Thursday, December 12, 2013

Odd stamps : 08 Stamps with special cuts - 08 c

A very nice sheet was issued only recently by the postal services of Luxemburg.
2007 - Luxemburg - The Vichten Mosaic
The Vichten mosaic depicts the ancient Greek muses. It used to adorn the reception hall of a Roman villa in Vichten but can now be seen in Luxembourg's National Museum of History and Art.

Dating from around 240 A.D., the mosaic of Vichten, which has an area of 61.3 m2 and is in an excellent state of preservation, shows in its main area the mythological and literary subject of the nine Muses, daughters of the supreme God, Zeus, and of the goddess of memory, Mnémosyne.

The Muses, defined around 700 BC by the Greek author Hésiode:

Thalie, Muse of comedy
Euterpe, Muse of music and lyric poetry
Thalia and Euterpe
Terpsichore, Muse of dance and dramatic choirs
Melpomène, Muse of tragedy
Terpischore and Melpomène
Clio, Muse of history
Uranie, Muse of astronom
Clio and Urania
Polymnie, Muse choir singing and harmony
Erato, Muse of love poetry
Polymnia and AErato
Calliope, Muse of epic elegiac poetry, in the company of the prince of poets, Homer.

central stamp
real mosaic
The eight « exterior » Muses are oriented on an axis towards the middle of the central medallion. The depiction of the clothing and other attributes of the different personalities, identified by latin inscriptions included above each medallion, is very detailed.
Two by two, they are joined on one octagonal stamp.
The central stamp is not octagonal.

back side of the Vichten sheet (Lux 2007)
This supberb mosaic used to adorn the reception hall of a Roman villa in Vichten and was rediscovered in 1995 on the site of a new agricultural operation in Vichten. Archaelogical resarch found the foundations of one of the most remarkable Roman villas ever discovered in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
detail real mosaic
After it's discovery it was carfully removed and it can now be seen in Luxembourg's National Museum of History and Art.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Odd stamps : 01e Perfumed stamps

In the beginning of December, Belgian and Dutch children are looking forward on the visit of Saint Nicolas.  (also parts of northern France, Luxemburg, Germany , Switserland, Austria and even parts of Italy are familiar with 'Santa').

The 'Sinterklaasfeest' celebrates the name day, 6 December, of Saint Nicholas (270–343), patron saint of children. Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. In 1087, half of his relics were furtively transported to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nikolaos of Bari. Bari later formed part of the Spanish Kingdom of Naples, because it was previously conquered in 1442 by Alfonso V of Aragon. The city thus became part of the Kingdom of Aragon and later of Spain, until the 18th century. 

Sinterklaas and the book with the names of all 'good' children
Every year, Sinterklaas makes his 'official introduction, by arriving by boat in the mayor harbours in Belgium and the Netherland. As there is the historic link with Spain, all kids are convinced that the good man therefore is arriving from Spain.

If you have been naughty during the past year, you'll risk to get punished or whipped with a branch, all good children will get presents (how convenient for the parents....)Of course there are no bad children, so everyone receives something from Sinterklaas.
As with many 'catholic' traditions, there are links with much older costumes.
There is for example a parallel with the old Celtic costumes and even with nordic folk religion:
  • Sinterklaas rides the rooftops on his white horse which has various names; Odin rides the sky with his grey horse Sleipnir.
  • Sinterklaas gives chocolate letters to children, like Odin gave the rune letters to man.
  • Sinterklaas carries a staff and has mischievous helpers with black faces, who listen at chimneys to find out whether children are bad or good and report to Sinterklaas; Odin has a spear and his black ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who report what happens in the world to Odin.

Aside from toys, (nowadays given around Christmas and New Year), Saint Nicolas brings candy and more specificly a typical cookie : speculaas (or speculoos).
speculaas - speculoos
A cookie you often receive when ordering a coffee on a Belgian terrace.
The ingredients to make speculaas : flour, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg.
For Sinterklaas, the speculaas cookies are made in the shape of Sinterklaas, or as small nut shaped cookies. Then we call them 'kruidnoten' ('litt: herb nuts').

specially shaped speculaas
A similar and often confused cookie is the 'pepernoot' (lit: peper nut).
The ingredients are slightly different, and the final cookie is softer than the 'kruidnoot':
They are light brown, round shaped, and made from the same ingredients as taai-taai: flour, sugar, anise, cinnamon, and clove.
peper nuts

So far the introduction to the topic of the day :
The 'sinterklaas - stamps' of the Netherlands, with the fragrance of speculaas.

perfumed stamps of the Netherlands - 2013
In Belgium there's a city called Sint-Niklaas, and the good old men is also the patron saint of Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands.

Russian Republics and more ... 01 A Siberian Federal District - Touva 2a

We can divide Tuva's postal history in 2 periods, the first from 1926 to 1944,
the second one from 1994 to 1995.

A treaty between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of Mongolia, in 1926, resulted in the independency of Tuva. At least for those two countries as no other country officially recognised Tuva's independency.
No wonder that the first stamp of Tuva, issued in 1926, was in Mongolian language.
(this stamp is NOT in my collection (yet)).
We see on the stamp the buddhist wheel of life, and writings in Mongolian language.
Also the numbers are written in Mongolian.
UPU rules state that the numerals should be written in arabic numerals! 

1st stamp of Tuva - wheel of life

The First Philatelic Period 1926-1944

First Tuvan Stamps (see pic above) 1-10


First Provisional Overprints 11-14


Local Scenes (see below) 15-28


Provisonal Overprints 29-34


Local Provisional Overprints 35-38


Local Prov. Overprints on Tax Stamps 39-40


Tuva Landscapes 41-48


First Tuva Airmails 49-58, 59


Tuv Landscapes II 60-66


15th Ann. of Tuva People´s Republic, Postage 77-98


15th Ann. of Tuva People´s Republic, Airmal 99-107


Provisionals 108-113


Provisionals 114-115


Provisionals 116-123


Colour changes 124-128


22nd Ann. of the Tuva People's Republic 131-133


23rd Ann. of the Tuva People's Republic 134-136

Some of the Tuvan stamps, more likely being produced as propaganda
and to raise money then to serve 'postal' purposes.

... to be continued