Friday, 18 December 2009

Christmas greetings from the Czech Republic

A typical Czech Christmas postcard reproducing a paiting by Josef Lada (1887-1957), one of the most popular local artists who somehow managed to capture the atmosphere of idealised Czech winter landscapes.

This postcard I sent to ourselves in an experiment involving also a few readers of this blog. I sent a packet full of covers and postcards to the post-office at Boží Dar (God's Gift) near Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) where the Czech Ježíšek (Christkindl, Babbo Natale) receives his mail. This is the result; the card with special cancellation which is in use there from 1 to 23 December 2009.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Cover from Russia no. 9

Another fine cover from Alex in Astrakhan, Russia, featuring two se-tenant stamps issued on 15 May 2009 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of installation of the hydrometeorogical service in Russia. The left-hand stamps shows the satellite "Meteor-3М" and map of ground temperature forecast, the right-hand stamp a portrait of A.J. Kupfer, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the first head of Hydrometeorological service of Russia, and also meteorological station МК-14.

Below them is this year's Russian contribution the the EUROPA project, with the astronomy stamp representing Terskolsk observatory and an armillary sphere against the background with Ursa Major concellation (issued on 5 May 2009). Thank you, Alex!

Postcard from Austria no. 2

A postcard sent from Graz, Austria, on 7 December 2009, showing the map of Austria and the coats of arms of its regions (only the descriptions of the neighbouring countries are a bit out of date, there is no Czechoslovakia or Jugoslavia any more).

The impressive 65 eurocent stamp (issued on 2 September 2009, in 900,000 copies) commemorates the 60th anniversary of releasing The Third Man (Der Dritten Mann), a film noir directed by Carol Reed, which took place in the bombed out Vienna and its sewers (famous chase scene). The film won the Cannes Film Grand Prix in 1949. Thank you, Anita!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Cover from Brazil no. 6

I received this very informative set of three se-tenant stamps from Ricardo in Brazil. They show the Estrada Real ("Royal Road"), a colonial-era road in Brazil which was started by the Portuguese colonists and their African slaves in 1697 shortly after gold, diamonds, and other precious minerals were discovered in the present-day state of Minas Gerais. The purpose of the road was to facilitate the movement of those minerals from the interior to the coast and thence to Lisbon.
The Estrada Real is made up of 177 cities (162 in Minas Gerais, 8 in Rio de Janeiro and 7 in São Paulo) split in three roads, the Old Road, which connects Paraty and Ouro Preto, the New Road, from Rio de Janeiro to Ouro Preto and the Road of the Diamonds, from Ouro Preto to Diamantina.

The middle stamp is made by a special technique, the ancient road being hard to touch (like a stone).

There is also a special cancellation celebrating 20th anniversary of the Recreative Association of the Postal Workers of Sao Paulo Metropolitana.

Thank you, Ricardo!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Cover from Malaysia no. 4

A 3-stamp yellow cover sent on 11 November 2009 from Muar, in the state of Johor, with stamps representing three different recent series:

The 50 sen black and white stamp is part of a series dedicated to Malaysian comics (2008), with Town Boy; the 50 sen stamp in the middle shows the top of the first Malaysian submarine along with the Malaysian flag (issued on 3 September 2009), and the third stamp shows the Low Energy Office building in Putrajaya, part of a series presenting ecological buildings in Malyasia (issued on 9 September 2009). Thank you, Nurulhuda!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Postcard from New Hampshire, USA

Received a couple of days ago, a postcard showing the state capitol in Concord, New Hampshire. The card was sent from Manchester, NH, on 16 November 2009, and reached me in more than 14 days, which is, apparently, the usual time of delivery of ordinary mail from the US at the moment (judging also from other items I have recently received from Indiana and New Jersey).

The are two colourful self-adhesive stamps of 44c taken from a souvenir sheet of ten stamps dedicated to the kelp forest off the central California coast. This educational sheet was issued on 1 October 2009. The rest of the postage is made up by a 10c American clock definitive. Thank you, Dulcey!

Postcard from Italy no. 4

Another postcard from Milan, from Giovanni (saluti!!!), showing the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, in the centre of the city, by the Duomo. The stamp from 2007 (25 March) commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany, establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community. The stamp, as well as the other stamp in the series, shows the floor of the palazzo del Campidoglio.

Unlike the previous card, this one is postmarked at Milano Borromeo CMP on 1/12/2009; interestingly, the postmark is not on the back side, but on the front, where the picture is;-)

Grazie, Giovanni!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Postcard from Italy no. 3

Another great card from Giovanni, who is presenting me with the beauties of Milan, Italy. This one shows the interior of the famous Teatro alla Scala. The 65 eurocent stamp follows the Thai topic of my previous post, because it shows the Golden Mountain Temple in Bangkok, a part of a joint Italian-Thailand issue from 2004 (21 April). The other stamp show the Colosseum in Rome. Grazie, Giovanni!!

Cover from Thailand no. 2

An attractive cover received recently from Bangkok, Thailand, with four 5 baht stamps showing eroded rock formations in the Pa Hin Ngam National Park in Chaiyaphum province. The stamps were issued on 2 July 2007 and are printed with special technique, leaving a natural stone touch on their surface (print run 1,000,000).

The other large stamps are in fact overprints, originally issued on 19 July 1998 with the values of 6 and 9 bahts, to commemorate the International Year of the Oceans. They show Dugong dugon and Physeter cotodon. This version of the stamps is from 2008 (15 baht).

The rest of the postage is made up by a 2 baht definitive showing a portrait of the Thai king.

Thank you, Charlie!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Cover from Austria no. 4

This Austrian cover is a real beauty! It was sent from the village of Christkindl in Upper Austria, whose post-office celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Apart from the special Nativity postmark with the date 28 November 2009, the pictorial cover (in fact one side of a large folded picture) features another lovely postmark with the same date commemorating the 20th special delivery by a historic coach from the village of Garsten to Christkindl (if I understand correctly the German text), which was attended also by tenor Josef Oberauer. The stamp of 65 eurocent is this year's Austrian Advent stamp issued on 6 November 2003, another beauty in itself, showing the snowy Alpine landscape of the Ranui im Vilnösstal, Südtirol (northern Italy).

Thank you very much, Florian!!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Cover from the Czech Republic no. 2

On 1 December 2009 when a planning a trip to Brno I had a look at the website of the Czech Post if there were any special cancellations to be had en route. I didn't expect anything, but was lucky. In Tuřany, which is one of Brno's districts, they celebrate the 150th anniversary of opening the local post-office. So I made a detour and had a couple of hastily prepared mail items postmarked with the special cancellation with the text "150 let pošty Brno 20 - Tuřany" (which means "150 years of the post-office Brno 20 - Tuřany") and the coat of arms of the district. On the empty cover sent to myself I used the current 10 Kč Christmas stamp. The cancellation is in use between 1 - 31 December 2009.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Postcard from Vatican

Received yesterday and sent on 26/11/2009 from Vatican, a nice evening view of St. Peter's Basilica in St. Peter's Square. The 0.65 euro stamp is part of a series of seven stamps issued on 10 February 2009 celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Vatican City State (1929 - 2009). This particular stamp shows a portrait of the Pope Pio XII (1939 - 1958). Interesting is the red automatic cancellation. Thank you, Rita from Portugal!

Postcard from Italy no. 2

This is a great card of the statue of Leonardo da Vinci in Piazza Scala in Milan, sent on 25 November 2009 by Giovanni from Milan.

The 0.65 euro stamp is taken from a sheet with two stamps, issued on 7 October 2009, dedicated to the Christian roots of Europe (le radici cristiane dell'Europa). The sheet around the stamps features images of 6 patrons saint of Europe.

Grazie, Giovanni!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Postcard from Hungary no. 3

A multiview postcard received from northern Hungary, showing the major sights of the historic town of Esztergom in Komárom-Esztergom county (30,000 inhabitants). Its cathedral, Esztergom Basilica, is the largest church in Hungary. The blue 200 forint stamp is related to religion as well, as it shows the impressive interior of the synagogue in Szeged. The stamp (along with one other) was issued on 25 September 2008 in 200,000 copies. The smaller stamp is a 10 forint definitive from 2001, part of a series dedicated to furniture. Thank you, Dóra.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Postcard from Austria no. 1

A postcard we sent to ourselves from a trip to Vienna to see the city centre and the pre-Advent Market beneath the spires of the Rathaus. As usual, I found a minute to send back home a card, but had to hunt for a stamp because the newsagents in the city don't sell any. Invariably, I was sent to the post-office... which I luckily found, but as it was Saturday afternoon, the big philatelic counter was closed. Finally, I managed to buy a Christmas stamp, issued on 9 November 2007 and showing an icon from St. Barbara Church in the centre of Vienna, in fact a stone's throw from the central post-office. I dropped the card in an ordinary post-box in a street near Hundertwasser houses, and am surprised that it did not receive any automatic treatment and was cancelled by hand (if I did this here in the Czech Rep., the stamp would be "killed" by ugly black wavy lines of automatic cancellation). Apart from all this, I am really looking for further visits, Vienna definitely has its charms:-)