Thursday, 29 December 2011

COVER AND LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM AUSTRALIA

Australia issued on July 1, 2011 a beautiful set of five stamps depicting some local native baby animals. The animals featured on the stamps are a bilby, dingo, kangaroo, koala and sugar glider. The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native with fur ranging from grey to brown above, and is white below. It has large furry ears, a prominent black nose and no tail. It spends most of its time in trees and has long, sharp claws, adapted for climbing.
 Known for its treacherous reefs, rocks and weather, Cape Leeuwin is regarded by mariners as one of the most dangerous coastlines in the world. The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was first lit on December 1, 1896 to safely guide ships travelling to Australia’s eastern ports. It is mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse: the 39 m (128 ft) round limestone tower stands 56 meters (183 ft) above sea level and its light is visible for 26 nautical miles (or 48 km).
Originally unpainted, the tower had the natural stone color of Tamala limestone, but was painted white in 2004. The lighthouse was totally manually operated until 1982 when it was converted to electricity replacing the clockwork mechanism & kerosene burner, one of the last in the world. It was automated in September 1992. 
The lighthouse is located on the headland of Cape Leeuwin, the most south-westerly point on the mainland of the Australian Continent, near Augusta, in the state of Western Australia (34°22′27″S 115°08′09″E). It stands at the point where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. Guided tours are conducted daily at the lighthouse: after climbing 186 steps and seven floors on a metal spiral staircase it is possible to observe rock parrots, dolphins, fur seals and in season, whales. A visitor centre, café and retail shop are contained within the light station. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

COVER AND LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM USA

 US Postal Service issued on October 13, 2011 its traditional Christmas stamp presenting “The Madonna of the Candelabra”, a Madonna painting by the Italian renaissance artist Raphael, dating to about 1513 which is in the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. The self-adhesive Forever stamp ($0.44 First Class) shows the central portion of the painting with a detail of the Madonna and Child.
On the same day four self-adhesive stamps were released featuring four colorful baubles, typical ornaments used to decorate the Christmas tree.
Petit Manan Lighthouse is the second tallest light tower in Maine and is located on a small island off Petit Manan Point, near Milbridge (44°22′03″N 67°51′52″W). Locally known as 'tit Manan, the 119 ft (36 m) round granite tower was built in 1855 and its light has a range of 25 nautical miles.  The light station has a charming Victorian wood keeper's house, a brick fog signal house, an oil house, a boat house and an engine house.
Petit Manan Light was electrified in 1938 and automated in 1972. The light was out of service for two months in 2001 after a nor'easter damaged its submarine power cable; as a result it was converted to solar power later that year. The light station is part of the Petit Manan Wildlife Refuge, managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and is not open to the public.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM UKRAINE

Vladimir Grigoryevich Shukhov was a Russian engineer and architect renowned for his pioneering works on hyperboloid towers. The Adziogol Lighthouse is one of his remarkable structures designed on 1910 and first lit on June 14th, 1911. Also known as Stanislav Range Rear Light, the 64 m (210 ft) round skeletal steel tower is the tallest lighthouse in Ukraine. Its light can be seen for up to 17 nautical miles (31 km). It is located on a concrete pier on an islet off the mouth of the Dnepr River delta, about 30 kilometers (19 mi) from Kherson (46°29′32″N 32°13′57″E).
 The main structure is a light circular steel web, tapering through a curve to the small beacon housing. Slender vertical members wrap around the column in a hyperbolic paraboloid, forming an open helical mesh. At the center of the web is a steel stair tower, giving a sense of solidity to the otherwise delicate structure.
Repeating the previous lighthouse issue (from 2009) Ukraine released on October 8, 2010 a miniature sheet with six lighthouses: Sanzhiiskyi, Tendrivskyi, Pavlovskyi Front, Khersoneskyi, Tarkhankutskyi and Illichivskyi. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM RUSSIA

My Polish friend Gosia sent me this beautiful black-and-white Russian postcard of Tokarevsky Lighthouse.
 The Tokarevsky Lighthouse was built in 1910 to guide ships safely to the main Vladivostok harbor, in Russian Far East. The 12 m (39 ft.) white stone tower is located at the end of the mole at the southwestern tip of the Egersheld Peninsula.   It is one of Russia's best known lighthouses and USSR and Russia Post Offices issued stamps depicting Tokarevskii Mayak: USSR (Jun 1984) and Russia (Jul 2010).

The 3,75 zł stamp features the pot marigold  (Calendula officinalis),  a plant  native of southern Europe but flourishes in cool, temperate climates. These bright yellow and orange flowers are a familiar sight in cottage and country gardens.  Pot marigold petals have been used traditionally as both a culinary and medicinal herb. The stamp is part of the series “Flowers and Fruits” issued on August 5th, 2009.  

Saturday, 3 December 2011

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM NETHERLANDS

The Eierland Lighthouse is located on the northernmost tip of the Dutch island of Texel, near the village De Cocksdorp (53°10′55″N 4°51′19″E). Eierland was formerly a separate island, but it has been joined to Texel since 1630 by construction of sea dikes. The lighthouse construction began in July 1863 on a sand dune and it was first lit on November 1, 1864. The 35m (114 ft) round brick tower is painted red with the lantern and the watch room painted white. In the course of time the red color faded to pink, but in 2004 it was repainted in the original bright red. 
 Electrified in 1927, the tower suffered heavy damages in April 1945, after one of the last WW II battles in Europe. The event known as the Georgian Uprising of Texel occurred when Georgian prisoners of war rebelled against their German captors and a bloodshed and destruction spread throughout the island. The tower was extensively repaired in 1948-49 and a new brick wall surrounded the damaged original. In this process the lighthouse lost two of its original nine floors and was reopened on March 24, 1950. The Eierland Light is almost year-round daily open to visitors and after climbing the 153-steps staircase (seven floors), one has a magnificent view over the Wadden and North Sea, the nearby island of Vlieland and Texel.
Netherlands issued on October 14, 2011 a stamp sheetlet with ten stamps featuring Postcrossing.com, a website for postcard enthusiasts. The postcrossing project started in 2005 when Paulo Magalhães, an avid Portuguese postcard collector launched the website to foster postcard swapping among collectors from all over the world. The stamps bring images of real postcards depicting tourist attractions (such as Big Ben, the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower), people in traditional costume, cute and amusing animals (like a chimpanzee dressed as a cowboy) and curious vintage photos (such as a Victorian romance).

Friday, 2 December 2011

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM USA

 On September 1, 1858 a 32 ft (10 m) round brick lighthouse was built on Mount Desert Island, Maine to mark the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Harbor (44° 13’ 19”N  68° 20’ 14”W).  The cliffside Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse stands 56 ft (17 m) above sea level and its red light is visible for thirteen nautical miles. The 1-1/2 story wood keeper's house is used as a residence for Coast Guard personnel. Making part of the light station there are a boathouse, a pyramidal bell tower, a brick fog signal building, an oil house and a barn.  Electrified in 1949 and automated in 1974, the lighthouse is not open to the public.
 
On the postcard, the 98–cent definitive stamp issued on June 28, 2009, in the Scenic American Landscapes series, featuring a view of the Snake River at dawn in the Grand Teton National Park. Thank you, Fran!

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM FRANCE

For lighthouse enthusiasts like me, Brittany (Bretagne) is the paradise! The peninsula situated in the northwest of France, alongside the Atlantic Ocean has a rugged coastline, granite cliffs, dunes, white sandy beaches and numerous islands. All these natural landscapes are home of historic and wonderful lighthouses.
On the postcard four beautiful lighthouses of the Finistère Department: the black and white Phare du Créac'h at the northwestern tip of the Île d'Ouessant; the round stone Phare du Four located on a rock near Argenton; the red and white Phare des Pierres-Noires on an islet southeast of Île Molène; the square granite Phare de la Vieille on the rock of Gorlebella, in the strait Raz de Sein.
 On June 8, 2001 France issued a commemorative stamp (face value 3 FRF 0,46 €) paying homage to the remarkable Jean Vilar, theatre playwright and actor, thirty years after his death. Vilar created in 1947 the Avignon theatre festival, the famous annual festival known as one of the world's greatest art festivals. The portrait of Vilar is placed in front of the facade of the large medieval Gothic Palais des Papes in Avignon.
Since 1938, the French Federation of Philatelic Associations holds an annual philatelic event called Journée du timbre (Stamp Day) that takes place in many cities in a weekend in February or March. The event  was renamed Fête du Timbre (Stamp Festival) in 2000 and attracts stamp collectors searching the specific stamp issued on this occasion.
Cartoon characters and comics heroes were chosen as main subject from 1999 to 2009 to attract a young audience to stamp collecting. The 2001 stamp presents Gaston Lagaffe, the lazy office junior created in 1957 in the comic magazine Spirou. Gaston is very fond of animals and keeps several pets. On the 3 FRF stamp issued on January 26 Gaston appears accompanied by his hyperactive cat.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

2011 - STAMPS OF BRAZIL - 24

Brazilian Postal Administration released on October 21, 2011 Christmas issues: two self-adhesive stamps and a souvenir sheet.
                                                
The stamps bring two classic icons of Christmas: the ball and the candle. These are traditional Christmas tree decorations. The balls adorn the pine tree, and the colors of each ball represent the fruits of the tree: joy, good deeds, love, wisdom, fellowship, and others. There is also a stamp with the illustration of a candle and its burning light represents the enlightenment of the world. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world. Both stamps have the inscription "Boas Festas" (Happy Holidays) and the design of a colorful ribbon on a small garland.
 The souvenir sheet brings as background image the representation of the universe, presented as a symbol of God's creational power. Drawings of Christian symbols with specific meanings surround the souvenir sheet: the dove (symbol of the Holy Spirit), wheat and grape (the bread and wine representing the body and blood of Jesus), the lamb (symbolizing Christ, as mentioned in the Bible, Lamb of God), the cross (representing the Holy Trinity), and the fish, known as Ichthys, fish in Greek, and is also an acronym for the phrase Iesus Christus Theou Yicus Soter, which means Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour. The fish was a symbol used by early Christians in order to communicate and identify each other. The top stamp has the image of an open Bible and, at the background, the Planet Earth. The lower stamp presents a closed Bible on the light, representing the word of God.

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM CROATIA

 By the 19th century the Austro-Hungarian Empire had erected 48 lighthouses in the islands of the Adriatic Sea, locating them near strategic shipping lanes. Sveti Ivan na pučini (St. John out in the sea) Lighthouse is located on a rocky islet about 4 km (2.5 mi) southwest of Rovinj, on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula 45° 02" 39' N   13° 36" 47'  E. Built in 1853, the 15 m (49 ft) octagonal cylindrical stone tower is attached to a 2-story stone keeper's house. Making part of the light station there are a depot, an engine room, a wharf, a boat hoist and a boat shelter. The cream-colored stone tower was automated in 1983 and is supplied by 24 V DC solar modules or electric generator. Its white flash light has a range of 24 nautical miles. After its independence in 1991, Croatia refurbished several of the lighthouses and assigned them double-duty as inns. Today, 11 Croatian lighthouses, including Sveti Ivan, are available for vacation rental.
Croatia issued on March 15, 2010 a series of four stamps with motifs of folk costumes called “Croatian Ethnographic Heritage”. On the postcard, the 4,6 kn stamp represent textile embroideries from Posavina, region in the north of Croatia. The costumes from Posavina do not focus on too much elaborate designs and patterns, and instead consist of simple black and white blouses, trousers, and skirts. The men wear black vests and black hats while the women wear beautiful silk shawls, usually blue or red in color with flower motifs. These costumes are most often worn with connection to special events and celebrations, mostly at ethnic festivals, religious holidays, weddings, and by dancing groups.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM RUSSIA

Ludmila sent me a special postcard featuring stamps and lighthouses, my two passions.
Russia Postal Administration issued on July 4, 2005 a set of three lighthouse stamps and this beautiful postcard shows two light stamps located at the White Sea and their precise location on the map. The 5.00 stamp depicts the Mud'yugskiy Lighthouse built in 1838 on an island just off the main entrance to the Dvina delta in Arkhangel'sk. The 40m (131 ft) round stone tower is the oldest lighthouse of the Russian North.
The 6.00 stamp shows the Solovetsky Lighthouse located atop Sekirnaya Hill in the northwestern part of the Solovetsky Island. In 1863, Orthodox monks built the Church of Ascension and mounted a lantern atop its onion-shaped dome. The lantern is at 123 meters  (403 ft) above the sea level and its light is seen around nearly 22 miles.
Russia issued on June 08, 2010 a souvenir sheet depicting Valaam archipelago, in the north-western part of Lake Ladoga and considered a unique historical and natural landscape area. The archipelago consists of the island of Valaam and more than 50 small islands. A dissected coastline, a lot of bays, inlets, sheer granite cliffs feature the landscape. The stamp shows the church of St. Nicolas, part of the preserved monastic constructions that includes the Wonder Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery, the barbican church of Peter and Paul and the church of the Assumption. 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM POLAND

Świnoujście is a city and seaport on the Baltic Sea located in the extreme north-west of Poland, close to the German border.  Stawa Młyny is one of the symbols of Swinoujscie, as part of the official logo of the city. The 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical brick tower is a navigation beacon in the shape of a windmill. Built in 1873, it is located at the end of the west breakwater at the mouth of the Świna River.  The front (seaward) side of the white tower has four large white windmill vanes, but they do not turn in the wind. LAT: 53° 56.0' N  LON: 014° 17.0' E
 Dwór refers to a manor house used or owned by Polish nobility and built in the countryside. The “Polish Mansion Houses” stamp series presents mansion houses whose interiors were transformed in museums. The face value 50GR issued on April 30, 1997 depicts Dwór Lopusznej, the house manor in Lopuszna, a village in southern Poland near the border with Slovakia. The house was built in 1790 by Romuald Lisicki in Polish traditional way - rectangular shape, decorated wooden porch in front and the roof divided in 2:3 ratio covered by shingle (very characteristic to Polish manors). Moreover, all living rooms and bedrooms are located on the ground floor and the kitchen is in separate building.
Polish Postal Administration issued on April 18, 2011 a set of six stamps called “Smile of the world” featuring people of different countries in smiling expression. It is a beautiful and artistic work of the Polish explorer and photographer Elżbieta Dzikowska. The 3 zł stamp shows a smiling young woman resident of the Bolivian Andes.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

2011 - STAMPS OF BRAZIL - 23

The Italian Embassy and consulates in Brazil, in partnership with the Italian Institute of Culture in Brazil conceived a project called Momento Itália-Brasil celebrating the good relationship existing between Brazil and Italy and valorizing the influence of the Italian immigrants within the Brazilian society. During nine months (from October 2011 up to June 2012), Italians and Brazilians will join in hundred of events all over the country. The Program will embrace various categories: architecture and design; art and culture; science and technology; the cinema; corporations and the economy; gastronomy; sports; parties and fairs; fashion; music; theater; dance and the Italians in Brazil.
The stamp issued on October 12, 2011 is part of the Diplomatic Relations Series and depicts the logo of the Program Momento Itália-Brasil: it assembles in an artistically manner two images portraying The Coliseum in Rome and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro - both of which are counted among the Seven Wonders of the World. The color green is used for the background and can be found in the flags of both countries. The colors red, yellow and white, composing the image of the stamp, also allude to the flags.

Monday, 14 November 2011

COVER AN LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM GERMANY

The German Post issued on April 7th, 2011 a set of four stamps dedicated to the popular sports in the country and highlight important sport events taking place in Germany this year. The 55ct +25ct stamp illustrates a striker from the women’s soccer, sport which has developed rapidly in Germany in recent years. The third Women's Soccer World Cup was held in Germany from 26.06.2011 to 17.07.2011 and Japan won the final against the United States and became the first Asian team to win a FIFA World Cup.
 The traditional definitive Flower series, issued annually since 2005, makes people aware of beauty and diversity of flowers in gardens and open countryside of Germany.  The 35¢ stamp issued on January 2, 2006 depicts the dahlia, a flower native to Mexico, diverse in form and color and common as a garden plant. There are at least 36 species of dahlia, but thousands of hybrid varieties. The dahlias prefer a sunny location and the flowering period in Europe extends from June until October.
The Isle of Fehmarn lies in the Baltic Sea, off the eastern coast of Schleswig-Holstein, between Germany and Denmark, separating the Kiel Bay and the Mecklenburg Bay.  The Fehmarn-Belt-Waterway had been one of the most important shipping routes in the Baltic Sea in the last few centuries and still has great importance in our days for the passage from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea. Fehmarn, which belonged to the Danish Kingdom in the 19th century, has an area of nearly 180 square miles and the Danish, and later the German built lighthouses at all corners of the island.
Three lighthouses face the German mainland: the tallest Flügge Light (54°26.456'N/11°01.060'E) lies at the southwestern tip of the island; the “little white” Strukkamphuk Light (54°24.562'N/11°05.736'E) stands near the Fehmarnsund Bridge and the Staberhuk Light (54°24.155'/ 11°18.651'E) is located on the southeastern point of Fehmarn.
The Westermarkelsdorf Light (54°31.641'N/11°03.484'E) shines in the northwest of the isle marking the western entrance to the Fehmarn Belt. The old and the new Marienleuchte Lights (54°29.698'N/ 11°14.293'E) stand at the island’s northeastern corner near the ferry terminal at Puttgarden, where ferries link Fehmarn to Denmark.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM BELGIUM

 Nieuwpoort is a Belgium city located by the sea close to the Dutch border, in the province of West Flanders. In Nieuwpoort, the Yser River flows into the North Sea. The first light station in Nieuwpoort dates back to 1863, but this tower was destroyed in World War I. A second lighthouse was commissioned in 1926 and had the same fate being destroyed on September 7, 1944 during World War II. The current 29 m (95 ft) conical concrete tower with red and white bands was first lit on March 21, 1949. A 2-story keeper's house is attached to the tower and both stands at the eastern side of the mouth of the Yser (51°09.300' N 2°43.900' E). The double gallery tower was automated in 1986 and its red flash light has a range of 16 nautical miles.
On September 20, 2010 Belgium Post Office issued a set of three stamps called "New life in the brewery “presenting former breweries converted into other activities. The stamp on the postcard shows the support center Telematics (CST) at Marche-en-Famenne. Carmelite monks settled in Marche-en-Famenne in 1473 and started producing a famous beer. The former monastery/brewery is one of the most beautiful buildings of the city and today houses a digital public space which offers computer training and free access to IT.

2011 - STAMPS OF BRAZIL - 22

Mailbox is the 2011 common theme for the annual America UPAEP stamp series and Brazil issued a 4-stamp sheet on October 9, 2011. Each stamp depicts one mailbox related to the period when it was utilized. The first three mailboxes to be commissioned in Brazil were inaugurated in Rio de Janeiro City, on August 5, 1845 during the Imperial time. They were made from cast iron, painted dark brown and the front artwork showing the imperial coat of arms painted in polychrome. The Republic mailboxes at the end of the 19th century were also made from iron, with two meters in height, weighing around half a ton and made in Holland. 
At the start of the second decade of the 20th century, the mailboxes started to be manufactured in Brazil. The first DCT boxes had a simple design and were square, heavy, green column types  and were used throughout Brazil until 1969. They were replaced by current small lightweight boxes, in the form of a truncated pyramid, painted yellow and suspended on painted blue steel rods.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

COVER AND LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM IRELAND

The Royal Mail issued on September 15, 2011 the fifth Kings and Queens stamp series featuring  the Hanoverian dynasty that reigned over the British Isles from the death of Queen Anne in 1714 to the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. The 76p stamp presents King George IV who ascended the throne on 29 January 1820 and died on 26 June 1830.
 Old Head is one of the major lighthouses on the South Irish coast and also serves as a guide to the entrance of Kinsale Harbor. It is located at the end of a narrow, rocky peninsula about 20 km (12 mi) south of Kinsale (51°36.287' N  08°32.018' W). The 31 m (100 ft) round masonry tower was first lit on October 1, 1853 and painted white with two red bands. The color scheme was changed to black with two white bands during the summer of 1930. The light source was a multi-concentric wick oil lamp at the focus of a first order dioptric lens with a range of 21 miles (33km). The light station had 2-story keeper's houses and other buildings enclosed by a stone wall.
The light was converted from vapourised paraffin to electric on April 25, 1972 and the intensity of the light was increased giving a range of 25 nautical miles.  On April 1, 1987 the Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse was converted to unwatched automatic operation and the keepers were withdrawn.
In the 1990s a golf club, the Old Head Golf Links, was built on the Old Head; the light station now stands behind the green of the fourth hole, which is called the Razor's Edge.  Since the golf course opened, access to the Old Head of Kinsale has been restricted to golfers and guests only, and there has been a long-running campaign for the restoration of public access. The Old Head's lighthouse/golf matter has been controversial, but the Irish Supreme Court has confirmed the golf club's right to close access through its property.

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM FINLAND

 Remmarholmen Lighthouse is located on Reimarisaari, a small island off the southwestern tip of the larger island of Vallisaari, about 3.5 km (2 mi) southeast of Helsinki (60° 7'52" N  24°59'38" E). The 5 m (17 ft) round concrete tower lies beside the main ship route into the harbor of the Finnish capital.
Finland issued on March 2, 2005 two sets of coil stamps on Hvitträsk, a group of buildings in the National Romantic style located at Kirkkonummi, 30 kilometers (19 mi) west of Helsinki. The architectural masterpiece, designed by famous architects Herman Gesellius, Eliel Saarinen and Armas Lindgren as studio facilities and dwellings for their own use, is featured on six stamps.
Hvitträsk is a unique piece of National Romantic (Nordic Art nouveau) architecture, a true must-see with beautiful gardens and a lake. The house was named after Lake Vitträsk, on which it was built between 1901–1903. Hvitträsk literally means White Lake.

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM GERMANY

Pellworm is one of the North Frisian Islands on the North Sea coast of Germany. The landscape of the south side of the island is dominated by the 41 m (135 ft) round cast iron tower, painted red with one white horizontal band. Built in 1907, the lighthouse was assembled from 600 individual steel components and held together by 16,000 bolts. This tower is practically identical to two other lighthouses in North Friesland: the Hörnum on Sylt and Westheversand, on the Eiderstedt peninsula). Since it was first commissioned in 1907, Pellworm lighthouse has been electrically powered and was automated in 1977. In August 2002, the original Fresnel lens has been replaced by a modern light cannon with a six-time-changer, whose halogen bulbs burn for 2000 hours. The 2-story keeper's house is used as a registrar's office; this lighthouse, like Westheversand, is popular for weddings. During the summer season, the lighthouse is open for guided tours when you can ascend the 140 steps to the double gallery (54° 29' 46'' N 008° 39' 57'' E).
 The traditional definitive Flower series, issued annually since 2005, makes people aware of beauty and diversity of flowers in gardens and open countryside of Germany. The genus Tagetes includes about 50 species of marigolds and countless varieties in sulfur-yellow, orange or golden brown colors decorating gardens, parks and traffic islands. The 20¢ flower stamp (issued in 2007) depicts the French marigold (Tagetes patula), a species in the daisy family (Asteraceae).
The stamp series "German Paintings" presents significant art works by German artists. The stamp issued on January 3, 2011 depicts the oil painting “Wanderer above the mist” composed in 1818 by Caspar David Friedrich. Friedrich was a German Romantic landscape painter (1774-1840), best known for his allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. The painting shows a young lonely man standing upon a rocky precipice observing the vastness and infinity of the landscape. Thanks a lot, Michaela.

Friday, 11 November 2011

2011 - STAMPS OF BRAZIL - 21

Brazil issued on October 3, 2011 a set of four stamps called “Brazilian trees – natural treasures” encouraging the awareness and preservation of this natural heritage. As a common feature, all four stamps have the same tree-trunk, but each in a different stage of growth, with the word preservation written several times underneath the trunk, depicting a grassy soil. The trunk is formed by the repetition of the word VIDA (Life), highlighting its function in developing and sustaining vegetation species. The adult tree stamp depicts on its canopy the names of various Brazilian species of trees, such as Cabreúva (Owl Tree), Mogno (Mahogany), Jatobá (Hymenaea courbaril), Cedro (Cedar), Imbuia (Phoebe porosa), Andiroba (Carapa guianensis)… With the exception of the adult tree stamp, the other three stamps bring various texts stressing the importance of preserving trees.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

VISITING LIGHTHOUSES IN SOUTH AFRICA - PART 2

After visiting Slangkop, we drove south about forty five minutes towards Cape Point, a rocky promontory at the end of the Cape Peninsula. The National Park is wonderful with a large variety of animals (baboons, ostriches, antelopes, birds...), flowers and breathtaking landscapes.  
 There are two lighthouses in Cape Point: this 8 m (27 ft) cylindrical cast iron tower was first lit on May 1, 1860 but was wrongly positioned. The lighthouse was built at  249 m (816 ft) above the sea level and was shrouded by fog much of the time.
 After the Portuguese ship "Lusitania" was wrecked in 1911 on Cape Point, a new lighthouse was built on the lower cliffs (87 meters above sea level) and was comissioned on March 11, 1919.
 The 9 m (30 ft) square cylindrical stone tower is located atop a steep pinnacle above Cape Point and is the most powerful lighthouse on the South African coast, with a range of 63 km (39 mi).

It is difficult to reach the lighthouse mainly because of the steep and jagged pathway and stiff winds on the cliff. After a thirty minutes walk by a narrow pathway, this is the closest I could get to the lighthouse. But our effort was worthwhile: a fabulous sunset over the cliff with few whales and dolphins swimming quietly in the dreaded Cape of Storms.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

VISITING LIGHTHOUSES IN SOUTH AFRICA - PART 1

My family and I spent nine days on vacation in South Africa last October: Cape Town and some places in the Western Cape province. We loved the country, a friendly and cheerful people, fantastic landscapes and of course, beautiful lighthouses. We started visiting the tallest cast-iron tower on the South African coast: Slangkop Lighthouse in Kommetjie, a small and pleasant 3,000 people village on the west coast of the Cape Peninsula.
Slangkop (means Snake Head) is a 33m (108 ft) round cast iron tower and was first lit on March 4, 1919. The tower has a total of 139 steps and five floors. Luciano and Thiago loved the spiralling staircases and the 20 windows during the climbing to the lantern house.
Ludmilla, an amateur photographer and newly passionate about lighthouses enjoyed the amazing views from the lantern room and took dozens of pictures.
 We are inside of the rotating lens system at 41 meters above sea level. It is equipped with a 400 watt metal halide lamp and the light ranges 30 nautical miles.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

2011 - STAMPS OF BRAZIL - 20

The city of Sao Paulo celebrates the centennial of its Municipal Theater and a commemorative stamp was released on September 12, 2011. The Municipal Theater began to be built in 1903 through the planning and hands of the architect Ramos de Azevedo and Italians Claudio Rossi and Domiziano Rossi. The theater was officially opened on September 12, 1911, with a crowd of 20,000 people jostling at its doors. São Paulo had finally been integrated into the international circuit of big cultural-artistic events. The architecture of the Municipal Theater was influenced by the Paris Opera, with a combination of 17th century Renaissance and Baroque features. Inside, it boasts an array of works of art: busts, bronzes, medallions, decorated walls, crystals, neoclassical columns, stained glass, mosaics and marble are a feast for the eyes of more attentive viewers.


The image on the stamp brings the theater’s facade shown from a frontal view and presents the revitalized theater to the public in all its grandeur. On the sides, the two main statues on the facade stand out, conveying the essence of its artistic mission: Music and Drama.

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM FRANCE

The Island of Batz is an island located about 2 km (1.2 mi) northwest off Roscoff in Brittany, north-western France and is separated from the mainland by a 10 minute ferry crossing. The island is 3.5km long and 1.5km wide fringed by a 14km coastline with many fine sandy beaches.
The Batz Island Lighthouse is located is located towards the western tip of the island (48° 44' 46" N  04° 01' 39" W) and was built between 1832 and 1836. The 43 m (141 ft) round stone tower rises from the center of a 1-story stone keeper's house and was inaugurated on October 10, 1836. Electrified in 1939 and automated in 1995, the lighthouse offers an extraordinary panoramic view after climbing up its 198 steps to the balcony. Its lantern is located at 67 meters (219 ft) above sea level and has a range of 42km (23 mi).
The French Post issued on April 27, 2009 a miniature sheet with ten self-adhesive stamps depicting beautiful landscapes of Brittany (Bretagne). The stamp on the card shows the main beach (Plage des Grands Sables) in the Groix Island (Île de Groix) and its sands of different colors. It also brings the traditional Marianne stamp (face value 0.10), one of the most proeminent symbols of the French Republic. Thanks a lot, Jean Pierre.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

2011 - STAMPS OF BRAZIL - 19

Brazilian Post issued on September 1st, 2011 the third stamp of the series “Brazilian Historical Cities” celebrating the fourth centenary of Mogi das Cruzes, city located 50 km far from the city of Sao Paulo. On September 1st, 1611, Sant’Anna de Mogy Mirim was raised to the category of village and became the seventeenth village in Brazil. Over the years, Mogy became a settlement outpost and important trade point to expeditions which explored the hinterlands of Brazil during the 17th century. The economy was considerably boosted by agriculture by providing supply to those who left for the hinterlands in search of the gold mines of Minas Gerais. In the two following centuries the region adjusted to the demand by growing cotton and sugar cane, among other crops, with an emphasis on coffee. Later on, with the arrival of Japanese immigrants, tea, fruits and vegetables, in addition to ornamental plants formed the so-called Green Belt of the Greater São Paulo. 
On the top left corner the stamp displays a representation of the bandeirantes (members of an armed band of early explorers in Brazil) who passed through the village of Mogy on their way to the hinterlands. Below are the churches of the First and Third Orders of Carmo, which originally marked the borders of the sixteenth century village. In the center, on the top, the stamp shows the magnificence of the current city of Mogi das Cruzes. The white dove shown right below symbolizes the Feast of the Holy Spirit, the source of faith and culture of the people of Mogi das Cruzes. Next is the Tea House, built by the Japanese Kazuo Hanaoka, one of the most valuable examples of Japanese-Brazilian architecture that has been declared a national heritage by IPHAN. Beside it is the Obelisk, considered the “Ground Zero” of the city and built out of marble blocks. On the right-hand corner is the image of City Hall, a counterpoint to the past representing modernity. 

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM GERMANY

My Dutch friend Bertie sent me from Netherlands this German lighthouse postcard.
The island of Sylt is located on the German North Sea coast, in the area known as North Frisia, near the Danish border. North Frisia is part of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's northernmost state. This area was ruled by Denmark until 1864. There are three surviving lighthouses established under Danish rule on the island of Sylt.  The List West Lighthouse is one of these lighthouses built in 1858 by the Danish government to guide ships through the channel between Sylt and the adjacent (and still Danish) island of Rømø. The 11 m (36 ft) white cast iron tower is the northernmost lighthouse in Germany and also the oldest lighthouse on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein. Automated in 1977, the light is located at a long sand spit which is a protected natural area, at the northwest corner of the island.   55° 03` 10" N  008° 24` 05" E
Dutch Post issued on March 2, 1999 a set of four stamps presenting important parks in the Netherlands. The 80¢ stamp celebrates the centenary of the Sonsbeek Park in Arnhem, the most famous park in this city and also the first monumental city park in the country. The 67 hectare park is largely wooded with an ancient beech forest and contains a great variety of trees and plants, numerous ponds, fountains and two waterfalls.  The park hosts on summer Sundays free cultural festivals with theater, music and dance performances.
Drawing and cartoon techniques were used on the 80c stamp issued on May 15, 1998 to celebrate the 16th FIFA Soccer World Cup held in France in 1998.