To open my mailbox like someone opening a surprise box and to feel the pleasure of discovery unleashed by an envelope decorated with stamps.
To be part of the world and also to discover it this way, with the help of those who share this vision.

Friday, 27 May 2022

COVER N.119 - KYRGYZSTAN

Postmark:  Kyrgyz Express Post Bishkek - 729001 18.05.2022
Posted on the 18th May; received on the 27th May 2022
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Kyrgyzstan. Another former Soviet Republic on the silk road, neighbouring  other 3 same such "...ystan" - what translates as "the land of" -  countries: Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the West, Tajikistan to the South and China to the East.

Thanks to the usual suspect, I can now add another nice entry into my philatelic Atlas. Un très grand merci, Roland!

An independent Republic since Christmas day 1991, the history of Kyrgystan has since been one of political and social unrest, as far as I could learn here and there on the internet. This notwithstanding the country is always described as  immensely beautiful and the pictures I've looked at, do indeed support this allegation.



Kyrgyzstan has two designated postal operators - "Kyrgyz Pochtasy" SE and "Kyrgyz Express Post" LLC. both issuing stamp sets.

The cover I received was posted with the two stamps of the set issued by Kyrgyz Express Post on 07JUL2017, celebrating the  19th International Botanical Congress that took place in Shenzen, China, during the week of 24-28 July 2017, which was attended by more than 6,000 botanists from around the world.
The International Botanical Congress is the body entrusted at world level with the supervision of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN), so any formal changes in the taxonomy of algae, fungi and plants has to be validated by this body, I presume.

The two very beautiful stamps  are denominated at 50 and 100 Kyrgyzstani som, the lesser value stamp being illustrated with a Peony, while the higher value stamp bears the image of a Chrysanthemum.

The very clear postmark indicates that the cover was mailed from the country's capital, Bishkek.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

COVER N.118 - SPAIN

Postmark:  43 Vila-Seca 20.05.2022
Posted on the 20th May; received on the 24th May 2022
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Spain, our next door neighbours. Such a big and multicentre country, Spain is. I know it quite well from top to bottom, since many were the times that I've crossed the border to visit its wonderful natural wonders and lively cities and also to enjoy its culture, its gastronomy, its traditions, all truly kaleidoscopic due to the immense regional diversity, one of Spain's greatest assets, if you'd ask my opinion....

Spain boasts a very complete catalogue of geographic features. Mountains? they' ve got it; desert? they've got it; luxuriant forests? they've got it; sandy beaches? they've got it; rocky coastline they've got it... in all truth, I feel it is hard to tell what they don't have ...

Unexpected villages full of charm and history in unexpected places? so many they have that the Spanish Correos have decided, starting in 2016 to issue an annual set of self-adhesive stamps dedicated to "Pueblos con encanto" - Villages with charm.

Series VII , as usual featuring 4 tariff A stamps, was issued on 21MAR22  and this was the set from which the main stamp on the nice cover I have to thank Ángel for was taken. The stamp is illustrated with a picture of Tudanca, a small (148 inhabitants in 2021) village in the Autonomous Region of Cantabria, in the north, not far from Santander, its capital. 

And come to think of it... I can't remember ever passing through Tudanca, so next time I drive to the north of Spain I'll be sure to include it on the menu.

Incidentally, this set also features the beautiful village of Olivença (although Correos chose to spell it Oliveza), which is technically Portuguese soil, but we're so good neighbours that this fact does not in any way impair the excellent relationship we've maintained, the more so now that we are all part of a greater geographic unit, the EU.



To complete the postage need to mail the cover to this side of the border, Ángel used three different iterations of definitive series featuring the effigy of Spain's King Felipe VI

The 0,05 € stamp was issued on 01FEB2017; the 0,10 € was issued on 19JAN2015 and the Tariff A (up to 20 g, domestic) was issued on 02JAN2020.

The postmark tells us that the cover was processed through the postal centre  of  Vila-Seca, in Catalonia.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

COVER N.117 - POLAND

Postmark:  OKR WF COP 1936-1939  11.05.2022 Koszalin 1
Posted on the 11thy May; received on the 23rd May 2022
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Another beautiful cover hailing from Poland, with a nice connection to my theme of choice, aviation. Thank you so much, Roman!

Roman tells me that the special commemorative postmark was issued in connection with the Regional Philatelic exhibition "COP 1936 -1939" that could be visited between 11 -14 May in the Koszalin University of Technology.

The theme of the exhibition was the celebration of the creation and  importance of the Central Industry District during the Second Polish Republic (1918-1939) and also to highlight the role of the Polish defence industry in the 1936-39 period.

The connection between the Central Industry District and aviation is readily apparent in the  image of a Polish Air Force aircraft, (probably a PZL.37 Łoś medium bomber)  flying over working factories (one can tell it by the smoke coming out of the 3 chimneys 😀)



Stamps left to right:

5 Zł stamp, illustrated with the image of a rose, part of a definitive emmision themed on fruits and  flowers that was started in 2015. The stamp  with a rose was issued on 15SEP2015.

50 groz stamp, part of the same definitive emission, depicting a Coneflower (Centaurea cyanus), issued on 20JAN2016 (although the date on the stamp reads 2015).

2.60 Zł, self-adhesive stamp, part of a 5 stamp set of the same denomination dedicated to the armed forces of Poland, issued on the day of the centenary of the armistice of the "War to end all wars", 11NOV2018, This particular stamp is dedicated to the air force and  is illustrated with images of pilots wearing uniforms from the  1st and 2nd world wars.  The remaining stamps are dedicated to the Infantry; the Artillery and Cavalry; the Navy and the contemporary armed forces.

Monday, 23 May 2022

COVER N.116 - FRANCE

Postmark:  Bureau Philatélique 69 - Lyon Vaise - 16-05-2022
Posted on the 16thy May; received on the 20th May 2022
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On the  15th April 2019 all news services started with unfortunate images from the city of lights: a huge fire was destroying almost 9 centuries of Christian symbolism and one of the most beloved landmarks of Paris: La Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris  was on fire.

Firemen and volunteers rushed to the place to save all that could  still be protected form the ravenous flames and thanks to the sturdy stone structure, the fire was contained on the roof that was totally devastated, including the iconic spire that was supported by a wooden framework which also fell prey to the flames and collapsed.

Reacting swiftly to the sad event the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, immediately assured Parisiens that their beloved city symbol would be reconstructed and launched a fund raising campaign so as to reconstruct Notre Dane in time for the 2024 Olympics, but this goal is probably a bit ambitious, given the nature and amount of damages the cathedral suffered.

Calling on the attention of the public in general and of phillatelists in particular, starting on 17JUL2020, La Poste inaugurated a new annual stamp series, that will run during the years of the reconstruction of the cathedral, dedicated to the treasures of the much beloved building.

The issues have the format of  beautiful in taglio printed souvenir sheets with one stamp of the value for an international letter at the time of issuing.

So far, three of these beautiful souvenir sheets have been issued and I had been lucky to receive examples of the 2021 and 2022 issues, but now, thanks to Eric, to whom I could not, of course, be more grateful, my collection has samples of the 3 so far issued souvenir sheets.

The 2021 issue can be seen here

the 2022 issue can be seen here or here.




Stamps:

Single 1,40€ stamp souvenir sheet, issued on 17JUL20, first of the Trésors de Notre Dame annual series. The stamp highlights the immensely rich stone work of the façades of the Cathedral.

0,88 € stamp, issued on 14JUN2019,dedicated to the Abbey of Saint Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, one of the few remaining examples of Carolingian architecture, dating back to the 9th century AD. 

Sunday, 22 May 2022

POSTCARD N.77 - TAIWAN

Postcrossing postcard sent on ?; received on the 17th May

Postcard image: Think for others but live for yourself
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Taiwan. Another flag joins the list. Thank you so much, sorry that I don't your real name.

A simple postcard with a quote in Chinese (Mandarin?) and its translation, that reads " Think for others but live for yourself". Not a bad equation, and all things considered, another iteration of the old biblical suggestion of doing unto the others as you would have them do unto you,


12 New Taiwan Dollar stamp issued on 20JUL2017 illustrated with an image of a watermelon fruit and plant in the background, part of a 4 definitive stamp set dedicated to fruits, mango, orange and grapes being the fruits depicted on the companion stamps (3; 5,5 and 32 NT$, respectively).


Saturday, 21 May 2022

COVER N.115 - ITALIA

Postmark:  Pratovecchio 52015 - 11-05-2022
Posted on the 11thy May; received on the 17th May 2022
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Curious cover I got from Italy. Thanks a lot, Roberto!

Usually, covers with one single stamp may look a bit naked, but this one is far from that. Not only is the stamp quite big and interesting, but it also features additional machine applied postage that had to be applied upside down, because of the location of the address lines , I guess. On top of that, there is yet another machine applied postmark, on the back of the cover issued at Firenze CMP, in the same date, the 12th May.





You can't go to Florence without at least taking a peep through the door at Florian's in Piazza San Marco.

Florian, established in 1720, is said to be the oldest caffé in the world, something which is not hard to believe, given the somewhat decadent  aura (after all you're in Venice...) that exhales from its lavishly decorated rooms and from the silverware where the espresso cups come to your table. 

My first encounter with Florian was quite accidental: one summer night in 1980 I was inter-railing through the south of Europe and I stopped in Venice, one of the landmarks of my journey. Students we were so empty pocketed we were too and if  Italy was expensive, than Venice was way above our standards... moreover, August (not April, sorry T.S.) is the cruellest of the months and we couldn't find a place to sleep since all youth hostels there were were completely full. so we took our backpacks and  ended up in Piazza San Marco, late at night wondering what to do. We  went around the galleries in the  square and noticed that other travellers like us were sleeping on the flor, so we decided that if this was good for them, it would be just as good for us. We picked the nicest spot available: a couple of doors to the side of Florian, If I remember correctly, there were a couple of stair steps and we unfolded our sleeping bags and readily fell asleep so tired were we. 

Mid way through our invigorating nap, I was awaken by a warm breath blowing into my face and I have this vision of a dog showing me its teeth while someone was holding it on a leash.

"Sorry guys, I have to go inside to make the round. I'll let you be here, but at 5 o'clock you'll have to pack your things together and get out of here". The nicest security guard I'll ever know, I'm sure. Turns out we were sleeping right in font of the door of a museum, or some other important public instituion, and we were blocking off the entrance to the Security guard who was doing the night round.

The following morning, at 5, we packed  and went somewhere else, not without first going by Florian's windows, taking a peek inside and wondering "hmmm good place for the morning coffee...."

On the 03DEC2020, Poste Italiane issued a nice self-adhesive B Tariff stamp celebrating the 300th anniversary of this famous Venice institution, this being the stamp used on my cover.


Friday, 20 May 2022

COVER N.114 - MALTA

Postmark:  Malta Post - Msida  06MAR22
Posted on the 6th March; received on the 17th May 2022
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A cover with two fine motives for stisfaction: it was sent by a fellow countrymen and it allows me to add another country to my philatelic atlas. Muito Obrigado Eduardo!

Malta, the tiny Mediterranean archipelago. I once visited the Maltese archipelago during the month of August (or was it late July? It was quite a long time ago and I can't precisely remember it now). The moment I walked out of Air Malta's 737, I felt like I was hitting a wall, so dense and humid was the air. This state of affairs would not change the full length of our stay and it made what should be a very enjoyable visit, a bit of a tribulation, but I did love it anyway (general availability of cold beer did help... I guess 😀)

There's so many things to enjoy in Malta, the sights, (Malta is an architectural  showroom, with relevant constructions, mainly of religious, defence and administrative character raging from pre-historic times to 20th century modernism),  the sea, the history, the fishing villages, the people, of course,  even the old historic buses... but take my word for it, if you're not used to warm and humid climates, avoid the summer months 😀😀

As a side note,  Malta does have a historical connection to my own country: the Maltese islands,  from 1530 up until the 19th century, were governed by the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. It so happens that at least three of the Grand Masters of the order and inherently the rullers of the country were Portuguese nobleman:

Luis Mendes de Vasconcellos - 1623
António Manoel de Vilhena. - 1722 to 1736
Manuel Pinto de Fonseca - 1741 to 1773.

Stamps, left to right:

ON 16SEP2009, Malta post issued a 4 stamp set with 0.02, 0.07, 0.37 and 1.02€ denominations showcasing some landscapes of the Archipelago. 

Malta is a  Member of SEPAC - Small European Postal Administrations Cooperations - whose members (currently 13) yearly issue a stamp subordinated to a common theme. The theme for 2009 was "Scenery" and  the stamp on my cover was the Maltese entry for the year, as clearly indicated by the inclusion of the SEPAC logo on the bottom right of the stamp that feature a photo of the Xwejni saltpans, in the island of  Gozo.

The theme for the 2019 SEPAC emission was "Old residential houses" and on 30JUL2019, Malta Post issued a four stamp set (0.10, 0.59, 0.63 and 1.00€) subordinated to the theme, the honour of carrying the SEPAC logo falling on the 0,59€ stamp.

The stamp on my cover is the highest value of the set, which is illustrated with a photograph of the Bubaqra Tower, a fortified house, located in Żurrieq, island of Malta, erected in the late 16th century (didn't I tell you that Malta has a lot to offer to Architecture fans...?)