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.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

POSTCARD N.15 - Germany

Postcrossing postcard posted on the 20th July; received on the 26th July
Potscard image: images of Hanau, left to right: City Hall; A statue of the Grimm Brothers; 
the old City Hall now the German Goldsmith's House; Schloss Philippsruhe   The old Horse riding arena.

Hanau, in the State of Hesse, Germany. Another city totally unbeknown to me, something that is now a lesser fact, since receiving this beautiful postcard from Elo, made me go and look to discover that it was the birthplace of none other than the famed authors of ....horror stories, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

I can still remember the fear I felt , listening to little red ridding hood on my father's old Phillips tape recorder, when the hunters would slay the wolf to save granny and little red ... :-)

Thanks for the card and the memories, Elo.

Elo used a very nice 0,95€ stamp issued on 04FEB21, commemorative of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Friederich Ebert, a member of the SPD - Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands - the first President of the German Reich, a title he held from Feb.1919 until his passing away, on the 28th Feb. 1925. The stamp includes a photo of Ebert as well as a famous phrase of his "Demokratie Braucht Demokraten" - Democracy needs Democrats.

The postmark tells us that the card was mailed through BriefZemtrum 63, Offenbach am Main and the associated vignette in use since 25APR05 reads "schrift leger druck design". Not being German fluent I ran it through deepl and I got the impression that  "schrift leger druck design" is the name of a typeface, (but any help explaining this would be most welcome), while the URL takes us to the official site of the City of Offenbach am Main.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

POSTCARD N.14 - Germany
Postcrossing postcard posted on the 21st July; received on the 26th July
Potscard image: A guest house at Bosau, Plöner See, in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

I'm not really a fan of publicity postcards, but this one besides being the obvious publicity vector for a guesthouse, had the plus of introducing me to an area of Germany that I was totally unware of and regarding which I became pretty curious, after reading the description article in wikipedia (where else?) . Natural parks, plenty of bird and fish life, bathing sites.... worth making  note of it.. maybe one day,.. who knows? Thank you Marc-André!

The stamps, on the other hand had me rejoycing because of the large 0,80€ Beethoven Stamp, commemorative of the 250th anniversary of his birth, issued on 02JAN2020. This lovely stamp was issued in a pair with another with the high facial value of 2,70€, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of sculptor Ernst Barlach, a name, I confess, tottaly unknown to me. Again Wikipedia came to the rescue...

Ludwig van Beethoven on the other hand is, of course,  no stranger to me,  neither to all Portuguese children who now learn to play his most famous composition on a recorder while on elementary school. Ode to Joy it is and Ode to peace should we all make it, we, Europeans, united under a common theme song... who can deny the power of music? 

The two other stamps used on this card are a  0,10€ stamp issued on 08JUN2017 with a photo of a Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), part of definitive "flowers" series, started in 2005. 

The 5 cent stamp with a photo of a Phlox is also part of the same series, and it was issued on 13APR2017.

The machine applied cancelation tells us that the card was mailed from Briefzentrum 10, corresponding to Berlin-Zentrum. Once again the postmark includes the  vignette   "Gemeinsam Gegen Corona sich selbst und andere Scützen..." (Together against Corona, protect yourself and the others...) which began to be machine applied on correspondence in Germany on the 1st June 2021.

image credit: Deutsche Post

Thursday, 22 July 2021

 COVER N.26 - Iraq

Postmark:  - 15JUN2021, probbaly Karbala, but I can't read Arabic...
Posted on the  15th june; received on the 22nd July, via the US (postmark US Postage 25JUN)

Iraq… Mesopotamia, the Cradle of Civilisation, nestled between the Tigris and the Euphrates, we heard it said many a time in the history classes, the place where writing and reading was invented, where the power and convenience of the wheel was brought to light, a melting pot of cultures, civilisations, creeds, evolving over the millennia and then…. 

Weapons of mass destruction, someone said…true, mass destruction it was and in a way it still is, since the collateral damages (one has to love the euphemism) of decades of a war that, if nothing else, paved the way for the emergence of the obnoxious terrorist group that is now massacring people in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, and will take ages to soothe.

I pity the people. Those who had little and now have less, as opposed to those that I’m sure hugely profited from the immense geopolitical conundrum  into which their country was transformed.

Not that I have any sympathy for the tyrant that ruled the country; but I don’t have any sympathy for the way he was ousted, neither for the aftermath of his disposal.

Who won?  

Those who were left to live in a destroyed country, ridden by corruption, where even oxygen bottles have the habit of exploding at hospitals, as if killing and maiming were a distinctive trait of civilization?

God? in whose name thousands marched eager to foster Creation's antonym?

The Free world? Are those that had to stay not part of it?

Anyway, all this has little if anything to do with Stamps and Covers, but a stamp is a dangerous time capsule, ready to trigger trains of thoughts...

Thank you so much, Roland. I said it before, I say it now: my small (but steadily growing) collection owes you a lot, and in some way, so does this blog, for how else would I be writing an entry about Iraq, if not for your moving mountains so that an Iraqi cover would fall on my mailbox?...

Stamps left to right, top to bottom:

The 1000 Dinars stamp, commemorative of Bagdad having been designated the Capital of Arab Media for 2018 by the Council of Arab Information Ministers of the Arab League, on a meeting chaired by Tunisia, that took place on13JUL2017, in Cairo, was issued on 13FEB2018, paired with another stamp of the same denomination, with the same design, although with a green background.

The 250 and 500 Dinars stamps, are part of a 5 stamp set dedicated to "ancient means of transport" issued on January 2004, although the stamps bear the inscription "Postage 2003".

An horse drawn tram is depicted in the lesser value stamp while the 500 Dinars stamp shows a local type of  canoe, called a Tarada, used to transport reeds, it seems.

The images on the other two stamps in the set are what is called a Guffa for the 50 Dinars stamp: a type of coracle, made from grasses and palm, braced with pomegranate stems and waterproofed with bitumen; an horse drawn carriage for the 100 Dinars stamp and, finally, a Dromedary Caravan for the 5000 Dinars stamp.

A photograph of a Robin (Erithacus rubecula) adorns the last stamp, with a face value of 750 Dinars)  part of a 5 "Birds" stamp set, issued on 21JAN2015 (although the stamps bear the inscription Postage 2014). The other stamps on this nice set are an Eurasian Tree Sparow (Passer montanus) - 250 Dinars; a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus) - 500 Dinars; a Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) - 1000 Dinars; an European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), also denominated at 1000 Dinars.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

COVER N.25 - United Kingdom
Postmark: Windsor - 19JUN2021
Posted on the  19th july; received on the 21st July.

Great Britain... It used to be part of a greater idea..., it's an island..., again. I still remember as a kid, in 1973, the TV airing a soccer match to commemorate the UK joining the Common Market... I don't know why I remember it, I'm not even a soccer fan, my own country was still ages from joining the EEC, but the fact is that I do remember it, as clearly as the day I woke up to find on the 7 o'clock news, again on TV, that the "No" had won.

People made the choice, one can only respect (although disagreeing with it...)

Anyway, Simon sent me this very nice cover, with three stamps that fit my bill for defining what makes a great stamp. Thank you so much Simon.

The three se-tenant 1st class stamps (domestic; up to 100g) were issued on 17SEP2009, in the company of another 3 stamp se-tenant set with an individual face value of 90p, dedicated to Royal Navy Uniforms of yore and today.

The beautiful images show a Flight Deck Officer from one of the three aircraft carriers operational in the UK in 2009 (HMS Invincible; HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal) marshalling an aircraft on the deck; a 2nd World War Royal Navy Ship Captain in 1941 attire, and a  2nd Officer of Women's Royal Navy Service, popularly and affectuously known as Wrens, in the closing year of the War to end all wars,  1918.

The very clear and carefully applied postmark lets us know that this beautiful cover was mailed from Windsor.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

POSTCARD N.13 - Austria
Postcrossing postcard posted on the 14th July; received on the 20th July
Potscard image: Celebrating Postcrossing 

I only came across Postcrossing after I started this humble blog of mine, about three months ago. But as many a believer in the power simple things have to make a better world and to bridge differences and create common grounds, I joined the moment I took notice of it.

In fact, writing someone you don't know a simple postcard is much more than a hobby or a way to fill in some free time. It is an act of citizenship, of welcoming, of culture, much the same as reaching out or lending a hand. 

When I started this blog I wrote that I was doing it because I missed finding correspondence in my mailbox; i missed the pleasure of seeing an envelope with an handwritten address, my address, on it, with the promise of news from someone I knew or knew not, mundane as they might be, therein inscribed, in a sheet of handwritten paper.

I knew at heart that there had to be  a great many people who felt much the same way I did, but where were they?

I wasn't looking for friends. I know how elusive the notion of "friend" can be when perceived against the backdrop of an electronic application or the vast wasteland of social media. I guess I was looking for humanity nodes; synaptic points of interconnection with my own species.

And Postcrossing proved to be just the right tool to achieve this goal, making it possible to turn my mailbox into a library of Man. With each postcard I receive, my world simply grows bigger, wider, more knowledgeable.

To learn that such a brilliant idea originated in the mind of a fellow countryman,  and that it grew up to be the amazing platform we now profit from, is inspirational and a mailbox opened into the future...

Anita, whom I thank,  sent me this terrific card, issued, just as it reads, to celebrate the issuing of a second postcrossing themed stamp by the Austrian Post (the first one having been issued in 2016)

The 1,00€ stamp is cancelled with the first day of issue postmark, dated of 14JUL2021, and was sent from Vienna

Monday, 19 July 2021

COVER N.24 - Slovenia

Postmark: Bled - 09JUN2021
Posted on the  9th june; received on the 13th July.

Again, a new country for my collection - Slovenia - thanks you so much Janez, for a cover full of beautiful stamps. carrying postcard n.12 inside.

Memories,as we all know, can easily be triggered by artifacts. that's what happened to me when I inspected the postmark on this very nice cover. Bled, it read, and I was immediately taken back to the gorgeous afternoon my wife and I spent walking around and bathing in lake Bled, after enjoying the pleasure of a glass of cold white wine in the castle that overlooks it. 

Hopefully we will all be able to get back to regular programation soon (I already have my 2 jabs) so that we can all go and get to know the world further away from your doorstep....

Stamps, left to right:

The beautiful  0,05€ and 0,10€ stamps are 2018 reprints (01JUN2017 and 28JUN2019, respectively) of similar stamps (but with differing perforation) issued in 2015.

The 5 cent stamp shows a Black stork, an elusive and generally endangered species, which can also be found in my own country and that I once had the pleasure of photographing from a river boat on the Tagus.

The 10 cent stamp shows another bird that can be seen in Portugal, a wader this time, the Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus).

Focus on environmental awareness is also the leit motiv for the 2 vertical stamps, part of a 5 (5, 10,20,35,50 cents) autoa-dhesive stamp definitive set, issued on 09NOV2018.

The little souvenir sheet with a 0,82€ stamp was issued on 25SEP2020 to commemorate the International Year of Plant Health, the adopted logo also being present on the sheet.

POSTCARD N.12 - Vatican

Postcrossing postcard included in Cover n.24 
Potscard image: SSt. Peter's Basilica, a UNESCO WHS

Janez visited the Vatican and kindly sent me this Vatican City Postcard on his return to his hometown of Bled, Slovenia, in cover n.24

The Vatican, the tiniest state in the world, is also, I'm sure, the one with the most artworks per inhabitant, due to its lavishly stuffed museums being located within the state, in the middle of the eternal city.

I first visited the Vatican in 1980, on an inter-rail trip I did with friends that would take us to Greece. I visited but saw literaly nothing, because on the train to Rome, I put my head out of the window and a piece of dust or earth or whatever flew directly into my left eye, causing some damage to the cornea, I later learned. I remeber being under the columns, at St. Peter's square trying to get a visual impression of it to no avail. I simply could not open my left eye, and it hurt...

I went in search of an hospital to be examined by a doctor. Luckily there was an ophtalmical hospital near the Vatican, so I went there, guided by one of the friends travelling with me. I remember being taken care of by this gorgeous intern Polish doctor and we both had a lot of fun trying to get ourselves understood: she spoke little english, I spoke but a few Italian words and certainly no Polish... all of a sudden two Carabinieri came in to the emergency ward where we were, with a fellow with his eyes badly bruised... Turns out a couple of days before a bomb had been placed in Bologna Central Station, killing 85 people. The guy was suspect of having been one of the terrorists who performed the horrible deed.

Many years later, I was strolling on the street on my way to visit the Vatican Museums when I noticed this yelow building and a strange déjà vu sensation took me by assault....I looked at the sign above the entrance, it read "Ospedale Oftalmico"....It all came back to me...