Sunday, February 7, 2016

illustrated Czechs

For illustrated stamps, you really need not look any further than the Czech Republic.  I'm not entirely certain, but it does seem like 99% of their stamps are illustrations rather than photographs.

From their lovely depictions of flowers, like this tulip from 2010
or the cyclamen from 2007, or the azalea from 2008 (all by graphic designer A Khunova)
to the Postcrossing stamp designed by Maria Nogueira in 2015
to perhaps the most famous Czech artist, Alphonse (or Alfons in Czech) Mucha
this is his 'Zodiac', which was originally designed as a calendar in 1896
to this 2014 stamp promoting Good Luck, with a dog chewing on a four leaf clover. 
It was designed by Jiri Sliva and I really have no idea why the attached bit on the left is of a dog tied to a lamp while reading a book. But - and I did not know this - if you find a four leaf clover and you are wanting to find a mate (husband) an unmarried woman is supposed to eat it and the first unmarried man she sees afterwards will be her true love.

more countries from around the world have illustrated stamps, find some at Sunday Stamps II

Sunday, January 31, 2016

snow, snow, wherefore are thou?

Usually around this time, people in my neck of the woods have had enough of winter's cold and snow.  But, this year, we have barely had an inch of the stuff. It has barely even been cold enough to make snow.  It has to be at least -2°C for that.  Mostly we are all walking around in a giddy daze, marvelling at yet another January spring day. As I prepare this post it is 7:30 am and an overcast 7°C

The lakes have not frozen over, so all the ice fishing huts have stayed in storage

The outdoor rinks have not materialized and the ponds are risky 
so Schroeder, Sally, Violet, Lucy and Snoopy might be skating on thin ice
And, while over on the east coast may have had a massive winter storm, we got nothing.  Our ski hills (note hills, not mountains) are open, but mostly with man made snow
and no front yards have had any snowmen lurking

see what other winter scenes have been found at Sunday Stamps II

Sunday, January 24, 2016

1908 CCM

Every Friday the 13th, thousands of motorcycles descend on the small town of Port Dover on Lake Erie. On a nice summer's day, attendance can reach +100,000.
I've never been. But, I have seen news reports of the event and heard from others who have been. This year there will be only one Friday the 13th - in May.
It all started in 1981 when a few friends got together at the suggestion of biker Chris Simon. They had such a good time they decided to meet up on the next Friday the 13th, and the next ... and a tradition was born. 
As for this stamp, issued in 2013, it shows a unique view of a 1908 CCM. It was designed by Mark Warburton with illustration by Mark Pilon. 
The Light Weight Motor Cycle had a Swiss designed engine that could be installed on any conventional bike frame, which made maintenance simple. It was billed as a "Gentleman's Motor Cycle" and was said to have no noise or vibrations.

for cycling at Sunday Stamps

Sunday, January 17, 2016

dazzling swan

Where I live, we have more swans in the bay during the winter months than in the summer. Some years there have been as many as 200; a mix of permanent residents and those who have flown down from northern Ontario.
I cannot express how excited I was to receive this dazzling swan by Finnish illustrator and designer Klaus Haapaniemi in the dying days of 2015! According to Posti, the Gold Swan's ornate decorations were inspired by eastern Finnish and Slavic cultural traditions. The gold foil embossing is hard to photograph, but it is fun to play with as you turn the stamp in many directions to catch the light. This is Haapaniemi's first stamp design, though similar patterns can be found in his designs for a Finnish housewares store Iittalia (link shows examples, plus more of other beautiful designs.)

and see more water loving birds at See it on a Postcard 

Sunday, January 3, 2016


For bridges on stamps, I chose these two partly because I like suspension bridges, but mostly because I have travelled across both.

The first, the Mackinac Bridge 3¢ stamp from 1958 shows off the newly built "Mighty Mac" that runs five miles, connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan across Lakes Huron and Michigan. Before the bridge was built, travellers had to either drive all the way around Lake Michigan through Wisconson, or take a ferry. Either way, it was an hours long excursion.
The time that we drove across, a friend was at the wheel who, it turns out, was more nervous than I about long, high bridges. It was a Sunday. On the radio was playing hymns. "Nearer My God to Thee" escorted us to the other side. Neither of us was able to move to change the station.
Apparently, (I now have discovered) the bridge authority will provide a chauffeur, at no extra cost, to accompany any timid drivers. You can get more facts and stats here, but trust me, it's a long bridge.

By the time I crossed this bridge connecting New York's Staten Island to Brooklyn, I'd been seriously working on my fear of long, high bridges. I was actually excited to cross it. (But, again, I wasn't actually driving) It has a suspended span of 4/5th of a mile (or 4,260') and was built in 1964, the same year this stamp was issued.  The bridge was named for Giovanni da Verrazzano, a 16th C explorer who was the first European to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River. This was a controversial choice, but with much lobbying the Italian Historical Society finally won, though for many years people simply called it the 'Narrows Bridge', or the 'Brooklyn-Staten Island Bridge'. According to one source, the name was first rejected because Robert Moses, the city planner and "master builder of NYC", thought the name was too long and besides which he'd never heard of him! Maybe that's why it is spelled wrong, with fewer letters?
Apart from the fact that all ships must pass under this bridge to get to the Harbor (necessitating cruise ships to be designed to fit), it is also the starting point of the New York City Marathon.

cross over to See it on a Postcard to find more bridges

Sunday, December 27, 2015

a prince and a polar bear

One of my favourite stamps is this 1998 $2 polar bear. The same image also appeared on the new $2 coin
the corner block features a paw print and the halftone litho dots in the icon of the bear.

Taken from the Canada Post website, 
... polar bears have unique rounded shoulders and pronounced brow ridges. Their necks, skulls and noses are elongated and their muzzles are aquiline.  Large paws help polar bears distribute their weight while walking on thin ice.  Their front legs act as water propellers while their hind limbs function as rudders.  The white fur helps it blend into the arctic background and has special features for cold weather adaptation; it is translucent and transmits ultraviolet radiation to keep the skin warm. 

and for something completely different
I'm quite taken with this stamp - for a variety of reasons which include 
  • it's from a state that no longer exists (it was established in 1549 and disestablished in 1967 and  is now part of Yemen)
  • it has Arabic script, plus an English explanation of the miniature painting Reading Young Prince, 16th century. Unfortunately I cannot find much about this painting except that it is Persian from the Safavid period
  • turquoise is my favourite colour (and also a favourite of the Persians) and from an aesthetic point of view it pleases me that the prince's robes match his pillow and rug
  • how can you not love that fanciful head gear?!
for more year end favourite stamps see here

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

Canada's oldest Christmas carol was written around 1643 by Fr Jean Br├ębeuf, a Jesuit missionary. Commonly known as The Huron Carol, the original Huron/Wendat words were translated into English in 1926.
This stamp, based on a painting by Ronald G Wright using native motifs to recreate the nativity story, shows the hunter braves (shepherds) following the star to the lodge (stable). In the carol, the Magi are portrayed as "Chiefs from far" bringing fox and beaver pelts. 
Gitchi Manitou means Great Spirit. 
Jesous Ahotonhia means Jesus, he is born.
One of many versions for your listening pleasure. 
Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim and wondering hunters heard the hymn,
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found;
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round
But as the hunter braves drew nigh the angel song rang loud and high
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free, O seed of Manitou
The holy Child of earth and heaven is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy who brings you beauty peace and joy.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

Words: Jean de Brebeuf, ca. 1643; trans by Jesse Edgar Middleton, 1926
Music: French Canadian melody (tune name: Jesous Ahatonhia)

more Christmas stamps at See it on a Postcard

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

river of lights

On one of our warm spring-weather winter nights, I took a stroll through the park where the Simcoe Panorama of Lights is displayed. It has been going on for over 50 years and started when the floats from the Christmas Parade were parked in Wellington Park. 
It has been added to and adjusted over the years, but much is also the same. There are dozens of (carefully and lovingly) refurbished wooden displays from children's stories to a manger.

Thousands of lights are strung around the trees and displays from a carrousel, to a tree in the river and a fairy tale castle, to several buildings with displays reminiscent of department store windows - a church, a general store and Santa's workshop make this feel very homey. 

makes for lovely reflections!

Several Santas of varying vintages will greet you

as well as a Santa Moose and skiing polar bears. Christmas music plays throughout the park and there are horse drawn trolley rides on the weekends. This is but a tiny example of what can be seen, partly because it was windy and quite a few of my pictures were blurry, but mostly because I was drawn to the hot apple cider and cinnamon buns available, so my hands were full. The lights attract many busloads of tourists every year and you have until January 3rd, 2016 to see this year's edition. The town of Simcoe is located on Highway 3 by Lake Erie
a Monday Walk for Restless Jo with a few signs for Lesley's signs, signs

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas Island

In 1977 Christmas Island issued this souvenir sheet of
 The Twelve Days of Christmas
there is a nice bottom frame with the music, but what I particularly like is, 
that for the seventh day, there are seven black swans a swimming.

So named because it was founded on Christmas Day in 1643, 
it consists of a solitary island in the Indian Ocean and is closer to the Indonesian island of Java than to Australia, of which it is a territory (since 1958)
only 12 days until Christmas!
see other Christmas stamps at Sunday Stamps II

Sunday, December 6, 2015


The Europa stamp competition theme for 2015 was of “Old Toys”  Russia's stamp shows Dymkovo toys and Matryoshka dolls.
Dymkovo toys (also known as Vyatka toys or Kirov toys) are molded painted clay figures of people and animals. It is one of the old Russian folk arts which still exists in a village of Dymkovo near Kirov (formerly Vyatka). Traditionally, the Dymkovo toys are made by women.
This sender also included some postcards showing the toys.
For me, personally, I don't particularly find the these dolls attractive – and I'm not sure how much time would be spent playing with them – but I am quite fond of the matryoshka dolls. I had one as a child and I remember many hours of amusing myself taking them apart and moving them around into different displays.

A matryoshka doll, also known as Russian nesting doll, refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first matryoshka dolls were made in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin. 

Traditionally the outer layer is a woman, dressed in a sarafan, a long and shapeless traditional Russian peasant dress with the figures inside of either gender. The smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby turned from a single piece of wood.  Much of the artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be very elaborate.

release your inner child by seeing more toys and games at SundayStampsII