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      News — Philatelic Friday

      Philatelic Friday: Chad Insects & Spiders

      Chad Insects

      1972 Republic of Chad

      I found this complete set of five Chadian stamps in one of many glassine envelopes that I apparently acquired in the 80's from the Jamestown Stamp Company. The spiders are the most striking, with their stylized colored webs, although the almost psychedelic background of the rhino beetle holds its own.

      Philatelic Friday: Vietnam Unified

      So yeah, it's been quite a while since my last Philatelic Friday post, but what's a year here or there? I was spurred on by finding an old binder (a Mead Organizer with a puppy and kitten on it--total 80's style) full of more stamps (it's funny how I don't even remember having collected so many). I have several sheets with stamps from different countries and this Vietnamese stamp caught my interest with its rather contemporary design and great color scheme.

      Vietnamese Stamp
      1976 Vietnam

      It didn't occur to me how difficult it would be to pin down some information on the stamp. Searching the text brought up lots of Vietnamese language pages which wasn't too helpful. Finally I pinned down this page and translated it to find that this seems to be half of a stamp set issued in 1976 marking the re-unification of the country. According to this Wikipedia page about the postal history of Vietnam, these must have been issued in July/August as it still has the name of the North Vietnamese state printed on them (the text along the top). The whole page is an interesting read as you consider that stamps were originally issued there in 1862 under French colonial rule and then there was a Northern and Southern state. Anyhow, that's a lot of history for a 12-cents stamp!

      Philatelic Friday: Magpie Moth

      1970 New Zealand (overprinted 1971 or 1973)

      This seemingly simple stamp from my shoebox led me down a bit of a rabbit hole. I picked it out because of its bright colors and appealing design of a Magpie Moth and I figured the price change didn't get in the way too much. So the original stamp comes from this lovely set of pictorials from 1970 and was designed by Eileen Mayo, but like all printed matter that goes through multiple passes, errors can occur, which you can see documented here. When the rate increased in 1971, there was no longer a use for 2½¢ stamps so they decided to overprint the stamp with a surcharge (which still kind of blows my mind as it seems like a lot of extra, and not so attractive, trouble to go through, but there were more than 37 million stamps left), and apparently the way the surcharge was printed can affect its value. There are actually three variations of the overprint: photogravure on un-perforated sheets and letterpress on perforated single sheets done in England in 1971, and then a letterpress overprinting in New Zealand in 1973. It's kind of amazing to think of all the details and work that went into this little stamp.

      Philatelic Friday Plus: Lin Zexu

      This installment of stamps from my shoebox gets an extra family/travelogue spin.

      stamp 1985 China; portrait and my brother George at a memorial in Humen, China

      I vaguely remember receiving these stamps when I was younger and being told that we're related to the subject, Lin Zexu, who started the first Opium War. In truth, he is related to our grandma's cousin, so our claim on him is a bit tenuous, but I always thought it was cool that a distant relative was stamp-worthy. As it turns out, he has not only been commemorated on stamps (these were to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth), but there are several memorials and statues of him and he is celebrated as a Chinese hero, scholar, and patriot.

      1985 China

      We had some down time on our recent trip and took the hour drive from Dongguan City to Humen's Weiyuan Emplacement, the site of the burning of opium in the above stamp. You can walk through the battlements looking out on the Pearl River and tour a museum that is devoted to the Opium Wars. It had a lot of information and presumed artifacts, but it wasn't presented in a particularly coherent way (maybe it was just a translation issue). It also had a wing entitled "National Education Base for Anti Drugabuse" which we found comical in its attempt to scare people into not trying drugs. It was a particularly hot day so we didn't stay long enough to tour the whole area, but it was definitely an interesting historical site and a testament to how history is made by individuals.

      Weiyuan Fort below one of China's longest suspension bridges

      walking inside

      almost every cannon had tourists posing on it--funny to think of how many people will have the same exact shot of their visit


      I really liked the design of their tickets. It was free to get in, but you had to show your passport.

      Humen Naval Battle Museum

      Pictures weren't allowed in the museum, but I couldn't help myself in the Anti Drug hall. I wish I could have properly captured the entrance relief sculptures of the horrors of drugs, but here's an idea. I don't mean to make light of drug abuse, but their approach was so propagandist and over the top.


      uh, don't do drugs or you'll end up sitting in front of a chain link fenced graffiti wall

      Philatelic Friday: Christmas in July

      I'm still not totally sure how the whole "Christmas in July" thing seeped into our consciousness, but Wikipedia does give the history a go. I'm just taking it as an opportunity to show off some of the myriad of Christmas stamps from my box. Seems like the majority are from Canada so here's a gander at what our friends to the north have offered in Christmases past!