The second USS Portsmouth was a wooden sloop-of-war in the United States Navy in service during the mid-to-late 19th century. She was designed by Josiah Barker and built in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the lines of a French-built privateer. She was described as an improvement over the USS Saratoga built in the same shipyard a year earlier. The Portsmouth was launched at the Portsmouth Navy Yard on 23 October 1843 and commissioned on 10 November 1844, with Commander John Berrien Montgomery in command. Built in 1843 as a 24 gun sloop of war, the Portsmouth was one of the last naval vessels constructed without steam and boasted as one of the most beautiful ever. Her career, which began with a record breaking voyage from Norfolk to the Sandwich Islands, ranged from participating in the African slave trade to being instrumental in the conquest of California. In this photograph from the late 1800’s the Portsmouth is at her home port where sails and jackets are hung up to dry in the breeze. My dear friend Maria gave me this nice historical card.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
German submarine U-995 was a German Type VIIC/41 U-boat of the Kriegsmarine. She was laid down on 25 November 1942 by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned on 16 September 1943 with Oberleutnant Walter Köhntopp in command.
At the end of the war on 8 May 1945 she was stricken at Trondheim, Norway. She was surrendered to the British and then transferred to Norwegian ownership in October 1948. In December 1952 U995 became the Norwegian submarine Kaura and in 1965 she was stricken by the Royal Norwegian Navy. In 1945 the submarine was captured by the allies and from then it served in the Norwegian navy. The submarine was stricken from Norwegian service in 1965 and the Norwegians offered the German government the boat in 1965 for a token price of 1DM, but they refused. Thankfully the German Navy League (DMB) stepped in, paid the price and took over the boat, provided the space and she became a museum ship at Laboe Naval Memorial in October 1971. The U 995 has found its final destination at the Ostsee beach just a few kilometres from Kiel. The Kriegsmarine put 603 submarines of this type (VIIC/41) into service between 1939 and 1944. It was one of the most important submarine types of the Second World War. From 1943 till 1945 the U 995 fulfilled several missions against allied convoys heading for Murmansk. The U 995 is in a very good condition, looking like it has just returned from a mission. You can walk around the submarine but unfortunately you can't get on the bridge. This nice card was sent to me by Gerald.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Bath Iron Works (BIW) is a major American shipyard located on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine, United States. Since it’s founding in 1884 (as Bath Iron Works, Limited), BIW has built private, commercial and military vessels, most of which have been ordered by the United States Navy. The shipyard has built and sometimes designed battleships, frigates, cruisers and destroyers, including the Arleigh Burke class, which are among the world's most advanced surface warships. The card shows some ships being readied for commissioning.
Since 1995, Bath Iron Works has been a subsidiary of General Dynamics, the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world (as of 2008). During World War II, ships built at BIW were considered to be of superior toughness, giving rise to the phrase "Bath-built is best-built." Thank you Maria for this nice card.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Saint Peter's Square is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome The open space which lies before the basilica was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII, as an appropriate forecourt, designed "so that the greatest number of people could see the Pope give his blessing, either from the middle of the façade of the church or from a window in the Vatican Palace" (Norwich 1975 p 175). Bernini had been working on the interior of St. Peter's for decades; now he gave order to the space with his renowned colonnades, using the Tuscan form of Doric, the simplest order in the classical vocabulary, not to compete with the palace-like façade by Carlo Maderno, but he employed it on an unprecedented colossal scale to suit the space and evoke emotions awe.
St. Peter's Basilica (Italian: San Pietro in Vaticano) is a major basilica in Vatican City, an enclave of Rome. St. Peter's was until recently the largest church ever built and it remains one of the holiest sites in Christendom. Contrary to what one might reasonably assume, St. Peter's is not a cathedral - that honor in Rome goes to St. John Lateran.
St. Peter's Basilica stands on the traditional site where Peter - the apostle who is considered the first pope - was crucified and buried. St. Peter's tomb is under the main altar and many other popes are buried in the basilica as well. Originally founded by Constantine in 324, St. Peter's Basilica was rebuilt in the 16th century by Renaissance masters including Bramante, Michelangelo and Bernini. This lovely card was sent to me by Maria.
Monday, September 26, 2011
These four pretty postcards were sent to me from China by Françoise. They show glimpses of four different ethnic communities in China. They are :-
Jino nationality (top left) which is one of the 56 ethnic groups in China, the population is around 20,899, most of the Jinos live in the Jinoluoke Township of Jinghong County in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province.The language of this ethnic minority belongs to the Tibetan-Myanmese group of the Sino -Tibetan language family. Its structure and vocabulary have much in common with Yi and Myanmese.
The Monbas (top right) are scattered in the southern part of Tibet Autonomous Region. Most of them live in Medog, Nyingch and Cona counties. They have forged close links with the Tibetan people through political, economic and cultural exchanges and intermarriage over the years.
The Lhoba Nationality (below left) is one of the smallest ethnic groups of China. It has only 2.312 members. They mainly live in Mainling, Medog, Zayu, Khunze and Nang counties. The Lhobas have many tribes including the Bogar, Ningbo, Bangbo, Degen, Adi, and Tajin. Lhoba is a name given them by the Tibetans meaning "the Southerners". After the founding of new China, they were named the Lhoba Nationality.
The smallest of China's 55 ethnic groups is the Hezhen nationality (below right) who once lived at the confluence of the Heilongjiang, Songhua, and Usuli rivers in Heilongjiang Province in northeast China. Their illiteracy rate is the 4th lowest following the Chinese Tartars, the Chinese Koreans, and the Xibos, and even lower than that of the Han nationality. There were about 12,000 Hezhen citizens in the early 18th century.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
The Golden Hind was an English galleon best known for its circumnavigation of the globe between 1577 and 1580, captained by Sir Francis Drake. She was originally known as the Pelican, but was renamed by Drake mid-voyage in 1578, as he prepared to enter the Strait of Magellan, calling it the Golden Hind to compliment his patron, Sir Christopher Hatton, whose armorial crest was a golden 'hind' (the heraldic term for a female deer). Hatton was one of the principal sponsors of Drake's world voyage.
Sir Francis Drake sailed the Golden Hind on his historic three-year voyage round the world. The flagship of a fleet of five, the Golden Hind was the only one to safely return. Having plundered Spanish treasure at every opportunity and earned a massive return for himself, his financial backers and his country. On 26 September 1580, Francis Drake took his ship into Plymouth Harbour with only 56 of the original crew of 80 left aboard. Despite his piratical conduct on his voyages, Queen Elizabeth herself went aboard the Golden Hind, which was lying at Deptford in the Thames estuary, and personally bestowed a knighthood on him; her share of the treasure came to almost £160,000: "enough to pay off her entire foreign debt and still have £40,000 left over to invest in a new trading company for the Levant. Her return and that of other investors came to £47 for every £1 invested, or a total return of 4,700%."
After Drake's circumnavigation, the Golden Hind was maintained for public exhibition in Deptford. This is the earliest known example of a ship being maintained for public display because of its historic significance. Golden Hind remained there for nearly 100 years before she eventually rotted away and was finally broken up. The table in the Middle Temple Hall (in London) is reputed to have been made from the wood of the Golden Hind, as is a chair in the Great Hall, Buckland Abbey, Devon. My dear friend Maria sent me this pretty and historical card.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
The Nærøyfjord (or Nærøyfjorden) is a in the municipality of Aurland in Sogn og Fjordane, Norway. The narrow fjord is a branch of the large Sognefjord, and it is featured on the "Norway in a Nutshell" daytrips for tourists. The 18-kilometre (11 mi) long fjord is only 500 metres (1,600 ft) wide in some parts. This part of Norway is without a doubt, one of the most scenic areas in the world. The river Nærøydalselvi flows down the valley Nærøydalen into the fjord at the village of Gudvangen, near the highway. Since 2005, the Nærøyfjord has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has also been rated by the National Geographic Society as the world's number one natural heritage site along with the Geirangerfjord. My dear friend Merja sent me this card.
Friday, September 23, 2011
The second series of “Princely Treasures – Liechtenstein Museum Vienna” commemorative is devoted to the ceiling frescos by the Salzburg painter Johann Michael Rottmayr (1654–1730), as seen in the ladies’ and gentlemen’s apartments on the ground floor and in the stairwells of the Liechtenstein Garden Palace in Vienna’s Rossau District.
At the end of the 1680s, after a period of study in Venice where he had mastered the Venetian/Neapolitan mixed technique, Rottmayr returned to his homeland where he was commissioned to produce works for the Archbishop’s palace. In 1696 he settled in Vienna and there became one of the most significant Austrian Baroque painters.
His principal works include the frescos in the churches of St. Peter and St. Charles in Vienna, in the Melk collegiate church, the Klosterneuburg collegiate church and the Garden Palace in Rossau, Vienna, built under Prince Johann Adam Andreas I of Liechtenstein, where Rottmayr created one of the finest examples of his master craftsmanship. Rottmayr had not figured in the original plan for the Palace, which provided for Bologna artists only. However, after making a name for himself as a fresco painter with his recently completed work in the Great Hall of Schönbrunn Palace, in 1705 he was the only local-born artist engaged to paint the ground floor and two staircases. He completed this commission in 1708.
The first of the two stamps depicts “The surrender of the Golden Fleece to Jason” (face value CHF 1.40), an obvious reference to the conferring of the Order of the Golden Fleece on Rottmayr’s client in 1693, and “Ariadne giving Theseus the thread” (face value CHF 1.00). Thank you my dear friend Maria for these two maxi cards, nay, Princely treasures.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range single-seat World War II fighter aircraft. Mustang pilots claimed 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down, the most of any Allied fighter in the conflict. It should be noted that the concept of the P-51 Mustang began more than three years before the first daylight bombing missions and the heavy losses. It is often accepted that the P-51 Mustang was designed to be an escort fighter, but as you look at the timeline, it is more plausible that the Mustang, as a fighter aircraft, fit that need better than any other fighter available. By the time heavy bomber losses were at hand, the P-51B and P-51C, with outstanding range, were already in production and being delivered to bases in England. The bombers of the daylight missions were taking very heavy losses each day from Luftwaffe pilots until an escort fighter could stay with them deep into enemy territory and home again on every mission. The North American P-51 Mustang was the immediate choice. The bomber crews nicknamed them their "little friends."
From late 1943, P-51Bs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used by the USAAF’s Eighth Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany, while the RAF's 2 TAF and the USAAF's Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, roles in which the Mustang helped ensure Allied air superiority in 1944. The P-51 was also in service with Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean and Italian theatres, and saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War. At the start of Korean War the Mustang was the United Nations' main fighter. However, jet fighters, including the F-86, took over this role, and the Mustang became a specialised ground-attack fighter-bomber.
Despite the advent of jet fighters, the Mustang remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s. After World War II and the Korean War, many Mustangs were converted for civilian use, especially air racing. This nice card was sent to me by Paige.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. The Scalinata is the widest staircase in Europe. The monumental stairway of 138 steps was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above — to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below. Architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi designed the stairway.
In the Piazza di Spagna or the Span Square at the base is the Early Baroque fountain called Fontana della Barcaccia ("Fountain of the Old Boat"), built in 1627-29 and often credited to Pietro Bernini, father of a more famous son, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who is recently said to have collaborated on the decoration. The elder Bernini had been the pope's architect for the Acqua Vergine, since 1623. According to an unlikely legend, Pope Urban VIII had the fountain installed after a boat brought here by a flood of the Tiber River had impressed him.
In the piazza, at the corner on the right as one begins to climb the steps, is the house where English poet John Keats lived and died in 1821; it is now a museum dedicated to his memory, full of memorabilia of the English Romantic generation. On the same right side stands the 15th century former cardinal Lorenzo Cybo de Mari's palace, now Ferrari di Valbona, a building altered in 1936 to designs by Marcello Piacentini, the main city planner during Fascism, with modern terraces perfectly in harmony with the surrounding baroque context.
My dear friend Maria sent this lovely card to me.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The Post Museum, at Helsinki exhibits, researches and preserves items and material related to the 367-year-long history of Finland Post. The Post Museum hosts two kinds of exhibitions the permanent exhibition and temporary thematic exhibitions. The permanent exhibition ‘Stories’ describes the long history of postal services in Finland, since 1638, in a multitude of ways. The exhibition displays several interesting artefacts and stories, and all stories are offered in audio versions of different lengths. Thematic exhibitions highlight topical issues of interest. The Post Museum hosts several temporary thematic exhibitions every year. Ella sent this cute card.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Veikko Savolainen, who signs as Joonas, has been active in the field of comics since the late 1940s, when he produced 'Heikki ja Esa' in Karjala and 'Ruutinyrkki' in Veikkaaja. In the 1950s, he was present in the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat with 'Joonas' (1950-58) and 'Toope' (1955). 'Joonas' was later continued in Seura ja Kotiposti and ran until 1972. He subsequently cooperated with Pellervo ('Unto Uneksija', 1966-), Aja ('Kaista', 1966-69), Poni ('Hirnu', 1972-), Iltasanomat ('Oloneuvos', 1986) and Lääkärin Paikka ('V. Vaivainen', 1989-91). His comic series 'Leo ja Kaverit' ran from 1975 to 1991. Albums with his work are published since the 1980s, such as 'Joonas' collections, 'Sirkus Napoleon', 'Hypnoosimurha' and 'Unto Uneksija'.
Ella sent me this card with a self portrait by Veikko Savolainen and his trade mark signatures as ‘Joonas’. The stamp on the card commemorated the 100th anniversary of Finnish comics and was issued on 5.9.2011. The stamp is itself a part of a set of six.100 Years of Finnish comics
Sunday, September 18, 2011
In June 2009, Àland Post started a new series of stamps on the theme of passenger ferries, which operate or have operated to and from Àland since the start of passenger ferry service in 1959. The two stamps depict the first ferry and the newest one. One of the ships featured in this post is the SS Viking; the other was still under construction and was thus called Newbuilding 2009. On 1 June 1959, the first proper passenger ferry, the SS Viking, sailed on its maiden voyage from Galtby in the Finnish archipelago of Turku, via Mariehamn to Gràddò in Roslagen. The shipping company Rederi Ab Vikinglinjen, founded by the Alanders Gunnar Eklund and Henning Rundberg, owned the ship. The Viking was built as the SS Dinard in 1924 for Southern Railways Company.
Viking Line is a Finnish shipping company that operates a fleet of ferries and cruise ferries between Finland, the Åland Islands, Sweden and Estonia. Viking Line shares are quoted on the Helsinki Stock Exchange. Viking Line is operated from the Åland Islands. Viking Line's history can be traced back to 1959, when a group of sea- and businessmen from the Åland Islands province in Finland formed Rederi Ab Vikinglinjen, purchased a steam-powered car-ferry SS Dinard from the UK, renamed her SS Viking and began service on the route Korpo (Finland) — Mariehamn (Åland) — Gräddö (Sweden). In the same year the Gotland-based Rederi AB Slite began a service between Simpnäs (Sweden) and Mariehamn. My dear friend Merja sent me these maxi cards.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
My dear friend Maria tempted me with this card and wanted to see if I’d post it on this blog. I had no hesitation whatsoever, as I’ve always had a soft corner for MM ;-)) Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson but baptized and raised as Norma Jeane Baker; June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962 was an American actress, singer and model. After spending much of her childhood in foster homes, Monroe began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946. Her early film appearances were minor, but her performances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve (both 1950) were well received. By 1953, Monroe had progressed to leading roles. Her "dumb blonde" persona was used to comedic effect in such films as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955). Limited by typecasting, Monroe studied at the Actors Studio to broaden her range, and her dramatic performance in Bus Stop (1956) was hailed by critics, and she received a Golden Globe nomination. Her production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, released The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination and won a David di Donatello award. She received a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Some Like It Hot (1959).
The final years of Monroe's life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for being unreliable and difficult to work with. The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a "probable suicide", the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as the possibility of homicide, have not been ruled out. In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the years and decades following her death, Monroe has often been cited as a pop and cultural icon as well as an eminent American sex symbol.
Friday, September 16, 2011
The Optimist is a small, single-handed sailing dinghy intended for use by children up to the age of 15. Nowadays boats are usually made of fiber reinforced plastic, although wooden boats are still built. It is one of the most popular sailing dinghies in the world, with over 130,000 boats officially registered with the class and many more built but never registered. The Optimist is recognized as an International Class by the International Sailing Federation. This maxi card given to me by my dear friend Merja and the 3.40 stamp on it were issued on 9.6.1995 to commemorate the World Championships Of Optimist Dinghies held in Aland.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
My dear friend Ella sent me this card featuring the Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, a retractable landing gear, and was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine. The Bf 109 first saw operational service during the Spanish Civil War and was still in service at the dawn of the jet age at the end of World War II, during which time it was the backbone of the Luftwaffe’s fighter force. From the end of 1941 the Bf 109 was supplemented by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190.
Originally conceived as an interceptor, later models were developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter-bomber, day-, night-, all-weather fighter, ground-attack aircraft, and as reconnaissance aircraft. It was supplied to and operated by several states during World War II, and served with several countries for many years after the war. The Bf 109 was the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced from 1936 up to April 1945 The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring German fighter aces of World War II, who claimed 928 victories between them while flying with Jagdgeschwader 52, mainly on the Eastern Front, as well as by Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest scoring German ace in the North African Campaign. It was also flown by several other successful aces from Germany's allies, notably Finland, including the highest scoring non-German ace Ilmari Juutilainen, and pilots from Romania, Croatia and Hungary. Through constant development, the Bf 109 remained competitive with the latest Allied fighter aircraft until the end of the war.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Jordi sent me this pretty card of The Costa Brava, a coastal region of northeastern Catalonia, Spain. Costa is the Catalan and Spanish word for 'coast', and Brava means 'rugged' or 'wild'. The Costa Brava stretches from Blanes, 60 km (37 mi) northeast of Barcelona, to the French border.
In the 1950s, the Costa Brava was identified by the Spanish government and local entrepreneurs as being suitable for substantial development as a holiday destination, mainly for package holiday tourists from Northern Europe and especially, the United Kingdom and France. The combination of a very good summer climate, nature, excellent beaches and a favourable foreign exchange rate was exploited by the construction of large numbers of hotels and apartments in such seaside resorts as Blanes, Tossa de Mar, and Lloret de Mar. Tourism rapidly took over from fishing as the principal business of the area.While part of the Costa Brava coastline lent itself to tourist developments on a very large scale, other parts have retained a more traditional look and have become "hidden gems" for visitors who want a little more than sun, sand and sangria. Small towns like Cadaqués, which is close to the French border and close to the foothills of the Pyrenees, have attracted artists, such as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. The Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres is one of the most important and visited museums in Catalonia. One can also visit Dalí's House-Museum in Port Lligat, near Cadaqués and the Castle of Púbol in Púbol. The coast between Roses and Tossa de Mar has many delightful small coastal towns.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The stamps on the maximum cards given to me by my dear friend Merja were issued on 04 March 2005. The cars represent four different decades: the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. First out on the road was an Oakland Sport Convertible from 1928. The following car model is a shining black Ford V8 from 1939. The second youngest of the cars is a Buick Super 4D HT, a classic red-and-white American car. The beige Volkswagen 1200 from 1964 is the youngest of the featured vintage cars. This car is still a very popular model all over the world. All four cars are registered in Aland.
The car stamps are inserted in a booklet with a brief informative text about each car. The booklet cover shows a detail of the right rear wing of the Volkswagen. The denomination of the stamps is 1st class each.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics. Sometimes shows are limited exclusively to jumpers, sometimes jumper classes are offered in conjunction with other English-style events, and sometimes show jumping is but one division of very large, all-breed competitions that include a very wide variety of disciplines. Jumping classes may be governed by various national horse show sanctioning organizations, such as the United States Equestrian Federation in the USA. International competitions are governed by the rules of the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI). This lovely card was sent to me by inet.
The stamps on this card are also worth a mention. The birds shown on the stamps are the Grutto or The Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa, is a large, long-legged, long-billed shorebird first described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1758. It is a member of the Limosa genus, the godwits. There are three subspecies, all with orange head, neck and chest in breeding plumage and dull grey-brown winter coloration, and distinctive black and white wingbar at all times. Its breeding range stretches from Iceland through Europe and areas of central Asia. Black-tailed Godwits spend winter in areas as diverse as Australia, western Europe and west Africa. The species breeds in fens, lake edges, damp meadows, moorlands and bogs and uses estuaries, swamps and floods in winter; it is more likely to be found inland and on freshwater than the similar Bar-tailed Godwit. The world population is estimated to be 634,000 to 805,000 birds and is classified as Near Threatened.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Cyprus issued the stamps on these three maxi cards. The stamps are part of a set of four. Unfortunately, I don’t have the fourth. These wonderful maxicards were given to me by Merja.
A brief description about the three cards wont be out of place. These pictures are a representation from an ancient Greek pot (courtesy the British Museum). Track events such as the 100m race, the marathon, javelin throw, shot Put, discus throwing and a few others are normally the highlights of any Olympic Games.
The next card (lower left) depicts Equestrian Events. The horse was used in athletic competition for the first time in Ancient Greece in 68o BC in chariot races and in 684BC in horse races.The Modern day Olympics feature Show Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. And finally the card at lower right depicts boxing.This was one of the most spectacular Olympic events in Ancient Olympia.
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team officials from 201 countries. There were 301 medal events in 28 different sports. Athens 2004 marked the first time since the 1996 Summer Olympics that all countries with a National Olympic Committee were in attendance. It was also the first time since 1896 (other than the since-downgraded 1906 Intercalated Games) that the Olympics were held in Greece.
A new medal obverse was introduced at these Games, replacing the design by Giuseppe Cassioli that had been used since the 1928 Games. This rectified the long lasting mistake of using a depiction of the Roman Colosseum rather than a Greek venue. The new design features the Panathinaiko Stadium.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
The Jacobstads Wapen is a modern replica of an 18th century galeas built in Jakobstad, Finland between 1988-1994. She is built according to blueprints by the Swedish warship architect Fredrik Henrik af Chapman (1720-1808) dating from 1755, the oldest vessel blueprints found in Finland. She is classified by the Finnish national board of navigation as a passenger, special-purpose vessel. The 18th century galleon Jacobstads Wapen was sold off in Amsterdam. She has been used as a symbol for Jakobstad but as of late has had financial problems. She participated in the festivities at the 300 year anniversary of St. Petersburg, Russia in 2003. In 2005 it was discovered that some of the woodwork had deteriorated and is currently awaiting renovations. The galeas is a small type of trade ship, which was common in the Baltic Sea and North Sea from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. The characteristics of the ships depend somewhat from where the ship originated. Swedish (and Finnish) versions had two masts and were rigged as ketchs, sometimes as schooners. The galeas was developed from the Dutch galliot, which was rigged in a similar way, but was equipped with a rounded stern. The Swedish galliot was sometimes called "Dutch hoy" or "English dogger". The galeas has a galliot's rig, but a square stern.
Sigyn, built in Göteborg 1887, now museum ship in Turku, is the last remaining wooden barque used for trade across the oceans. At the time she was built there were thousands of similar vessels, but she was one of the last ones built. She was quite small even for her time, considering she was built for long-distance trade, but well built and considered fast and beautiful. The SigynSigyn is the only remaining vessel of that kind. represents a type of vessel that during the second half of the 19th century was the most common type of deep-water cargo-carrier, the three-masted wooden barque.
Friday, September 09, 2011
Before the advent of the written word, storytellers had to use creative methods to ensure that their stories were not forgotten. That is why they introduced alliteration, rhythm, hymns and repetitions. The verses would be sang or repeated in the kind of droning voices that monks use to remember long texts. This is how the Edda, the Iliad, Beowulf and Ramayana survived until the stories could be written down. This is also the story of Finland's national epic, the Kalevala. All over Finland "rune songs" with different stories were sung from 1000 B.C until the 1500's when the Lutheran Church following the Reformation, banned them as being pagan. Although the tradition soon disappeared from the western parts of Finland, there was a foothold of the songs and singers in Karelia and in Archangel's Karelia on the Russian side. A few of these songs were recorded in the 1600's, but it is thanks to Elias Lönnrot and his eleven trips to the region that we have the Kalevala with the rune songs from the last generation of singers. A Finnish family may not be intimately familiar with the Kalevala but it is constantly reminded of it through hundreds of names, - even a harvester and an icebreaker, all bearing names relating to Kalevala. The maxi cards displayed commemorate two of the greatest rune singers of Finland.
Pedri Semeikka (1821 or 1825 – 1915) was a famous rune singer in the border regions of Karelia. Besides his poems, he was famous for his impressive incantations.
Larin Paraske (December 27, 1833 – January 3, 1904) was an Izhorian oral poet. She was the foremost rune singer and legend teller of Finland. She is considered a key figure in Finnish folk poetry and has been called the "Finnish Mnemosyne”. Paraske is also one of the people on stamps of Finland.
These stamps on the maximum cards were issued on the occasion of The 150th Anniversary of the Kalevala. These important maxi cards in Finnish culture were given to me by my dear friend Merja.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
The Pancyprian Gymnasium was founded in 1812 by Archbishop Kyprianos at a time when Cyprus was still under Ottoman occupation. It was originally called the Hellenic School (Ελληνική Σχολή) and is the oldest high school still in operation on the island. The school was expanded in 1893 to incorporate a lyceum when Cyprus was under British occupation and changed its name to its current one in 1896. In tribute to the school's contribution to education the Cyprus Post office issued a commemorative stamp in 1993.
It is located opposite the archbishopric within the walls of the old city of Nicosia. The original building was destroyed in a fire in 1920 and parts of the school were completely rebuilt in neoclassical style. Of particular historical interest is the crypt of the school located beneath the main entrance. This is where Archbishop Kyprianos was said to have held secret meetings with representatives of the Philiki Etairia in the early 19th century. The school also incorporates a substantial collection of artifacts, art and books. The Severios Library which opened in 1949 holds over 60,000 manuscripts.
The stamp depicts the portal to the institute. The owl on the postmark signifies perfection in learning. It also brings back nostalgic memomories of my days at the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington, which also had an owl as its logo. Thank you dear Merja for this nice maximum card.
Through benevolent donations the school has become very wealthy. On an educational level it is highly regarded and considered a model school. Many influential figures have studied and taught here.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
This long wheelbase 1929 Packard wears a coach-built phaeton body. Wealthy customers often bought bare chassis from luxury car makers and had custom bodies installed by companies like Brunn and Dietrich. This vehicle features a separate cowl and windshield designed to protect rear seat passengers from wind and debris during spirited driving. The straight eight cylinder power plant replaced the V-12 in 1923 and would power Packard cars until the 1930s. The Packard family coat of arms appeared on the radiator emblem for the first time in 1929. On enquiry from friends in the States I was given to understand that this car would be worth about $65000, if at all it was available for sale.
The stamps Carrick affixed to the card are very pretty too. They are part of the 2011 “Forever” series of non-denominated postage issued by the United States. I will talk a little more about these non-denominated postage stamps a little later in my blog “letstalkstamps”.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Dover Castle is a medieval castle in the town of the same name in the English county of Kent. It was founded in the 12th century and has been described as the "Key to England" due to its defensive significance throughout history. It is the largest castle in England.
Dover Castle is a Scheduled Monument, which means it is a "nationally important" historic building and archaeological site that has been given protection against unauthorised change. It is also a Grade I listed building, and recognised as an internationally important structure. The castle, secret tunnels, and surrounding land are now owned by English Heritage and the site is a major tourist attraction. The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is officially head of the castle, in his conjoint position of Constable of Dover Castle, and the Deputy Constable has his residence in Constable's Gate. The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment Museum is located in the castle.
Between 2007 and 2009, English Heritage spent £2.45 million on recreating the castle's interior. According to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, nearly 350,000 people visited Dover Castle in 2010. Margaret sent this Nice picture card of the historically important Dover Castle to me. And Don't forget the really pretty stamp affixed to the card. This stamp is one of a wonderful set of stamps of characters in the TV Serial “Thomas the Tank Engine”. Daisy is a diesel railcar who came to work on the branch line when Thomas needed repairs. The Fat Controller decided to keep Daisy when she proved she could be useful. Her face is decorated in make-up, including eyelashes, red lipstick, and purple eye-shadow. To tell you a little secret – I loved this TV serial and was sad when The Cartoon Network Channel took it off the air in India.
Monday, September 05, 2011
Today, Helsinki is the only city in Finland to still have tram traffic. Two other Finnish cities—Turku and Vyborg (now part of Russia) — have had tram systems. Vyborg abandoned its trams in 1957, after the city had been ceded to the Soviet Union following the result of World War II. Turku withdrew its trams in 1972.
The first proposals for the construction of a tram system into Helsinki were made in 1870s, but they were at the time unsuccessful. Public transport in Helsinki was initiated in 1888 by using horse-drawn omnibuses. In 1889 Helsingin Omnibussiosakeyhtiö acquired the right to construct tram lines in Helsinki. The following year the company changed its name in Helsingin raitiotie- ja omnibussiosakeyhtiö (abbreviated HRO). Electric traction was considered as a power source for the new system, but due to lack of funds and the city council's negative attitude towards electric trams, the decision was made to use horse-drawn trams instead. The new system was built to a rail gauge of one metre. Test traffic started in December 1890, but the network wasn't officially opened for traffic until June 1891. The capacity of the horse tram system soon proved insufficient, but the changeover into electrified trams was postproned while waiting for the price of electrification of the network to drop.
This lovely stamp was issued on May 23, 1988. My dear friend Merja sent me this pretty maxicard.
Sunday, September 04, 2011
These three maxicards and stamps issued on 15.10.2003 by the Czech Republic, were given to me by Maria and depict three types of birds of Prey which face extinction if proper care is not taken NOW.. Starting from left to right are; Milvus milvus or The Red Kite (below left) is a medium-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards, and harriers. The species is currently endemic to the Western Palearctic region in Europe and northwest Africa, though formerly also occurred just outside in northern Iran. It is a rare species which is resident in the milder parts of its range in western Europe and northwest Africa, but birds from northeastern and central Europe winter further south and west, reaching south to Turkey. Vagrants have reached north to Finland and south to Israel and Libya. They belong to the critically endangered species, which means that there is an immediate threat of their complete extinction in. In order to prevent the extinction of these beautiful birds, it is important to apply effective protection.
Falco peregrinus or The Peregrine Falcon (above), also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache". Typical of bird-eating raptors, Peregrine Falcons are sexually dimorphic, with females being considerably larger than males. The Peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 325 km/h (202 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop, making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. . They also belong to the critically endangered species, which means that there is an immediate threat of their complete extinction in. In order to prevent the extinction of these beautiful birds in, it is important to apply effective protection.
Hieraaetus pennatus or The Booted Eagle (below right) is a medium-sized bird of prey. It is about 47 centimetres (19 in) in length and has a wingspan of 120 centimetres (47 in). Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. It is rare. In order to prevent the extinction of these beautiful birds, it is important to apply effective protection. It breeds in southern Europe, North Africa and across Asia. It is migratory, wintering in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This eagle lays 1-2 eggs in a tree or crag nest. This is a species of wooded, often hilly countryside with some open areas. It hunts small mammals, reptiles and birds.
Saturday, September 03, 2011
Juha Matti Pellervo Kankkunen is a Finnish former rally driver. His factory team career in the World Rally Championship lasted from 1983 to 2002. He won 23 world rallies and four drivers' world championship titles, which were both once records in the series. Sébastien Loeb has since collected more world titles, but no driver has so far been able to repeat Kankkunen's feat of becoming a world champion with three different manufacturers. Kankkunen's achievements outside the WRC include winning the Dakar Rally in 1988 and the Race of Champions in 1988 and 1991. Following his retirement from active rallying, he has worked in the fields of business and politics. From 2007 to 2011, Kankkunen held the world speed record on ice in a Bentley Continental GT.
On 15 February 2011, Juha Kankkunen drove his 6.0 litre all-wheel drive Bentley Continental car on the frozen Baltic Sea off the coast of Finland. He achieved a speed of 205.48 miles per hour and created a new world record. A 16.5 km long track with about 70 cm thick sea ice was prepared for this purpose. The officials of Finland traffic police were present to measure the speeds. A representative of The Guinness Book of World Records ratified the same. The Champion had to overcome the low temperatures of minus 30, apart from sudden snow blizzards and severe crosswinds, but braved it to all to achieve the marvellous success. Bentley’s new chairman paid the tribute to Juha and chief executive Wolfgang when he said that the new record made by him under such extreme conditions is in fact an amazing achievement and speaks of the skill and courage of Juha, who can be rightly called as a modern-day ‘Bentley Boy’. He wowed to celebrate this historic event by building another state-of-the-art Bentley model very soon, which will be the most powerful model. My dear friend Merja gave me this nice maxi card.
Friday, September 02, 2011
THE original Ulysses took ten years to return home from Troy. On the way he encountered all sorts of monsters, lovers and other hazards. A latter-day Ulysses is taking just five and a half years to get back to where it started-and the only dangers it faces are charged particles, stray extraterrestrials and cosmic rays. For this Ulysses is a spacecraft, and in a few months' time it will have completed its first full orbit of the sun. Unlike most of the familiar things that orbit the sun-planets, asteroids and even other spacecraft-Ulysses does not circulate in the plane of the ecliptic (the region of the solar system that is analogous to the earth's equator). Instead, its orbit is almost perpendicular to that plane.
Ulysses was launched in 1990 on a five-year mission to study the sun. The craft gathered new data about the speed and direction of the solar wind. It discovered the 3D shape of the sun's magnetic field. It recorded solar flares on the sun, and super-solar flares from distant neutron stars. Ulysses even flew through the tail of comet Hyakutake, an unexpected encounter that delighted astronomers. The mission was supposed to end in 1995, but Ulysses was too successful to quit. NASA and the ESA have granted extensions after extensions. A milestone was reached on June 10th 2011 when Ulysses became the longest-running ESA-operated spacecraft, overtaking the International Ultraviolet Explorer which logged 18 years and 246 days of operations. At present The Ulysses orbital path is carrying the spacecraft away from Earth. The ever-widening gap has progressively limited the amount of data transmitted. Ulysses project managers, with the concurrence of ESA and NASA, decided it was an appropriate time now to end this epic scientific adventure.
The 7c Europa stamp issued by Cyprus depicts the European spaceship "Ulysses" launched in October 1990 from the shuttle "Atlantis". Its objective was to study some parts of the Sun, the solar wind, the cosmic rays, and to trace gravity waves. This nice maxicard was given to me by Merja.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
I had the pleasure of being in Genoa in August 1957 when My family including myself were waiting to board the Llyod Triestino liner MV Asia on our way back to India. That was when our host included a visit for us to the famous Lighthouse of Genoa better known as , which is the main lighthouse for the city's port. Besides being an important aid to night navigation in the vicinity, the tower serves as a symbol for the City of Genoa, and is one of the oldest standing structures of its kind in the world. It is built on the hill of San Benigno at some little distance from the Sampierdarena neighborhood. At 249 feet (76 m) it is the world's second tallest "traditional lighthouse" built of masonry. It is constructed in two square portions, each one capped by a terrace; the whole structure is crowned by a lantern from which the light is shone.
In 1405 the priests who were responsible for the upkeep of the lighthouse placed on its cupola a fish and a golden cross to serve as symbols of Christianity. During the cinquecento the structure was heavily damaged again, this time by friendly fire from the Genovese against the French. Thirty years later, in 1543, the tower was once again reconstructed, assuming the form in which it may still be seen today. In 1449 one of the keepers of the lighthouse was listed as Antonio Colombo, uncle of explorer Christopher Columbus. The cape on which the Lanterna stands was at one time a peninsula before the nearby coastline was filled in and reshaped. To the west, it marked the entrance to the original port of Genoa, today the Porto Antico. Over time, the hill on the cape assumed the name "Capo di Faro", or "Lighthouse Cape"; it is also sometimes referred to as the cape of San Benigno, after the convent that once stood there. Today, the hill is gone save for a small rise upon which the lighthouse stands; the rest of it was removed to provide infill for other areas of the city. This nice card was sent to me by Stefania.