Sunday, 22 July 2018

Mount Athos

The world is full of countries, territories, colonies and other entities. Sometimes there is one that is not only unique, but has survived throughout the centuries, like the autonomous theocratic state of Mount Athos (Agion Oros). The state lies on a Greek peninsula, but is formally no part of the Greek state.

Mount Athos has been inhabited since ancient times and is known for its nearly 1800-year continuous Christian presence and its long historical monastic traditions, which date back to at least 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, over 2.000 monks from Greece and many other countries, including Eastern Orthodox countries such as Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, live an ascetic life in Athos, isolated from the rest of the world. The Athonite monasteries feature a rich collection of well-preserved artifacts, rare books, ancient documents, and artworks of immense historical value, and Mount Athos has been listed as a World Heritage site since 1988.

Although Mount Athos is technically part of the European Union like the rest of Greece, the status of the Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, and the jurisdiction of the Athonite institutions, were expressly described and ratified upon admission of Greece to the European Community (precursor to the EU). The free movement of people and goods in its territory is prohibited, unless formal permission is granted by the Monastic State's authorities, and only males are allowed to enter.

The first stamps for Mount Athos were issued by Russia in 1910. The Russians operated a post office in the capital Karyes since the late 19th century. During the First World War both the Allies and the Greek government prepared stamp issues, but they were never put into circulation. In 2008 the Greek Post (ELTA) started issuing special Mount Athos stamps with mainly religious motives. Each year a theme is chosen and four series of stamps are issued within that theme. These stamps are only valid for use at the post offices in Karyes and Dafni.

I sent a letter with an envelope and an International Reply Coupon to the Karyes post office and just over a month later I received my envelope back with a nice stamp and postmark on it. Inside the envelope was my IRC with a note by the post office worker telling me that the stamp costs 90 eurocents. Apparently Mount Athos is not completely part of the UPU. Not much later I sent back a letter with a 1 euro coin. I guess it arrived because I have not heard from the post office since.

The stamp was issued on 10 November 2016 as part of a series of five stamps depicting marble sculptures in various monasteries. This sculpture is from Esfigmenou.

Date sent: 17 April 2017
Date postmark: 17 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 36
Envelope in collection: 104




Sunday, 8 July 2018

United States of America - Massachusetts

In my World envelope collection I do not just want to have envelopes from stamp-issuing countries and territories, but also from other regions. This includes the 50 states of the United States of America. This envelope comes from the state of Massachusetts, lying in the New England region of the United States. It was the 6th state, admitted in 1788.

The stamps were affixed by me and come from the Flags of our nations and Greetings series, a stamp commemorating the 200th anniversary of statehood and the Iowa stamp from the 1981 State Bird & Flower series. I sent the envelope to the post office in the capital Boston to be postmarked. The envelope arrived back with three nice postmarks from USPS Milk Street Station, the main post office in Boston. The post office returned the envelope inside another cover, thus protecting it from getting a machine cancellation.

Date sent: 5 May 2017
Date postmark: 15 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 18
Envelope in collection: 103



Saturday, 7 July 2018

United States of America - Minnesota

In my World envelope collection I do not just want to have envelopes from stamp-issuing countries and territories, but also from other regions. This includes the 50 states of the United States of America. This envelope comes from the state of Minnesota, lying in the Upper Midwest and Northern regions of the United States. It was the 32nd state, admitted in 1858.

The stamps were affixed by me and come from the Flags of our nations and Greetings series and a stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of statehood. I sent the envelope to the post office in the capital Saint Paul to be postmarked. The envelope arrived back with three nice postmarks from USPS Main Office Windows St. Paul. At the top of the envelope unfortunately there is again a machine cancellation.

Date sent: 2 May 2017
Date postmark: 16 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 21
Envelope in collection: 102


Friday, 6 July 2018

United States of America - Iowa

In my World envelope collection I do not just want to have envelopes from stamp-issuing countries and territories, but also from other regions. This includes the 50 states of the United States of America. This envelope comes from the state of Iowa, lying in the Midwestern region of the United States. It was the 29th state, admitted in 1846.

The stamps were affixed by me and come from the Flags of our nations and Greetings series, a stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of statehood and the Iowa stamp from the 1981 State Bird & Flower series. I sent the envelope to the post office in the capital Des Moines to be postmarked. The envelope arrived back with three nice postmarks from USPS Des Moines main post office. At the top of the envelope there is a part of a machine cancellation, but fortunately the wavy lines did not come through.

Date sent: 26 April 2017
Date postmark: 15 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 27
Envelope in collection: 101


Thursday, 5 July 2018

Netherlands - Lichtenvoorde - Achterhoek 2017 - 19-21 May 2017

During the weekend of 19 to 21 May 2017 a stamp show was held in the town of Lichtenvoorde to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Postzegelvereniging De Achterhoek (Stamp association De Achterhoek). I went there to buy stamps from the dealers that were present and to buy some German stamps directly from Deutsche Post that had a small stamp selling point there.

The show was held in the Hamaland sports, meeting, and recration facility. During the show a special postmark was used. I wanted to send myself an envelope with the special cancellation and the special personal stamp. The only problem was that all mail in the Netherlands is cancelled in large sorting machines. It is not possible to skip the wavy lines unless you are in the system. After long thinking I came up with the solution: a protective sleeve made out of a windowed envelope. The stamp remains visible and can be 'read' by the sorting machine while the wavy lines end up on the window and the envelope gets the machine code at the bottom, proof of really being in the post.

I had to wait a whole day to see if my trick worked and it did. From now on I could send envelopes with Dutch postmarks without any chance of stamp and postmark being destroyed by the postal process.

Date sent: 22 May 2017
Date postmark: 19 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 1
Envelope in collection: 100








Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Germany - München - Philatelie-Shop

Deutsche Post has established special philately windows in 26 major post offices throughout the country. Each uses a datestamp with the letters 'ps' in it to distinguish it from normal datestamps. The letters ps stand for Philatelie-Shop. There was already one Philatelie-Shop with a different postmark, Erfurt with the letters 'dx'. A second one has turned up from München (Munich), with the single letter 'o'. There was no explanation given.

The Philatelie-Shop in München can be found in the Postbank building in the Alter Hof. This is the former city palace of the Bavarian dukes and kings dating back to the 12th century. There is an entrance from the Sparkassenstrasse. The address for postmark requests is: Alter Hof 6-7, 80331 München, Germany. Opening hours: Mo-Fr 9.00-18.30 h., Sat 9.30-12.30 h.

For the envelope I used the new definitive 90 cent stamp from the flower series, issued on 11 May 2017 that I bought at the Philatelie-Shop in Essen on the first day of issue. The priority label was added to the envelope by the German post.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 13 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 12
Envelope in collection: 99



Monday, 2 July 2018

France - Martinique

France has a number of overseas territories, that they call DOM-TOM. It stand for overseas Departments and Territories. One of these overseas departments is the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. Martinique is an insular region of France located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1.128 km² and a population of 380.877 inhabitants (2015). Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, southeast of Greater Antilles, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica.
As with the other overseas departments, Martinique is one of the eighteen regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the French Republic. As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro. The official language is French, and virtually the entire population also speaks Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais).
The island was occupied first by Arawaks, then by Caribs. The Carib people had migrated from the mainland to the islands about 1201. Martinique was charted by Columbus in 1493. On 15 September 1635, Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc landed in the harbor of St. Pierre with 150 French settlers and claimed Martinique for the French King Louis XIII and established the first European settlement at Fort Saint-Pierre.

For the envelope I used stamps from the booklet issued on 28 November 2011 for the Year of the Overseas Territories (Année de l'Outre Mer). The stamps were for the national tariff so I bought two booklets and put two identical stamps on the envelope. The stamps were cancelled at the Liberté post office in the capital Fort-de-France.

Date sent: 20 April 2017
Date postmark: 16 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 33
Envelope in collection: 98



Sunday, 1 July 2018

Cyprus

Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean.
The earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Middle East, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Classical and Eastern Roman Empire, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan dynasty and the Venetians, was followed by over three centuries of Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878 (de jure until 1914).
Cyprus was placed under British administration based on the Cyprus Convention in 1878 and was formally annexed by Britain in 1914. Cyprus was granted independence in 1960. In 1963, the 11-year intercommunal violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots started. On 15 July 1974, a coup d'état was staged by Greek Cypriot nationalists and elements of the Greek military junta. This action precipitated the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 20 July, which led to the capture of the present-day territory of Northern Cyprus in the following month, after a ceasefire collapsed, and the displacement of over 150.000 Greek Cypriots and 50.000 Turkish Cypriots. A separate Turkish Cypriot state in the north was established by unilateral declaration in 1983.
The British administration of Cyprus began on 11 July 1878 and initially British stamps were used which may be identified by the numbered cancels used. The first postage stamps marked Cyprus were British stamps overprinted CYPRUS from 1880. The first postage stamps produced specifically for use in Cyprus, rather than being overprinted British stamps, were issued on 1 July 1881.

During the Briefmarken-Messe in Essen in May 2017 I left stamped envelopes at almost every foreign postal administration hoping they would send them back when they arrived home. The stamp is issued for the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development on 4 May 2017. A refugee stamp has to be put on every piece of mail that is sent from Cyprus to another country. The proceeds go to the Refugee Fund to help the (Greek) Cypriots that were displaced as a result from the Turkish invasion. The stamps were postmarked with a normal datestamp from the capital Nicosia. The priority label was added by Cyprus Post.

This and other stamps can be found on the philatelic website of Cyprus Post: cypruspost.post.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 15 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 12
Envelope in collection: 97