Monday, January 31, 2011

Great Australian Railway Journeys, Australia

Another amazing railway-related FDC...this time coming from Australia.

The Aussie PO issued this last May, celebrating the country's most scenic railway trips. There were 4 different stamps issued, which of course you can see attached to the FDC as well.

Australian trains like The Ghan and the Indian Pacific cross the continent from south to north and east to west respectively, covering great distances, often over isolated and difficult terrain. Other routes, such as the West Coast Wilderness Railway on the west coast of Tasmania and Kuranda Scenic Railway in northern Queensland traverse much smaller distances in rugged and precipitous mountainous country. These railways were once the primary means of linking isolated Australian settlements with more populous cities. Today tourists include these routes among the great railway journeys of Australia.

The great Australian railway journeys featured are (from left to right):
* 55c – The Ghan
* 55c – West Coast Wilderness Railway
* 55c – The Indian Pacific
* $2.10 – Kuranda Scenic Railway

Stamps' Width:   37.5 mm
Stamps' Height:  26.0 mm
Perforations:      13.86 by 14.6
Date of Issue:    7 May 2010

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Toše Proeski 1981-2007, Macedonia

This FDC was issued by the Macedonian Post Office in 2007 in honour of one of the most famous Macedonian people ever, Toše Proeski.

Some of you know him, some have no idea who he was, but he was a very important part of the Macedonian music and culture in general, who had touched the hearts of many, not just in Macedonia, but across the Balkans as well, and was, I can freely say so, the best ambassador of our country.
I think that whatever I say about him, wont describe his really had to know him in order to be at least a bit  aware of it so I wont go into details about his biography or career. And for any info youd be interested in, there are many sources about him on the internet. But I just do want to commemorate this day at least somehow.
If the destiny hadnt twisted the paths on 16 October 2007, today this great man would have celebrated his 30th birthday....unfortunately, it is his fans and all the Macedonian people who are left to do so, by attending or organizing all sorts of commemorative concerts and events. But of course, without the celebrator, it is not even close to same.
RIP Toše!

Technical Specifications about the stamp:

Face value: 12 denars
Perforation: Comb
Size: 30.2x40.2mm
Printing technique: Offset
Date of issue: 15/12/2007

The FDC comes with two different cancellations, one with the town of Kruševo, and another one with the city of Skopje. Being that Toše's hometown was Kruševo, I prefer this FDC. And I think that this picture with the pigeon in his hands, pretty much describes the heart and soul this man had.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Railway Construction, China

A lovely cover I received from China, featuring a set of train stamps issued in 2006.

All stamps are of the same value and represent the following respectively:
- the top left stamp is called "Raising Speed and Increasing Capacity"
- the top right stamp is called "Material Transportation"
- the bottom left stamp is called "Border Port Transportation"
- the bottom right stamp is called "Transportation in Agriculture"

the stamps' technical details are:

Date of issue: December 28, 2006
Size of stamps: 50 * 30 mm
Perforation: 13
Sheet composition: 16
Printing process: Photogravure

the issue also includes a souvenir sheet featuring a high-speed train, which according to some sources has been printed with a special technique which allows you, under UV lights, to see the control numbers, a map of China as well as a route map of the Chinese railway. I havent tested this in order to confirm it or deny it (need to find UV lights somewhere first), but if it is true, then that's really interesting.

Size of S/S: 127 * 76 mm
Stamp of S/S: 90 * 40 mm
Perforation: 13.5 * 13

Thanks a lot to Huang for sending these great stamps to me!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

World Champion in Water Polo - Melbourne 2007, Croatia

Apart from tennis and Formula 1, sport related stamps and cards are not really in my scope of collecting...but when something great is received, it is worth to show it, and this cover is a perfect example for that!

Goran used this mini sheet on his letter, which portrays the Croatian water polo team, the world champions of 2007, at the tournament held in Melbourne.

The event lasted from March 19 to April 1, where Croatia had not lost a single match throughout the tournament and had beaten Hungary 9-8 in the final game.
Stipe Karadžole says "Though it may sound unfair in respect to them, but all of the sudden, just like that – quite suddenly – the words “Croatian water polo players” came upon the lips of all of us and at this moment all the adjectives modifying these four words blend into one – magnificent"

no description can demonstrate what water polo players go through in their careers; along with that, they always find themselves shadowed by the more powerful sports and spend their time in swimming pools and fitness centres. Hours, weeks, months and years of training often remain unpaid for at the competition itself. Despite all this, the Croatian water polo had never lost its status in the world framework (or better to say in European frameworks because the almost complete top can be placed within them) but the medal was like the “forbidden fruit”. Particularly the golden one. In the seventies, the water polo players stepped onto the pedestal “only” three times – always a step below the gold: it was silver at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, and silver medals at the European championships in Florence and Kranj. But now the Croatian water polo touched the shiniest pedestal and this is what makes the gold from Melbourne historic. The goalkeepers Vićan and Pavić, the players Hinić, Smodlaka, Đogaš, Vrdoljak, Barač, Burić, Bošković, Bušlje, Kunac, Joković and Marković, the selector Ratko Rudić and the other numerous strong accompanying trumps, all these are the reasons why the Croatian water polo recorded the finest moments in its history in March 2007. The whole scenario had become even more perfect on account of the rivals who were part of their battling path. For years Hungary was the first letter in the ABC of water polo, and not infrequently they were flanked by Serbia. A rough qualitative description would even divide the representative world of water polo in two parts – Hungary and Serbia had made one and all other national teams made the other half of the world. In Australia, though, Rudić’s players managed to break through among the “elevated”. They had won against Serbia in the semi-finals in a wondrous way and then, in the great finals they beat Hungary. This is a team that can be best described in such a way as to compare them to the Brazilians in football. Because Hungary has dominated the water polo since the 19th century; this sport is their national pride, but in the finals Croatia was – “the water polo Brazil”. Frano Vićan rose to the surface from the swimming pool like an octopus and it is one of the unjust matters of this championship that he was not proclaimed the best goalkeeper. The offensive players Smodlaka and Hinić dealt with the foulest business in the swimming pool, Vrdoljak dragged on as a captain in some delicate moments, Bošković showed that what he held in his hands was a canon; Đogaš routinely used his great qualities, while Marković and Joković displayed the fact that they were the future of the Croatian water polo. Referring to Rudić, it suffices to say that he has 21 medals from great competitions to his credit and that he is the coach with the greatest number of trophies of all times. This is why his strong hand, in the water polo intelligence, was priceless. Along with all the individual qualities, what has been built upon, was a top-grade defence, a rationally conceived attack and what the team sport cannot do without: the water polo players have, from the very beginning been cast one into another – the positive team spirit and belief in success have led the thirteen players toward the greatest success of the Croatian water polo in history.

Technical details:

Value (of each stamp):       5 kn
Size:                                             105 x 68 (31,24 x 35,50) mm
Paper:                                          white 102g, gummed
Perforation:                                 Comb,14
Tehnique:                                    Multicoloured Offsetprint, Foil blocking
Date of issue:                              3.5.2007

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Centenary of Railway Service in Hong Kong

An absolutely stunning piece of mail!!!!

This is the official souvenir cover issued by the Hong Kong post regarding the Centenary of its Railway Service. The issue consists of 6 stamps and all can be seen on this cover.

Over the past century, along with the rapid development of Hong Kong, local railway services have expanded to cover an extensive network of destinations. The railway system has advanced in stages with the times and introduced many new trains, from the earliest steam engines to diesel locomotives of the 1950's, to the automated electric trains of today - all for the purpose of providing our community with convenient and reliable train services. On 1 October 2010, the centenary of the railway service in Hong Kong was celebrated. To mark this occasion, Hongkong post issued a set of six stamps showcasing trains from different periods to commemorate important milestones in local railway history.

$1.40 Steam Train - The first train began to steam along the track of the section within Hong Kong of the Kowloon-Canton Railway, from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lo Wu, on 1 October 1910. The steam engines from the early days were gradually replaced by diesel locomotives from the 1950's onward until they were all retired from service in 1962. The building at the upper part of the stamp is the Hong Kong railway museum.

$1.80 Diesel Train - In 1955, diesel trains opened a new page in local railway history. The first two diesel locomotives in Hong Kong, No.51 and No.52, were named Sir Alexander and Lady Maurine respectively. Locomotive Sir Alexander is now kept at the Hong Kong railway museum for public viewing. The building at the upper part of the stamp is the Clock Tower of the then Kowloon-Canton Railway terminus in Tsim Sha Tsui.

$2.40 Electric Train - The 1980's saw an era of electrification in Hong Kong's railway history. The first generation of electric trains, with the driver's cab front painted yellow as shown on the stamp, was in operation from 1982 to 1999. The building at the upper part of the stamp is the old Hung Hom terminus.

$2.50 MTR Passenger Train - Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) commenced construction in 1975 and was officially opened on 1 Octobr 1979, with trains running between Shek Kip Mei and Kwun Tong. Th Metro-Cammell Train or M-TRAIN for short, depicted on the stamp is the longest-serving model used by the MTR. The building at the upper part of the stamp is the International Finance Centre situated above the MTR Hong Kong station.

$3 Kowloon-Guangzhou Through Train - The Kowloon-Guangzhou Through Train (Ktt) has been providing non-stop train services between Hong Kong and Guangzhou since August 1998. The Ktt is the only train service using double-decked direct passenger train. A journey between Hung Hom and Guangzhou East Station takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes. The building at the upper part of the stamp is the MTR Hung Hom Station.

$5 Airport Express Train - Airport Express Train started operation in mid 1998, take as little as 24 minutes to complete the 35.3-kilometre journey between the Airport and Central. The building at the upper part of the stamp is the Hong Kong International Airport from aerial view.

Stamp Printing Details:

- Date of issue: 28 September 2010
- Paper: Paper with security fibres
- Process: Lithography
- Stamp size: 28mm x 45mm
- Stamp Layout: Pane of 25 stamps
- Perforation: 13.6x13.25 (one elliptical perforation on each vertical)
- Design: Clement Yick
-Illustration: Roxy Lau

Thanks a lot to Edward for this one!