Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#420 Czech Republic...Thanks Jiri!

This FDC was issued in 1994 featuring Engraving:Stary Posetilec A Zena by Lucas Van Leyden.

Lucas van Leyden (1494–1533) was a Dutch engraver and painter, born and mainly active in Leiden, who was among the first Dutch exponents of genre painting and is generally regarded as one of the finest engravers in the history of art.

He was the pupil of his father, from whose hand no works are known, and of Cornelis Engelbrechtsz, but both of these were painters whereas Lucas himself was principally an engraver. Where he learnt engraving is unknown, but he was highly skilled in that art at a very early age: the earliest known print by him (Mohammed and the Murdered Monk) dates from 1508, when he was perhaps only 14, yet reveals no trace of immaturity in inspiration or technique.

Lucas enjoyed a great reputation in his day, and Giorgio Vasari (who called him Lucas van Hollandt) even rated him above Dürer. He is universally regarded as one of the greatest figures in the history of graphic art, because he made etchings and woodcuts as well as engravings and was a prolific draughtsman. His status as a painter is less elevated, but he was undoubtedly one of the outstanding Netherlandish painters of his period. He was a pioneer of the Netherlandish genre tradition, as witness his Chess Players (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin) which actually represents a variant game called 'courier' - and his Card Players (National Gallery of Art, Washington), while his celebrated Last Judgement triptych (Lakenhal Museum, Leiden, 1526–27) shows the heights to which he could rise as a religious painter. It eloquently displays his vivid imaginative powers, his marvellous skill as a colourist and his deft and fluid brushwork.

#419 USA...Thanks Jorge!

The two 44c stamps are from 2009 Nature of America:Kelp Forest issue.

A kelp forest is a remarkable undersea ecosystem dominated by very large marine algae more commonly known as seaweeds or kelp.

#418 France...Thanks Yves!

The 1 fr stamp was issued in 1967 featuring Father Juniets Gig by Henri ROUSSEAU.

Henri Rousseau (1844–1910) was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naive or Primitive manner.He was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) after his place of employment. Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.

Henri Rousseau was born in Laval, Mayenne in the Loire Valley into the family of a plumber. He attended Laval High School as a day student and then as a boarder, after his father became a debtor and his parents had to leave the town upon the seizure of their house. He was mediocre in some subjects at the high school but won prizes for drawing and music. He worked for a lawyer and studied law, but "attempted a small perjury and sought refuge in the army," serving for four years, starting in 1863. With his father's death, Rousseau moved to Paris in 1868 to support his widowed mother as a government employee. In 1868 he married Clémence Boitard, his landlord's 15 year-old daughter, with whom he had 9 children (only 7 survived). In 1871, he was promoted to the toll collector's office in Paris as a tax collector. His wife died in 1888 and he later remarried Josephine Noury in 1898. He started painting seriously in his early forties, and by age 49 in 1893 he retired from his job to work on his art full time.

Rousseau claimed he had "no teacher other than nature", although he admitted he had received "some advice" from two established Academic painters, Félix Auguste-Clément and Jean-Léon Gérôme. Essentially he was self-taught and is considered to be a naive or primitive painter.

His best known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle. Stories spread by admirers that his army service included the French expeditionary force to Mexico are unfounded. His inspiration came from illustrated books and the botanical gardens in Paris, as well as tableaux of taxidermied wild animals. He had also met soldiers, during his term of service, who had survived the French expedition to Mexico and listened to their stories of the subtropical country they had encountered. To the critic Arsène Alexandre, he described his frequent visits to the Jardin des Plantes: "When I go into the glass houses and I see the strange plants of exotic lands, it seems to me that I enter into a dream."

Along with his exotic scenes there was a concurrent output of smaller topographical images of the city and its suburbs.

He claimed to have invented a new genre of portrait landscape, which he achieved by starting a painting with a view such as a favorite part of the city, and then depicting a person in the foreground.

The 0.53€ stamp is from 2005 Aspects of Life in French Regions showing Lake Annecy.

Lake Annecy (French Lac d'Annecy) is a lake in Haute-Savoie in France. It is the second largest lake located in Haute-Savoie, after the Lac du Bourget, if the French part of Lake Geneva (which is also partly in Switzerland) is excluded. It is known as "Europe's cleanest lake" because of strict environmental regulations introduced in the 1960s. It is a popular tourist destination known for its swimming and water sports.

The lake was formed about 18,000 years ago, at the time the large alpine glaciers melted. It is fed by many small rivers from the surrounding mountains and from a powerful underwater source, the Boubioz, which enters at 82 m depth.

#417 Mexico...Thanks Monica!

These 3 stamps were issued in 2009 celebrating 125 Anniversary of Banco Nacional de México or Banamex, Mexico's second largest bank.The Banamex Financial Group was purchased by Citigroup in August 2001 for $12.5 billion USD. It continues to operate as a Citigroup subsidiary.

Banamex was formed on June 2, 1884 from the merger of two banks, Banco Nacional Mexicano and Banco Mercantil Mexicano, two banks that had operated since the beginning of 1882. The newly founded bank had branches in Mérida, Veracruz, Puebla, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosi, and opened a branch in Guadalajara.

In 1916, General Pancho Villa’s revolution interrupted the bank’s role as banknote issuer for the Porfirio Diaz regime.

The bank was reorganized in 1926, becoming a financing bank and establishing the first agency of a Latin American bank in New York.

Banamex gradually introduced several financial product innovations to the Mexican market including savings accounts (in 1929), personal credit lines (in 1958), credit cards (in 1968), and ATM banking (in 1972).

#416 Uganda...Thanks Frederic!

The 200sh stamp is from 1993 World Meteorological Day set showing Observatory at Meteorological Training School,Entebbe.

Each year, on 23 March, the World Meteorological Organization, its 189 Members and the worldwide meteorological community celebrate World Meteorological Day around a chosen theme. This day commemorates the entry into force, on that date in 1950, of the WMO Convention creating the Organization. Subsequently, in 1951, WMO was designated a specialized agency of the United Nations System.

The 1800sh stamp is from 1999 Moth issue showing Denephila nerii.

#415 China...Thanks Huo!

This 1.2yuan stamp is from 2008 Zhuxian Town Woodblock New Year Painting issue featuring a martial God in Tang Dynasty.

With a history of over 800 years. Zhuxian Town Woodblock New Year pictures are one of the oldest folk woodblock arts in China. Zhuxian Town is near Kaifeng. capital city in central Henan Province.

Local people still adopt the traditional techniques to produce New Year pictures now. Zhuxian New Year Picture originated in the Song Dynasty and flourished in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
There used to be more than 300 picture workshops. But they were reduced to no more than 70 at the end of the Qing Dynasty .

The themes vary from portraits of martial and intellectual gods to portraits of spirits. The themes are classified into three categories: 1. Exorcising ghosts and conferring blessing; 2. Propitious gods and customs; 3. Theatrical and historical legends.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

#414 Algeria...Thanks Ouari!

This FDC was issued to celebrate 2010 Year of Peace and Security in Africa.During the Year of Peace and Security in Africa, in each of the 53 Member states of the AU, a Flame of Peace will travel around the country in order to promote the initiative and to involve all African citizens.

#413 Greece...Thanks Christos!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

#412 Hungary...Thanks Lajos!

#411 Canada...Thanks Mike!

This cover features Preserve the Polar Regions and Glaciers set issued in 2009,focusing on the animals that will lose habitats if action is not taken.

By the end of this century, global temperatures are expected to rise between 1.4 and 5.8°C. Scientists predict that a 4°C temperature increase would melt nearly half the world’s glaciers. As they melt, we will see an increase in floods, water shortages, and a rise in sea levels that will destroy many, if not all, coastal communities and habitats. Climate change has already wiped out an entire ecosystem on the crumbling ice shelves of the Arctic.

Much more than just marvellous mounds of snow and ice, glaciers are the world’s largest freshwater reservoir. So large, in fact, that together they cover an expanse the size of South America. The rapid loss of these ice cores due to climate change threatens essential supplies of water necessary to maintain all forms of life on this planet.

#410 France...Thanks Yves!

The 2.20fr stamp was issued in 1986 honoring Pierre Cot,who was a French politician, was a leading figure in the Popular Front government of the 1930s.

The 0.46€ stamp was issued in 2002 celebrating Bicent.of Legion of Honor,which is a premier order of the French republic, created by Napoleon Bonaparte, then first consul, on May 19, 1802, as a general military and civil order of merit conferred without regard to birth or religion provided that anyone admitted swears to uphold liberty and equality.

Napoleon's ideas for this order, which finally prevailed, aroused a certain amount of opposition, particularly from those who felt the Legion should have purely military qualifications. After becoming emperor, Napoleon presided over the first investiture into the Legion, which took place in 1804 at the Hôtel des Invalides, Paris. In 1805, schools were started for daughters of members; later, hospitals were maintained for sick and infirm legionnaires. During the Restoration, the Legion became a royal order, ranked below the restored military and religious orders of the ancien régime. Upon the downfall of the monarchy, the Legion once again became the highest-ranking order and decoration in France.

True to the stated ideals of Napoleon when founding the order, the membership of the Legion is remarkably egalitarian; both men and women, French citizens and foreigners, civilians and military personnel, irrespective of rank, birth, or religion, can be admitted to any of the classes of the Legion. Admission into this order, which can be conferred posthumously, requires 20 years of civil achievement in peacetime or extraordinary military bravery and service in times of war. Admission into the Legion for war services automatically carries with it the award of the Croix de Guerre, the highest French military medal.

During the Consulate and the First Empire, Napoleon served as the grand master of the order, while a grand council of seven grand officers administered the 15 territorial units, or “cohorts,” into which the order was divided. Currently, the president of France serves as grand master, and the order is administered by a civil chancellor with the help of a council nominated by the grand master. The Legion has five classes, listed in descending rank: grand cross (limited to 80 members), grand officer (200), commander (1,000), officer (4,000), and knight, or chevalier (unlimited). Napoleon himself made some 48,000 nominations. Foreign recipients in the classes higher than chevalier are supernumerary. Promotion from a lower grade to a higher grade is done according to the service performed in the lower. However, extraordinary services may admit candidates at once to any rank.

The changes in design of the insignia reflect the vicissitudes of French history. Originally, the star of the order depicted a crown surrounded by oak and laurel wreaths with the head of Napoleon, while the other side displayed an eagle holding a thunderbolt with the motto emblazoned “Honneur et Patrie” (“Honour and Country”). During the first Restoration, Louis XVIII, in 1814, replaced the head of Napoleon with that of King Henry IV of France, and on the other side introduced the royal fleur-de-lis emblem. Napoleon III, in 1870, restored the original design, although he replaced the head of Napoleon with the female head of the Republic. The badge of the Legion depicts this head with the inscription “République Française”; the reverse side has a set of crossed tricolours with the motto “Honneur et Patrie.”

#409 Czech Republic...Thanks Michal!

The 17k stamp was issued in 2009 featuring the diversity of the night-time forest beauty of the Křivoklátsko biosphere reserve.

In 1978 the Křivoklátsko region was proclaimed a protected land area of 628 km2 located in the territory of the Central and the West Bohemian regions. On March 1, 1977 this area, due to its high natural values, was proclaimed a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Two thirds of the area are covered with leafy and mixed forests. The highest point of the Křivoklátsko is the Těchovín hill (616 m above sea level). The lowest point is the Berounka river level at the place where it leaves the area (223 m above sea level). This river has greatly affected the formation and preserved character of the whole area. For thousands of years the river flow cut deep into the valley whose steep-sloped hillsides are covered with natural vegetation of various formation, pervaded in some places with natural exposures with xerothermal fauna and flora. The layers of sediments in the vast meanders of the river led to the creation of river terraces. In most of the year the temperature at the bottom of the valley is very low, which corresponds to the conditions of submountain to mountain regions. Temperature inversion, a phenomenon typical of the Křivoklátsko region, is one of the main causes of the great diversity of species. The preserved species include over 1,800 species of vascular plants, at least 52 species of wood plants, more than 120 species of birds and a number of other animals, of which 20 species are critically endangered (e.g. Ascalapus libelluloides, Schaeff., fish hawk, Austropotamobius torrentium, freshwater-lamprey), 37 heavily endangered (e.g. large mouse-eared bat, barn owl, black stork, nightjar, agile frog) and 44 endangered (e.g. eagle owl, Trichius fasciatus, Carabus irregularis). The symbol of the Křivoklátsko protected land area is red deer kept in the Křivoklátsko forest enclosures from time immemorial.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#408 Guatemala...Thanks Haroldo!

These 3 stamps are 2009 UPAEP:Traditional Games issue illustrating Yoyo,Capirucho and Kite.

The yo-yo is a popular toy consisting of a length of string tied at one end to a flat spool. It is played by holding the free end of the string (usually by inserting one finger in a slip knot) and pulling at it so as to cause the spool to turn whilst suspended in mid-air, either taking up or releasing the string. First made popular in the 1920s, yo-yoing is still very much enjoyed by both children and adults, though it was originally made as a children's toy.

Capirucho (Cup-and-ball) is a traditional children's toy, consisting of a wooden cup with a handle, and a ball which is attached to a string, which is attached to the cup. It is popular in Spanish-speaking countries, where it is called "boliche". The name varies across many countries

The cup-and-ball has its origins in France in the sixteenth century. The game was loved by King Henry III of France. This frivolous monarch was often seen playing in public. After his death, the game went out of fashion. For 100 years the game was only remembered by a small number of enthusiasts.The game had its golden age during the reign of Louis XV — among the upper classes people owned baleros made of ivory. Actors also sometimes appeared with them in scenes. The game was very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The main goal of the game is to get the ball into the cup. While the concept is very easy, mastering the game sometimes requires many hours of practice. To play, the player holds the cup by the handle and lets the ball hang freely. The player then tosses the ball upward by jerking the arm holding the toy, attempting to catch the ball in the cup.

The kite was said to be the invention of the famous 5th century BC Chinese philosophers Mozi and Lu Ban. By at least 549 AD paper kites were being flown, as it was recorded in that year a paper kite was used as a message for a rescue mission.Ancient and medieval Chinese sources list other uses of kites for measuring distances, testing the wind, lifting men, signaling, and communication for military operations.The earliest known Chinese kites were flat (not bowed) and often rectangular. Later, tailless kites incorporated a stabilizing bowline. Kites were decorated with mythological motifs and legendary figures; some were fitted with strings and whistles to make musical sounds while flying.

Stories of kites were brought to Europe by Marco Polo towards the end of the 13th century, and kites were brought back by sailors from Japan and Malaysia in the 16th and 17th centuries.Although they were initially regarded as mere curiosities, but by the 18th and 19th centuries kites were being used as vehicles for scientific research.

#407 Myanmar...Thanks Thitar!

#406 Mongolia...Thanks Uandandorj!

Monday, August 16, 2010

#405 Germany...Thanks Jurgen!

The 45c and 55c stamps,issued in 2010,are designed by Udo Lindenberg,who is a German rock musician,themed on his songs "SS Andrea Doria" and "Special Train to Pankow".

Udo Lindenberg, born 1946 in Westphalia, Gronau, founded his first band in 1959. 1973 Lindenberg writes German rock music texts, for which there are few role models in this period. He dreams of an open inter-German border.In October 1983, the West German rock star was surprisingly permitted to perform in concert at the Palast der Republik in East Germany. At the concert, Lindenberg sang one of his best-known songs "Special Train to Pankow", which satirized East German leader Erich Honecker, and which he had been asked not to play. The East German government immediately revoked his permission to complete his scheduled East German concert tour, after he had spent months begging them for permission to perform there.

Udo Lindenberg shows in his musical and graphic work always that he is a deeply political person. In his overall artistic work he has been always for freedom, against right-wing violence, for humanity - always with a wink, irony and personal commitment. His provocations, which sometimes come to the limits, aim always for change for the benefit of the people.

#404 Malaysia...Thanks Saravanan!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

#403 Israel...Thanks Ori!

These two stamps were issued in June 2010 illustrating Story Gardens in Holon.

Billing itself as a "children's city",Holon is a city in Israel, on the central coastal strip south of Tel Aviv.

Friday, August 13, 2010

#402 Qatar...Thanks Glenn!

The 1 Riyal stamp was issued this year celebrating 50 years of OPEC.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is a cartel of twelve countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965 and hosts regular meetings among the oil ministers of its Member Countries. Indonesia withdrew in 2008 after it became a net importer of oil, but stated it would likely return if it became a net exporter in the world again.

According to its statutes, one of the principal goals is the determination of the best means for safeguarding the cartel's interests, individually and collectively. It also pursues ways and means of ensuring the stabilization of prices in international oil markets with a view to eliminating harmful and unnecessary fluctuations; giving due regard at all times to the interests of the producing nations and to the necessity of securing a steady income to the producing countries; an efficient and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations, and a fair return on their capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.

OPEC's influence on the market has been widely criticized, since it became effective in determining production and prices. Arab members of OPEC alarmed the developed world when they used the “oil weapon” during the Yom Kippur War by implementing oil embargoes and initiating the 1973 oil crisis. Although largely political explanations for the timing and extent of the OPEC price increases are also valid, from OPEC’s point of view, these changes were triggered largely by previous unilateral changes in the world financial system and the ensuing period of high inflation in both the developed and developing world. This explanation encompasses OPEC actions both before and after the outbreak of hostilities in October 1973, and concludes that “OPEC countries were only “staying even” by dramatically raising the dollar price of oil.”

OPEC's ability to control the price of oil has diminished somewhat since then, due to the subsequent discovery and development of large oil reserves in Alaska, the North Sea, Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, the opening up of Russia, and market modernization. OPEC nations still account for two-thirds of the world's oil reserves, and, as of April 2009, 33.3% of the world's oil production, affording them considerable control over the global market. The next largest group of producers, members of the OECD and the Post-Soviet states produced only 23.8% and 14.8%, respectively, of the world's total oil production.

#401 Brazil...Thanks Luciano!

The 2 stamps on the left are from 2008 National Heroes issue honoring Dom Pedro I and Jose Bonifacio de Andrada E Silva.

Pedro I (1798,Lisbon -1834) was the founder of the Brazilian empire and first emperor of Brazil, from Dec. 1, 1822, to April 7, 1831, also reckoned as King Pedro (Peter) IV of Portugal.

Generally known as Dom Pedro, he was the son of King John VI of Portugal. When Napoleon conquered Portugal in 1807, Pedro accompanied the royal family in its flight to Brazil. He remained there as regent when King John returned to Portugal in 1821.

Pedro surrounded himself with ministers who counseled independence. When the Portuguese Cortês (Parliament), preferring colonial status for Brazil, demanded that Pedro return to Lisbon to “complete his political education,” he issued a declaration of Brazilian independence on Sept. 7, 1822. Within three months he was crowned emperor.

Pedro's initial popularity waned, and in 1823, when the Brazilian Assembly was preparing a liberal constitution, he dissolved that body and exiled the radical leader José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva. On March 25, 1824, however, Pedro accepted a somewhat less liberal constitution drafted by the Council of State at his behest.

Although adoption of that charter may have saved Pedro from deposition, it did not reestablish his popularity. His autocratic manner, his lack of enthusiasm for parliamentary government, and his continuing deep interest in Portuguese affairs antagonized his subjects, as did the failure of his military forces in a war with Argentina over what is now Uruguay. Strong opposition in the Brazilian Parliament and a series of local uprisings induced him to abdicate in 1831 in favour of his son Dom Pedro II, who was then five years old. Pedro I then returned to Portugal.

On the death of King John VI (March 10, 1826), Pedro I had become titular king of Portugal as Pedro IV. Two months later, still in Brazil, he issued a parliamentary charter for Portugal and conditionally abdicated the Portuguese throne in favour of his daughter Maria da Glória, the future Queen Maria II. He died of natural causes in Portugal while securing his daughter's claim against that of his brother, the regent Miguel.

Jose Bonifacio (1763-1838) was a Brazilian statesman who played a key role in Brazil's attainment of independence from Portugal. He is known to Brazilians as the “Patriarch of Independence.”

Andrada went to Portugal as a student and became a distinguished scholar there, earning an international reputation as a naturalist and geologist. He remained in Portugal until he was 56, serving as a professor at the University of Coimbra and as the permanent secretary of the Lisbon Academy. He was deeply influenced by the principles of the Enlightenment.

Returning to Brazil in 1819, Andrada devoted himself to politics and quickly became the leading intellectual advocate of Brazilian independence from Portugal. More importantly, he became the chief adviser to the young prince regent, Dom Pedro (later the emperor Pedro I). He headed the ministry formed in January 1822 by Dom Pedro and supported Pedro in his determination that Brazil should be independent. After Pedro proclaimed Brazil's independence from Portugal (Sept. 7, 1822), Andrada became prime minister of the new empire of Brazil.

In the constituent assembly of 1823, Andrada's liberal political principles led him to oppose Pedro's Portuguese advisers, and consequently Andrada was exiled until 1829. He was then allowed to aid Pedro I once again, and he worked for the imperial cause even after Pedro's abdication (April 7, 1831). He became tutor to the child emperor Pedro II, and the liberal education that he gave Pedro II helped the latter become an effective and enlightened monarch. After being arrested in 1833 for political intrigue, Andrada retired from public life.

#400 Brasil...Thanks Rodrigo!

This irregular shaped stamp was issued in 2006 showing the World's Largest Cashew Tree.

Cashew tree,from the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae, is native to northeastern Brazil. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acajú. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew nuts and cashew apples.

#399 Greenland

The 25 DKK stamp is from 2008 Fossils in Greenland issue illustrating Eudimorphodon cromptonellus,which is a prehistoric pterosaur It is based on a juvenile specimen with a wing span of just 24 centimeters, found in the early nineties in Greenland. Its specific name honors Professor Alfred W. Crompton.

The 5 DKK stamp was issued in 2009 alterting Global Warming.

The 50 DKK stamp is from 2010 Contemporary Art IV series showing a painting by Bolatta Silis-Hoegh.

Bolatta Silis-Hoegh,born in 1981, is a Greenlandic artist educated at The Jutland Academy of Fine Arts, Aarhus. One of the young artist’s themes is identity confusion, the meeting between cultures, globalisation and global warming, torn between outside cultural influences (e.g. Americanisation) on the one hand and an almost a national romantic quest for the indigenous Greenlandic Culture on the other hand.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

#398 USA...Thanks Javier!

The two 37c stamps are from 2003 Old Glory issue depicting Uncle Sam on Bicycle with Liberty Flag and 19th Cent. Carving of Woman with Flag and Sword.

#397 Taiwan...Thanks Cheng!

The 5 NTD stamp is from 2008 Finding Nemo issue showing Bubbles,who is a bubble-maniac yellow tang,one of the most popular aquarium fishes.

#396 Czech Republic...Thanks Josef!

This FDC features The beauty of our homeland - Štramberk issued on June 16,2010.

Štramberk is a small town in Moravia. It lies on the slopes of Castle Hill. The city is much younger than the castle, which dominates with its Gothic tower ovens ranges up to 40 meters and its diameter is 10 m. Since 1903, it serves as a lookout.

The postage stamp is a stylized view of Štramberské Square, in front of the landmark Castle Trúba. On the cover is stylistically depicted the original wooden architecture of the city.

The 4k stamp was issued in 1993 commemorating 1000 Anniv of Brevnov Monastery,which is a Benedictine monastery in Břevnov, Prague. It was founded by Prince Boleslav II and Saint Adalbert, bishop of Prague in 993 AD.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

#395 Hong Kong...Thanks Lee!

#394 Poland...Thanks Andrej!

This nice souvenir sheet was issued on July 15,2010 commemorating 600 Years of Grunwald Battle.

In 1230, the Teutonic Knights, a crusading military order, moved to Kulmerland and launched the Prussian Crusade against the pagan Prussian clans. With support from the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor, the Teutons conquered and converted the Prussians by 1280s and shifted their attention to the pagan Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For about a hundred years the Knights raided the Lithuanian lands, particularly Samogitia as it separated the Knights in Prussia from their branch in Livonia. The border regions became uninhabited wilderness, but the Knights gained very little territory. The Lithuanians first gave up Samogitia during the Lithuanian Civil War (1381–1384) in the Treaty of Dubysa. The territory was used as a bargaining chip to ensure Teutonic support for one of the sides in the internal power struggle.

In 1385, Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania proposed to marry reigning Queen Jadwiga of Poland in the Union of Kreva. Jogaila converted to Christianity and was crowned as the King of Poland thus creating a personal union between the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The official Lithuanian conversion to Christianity removed the religious rationale for the Order's activities in the area. Its Grand Master, Conrad Zöllner von Rothenstein, supported by the Hungarian king Sigismund of Luxemburg, responded by publicly contesting the sincerity of Jogaila's conversion, bringing the charge to a papal court. The territorial disputes continued over Samogitia, which was in Teutonic hands since the Peace of Raciąż of 1404. Poland also had territorial claims against the Knights in Dobrzyń Land and Danzig (Gdańsk), but the two states were largely at peace since the Treaty of Kalisz (1343). The conflict was also motivated by trade considerations: the Knights controlled lower reaches of the three largest rivers (Neman, Vistula and Daugava) in Poland and Lithuania.

The Battle of Grunwald was fought on July 15, 1410, during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War. The alliance of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led respectively by King Jogaila (Władysław Jagiełło) and Grand Duke Vytautas (Witold), decisively defeated the Teutonic Knights, led by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. Most of the Teutonic knight's leadership was killed or taken prisoner. While defeated, the Teutonic Knights withstood the siege on their fortress in Marienburg (Malbork) and suffered only minimal territorial losses at the Peace of Thorn (1411) (Toruń). Territorial disputes continued until the Peace of Melno was concluded in 1422. However, the Knights never recovered their former power and the financial burden of war reparations caused internal conflicts and an economic downturn in their lands. The battle shifted the balance of power in Eastern Europe and marked the rise of the Polish–Lithuanian union as the dominant political and military force in the region.

The battle was one of the largest battles in Medieval Europe and is regarded as the most important victory in the history of Poland and Lithuania.It was surrounded by romantic legends and nationalistic propaganda, becoming a larger symbol of struggle against invaders and a source of national pride. During the 20th century, the battle was used in Nazi and Soviet propaganda campaigns. Only in recent decades have historians made progress towards a dispassionate, scholarly assessment of the battle reconciling the previous narratives, which differed widely by nation.

#393 USA...Thanks Charlie!

This issuance in the Legends of Hollywood series honors Katharine Hepburn, one of America’s most fascinating and enduring film stars. This stamp was issued May 12,2010. Over the course of her career, Hepburn made more than 40 motion pictures, including the comedy classic Bringing up Baby (1938)—with Hepburn as a leopard-owning heiress and Cary Grant as a stuffy paleontologist—and The African Queen (1951), in which she played a prim missionary spinster to Humphrey Bogart’s scruffy riverboat captain. Hepburn’s long, illustrious career—and perhaps even more, her independent personality—inspired three generations of Americans. She was, in particular, a role model for women who chose to live life on their own terms. In the words of her niece Katharine Houghton, she “provided hope and inspiration and courage for a whole new generation of women.” The stamp portrait is a publicity still from the film Woman of the Year (MGM, 1942). The photographer was Clarence S. Bull. The selvage image shows Hepburn as she appeared in the play West Side Waltz.

The 17c stamp is from 1986-94 Great Americans series honoring Belva Ann Lockwood.

Belva Ann Lockwood (1830–1917) was an American attorney, politician, educator and author. She was active in working for women's rights, although the term feminist was not in use. The press of her day referred to her as a "suffragist," someone who believed in women's suffrage or voting rights. Lockwood overcame many social and personal obstacles related to gender restrictions. After college, she became a teacher and principal, working to equalize pay for women in education. She supported the movement for world peace, and was a proponent of temperance.

Lockwood graduated from law school in Washington, D.C. and became one of the first female lawyers in the United States. In 1879, she successfully petitioned Congress to be allowed to practice before the United States Supreme Court, becoming the first woman attorney given this privilege. Lockwood ran for president in 1884 and 1888 on the ticket of the National Equal Rights Party and was the first woman to appear on official ballots.

#392 Argentina...Thanks Viviana!

This set of 4 stamps is 2006 Auto Racing issue showing Ford Escort,Toyota Corolla WRC,Ford Focus and Ford Falcon.

#391 Romania...Thanks Calin!

The 3.3 Lei stamp is from 2007 Polar Fauna issue depicting Emperor Penguin.

The Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica. The male and female are similar in plumage and size, reaching 122 cm in height and weighing anywhere from 22 to 45 kg.

The Emperor Penguin is perhaps best known for the sequence of journeys adults make each year in order to mate and to feed their offspring. The only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter, it treks 50–120 km over the ice to breeding colonies which may include thousands of individuals. The female lays a single egg, which is incubated by the male while the female returns to the sea to feed; parents subsequently take turns foraging at sea and caring for their chick in the colony. The lifespan is typically 20 years in the wild, although observations suggest that some individuals may live to 50 years of age.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

#389 Czech Republic...Thanks Josef !

This FDC is from 1974 Art series showing Self Portrait of Ludvik Kuba.

Ludvík Kuba (1863-1956) was a Czech landscape painter, musician, writer, professor in the Academy of Fine Arts. He was a representative of the Late-Impressionism and he collected folk traditions.

Ludvík Kuba studied to play the organ and privately learnt drawing at Bohuslav Schnirch and Karel Liebscher. He was accepted to the Academy of Fine Arts and educated in the studio of Max Pirner (1891-93). Then he studied at Académie Julian in Paris (1893-95) and the school of Anton Ažbe in Munich (1895-1904). He then devoted his life to painting, collecting folk songs (e.g. Slovanstvo ve svých písních - "Slavonic peoples in their songs" recorded 4000 songs) and writing about folk traditions. His artistic style was highly marked with Impressionism and he mainly painted landscapes (his favourite was South Bohemia), portraits (e.g. Josef Svatopluk Machar) and still-lifes (e.g. Red Begonias). He was awarded a lot of Czech and international prizes.

The 19k stamp was issued in 2005 commemorating Bicent.of Battle of Austerlitz.

The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was Napoleon's greatest victory, effectively destroying the Third Coalition against the French Empire. On 2 December 1805, a French army, commanded by Emperor Napoleon I, decisively defeated a Russo-Austrian army, commanded by Tsar Alexander I, after nearly nine hours of difficult fighting. The battle took place near Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna) about 10 km (6 miles) south-east of Brno in Moravia (present day Czech Republic). The battle is often regarded as a tactical masterpiece.

The French victory at Austerlitz effectively brought the Third Coalition to an end. On 26 December 1805, Austria and France signed the Treaty of Pressburg, which took Austria out of the war, reinforced the earlier treaties of Campo Formio and Lunéville, made Austria cede land to Napoleon's German allies, and imposed an indemnity of 40 million francs on the defeated Habsburgs. Russian troops were allowed to head back to home soil. Victory at Austerlitz also permitted the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine, a collection of German states intended as a buffer zone between France and central Europe. In 1806, the Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist when Holy Roman Emperor Francis II kept Francis I of Austria as his only official title. These achievements, however, did not establish a lasting peace on the continent. Prussian worries about growing French influence in Central Europe sparked the War of the Fourth Coalition in 1806.

#388 Ecuador...Thanks Juan!

These stamps were issued this year marking an exciting event "Sails South America 2010" to celebrate the Bicentennial of the First National Governing Board.

This event was organized by the Chilean and Argentinean Navy and the Bicentennial Regatta will unite several of the most magnificent sailing ships, among them frigates, schooners and brigs, both civil and military, from various countries of America and Europe, which will sail the seas of South America and the Caribbean.

“Sails South America 2010” has its start date during the first days of February 2010, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, finishing in Veracruz at the end of June of the same year.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

#387 Sweden...Thanks Christer!

These 2 stamps are from 2009 Cult Cars issue depicting cars from the 1940s - 1960s, showing Citroën DS and Ford Mustang Convertible respectively.

The Citroën DS was an executive car produced by the French manufacturer Citroën between 1955 and 1975. Styled by Italian sculptor and industrial designer Flaminio Bertoni, the DS was known for its aerodynamic futuristic body design and innovative technology, including a hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension.

The DS advanced achievable standards in automobile ride quality, handling, and braking.Citroën sold nearly 1.5 million D-series during the model's 20-year production run. The DS came in third in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, recognizing the world's most influential auto designs, and was named the most beautiful car of all time by Classic & Sports Car magazine.

The Ford Mustang is an automobile manufactured car by Ford Motor Company. It was initially based on the second generation North American Ford Falcon, a compact car.Introduced early on April 17, 1964, the 1965 Mustang was the automaker's most successful launch since the Model A.The 1965 Mustang won the Tiffany Gold Medal for excellence in American design, the first automobile ever to do so.

#386 Mexico...Thanks Monica

The $7 stamp in the middle was issued for the National Commision of Human Rights.

The $7 stamp on the right was issued in 2010 honoring Adolfo López Mateos who served as President of Mexico from 1958 to 1964.

Adolfo López Mateos(1909–1969) was a Mexican politician affiliated to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) . As president, he nationalized electric companies, created the National Commission for Free Textbooks (1959) and promoted the creation of prominent museums; such as the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Declaring his political philosophy to be “left within the Constitution,” Lopez Mateos was the first left-wing politician to hold the presidency since Lazaro Cardenas.

The se-tenant stamps were issued in 2010 celebrating 100 years of Aviation in Mexico showing de Havilland Comet IV plane.

The de Havilland Comet was the world's first commercial jet airliner to reach production.Developed and manufactured by de Havilland of Britain, it first flew in 1949 and was considered a landmark in British aeronautical design. After introduction into commercial service, the initial Comet versions suffered from catastrophic metal fatigue, causing two well-publicised accidents.

The Comet had to be withdrawn and was redesigned. The Comet IV series subsequently enjoyed a long and productive career of over 30 years, although sales never fully recovered. The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, the military derivative of the Comet airliner, is still in service. The original decades-old airframes are being rebuilt with new wings and engines to produce the Nimrod MRA 4, expected to serve with Britain's Royal Air Force until the 2020s, over 70 years after the Comet's first flight.

#385 Australia...Thanks Ann!

The strip of 5 stamps was issued in 1983 featuring famous Australian novel The Sentimental Bloke,which was originally published in 1909 by C.J.Dennis.

Sentimental Bloke tells the story of Bill, a larrikin of the Little Lonsdale Street Push, who is introduced to a young woman by the name of Doreen. The book chronicles their courtship and marriage, detailing Bill's transformation from a violence-prone gang member to a contented husband and father.

#384 Spain...Thanks Aguado!

The five 0.15€ stamps are from 2001 Letter Writing series depicting Spanish history in 16th Century.

Conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortes,1519
Circumnavigation by Juan Sebastian Elcano,1522
Compaign against Incas by Francisco Pizarro,1532
Ascension to the throne of King Philip II,1566
Saints John of the Cross,Teresa of Jesus and painter El Greco,1580

The 0.62€ stamp is from 2009 Flora series showing Geranium which belongs to the family of the Geraniaceae and the genus Pelargonium.

Confusingly, "geranium" is also the common name of members of the genus Pelargonium. Geranium is a genus of over 400 species of flowering biennial, perennial and annual plants. These attractive flowers and their various colours make them very popular in gardening. They are grown throughout the temperate regions of the world and the mountains of the tropics, but mostly in the eastern part of the Mediterranean region. Propagation is by semi-ripe cuttings in winter and early spring or by seed. They are normally grown in part shade to full sun, in well draining but moisture retentive soils.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#383 Spain...Thanks Jose!

The 0.34€ stamp was issued in May 2010 commemorating the Jubilee Year of Compostela or Xacobean Year depicting the silhouette of a pilgrim facing the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

The Jubilee Year of Compostela was established in the 12th century and occurs whenever July 25th, feast day of the apostle St. James, falls on a Sunday. The cult of St. James originated when word spread that his remains were buried in the small Roman necropolis of Campo Stellae. A church was buried on the site and it soon became a pilgrimage centre on which a plenary indulgence could be earned. Santiago de Compostela, as Rome and Jerusalem, is one of the most important holy places for Christianity.

During the Middle Ages, the Way of St. James was a transmitter of culture as it was traveled by pilgrims from all over Europe who brought along new styles and influences in architecture, handicrafts and general culture. Along the way and over the years, towns and villages were built with hospitals, monasteries, churches and inns where pilgrims took refuge, fed, and healed if they fell ill. From the XIV century, St James’s path was scarcely traveled through and only very few pilgrims dared to reach Santiago de Compostela.

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela preserves its original barrel-vaulted cruciform Romanesque interior. The construction of the present cathedral began in 1075 over the remains of the former basilica and was finished in the XII century. It has been embellished and expanded in later centuries. The crypt houses the silver reliquary covered in semi precious gems, which according to tradition, must be embraced by pilgrims who arrive at the Cathedral.

The Way of St. James has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe and has received the honorific title of Calle Mayor de Europa (Main street of Europe). Since the Xacobeo 93, the Way has been promoted as a tourist resource, restoring the routes and hostels and indicating the Way along which thousands of pilgrims travel every year aiming to reach their final destination.

The 0.45€ stamp is from 2010 The Nature Reserves of Spain series featuring the Garajonay National Park which occupies 3.986 hectares and is located in the centre of the island of La Gomera.

As the rest of the Canary Islands, La Gomera has volcanic origins and thus the characteristic rocks that are found along the island. These are former volcanoes whose shape has been sharpened by erosion. The park provides the best example of laurisilva, a humid subtropical forest with many species of evergreen leaves that need a high level of humidity. More than 50 species of endemic flora can be found in the island the most common being the laurisilva, beech and heather. With regards to the Fauna, there are over 150 autochthonous species such as the Laurel Pigeon, the owl, hoopoe, sparrowhawk and kestrel. It has been declared National Park in 1981, World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 and Special Protection Area for Birds and Site of Community Importance.

#382 Qatar...Thanks Percy!

These nice birds stamps were issued in 2009 featuring (from left to right) Red-backed Shrike,Chiffchaff,Yellow Wagtail,Orphean Warbler and Woodchat Shrike.

Monday, August 2, 2010

#381 Russia...Thanks Anya!

The two 10p stamps are from 2008 History of Russian Cossacks issue.

It is after 1400 that the Cossacks emerge as an established and identifiable group in historical accounts. Rulers of Grand Duchy of Moscow and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth employed Cossacks as mobile guards against Tatar raids from the south in the territories of the present-day southwestern Russia and southern Ukraine. Those early Cossacks seemed to have included a significant number of Tatar descendants judging from the records of their names. From the mid-15th century, the Cossacks are mostly mentioned with Russian and Ukrainian names.

Towards the end of the 15th century, Zaporozhian Cossacks had established a Cossack host in the "wild field" of Ukraine around the Dnipro River. In the 16th century, the Don Cossacks established another cossack host in the Don River basin. Others belonged to a Knyaz - slavic name for a royal nobility rank.

The Dnipro Cossacks of Ukraine formed the Zaporozhian Sich centered around the fortified Dnipro islands. Initially a vassal of Poland-Lithuania, the increasing social and religious pressure from the Commonwealth caused them to proclaim an independent Cossack Hetmanate, initiating by a rebellion under Bohdan Khmelnytsky in the mid-17th century. Afterwards, the Treaty of Pereyaslav with brought most of the Ukrainian Cossack state under Russian control for the next 300 years.

The Don Cossack Host, allied with the Tsardom of Russia, began a systematic conquest and colonisation of lands to secure her borders on the Volga, the whole of Siberia, the Ural and the Terek Rivers.

In the 18th century the Russian Empire's expansionist ambitions relied on ensuring the loyalty of Cossacks, which caused tension with their traditional independent lifestyle. This resulted in rebellions led by Stenka Razin, Kondraty Bulavin and Yemelyan Pugachev. In extreme cases, whole Hosts could be dissolved, as was the fate of the Zaporozhian Sich in 1775. By the end of the 18th century, Cossacks were transformed into a special social estate; they served as border guards on national and internal ethnic borders (as was in the case in the Caucasus War) and regularly supplied men to conflicts such as the numerous Russo-Turkish Wars. In return, they enjoyed vast social autonomy. This caused them to form a stereotypical portrayal of 19th century Russian Empire abroad and her government domestically.

During the Russian Civil War, Cossack regions became centers for the Anti-Bolshevik White movement, a portion of whom would form the White emigration. The Don and Kuban Cossacks even formed short-lived independent states in their respective territories. With the victory of the Red Army, the Cossack lands were subjected to famine, and suffered extensive repressions. During the Second World War, Cossacks fought for both the Soviet Union and for Nazi Germany, a choice which led to what has been called the 'Betrayal of Cossacks' by the Allied forces after the war, as the Soviet Union executed 'repatriated' Cossacks and again engaged in repressionary policies against their group. After the Collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cossack lifestyle and its ideas have made a return in Russia. Special Cossack units exist in the Russian Military, while Cossacks also have a parallel civil administration and police duties in their home territories that have become an integral part of contemporary society. There are Cossack organizations in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and other countries.

#380 Cyprus...Thanks Nasia!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

#379 Spain...Thanks Guillermo!

The 0.31€ stamps on the left and right are from 2008 Architectures issue showing The Agbar tower and The Auditorium of Tenerife.

The Agbar tower, inaugurated in 2005 Barcelona, is a 144m high skyscraper designed by French architect Jean Nouvel .It has a pinnacle shape and is made of concrete covered with a façade of glass. It has a total of 50.693 metres of above ground office space.

The Auditorium of Tenerife in Santa Cruz,Canary Islands is also the work of Calatrava and was built between 1997 and 2003, It has a surface area of 6.471 square metres distributed in two halls, the Symphonic and the Chamber Hall besides other secondary rooms. It is an avant-garde building crowned with a grand dome and a striking cover.

The 0.31€ stamp in the middle was in 2008 on occasion of the 400 Anniversary of the Foundation of the University of Oviedo.

On the 21st of September 1608, the University of Oviedo started teaching Law, Canons and Theology. It was founded by archbishop Fernando Valdés Salas who left it written in his will that this university be founded. Fernando Valdés had been chairman of the Council of Castille, archbishop of Seville and general inquisitor during the reigns of Charles I and Philip II. Moved by his cultural and humanistic interests, he had previously founded the Recoletas School for orphan girls and the San Gregorio school for teaching boys grammar and Latin.

The university began its educational activity aiming at reinforcing the old education but improving the organization with rules based on the “Old Rules” (“Estatutos Viejos”) which remained unchanged until 1707. During the French invasion, the building was occupied by Napoleon’s troops and all academic activity was cancelled until they were expelled.

Many famous characters such as Benito Feijóo, Pedro Rodriquez Campomanes, Leopoldo Alas “Clarin” and Aniceto Sela y Sampil have studied in this university.

The historic building was the work of Architect Rodrigo Gil de Hontañon. Sober and with a square floor, it has a central renaissance style courtyard where stands the statue of the university founder. Amongst the scarce ornamentation on its façade, stands out the coat of arms of the Valdés family.

The stamp depicts the main corner of the university building and the commemorative logo of the 400 Anniversary of the University of Oviedo (IV Centenario Universidad de Oviedo 1608-2008).

#378 Spain...Thanks Herminia!

The 0.32€ stamp is from 2009 Popular Characters series honoring famous English naturalist Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) studied in Edinburgh and Cambridge where he became acquainted with Henslow, the prestigious Botanic professor who offered him to participate as a naturist in the brig-sloop “Beagle” expedition to explore the coasts of South America and the Pacific islands. During the five year trip, he increased his studies on nature and he carried out the scientific observations that led him to publish his trip notes. In 1859 he published his masterpiece “The Origin of Species” which was translated simultaneously to other languages and lead the way to a new vision of natural history known as Darwinism. He was the author of many other works on the evolution of living species and was fought by religious and classic minded movements.

The central 0.34€ stamp is from 2010 Popular Charaters series honoring Julián Gabino Arcas Lacal,who is considered to be the best Spanish guitar player of late XIX century.

Julián Gabino Arcas Lacal (1832-1882), known as Julián Arcas, began his musical studies with his father and later on in the school of Dionisio Aguado in Málaga. In his early years he successfully performed in the most important Spanish and European cities. In 1862, on a trip to England, he performed in the palaces of the Duques of Wellington and Cambridge. He was teacher to the famous guitar player Francisco de Tárrega as well as other prominent pupils from the Conservatorio de Música de Madrid of which he was named Honorary Professor. He wrote more than 50 pieces and adapted passages of Operas and Zarzuelas for guitar besides re-elaborating themes inspired in popular music. His native town, Almeria, organizes every year the Julián Arcas International Classical Guitar Contest.