This article refers to the definitive series of stamps issued by the Polish Post between 2009 and 2018, containing 14 issues (16 stamps in total), depicting flowers and fruit. As of 2018, the series is complete, no more stamps were announced for the series in the release plan of the Polish Post for 2019 or 2020. However, they can still be released, as the Polish Post reserves 10 to 15 stamps a year which are not announced in the release plan, but issued for operational needs. You can win all the stamps in the article if you participate in the contest from this article. For details, read on!
The stamps in the series are all in the same format and orientation, with 11 1/2 perforation. They were issued irregularly and have face values ranging from 0.05zł to 10zł (approx. 0.01EUR to 2.3EUR). The Polish popular name of the flower is given, as well as the Latin name. All stamps have been designed by Marzena Dąbrowska.
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Македонска Пошта (Macedonian Post), the postal services of the Republic of North Macedonia. On posta.com.mk you can find more about their stamp releases in English, Macedonian, and Albanian. Thank you for the awesome gift of the stamps and first day covers issued in 2018!
Jan-10: The 550th Anniversary of the Death of Skanderbeg
Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy (in short, WOSP, in English: Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity) is the best-known Polish charity organization, aiming at the improvement of medical treatment of infants. Active since 1993, the organization rejoices the highest ranking of credibility in Poland among all non-governmental, non-profit organization, with as many as 87% interviewed Poles ascertaining its positive role in society. Organized yearly, usually on the first or second Sunday in January, the organization has raised until now USD297mil which they used for medical supplies and equipment for neonatology, oncology and palleative care. In 2019, WOSP made the news in unfortunate circumstances, as during the festivities, one of the supporters of WOSP, the mayor of the city of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, was stabbed and subsequently died.
WOSP was frequently present on stamps in the last two decades, as Polish Post used to join the charity efforts by issuing stamps, parts of the proceeds thereof going to the charity. Polish Post ceased to officially back the organization in 2017, however the story of WOSP stamps is not ready yet.
The first WOSP stamp was issued in 2004, and features the well-known logo of the foundation, a red heart with the text “Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy), for the 12th anniversary of the charity.
While the USPS issued numerous stamps dwelling on the topic of space exploration, in this article we are going to look at the beautiful stamps issued in 2000 with the occasion of the World Stamp Expo in Anaheim, CA.
A number of five sheets and blocks were issued on this occasion. A new one was issued daily, between Jul-07 and Jul-11, and each addressing a different topic of space exploration.
Space Achievement and Exploration
The first issue, of Jul-07, 2000 is a circular block featuring a concentric circular stamp with holographic foil showing the Earth from space. The stamp is a high nominal of $11.75.
The craft of painting Easter Eggs is well-known in Eastern & Central Europe. Some feature very intricate and minute design, and for a stunning effect, many natural dyes are still being used. The tradition is well-known not only in Poland, where such a painted egg is known as pisanka (pl. pisanki), but also elsewhere: Belarus (пісанка, pisanka), Bulgaria (писано яйце, pisano yaytse), Russia (крашанки, krasanki, or писанки, pysanki), Croatia (pisanica), Czech Republic (kraslice), Hungary (hímestojás), Lithuania (margutis), Romania (ouă vopsite, încondeiate or împistrite), Serbia (pisanica), Slovakia (kraslica), Slovenia (pirhi, pisanice, or remenke) and with minorities such as the Sorbs (jejka pisać) or with the Carpatho-Russyns (крашанкы, krašankŷ, or писанкы, pysankŷ).
The term pisanka is but an umbrella term, as many other words are used to describe the several other techniques of painting and decorating Easter eggs in Poland. Kraszanki (or, malowanki, or, byczki) are just painted in natural dyes, but in some regions the word is used for all pisanki. Drapanki (or skrobanki) are kraszanki on which additional craftwork is being used, such as with a sharp tool to reveal the white of the shell in intricate patterns. Pacenki are similar in looks to drapanki, but instead they are painted additional decorations. Naklejanki are being decorated instead with leaves and papier mâché. Last but not least, oklejanki (or wyklejanki) are decorated with yarn, that allows them to reveal imperfect patterns created by diverse degrees of dye impregnation.
In this article, we are going to look at the definitive stamps issued by Polish Post between 2014-2019 before Easter. The design of the stamps is provided by the artist Agnieszka Sancewicz. Most of the stamps are pisanki, but in recent issues other types of pisanki are being shown as well.
The 2014 issue
The first stamps of the definitive series were issued in 2014, with two stamps featuring Easter Eggs from Opoczno and Puszcza Kozienicka.
Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉 actually called Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa – 松尾 忠右衛門 宗房, lived between 1644–1694) is one of the most known names of the Edo period of Japan. His writings, including numerous haiku (俳句) is even today considered a standard form of poetry writing, and his style inspired many of the writers of the next generations. His collection of writings Oku no hosomichi (奥の細道, often translated as “The Narrow Road to the Deep North“, or “The Narrow Road to the Interior“) is one of the gems of the literature of Edo Period. The text describes Matsuo Bashō ‘s travels in 44 fragments, called “stations”. Each of the short texts includes a description of the travel and the people encountered on the way, and concludes with some haiku verse.
Between 1987 and 1989, the Japanese Post devoted as many as 40 stamps and 20 minisheets to the writing of Oku no hosomichi. The 40 stamps come in pairs of 2, the resulting 2-panel stamp being a haiku poem and an illustration of the respective haiku poem. 20 such panels result. Each panel is also accompanied by an imperforated sheet. The stamps and sheets are separated into 10 series, numbered from 1 to 10.
Amnesty International, with its easily recognizable logo of a burning candle encircled by barbed wire, is one of the most known non-profits aiming at the observance of human rights. Since 1961 it has helped hundreds of prisoners of conscience across the world to be freed from prison, to escape torture, and to get justice for their cause.
The logo of Amnesty International is inspired by a Chinese proverb: “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” The barbed wire represents “the darkness” (hopelessness) of people put in jail where they think nobody remembers they are there.
With its logo or without, Amnesty International is also one of the non-profit organizations which got almost instant recognition on stamps. As early as 1974, and up to today, the work of the organization has been celebrated on the stamps of tens of countries. Below you will find this interesting history on stamps.
“Elder Nicolae, the Fiddler” (1906) is one of the best known paintings of Romanian painter Ștefan Luchian (1868-1916). Although Luchian excelled in the area of landscape and still life painting, there are a couple of well-known portraits signed by him, among which Gypsy flower sellers, laundresses, and children are captured in Impressionist style. A former student of the renowned Nicolae Grigorescu, and an avid admirer of Rembrandt and Correggio (whose works he copied during his 2-semester stay at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts), Luchian’s paintings are immediately recognized by Romanians due to his very personal touch. It is in this position that we find “Elder Nicolae, the Fiddler” – the portrait of a weary, anguished older man, caught in a moment that has little to do with his trade. Nicolae is resting, probably after vivacious carousing, where he conducted the entertainment of the merry-makers.
Out of the many poets who have ever been featured on stamps, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) is probably one of the least prominent – at least this is how it looks at a first glance. However, among the “poètes maudits” (“accursed poets“), he is definitely the posterboy!
What’s more, some of the stamps featuring Arthur Rimbaud hide some interesting stories, so keep tuned!
In 1951, the French Post issued a series of 3 stamps devoted to the Symbolist poets, in which Arthur Rimbaud is featured next to Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine.
Each poet is featured against an intricated background of images referring to the imagery from their poems. In the case of Rimbaud, the illustration alludes to his poem “Le Bateau ivre” (“The Drunken Boat”).
Romania issued in the early 2000’s a couple of series related to cultural anniversaries. Among these, in 2004 a series featuring Arthur Rimbaud.
The personalities featured in the set pertain to different areas of interest: there’s Salvador Dalí, there’s the Romanian physician and bacteriologist Victor Babeș, but there are also poets: Alexandru Macedonski, and Arthur Rimbaud. The addition of the latter two is not incidental: Macedonski was one of the major promoters of French Symbolism in Romania. The stamp featuring Rimbaud includes the text “changer la vie”, which is taken from his text “La Vierge Folle” (“The Foolish Maiden“): “Il a peut-être des secrets pour changer la vie ? Non, il ne fait qu’en chercher, me répliquais-je.” (“Did he, perhaps, have secrets that would remake life? No, I told myself, he was only looking for them.“).
One of the most courageous depictions of Arthur Rimbaud on stamps comes, however, not from Rimbaud’s native France, but from neighboring Belgium.
This sheetlet, issued in 2010 is devoted to literary anniversaries and includes Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Eduard Douwes Dekker, (pen name: Multatuli), Charlotte & Emily Brontë, and Victor Hugo). Since Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud had a fiery relationship, this stamp may well be the first stamp depicting a gay couple, be it an avant-la-lettre one.
It may seem weird, but Arthur Rimbaud also made it on the stamps of Djibouti as well. Not once, but twice!
The first time, in 1985, he is featured in a 2-stamp set together with Victor Hugo. I like the fact that although for the profiling of Rimbaud a traditional portrait photography was used, the designer chose to give it more personality by coloring Rimbaud’s hair in an excentric, parrot-like choice of colors.
The second time, however, in 1992, a more traditional approach was used for the 90F stamp – using the same gaze from the classical portrait photography; however the striking element comes via the 150F stamp: an older, more tired and apparently ill Rimbaud, hard to recognize after all, and all for a good reason; the accursed poet stays in history with his young, adolescent portrait, and not with his later life image.
And this is nothing surprising. Rimbaud died early, at the age of 37. His literary career per se was done when he was barely 21. Most of his known portraits date from the period 1871-1875 – when the young poet was at the height of his career. What about the later image from the second stamp? There are only a few images left from this later period, so the stamp design may very well be a work of fiction.
Last but not least, some words about the fascination with Rimbaud in Djibouti (which in a sense, I expect has little to do with his overt sexual orientation). After escaping the tumult of Parisian life and exile (London, Bruxelles), and after putting an end to his relation with Paul Verlaine, Rimbaud actually changed his lifestyle completely: gave up poetry and life in artistic cirlces, escaped from Europe altogether, and set base in different parts of the world – ultimately in Harar, Ethiopia – from where he traveled oftentimes to Obock in current-day Djibouti, trading in coffee and firearms.
While there are literally hundreds of fauna-related stamps issued by Canadian Post, today I’m going to devote an article to the high-nominal series of engraved stamps depicting animals issued between 1997 and 2010. The series contains 9 high-quality engraved stamps, with a banknote-like quality. As commonly done with Canadian stamps, the names of the animals are featured bilingually in English and French. Their face value ranges from 1Can$ to 10Can$. Unlike other high nominal value stamps, these stamps are really usable (i.e. can be affixed to correspondence), therefore their value doubles as postal and philatelic products. Many countries issue nowadays stamps with absurdly high face value – which cannot be used for postage, and therefore are issued as philatelic items. However, the Canadian ones we are talking about can and are actually used as postage.
The first series, 1997
The first stamp issued was the Grizzly bear 8Can$ stamp in 1997.