Monday, November 26, 2007

2008 Year of the Rat

Hello readers: Just to let you know, that the year 2008 is the year of the rat in Chinese Zodiac. I know some people who are born in the year of rat and they are indeed very ambitions people.
If you are born in that year, you are welcomed to leave me your address and I will send a cover to you at the beginning of 2008.

If your countries issue Zodiac stamps, please send me a cover if you are able to, if not, it's ok with me, it's a token of friendship.

The US will issue this stamp for it's new Chinese Zodiac series in 2008. This is the first stamp in the 12-year series. I don't like the design very much because I think it lack originality. The images of red lanterns are very common in Chinese society. Yea, I am a hard to please girl. :)

The Year Of The Rat - Characteristics
1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996

People born in the Year of the Rat are noted for their charm and attraction for the opposite sex.
They work hard to achieve their goals, acquire possessions, and are likely to be perfectionists.
They are basically thrifty with money. Rat people are easily angered and love to gossip.
Their ambitions are big, and they are usually very successful.
They are most compatible with people born in the years of the Dragon, Monkey, and Ox.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

washington 2006 -Russia

Last year, I had the good fortune to attend a world class stamp exhibition in Washington DC. It was the first world stamp exhibition that I have ever attended at that kind of scale. The place was huge, definitely size of a football field. There were so much to see, so much to do and so little time even though I stayed there for a week. I am sure there will be more to come and that I will attend even more stamp shows in the future, but the first is always more memorable than the rest.

One of my main activities during the show was to visit all the different foreign postal administrations. I think more than 50 countries came, more or less, which was great. You know, the chance of seeing new issues from 50 countries at the same time and at face value is rare. Most of the world class stamp exhibitions only take place once every 10 years for the host country.

I stopped by the Russian postal booth because I have always liked stamps from Russia. Maybe it's because of the funny looking Russian alphabets? or whatever it is .. :) but I think Russian stamps are pretty. I asked the lady behind the booth if she can sell me stamps worth the rate of sending a letter from Russia to the USA, but the lady didn't speak English. After about 10 minutes of sign language and body gestures, I finally bought a set of stamps issued in 2001, beautiful paintings of the city of St. Petersburg. I knew it was about St. Petersburg because the lady kept saying St. Petersburg, haha... I bought the whole set thinking the postage will be enough to mail a letter from Russia to the USA but I was wrong!

A while later when I affixed all the stamps on an envelope and handing it to the lady, at the same time, another lady appeared and she spoke English and she asked me if I needed help, so I handed the letter to her instead. She looked at it and asked if I wanted to have the letter mailed from Russia and I said yes. She was like, oh no, the postage is not enough, and she took a 100 p definitive stamp and put it on the envelope. I asked her how much and she was like, it's ok, no need. I was thrilled. About a month later, I received my envelope back. It was very nice, first self-made letter from Russia. Although, to this day I still have no idea why she put a 100p stamp on the envelope, the 100 seemed very high!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yoda - May the force be with you.

2 weeks ago at our twice-a-year philatelic stamp show here in New York, a new (or not exactly new) star wars stamp had been issued. Guess who? It was our master Yoda! A funny looking, definitely old, but wise Jedi master in the famous Star Wars series. The stamp was originally issued to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the films "Star Wars" One wonders if this is such a big occasion that it deserves to be shown on a stamp? I don't know, the USPS only thinks of money, so I guess it is!

The promotional postcard stamp collectors received from the organizers had a picture of Yoda. I've never created a maxicard before so I thought maybe I can make one out from this postcard since the theme matches so perfectly. It might not be a valid one, but hey, who cares. Here I come Master Yoda!

Can you see him?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Stamps from Thailand

Last week I was very busy yet satisfying because I'd received my order from Thai Post! Continuing my search for postal authorities who use stamps on their philatelic orders, I found Thai Post to be the best among them. The number of stamps used on the covers was incredible. I counted 14 of them and they are complete sets! There is a recent issue of traditional Thai beetle arts, which I like very much. The silhouette of the queen is gold foiled. There were also a set of 4 showing Thai temples. Very nice cover, although I do wish that the envelope is a little smaller.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

50th Anniversary of the Space Age

On October 25th, 2007, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue six commemorative stamps in a mini-sheet format in the denominations of 41¢, 90¢, F.s. 1,00, F.s. 1,80, € 0,65 and € 1,15 on the theme “Space for Humanity—50th Anniversary of the Space Age”.

I think this is a really nice set of stamps. UN has not had a set with a space theme for a while, the last one I can think of right now had something to do with Mars? Quite a lot of countries are issuing stamps commemorating this achievement. Such as this cover from Sebastien, sorry Sebastien, I thought it was from Eric...Um..there seems to be a thousand Erics in France who collect stamps :)

Postmark is quite nice isn't it? I am preparing to mail about 10 covers with the UN stamps tomorrow to collector friends. Honestly, I am sorry to my friends because I have not had time for any philatelic activity for most of this year. I am too busy... :(

I will try to take some pictures, but..I can't guarantee because I might only have 2 hours there then I need to go back to work.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Postal Administrations and Stamped Envelopes

Just finished reading an interesting article by Eric regarding receiving his philatelic order packaged in an envelope with real postage stamps. The order was placed with Guinness Post. As many of you come to realize nowadays, most postal administrations simply stopped using stamps on their philatelic orders, which is a real turn down to us collectors. It is like the farmer who sells apples does not eat his own apple. I remember years ago when I used to pick up my new issue bulletins in a stamped envelopes from Hong Kong Post, and religiously cut out the stamps for my collection. Some of the stamps from that period made a long lasting impression on me, such as the jasmine tea scented stamps, the water-drop shaped stamps, the film stars stamps and all the different varieties of pictorial cancellation . I think Hong Kong post had never realized that the stamps they put on the covers were actually an extended form of advertisement and spoke more about their products than just postage.

Of the postal administrations I know that still use stamps on their envelopes are: UNPA, Portugal, Sweden, Greenland, St. Helena and now Guinness Post. There might be others out there that I didn't know about, so I hope more people will write about their experiences with the postal administrations.

I came to know about the postal administration of St. Helena because of an article written by Jimmy, another prolific blogger about stamps. This really tells you how information has been flowing around when people speaks up about the hobby. He showed a cover that he received from St. Helena when he ordered some stamps from them. I was amazed by the stamps they used on the cover so I ordered some stamps from them to try it out. Indeed my envelope came with stamps on it.

The UNPA also likes to use stamps on their orders. Most of the time, they even apply FD cancellations. Sweden doesn’t really send their stuff with stamps, but on a few occasions, I’ve gotten envelopes from them with stamps. Hope someone will talk about their experience with Sweden.

Greenland uses beautiful stamps, I love the eagle stamps they used on their international mail.

I'll post some pictures when I come back from my trip to Canada!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New issues from UN

Just received my new issues bulletin from the UNPA today. In the forth coming months, we'll be seeing some really nice new issues from UN. The watercolor paintings for the “Peaceful Visions" stamps are particularly inspiring and dreamy in a way.

I especially liked the postmark because it's very artistic but simple and clean. The bulletin has mentioned a show cachet, but didn't show the image. I always liked show cachets because it's like a little enhancement to the overall presentation of the cover.

So, the Peaceful Visions stamps are in June, then what's in May? Well, it's the 2nd set of stamps from the coin and flag series. Honestly, I am not a big fan of this series because there were no creativity. I thought that the UNPA can play with it since so many countries will be represented. Oh well, you can't please everyone right? Hehe...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

China's Pet dog stamps

Year 2006 was the year of dog. Dogs have traditionally been considered as human's best friends. So then, it was not surprising that China Post issued a set of 4 stamps to showcase some of the rarest and most popular pet dogs in China.

The Tibetan Mastiff is a large, powerful, and well built dog but with a noble and gentle appearance. The dogs are well adapted to the climates of the Himalayas and to the harsh high mountain living. For thousands of years, it has served as guardian and protector of live stocks, homes and traveling caravans of the Tibetan people. Very little was known about them until in recent years, when having them as pets have become popular in the Western world. Today, pure Tibetan Mastiff is hard to find, but dedicated and concerned breeders continue to promote awareness for the well being these impressive dogs.     Info: American Tibetan Mastiff Association

The Pekingese dog has been a companion dog of kings and queens for centuries. They were one of the purest and oldest breed of dogs in the world due to their exclusive function as royal pets. Their appearance has hardly changed at all. Because they look like miniature lions, their name in Chinese means "the lion dog". An interesting story I found in Wikipedia is that the Empress CiXi of China liked to present these dogs to her American friends. One of them was presented to the daughter of Ted Roosevelt.     
Info: Wikipedia

Below is an old photo of a Pekingese from 1912.
They certainly know how to take good pictures of dogs back then.

Pugs are really popular as pet dogs. They have a very wrinkly face and very large eyes. They are generally small with short but stout legs and very cheerful.


Chow Chow dogs are puffy looking dogs the I really like. Their name in Chinese means "puffy lion dog", which suits them alright. They probably originated from Mongolia but I am not sure. They are also very popular pet dogs and I see them on the street all the time.  I found an article online about Chow Chow。 It says "There is a beautiful and ancient fairy-tale that says that while God painted the sky blue, he was followed by a determined Chow Chow who licked up the drops that fell with his tongue." That is the reason why Chow Chows have blue tongues. Very imaginative indeed.  Info: The ChowChow Blog

Finally, here's a cover I received last year. Love and take care of your pets.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

ShiWan Figurines

On Feb 3, China post has issued a set of 2 stamps depicting ShiWan Figurines, so maybe just a little bit of our rich ceramic making history today.   Credit:周俊容 2 MCs for the set of ShiWan figurines

The ShiWan Kiln in present day GuangDong province, has been in business since at least before the Song Dynasty (960-1279) . Although ceramic produced from ShiWan may not be as highly regarded as the other Kilns such as the Jun, Ding, Guan, Ge, and Ru kilns, which were official kilns for the royal family, it has made it’s mark as a major branch of practical and decorative ceramic art. 

During the Ming and Ching dynasty (1368-1911), ShiWan ceramic has reached it’s prime due to the robust international trade in GuangDong. I believe GuangDong was one of a few commercial ports opened to foreign trade in China under the Ching Government. You may notice that many of the Chinese export ceramics sitting at various European museums nowadays were either made in GuangDong and or were once in the trade junks leaving the port of Canton.

In terms of its artis tic style, ShiWan has always had its deep roots in creating and producing ceramics for and by the ordinary commoners. The famed ShiWan ceramic figurines, a major representative kind of the kiln’s style, often depict daily routines and activities of the locals. You may see scenes of old men playing chess, people smoking pipe or drinking tea, fishermen fishing in a boat and so on. 

-Man with a drinking hulu

To add to the artistic value of the figurines, many mythical and historical figures were produced. They are often meticulously crafted, with great attention to the smallest detail, use of thick and colorful glazes, striking contrasts and looking realistic. The fact that it’s not an official kiln for the royal family may have contributed to ShiWan ceramic’s great flexibility as an art form and the wide range of topics it could mold itself to. 

ShiWan ceramic making is a treasure that the Chinese should continue to develope for future generations. Oh, by the way, this is also a joint issue between Macau and China.

The Stamps - China
Left: An elderly man and a young child looking for plum flowers out in the snow.

Right: Princess Zhao Jun leaving the Han Court and journeyed to the outer skirts of the country for her marriage with the XiongNu tribe leader. 

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