One of the first things that attracted me as a young boy to stamp collecting was discovering the history locked inside the miniature artworks on every stamp. My first set of stamps was a beautiful set of Sailing Ships from Australia. For a long time I left the hobby only to rediscover it a few years back. Naturally I started where I'd left off. My collections included KGV stamps and of course Sailing Ships on stamps.
The first thing I did was go back to my beloved ships. In my years of hiatus I'd forgotten how much I love the hobby. Reliving the historical facts I'd uncovered as a kid was immensely rewarding. I'd like to share a snippit of the interesting information I have found while reassembling my Sailing Ships Thematic collection.
Piri Res, an Ottoamn Admiral is famous for his world map of 1513. He was a renowned seaman. By 1547 he was the Commander of the Ottoman fleet. He was beheaded in 1553 for failing to support the new Ottoman Governor of Basra.
Surviving Left-Hand portion of 1513 Piri Res map
On 3 August 1492, Christopher
Columbus set sail across the Atlantic in search of a western route to the
orient. The three ships of the fleet included the 'Santa Maria', which was the
flagship. It was a large Carrack.
Captain James Cook was the first
recorded European explorer to reach Australia's Eastern coastline in 1770. He
was known for his excellent seamanship, superior surveying, and cartographic
Australian Antarctic Territory 1972
In 1772 Captain Cook circumnavigated the vast continent of Antarctica.
On 26 January 1788, Arthur Philip
and a few dozen marines officers and oarsmen landed in Sydney cove, claiming
the land in the name of King George III. The ship in the background is
presumably the 'Supply'. From which sailors and convicts watched the planting
of the British flag.
This is just a brief taste of the information theme collectors can place with their miniature works of art...
I always get a little thrill when I start to collect a new country and I identify my first postmark within that country. My latest thrill came yesterday after I received a small lot of KGV Southern Rhodesia stamps. While sorting I put this stamp aside to see if I could find the origin of the postmark...
My investigation didn't take me as long as I'd first thought. The Post Office of origin for this stamp was Gwelo. Gwelo was changed to Gweru in 1982. Gweru is located right near the city centre of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe is what Southern Rhodesia is now called).
In 1901 when the first post office was opened on Christmas
Island, the island, although mainly ruled by the phosphate production commission,
was a part of the British Straits Settlement colony. It remained that way until
1942. From 1946 to 1958 it was controlled by Singapore and used its stamps. As
we will see later, the first stamp issue of Christmas Island was inspired by
the Singapore stamps of the time.
The first stamp issue of Christmas Island was released on 15
October 1958. It was adapted from Australia’s 1/7 stamp of March 1955.
stamp design utilized a bas-relief profile
of Queen Elizabeth II by W.L. Bowles. The design of the Australia 1/7 stamp,
created by F.D. Manley, was restyled by G. Lissenden. The words CHRISTMAS
ISLAND and the Malayan dollar value within a circle were overprinted in black.
The colours chosen for this series were inspired by the
definitive stamps in use in Christmas Island at the time, those of Singapore.
Initially one hundred sheets were
printed. Once completed, the hundred sheets were sent by ship from Fremantle to
The first Australian Antarctic Territory stamp was issued in Australia on 27 March 1957 and in Antarctica on 11 December 1957. This stamp was a 2 Shilling Blue, depicting a map and explorers.
Of course post offices existed in the AAT before 1957. The first Post Office in the AAT was established in 1947 at Heard
Island. A second opened at Macquarie Island the following year. On the
Antarctic continent the third Post Office was established at Mawson
station in 1954, followed by Davis station in 1957. The fifth Post
Office opened in 1959 at Wilkes, following the handover of the station
from the USA to Australia. The sixth was opened at Casey station in
Before the release of the first Australian Antarctic Territory stamp Australian stamps were used with Antarctic postmarks.
Postmarks from AAT are great to collect. Here's a list of the bases:
The USS Seadragon (SSN 584), launched 16 August 1958, was decommissioned on 12 June 1984. She was the first submarine to transit the Northwest Passage and the third submarine to surface at the North Pole.
The USS Seadragon (SSN-584), was a Skate class submarine. Her keel was laid down on June 20, 1956. She was actually the second submarine to go by the name Seadragon. The Seadragon number 2 was launched on August 16, 1958, and commissioned on 5 December 1959, with Lieutenant Commander George P. Steele in command. On 21 August 1960, Seadragon completed the first submarine transit of the Northwest Passage, a sea route through the Arctic Ocean. She reached the North Pole on 25 August and broke through thin ice to become the third submarine to surface in the North Pole.She was to make one more journey to the Arctic in 1962 with her sister sub USS Skate.
This lovely cover was posted on 14 May 1963 while Seadragon was undergoing repairs in Hawaii. The cachet on the envelope is a copy of the Seadragon insignia. The colour version looks like this...
After buying the cover I wrote a blog about yesterday, I received a translation of the text, which I believe is in Swedish. This is the cover...
The translation goes: from Margareta and Kalle. The Title is: Happy Easter. The message reads:' hope you are well. everything as usual here. Mathias is coming home for Easter. Olivia is in Malta now.( reading?) English there for three months.'
Thank you to my Facebook friend Dawn. This is one of the reasons I love collecting. Finding gems such as this...
I am always on the lookout for dragon stamps with genuine postmarks. With some issues, such as Benin Year of the Dragon 2000, this is impossible as the stamps weren't made for postage. So you can imagine my surprise when I came across a photo of a Benin 2000 Year of the Dragon stamp that was actually postmarked!!
But then reality set in. Pause for a big sigh! The postmarks were added as part of the printing process. Massive bummer.
Once the disappointment had subsided, I realised that these stamps were worth having despite the fact that the postmarks were fake.
A closer look at a couple of the postmarks reveal that they are supposedly from Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin. Fake - yes. But still interesting, and a fine addition to any Dragon collection...
In 2000 Sweden released, what I think, is a delightful set of Year of the Dragon stamps. The dragon in this set comes from the children's book "The Dragon with Red Eyes" by Astrid Lindgren. The images actually inspired a character in one of my books, so it's a favourite! The set of three stamps was released in booklet form with the vertical margins imperforate.
I recently picked up the book The Dragon with Red Eyes. It is a charming little story about two farm children who one morning go outside to tend the pigs. They discover one of the pigs has had piglets. To their shock, they also find that the pig has somehow given birth to a baby dragon! A dragon with glowing red eyes. Over the next few weeks they discover the dragon is quite mischievous. In the first stamp the little dragon is prancing about having all kinds of fun...
Through the story we discover that the baby dragon loves to eat candle wicks. For being good, the children give him a whole basket full of wicks to munch on...
But the dragon is very sad. Then one day while outside, the dragon suddenly takes off and flies away. He is the happiest he's ever been...