Monday, May 31, 2010

#303 Sweden...Thanks Christer!

#302 Taiwan...Thanks Alan!

In order to increase the public's understanding about the long-horned beetles,Chunghwa Post issues a set of four definitive stamps featuring Erythrus formosanus,Rosalia formosa conviva,Aphrodisium fadermannii yuagii,and Anoplophora horsfieldi tonkinensis.

The longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae; also known as long-horned beetles or longicorns) are a cosmopolitan family of beetles, typically characterized by extremely long antennae, which are often as long as or longer than the beetle's body. In various members of the family, however, the antennae are quite short (e.g., Neandra brunnea, figured below) and such species can be difficult to distinguish from related beetle families such as Chrysomelidae. The family is large, with over 20,000 species described, slightly more than half from the Eastern Hemisphere. Several are serious pests, with the larvae boring into wood, where they can cause extensive damage to either living trees or untreated lumber (or, occasionally, to wood in buildings; the old-house borer, Hylotrupes bajulus, being a particular problem indoors). A number of species mimic ants, bees, and wasps, though a majority of species are cryptically colored. The rare giant long-horned beetle (Titanus giganteus) from northeastern South America is often considered the largest (though not the heaviest, and not the longest including legs) insect, with a maximum known body length of just over 16 centimeters.

#301 China...Thanks Ma!

The left 2 yuan stamp is from 1992 Insects issue showing Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) which is a species of praying mantis.

The Chinese mantis looks like a long and slender praying mantis, with different shades of brown. The adult has a green lateral line down its front wings. It is typically larger than most other mantises, growing up to 10 cm (4 inches) in length, and are the largest mantis species in North America. This species is often erroneously given the taxonomic name of Tenodera aridifolia sinensis. When first classified, it was thought that T. sinensis was a subspecies of T. aridifolia but this is not the case.

Their diet consists primarily of other insects, though adult females can sometimes take down small vertebrate prey such as reptiles and amphibians (some have also been documented predating on hummingbirds). Like some other mantids, they are known to be cannibalistic. The female can produce several spherical ootheca roughly the size of a table tennis ball, containing up to 200 eggs. The ootheca are often affixed to vegetation such as bushes and small trees, as seen in the image below.

Their color can vary from overall green to brown with a green lateral stripe on the edge of the front wings. In low light the eyes of the mantis appear black, but in daylight appear to be clear, matching the color of the head.

The right 2 yuan stamp was issued in 1992 commemorating 20th Anniv. of Normalization of Diplomatic Relations between China and Japan.

#300 Bulgaria...Thanks Lilia!

This Peony miniature sheet was issued in Mar.2010 showing Chinese tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) and European peony (Paeonia officinalis)

Paeonia suffruticosa, the tree peony, is a species of peony native to China. It is known as 牡丹 "mǔdān" in Chinese and is an important symbol in Chinese culture.

Paeonia officinalis, or European peony, Common peony, is the common peony cultivated in Europe for five hundred years. It was first used for medicinal purposes, then grown as an ornamental. Many selections are now used in horticulture, though the typical species is uncommon. Paeonia officinalis is still found wild in Europe.

Another nice Peony m/s of Croatia issued in same month is here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

#299 Italy...Thanks Fabio!

This 2010 EUROPA:Children's Book FDC (without first day postmarks though) was issued in May,2010 illustrating the € 0.60 stamp, Jacovitti’s version of Pinocchio and the € 0.65 stamp, Geronimo Stilton, the reporter mouse created by Elisabetta Dami, on a background depicting ‘Topazia’, the city where the adventures are set.

Pinocchio is a fictional character that first appeared in 1883, in The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, and has since appeared in many adaptations of that story and others. Carved from a piece of pine by a woodcarver named Geppetto in a small Italian village, he was created as a wooden puppet, but dreamt of becoming a real boy. The name Pinocchio is a Tuscan word meaning "pine nut".

Geronimo Stilton is a best-selling children's book series since 2000 in Italy and worldwide.
In the series, the title character is a talking mouse who lives in New Mouse City on Mouse Island. A best-selling author, Geronimo Stilton works as a journalist for the fictional newspaper The Rodent's Gazette.

He has a younger sister named Thea Stilton, a cousin named Trap Stilton, and a favorite little nephew, nine-year-old Benjamin Stilton.Geronimo is a nervous, mild-mannered mouse who would like nothing better than to live a quiet life, but he keeps getting involved in far-away adventures with Thea, Trap, and Benjamin. The books are written as though they are autobiographical adventure stories.

The series originated in Italy and has become the most popular children's book series in that country. The books have been translated into 35 languages.

#298 Mexico...Thanks Monica!

#297 Spain...Thanks Antonio!

Within the series devoted to Musical Instruments, the 0.34€ stamp issued in 2010 features the trumpet, a wind instrument belonging to the family of brass-wind instruments as it is made of a metal alloy.

The trumpet has a cup shape mouthpiece with brass tubing bent twice into an oblong shape. The trumpet has a roughly cylindrical bore which results in a bright, loud sound. The bore is actually a complex series of tapers, smaller at the mouthpiece receiver and larger just before the flare of the bell begins; careful design of these tapers is critical to the intonation of the instrument. As with all brass instruments, sound is produced by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound into the mouthpiece and starting a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the trumpet. Trumpets also have three piston valves, each of which increases the length of tubing when engaged, thereby lowering the pitch. The first valve lowers the instrument's pitch 2 semitones, the second valve 1 semitone, and the third valve 3 semitones. Used singly and in combination these valves make the instrument fully chromatic.

The origins of the trumpet, as those of the flute, go back as far as the history of Humanity. The trumpet and the bugle are believed to derive from the ox’s horn which is still in use in hunting. The first trumpets were made out of bamboo, hollow plant tubes and of sea fish shells. Later on, with the discovery of metals, they began to be made out of bronze or thin sheets of steel up to this day when they are made of an alloy of metals.

The piston trumpet was first used in 1835 by composer Helévy in his opera “The Jew”, and since then it has been used in all its variations and musical styles.

The next 0.45€ is the first stamp in the Musical Intrument series featuring Saxophone.

The saxophone is named after Antoine Joseph Sax, best known as Adolphe Sax, a Belgian-born instrument maker. He invented the saxophone in 1840 when attempting to improve the sound of the clarinet. The saxophone, belonging to the family of the woodwind instruments, was intended to form a tonal link between the strength of the brass instruments and the quality of the wooden ones. The tenor saxophone, like all saxes, is in essence an approximately conical tube of thin metal, usually brass. The mouthpiece of the tenor saxophone is very similar to that of the clarinet. Due to the sound it makes, it was classified under the woodwind instruments rather than under the brass wind ones since its acoustic resonances are made by a vibrating reed and by the different sounds made by pressing a number of keys. It was first introduced as an orchestra instrument by French composer Jules Massenet in some of his operas. The saxo, as other musical instruments, has developed with time and became very popular to the general public through its frequent use in jazz music since the 20s and 30s.

Amongst the simple reed instruments are the clarinet, the bugle, and the bagpipe. The saxophone, depending on the sound it produces can be: soprano, alto, baritone and tenor this latter featuring in the stamp. It is a XX century piece belonging to the Museo Interactivo de la Música (MIMMA) in Málaga.

#296 Belgium...Thanks Thomas!

These 6 semi-postal stamps on the top were issued in 1964 for anti-tuberculosis work showing paintings:

50c+10c:Child of Charles I,by Van Dyck.
1fr+40c:William of Orange with his bride,by Van Dyck.
2fr+1fr:Portrait of a small boy with dogs by Erusmus Quellin and Jan Fyt.
3fr+1fr:Alexander Farnese by Antonio Moro.
4fr+2fr:William II,Prince of Orange by Van Dyck.
6fr+3fr:Artist's children by Cornelis De Vos.

Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599 – 1641) was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England. He is most famous for his portraits of King Charles I of England and Scotland and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted biblical and mythological subjects, displayed outstanding facility as a draftsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

#295 Grenada...Thanks Arthur!

The 45c and 35c stamp are from 1997 Fish issue of Grenada Grenadines showing Semicircle Angelfish and Hooded Butterfly Fish respecitively.

Marine angelfish are perciform fish of the family Pomacanthidae. They are found on shallow reefs in the tropical Atlantic, Indian, and mostly western Pacific oceans. The family contains seven genera and approximately 86 species. They should not be confused with the freshwater angelfish, tropical cichlids of the Amazon River basin.

With their vibrant colours and deep, laterally compressed bodies, marine angelfishes are some of the more conspicuous residents of the reef. They most closely resemble the butterflyfishes, a related family of similarly showy reef fish. Marine angelfish are distinguished from butterflyfish by the presence of strong preopercle spines (part of the gill covers) in the former. This feature also explains the family name Pomacanthidae; from the Greek poma meaning "cover" and akantha meaning "thorn".

The butterflyfish are a group of conspicuous tropical marine fish of the family Chaetodontidae; the bannerfish and coralfish are also included in this group. Found mostly on the reefs of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, there are approximately 120 species in 10 genera. A number of species pairs occur in the Indian and Pacific oceans, members of the huge genus Chaetodon.
Butterflyfish look like smaller versions of angelfish (Pomacanthidae) but unlike these lack preopercle spines at the gill covers.

The $5 stamp shows a butterfly Taygetis chrysogone (Nymphalidae ) endemic to Central America.

#294 Costa Rica...Thanks Julio!

This stamp was issued in this year commemorating the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which occurs on January 27.

It is the first universal commemoration in memory of the victims of The Holocaust. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 .

January 27 is the date, in 1945, when the largest Nazi death camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau (Poland) was liberated by Soviet troops.The Holocaust resulted in the annihilation of 6 million European Jews and millions of others by the Nazi German regime.

#293 Qatar...Thanks Shijaz!

This stamp is from 2007 Rulers of Qatar issue showing Coats of Arms of Qatar: Between two swords there is a sailing ship (dhow) beside an island with two palm trees.

#292 Turkey...Thanks Umut!

These 2 stamps were issued in 2008 celebrating Centenary of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey.

Monday, May 24, 2010

#291 Croatia...Thanks Tomislav!

This beautiful miniature sheet was issued on Mar.8, 2010 showing Croatian Peony.

Croatian peony sorts The family of peony (Paeoniaceae) which is composed of only one genus of about thirty herbaceous and about ten woody tree peonies spread mostly in hilly and mountainous areas in temperate zones of the north hemisphere. The Latin name of the genus, Paeonia, is derived from the name of Paeon, a mythical physician highly respected among Greek Gods. The Paeon’s teacher Asclepius, the God of medicine and pharmacy, became jealous of his pupil and intended to kill him. For that reason Zeus hid the young physician turning him into a curative plant with nicely smelling flowers – which, after him, was named Paionia (Peony). For thousands of years the symbolics of peony has been present in mythologies and legends of many peoples of Europe, Asia and North America: the peony is especially respected and admired in China and Mongolia.

Croatian Flora includes three species and several subspecies of peony - all of them strictly protected by the law. Wild Peony (Paeonia mascula (L.) Miller), known among people as the «male» peony, is a Tertiary relic (the remainder of pristine Flora before Ice Age) a very rare plant also in Croatia, protected by the law even since 1958. It is a perennial plant, 80 cm high, with tuberous, thickened roots. Numerous, not branchy stalks are upright and bare, overgrown by leaves to the top, on which only one flower develops. The leaves are threefold, composed of integral, shiny, green leaflets. The flowers, up to 10 cm in diameter, have many yellow stamens surrounded by five petals, in colours from pink to purple. The number of petals can sometimes spontaneously increase and all the cultivars have “full” flowers (the so called flore pleno, with numerous petals. The Wild Peony blossoms in April and May in sunny habitats of bright and warm woods and shrubberies, at higher altitudes. As curative plant the wild peony is in some areas used in veterinary and human medical care and is a very popular decorative plant.

Rare in Croatia is Common Peony (P. officinalis L.), known also as the «female» peony, because of its fragile structure. It reaches up to 60 cm, has leaves composed of leaflets split in three parts and dark red flowers with five petals. It grows in bright woods and on grassland, usually on limestones from France to Albania. In spite of its toxicity the common peony has been used in folk medicine for more than 2000 years as an effective remedy against convulsions, and today is mostly used in homeophatic remedies. It has been grown for centuries primarily for its curative properties but also for its beauty: one of the oldest cultivars in our gardens is Rubra Plena, a very nice plant with full, red flowers with numerous petals. Like other sorts of peony, also our sorts can be found in cultivation throughout the world, appreciated as exceptionally beautiful and long-lived decorative plants: if their root is not disturbed and the temperature does not drop below -15 oC, the peony in cultivation lives up to 50 years and develops into a quite impressive bush. Several hundreds of cultivars (sorts) of different peony species are known, which are in horticulture divided according to their flower shape (simple, double, or multiple petals) and their size (small, medium, large). Many species and cultivars – apart from magnificent flowers, are also favoured with pleasant smell, coloured leaves or prominent fruit, which makes them an irreplaceable part of flower beds of herbaceous perennials in temperate zones of all continents.

The 3.6k stamp on the upper left corner is from 1997 EUROPA:Story and Legend issue showing an illustration for Vladimir Nazor's story "Veli Jože" (Big Joseph) which is one of the best known legends in the Croatian literature and was written during author's stay in Istria. The story is a reflection of the political events in Istria at the beginning of the 20th century.

Vladimir Nazor (1876-1949) was the first head of state of the modern Croatia. A member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ), he led the Croatian World War II wartime assembly, the ZAVNOH, and later served as the President of the Presidium of the People's Assembly of PR Croatia - the head of state of the People's Republic of Croatia. Today he is most remembered, however, as a well-known Croatian poet, writer, translator, and humanist.

Nazor's early work paralleled the rise of the Young Croatian literary movement. He acquired much literary popularity in Croatia writing about folk legends and stories. The tale Big Joseph (Veli Jože) (1908) is still popular: it features a helpful and kind hearted giant named Jože, living in the area around the town of Motovun (Inner Istria). His verses in Hrvatski kraljevi (Croat Kings) (1912) established him as the great patriot poet in Croatia. Istrian Tales (Istarske priče) (1913) revealed his storytelling skill and mastery. By illuminating the personality of the South Slavs through tales of Croatia, he contributed a great deal in creating the Yugoslav national consciousness.

#290 Israel...Thanks Nir!

This nice stamp is from 2009 Extreme Sports issue depicting Freefall Skydiving.

Parachuting, also known as skydiving, is the action of performing acrobatics during freefall, followed by deployment of a parachute.

The history of skydiving starts with Andre-Jacques Garnerin who made successful parachute jumps from a hot-air balloon in 1797. The military developed parachuting technology as a way to save aircrews from emergencies aboard balloons and aircraft in flight, later as a way of delivering soldiers to the battlefield. Early competitions date back to the 1930s, and it became an international sport in 1951.

Parachuting is performed as a recreational activity and a competitive sport, as well as for the deployment of military personnel Airborne forces and occasionally forest firefighters.

A typical jump involves individuals jumping out of an aircraft (usually an airplane, but sometimes a helicopter or even the gondola of a balloon), at approximately 4,000 meters (around 13,000 feet) altitude, and free-falling for a period of time (about a minute)[1] before activating a parachute to slow the landing down to safe speeds (about 5 to 7 minutes).

When the parachute crests (usually the parachute will be fully inflated by 2,500 feet) the jumper can control the direction and speed with toggles on the end of steering lines attached to the trailing edge of the parachute, and can aim for the landing site and come to a relatively gentle stop. All modern sport parachutes are self-inflating "ram-air" wings that provide control of speed and direction similar to the related paragliders. Purists in either sport would note that paragliders have much greater lift and range, but that parachutes are designed to absorb the stresses of deployment at terminal velocity.

By manipulating the shape of the body a skydiver can generate turns, forward motion, backwards motion, and even lift.

When leaving an aircraft, for a few seconds a skydiver continues to travel forward as well as down, due to the momentum created by the plane's speed (known as "forward throw"). The perception of a change from horizontal to vertical flight is known as the "relative wind", or informally as "being on the hill". In freefall, skydivers generally do not experience a "falling" sensation because the resistance of the air to their body at speeds above about 50 mph (80 km/h) provides some feeling of weight and direction. At normal exit speeds for aircraft (approx 90 mph (140 km/h)) there is little feeling of falling just after exit, but jumping from a balloon or helicopter can create this sensation. Skydivers reach terminal velocity (around 120 mph (190 km/h) for belly to Earth orientations, 150-200 mph (240–320 km/h) for head down orientations) and are no longer accelerating towards the ground. At this point the sensation is as of a hard wind.

Many people make their first jump with an experienced and trained instructor - this type of skydive may be in the form of a tandem skydive. During the tandem jump the jumpmaster is responsible for the stable exit, maintaining a stable freefall position, and activating and controlling the parachute. Other training methods include static line, IAD (Instructor Assisted Deployment), and AFF (Accelerated Free fall) also known as Progressive Free-Fall (PFF) in Canada.

#289 Israel...Thanks Stefan!

This block of 4 stamps was issued in 2007 illustrating Hula Nature Reserve.

The Hula valley has always been an important waystation for migrating birds shuttling between Europe and Africa. Lake Hula and the surrounding swamps were once a habitat for many species of plants and animal, some rare and even endemic.

In 1951 Israel launched the Hula reclamation project. Its planners' vision of turning these 23 square miles of lake and swamp into useful farming land, payed little regard to questions of nature preservation. Yet under pressure from scientists and nature lovers in Israel, who demanded that at least a small part of this lake-and-swamp landscape be preserved, the planners eventually agreed to allocate for this purpose some 790 acres of the lake's area. In 1964 this land was officially proclaimed as Israel's first nature reserve – the Hula Reserve. Representing most lake and swamp pre-reclamation habitats, it nevertheless irretrievably lost many species, including some of the endemic ones.

In the years since proclamation much effort was made to maintain characteristic fauna and flora on the one hand, and to make the reserve accessible to visitors, on the other hand. Nature lovers now visiting the reserve enjoy well-developed footpaths, consisting in parts of catwalks above swampy areas, as well as bird watching sites, intended to leave the reserve's birds and animals undisturbed.

More than 200 species of birds may be seen in the reserve. Tens of thousands of birds, including cranes, storks, pelicans, cormorants, herons and egrets, live permanently within the reserve, joined by huge flocks during migration seasons. Besides, numerous species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish may be seen, as well as a rich vegetation, including some rare water plants which find in the Hula reserve a unique sanctuary.

In the spring of 1994 an additional area of 247 acres was re-flooded, north of the extant reserve, representing another stage in the restoration of the Hula valley. The turfy soil exposed there during the original reclamation, having sunk down below its initial levels, has been seasonally flooded be rainwater, which made it useless for farming. The newly created lake, following this re-flooding, was dubbed "the Hula lakelet". It has rich fauna and flora, and species that were wiped out during reclamation are now being reintroduced there.

#288 USA...Thanks Candy!

The left 44c stamp was issued in 2009 honoring the 32nd Inductee into Black Heritage Series: Anna Julia Cooper,who is an educator, scholar, feminist and activist Anna Julia Cooper (c.1858-1964), who gave voice to the African-American community during the 19th and 20th centuries — from the end of slavery to the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.

Cooper — who once described her vocation as “the education of neglected people” — viewed learning as a means of true liberation.

Anna Julia Haywood was born into slavery around 1858 in Raleigh, NC. As a child, she developed a love of learning and wanted to become a teacher. In 1868, she received a scholarship to enter the inaugural class at St. Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute (now St. Augustine’s College), a local school for African Americans created by the Episcopal Church and the Freedmen’s Bureau, where she earned part of her tuition by tutoring fellow students. She continued to teach at St. Augustine’s after completing her studies in 1877. That year she married George A.C. Cooper, who was studying for the ministry at St. Augustine’s.

Two years after her husband’s unexpected death in 1879, Cooper enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1884 she graduated with a degree in mathematics, becoming one of the first African American women to graduate from the school. Cooper returned to Raleigh and taught math, Greek and Latin at St. Augustine’s until 1887, when she was invited to teach math and science at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (later known as M Street and today as Dunbar High School) in Washington, DC, the largest and most prestigious public high school for African Americans in the nation.

In 1892, Cooper published A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, the first book-length volume of black feminist analysis in the United States. Cooper explored a variety of topics including race relations, poverty, and gender inequality. Across the contexts of religion, education, and literature, she examined the place of African Americans, especially women, in American society. “The time is ripe for action,” she wrote, urging all readers to assume an active role in liberating themselves and others from both racism and sexism in order to realize their fullest potential. She encouraged the African American community to take advantage of education and to develop and promote its own folklore, literature, and artistic culture. Well received by black and white critics alike, the collection was regarded as “one of the most readable books on the race question of the South” by the Kingsley Times of Iowa.

Because white women routinely excluded them from the growing feminist movement, Cooper and other black women across the nation began to create clubs and associations in the late 19th century that were dedicated to the interests and well-being of the African American community. In Washington, DC, Cooper helped establish local organizations for women, young people, and the poor that addressed a range of issues including education, housing, and unemployment. Cooper also used public speaking as a platform for change. In 1893, she spoke about the needs of African American women at the Chicago World’s Fair, and she was one of only two African American women to address the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900.

In 1902, Cooper became principal of the M Street High School and immediately worked to strengthen the curriculum, which stressed both liberal arts and vocational training. “We are not just educating heads and hands,” she stated, “we are educating the men and women of a race.” Refusing to use inferior textbooks, Cooper sought to better prepare students for admission to some of the nation’s top colleges and universities, including the Ivy League. Four years later, she was removed from her position under allegations of incompetence and misconduct, but more likely because of her steadfast resistance to the racist notion of African Americans’ intellectual inferiority. Cooper then taught languages at Lincoln University in Missouri until 1910, when she was invited to return to the M Street High School to teach Latin.

Noted for the breadth of her education, Cooper studied French literature and history for several years before enrolling as a doctoral student at Columbia University in 1914 while also remaining a full-time teacher. As part of her graduate work, she translated Le Pèlerinage de Charlemagne (The Pilgrimage of Charlemagne), a medieval epic poem, from Old French into modern French. However, because of her race, the translation — which was published in Paris in 1925 — was never published in the U.S. despite the professional recognition it garnered. In 1924, Cooper transferred to the University of Paris, Sorbonne, in France and, in 1925, successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, which explored the attitudes of the French toward slavery during the late-18th-century revolutions in France and Haiti. She was only the fourth African American woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. and the first black woman from any country to do so at the Sorbonne.

Cooper retired from teaching at Dunbar High School in 1930 but continued to give lectures, publish essays, and be active in community affairs. During this time, she also served as president of Frelinghuysen University, which offered affordable liberal arts and professional courses for working African Americans in Washington, DC. She retired from her role as president in 1940 but continued to serve Frelinghuysen, which was partly located in Cooper’s own home for several years. She privately published her memoir, The Third Step, around 1945.

Cooper died in her home at 201 T Street in Washington, DC, on Feb. 27, 1964. She is buried next to her husband in Raleigh, NC.

The 41c stamp in the middle was issued in 2008 honoring Charles W.Chestnut who is considered the first African- American writer to receive major acclaim. He made an important breakthrough when his short story, “The Goophered Grapevine,” appeared in the August 1887 issue of Atlantic Monthly.

Chesnutt (1858-1932) was of mixed racial descent, and provided insight into various perspectives along America’s color line. With light skin and blue eyes, Chesnutt could have disregarded his black roots, but he detested such actions. He believed that people of color who tried to “pass” or represent themselves as white would never achieve political or social equality. His first novel, The House Behind the Cedars, explored this theme.

Chesnutt’s writings include novels, books, essays, poems, a biography of Frederick Douglass and several unpublished works. His work in political and civic affairs and his stance against racial discrimination earned him in 1928 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal, which recognizes distinguished merit and achievement among African Americans.

The last 41c stamp was issued in 2007 honoring President Gerald Ford.

Gerald Rudolph Ford (1913–2006) was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974. As the first person appointed to the vice-presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, when he became President upon Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974, he also became the only President of the United States who was elected neither President nor Vice-President.

Before ascending to the vice-presidency, Ford served nearly 25 years as Representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader.

As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, US involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over what was then the worst economy since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure.One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford’s incumbency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President.In 1976, Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems and being admitted to the hospital four times in 2006, Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. He lived longer than any other U.S. president, dying at the age of 93 years and 165 days.

#287 USA...Thanks Candy!

The 44c stamp in the middle is from 2009 Early TV Memories issue showing Burns and Allen ,who is an American comedy duo consisting of George Burns and his wife, Gracie Allen, worked together as a comedy team in vaudeville, films, radio and television and achieved substantial success over three decades from 1920s-1950s.

#286 Nigeria...Thanks Ahmed Abbas!

#285 Canada...Thanks Roberto!

This cover features 2010 Celebrating our Olympic Spirit souvenir sheet depicting the exhilaration and binding power of the Olympic spirit. The backgrounds of the stamps capture the energy of the Games with photographs of three sports: four-man bobsleigh, women’s cross-country sprint and men's short track relay speed skating.

The 57c stamp below is from 2010 The Four Indian Kings issue showing Etow Oh Koam to celebrate the 300th anniversary of four portraits that function as a record of early cultural and political diplomacy between the First Nations and the British Empire, and a negotiation that affected the course of power relations in North America.

In 1710, a delegation of “four Kings”—three from the Five Nations Confederacy of the Iroquois and one from the Algonquin nation—travelled to London acccompanied by colonial leaders, and had an audience with Queen Anne. The aboriginal representatives were being courted for their alliance in England’s war against France. Their visit created a sensation among Londoners, who wrote poems, ballads and songs about them. To commemorate their stay, the Queen commissioned court painter John Verelst to paint a portrait of each of her visitors. The paintings of the Four Indian Kings were held in the Royal Collection for more than a century before being acquired by the Government of Canada as national treasures in 1977.

“The Four Indian Kings are among the most significant documents held by Library and Archives Canada,” notes Dr. Daniel J. Caron, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “The earliest surviving full-length depictions of North American Aboriginals painted from life, the portraits present a vivid record of the authoritative Aboriginal presence at the meeting with the British Queen in London on April 19, 1710.”

#284 Ukraine...Thanks Sulyma!

This FDC was issued in May,2010 commemorating the 300th Anniversary of Pylyp Orlyk’s Constitution.

Pylyp Orlyk (Ukrainian: Пилип Орлик) (1672-1742) was a Zaporozhian Cossack starshyna, Hetman in exile, diplomat, secretary and close associate of Hetman Ivan Mazepa.

Orlyk first studied at the Jesuit college in Vilnius and until 1694 at Kyiv Mohyla Academy. In 1698 he was appointed secretary of the consistory of Kiev metropolia. In 1699 he became a senior member of Hetman Ivan Mazepa's General Military Chancellery and 1706 was appointed general chancellor and at that position he was Mazepa's closest aide, facilitated Mazepa's secret correspondence with the Poles and Swedes, and assisted Mazepa in his efforts to form an anti-Russian coalition.

After the Battle of Poltava in 1709, he escaped together with Hetman Ivan Mazepa and king Charles XII of Sweden to Bender in the Principality of Moldavia, where Mazepa soon died. Pylyp Orlyk was then chosen as a Hetman in exile by the cossacks and the Swedish king Charles XII. While in Bender Orlyk wrote one of the first state constitutions in Europe. This Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk was confirmed by Charles XII and it also names him as the protector of Ukraine.

The 3.33k stamp on the upper left corner is from 2008 joint issue with Azerbyan showing Gold jewelry.

The 1.5k and 2k stamp are from 2010 issue of the 90th Anniversary of Postage Stamps of Ukrainian People’s Republic.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

#283 Egypt...Thanks Nagwa!

This block of four stamps are from 2000-2002 definitive series showing Pyramid built for Pharaoh Sneferu in 4th Dynasty.

Located about 100km south of modern Cairo,the pyramid at Meidum is thought to have been originally built for Huni, the last pharaoh of the Third Dynasty. It was completed and probably usurped by his successor, Sneferu, who also turned it from a step pyramid to a true pyramid by filling in the steps with limestone encasing. The Meidum pyramid was built in different stages, beginning as a seven-step pyramid to which an additional step was added at a later stage. It appears to have collapsed sometime during the New Kingdom. A subsidiary pyramid is located on the south side, between the main pyramid and the enclosure wall, and a memorial temple is on its east side.

Known as "the collapsed pyramid", the outer layers of the casing began to collapse, leaving the exposed core showing. Because of its appearance, it is called el-haram el-kaddab — (False Pyramid) in Arabic. Some believe it was the collapse of this pyramid during the reign of Sneferu that led him to change the angle on his second pyramid at Dahshur to 43 degrees. In the fifteenth century, it was described as looking like a five-stepped mountain by al-Maqrizi, gradually falling further into ruin so by the time it was investigated by Napoleon's Expedition in 1799 it had its present 3 steps.

#282 Spain...Thanks David!

These two stamps were issued in Apr.2010 devoted to the towns of Ubeda and Baeza in the province of Jaén, which were declared “World Heritage” sites in 2003. This declaration is an important acknowledgement by the UNESCO, and is part of the list of 41 World Heritage sites in Spain. The stamp depicts the renaissance style patio of the Casa de las Torres in Ubeda and the gothic façade of the Jabalquinto palace in Baeza.

The urban frameworks of Ubeda and Baeza date from the period of the Arab domination (IX Century) and the Reconquest ( XIII century). With the Renaissance, both towns underwent an important urban planning transformation motivated by the arrival of new architectural and Humanistic influences from Italy.

Ubeda was an important bastion during the Muslim rule and there are many architectural remains of this period such as the Losal door and other parts of the city wall beside vestiges of the Romanic and Gothic periods. However it was during the XVI century when this town reached its maximum splendour under the reigns of kings Charles I and Philip II. Many of Ubeda’s most impressive renaissance buildings are the palaces of the Condestable Dávalos, Cadenas, Bussianos, Marqués de Mancera, Vela de los Conbos, Camarero Vago and Conde de Guadiana and churches and convents such us the Sacra Capilla del Salvador and the Hospital de Santiago besides other relevant baroque and Plateresque style monuments and buildings.

Baeza is a nearby town with a valuable artistic and architectural ensemble. The Santa Cruz church is of a late Romanic style and the beautiful Jabalquinto palace is from the Flemish gothic period. The town reached its maximum splendour in the XVI century with the Renaissance with the Antigua Carnicería, the squares of the Mercado Viejo and the Antigua Universidad and other buildings such as the Plateresque Casa del Pópulo and the baroque Balcón del Concejo, besides other remarkable monuments.

#281 Croatia...Thanks Josip!

The left stamp is from 2009 series of Famous Croats issue honoring JURAJ ŠIŽGORIĆ (1445 – 1509) ,who is a famous poet and humanist in the history of Croatian literature.

The right stamp was also issued in 2009 celebrating 350 jubilee of Franciscan Presence in Čakovec which is a city located in northern part of Croatia,showing St.Nicolas' church in Čakovec.

Franciscans arrived to Čakovec at the invitation of the count, Vice Roy and poet Nikola Zrinski VII of Čakovec in the year 1659. After discussing the issue with father superiors of other monasteries in the broader surroundings of Čakovec, Bishop Petar Petretić in September, 1659 adopted the decision on founding a monastery in Čakovec. A wooden monastery and the church burnt to the ground in 1699 and a present day monastery was built in 1702, the church adjacent to it in 1707.

#280 Malaysia...Thanks Vera!

The RM2 stamp on this beautiful bird cover is from 1997 Protected Wildlife issue showing Crested Wood Partridge (Rollulus rouloul),which is the only member of the genus Rollulus.

This small partridge is a resident breeder in lowland rainforests in south Burma, south Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo.

Unusually for a galliform species, the young are fed bill-to-bill by both parents instead of pecking from the ground, and although precocial, they roost in the nest while small.

#279 Spain...Thanks Adolfo!

This FDC was issued on March 4,2010 devoted to the two Cathedrals of Plasencia with a stamp depicting an image of the old chapter house (Sala Capitular), nowadays a chapel, whose tower, known as the Melón tower is profusely decorated with tambours such as those found in the cathedrals of Zamora and the Gallo tower of the old cathedral of Salamanca. The main façade of the New Cathedral of Plateresque style, features in the Souvenir Sheet.

Plasencia is one of the main towns of the province of Cáceres. It is located on the bank of the Jerte river in the Ruta de la Plata (Silver Route) and very near the National Park of Montfragüe. Plasencia shares a common privilege with Salamanca: they both have two cathedrals: The old and the new.

The Old Cathedral of Plasencia, also known as Santa María, was made, as most Spanish cathedrals, throughout a long period of time and as a result, these constructions are of different architectural styles. The Old Cathedral, begun in the late 12th and early 13th century, is made in a transitional Romanesque to Gothic style of the 14th century. It has three naves, an old chapter house and the cloister which is next to the New Cathedral. The Old Cathedral now houses the Cathedral Museum where Works of Morales the Divino and Pompeo Leoni are kept.

The New Cathedral was begun in 1498 but the works were interrupted and did not begin again until the 18th century. It has two Plateresque style façades, one by Juan de Alava y Gil de Hontañón and the other attributed to Diego de Siloé. The main altarpiece holds wooden carvings by Gregorio Fernández and paintings by Francisco Ricci. There are also altarpieces by Churriguera and Luis Fernández.

#278 Spain...Thanks Luciano!

The left m/s is from 2003 Constitution 25 Anniv. issue with inscription "Government and Administration" in lower left corner.

The Constitution of Spain is regarded as the culmination of the Spanish transition to democracy. It was enacted after a referendum on 6 December 1978 after approval by 88% of voters.

After the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, a general election in 1977 convened the Constituent Cortes (the Spanish Parliament, in its capacity as a constitutional assembly) for the purpose of drafting and approving the constitution.

The Constitution came into effect on December 29, the day it was published in the Official Gazette. Constitution Day on December 6 has since been a national holiday in Spain.

As a result, Spain is now composed entirely of 17 Autonomous Communities and two autonomous cities with varying degrees of autonomy, to the extent that, even though the Constitution does not formally state that Spain is a federation (nor a unitarian state), actual power shows, depending on the issue considered, widely varying grades of decentralization, ranging from the quasi-confederal status of tax management in Navarre and the Basque Country to the total centralization in airport management.

The Spanish Constitution is one of the few Bill of Rights that has legal provisions for social rights, including the definition of Spain itself as a Social and Democratic State, subject to the rule of law (Sp. Estado social y democrático de derecho) in its preliminary title.

The right m/s is from the second series of Spanish Fashion issued in 2008 depicting haute couture outfits by the well known designer Pedro Rodriguez.

Considered to be a sculptor of fashion and one of the most famous couturiers of the XX century, Pedro Rodriguez (Valencia 1895- Barcelona 1990) devoted his long life to the art of dressing. As a boy he learned to make his first stitches in the best tailor’s shop in Barcelona and later on went on to work in Rabaseda’s atelier where he learnt all about women’s couture. In 1919 he set up his own atelier with his wife Ana María, a professional couturier and began his career in the world of haute couture setting up in 1924 his atelier in the Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona. In 1929 he showed his collections in the Palacio Nacional de Montjuich, coinciding with the Feria Internacional de Muestras and became the most important couturier of his time. In 1937 he opened a showroom in San Sebastián and two years later in Madrid. His collections were showed in the most important catwalks in Europe and America obtaining international recognition and his showrooms were visited by the high bourgeoisie, the aristocracy and famous American film stars. The arrival of the industrial quality clothing industry in the late 60’s began to slowly displace haute couture and forced Pedro Rodriguez, as well as other couturiers, to close down his atelier.

The souvenir sheet depicts, from left to right, a chiffon dress with dots and flowers with a V-neck and a bow at the nape,and a dress and coat in pink crepe. The coat has an embroidered strip with geometric motifs at the neck and cuffs. The images have been provided by the Museo del Traje (Dress Museum) in Madrid.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

#277 Malaysia...Thanks Saravanan!

This nice Firefly FDC was issued on May,10,2010 featuring four different fireflies.

Firefly is a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically-produced light from the lower abdomen, may be yellow, green, or pale red — wavelengths from 510 to 670 nanometers.

There are 2,000 species of firefly found in temperate and tropical environments. Many are in marshes or in wet, wooded areas where their larvae have abundant sources of food.

Light production in fireflies is due to a type of chemical reaction called bioluminescence. This process occurs in specialised light-emitting organs, usually on a firefly's lower abdomen.

All fireflies glow as larvae. Bioluminescence serves a different function in lampyrid larvae than it does in adults. It appears to be a warning signal to predators, since many firefly larvae contain chemicals that are distasteful or toxic.

It is thought that light in adults beetles was originally used for similar warning purposes, but evolved for use in mate selection. Now fireflies are a classic example of an organism that uses bioluminescence for sexual selection. They have evolved a variety of ways to communicate with mates in courtships. From steady glows, flashing, as well as the use of chemical signals unrelated to photic systems.

#276 Spain...Thanks Guillermo!

The 30p stamp is from 1995 Archaeology issue showing Ruins of Torralba,Minorca,which is an archaeological site in northern Spain where large mammal remains and stone tools from 400,000 years ago suggest early hominid hunting or scavenging

The 5p stamp is from 1970 Tourism issue showing The Gate of Vitoria,which is located in northern Spain and is the second largest Basque city, after Bilbao.

The 25p stamp is from 1978 Famous People issue honoring Pio Baroja.

Pío Baroja (1872–1956) was a Spanish Basque writer, one of the key novelists of the Generation of '98.he is best known internationally by the trilogy entitled La lucha por la vida (The Struggle for Life, 1922–1924) which offers a vivid depiction of life in Madrid's slums. Ernest Hemingway was greatly influenced by Baroja's work.

The 0.34€ stamp was issued in 2010 celebrating Spanish Presidency of European Union during the first six months of 2010.

Since Spain joined the EU in 1986, it is the fourth time that it holds the Presidency of the European Council, also known as Council of Ministers. On previous occasions, the Spanish presidency was held in the first half of 1989, second half of 1995 and first half of 2002. The primary responsibility of the presidency is the functioning of the European Institutions and the task is undertaken by an entire national government. The presidency is rotated between European Union (EU) member states every six months, from January to June and from July to December. On December 1st 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force altering the structure of the EU’s institutions and how they work and amending the periods of tenure in office.

The EU is made up of democratic European countries and its aim is to provide peace, prosperity and stability for its peoples; overcome the divisions on the continent; ensure that its people can live in safety; promote balanced economic and social development; meet the challenges of globalisation and preserve the diversity of the peoples of Europe; uphold the values that Europeans share, such as sustainable development and a sound environment, respect for human rights and the social market economy. Important institutions and bodies of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.

The stamps depict the logo of the Spanish Presidency with the letter “eu” in italics. This design was the result of a public contest amongst design students in Spain, Belgium and Hungary, the three countries that will successively preside over the EU from January 1st 2010 to June 30th 2011. The winner was Belgian born Antoine Durieux. This is the first time in the history of the EU that the same logo will be shared by various countries during their presidency, the only difference being the colour of the logo which will be in the colours of each country’s national flag.

#275 Malaysia...Thanks Nurul!

The first stamp was issued in 2007 celebrating Visit Malaysia Year which is a year long celebration to commemorate Malaysia's 50th Year of Independence. The 30 sen stamp highlights Fauna and Flora.

Malaysia's natural assets and rich bio-diversity lend itself quite naturally to eco-tourism. As one of the twelve mega-biologically diverse countries in the world, the nation is naturally a heaven for nature lovers. With at least 15,000 species of flowering plants, 286 species of mammals, 150,000 species of invertebrates, 4,000 species of fishes in addition to the countless micro-organisms, there is no better place in the world to experience exotic flora and fauna in their pristine tropical environment up close and personal.

The 50 sen stamp is from 1999 National Theatre issue.

Among the top ten most sophisticated theatres in the world, Istana Budaya (meaning ‘Palace of Culture’) is proud to be the first theatre in Asia equipped with cutting-edge stage equipment that is on par with the Royal Albert Hall in London. The Istana Budaya has been a dream for the performing arts community of Malaysia for more than two decades. It is responsible for the development of all forms of theatrical art in Malaysia. It is also the permanent home of the National Theatre Company and the National Symphony Orchestra.

The main building takes the form of the ’sirih junjung’ (a traditional arrangement of betel leaves used in Malay weddings and welcoming ceremonies), and is divided by function, based on a traditional Malay house.

The interior of the Istana Budaya is something you won’t want to miss as it is built from Langkawi marble and decorated with tropical wooden doors which feature hand-carved flower and leaf motifs. In short, this place is a work of art in and of itself.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

#274 Greece...Thanks Sofia!

This wonderful cover features 5 touristic spots in Greece.

The 0.54€ stamp and 0.02€ stamps are from 2008 Greek Islands issue showing Kalymnos and Xios.

Located in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Kalymnos belongs to the Dodecanese and is between the islands of Kos (south, at a distance of 12 km) and Leros.Kalymnos owed its past wealth to the sea, mainly with trading and boat building, but the main industry of the island was Sponge fishing. Here the island was the main centre of production in the Aegean, and still now is a traditional occupation with related exhibitions, along with other local folklore, at three local museums.

Chios (Xios) island is a relatively large island in the East Aegean sea, situated very close to the western shore of Turkey. It is famous for the production of "masticha (mastixa)", and historically known for a great massacre of islanders during the war of independence. A not trustworthy tradition says that the poet Homer was born in this island.

The 0.10€ and 0.02€ stamps are from 2004 Island Views issue showing Mykonos and Santorini.

Mykonos is a Greek island and a top tourist destination, renowned for its cosmopolitan character and its intense nightlife. The island is part of the Cyclades, lying between Tinos, Syros, Paros and Naxos. The island is composed primarily of granite. It has little natural fresh water and relies on the desalination of sea water in order to meet its needs. It is believed that the island was named after a local hero, who is considered an offspring of the god Apollo and was worshipped locally in antiquity.

In Greek mythology Mykonos was the location of the battle between Zeus and the Titan, and the island was named in honor of Apollo's grandson Mykons. During these ancient times, Mykonos, due to its proximity to the then highly populated island of Delos (situated about 2 km away), became very important as a supply island and possibly as a getaway location for Delian citizens.
Today, Mykonos is one of the most cosmopolitan islands in Greece, having become increasingly popular with mass tourism. It is known for its diverse and intense nightlife as evidenced by a vast number of bars and nightclubs. Mykonos is also known for its sandy beaches.

Santorini is a small, circular archipelago of volcanic islands located in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast from Greece's mainland. The largest island is known as Thēra, forming the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands.

Santorini is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion, destroying the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island, and leading to the creation of the current geological caldera.

The 0.03€ and 0.01€ stamps are from 2006 Island Views issue showing Hydra and Lesbos.

Hydra is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece, located in the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf. It is separated from the Peloponnese by narrow strip of water. In ancient times, the island was known as Hydrea (Υδρέα, derived from the Greek word for "water"), which was a reference to the springs on the island.Garbage trucks are the only motor vehicles on the island, as cars or motorcycles are not allowed by law. Donkeys, bicycles, and water taxis provide public transportation. The inhabited area, however, is so compact that most people walk everywhere.

Lesbos lies in the far east of the Aegean sea, facing the Turkish coast from the north and east; It is the third largest Greek island and the largest of the numerous Greek islands scattered in the Aegean. The island is forested and mountainous with two large peaks, Mt. Lepetymnos (968 m (3,176 ft)) and Mt. Olympus (967 m (3,173 ft)), dominating its northern and central sections.The island’s volcanic origin is manifested in several hot springs and two principal volcanic harbors.

#273 San Marino...Thanks Luca!

These two stamps were issued in 2001 commemorating 100 years of death of Giuseppe Verdi, showing his operas:Un Ballo in Maschera and La Forza del Destino.

Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. His works are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world and, transcending the boundaries of the genre, some of his themes have long since taken root in popular culture - such as "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto, "Va, pensiero" (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco, "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" (The Drinking Song) from La traviata and the "Grand March" from Aida. Although his work was sometimes criticized for using a generally diatonic rather than a chromatic musical idiom and having a tendency toward melodrama, Verdi’s masterworks dominate the standard repertoire a century and a half after their composition.

Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball), is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi with text by Antonio Somma. The libretto is loosely based on an 1833 play, Gustave III, by French playwright Eugène Scribe who wrote about the historical assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden. The subject was well known and had been used by other composers.

In 1792, the King of Sweden, Gustav III, was killed, the result of a political conspiracy against him. He was shot while attending a masked ball and died 13 days later from his wounds. For the libretto, Scribe retained the names of some of the historical figures involved, the conspiracy, and the killing at the masked ball. The rest of the play - the characterizations, the romance, the fortune-telling, etc. - is Scribe’s invention and the opera is not historically accurate.

However, in order to become the Un ballo in maschera which we know today, Verdi's opera (and his libretto) was forced to undergo a series of transformations, caused by a combination of censorship regulations in both Naples and Rome, as well as the political situation in France in January 1858.

La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny) is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro, o La fuerza del sino (1835), by Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas, with a scene adapted from Friedrich Schiller's Wallensteins Lager. It was first performed in the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia, on 10 November 1862.

Monday, May 17, 2010

#272 Cuba...Thanks Pedro!

The 65c stamp was issued in 2009 celebration 25 years of ISDi (Institute of Design),which is the only institution of higher education in Cuba dedicated to the training of university graduates in careers in Industrial Design and Visual Communication Design.

The 1p stamp was issued in 2002 showing Ruddy Turnstone(Arenaria interpres),which is a highly migratory bird, breeding in northern parts of Eurasia and North America and flying south to winter on coastlines almost worldwide.The scientific name on this stamp is obviously wrong.

#271 Taiwan...Thanks George!

#270 Belarus...Thanks Tanya!

The 1500 BYR stamp was issued on Apr.16,2010 commemorating 65th Anniversary of Victory in Great Patriotic War

The Great Patriotic War,also called Eastern Front,was a theater of war between the European Axis powers, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Croatia, Finland (not an Axis member) and the Soviet Union which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945.

The "Eastern Front" was the largest theater of war in history, notorious for its unprecedented ferocity, destruction, mass deportations, brutal weather conditions, and immense loss of life by means of battle, starvation, disease, and massacre. It bore the bulk of the Holocaust as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, and most pogroms. Various figures average a total number of 70,000,000 dead because of World War II; with over 30 million dead, many of them civilians, the Eastern Front represents almost half of this total, and has been called a war of extermination. The Eastern Front was arguably the single most decisive component of World War II, eventually serving as the main reason for Germany's defeat.It resulted in the destruction of the Third Reich, the partition of Germany and the rise of the Soviet Union as a military and industrial superpower.

The two principal belligerent powers were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Finnish Continuation War may be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front. In addition, the joint German-Finnish operations across the northernmost Finnish-Soviet border and in the Murmansk region are also considered part of the Eastern Front.

#269 Kenya...Thanks Aliya!

The 75sh stamp is from 2009 the East Africa Natural History Society issue showing a unique African bird Great Blue Turaco.

Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata) is the largest turaco, generally ranging from 70-75 cm in length with a mass between 822-1231 grams. In the Bandundu province of the D.R.C. (formerly Zaire) the Great Blue Turaco is actively hunted for meat and feathers.The blue and yellow tail feathers are prized for making good luck talismans.

The 30sh stamp is from 2001 Crops definitives issue showing Peanuts.

The peanut (Arachis hypogaea), is a species in the legume "bean" family (Fabaceae). The cultivated peanut was likely first domesticated in the valleys of the Paraguay and Parana rivers in the Chaco region of Paraguay and Bolivia.It is an annual herbaceous plant growing 30 to 50 cm (0.98 to 1.6 ft) tall. After pollination, the fruit develops into a legume 3 to 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) long, containing 1 to 4 seeds, which forces its way underground to mature. Hypogaea means "under the earth."

#268 Estonia...Thanks Tiina!

This nice souvenir sheet was jointly-issued by Estonia,Lativa and Lithuania in 1995 celebrating Via Baltica Highway Project showing Beach Hotel in Parnu,Estonia,Bauska Castle in Latvia and Kaunas , Lithuania.

Via Baltica is a part of European route E 67 running from Prague to Helsinki by way of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.It is a significant road connection between the Baltic states. The final stretch between Tallinn and Helsinki is by ferry.

#267 Ireland...Thanks Brian!

The 7c and 20c stamp are from Flowers definitive issues showing Fly orchid and Thrift.

Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera) is a species of orchid and the type species of the genus Ophrys. It is native to Europe and favors sites with alkaline soil. The name arises because it resembles a fly, being totally dependent on flies and bees for pollination. The plants use scent to attract male flies, which pollinate the flowers as they attempt to mate with the flower. The scent released by the flowers mimic female fly sexual pheromones.

Thrift (Armeria maritima) can be found in the wild in coastal areas across the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Europe, but also occurs in parts of South America. It is a common sight in British marshes. It can grow in dry, sandy, saline conditions such as those at beaches and salt marshes.

The 55c stamp is from 2010 Wedding Stamps issue featureing a pair of devoted lovebirds which embody the love and joy shared by the happy couple.

#266 Bhutan...Thanks Mukul!

These two stamps are from 2010 World Health Day issue but more information is needed.

#265 Turkey...Thanks Levent!

This FDC was issued on May 1,2010 celebrating 150th anniv. of Şile Lighthouse.

Şile Lighthouse which serves as world's second largest active lighthouse and is the largest lighthouse in Turkey was built by the French Lighthouse Administrations between the years of 1859-1860 in the Ottoman period.Located at an altitude of 60 meters above sea level Şile Lighthouse tower height is 19 meters.Incandescent lights are used in the 1000 watts of power since 1968 to make the lighthouse work.It is the only lighthouse to flash in fifteen second intervals and flashlight tour of a full ratation is completed in 120 seconds.Light of the tower at nights can be seen from a distance of approximately 35 miles.

Pieces made of stone were constructed by Turkish architects the other parts made of metal and produced in the factory of Barbir Paris.The lighthouse internationally is a world-class standards.Lighthouse tower in the shape of an octagonal and in the form of 110 centimeters thick stone was painted black and white parallel bands so that it can be shown more easily.

Şile Lighthouse continues to be a companion to the night fishing for 150 years and it was opened to the public as a museum in 2004.

Şile is a small holiday town on the Black Sea, 70 km from the city of Istanbul, Turkey. In 2000 the population was 32,923, of which 10,571 lived in the town of Şile, and the remainder lived in surrounding villages. However, between June and September, the population rapidly increases because of the many residents of Istanbul who have summer houses in Şile.

There has been a fishing village here and today, Şile is a beach resort, popular with people who want a resort atmosphere without having to go to the expense of travelling to the Mediterranean Sea. Şile is about an hour's drive from the city and was always a retreat from the city. During Turkey's economic boom of the 1990s, a great many summer homes and holiday villages were built for the city's middle class, especially after the 1999 earthquake damaged the Marmara coast. There is a small but sandy beach, a little harbour of fishing boats, dense forest behind and a quiet pleasant atmosphere during the week. At weekends though, and especially on a hot summer Sunday Şile is crowded with day-trippers from the poorer districts of the city, who come packed into minibuses and vans to picnic and play football. There are a number of bars and restaurants with sea views, especially in the little park around the lighthouse.

#264 Egypt...Thanks Farah!

The 25pt stamp is from 2000-2002 definitives issue showing Seostris,king of ancient Egypt (reigned 1836–18 bce) of the 12th dynasty (1938–c. 1756 bce), who completely reshaped Egypt’s government and extended his dominion in Nubia, the land immediately south of Egypt.

During the reigns of his predecessors, the provincial nobles of Middle Egypt had enhanced their power through royal favours and intermarriage with the families of neighbouring potentates. Around the middle of Sesostris III’s reign, the rich provincial tombs, which were a mark of the nobles’ power, abruptly ceased to be built. Simultaneously, the memorials of middle-class persons increased at Abydos, the Upper Egyptian

The 30pt stamp is also from 2000-2002 definitives issue showing Princess Merit-aten,who was an ancient Egyptian princess of the 18th dynasty. She is likely to have been the daughter of Meritaten, eldest daughter of Pharaoh Akhenaten.

The 50pt stamp shows scene from 20th Dynasty.

The 150pt stamp was issued in 2009 celebrating 4th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC (Forum on China–Africa Cooperation) held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

FOCAC is an official forum between the People's Republic of China and the states in Africa. There have been four summits held to date, with the most recent meeting having occurred from November 8 to 9, 2009 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Previous summits were held in October 2000 in Beijing, December 2003 in Addis Ababa, and November 2006 in Beijing.

#263 Argentina...Thanks Viviana!

This souvenir sheet was issued in 2006 commemorating Bicentenary of first British Invasion of Buenos Aires and Reconquest.

The British invasions of the Río de la Plata were a series of unsuccessful British attempts to seize control of the Spanish colonies located around the La Plata Basin in South America (today part of Argentina and Uruguay). The invasions took place between 1806 and 1807, as part of the Napoleonic Wars, when Spain was an ally of France.

The invasions occurred in two phases. A detachment from the British Army occupied Buenos Aires for 46 days in 1806 before being expelled. In 1807, a second force occupied Montevideo, remaining for several months, and a third force made a second attempt to take Buenos Aires. After several days of street-fighting against the local militia and Spanish colonial army, in which half of the British forces were killed or wounded, the British were forced to withdraw.

The resistance of the local people and their active participation in the defence, with little direct support from Spain, were important steps toward the May Revolution in 1810, and the Argentine Declaration of Independence in 1816.

#262 New Zealand...Thanks Lois!

The $1 stamp was issued on Apr.30,2010 celebrating New Zealand's participation at Expo 2010 Shanghai showing Kaitiaki and Fu Dog.

Both the Māori kaitiaki and China’s Fu Dog have similar roles. Kaitiaki are carers, guardians, protectors and conservers of the sky, sea and land, while pairs of Fu Dogs (also known as guardian lions, lion dogs and temple lions) can be found outside many Chinese homes and businesses, providing powerful protection against bad fortune. Eight kaitiaki, one of which is featured on this stamp, were carved by Lyonel Grant for the New Zealand pavilion, each different from the next. They adorn the railings that zigzag through the garden at the pavilion.

The 30c stamp is from 2009 Scenic Definitives showing Tolaga Bay,which is both a bay and small town on the East Coast of New Zealand's North Island.

The region around the bay is rugged and remote, and for many years the only access to the town was by boat. Because the bay is shallow, a long wharf - the longest in New Zealand - was built to accommodate visiting vessels. This wharf is now in threat and a committee from the township are appealing for funds and technical help to restore and save it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

#261 France...Thanks David!

The 0.56€ stamp was issued in April,2010 showing views of Colmar,which is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.

In 2010, Colmar welcomes the Spring Philatelic Exhibition. The House of heads and a view of Little Venice are two emblems of the city, illustrated on the stamp for this occasion.

#260 Slovenia...Thanks Adam!

This FDC was issued from Traditional Clothing series in 2005 showing clothing from Pohorje and Kobansko areas which is a mountain range in northern Slovenia.

The 0.45c stamp was issued in 2008 commemorating Dr.Julius Kugy (1858-1944),who was an Austrian - Italian mountaineer and writer of Slovene origin. He wrote mostly in German. He is renowned for his travelogues from the Julian Alps, in which he reflected on the relationship between man, nature, and culture. During all his life, he opposed competing nationalist ideologies in the northern Adriatic area, insisting on the need of peaceful co-existence among Slavic, Italian and German peoples.

The C & D stamp are from 1999-2004 definitive issue showing Fishing boat and Scythe respectively

#259 Japan...Thanks Asuka!

The 80 yen stamp is from 2010 Philately Week issue showing a painting by Hashimoto Gaho (桥本雅邦).

Hashimoto Gaho was born in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1835. His father, who was also a painter, died when Hashimoto was 13. In 1882, Hashimoto's work at an exhibition organized by the Meiji government received recognition from Okakura Tenshin (冈仓天心) and Ernest Francisco Fenollosa. Later, when the Tokyo School of Arts was founded, Hashimoto was appointed professor of Japanese painting there. Hashimoto pioneered a new style of Japanese painting, which incorporated elements of Western painting into traditional painting techniques, and became a major figure in Japanese painting circles during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). He died in 1908.

#258 Sweden...Thanks Monika!

These two stamps were issued in 2010 featuring Cats showing different glimpses of a cat's everyday life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

#257 Åland...Thanks Åland Post!

The 0.70€ stamp was issued in 2002 showing an interesting amphibian:Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus),which is a newt in the family Salamandridae, found across Europe and parts of Asia.

Great Crested Newts normally live on land but breed in ponds and pools. Breeding is similar to that of other newts. After performing a courtship display, the male deposits a spermataphore (a small packet of sperm) from his cloaca (reproductive and excretory opening) in the path of the female. He then moves sideways in front of her to gently encourage her into a position where the spermataphore will be pressed against and picked up by her cloaca - so "mating" is done without direct contact. The female lays two or three eggs a day between March and mid July, until 200 to 300 eggs have been laid. The eggs are laid on submerged aquatic plants, each carefully wrapped in a leaf.

The larvae (or efts) hatch after about three weeks and then live in the pond as aquatic predators. They are vulnerable to fish predation, and water bodies containing fish are rarely used for breeding (this means that they do not usually use running water, larger lakes nor many garden ponds).

After metamorphosis into air-breathing juveniles at about four months old, they live a terrestrial life until old enough to breed, which is at about two or three years of age. They may disperse at this age as far as 800 metres (about half a mile).

Both the juvenile newts and the adults (outside the breeding season) live in terrestrial habitats with dense cover, such as scrub, rough grass and woodland, usually within about 200 metres of the breeding pond. They rest during the day beneath rocks, logs or other shelter.

Larval newts usually feed on tadpoles, worms, insects and insect larvae. Adults hunt in ponds for other newts, tadpoles, young froglets, worms, insect larvae and water snails. They also hunt on land for insects, worms and other invertebrates.

During the winter months they hibernate under logs and stones or in the mud at the bottom of their breeding ponds.The newts normally return to the same breeding site each year, and can live as much as 27 years, although up to about 10 years is more usual.

Since the 1940s, populations of Great Crested Newts have declined in most of Europe due to loss of habitat.

The 3€ stamp is from 2007 Predators issue showing Pine marten (Martes martes),which is an animal native to Northern Europe belonging to the mustelid family, which also includes mink, otter, badger, wolverine and weasel. It is about the size of a domestic cat. Its body is up to 53 cm in length (21 inches), and its bushy tail can be 25 cm (10 inches). Males are slightly larger than females; on average a marten weighs around 1.5 kg (3.5 lb). Their fur is usually light to dark brown and grows longer and silkier during the winter months. They have a cream to yellow colored "bib" marking on their throats.

The 5€ stamp was issued in 2007 showing Beach angelica (Angelica archangelica),which is a biennial plant from the umbelliferous family Apiaceae. Alternative English names are Holy Ghost, Wild Celery, and Norwegian angelica.

During its first year it only grows leaves, but during its second year its fluted stem can reach a height of two meters (or six feet). Its leaves are composed of numerous small leaflets, divided into three principal groups, each of which is again subdivided into three lesser groups. The edges of the leaflets are finely toothed or serrated. The flowers, which blossom in July, are small and numerous, yellowish or greenish in colour, are grouped into large, globular umbels, which bear pale yellow, oblong fruits. Angelica only grows in damp soil, preferably near rivers or deposits of water. Not to be confused with the edible Pastinaca sativa, or Wild Parsnip.

Angelica archangelica grows wild in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland, mostly in the northern parts of the countries.

#256 Egypt...Thanks Farah!

The 150pt stamp on the left was issued in 2009 honoring Desmond Tutu,African Nobel Prize Winner.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born 1931) is a South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. In 1984, Tutu became the second South African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu was the first black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa). Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is currently the chairman of The Elders. Tutu is vocal in his defence of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. Tutu also campaigns to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, homophobia, poverty and racism. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Tutu has also compiled several books of his speeches and sayings.

The 150pt stamp on the right was issued in 2009 honoring Suzanne Mubarak, the First lady of Egypt.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

#255 Peru...Thanks Jeffery!

The $2 stamp was issued in 2008 commemorating Dominican Fray Jerónimo de Loaysa González (1498-1575),who was the first bishop and subsequently first archbishop of Lima.

The two $2.20 stamps on the top are from 2009 Protect Glaciers & Polar Region issue.

The two $5.50 stamps below are from 2007 Insects issue showing Cerambido gigante (Cerambycidae) and Escarabajo hercules (Scarabaeidae).

#254 France...Thanks Pazzolina!

This Monde 20g stamp is from 2009 Collector Eiffel Tower issue showing a night view of famous Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower is a 1887 iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris that has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower, which is the tallest building in Paris, is the single most visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World's Fair.

The tower stands 324 m (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. It was the tallest man-made structure in the world from its completion until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. Not including broadcast antennas, it is the second-tallest structure in France after the 2004 Millau Viaduct.

The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or lift to the first and second levels. The walk to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by lift. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants.

The tower has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France, often in the establishing shot of films set in the city.