission art such as this to record events that occurred. The actual screens are a little over a meter high and under half a meter wide. There are eight of them with the first and last containing text only. You can see the folding screens in the postmark. And because the single stamp was not enough for international postage the additional postage label to the left was required. 

Monday, April 8, 2024

Japanese Culture to Leave for Future Generations, FDC

First-day postmark from Osaka on this cover from Japan with a stamp from a recent set featuring imagery that depicts culturally significant items, places and rituals in Japan. On these stamps are "Yasugi Bushi" which is a popular folk song and dance from Shimane prefecture.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Pokémon, France FDC

First-day postmarked in Paris. These stamps featuring the character Pikachu from the massively popular Pokémon franchise sold out shortly after I purchased them, just after they were issued on Feb 27. There was also a collectors booklet of four international stamps issued and another domestic booklet of related stamps planned for June. Why did La Poste feel the need to issue a stamp featuring a Japanese video game character? They occasionally issue a stamp that features something that interests French children, either now or at one point in recent history. And Pokémon certainly fits that category.

When my children were younger they were keenly interested in Pokémon and they even spent a few years playing the collectible card game and video games competitively. We used to travel around to different cities in the region playing in tournaments to earn points for an invitation to the world competitions late in the summer which they managed to do twice. I did not play but some parents we knew did. Most of the participants at these Pokémon tournaments are adults. The top prize at the Pokémon Worlds Championship is $50k USD.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Torino, Italty

On this cover from Turin, a 2022 stamp that commemorates the 100th birth anniversary of Italian actor Ugo Tognazzi and a 2021 stamp that commemorates the 100th birth anniversary of Italian theatre performer and politician Giorgio Strehler.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Kanaya, Japan

From the city of Shimida in the Shizuoka Prefecture. The Kanaya post office is in what was the town of Kanaya before it was amalgamated into Shimida in 2005. The stamps were originally produced for "Philatelic Week" in 1999 but were reissued in a different layout for the Phila Nippon stamp exhibition held in Tokyo of 2001.

Kanaya station is the terminus of the 40km Ōigawa railway line owned by the Ōigawa Railway company which specializes in the preservation and operation of steam locomotives. In the pictorial postmark is a Kawasaki C10 class locomotive manufactured in 1930. It is the only existing locomotive of this type and the oldest operated by the Ōigawa Railway company.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Malmö, Sweden

You can just barely make out the Malmö postmark on the middle stamp, under the round postnord postmark. The stamp on the right is from a 2016 set that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Swedish Museum of Natural History. In the middle is a stamp from a 2015 set about European honey bees. And on the left is a 2010 stamp from a set featuring marine life in the waters around Sweden. It was a joint issue with Canada.

Here are the joint isssue FDCs from both countries. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

Birds of France. And a snake.

Sent from the commune of Amilly, about an hour and half drive south of Paris. The Puffin stamp is part of the bottom third of a 2012 stamp sheet that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the LPO: Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux. Puffins can be found in France, on islands off the coast of Brittany. Upper right is a lesser kestrel (a small falcon) from a 2000 set about threatened bird species. And below that is a 2013 year of the snake stamp.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Lempäälä, Finland

On this cover from Lempäälä is a self-adhesive stamp sheet from 2012 with four stamps commemorating Sámi culture in Finland. The Sámi are the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia. This shape of this stamp sheet is the same as the footprint of the Sámi Cultural Centre that opened in Inari, Finland on January 9, 2012.