Sunday, 13 August 2017

Balloons and Bugs

2012: Autumn Dream
Up, up and away this Finnish stamp's balloon floats over the golden glow of autumn as part of a miniature sheet.
A mass of balloons float across a clear blue sky portraying the sport of hot air ballooning.  These were two of a four stamp set the USA issued to mark Montgolfier's and the world's first manned flight over Paris in 1783 meanwhile France's neighbour marked the bicentenary
1983: Bicentenary of Manned Flight
with a balloon floating over an unnamed Belgium town. If it was floating over Brussels then this fine natural history museum would float into view on the Rue Vautier.

The Museum of Natural Sciences features on a stamp booklet cover and one of the museums etymologist, Morice Leponsce, uses hot air and helium balloons to float over tropical forests to study arboreal ant colonies and also collects plants and insects at 30m in the sky.   This year one of the balloons is on display elsewhere in Brussels in the magnificent surrounds of the Throne Room at the Royal Palace in an exhibition highlighting the museums research.   The stamp booklet however was issued back in 1996 to mark the 150th anniversary of  the Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences with a celebration of insects (one of their vast collections) and happily these are shown in their natural habitat on the stamps and feature
1996: 150th Anniversary of the Royal Belgium Inst of Natural Sciences
the Ruddy Darter Dragonfly (Sympetrum saguineum) and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) one of the first bees of the year to appear.
The magnificent European Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) and the Common Cockchafer (Melolantha melolontha) sometimes called the May bug for that is the month when it starts its uncertain whirling flight.
One may be more likely to hear the chirps of this dark brown insect than see it, the Field Cricket (Gryllus campestris) and lastly the lovely Seven Spotted Ladybird (Coccinella Septempunctata|) an insect the gardener always welcomes.  The stamps are the work of the Belgium watercolourist, miniaturist and engraver Jacques Duppée who has produced a number of stamps for Belgium.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II prompt of the Letter B - Belgium, bugs, beetles, bees and balloons - be quick  Bs at See It On A Postcard.  

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Albania in the Air

2013: Europa - Postman's Van
Letters are flying around the world carried in the yellow of Posta Shqiptare.  The Europa theme for 2013 was especially appropriate for Albania because it was also the centenary year of the first Albanian stamps (5 May 1913).  Laert Kraja was chosen to design both the Europa issue and the anniversary stamps (which are also se-tennant) and can be seen here.  The postal service was founded simultaneously with the modern Albanian state on 28 November 1912 but they continued to use the Ottoman Turkish stamps until the first Albanian stamps were issued in 1913.  Posta Shqiptare says " The first issue of the Albanian stamp consolidated the postal service of Albanian identity , which has always been the expression and part of our national identity. It was a long and beautiful way, the stamp is one of our valuable assets"

1950: Air
The airmail stamp features a Douglas DC-3 flying over Rozafa Castle, which  is located on top of a rocky hill which because of its strategic position archaeologists say has been occupied since antiquity.  The designer and engraver was Bohdan Roule (1921-1960) and I think this is the first stamp he designed and engraved, the set was the only one he produced that was for  a country other than his native Czechoslovakia. 
1960: 2nd Anniversary Tirana-Moscow Jet Air Service
We enter the jet age with the Tupolev TU-104A flying between the capitals of Albania and Russia.  Here is something that doesn't need anything more than a pair of wings to soar in the air -
1962: 50th Anniversary of Independence
 the name Albania is the Latin name of the nation but the name the people call it is, as on the stamp, Shqiperia, meaning 'Land of the Eagles' or 'Children of the Eagles' and on this stamp the text refers to the nation as a rock of granite
1965: 20th Anniversary of Frontier Force
which this child of the eagle is no doubt standing on.  I was surprised I didn't have any bird stamps for Albania, hence my use of their national symbol and this stamp has the added bonus of an Alsatian.   I wonder what the border guard will eat while standing on his eyrie?
1969: Fruit Trees - Blossom and Fruit
|Perhaps he has brought an apricot with him from the valley below.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II which is starting an alphabet adventure this week with the letter A at See It On A Postcard