2009: 50th Anniversary of Japanese Weekly Comic [I]

Two of the most popular comic magazines in Japan, Shukan Shonen Sunday and Shukan Shonen Magazine, were first released in 1959. The stamps were issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary. I got these off of a dealer in Thailand as well. Too expensive for my liking, but he had the best selection to choose from.

JP070MS.09From left to right: 8 Man, Tiger Mask, Kyojin no Hoshi (Star of the Giants) Karate Baka Ichidai (The Fanatic Karate Generation),GeGeGe no Kitaro, Ai to Makoto, Tensai Bakabon, Tsurikichi Sampei, Tomorrow’s Joe and Tonda Kappuru (The Terrible Couple).

JP080MS.09From left to right: Osomatsu-kun, Makoto-chan, Kamui the Ninja, Ganbare Genki, Pa-man, Urusei Yatsura, Dame Oyaji, Cyborg 009, Pro Golfer Saru and Touch.

2008: The Tale of Genji 1000th Anniversary

Japan The Tale of Genji stampI really like the souvenir sheets that Japan Post releases nowadays. They are always rich and vibrant in colors, have great themes to them, but are also rather pricy. I find that most dealers sell Japanese stamps at almost double the face value. Japanese stamps are not that plentiful, I admit, as my recent trip to a collector’s store yielded to very meager results. Yen is pricy compared to the US dollar. Not many philatelists specialize in them. But still, why the double price? This souvenir sheet came to me from Thailand. It commemorates 1000th anniversary of the famous novel The Tale of Genji, which is considered a classic of literature not only in its native Japan, but around the world as well.

From Wikipedia: The Tale of Genji (源氏物語 Genji Monogatari) is a classic work of Japanese literature written by the Japanese noblewoman and lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu in the early years of the 11th century, around the peak of the Heian period. It is sometimes called the world’s first novel, the first modern novel, the first psychological novel or the first novel still to be considered a classic. Notably, the novel also illustrates a unique depiction of the livelihoods of high courtiers during the Heian period. The work recounts the life of a son of the Japanese emperor, known to readers as Hikaru Genji, or “Shining Genji”. For political reasons, Genji is relegated to commoner status (by being given the surname Minamoto) and begins a career as an imperial officer. The tale concentrates on Genji’s romantic life and describes the customs of the aristocratic society of the time. Much is made of Genji’s good looks.

The Barn Owl FDC from Great Britain

Great Britain Barn Owl 1986 FDC stampRecently I have been struck by an idea to collect Owls as my next topical choice. I know, I know, my topicals are scattered all over the place, but I cannot resist the beautiful birds. I think this will be an interesting specialization. A quick search on eBay convinced me that there are quite a few stamps and FDCs to collect for this topic, but not so many that I would be overwhelmed or forced to spend my last savings.

This pretty First Day Cover features a barn owl, which is affectionately dubbed as “friend of the farmer” on the bottom of the envelope. I think the design is breathtaking, capturing a very friendly image of the bird, all painted in soft warm colors. The image on the left goes very nicely with the stamp itself, which was probably why I felt the need to wrestle it out of some collector’s hands in the last second bid on eBay. The cancellation features a picture of what I presume to be a flower surrounded by an inscription that reads “First Day of Issue British Philatelic Bureau Edinburgh 20 May 1986”. It would be kind of cool to see an owl on the cancel as well, but that is like a triple hit (which I call the Holy Trinity) which in itself is pretty rare.

Nature Conservation 1986 Great Britain stamp setThe FDC features a stamp that is a part of Nature Conservation series released in 1986. I do not yet have this set, but hopefully soon will, as I collect all stamps released in Great Britain. For now, you can just take a look at the picture for reference.

2011: Lunar Year: Year of the Rabbit

Do you feel a state of calm coming over you? The Year of the Rabbit is a peaceful year, one that will be far more tranquil than the previous “Tiger” year, and give us the necessary rest to revive ourselves from a time of uncertainty and stress. The Year of the Rabbit is the fourth in the cycle of the Chinese New Year, occurring every twelve years. It begins on February 3, 2011, and runs until January 22, 2012.

People born in the Year of the Rabbit have exceptional taste. They are gifted, expressive and value a sense of honour. When it comes to making a match, they should gravitate to those born under the sign of the Ram, Pig, or Dog. The Rabbit will be unable to cope with the arrogance and criticism of the Rooster, their patience will be exhausted by the tantrums of the Tiger, and for them, the Horse is too hot tempered and fickle. Rabbits don’t need the grief. They are survivors—and can deal with anything life throws at them as long as they are at peace with themselves.

According to Stamp Design Manager Alain Leduc, for designers, the Lunar New Year issue is one of the most challenging produced by Canada Post. “There’s the need to come up with a design that’s as multi-dimensional and powerful as the previous, but also something very different from the past stamps in the series—as well as a design that will work with the structure that has been determined for this second series. With the Rabbit, I think Paul Haslip and HM & E Design have done a brilliant job of doing just that.”

Paul Haslip, partner at HM & E Design, states that seeing this issue through to completion feels like crossing the finish line in a marathon. “It was an incredible journey”, notes Paul. “This issue has been so much a part of our lives for 18 months and was one of the most daunting, exhilarating and exhausting yet satisfying projects in which we’ve been involved.” Paul, in recounting the process of zeroing in on the central image of the Rabbit on the domestic stamp, says, “Finding a unique yet simple way of visualizing the rabbit was our starting point. While the rabbit is not as dramatic as the tiger or the snake, it does leap over obstacles. A hopping rabbit was a unique way of visually connecting one stamp to the next on the domestic series. Each stamp has the hind legs of the rabbit from the next stamp and so on.”

The international stamp was inspired by traditional Chinese embroidery. The circular shape in which two rabbits chase each other in an endless circle is based on a traditional Chinese robe medallion.

“With the scope of this project, there were many details and so much to keep in mind. It was too, a team effort,” says Paul. “Embracing, acknowledging and encouraging the indispensable contributions, support, suggestions and observations of each team member yet remaining true to a constantly evolving vision was truly challenging—but the end result is better for it.”

1985: 350 Years of Royal Mail Public Postal Service

Like I mentioned before in my other posts, I am very much interested in postal history and different methods of correspondence. Reading through this article on the 350th anniversary of Royal Mail Public Postal Service gave me a bit of a perspective on the rapid change happening in the industry. Unfortunately, I doubt that facts presented below can withstand the reality of today. In the year 2012, when most people rely on electronic mail, I doubt this many hand-written messages reach the post offices anymore. I know plenty of people who haven’t written a real letter in decades, and that my friends is sad. Here’s to Royal Mail with the hope for many more years of service to come.

FROM ROYAL MAIL – On the 31st of July 1635 Charles I issued a proclamation from his Court at Bagshot extending use of the Royal Mail to the public within Britain. For the first time private letters could be carried alongside State correspondence. With the new system cam fixed postal charges, the revenues being used to finance the Royal Posts. But for more than twp centuries the cost of sending a letter was beyond the means of ordinary people until Rowland Hill’s proposals for a nationwide Penny Post, which was prepaid according to weight, not distance, were adopted by The Post Office in 1840.

The Royal Mail services are now such an integral part of the British way of life that it is easy to take for granted the flashes of red on  the landscape. The pillar-box, the  parcels van, the special messenger bike, and the postman are such familiar sights that they can merge into the background. Yet these are just the tip of the iceberg, the visible links in the an extensive chain of communication across the country. Over 350 years the volume of mail dealt with by The Post Office has increased so dramatically that on an average day the Royal Mail now collects some 40 million letters from 100,000 post-boxes, post offices and business premises around the country. Yet despite the formidable task of handling this amount of mail, The Post Office still delivers to around 23 million addresses each day.

The Postman, the person entrusted with the safe delivery of the mail, includes among his predecessors the King’s Royal Messengers and the mounted Post-Boys who wore tin hats and oversized boots filled with straw to ward off the cold. In the last century a country postman was often expected to walk up to 16 miles each day on his rounds. Today a postman or postwoman is seen in every village. Unlike many other postal administrations around the world, the British Post Office will deliver the mail to each and every front door. Even rural communities living in the most remote areas have their post personally delivered.

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2007: Endangered Species

It happened out of the blue. I never meant to start a new topical collection, thinking stamps dedicated to books was broad enough topic to occupy me for years to come. However, looking at my previous post picturing some new Canadian stamps I acquired, I thought about starting a whale collection. I played with the idea of dedicating my time to lighthouses, since I’ve always loved those, but it turned out to be too popular of a topic among philatelists. I thought, perhaps, tigers would be an ideal topic for me, but just considering the sheer number of stamps being released every time it’s a tiger lunar year made me abandon the idea. I might go back to it someday, but not now. Whales, on the other hand looked to be a promising subject, both personal and aesthetically pleasing. The first issue to mark the beginning of my collection is the stamp belonging to the Endangered Species set released on October 1, 2007.

This stamp pictures North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, which means “true whale of the ice”. Considering there are under 400 animals left in the world, it is the most endangered whale. Injury from various vessels and entanglement in fishing fixtures are the greatest threats to this magnificent creature. It is protected under U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. As the name suggests the North Atlantic ocean serves as a natural habitat for the whales. They migrate from feeding areas in the Gulf of Maine to winter ones off coast of Florida and Georgia. North Atlantic right whales are distinguished from other species in the family by the callosities on its head, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. Doesn’t it look like it’s always smiling? The body of the whale is very dark grey or black, occasionally with white patches on the belly. The right whale’s callosities appear white due to large colonies of cyamids or whale lice.

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