Saturday, January 31, 2009

First Issues

I have always been fascinated by the classical first issues, "the Number Ones of the world". And yesterday i was a happy man, i received another of my firsts... of the Cook Islands. This is my twelfth so far.

First let me give you some information about the islands. Named after Captain Cook, the famed British explorer, who sailed through them in 1773. The Cook islands are "hidden" roughly half way between New Zealand and Hawaii. The country is actually 15 separate islands... nine in the southern group and six in the northern group. They are scattered across 2.2 million square kilometres of ocean which is an area of the size of India. And nearly a thousand miles separates the furthest north from the furthest south. There are around 12,271 residents on the islands. By 1900, administrative control was transferred to New Zealand and in 1965, residents chose self-government in free association with New Zealand.

The Cook islands under the British protectorate, issued its first postage stamp on 19 April 1892. There are an estimated 22,870 copies of the first issue in existence today. And here are the stamps that i received yesterday.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cover from South Africa

Sometimes ago, i received a cover from South Africa. On the cover was a souvenir sheet of my idol, the former South African president Nelson Mandela! This sheet was one of the two souvenir sheets issued in 2008 to commerate his 90th birthday. Although i own a mint set of the souvenir sheets in my collection, this is different... the sheet on the cover actually went through the postage system and was posted from far away South Africa! I am trilled!

The cover from South Africa

The set of souvenir sheets

Posted on 5th Jan 2009, the cover took 9 days to travel a distance of 8,645km or 5,371 miles from Boksburg, Gauteng in South Africa to Singapore!

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the first President of South Africa to be elected in a fully representative democratic election, serving in the office from 1994–1999. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of the African National Congress's armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. The South African courts convicted him on charges of sabotage, as well as other crimes committed while he led the movement against apartheid. In accordance with his conviction, Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on RobbenIsland.
Following his release from prison on 11 Feb 1990, Mandela has supported reconciliation and negotiation, and has helped lead the transition towards multi-racial democracy in South Africa. Since the end of apartheid, many have frequently praised Mandela, including former opponents. Mandela has received more than one hundred awards over four decades, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is currently a celebrated elder statesman who continues to voice his opinion on topical issues. In South Africa he is often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. The title has come to be synonymous with Nelson Mandela. For more info,
click here

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Smurfs Stamps!

Remember the smurfs? These cute little blue and white guys were once the hottest things on the planet in the 80's. I remember the good old days when Sunday mornings means waking up to my favourite cartoons, The Smurfs by Hanna-Barbera productions.
In 1958, Belgian cartoonist Peya introduced Smurfs to the world in a series of comic strips, making their first appearance in the Belgian comics magazine Le Journal de Spirou. In 2008, Belgian Post celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Smurfs by issuing 2 sets of Smurfs stamps. And when i knew of the existence of these stamps, there was just one thing in my mind,"I must have them!" So today these stamps are sitting nicely in my album! Here they are..
A stamp sheet consisting of 5 stamps

A 10-stamps booklet

By the way if you are interested to get them, you can find them quite easily in ebay. I got mine from an ebayer in Netherlands.

Before i go, a good news for all Smurfs fans, there is a rumour that Sony Pictures has plans to begin a trilogy of live-action/computer-generated Smurf films, with the first Smurf film to be released on December 2010. The project had been in various stages of development since 2003.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Turkey Vacation

Last June, my wife & i spent a great 10 days holidaying in beautiful Turkey. This marvellous country has a lot to offer... culture, sun, sea, good weather and very friendly people. I would strongly recommend this wonderful country to anyone! And so for today i would like to share with you a set of stamps from this wonderful country. Issued in 2008, this stamp set commemorates the 800th anniversary of the birth of Nasreddin Hodja.
Nasreddin Hodja was born in 1208 in Hortu village near town Sivrihisar (near Afyon) in the west part of Central Anatolia. In 1237, he moved to Aksehir town to study under notably scholars of the time as Seyid Mahmud Hayrani and Seyid Haci Ibrahim. He served as Kadi, Muslim judge, from time to time till his death in 1284.
Nasreddin Hodja was a philosopher, wise, witty man with a good sense of humor. Whose jokes were part of his daily life and they became accepted and welcomed by the public since his time.

Let's enjoy the stamps...
One day Nasreddin Hodja went to a banquet. As he was dressed rather shabbily, no one let him in. So he ran home, put on his best robe and fur coat and returned. Immediately, the host came over, greeted him and ushered him to the head of an elaborate banquet table. When the food was served, Hodja took some soup with spoon and pushed it to the his fur coat and said, "Eat my fur coat, eat! It's obvious that you're the real guest of honor today, not me!"

2. Riding the donkey backwards

One day Nasreddin Hodja was riding his donkey backwards, facing towards the back."Hodja" the people said, "you are sitting on your donkey backwards!" "No." he replied. "My friend here wanted to go one way and I wanted to go the other, so we are compromising."

3. Hodja & the Pot
Nasreddin Hodja borrowed a large cooking pot from a neighbour for a few days. Before he returned the pot, he put a smaller pot inside.Seeing the small pot the neighbour enquired "What is that?" Hodja replied "Oh, your pot gave birth."The neighbour was confused but he accepted the two pots.Some days later, Hodja borrowed the large cooking pot again but he never returned it. When the neighbour asked for his pot, Hodja exclaimed "I am very sad to tell you that your pot died recently!" "Don't be foolish, Hodja," said the neighbour. "Cooking pots don't die." "Are you sure?" asked Hodja. "It didn't surprise you to hear that your pot had given birth."
One day a fisherman saw Hodja pouring the remains of his yogurt into Aksehir Lake. "Hodja, what are you doing?" the fisherman asked. " I am turning the lake into yogurt." Hodja replied. "Can a little bit of yeast ferment the great lake?" The fisherman asked. "You never know perhaps it might." Hodja replied, "but what if it should!"

For more stories of Nasreddin Hodja, click here

Lastly, I would like to share with you some pics of our beautiful vacation.

My wife, Ash with Blue Mosque in the background
At Ataturk Mausoleum
Turkish flag outside the Underground City of Kaymakli
Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia
More Fairy Chimneys!!
Nasreddin Hodja! Another view of Nasreddin Hodja
Pamukkale a.k.a. Cotton Castle
Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus
The Roman Celsus Library in Ephesus
Hagia Sophia in the background
Bosphorus Bridge, connecting Asia to Europe

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tibet's first set

Today, i would do a quick posting on one of my favourite collection of first issues... the Tibetan's first set of stamps issued in 1912.
After the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 the independent Tibetan government established its own postal service, and issued its own stamps. They are: 1 Khakang (1/6 trangka) green, 1 Karmanga (1/3 trangka) blue, 1 Tschakey (1/2 trangka) violet, 1 Shokang (2/3 trangka) carmine & 1 Trangka vermilion. These stamps were only valid for internal use, as Tibet did not join the Universal Postal Union. Mail going out of Tibet usually went via India, and had to be franked with Indian stamps.

The first issue was only for sale in the capital, Lhasa, until 1913. Some printings were made with European enamel paint instead of ink.
A "printing plate" was created by hand carving 12 stamp images, arranged as three rows of four stamps each, in a wooden block, one block for each denomination. Therefore, each stamp in a sheet is slightly different from the others, making them platable. The stamps were printed on request form the Post Offices and every printing has a different shade.
The stamps occur as lithographs on European paper as well as xylographs on Tibetan paper. Some believe that the European lithographs issues are forgeries, while others believe that the first issue of this set was made in London in 1912 on European paper, and only later reprinted by xylography in Tibet on local paper.

Ok, I shall end here today... leaving you to enjoy these exotic beauties.

Click here for the latest Tibet news

Monday, January 26, 2009

My first cover from Japan

Wishing everybody a properous Ox year! May you have abundance of good health, good wealth and good things to come!For today, I would like to share with you a neat cover from Japan that i received recently. I did a study on the stamps and to my surprise, the 5 stamps used on the cover are at least 34 years old!
The top 3 stamps are: 1975 National Athletic games, 100th anniversary of Police Force, issued in 1974 & 1975 International Women Year respectively. These are the single issues. The bottom 2 stamps belong to the Fairy Tales - One-Inch Boy (一寸法師) series, issued on Jun 1974.
Here is the complete stamps set... And the story goes... an old, childless couple who live alone wishes for a child, despite thier old age, "Please, please let us have a child, no matter how small." Eventually, a son was born to them. But small indeed was the child--no larger than a grown man's fingertip. They name the miniature child Issun-bōshi (Issun is a measure of approximately 3 centimeters. Bōshi means son). The child, despite being incredibly small, is treated well by his parents. One day, the boy realizes he will never grow, so he goes on a trip to seek his place in the world. Fancying himself a miniature samurai, Issun-bōshi is given a sewing needle for a sword, a soup bowl for a boat, and chopsticks for oars.
He sails down river to the city, where he petitions for a job with the government and goes to the home of a wealthy daimyo (lord), whose daughter is an attractive princess. He is scorned for his height, but nevertheless given the job of accompanying the princess as her playmate. While they travel together, they are suddenly attacked by an Oni (or an ogre in some translations), who deals with the pesky boy by swallowing him. The boy defeats the Oni by pricking him from within with his needle/sword. The Oni spits out Issun-boshi and drops a magical Uchide's Mallet as he runs away. As a reward for his bravery, the princess uses the power of the mallet to grow him to full size. Issun-bōshi and the princess eventually wed and they live happily ever after. (I simply love the ending!)

This cover took 9 days to travel a distance of approximately 5,334 km or 3,314 miles from Ichikawa, Chiba in Japan to reach me.

Pls enjoy this nice cover on this special day!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peace Mandala

I find it most appropriate to share with you a set of stamps, the Peace Mandala to wish for World Peace in this coming Ox year.

Sheetlet of 9 stamps

Souvenir Sheet

This limited edition stamps comes in a sheetlet of 9 stamps and a souvenir sheet. The largest stamp in the sheetlet measures a whopping 13.7 cm x 18.8cm!!! WOW!! This makes it the world's largest stamp!

These stamps were issued by Mongolia in 2004 to commemorate the completion of the largest (70m x 50m) patchwork quilt Mandala in the world in 2002. It was the work of the hands of ten thousand volunteers from 16 countries including Cambodia, France, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Tibet, U.S.A. and many others. This Mandala was designed, divided into 81 parts, and distributed around the world. The key person of each of the 81 parts initiated the work and the others helped with the stitching. In April 2002, the month of the Buddha's birth, all 81 parts were completed and attached using zippers to make one huge piece. In Dec 2002, it was exhibited in Hiroshama, Japan, in Dec 2003 in New Delhi, India and in March 2003 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

P.S. This stamp collection is a MUST HAVE item for every collectors who are looking for unique stamps. Go get it!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chinese New Year 2009

The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival or sometimes called the Lunar New Year, which begins on 26 Jan is only 2 days away. This day also marks the beginning of the year of the Ox.

To celebrate this special occasion, I searched my albums for stamps relating to it and have found 2 of them which I am happy to share it with you. The first is a cover which i recently received from an eBayer in Canada. This cover was franked with a triplet of Ox stamps to commemorate the coming Ox year. Isn't it a beauty? Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. Those born in Ox years tend to be painters, engineers, and architects. They are stable, fearless, obstinate, hard-working and friendly. BTW, i am a dragon.

Back to the cover... as we can see, the stamps are cancelled by straight lines postmarks. The problem with this type of cancel is that there is no posted date stamped. Hence, there is no way to calculate the exact number of days it takes to reach it's final destination. Luckily, the sender emailed to update me on the posted date. Accordingly, it took only 6 days and had travelled a distance of approximately 12,846km or 7,982miles from Burnaby in Canada to Singapore! The second is a souvenir sheet issued by China on Jan 2000, picturing a family having a reunion dinner. To the Chinese, the reunion dinner holds great significance and is an important event which is held on New Year's Eve where members of the family, near and far, get together for celebration. The New Year's Eve dinner is a feast and traditionally includes chicken. Fish (魚, ) is included, but not eaten up completely (and the remaining stored overnight), as the Chinese phrase 年年有魚/餘; (nián nián yǒu , or "every year there is fish/leftover") is a homophone for phrases which could mean "be blessed every year" or "have profit every year", since "" is also the pronunciation for "surplus". A type of black hair-like algae, pronounced "fat choy" in Cantonese, is also featured in many dishes since its name sounds similar to "prosperity".

Click on the zodiac banner below to peek at your fortune of Career, Money Love and Health in this coming new year

Friday, January 23, 2009

Today is THE DAY

So here is it! After reading so many weblogs on stamps... i have decided to give it a try and start my own blog on philatelic. Like almost every other stamps collectors, I started this hobby since i was a kid in primary school... stopped for a while... and only came back to stamp collecting a few years ago.
My objective of this blog is to share my growing stamps collection and most importantly is to get to know more like-minded friends from all over the world.
About myself... my name is edmund, 32 years old, lives in Singapore... fond of stamps. Apart from philately, I love nature and animals especially tortoises and turtles, travelling around the world and supporting my favourite soccer team Manchester United!

For a start, i would like to post a set of my favourite stamps which i have just acquired a few weeks back... these stamps never fail to make me smile and brighten up my day! These beautiful stamps are issued on 15 May 2008, from the island of Guernsey, Channel Islands which are renowned for their beautiful and quality stamps. The set of six stamps featuring Mr.Happy, Mr.Bump, Little Miss Naughty, Mr.Greedy, Mr.Strong & Mr. Tickle are in values of 34p, 40p, 48p, 51p 53p and 74p respectively. Huge publicity has been arranged for the issue in the hope of attracting young children into the hobby of stamp collecting. Well done!!

Background of Mr.Men & Little Miss stamps

The late Roger Hargreaves lived in Guernsey and to celebrate his success as one of Britain most popular authors and illustrators a set of six bright and cheery stamps have been produced.
How the stories and characters came into being is a charming example of how closely Roger Hargreaves connected with children and their love of easily identifiable characters and their mishaps and adventures.
In 1971, Roger, then working in an advertising agency, was asked by his son, Adam, what a tickle looked like. Hargreaves senior drew a round, cheerful orange face with long bendy arms, designed to reach anyone's tickly spots and Mr Tickle was born.
Our favourite Mr Men - Messrs Bump, Greedy, Nosey and Strong - were designed soon after, the Mr Men books sold a million copies in just three years and a publishing sensation was born.
While children's tastes are notoriously fickle, moving from one 'in' character to the next, their love for these delightful characters has not waned and three decades on, they are part of childhoods all around the world.

For more info on Mr. Men, click here


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