Saturday, 30 June 2018

United Nations Vienna

The idea of the United Nations issuing its own stamps was first proposed by Argentina in 1947. An agreement with the United States postal authorities was reached in 1951 and it stipulated that the stamps be denominated in United States currency, and used only at UN Headquarters. The first United Nations stamps were issued in U.S. dollar denominations on United Nations Day, 24 October, in 1951. The stamps were an immediate success and sold out within days. Similar postal agreements were reached with the Swiss and Austrian postal authorities. On 11 December 1968 , an agreement between the United Nations and the Swiss Postal Telephone and Telegraph Enterprise enabled the Geneva office of UNPA to issue the first UN stamps in Swiss francs on 4 October 1969. A similar agreement with the Austrian government on 28 June 1979 enabled the Vienna office of UNPA to issue the first UN stamps in Austrian schillings on 24 August 1979.

UNPA attends a number of stamp shows during the year. In earlier years, especially in the 1980s and 1990s there were a lot more attendances and the blue, white and green exhibition card were popular collection objects. Essen is still one of the shows where UNPA is present every year. 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. For UN Vienna I bought the definitive stamps issued on 7 May 2015, the theme is 'The UN Community' and it shows Human Rights. Since I left it at a stamp show the envelope automatically got the exhibition cachet. In Vienna a priority label was added.

Recent stamps of UNPA can be bought through the UN stamps website: unstamps.org.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 18 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 12
Envelope in collection: 96


Friday, 29 June 2018

Norway - Svalbard - Barentsburg

With postmark and cover collectors the polar regions have always been very popular. A collection is not complete without mail from bases in Antarctica. On the other side of the world post offices above the Arctic Circle exist in Norway, Greenland, Finland, Alaska, Canada and Russia.

In Norway there are post offices above the Arctic Circle on the mainland. Also the island of Jan Mayen has a post office. The region of Svalbard has four post offices on the largest island Spitsbergen and two on the islands of Hopen and Bear Island (Bjørnøya).

Barentsburg is named after Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, who (re)discovered Svalbard in 1596. The Russian state owned Trust Arktikugol has been mining coal here since 1932, and during the Cold War Barentsburg was a veritable hotbed of activity as the Russians attempted to expand their zone of control over the islands. After Pyramiden was closed in 1998, Barentsburg has been the only Russian settlement still operating, with 471 inhabitants (2015) and some 100.000 tons of coal exported yearly. The mine closed in 2006 due to concerns over an underground fire breaking out, but resumed production in late 2010.
The population of the settlement has been steadily decreasing in the recent years. Many buildings are not inhabited, and some are left to decay. Combined with a truly stunning setting for the town when the weather is clear enough to see across the Isfjord, and the black smoke from by the old coal power plant, the visit will leave a strong impression on the few who come here.

The postmark shows a Svalbard grouse and the geographic coordinates of the town. It has been in use for many years. As stamps I bought the most recent Norwegian Svalbard stamps from 1996. Although the postal rate for an international letter is only NOK 17, I used the complete series because they look very nice on the envelope. The big surprise was the card inside the envelope. In every cover I put a blank card to make sure the envelope goes through the postal system without damages. The surprise was that the post office clerk in Barentsburg put ten cachets on the card. What a service.

Date sent: 28 April 2017
Date postmark: 12 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 25
Envelope in collection: 95







Thursday, 28 June 2018

United States of America - Washington

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 Washington, lying in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It was the 42nd state, admitted in 1889.


The stamps were affixed by me and come from the Flags of our nations and Greetings series, a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of statehood and the Washington stamp from the 1981 State Bird & Flower series. I sent the envelope to the post office in the capital Olympia to be postmarked. The envelope arrived back with three nice postmarks from USPS Olympia main post office.

Date sent: 5 May 2017
Date postmark: 17 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 18
Envelope in collection: 94


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

United States of America - Florida - Orlando - Kennedy Space Center

A part of my World envelope collection consists of special post offices. One of the post offices I considered special is Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States. The John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is one of ten National Aeronautics and Space Administration field centers. Since December 1968, Kennedy Space Center has been NASA's primary launch center of human spaceflight. Launch operations for the Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs were carried out from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 and managed by KSC. Located on the east coast of Florida, KSC is adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). The management of the two entities work very closely together, share resources, and even own facilities on each other's property.

Located on Merritt Island, Florida, the center is north-northwest of Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Ocean, midway between Miami and Jacksonville on Florida's Space Coast, due east of Orlando. It is 55 km long and roughly 9,7 km wide, covering 570 km².
KSC is a major central Florida tourist destination and is approximately one hour's drive from the Orlando area. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers public tours of the center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

On the envelope I put the US stamp issued on 20 July 1989 commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Moon landing. The envelope was sent back in a protective cover. A good service of the KSC post office.

Website of the Kennedy Space Center: kennedyspacecenter.com.

Date sent: 3 May 2017
Date postmark: 15 May 2017
Date received: 23 May 2017
Number of days: 20
Envelope in collection: 93





Tuesday, 26 June 2018

United States of America - Michigan

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 Michigan, lying in the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions of the United States. It was the 26th state, admitted in 1837.

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 Michigan stamp from the 1981 State Bird & Flower series. I sent the envelope to the post office in the capital Lansing to be postmarked. The envelope arrived back with three nice postmarks from USPS Lansing post office. Unfortunately there was also a machine cancellation at the top of the envelope.

Date sent: 4 May 2017
Date postmark: 15 May 2017
Date received: 20 May 2017
Number of days: 16
Envelope in collection: 92



Monday, 25 June 2018

Germany - Nürnberg - 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.

The Philatelie-Shop in Nürnberg can normally be found in the post office building next to the central station. The old post office has been demolished in November 2017 and will be replaced by a new building complex with a hotel, offices and shops. The post office will return there in 2020. In the meantime it is housed in a spacious container next to the location of the former post office (Ausweiche Container). The address for postmark requests is: Bahnhofplatz 3, 90443 Nürnberg, Germany. Opening hours: Mo-Fr 8.30-19.00 h., Sat 9.00-14.00 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: 18 May 2017
Date received: 20 May 2017
Number of days: 9
Envelope in collection: 91



Germany - Erfurt - 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 seems to be one exception and that is the one in Erfurt. When the envelope had arrived back to me I noticed that on the card there was a second imprint of the postmark and on the back was the text "Wir haben nur diesen Stempel am Phila-Schalter" ("We have only this postmark at the philatelic window").

The Philatelie-Shop in Erfurt can be found in the Postbank building at Anger, the central square in Erfurt, lying between Erfurt Cathedral and the central station. Erfurt Cathedral houses Gloriosa, the world's largest free-swinging bell, made by the Dutch bellfounder Geert van Wou in 1497.
The address for postmark requests is: Anger 66, 99084 Erfurt, Germany. Opening hours: Mo-Fr 10.00-18.00 h., Sat 10.00-13.00 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.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 17 May 2017
Date received: 20 May 2017
Number of days: 9
Envelope in collection: 90





Sunday, 24 June 2018

United Nations Geneva

The idea of the United Nations issuing its own stamps was first proposed by Argentina in 1947. An agreement with the United States postal authorities was reached in 1951 and it stipulated that the stamps be denominated in United States currency, and used only at UN Headquarters. The first United Nations stamps were issued in U.S. dollar denominations on United Nations Day, 24 October, in 1951. The stamps were an immediate success and sold out within days. Similar postal agreements were reached with the Swiss and Austrian postal authorities. On 11 December 1968 , an agreement between the United Nations and the Swiss Postal Telephone and Telegraph Enterprise enabled the Geneva office of UNPA to issue the first UN stamps in Swiss francs on 4 October 1969. A similar agreement with the Austrian government on 28 June 1979 enabled the Vienna office of UNPA to issue the first UN stamps in Austrian schillings on 24 August 1979.

UNPA attends a number of stamp shows during the year. In earlier years, especially in the 1980s and 1990s there were a lot more attendances and the blue, white and green exhibition card were popular collection objects. Essen is still one of the shows where UNPA is present every year. 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. For UN Geneva I bought one of the stamps issued for the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, issued on 29 May 2016. Since I left it at a stamp show the envelope automatically got the exhibition cachet. Also UNPA put a priority mark on the cover.

Recent stamps of UNPA can be bought through the UN stamps website: unstamps.org.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 19 May 2017
Date received: 20 May 2017
Number of days: 9
Envelope in collection: 89



Friday, 22 June 2018

United States of America - Connecticut

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 Connecticut, lying in the northeastern region of the United States, it is the southernmost state of New England. It was the 5th 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 Connecticut stamp from the 1981 State Bird & Flower series. I sent the envelope to the post office in the capital Hartford to be postmarked. The envelope arrived back with three nice postmarks from USPS Hartford post office. Unfortunately there was also a machine cancellation at the top of the envelope.

Date sent: 26 April 2017
Date postmark: 16 May 2017
Date received: 20 May 2017
Number of days: 24
Envelope in collection: 88



Thursday, 21 June 2018

Madeira

Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal. The capital of Madeira is Funchal, which is located on the main island's south coast. Since 1976, the archipelago has been one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal (the other being the Azores, located to the northwest). It includes the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo, and the Desertas, administered together with the separate archipelago of the Savage Islands. The region has political and administrative autonomy. Today, it is a popular year-round resort, being visited every year by about 1,4 million tourists, almost five times its population. The region is noted for its Madeira wine, gastronomy, historical and cultural value, flora and fauna, landscapes (Laurel forest) which are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and embroidery artisans. The most famous Madeiran is football player Cristiano Ronaldo.

On 1 January 1868, Portugal issued postage stamps for the islands of Madeira, consisting of the current stamps of Portugal overprinted "MADEIRA". Subsequent stamps were also overprinted, through 1881. The first stamps inscribed for Madeira were part of the Vasco da Gama Issue of 1898. Subsequently Madeira used stamps of Portugal, with two exceptions; the first was the Pombal Issue of postal tax stamps in 1925, and a variant on the Ceres design, issued 1 May 1928. The 21 values of Ceres stamps were obligatory on all mail for eight days in 1928 and 1929. The funds raised went to help build a museum. The Ceres stamps were the last to be produced for Madeira until 1980, when Portugal began issuing stamps inscribed "Portugal Madeira" that were valid in both Madeira and continental Portugal, similar to those issued for the Azores.

I sent a blank envelope to the Funchal main post office with an International Reply Coupon. After 33 days it came back with a stamp from the series Festa da Flor from 2015.

Stamps from Madeira can bought through the website of CTT, the Portuguese postal company: ctt.pt.

Date sent: 17 April 2017
Date postmark: 17 May 2017
Date received: 20 May 2017
Number of days: 33
Envelope in collection: 87



Malta

The islands of Malta, which include sister islands Gozo and Comino, are situated in the Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles south of Sicily. With a history spanning over 7000 years, and at the crossroads of strategic maritime routes, Malta has been a home, stronghold, trading post and refuge to many civilizations.
The Islands have been described as a melting pot of cultures: Neolithic temple builders, seafaring Phoenicians, the traveller Apostle Paul, the Knights of St. John, Napoleon and the British royalty – all have left their indelible mark. Malta is now an independent sovereign nation and a member of both the EU and the Commonwealth.
Malta’s philatelic history goes back to 1860 and, with access to such a rich source of material, Maltese stamps are renowned around the world for their unique depiction of a wide variety of popular themes: history, architecture, art, maritime, flora and fauna to name but a few. Many Maltese stamps are mini reproductions of artwork produced by local artists, and are much sought after by collectors and philatelists, both locally and internationally.

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 one from the Europa series 2017 with the theme Castles. It shows St Agatha Tower, also known as the Red Tower, built in 1647 during the reign of Grand Master Lascaris de Castellar. The Tower commands views over Mellieha Bay, Comino as well as Gozo. When built it held five cannon and its strategic position ensured that signals could be relayed all the way to Valletta. It was painted red so it could be easily visible from as far as Naxxar and Mdina. During the British period, it was used as a defence post and also as a radar station by the Armed Forces of Malta. In 2015, the Tower was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the popular travel website, TripAdvisor.
The stamp was postmarked with the datestamp of the Philatelic Bureau of Malta Post.

This and other stamps can be found on the philatelic website of Malta Post: maltaphilately.com.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 16 May 2017
Date received: 19 May 2017
Number of days: 8
Envelope in collection: 86



Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Guernsey

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is made up of a number of main islands as well as a few smaller islets. It is situated in the English Channel and, although Guernsey is geographically much closer to France than the UK, it is loyal to the British crown. Today the Bailiwick of Guernsey is self-governing, has its own currency and stamps and enjoys the same level of independence it has had since first becoming associated with England in 1066, when William II of Normandy defeated King Harold and the Duchy of Normandy and England became one. Prior to this the Channel Islands had been part of the Duchy since the mid-tenth century. Also belonging to Guernsey are the islands Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Lihou.
A favourable tax climate means that finance is now one of Guernsey’s main industries with many offshore banks, fund managers and insurance companies having a presence on the Island. The more traditional industries of flower growing, fishing and dairy farming still play an important part in Island life, contributing both to the varied economy and to the island's character.

In 1969 the States of Guernsey took over the running of postal services from the British government and began to design and produce its own stamps.

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 shows the R.M. Underground Railway from 1927. It is part of a 2016 series for 500 years of postal history. Apparently I didn't pay enough postage because when the envelope arrived at my home there was a 9p stamp added to it. The priority label was also added by Guernsey Post.

Website of the philatelic service of Guernsey Post: guernseystamps.com.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 17 May 2017
Date received: 19 May 2017
Number of days: 8
Envelope in collection: 85



Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Germany - Bremen - 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.

The Philatelie-Shop in Bremen can be found in the post office building acrosse the street from Bremen Cathedral in the city centre. The address for postmark requests is: Domsheide 15, 28195 Bremen, Germany. Opening hours: Mo-Fr 9.00-19.00 h., Sat 9.30-13.30 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. When it returned there was a nice letter in the envelope with the message that the old datestamp of the Philatelie-Shop did not exist anymore and was replaced with the one with 'ps' in it. Alternatively they could also send me the pictorial postmark.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 17 May 2017
Date received: 19 May 2017
Number of days: 8
Envelope in collection: 84




Monday, 18 June 2018

Lithuania

The republic of Lithuania is one of the Baltic republics in the northeast of Europe with 2,8 million inhabitants. It is situated between Latvia, Belarus, Poland and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

The first Lithuanian state was created in 1253. It became the largest country in Europe in the 14th century. Later the largest part of Lithuania was annexed by the Russian empire. At the end of World War I, Lithuania declared its independence. In 1940 the country was occupied by the Soviet Union and later became a Soviet republic. Finally on 11 March 1990 the Supreme Council announced the restoration of the independence and Lithuania broke away from the USSR.

Lithuania used its own stamps from 1918 to 1940 after which stamps of the Soviet Union were used. Since the declaration of independence new stamps were issued. Each year some 30 stamps and sheets are put into circulation.

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 one of the Europa stamps for 2017 and the postmark is from Vilnius. The priority label was put there by Lietuvos paštas (Lithuanian Post).

The website of the philately section of Lietuvos paštas: post.lt/philately.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 17 May 2017
Date received: 19 May 2017
Number of days: 8
Envelope in collection: 83



Sunday, 17 June 2018

Peterspost

The company Peterspost is delivering correspondence in Russia and other countries. The Peterspost headquarters is in Espoo (Finland), the Russian headquarters is in St. Petersburg. There are post offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Helsinki. Delivering mail is done by the Peterspost postal workers and couriers and partners like national postal companies.

Mail to Russia can be sent to the post office in Espoo where it will be forwarded to the Russian addressee. For this Peterspost issues stamps in Russian rubles and euros. All stamps are issued in souvenir sheets and small sheets which makes building a complete collection an expensive affair.

Peterspost had a stand at the Briefmarken-Messe in Essen in May 2017 where I bought a stamp for a letter to Europe. I left my envelope in a special postbox. It was postmarked four days later in St. Petersburg and the next day the stamp was cancelled in Helsinki. Also a Finnish personal first class stamp was added, so it is not clear what paid for the transport to the Netherlands.

The website of Peterspost (in Russian): peterspost.ru. There is also a webshop to buy stamps in English: peterstamps.com.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 16 May 2017
Date received: 18 May 2017
Number of days: 7
Envelope in collection: 82



Saturday, 16 June 2018

Aland

The archipelago of Aland is an autonomous province of Finland. It is the only Swedish speaking region of Finland with almost 30.000 inhabitants. In 1921 the League of Nations decided that Aland should be governed by Finland and not Sweden. The region was demilitarized and the rights of the Swedish speaking people were guaranteed. When Finland joined the European Union in 1995, certain rights of the islands were preserved.

In 1984 the first stamps for Aland were issued by the Finnish postal administration in cooperation with the Aland government. From 1 January 1993 Aland Post became an independent postal administration. Aland issues a reasonable amount of stamps each year with a lot of attention for local subjects and culture.

For the envelope I bought the latest Europa stamp from the Aland postal administration at the Briefmarken-Messe in Essen in May 2017 and left the envelope with them. Within a week it arrived at my home. The postmark is from the central postal terminal and the priority label was affixed by Aland Post.

Website of Aland Post (in English): alandstamps.com.

Date sent: 11 May 2017
Date postmark: 15 May 2017
Date received: 18 May 2017
Number of days: 7
Envelope in collection: 81