To my cover-exchanging friends, please try as much as possible to
as these give a more personal touch to the cover
the Philippine postal service damages the cover with scribbling that highly devalues the aesthetic value of the cover, which is what I am after
or at least same themes when sending covers, but it is okay if this is not possible or if this would be expensive, and
not too small, but maybe around 4"x6" or something like that; big envelopes are not very attractive unless they have many stamps.
Thank you!



An interesting cover here from Italy. The commemorative stamp on the upper right was issued on 12 Feb 08 and celebrates 100 years of the foundation of the first factory of the Olivetti Company. The Olivetti Company, an Italian producer of computers, printers, and other business machines, was founded in 1908 in Ivrea, near Turin, as a typewriter manufacturer, hence the typewriter shown on the design.
Olivetti was famous for the attention it gave to design: "[a] preoccupation with design developed into a comprehensive corporate philosophy, which embraced everything from the shape of a space bar to the color scheme for an advertising poster." In 1952, the Museum of Modern Art held an exhibit titled "Olivetti: Design in Industry"; many Olivetti products remain part of the museum's permanent collection.
Olivetti is today known as Olivetti Technost and is under the Telecom Italia group, although it still maintains a separate identity. It operates in Italy and Switzerland, and has sales associates in 83 countries. Research and development are located in Agliè, Arnad, Carsoli, and Scarmagno in Italy, and Yverdon, Switzerland. Recently the company has started to sell again a line of office fax/scanners/printers devices.

I find it quite odd that a manufacturing company is being featured on a stamp. Perhaps the company has played a major role in the country's society? Frankly, I've never heard of Olivetti before. Are they well-known only in Italy and/or Europe?

The other three stamps on the lower left are most probably definitives as their use is common on Italian mail pieces that I receive and they have realtively low denominations.

The very nice postmark celebrates the 2008 Regate Internazinali, or International Regatta, which seems to be a series of boat races and rowing events held yearly in Genova by the Yacht Club Italiano. The cancel was applied on 26 April 08 at Livorno,
a port city on the Ligurian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany, Italy. Some intersting things about Livorno:
  • Livorno was defined as an "ideal town" during the Italian Renaissance.
  • Politically, Livorno is one of the most left-leaning cities of Italy. The Communist Party of Italy21 January1921.
  • Livorno inhabitants speak a colourful variant of the Tuscan dialect of Italy named vernacolo, which is especially characterized by the popular interjection , which has a very wide range of meanings, usually recognizable only by the tone of the pronunciation, and a tourist is soon discovered if they pronounce the word as , because it is not the correct pronunciation.



Above we have a size 10 envelope from Australia with a panel of 6 stamps, 6 of which have postage value. These three stamps are part of a set of five issued on 12 Sep 2007. The stamps collectively depict the major botanic gardens from across Australia - Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

I was quite surprised to learn while researching on these stamps that, according to some studies, more than forty percent of all Australians over the age of 15 visit at least one botanic garden every year and that going to the botanic gardens are second only to cinemas in terms of cultural venues! Australians must really love gardens!

Actually, being the nature lover that I am, I myself like gardens and gardening. I've been been to Butchart in Victoria, BC, Canada, which is quite breathtaking and relaxing to the eye, as well as the National Orchid Garden in Singapore, which is also nice. I have yet to visit Australia and have admittedly never heard of the Australian botanic gardens (as I am not a garden enthusiast), but judging from the stamps, I understand why quite a large sum of Australians still visit these places in this day and age when most confine themselves to the comforts of their couch or desktop. I do hope to one day visit these gardens and take in the sights myself. Gardens offer a sense of inner peace and tranquility and I really think I need some of that!

Going back to the stamps, the cover was postmarked at Fairfield, a suburb 29 km west of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, on the 23rd of April 2008.


Here we have a neat cover with a se-tenant strip of WWF stamps showing birds. It is part of a sheet of 8 issued on 31 Oct 2003. The stamps feature the Osprey, a bird that preys on fish and catches them with its talons. The osprey is much admired by many for its gracious swoops and sharp eyes. Ospreys are cousins to eagles, which also prey on fish in a similar manner. More on the osprey and on this issue from the Poczta Polska wesbite:

Osprey - cousin of the eagle - is one of the most splendid carnivores birds that is possible to see in Poland. His weight can be even one and a half kilo. It has a slim silhouette and long wings that he does not spread quite horizontally when flying, like other eagles, but keep them slightly tucked up.. From the upper side completely dark, the bottom side and the head is white. There is a dark color strip running by his eye.

They are hunting on fishes as we can see from the name. It does it however in a different way then most of other birds feeding themselves with fishes. It catches the fishes with his legs. The hunting is very spectacular. He glides and when he sees a potential prey he falls down and attacks with his claws, diving.

Osprey is a species under protection in Poland. There is now only about 30 couples of ospreys in Poland, mainly in north of the country. In Upper Silesia it is possible to see them during their transit flights especially in September and October. At this time there are transiting birds from Scandinavia. A complete protection of its nestling places and interdiction of killing all carnivores birds during their transits allowed to protect the population of the osprey and now the declining of their number has been stopped.

The introduced just now into circulation post stamp is the second one after the issue from 1985.

"Wild animals under protection - the wolf", a set issue by Polish Post in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Polish Post got the license to use the picture of Panda and the trade mark of WWF, which are on our stamps, authorization granted by WWF, the owner of the registered trade mark.

The World Wide Fund for Nature has been founded in 1961 as an international organization which task was to hold up and then to revert the processes of degradation of the natural environment of our planet. Besides the efforts in preservation of the nature WWF works on awaking the social consciousness of private, social and political people.

[sic] on all the awkward English, but I guess the excerpt is quite understandable as it is.

The stamps were machine-canceled at Krakow, the formal national capital and one of the largest and oldest of Poland's cities with a history of more than a thousand years, in March of 2008.



Here is another relatively old cover sent to me from France last year. I am posting it because it has a beautiful array of stamps all tied with a very nice postmark made specially for philately. The souvenir-sheet-like sheet on the left is was actually cut out from a larger souvenir sheet shown below:

This sheet was titled "Les Phares," which translates to "The Lighthouses." This was issued on 12 November 2007.

The Lighthouse at Ar-Men shown in the stamp is located off the coast of Brittany. It is quite interesting as it was quite a challenge to build:
The lighthouse at Armen, the most legendary of all, is built on a rock which emerges to a height of just 1.50 meters at low tide, right in the middle of the Raz de Sein. When time allowed, the construction workers drilled a hole for the future anchoring bars. The first year they drilled only 15 holes and only 34 the next year. Throughout the whole of the year 1870, they could only work for 8 hours and for 6 hours in 1873. The construction of Armen was to take 14 years.
The stamp below the lighthouse "souvenir sheet" which shows a raccoon was issued on 30 April 2007 . It is one of the stamps in a set of four animal stamps. The reason behind the issue of this set wasn't mentioned in the website, but I did notice that all the four animals in the set (Jaguar, Raccoon, Antillean Iguana, and the Petrel of Barau) are all from the South America-Caribbean area.

The stamp of the upper right was issued on 12 Nov 2007 and shows the Galerie des Glaces, a parlor in the Palace of Versailles and a significant place in world history because it is the room where the Treaty of Versailles, which ended WI, was signed. More on the hall:
The principal feature of this famous hall, which was the most remarkable of King Louis XIV's building campaign in the 1670's, is the seventeen mirror-clad arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows that overlook the gardens. Each arch contains twenty-one mirrors with a total complement of 357 used in the decoration of the galerie des glaces. The arches themselves are fixed upon marble pilasters whose capitals depict the symbols of France. These gilded bronze capitals include the fleur-de-lys and the Gallic cockerel or rooster. Many of the other attributes of the Hall of Mirrors were lost to war for financial purposes, such as the silver table pieces and lamp holders were melted by order of Louis XIV in 1689 to finance the War of the League of Augsburg.
A note of interest: the "Galerie des Glaces" should translate as the "Hall of Mirrors," but it comes out as the "Gallery of Ice Creams" if you are not careful with your accent.

The stamps were all tied to the cover on the 11th of December 2007 at 42 St. Etienne, Grande Poste.


Wow! It's been quite a while since my last post! Been so busy lately that I never found enough time to just sit down and write about stamps. Anyway, for my next few posts, I'm going to backtrack a bit and show some covers I received quite some time ago. I really liked these ones and wanted to share them for others to appreciate.

The covers we have here is obviously from Malaysia. One has a souvenir sheet and the other a 4v set; both commemorate the 50th year of Malaysian independence. As you may recall from my first post, Malaysia also issued a 2v set in 2003 to celebrate its 46th Independence day. Here we have souvenir sheet and a 4v set that celebrate the 50th.

These stamps were actually collages that celebrate everything Malaysian, and each stamp has it unique title. Clockwise from the upper left, the titles are: Religious Diversity and Tolerance, Cultures and Craft of Unity, Flora and Fauna, and Golden Treasures of the Sea.

The stamps were issued on 19 March 2007. The site did not say whether or not the souvenir sheet was issued on the same day, but I assume they were.

Unfortunately, the cancels are quite unreadable, but I recall that these envelopes were sent sometime in Dec 2007/January 2008.

A little more on Malaysian history and independence:

Following the Japanese Invasion of Malaya and its occupation during World War II, popular support for independence grew. Post-war British plans to unite the administration of Malaya under a single crown colony called the Malayan Union foundered on strong opposition from the Malays, who opposed the emasculation of the Malay rulers and the granting of citizenship to the ethnic Chinese. The Malayan Union, established in 1946 and consisting of all the British possessions in Malaya with the exception of Singapore, was dissolved in 1948 and replaced by the Federation of Malaya, which restored the autonomy of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection.

During this time, rebels under the leadership of the Malayan Communist Party launched guerrilla operations designed to force the British out of Malaya. The Malayan Emergency, as it was known, lasted from 1948 to 1960, and involved a long anti-insurgency campaign by Commonwealth troops in Malaya. Although the insurgency quickly stopped there was still a presence of Commonwealth troops, with the backdrop of the Cold War. Against this backdrop, independence for the Federation within the Commonwealth was granted on 31 August 1957.
2007 was Tahun Melawat Malaysia or Visit Malaysia year and the government had a campaign to encourage tourists to visit the country. I remember seeing a billboard along the highway here in the Philippines and I must admit that I was quite surprised to see the Malaysian government advertising even within Southeast Asia!

I myself visited Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru in May of that year and was lucky enough to avail myself of a few promos and discounts that the government was giving to tourists in celebration of the said event. Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful place. I stayed at a hotel near the Petronas towers and KLCC and had a great time walking around the streets and shopping at Suria mall, which is located at the base of the Petronas Towers. Kuala Lumpur was very first-world and, thankfully, very clean. This is, however, in stark contrast to Johor Bahru, which is on the tip of the Malay peninsula and the closest Malaysian city to SIngapore. I happened to pass through Johor en route to KL and was disappointed to see that it differed very little from Manila in that it was dirty, crowded, polluted, and - er- unsafe. I planned on staying the night but decided in favor of the contrary lest any fortuitous event occur during my stay.



A pleasant cover from
South Korea here with two triangular stamps and a definitive bird stamp.

The two triangular stamps actually make up a souvenir sheet that was released 01 Aug 2007 and entitled "Philately Week Special." The S/S shows Korea's first stamps (5-Mun, 10-Mun). More info on the issue from the Korea Post website:
This year's special stamp issued to commemorate the "Philately Week" will take the form of "stamps in a stamp." The inner stamps are composed of a "5-Mun" unit stamp and a "10-Mun" unit stamp (Mun used to be a Korean currency unit), two stamps that were actually issued and used among the "Mun unit" series stamps, Korea's first stamps. In addition, this special stamp will be a photochromic stamp: a light-sensitive pigment which changes color when exposed to ultraviolet light is capsulated and applied to the stamp printing: The letter '???þ' on the two sides of the "5-Mun" unit stamp and the letter '???þ' on the two sides of the "10-Mun" unit stamp were printed with light-sensitive ink. As a result, the letters, which normally have no color, turn red when exposed to ultraviolet-containing sunlight. This special stamp will provide fun and delight to stamp collectors.

I really wish that the whole S/S was affixed onto the cover, but I guess that would take up too much space! But I am nonetheless very thankful to get such nice stamps on this cover, especially since the theme of the stamps is one of my favorites!

The smaller definitive on the left was issued on 17 Jan 2000 and is aptly entitled Definitive Postage Stamp (20 won). It depicts a black-crowned night heron, which is further described as follows:

The black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) is a summer migrant bird of the family Ardeidae. The bird spends the summer in Korea and flies to Southeast Asia in early autumn. About 57 cm long, both male and female birds look alike, with greenish-blue lustrous black heads and backs. It is white on the cheeks, under the chin, and on the breast and belly, while black on the beak and yellow on the legs. It builds nests on the branches of Japan cedars, pine trees or thickets of assorted shrubs, where it lays three to six eggs. This nocturnal bird roosts on rice paddies, ponds, and fields of reeds during the day and begins to hunt for food at night. The black-crowned night heron eats primarily fish, shrimps, frogs, snakes, and insects. This species breeds from central regions of Korea, Japan, Sakhalin, Eurasia, and Africa and spends the winter in Taiwan, the Philippines, the Malay peninsula, and Indochina.

Interesting how there is a mention of these birds in the Philippines, but I have never seen them here. Or maybe that's because I spend most of my time in the city.....

The cover as a whole is very neatly arranged with a very clear postmark and "AIRMAIL" franking and this is something to appreciate as most mails these days have unintelligible postmarks....

The cover was sent from Gang-nam-gu, a district in the Korean capital of Seoul, on the fourth of April 2008.



Okay, here's a cover from a hard-to-get place: Mauritius! Before we go on, a little more on Mauritius's location to get an idea of how utterly remote it is (no offense to Mauritians and Mauritius lovers):
Mauritius is an island nation off the coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 560 mi east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic of Mauritius includes the islands of St. Brandon, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Réunion 125 mi to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 240 mi to the northeast.

I remember watching an episode of the Amazing Race (I forget which season) where they were made to visit Mauritius. Mauritius seemed like a very beautiful place judging from the show, and I hope to one day pay it a visit.

Moving on, there are five awesome stamps on this cover. The two on top are part of a series of 12 issued in 2000.

The stamps on this show the Vielle and the Ange.

The stamp under the Re 1 Vielle stamp, iaauws in 2007, commeorates the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Manilall Doctor. Doctor was an Indian-born, London educated lawyer and politician, who travelled to numerous countries of the British Empire, including Fiji, Mauritius and Aden, providing legal assistance to the local ethnic Indian population. He met Gandhi, who asked him to go to Mauritius and later informed him him of the need for a barrister in Fiji. In his attempt to help the down-trodden, he was frequently on a collision course with local authorities and was deported from Fiji and barred from practising law in several colonies.

Next to the Manilall Doctor stamp is a stamp of the Acropora Rodiguensis, which appears to be a type of coral (perhaps native to Mauritius?). This stamp was also issued in 2007.

The last stamp on the very bottom, also issued in 2007, features the Dodo Bird, which is infamous for its extinction:

The dodo was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter tall, weighing about 20 kilograms, living on fruit and nesting on the ground.

The dodo has been extinct since the mid-to-late 17th century.[1] It is commonly used as the archetype of an extinct species because its extinction occurred during recorded human history, and was directly attributable to human activity. The adjective phrase "as dead as a dodo" means undoubtedly and unquestionably dead. The phrase "to go the way of the dodo" means to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past.

As with many animals evolving in isolation from significant predators, the dodo was entirely fearless of people, and this, in combination with its flightlessness, made it easy prey. However, journals are full of reports regarding the bad taste and tough meat of the dodo, while other local species such as the Red Rail were praised for their taste. It is commonly believed that the Malay sailors held the bird in high regard and killed them only to make head dressings used in religious ceremonies.[However, when humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and Crab-eating Macaques, which plundered the dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes; currently, the impact these animals – especially the pigs and macaques – had on the dodo population is considered to have been more severe than that of hunting.

The addressing of the envelope is rather curious as the addressee's address is written on the upper right corner, which is often where the sender's address is written. I have been accustomed to writing the addressee's address on the lower right or left of the envelope, but maybe they have different practices (or even regulations?) in Mauritius?

The stamps were tied on with a clearly legible postmark on 25 Mar 2008 at Sainte Croix, one of the smaller islands.


Here is a beuatiful cover from Russia. I couldn't find any site with any info on the issue dates and other technical details, but I was able to figure things out since I can decipher the Russian script.

The three stramps on the upper right are most probably definitives and were issued in 1998 showing what seems to be a space satellite. Perhaps these stamps pay tribute the launching of some space craft; I am not so familiar with this field of science, so that's all I can say about them.

The other stamp on the lower left is also a definitive issued in 1998, this time showing the logo of Πочта Рoccии, or Russian Post. A little history on them:

Russian Post is a founding member of the Universal Postal Union created in 1874. In 1902 Chief Postal Service was made part of the Internal Affairs Ministry and in 1917 under the Provisional Government it became part of Ministry of Post and Telegraph. During the Great Patriotic War Soviet postal service part of People's Commissariat of communications was delivering up to 70 million mails per month to the Soviet army front from the rear under extremely difficult and often very dangerous conditions.

In 1993 Russian Post became a part of Ministry of Communications and in 2002, its status changed from a government ministry to a Unitary enterprise in the framework of the restructuring the federal postal communication agencies. The company's headquarters are located in Moscow.

And now for the two beautiful commemoratives:

The one on the left, issued in 2007, pays homage to Vladimir Bekhterev, a Russian neurophysiologist and psychiatrist. Perhaps this stamp commemmorates his 80th death anniversary since he died in 1927. A little more on Bekhterev:
Bekhterev was the one who noted the role of the hippocampus in memory around 1900. Bekhterev founded the field of psycho reflexology, transferring Ivan Pavlov's work on dogs to humans. From his writings we can tell that he and Pavlov acted like enemies. He is most remembered for Bekhterev's disease.
In 1907 Bekhterev founded the PsychoNeurological Institute, later renamed the St. Petersburg State Medical Academy. He died in 1927, after an interview with Stalin, who presumably sought his expertise in dealing with depression. The facts of his death may never be known, but it has been speculated that the outspoken Bekhterev had diagnosed Stalin with paranoia, causing Stalin, who did not agree with the diagnosis, to have the doctor killed.
The stamp on the right, issued in 2008, reads "150-Летие Выхода в Почтовое обращение Первой Российской Марки," which translates to "150th Anniversary of the issue of the first Russian Stamp." The first Russian stamp is depicted next to a what seems to be a horse seld, perhaps the means of transportaing mails in 1858 Russia. This is a very beautiful stamp and I really like it since its topic is one of my favorites: Stamps on Stamps and Postal History.

The cover on which the stamps are affixed is very nice as well. I wish I knew what that building was. Maybe the envelope has an explanation on the back like most of my other Russian covers do. I'll get back to this as soon as I can.

Finally, the stamps were franked on 28 Mar 2008 at Saint Petersburg, which is is often described as the most Western European-styled city of Russia and was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than 200 years (1713-1728, 1792-1918).