Sunday, 27 May 2012

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM USA

The Hudson River played a strategic military role in the American history: during the Revolutionary War important battles were fought on its banks. After the invention of the steamboat in 1807, the river witnessed an explosion in commercial shipping traffic and passenger transportation and became a vital artery in the development of New York State. Saugerties was a major port with daily commercial and passenger transportation and in 1869, a lighthouse was built on a circular pier offshore in the river (42°4′19.53″N 73°55′46.72″W).

The 46 ft (14m) square tower attached to Italianate 2-story red-brick dwelling received a sixth-order Fresnel lens. When electricity was extended to the lighthouse in the 1940s, the house was “modernized” with steam heat, plumbing and a phone. In 1954, the Guard automated the light and the building was closed up. The unoccupied building deteriorated rapidly and the Coast Guard planned to demolish the building.  A campaign mounted by local residents halted the demolition. In 1979, the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The lighthouse is currently managed by the non-profit Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy which purchased the lighthouse in 1986 and has restored it. The Coast Guard installed a Fresnel lens with solar-powered light and the tower was reactivated on August 4, 1990. The lighthouse is in use as a bed and breakfast inn, but it is also open to visitors and offers a small museum and a gift shop.
US Postal Service issued on January 20, 2012 a set of five 85-cent self-adhesive stamps called “Birds of prey”. We see the osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk or fish hawk,  a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings.  Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT.
On April 11, 2011 the USPS issued a 20-cent definitive stamp featuring a portrait of George Washington, first president of the United States.

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM USA

 The lighthouses of the beautiful and dangerous wilderness coast of Washington are some of the greatest engineering stories of the late 1800’s. Building lighthouses here required extraordinary ingenuity, courage and strength - this is an area of huge waves, high winds, towering cliff faces, rolling sand dunes and pounding surf. Whaling and fishing were major industries and provided some of the impetus for lighthouse building.
Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 3.7 million athletes in more than 170 countries. Founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in Chicago in 1968, Special Olympics organizes the Special Olympics World Games every two year alternating between summer and winter events
The US Postal Service issued an 80-cent commemorative Special Olympics stamp on February 13, 2003 celebrating the 2003 Special Olympics World Games in Dublin, Ireland. This was the first time the Games were held outside of the United States. The adhesive stamp depicts an athlete wearing a medal celebrating by jumping high in the air. The Special Olympics logo is shown above the athlete's head.
The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago, Illinois, in 1968. The first International Special Olympics Winter Games were held in February 1977 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The most recent Special Olympics World Summer Games -- held June 25-July 4, 2011 in Athens, Greece -- involved more than 6,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from over 170 countries. The next Special Olympics global event will be the World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, starting in January 2013.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM FRANCE

La Vieille (“The Old Lady”) Lighthouse is located in the département of Finistère on the northwest coast of France (48°02′26″N 4°45′23″W). Built between 1882 and 1887 on the rock known as la Gorlebella, it illuminates and improves the safety of the strait Raz de Sein. Fierce tides limited the period in which building work could take place to less than half of each year. The 27m (89 ft) square granite tower was first lit on September 15, 1887 and is situated in a remote position in rough seas. During the World War II the light was extinguished, on 21 January 1944, and reinstated on June 1st, 1945. Although electricity was introduced in 1992, the generators installed were used only by the keepers; the light itself remained oil-powered until its automation on 14 November 1995. La Vieille became the penultimate French lighthouse to be automated, a process delayed due to the lighthouse keepers on the site refusing in protest to carry out the task.
 On the left corner of the postcard, we see La Plate Lighthouse, also known as Petite Vieille (“Little Old Woman”), located on a submerged rock about 300 m southwest of La Vieille Light (48°02′21″N 4°45′35″W). The 26 m (85 ft) octagonal concrete tower painted yellow with a black horizontal band was lit in 1910 and is still active.
My Finnish friend Karen sent me this French card from Finland. Ice Hockey is as popular in Scandinavia as soccer is in Brazil. The 2012 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championship was held in Sweden and Finland from May 4th to May 20th with games being played in Helsinki and Stockholm. Finnish Post Office issued a commemorative official stamp on March 21, 2012 depicting HockeyBird, the official mascot of the championship.
Sixteen teams started playing in two preliminary round groups with eight teams in each one.Three Slavic teams grabbed the medals: Russia beat Slovakia (6x2) in the finals, while the Czech Republic, having lost to Slovakia in the semifinals, beat Finland (3x2) in the bronze medal game.

Friday, 25 May 2012

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM NETHERLANDS

 The West Schouwen Lighthouse is located in Haamstede in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands (51°42′32″N 3°41′28″E). Designed by L. Valk, the tower’s construction started in 1837 and on March 25, 1840, the light was first lit. The 50 m (164 ft) round brick tower is one of the tallest lighthouses in the Netherlands. A stair of 226 steps, in stone and partially in iron, leads to the top. In 1934, the lighthouse was electrified and painted in the red-and-white spiral pattern as a warning to low flying aircrafts. On May 10, 1940 during World War II, the German Army destroyed the lens system and an auxiliary light was installed in the gallery in 1946. The current 2nd order Fresnel lens was installed on May 28, 1953.
 Since 1952, KLM has been presenting World Business Class passengers with a gin-filled small Delftware miniature of a traditional Dutch house on all its intercontinental flights. These little houses have become a much sought-after collector’s item with lively exchange between enthusiasts. There are 92 different houses, each numbered and representing the number of years KLM has been in operation. On 7 October each year, KLM issues a new miniature, almost a million of which are presented to passengers on board. This date is no coincidence; KLM was founded on 7 October 1919.
The Dutch Post Office issued on January 2, 2012 a special edition for collectors presenting in two stamps two KLM Delftware houses. On the postcard, we have the personal stamp “Wereld 1” (World) showing the “Rembrandt House” in Amsterdam (number 48). 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM SOUTH AFRICA

Green Point Lighthouse is South Africa's oldest lighthouse and is located at Western Cape Beach Road, in Cape Town (33°54’04’’S 18°24’02’’E). It stands close to the Green Point Soccer Stadium (2010 FIFA World Cup) and to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a popular tourist and shopping venue. The postcard shows the residential Sea Point suburbs, the greenish Signal Hill and the spire of Devil’s Peak in the background. 
 The light was built by the German architect Herman Schutte and first lit on Monday evening, 12 April 1824. The lantern house was increased in height in 1865, when it was fitted with a circular plane and a cast-iron murette. The 16 m (52 ft) square brick tower, painted with diagonal red and white stripes, rises from the center of a keeper's house. Introduced in 1922, the present and active 3rd Order lens system produces a flash light visible in a range of 25 nautical miles. Since thick winter fog regularly obscures the land, a foghorn was installed in January 1926 in the light station. Useful and welcoming to the ships and noisy and disruptive to Capetonians, the foghorn was nicknamed “Moaning Minnie” or “Bellowing Bill” and was in operation until 1986, when was replaced by a nautophone.  Green Point Light was electrified in March 1929. Since June 1993, the lighthouse became the home of the Lighthouse Services Business Unit of the National Ports Authority and the light keeper’s house was converted into offices, visitor center and a small museum.

The South African Post Office issued on October 7, 2011 a miniature sheet to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first South African airmail flight.  On 27 December 1911, Evelyn Frederick Driver, considered to be a superb “instinctive navigator” and also a pioneer of British Royal Mail Service, delivered by air, 729 special postcards from Kenilworth to the Muizenberg.  According to the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society, the aircraft took off from the Kenilworth Race Course at 7:15pm and landed at Oldham’s Field in Muizenberg 8 minutes later, a distance of almost 13 km (approximately eight miles). This made Muizenberg Post Office the first in Africa to receive airmail.
The beautiful miniature sheet was released in the shape of the Blériot XI monoplane, the same aircraft depicted in flight on the stamp.

Friday, 18 May 2012

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM USA

Point Judith Lighthouse is located on the west side of the entrance to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island as well as the eastern entrance to Block Island Sound (41°21′39.7″N 71°28′53″W). This was once one of America’s most heavily trafficked stretches of water and point of frequent shipwrecks.  The first wooden tower built here in 1810 was blown over by a hurricane on September 17, 1815.  It was the third lighthouse in Rhode Island. A 35-foot (11 m) stone lighthouse was erected the following year.
 The present 51 feet (16 m) octagonal granite tower was built in 1857 and the lighthouse was originally attached to a 2-story keeper’s house by enclosed walkway. The upper half of the tower is painted brown, the lower half white and the lantern and gallery are black to make the light structure a more effective daymark for maritime traffic. The light was electrified in 1939 and the brick keeper's house was torn down in 1954, the same year the lighthouse was automated. The fourth-order Fresnel lens installed here before the Civil War remains in service. Point Judith Lighthouse is located on what is now the Point Judith Coast Guard Station. The grounds are open to the public, although the interior of the lighthouse, oil house, and fog signal building (seen on the postcard) are not. 
The United States Postal Service issued on February 28, 2003 (and reprinted in September 2008) a 1-dollar Wisdom definitive stamp, part of the American Culture Series. The stamp features the low-relief panel sculpted by the German artist Lee Oscar Lawrie over the entrance to the GE Building at Rockefeller Center, in New York. The 37 foot high art deco icon can be clearly seen from Fifth Avenue and is a popular tourist landmark.
The 5–cent definitive American Toleware stamp features a black toleware coffeepot decorated with red flowers; purple forget–me–nots; and yellow, green and orange leaves, from the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. Curators at Winterthur believe that it was manufactured in Philadelphia between 1850 and 1875.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

LIGHTHOUSE POSTCARD FROM FINLAND

Bengtskär Lighthouse is the tallest light in Scandinavia and is located on a small rocky islet at the North Baltic Sea, entrance of the Gulf of Finland.  Bengtskär is Finland’s southernmost inhabited island (59°43,4'N 22°30,1'E).  The construction of the tower commenced in early 1906 using granite quarried from Bengtskär itself.  The 46 m (151 ft) round granite tower was first lit on December 19, 1906 and its light could be seen for twenty nautical miles. 
 In 1914 during the World War I, all lighthouse keepers and their families were evacuated to the mainland, and the lantern was placed in storage. The lighthouse was shelled by two German ships but was not badly damaged. In World War II, Soviet troops attempted to storm the island on 26 July 1941, but they were driven off after a fierce battle. Soviet air raids damaged the keeper's house but spared the tower. After repairs, the lighthouse was reopened in 1950.
In 1968, the lantern was automated and the lighthouse keepers left the island. The building quickly started to turn into a ruin damaged by storms, wind and the invasion of vandals. In 1983, the lantern was converted to wind-powered electricity. Restored in the early 1990s, Bengtskär Lighthouse was opened to visitors on August 18, 1995 and nowadays is a popular touristic destination. The former 3-story granite keeper's house now hosts a lecture hall, a chapel, conference rooms, a café, a museum and post office.  It is also possible to book overnight accommodations and climb the 252 steps of the spiral staircase leading up to the reflector room.
Ice Hockey is as popular in Scandinavia as soccer is in Brazil. The 2012 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championship started on May 4 and will end next May 20 with games being played in Helsinki and Stockholm. Finnish Post Office issued a commemorative official stamp on March 21, 2012 depicting HockeyBird, the official mascot of the championship.
Sixteen teams started playing in two preliminary round groups with eight teams in each. Quarterfinals were played today and the four top teams which advanced to semifinals were Finland vs Russia and Czech Republic vs Slovakia.  Semi-finals on May 19 and the medal games on May 20 will be played in Helsinki.