Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

"Vintage Cat Happy New Year" Postcard

May you all be blessed with happiness and good health

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Stamps

For the end of the year, we were to choose a stamp that represented the end of something. 
This may seem an odd choice, but this Austrian stamp for the Steyr XII Taxi-Landaulet made me think of the end of the era for London's iconic black cabs The Mayor of London announced last week that from now on the Fairways will no longer be licensed and will be replaced by (not black) Nissan vans.
A landaulet was a term carried over from horse drawn carriages and means a cut down version of a landau (convertible roof carriage) or "a closed car with folding top, seats for three or more inside, and driver's seat outside".  Steyr (named for the town near Vienna) started out manufacturing arms, but moved into automobiles after WWI. If you are so inclined you can read more about Steyr-Puch and see other examples of their automobiles here.  And here is a link to London's black taxi history.
While many drivers may mourn the loss of the the one taxi, I am sure the chauffeurs of these landaulets did not mourn the loss of their unprotected carriages.

Friday, December 28, 2012


a 2012 Postcard from Vienna
Danke  Jolante

"ein äpfelchen fürs Rentier"

one little apple for reindeer
I love how the reindeer and the little girl each have tall structures on their heads

and a 1960s card from my collection from Santa's Village, Bracebridge

see more cuteness for Postcard friendship Friday here

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Christmas card from Postcrosser Ania in Poland
postcard received from Postcrosser Hsin in Taiwan

Christmas Wishes to you all

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sunday Stamps - Christmas postmarks

A couple of First Day Covers (actually my only Christmas FDCs)
The postmarks from Bethlehem, Pennsylvannia and Christmas Valley, Oregon are a nice touch

this is one of four issued in 1964 - the conifer. the others were of a mistletoe, holly, and poinsettia

in 1981 there was both a religious and a secular stamp

the Madonna & Child is a Botticelli which you can find in the Art Institute of Chicago. the other stamp is of a felt bear in a sleigh. these stamps are non-denominational because the post office hadn't decided on the pending rate change in time. they ultimately became the first stamps issued with the new 20c first class rate.

and I included this one because I think the stamp is cute, but also because it was mailed in Wales so has Welsh written on the postmark and the air mail sticker

and also because of the message dear not only to family and loved ones, but also to any card and stamp collector

Merry Christmas everyone!
see more Christmas stamps from around the world here

Friday, December 21, 2012

gay and bright

To wish you a Happy Christmas
And a New Year gay and bright
A season full of merriment
Of gladness and delight
"very much love!! Helen Robinson"

This was sent in an envelope, which at the moment I can't find, but I believe it was sent in 1936 or 1934.
the colours are unseasonal for Christmas, but very much art deco

on the reverse side is a plea to hear from the unknown recipient
Did you receive my letter?
Have expected one from you for some time? [sic]
Will write you later.

see more gay and bright postcards at Postcard Friendship Friday

Monday, December 17, 2012


A Christmas present was given to me over the weekend. 
A pretty glass bowl from the Botanical Gardens gift shop.
Of course, I had to eat the chocolates to truly enjoy the oh so pretty bowl.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Stamps - Christmas

I had a hard time choosing which stamps to share this week. Then I thought, in honour of finally getting a tree to display my many collected ornaments, I would show these ornament stamps from 2010, designed by Michael Zavacky. It is hard to tell, but the international rated stamp shows pink ornaments, while the domestic stamp shows red (and I took dozens of photos in various light trying to get the right hue)  Missing is the US rated stamp which shows blue ornaments.
Glass blown ornaments were first made in Lauscha, Germany in 1847 and introduced to the US by FW Woolworth in the 1880s.

According to the Canada Post website, this 1981 issued stamp, designed by artist Anita Kunst, is the first in a series of Christmas Tree stamps honouring the 300th anniversary of the 'illuminated tree'. The other two stamps show a decorated tree typical of 1881 and 1981, neither of which I have.
In 1781 at Sorel, Quebec, Friederike von Riedesel and her husband Friedrich introduced the illuminated Christmas tree to Canada. The illuminated tree "brought by German people to Canada, symbolizes mankind's eternal hope for peace..." In 1776 he landed in Canada in charge of a sizeable contingent of German troops sent to help put down the American Revolution. Although the Baroness had two small children and was expecting another, she decided to follow her husband to Canada, arriving in 1777. She came to be known affectionately as "Lady Fritz" in North America. After a rough few years the family were settled in Quebec. To celebrate Christmas, Friederike Riedesel had the idea of putting up an illuminated Christmas tree, a spectacle which astounded her guests.
see more Christmas themed stamps from around the world here

Friday, December 14, 2012

spreading the lights of the season

A Christmas Postcard (unused) with bright gold highlights for Postcard Friendship Friday

I have already visited an elderly friend and delivered a Christmas present of gluten-free cupcakes which she happily shared with me while we drank tea and talked of family comings and goings over the past year.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

light up my life

There has been very little snow in my part of the winter world, but the Christmas lights that have gone up always do a good job of dispelling the gloom of the donkere dagen voor de kerst  or the 'dark days before Christmas'. This is a saying I learned when I lived in Holland and it is very fitting indeed. While today the sun is shining and it is a balmy 6C, it has been overcast and dark for the last couple of weeks. Depressingly dark.
So when I met a friend for dinner last night, I suggested we meet in downtown Toronto so we could walk and admire the lights and the decorated windows.
Naturally, I took pictures, though it was difficult to get good shots what with all the other lights of the city getting in the way. Maybe there should be dimmer switches so that they are not so bright ALL the time. Just a thought.

there was a Santa-less sleigh driving up the middle of Yonge Street
and a tree of floating balls in Dundas Square
that changed colour from this, to a bright white to match the giant spot lights
then there was the tree in the Eaton Centre 
it is a little more modern than your usual tree 

actually, it looks more like a parasol than a tree
and it, too, changes colour

I did, however, quite like these gigantic reindeer that were standing throughout the mall.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

grave post - Lodor

Job Loder (or as he spelled his name Lodor) came to Upper Canada after suffering some setbacks in his native "Jersies" (New Jersey) and finding himself hopelessly in debt. It is said that he left his State, not to escape his debtors, but to find a way to repay them. And by 1897 he did just that, even though by then his debts had been forgiven by "the law of time". Since he was born in mid 1775, he must have been a very young man when his business (whatever it was) failed. He returned to NJ to fulfill his moral obligation of his financial debt and then bought himself a grand carriage to return to Upper Canada and settled in Long Point on the shores of Lake Erie. He was a millwright and builder and had much greater success with the several mills he built or bought and expanded in the area, including the Union Grist Mill in Ancaster which is 75 miles NE of Long Point. Job is buried in the St John's Anglican Cemetery

Job's family life gets a little confusing. It is possible he was married twice, or maybe three times, each time to a sister of his previous wife. First recorded marriage was with Annie Lawrence from whom a son, William, was born. There is also mention of a marriage to a Anna Lawrence from whom a daughter, Mariah, was born. It seems Anna was also married previously to a John Loder.  Another marriage is recorded with Phebe Lawrence (Annie's and Anna's younger sister) and it looks like Phebe and Anna were both married to John before marrying Job Loder. Take from that what you will. Of course, could be wrong.
My head hurts from trying to figure this out. If you are interested, you can read a colourful account of Job Loder here. And you can read about other Taphophile Tragics stories here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Stamps - 100

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sunday Stamps, I chose this most appropriate 100th Anniversary of the letter carrier delivery service in Canada.

This set was designed by Stephen Mennie in 1974 to honour all the busy postal workers of Canada Post. First up is the Postmaster, then the mail courier, mail handler, mail clerk, letter carrier, and the rural mail courier.

Of course letter delivery was going on long before 1874,
here is [an edited] blurb provided by the website
Canada's first "postmen" - unofficial of course - were the Indian runners who carried messages between neighbouring tribes using wampum beads. The official runner of the Iroquois tribe, for example, carried a string of white wampum beads if the message was of peace, prosperity or goodwill, and blue beads for war, disaster or death. During the days of the fur trade, voyageurs, coureurs de bois and Indian couriers carried mail and messages to the few fur factors, government officials and missionaries in outlying areas. The first official letter carrier in Canada, appointed in 1705, was a Portuguese Canadian, Pedro da Silva, commissioned to carry the Governor's despatches between Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal. Da Silva bolstered his salary by carrying private letters at a fee which he based on the distance travelled; he charged ten cents to convey a letter from Québec to Montréal. Before a postal system was available, anyone in New France who wished to send mail to Europe arranged with friends in Québec to take their letters to the captain of an outgoing ship. Friends would also pick up incoming letters and arrange for their delivery by da Silva or some other hired person. In 1851, the provinces took over from the United Kingdom full responsibility for administering the postal service. In that same year, the first Canadian stamps for prepayment of postage were issued. These included the famous red "three penny beaver" designed by Sir Sandford Fleming. With Confederation in 1867 the Canada Post Office was formed and took over the responsibilities of the provinces in postal matters. Uniform postal rates were established and the practice of prepayment of mail was enforced with fines being charged for mail that was not prepaid. At that time, letter carrier delivery service was available in certain large cities. For this service, however, in addition to the postage paid by the sender, the recipient had to pay to the letter carrier upon delivery a charge of two cents on each letter and one cent on each newspaper. In 1874, free letter carrier delivery service was introduced by the Canada Post Office in Montréal and in Toronto, Québec, Ottawa and Hamilton the following year.

My father was a mail carrier for many years and this was his set that we found amongst his things after he died.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Santa's Village

Small towns need to do something when a highway is built and diverts all the traffic past their main streets. The town of Bracebridge took advantage of their location in what is known as cottage country and also their latitude that puts them halfway between the North Pole and the Equator and decided on creating a Santa's Village.

Santa loved the idea so much that after he built a cottage for himself, he built a village for everyone to enjoy. He even cajoled the elves to build rides and attractions and to provide food for their guests all summer long.

here are people pointing at a strategically placed elf

notice the absence of the postal code

There are campgrounds open from June to September and an activity laden Christmas Fest the week before the Big Day.

It has been ion operation since 1955 and I remember going here as a kid. In spite of the $30 per person, it seems to get rave reviews as a perfect outing for families and especially the younger children as the rides and activities are geared towards them.

see more postcards at Postcard Friendship Friday

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Stamps - PSAs

This week's challenge from Viridian was to find stamps with a message - or a Public Service Announcement. I went with an environmental theme.

There are also 'save our cities' and 'save our air' stamps to go with this anti-pollution issue from 1970, but these are the only two I have. They each have a globe on the left side with the top one showing a bluegill fish and the bottom one showing a wheat sheaf.

Jump to 2011 and these stamps show a much more local way of helping our environment with simple every day activities.  Animator Eli Noyes designed the sixteen stamps in the total set (because four activities was just not enough) ranging from turning off lights and adjusting the thermostat to using public transit and riding a bike.

Friday, November 30, 2012


This week I received 2 postcards from Chicago, but unfortunately, neither of them were of the city itself. Disappointing, but then, how were the senders to know that Chicago is in my top three favourite cities of the world I have never actually been to see? The Postcrossers read the clues in my profile and sent along very nice art cards, but I am hoping for some more Chicago Architecture one day. In the meantime, I do have these art colored cards of the one of the largest fountains in the world. Each one shows the fountain from a different angle and all were unsent cards.
All are from the Max Rigot Selling Co. for Postcard Friendship Friday

The Buckingham Fountain, designed by noted Chicago architect and city planner, Edward H Bennett, was built in 1927 and stands as the centrepiece of Grant Park. Although modelled after the Latona Fountain at Versailles, it was designed to symbolize Lake Michigan through its impressive water displays

The major display, which uses up to 15,000 gallons of water through 93 spouts, sprays water up 150 feet from the ground and occurs every hour for 20 minutes, from April to October.
At night, there is a choreographed show with lights and music.

It seems the Buckinghams were a very wealthy family from their financial interests and investments in steel, banking and real estate. And all of them had personal interests and investments in art, which the longest surviving member who became known as "Chicago's Grandest Spinster", donated to the Art Institute upon the deaths, in turn, of her mother, sister and brother. It was for her brother, Clarence, that she donated one million dollars to have this memorial fountain built and maintained. Clarence Buckingham was a trustee and former director of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as an Asian art collector.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

100 shades of grey

The front of this card I find a little bland, a little ... grey. It shows the 'coveted cup' named after the 4th Earl Grey, and Governor General of Canada from 1904-1911 who commissioned the trophy in 1909.
The Grey Cup is both the name of the trophy and the championship game 
(between the winners of the east and west division playoffs)

The trophy has a silver chalice attached to a large base on which the names of all winning teams, players and executives are engraved. In 1947 a fire destroyed the clubhouse of the Toronto Argonaut Rowing Club and many of the trophies and artifacts in the clubhouse melted or were damaged beyond repair but the Grey Cup survived by catching onto a nail when the shelf upon which it sat collapsed. The trophy has been broken on four other occasions: in 1978, when it was dropped by celebrating Edmonton Eskimos players; in 1987, when an Eskimos player sat on it; in 1993, when another Eskimos player head-butted it; and finally in 2006, when the trophy broke away from its base as the BC Lions celebrated their victory. The CFL commissioned a replica of the trophy in 2008.

After the 2012 Grey Cup game the trophy will run out of room for any more names and the base will be redesigned but will remain similar in shape to its current design.
This prepaid card features the Grey Cup on one side and the stamp shows the Cup with two players showing old and new uniforms.

The One Hundredth Grey Cup will be played this afternoon in Toronto, which may seem an odd choice as Toronto is not exactly a football loving town. But the first Grey Cup was held in TO. There have been weeklong festivities celebrating this 100th anniversary. And the fact that the Toronto Argonauts will be playing at home against the Calgary Stampeders is extra sweet for those who care about such things.

The stamps (valued at 61¢) feature the logos of the eight teams in the CFL
the top row represents the western division: British Columbia, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatchewan
the bottom row represents the eastern division: Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal 
the teams second from right on each row are paying in Sunday's game
Stamps vs Argos


update: the Toronto Argonauts won and the cup was once again broken. 
this time one of the handle was broken off during the celebrations.

Friday, November 23, 2012

cross border

Inspired by the American insanity that is Black Friday, 
where now Canada's retailers have decided to follow along 
and offer sales to try and stem the flow of cross border shopping, 
today's postcard shows one of the bridges between the US and Canada

The Rainbow Bridge connecting Niagara Falls ON to Niagara Falls NY

Officially opened in 1941, it replaced the earlier Honeymoon Bridge. For anyone who likes stats, the deck is 202 feet above the water and the approaches measure 1,450 feet long with the span being 950 feet. There are two 22' wide roadways separated by a four' wide median with a ten' wide sidewalk along the south side of the bridge facing the Falls. Walking across the bridge gives the best views of The Falls, plus you can have your picture taken as you straddle the international boundary line. It is 50¢ to walk or cycle across or $3.50 to drive. 
The bridge is about 500 yds from the American Falls (the Horseshoe Falls is the one further back)
The Maid of the Mist is another way to get up close and personal with The Falls. Originally a ferry service, they have been in operation in the Niagara River since 1846 and were steamers until 1955 when they were replaced after a fire destroyed the two wooden boats.
Dear Folks,
Seemed as though it was useless to wait for a Honeymoon to get to Niagara Falls, so Helen and I came to look at it. most interesting because Helen is interested in the geology and can explain all the formations. We're waiting for dark for the lights to come on and then will journey on.
Jun 21 was a Monday in 1948, so it seems they waited until they had journeyed on toward Rochester where Holley is located to buy the stamp and mail the postcard.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

grave post - White

In Memory of
John White Esq
Attorney General 
Upper Canada
died at York
4 January, 1800

Buried in St James Cemetery in Toronto
What this gravestone doesn't mention is that John White was killed in a duel

Born in 1761 in Middlesex, England, Mr White was educated at the Inner Temple in London. After being called to the bar in 1785, he had an unsuccessful law practice in Jamaica before returning to England. Still unsuccessful, he was contemplating a new career as a clergyman when a friend from law school recommended his appointment as attorney general in Upper Canada. In 1792 he was in Kingston for a short time until the government moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake (then known as Newark) then on to York (Toronto) in 1797 when the government again changed locations. By then his wife, Marianne, had joined him with their three children, but it was not a successful reunion and she returned to England with their daughter in 1799. But not before getting into a catfight with a certain Mrs Small. 

Mrs Small did not think much of the 'notoriously quarrelsome' Mrs White and snubbed her at an assembly. Mrs White apparently did not think much of Mrs Small's virtue and said as much to a Mr Smith. Perhaps she did not like that Mrs Small's virtue did not stop her from having a fling with Mr White. She already did not think much of Mr White himself, as they had been estranged for several years before she met up with him in York. The scandalous remarks got out into society, as these things do in a small provincial town. Mr Small now did not think much of Mr White who could not control his wife's words (or apparently his own wife's virtue) and challenged him to a duel. Mr Small was charged with murder after Mr White succumbed to his wounds 36 hours after being shot, but was acquitted.
In the end, Mr White would be remembered more for his death than his career, which included the formation of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and Mr Small's reputation would be ruined and his career overshadowed by the duel.

see more notorious graves at Taphophile Tragics at its new home, hosted by Marble Towns

Monday, November 19, 2012


It was while I watching Marketplace the other night, the consumers affairs type show with the episode  on the dirty insides of hotels. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw something blurry, but being comfortably ensconced on the chesterfield, I wasn't about to bother investigating. Anyway, it didn't matter, because a couple minutes later the blur returned. Then I saw it run out from under the computer desk with an errant piece of popcorn and return to the kitchen. It seems I have a mouse.

I was surprisingly very calm about this discovery, then again I am not prone to being afraid of mice. Not like I am with something of the insect or arachnid species. That would make me involuntarily squeal. Seriously, I would squeal. It is slightly embarrassing. I say slightly, because I am usually too paralytic with frozen fear to care.

But a mouse, while not exactly welcome, and quite annoying, does not instil fear in me.  I immediately got up and placed some more popcorn by the balcony door which, because it was a warm-ish night, was open. But the wee mousie never reappeared. And the popcorn was still there in the morning when I got up. Maybe he decided he didn't like Smartfood® after all. He probably wouldn't have gone outside, either. Perhaps he would guess that I would slam the door shut behind him.

Today, I spent 2 hours clearing out the entire cupboard space under the counter. I didn't see much evidence of him, but where else would he hide if not under the sink? Isn't that the usual place of entry? I have lived with such creatures before and ever since I've continued with the habit of putting everything from cereal and crackers to pastas and spices in glass jars. But in the 15 years I've lived in this apartment, this is the first mouse to venture into my living space and steal my Smartfood®.

It may be time to get that new cat.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Stamps - geology

I couldn't believe how few geological themed stamps I have in my collection for this week's Sunday Stamps
I was about to admit defeat and just post a picture of a volcano, which I was sure would be featured on a Japanese stamp somewhere, when I stumbled upon this stamp from South Africa. 
It was one of a series of three issued in 1966 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of RSA. 
(I also have another one that is written in English, but this Africaans one has the least smudged cancellation mark)

Diamonds are close enough, I thought....

The discovery of diamonds in 1866 and their large-scale exploitation beginning in 1870, in the Kimberley area, initiated the transformation of South Africa from an agriculture-based economy to a mining- and industry-based one. The diamond rush, which made South Africa the world’s dominant producer of diamonds for 70 years, established a local need for technology and specialized equipment, thereby triggering the development of supporting industries, while the money it generated created the first pool of capital in the country. 

South Africa continues to produce significant quantities of mainly high-quality gem diamonds annually, and it ranks fifth overall in terms of world production. SA is the only country in the world where diamonds are extracted from both kimberlite pipes and dykes or fissures, as well as from both onshore and offshore (marine) alluvial deposits.

from the GeoTimes - you can read much more about South Africa's Geological Gifts here 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

hearty good wishes

 for Postcards Friendship Friday, a card declaring true friendship
this type of poetry is not to my taste 
and I am not sure that sailboats, 
dependent on the fickle wind, 
is a perfect image of steady friendship and trust.

I wonder what occasion one might send this card to celebrate?
the back has an elaborately pretty art nouveau design with a variety of fonts  

Individuality is the touch that tells
Prince Message Cards (Buffalo NY)