Saturday, December 29, 2012


Home for the holidays and able to rifle through the postcard archives for another card sent by my Dad on his tour behind the Iron Curtain, which launched me on my postcard collecting quest. Seen here is the Old Town Square of Prague and the imposing Church of Our Lady before Týn in the background. Construction of the Church began in the fourteenth century and continued in fits and spurts until 1511 when the south tower was completed. Part of the Historic Centre of Prague World Heritage site.

Stamp featuring the Carpathian newt, Lissotriton montandoni, a common species in the temperate rivers, marshes, and ponds of Central and Eastern Europe.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Indonesia III

After my recent post about the 2012 additions to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, I can now add my fist Intangible Cultural Heritage postcard to the blog. The card shows Wayang Orang, a type of classical Javanese dance theatrical performance with themes taken from episodes of the Hindu epic stories, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Performances are staged with elaborate costumes and intricate, stylised movement and are a reflection of traditional Javanese court culture.

Commemorative stamp featuring an annual bull-racing celebration held in the East Java island of Madura, called kerapan sapi.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! ¡Feliz Navidad! 聖誕快樂! Buon Natale! !عيد ميلاد مجيد Feliz Natal! Wesołych świąt! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Crăciun fericit! С Рождеством! メリークリスマス! Nollaig shona duit! Selamat Hari Natal! God jul! Maligayang Pasko! Bon Nadal! Vrolijk Kerstfeest! 메리 크리스마스! Среќен Божиќ! Il-Milied it-Tajjeb! Chúc mừng giáng sinh! Geseënde Kersfees! Gozhqq Keshmish! Շնորհաւոր Նոր Տարի եւ Սուրբ Ծնունդ:! শুভ বড়দিন! Nedeleg Laouen! Весела Коледа! Glædelig jul! Hyvää joulua! Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Mele Kalikimaka! Boldog Karácsonyt! ᑯᕕᐊᓇᒃ ᐃᓄᕕᐊ! Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus! Meri Kirihimete! शुभ नाताळ! !كریسمس مبارک Срећан Божић! สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาส! Mutlu Noeller! !کرسمَس مبارک  Nadolig Llawen!

Friday, December 21, 2012


Postcard from the French island of Mayotte in the Mozambique Channel separating the mainland from Madagascar. The island had been a colony but voted overwhelmingly (95.2%) to become an integral part of France, akin to the status of the United States of America's Alaska or Hawaiʻi. Despite such strong support, the move was not without controversy. Neighbouring Comoros claims the island as its own and, until relatively recently, had fairly strong support for this claim in the United Nations. Mayotte also has traditional Islamic law governing some aspects of day-to-day life that will be gradually abolished and replaced by France's civil code, to the chagrin of local religious leaders. Many in France also question the benefit of changing Mayotte's status, as the island's economy is poorly developed and the cost of social programmes will be borne by French taxpayers.

There is even implications for postcard collectors too! French overseas territories such as Martinique and French Guiana do not have their own postal systems and use the normal French postal service. This means that Mayotte stamps will no longer be produced and Mayotte will cease to exist as an separate postal entity. My many thanks to Françoise for helping me get this one in under the wire!

Stamp showing tamarind tree and its fruit. Tamarind is native to tropical Africa, but its cultivation has spread around the world due to it popularity as an ingredient in many types of cooking and for its value as a medicinal plant.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The famous temple of Angkor Wat, shrouded in mist. Angkor is pretty well-known, but I'll add that, interestingly, a team of researchers recently concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with a population of up to one million and an elaborate system of infrastructure connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres to the temples at its core. In comparison, Angkor's closest rival, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometres in total size.

Stamp showing a carving from the Banteay Srei temple complex located in the Angkor area. The temple was built in the tenth century and is renowned for its intricate and well-preserved carvings.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New 2012 Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements

The UNESCO Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage wrapped up its 2012 session in Paris a few days ago and added a number of elements to the List. As yet, I don't have any postcards of intangible cultural heritage on my site, but I'm sure there are some in my archives that will come to light eventually. 

Although I don't think I'll try to collect the whole set of intangible heritage elements – many are things that would never necessarily be featured on a postcard such as ceramics craftsmanship or weaving – I feel the List is very important, however, because it publicises and gives value to unique elements of the world's cultures which might otherwise go unnoticed or be forgotten. 

The list is divided into three sections. The first is for elements that require urgent measures to keep them alive. Inscription on the List helps to mobilize international cooperation and assistance for stakeholders to undertake appropriate safeguarding measures. The second is for representative elements that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance. The third is a register of best practices which could be adopted by other communities looking to safeguard and promote their intangible heritage.

More information on intangible heritage on UNESCO's site. Congratulations to all newly inscribed elements!

List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
Ala-kiyiz and Shyrdak, art of Kyrgyz traditional felt carpets (Kyrgyzstan)
Bigwala, gourd trumpet music and dance of the Busoga Kingdom in Uganda (Uganda)
Earthenware pottery-making skills in Botswana’s Kgatleng District (Botswana)
Noken multifunctional knotted or woven bag, handcraft of the people of Papua (Indonesia)

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Al ‘azi, elegy, processional march and poetry Oman Al-Taghrooda, traditional Bedouin chanted poetry in the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman (United Arab Emirates – Oman)
Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea (Republic of Korea)
Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India (India)
Cherry festival in Sefrou (Morocco)
Craftsmanship and performance art of the Tar, a long-necked string musical instrument (Azerbaijan)
Craftsmanship of Horezu ceramics (Romania)
Cultural practices and expressions linked to the balafon of the Senufo communities of Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire (Mali – Burkina Faso – Côte d'Ivoire)
Falconry, a living human heritage (Austria and Hungary added to United Arab Emirates – Belgium – Czech Republic – France – Republic of Korea – Mongolia – Morocco – Qatar – Saudi Arabia – Spain – Syrian Arab Republic)
Fest-Noz, festive gathering based on the collective practice of traditional dances of Brittany (France)
Festival of Saint Francis of Assisi, Quidbó (Colombia)
Fiesta of the patios in Cordova (Spain)
Folk art of the Matyó, embroidery of a traditional community (Hungary)
Frevo, performing arts of the Carnival of Recife (Brazil)
Ichapekene Piesta, the biggest festival of San Ignacio de Moxos (Bolivia)
Klapa multipart singing of Dalmatia, southern Croatia (Croatia)
Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse (Belgium)
Mesir Macunu festival (Turkey)
Nachi no Dengaku, a religious performing art held at the Nachi fire festival (Japan)
Performance of the Armenian epic of “Daredevils of Sassoun” or “David of Sassoun” (Armenia)
Qālišuyān rituals of Mašhad-e Ardehāl in Kāšān (Iran)
Rites and craftsmanship associated with the wedding costume tradition of Tlemcen (Algeria)
Schemenlaufen, the carnival of Imst, Austria (Austria)
Traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona (Italy)
Traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat (Ecuador)
Venezuela's Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi (Venezuela)
Worship of Hùng kings in Phú Thọ (Viet Nam)

Programmes, projects and activities for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage considered to best reflect the principles and objectives of the Convention
Strategy for training coming generations of Fujian puppetry practitioners (China)
Xtaxkgakget Makgkaxtlawana: the Centre for Indigenous Arts and its contribution to safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of the Totonac people of Veracruz, Mexico (Mexico)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kyrgyzstan II

Postcard showing Osh Bazaar, a large farmers' market in the Kyrgyzstani capital of Bishkek. I'm told it's the place to go if you're looking for a fresh sheep's head, shashlik or any other type of Kyrgyz snack! Apparently, they have a lot of pomegranates too.

Thanks to Veronika for sending the card. 

Stamp from a 2008 set of four featuring traditional Kyrgyz felt hats, one of which can actually be spotted in the postcard photo! Too bad the postcard came in an envelope rather than on the card. I know some collectors prefer to receive their cards this way, but I have to admit I've never really understood why. It seems a bit contrary to the nature of a postcard, if you ask me. :-P

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Cannobio is an Italian town on the shores of Lake Maggiore. The area has been settled from as far back as the Roman times. The town's fortunes have waxed and waned over the centuries and have been particularly prosperous during times of smuggling from across the border in nearby Switzerland. Part of the Lake Maggiore and Lake D'Orta Lakelands site on Italy's tentative World Heritage list.

A rather utilitarian and uninspiring Italian postal label.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Canada – Alberta V

Jasper is town in western Canada that is the administrative centre of Jasper National Park, part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage site. Originally established in 1813 as a trading fort on the route over the Yellowhead Pass to the Pacific Ocean, it grew considerably with the arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway in 1912.

Although Jasper has always played second fiddle to its more popular sister, Banff, to the southeast, it does feature the Japser Tramway, pictured here, the highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada, built in 1964 and reaching a height of 2,277 m above sea level.

Thanks to Paul who was on holiday in Alberta.

Previously featured stamps of baby Arctic hares. Not much to add about this boringly common Canadian stamp series, but, with the ever-so-slightest irk, I learned over the past few days of the existence of not one, but two, additional postal entities to include in my Remaining Countries list: Kurdistan and Nagorno Karabakh. I say slightly irked of course because both Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous part of Iraq, and Nagorno Karabakh, a breakaway republic from Azerbaijan, are places from which it will be difficult to get postcards, but in another more important way, its rather exciting to know that, no matter how long I collect, the collection will always be a work in progress. – Here's to the journey more than the destination! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Canada – Alberta IV

Postcard of the world's largest pysanka (Ukranian Easter egg), located in the town of Vegreville in central Alberta. The egg was built in 1975 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (also pictured) and celebrates the region's strong Ukrainian heritage. The pysanka was even featured on a stamp of famous Canadian roadside attractions.

Three permanent rate, self-adhesive stamps from a set of four featuring baby animals. Pictured here, the Arctic hare, Lepus arcticus.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Postcard showing a view of the Omani capital of Muscat. With archaeological dating as far back as 6,000 BC, the city has always been an important trading post between East and West. Controlled by a number of regional powers through its history, by the nineteenth century Muscat and Oman had itself become a regional power, spreading its control over much of the Persian Gulf, southern Arabia, and the east coast of Africa. The capital of Oman was even moved to Zanzibar, in modern-day Tanzania, at one point, but was moved back to Muscat following a split in the royal family in 1856.

Many thanks for this card to Yoann who was in Oman on holiday.

Sadly, the card was not sent from Oman but France and features the French permanent rate, self adhesive stamp. The hunt for a stamped card sent from Oman continues!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Postcard of Bathway Beach in the Saint Patrick Parish of northeastern Grenada. The beach is a very popular spot to relax during holidays, when a carnival-like atmosphere reigns. The other days of the year, it's likely to be as you see here, very quiet.

Stamp featuring Tithorea pinthias, or cream-spotted tigerwing, an uncommon butterfly living in the forest lowlands of Central America.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Postcard showing decorated ceiling and mihrab showing the direction to Mecca in Usup Mosque in Osh, the second largest city and capital of the Kyrgyz South. Osh was an important stop on the Silk Route and is still home to the largest outdoor market in Central Asia. 

Many thanks to Guzel for helping cross this country off my list!

Stamp on the left features an Ilyushin Il-76, a popular plane in the 1970s and 1980s, developed in the Soviet Union for service to remote areas. Stamp on the right commemorates the 2002 United Nations International Year of Mountains, proclaimed to ensure the well-being of mountain and lowland communities by promoting the conservation and sustainable development of mountain regions.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Postcard showing Angolan children. Angola is certainly one of the harder countries to come by as it is often purported to not have a functioning postal system, mail should be sent by DHL, etcetera, but this one got here without any drama in less than two weeks! Many heartfelt thanks to Émilie for helping strike this tough cookie off the list.

Stamp from a 1994 set of four featuring traditional ceramics, in this case an earthenware water jug.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Postcrossing postcard from the Latvian capital, Riga, home to more than one third of the country's population. Seen here is part of the Historic Centre of Riga World Heritage site with Riga Cathedral, built in 1211, Riga Castle, built in 1330, and Daugava River in the background.

Stamp on the left from definitive series municipal coats-of-arms, in this case Staicele near the border with Estonia. Stamp on the right commemorates the 500th anniversary of Cēsis Castle, once the most important castle in the Baltics as official residence for the head of the Livonian Order of crusading knights.

Monday, October 29, 2012

United States of America – New York IV

Postcard of Boldt Castle in the picturesque Thousand Islands region of the Saint Lawrence separating New York state from Ontario. The Castle was built by wealthy hotelier, George Boldt, at the start of the 1900s. The lavish contrustion was not to be outdone by it's boathouse on the island opposite, which has doors 20 metres high to allow his yachts to enter with mast standing.

Postcard sent from across the river in Canada. Previously featured stamp on the left of blue-flag irises from 2004 series on flowers and a 2006 stamp from a set of two featuring the Snowbirds, the Royal Canadian Air Force's air show flight demonstration team. Stamps were cancelled by hand instead of Canada Post's usual, unlovely dot matrix printer cancellation – a nice added bonus!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Postcard of mediaeval Häme Castle in Hämeenlinna, in south central Finland. The castle was built sometime in the thirteenth or fourteenth century during a period of warfare between Sweden and Russia although the exact construction dates are unknown. It is now a museum. Hämeenlinna is also the birthplace of famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

Stamp representing the strong maritime tradition of Nordic nations.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Postcard of Ganvié village in southern Benin. The village is built on stilts over Lake Nokoué and was originally built this way because the religion of slave-traders in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries forbade their warriors from entering the water, thereby making the lagoon safe territory for other tribes. It is the largest stilt village in Africa and is on Benin's Tentative List for World Heritage.

Stamps featuring the white-throated guenon, Cercopithecus erythrogaster, an endangered primate that lives in rainforests and tropical areas of Benin and Nigeria.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Postcard showing Government House in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku. Construction began of the waterfront building in 1936 to house a number of ministries of the Azerbaijan SSR and was renovated in 2006 following the independence of Azerbaijan.

Stamp featuring the mediaeval fortifications of Shusha, a town in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in western Azerbaijan.

Canada – Quebec II

Postcard featuring Quebec City's famous Château Frontenac Hotel, built in 1893 as part of a series of "château" style hotels for the Canadian Pacific Railway company to promote luxury tourism by appealing to wealthy travellers. The hotel was host to the highly secret 1943 Quebec Conference held to coordinate strategy during World War II between the British, Canadian and United States governments, and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980.

Many thanks to Paul who was visiting.

Permanent rate self-adhesive stamps, on left from definitive series on baby animals, here the Arctic hare, Lepus arcticus, and on the right from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Guernsey II

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Certainly the motto, I think, of all "every country" collectors. After many attempts and a card bought in Guernsey but sent from England, I'm finally able to cross this Channel Island off my list, with my deepest thanks to Monica, who helped make it happen.

Card shows the Sarnian (as things from Guernsey are called) Little Chapel in Vauxbelets in the centre of the island. Originally built in 1914 and then reconstructed several times, it is thought to be the smallest chapel in the world, with room for just one priest and two parishioners!

Left stamp commemorating the naval alliance between England and Sweden against Napoleon's forces. Right stamp features the European hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Canada – British Colombia IV

Lovely postcard of Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island. The park preserves old-growth forests and, with over 3,000 mm of rain each year, is one of the wettest places in Canada. The consistent waves breaking here have made Long Beach one of Canada's most popular surfing destinations.

Definitive, self-adhesive stamp of blue-flag irises from a 2004 series on flowers and 2011 international rate Christmas stamp, both somewhat hidden behind a double cancellation from Port Alberni, hometown of my dad and Pamela Anderson. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Multiview postcard of Serbia's capital city, Belgrade. A postcard from Serbia eluded me for quite some time, so I am very thankful to Ana who helped cross one off my list and get that little bit closer to the finish line.

The central panel shows the Statue of the Victor, a symbol of the city erected in 1928 to commemorate Serbia's victories over the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

Left stamp is from the 2007 definitive series on flora. Stamp on the right is from "Joy of Europe" series honouring the eponymous event that brings together European children aged 7 to 15 to promote friendship, unity, and cultural exchange.

Monday, October 15, 2012

United States of America – California

View down Market Street to the San Francisco city centre, with the Bay Bridge on the right and Oakland in the distance across San Francisco Bay. The bay, although being one of the largest on the Pacific side of the Americas, is surprisingly shallow, with an average depth of only about four metres -- not much deeper than an Olympic swimming pool!

Previously featured international rate stamp of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, centre of Amish culture in the United States and setting for the movie Witness, featuring a young Harrison Ford, which I recently saw on a plane journey.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bosnia and Herzegovina – BH Pošta

Postcard showing the famous Stari Most (Old Bridge) in the historic city of Mostar in southern Bosnia. The bridge was built by the Ottomans in the sixteenth century, but was sadly destroyed by shelling in 1993 during the Bosnian War. While the perpetrators claimed that the bridge was of strategic importance, others argue that the bridge held little strategic value and that its shelling was an example of deliberate cultural property destruction, act of "killing memory", in which evidence of a shared cultural heritage and peaceful co-existence were deliberately destroyed.

Plans were put in place immediately following the War to reconstruct the bridge as closely as possible to the original, using Ottoman techniques and even stones from the original bridge that were recovered by divers from the river. It reopened following a three-year reconstruction in 2004. Now a World Heritage site, the  reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar serve as a symbol of reconciliation, international cooperation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities.

Stamp of carrots from the 2006 definitive series featuring vegetables. A bit annoyingly for us collectors, Bosnia and Herzegovina actually has three separate postal systems! I imagine there must be a reason for this, a relic of the post-War period, no doubt, but it does mean some extra leg-work for us.  Stamps here are from BH Pošta. I know I have a card send using Srpske Pošte (from the Serbian administration) somewhere else in my collection. That leaves me with just Hrvatska Pošta Mostar (Croatian administration) left to collect.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Hello and Happy World Post Day! What, you may ask, is World Post Day? World Post Day is celebrated every year on 9 October, to commemorate the foundation of Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1874 in the Swiss capital, Bern. The purpose of the Day is to create awareness of the role of the postal sector in the daily lives of people and business, and its contribution to the social and economic development of countries.

In honour of World Post Day, a postcard showing Mount Everest in Nepal, part of the Sagarmatha National Park World Heritage site. Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Mount Everest and its national park contains seven other of the world's highest peaks. The park is also home to several rare animals, including the snow leopard and the red panda, as well as the celebrated, mountaineering Sherpa people.

Many thanks to Vishal who sent it!

Stamp on the left commemorates Ramesh Kumar Mahato, a martyr for the Madhesh Movement which seeks an end to the discrimination faced by ethnic Indians who migrated to Nepal. Stamp on the right commemorates the celebrated Nepali musician, Yagyaraj Sharma Arjyal.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Soviet Union

Another card from the archives. When I was young, my dad went on a business trip to several Eastern Bloc countries, sending me postcards as he went. Back in the old days, anything from behind the Iron Curtain seemed terrifically exotic, and these onion-domed spires seemed more fairytale than real. To hold a piece of something so faraway was magical to young me. It prompted me to declare that I would collect a postcard from every country in the world, not realising how many countries there were (and today there are even more!). Now, more than twenty years on, I'm still at it and, at last count with 114 countries and postal entities left to go, still rather a ways from reaching the goal. But, as they say, getting there is certainly half the fun!:-)

A very special thanks to my Dad for launching me into this amazing quest.

Stamp on the left from the 1988 definitive series features a statue of Mercury in promotion of international trade cooperation. Four kopek stamp from the same series printed as a postage paid part of the postcard shows Spassky Tower and Lenin's tomb in Red Square, Moscow.