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!



A wonderful surprise from the land of pizza and pasta. Fooled by its vertical orientation, I at first thought that this cover was a postcard, especially with the colorful souvenir sheet on top. But when I turned it over to read the message, I realized I was looking at the back of an envelope! What a curious cover - a wonderful surprise indeed!

The colorful souvenir sheet, issued 25 Feb 08, celebrates the song "Nel Blu, Dipinto di Blu" (literally "In the blue painted blue"), which is more popuarly known as "Volare" (Italian for "to fly"). The song, performed by Domenico Modugno and recorded in 1958, is a ballad in a dramatic chanson style, in which Modugno describes the feeling he has (which he likens to flying) when with his lover. It is the only song ever by an Italian artist to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100, and it was also the first to receive the Record of the Year (1958) award at the Grammies. It is the only foreign-language song to ever attain this prestigious title.

It has gained widespread popularity since its debut and has reached the top of charts all over the world through translations into various languages: "Воларе (Volare)," Russia; "Dans le bleu du ciel bleu", France; "En el azul del cielo," Spain; "Jouw ogen," Belgium; "Taivaan sinessä," Finland; "Azul pintado de azul," Mexico, Argentina, Brazil.

As for the design of the souvenir sheet, perhaps the image of the figure "soaring" is meant to show a visual representation of a the literal feeling of flying described in the song. In the background is a picturesque view of a town situated on a mountain next to the sea, perhaps typical of a certain region of Italy? According to Poste Italiane, the watermark-like circle on the stamp is meant to represent a 45 vinyl record, an evidenced by the "45 giri" inscription on the right side of the stamp.

The stamp to the lower left of the souvenir sheet is part of a set of 9 issued on 08 Feb 06 to celebrate the XX Olympic Winter Games held at Turin in 2006. This particular stamp features the biathlon, a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

The games at Turin marked the second time Italy hosted the Olympic Winter Games, the first being the VII Olympic Winter Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1956. Italy also hosted the Games of the XVII Olympiad in Rome in 1960. The official motto of the XX Olympic Winter Games was "Passion lives here."

An interesting thing to note about Turin: Turin is the birth place of solid chocolate. It was in Turin that, at the end of the 18th century, Mr. Doret invented a revolutionary machine that could make solid chocolate (as opposed to drinking chocolate).

The two stamps on the lower right are definitives.

The stamps were canceled on 04 Jul 08 (America's 232nd birthday! :-) ) at Rovigo, a town in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy.



I was really happy when I received the cover shown above because there are four different issues on it, which means there are four different things to learn about France!

I will start with the orange stamp on the upper left. This stamp, entitled "Stade de France," was issued on 31 Jan 08 to commemorate 10 years since the inauguration of the Stade de France, which was built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. With a capacity of 80,000, it is the greatest French stadium. Built for the needs for the Football world cup in France, it was also conceived to accomodate various sports events (football, Rugby, athletics automobile races), concerts, and other spectacles. A note of interest regarding the etymology of the edifice:

The word "France" in Stade de France does not refer to the country of France, but it refers to an area, or pays, of the historical province of Île de France known as "pays de France." Île-de-France was made up of several pays: pays de France, Parisis, Mantois, Hurepoix, and so on. Pays de France was the extremely fertile plain located immediately north of the city of Paris, with the city of Saint-Denis at its centre. Pays de France is now almost entirely built-up, being covered by the northern suburbs of Paris. Pays de France is also known as the plaine de France ("plain of France"), and the name of this old pays still appears in the name of some towns in the northern suburbs of Paris, such as Roissy-en-France (which means "Roissy in the pays de France"). Thus, the name of the stadium was chosen to give it a local touch, as it is located in the plaine de France, but of course most people outside of France are not aware of this fact, and assume it is named for the country. In fact, the new national stadium of Switzerland is called Stade de Suisse in presumed homage to the Stade de France. The stadium's owner and operator, Consortium Stade de France, asserts registered trademark status for the name Stade de France.

Under the Stade de France stamp is the issued titled "Vendôme Loir-et-Cher," which was released 04 Feb 08. It chronicles the beauty of Vendôme, a city-garden of 30,000 inhabitants that is home to the castle of the Bourbon-Vendôme and the abbey church of the Trinity. While doing research, I was surprised to read the following about the town: "Napoleon disliked this place very much – so much that he almost ordered it to be destroyed." But, there is a note that citation is needed for this statement, so I guess as of now, it's just hearsay.

Next we have the stamp that shows the Smilodon, or the saber-toothed tiger, which was issued on 21 Apr 08 as part of a 4v set. More on the Smilodon:

Smilodon, sometimes called saber-toothed tiger is an extinct genus of large machairodontine saber-toothed cats that lived between approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago in North and South America. They are called "saber-toothed" for the extreme length of their maxillary canines. The La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles trapped hundreds of Smilodon in the tar, possibly as they tried to feed on mammoths already trapped. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has many of their complete skeletons. Despite the colloquial name of "saber-toothed tiger", Smilodon is not closely related to a tiger, which belongs to another subfamily, the Pantherinae; Smilodon is a member of the extinct subfamily Machairodontinae. The name Smilodon is a bahuvrihi from Greek: σμίλη, smilē, "chisel" and Greek ὀδoύς, ὀδόντος, odoús, Genitive: odóntos, "tooth"). Among the largest felids, the heaviest specimens of this massively built carnivore may have reached a body mass of up to 400 kg/880 pounds.

The other animals in the set are the Mammoth, the Megaloceros, and the Phorusrhacos, all fo which are also extinct.

Just to sidetrack a bit before I discuss the last stamp, I remember visiting the La Brea tar pits numerous times as a child, either on a field trip or for leisure. The tar pits are still there and are hard to miss since they reek of a rather pungent smell if you get too near. In fact, whenever we'd pass by the tarpits in our car, we made sure to roll the windows up to keep the smell from coming in, although it sometimes still managed to seep into the interior of the car through very small crevices and openings.

There are mammoth statues that were placed into the tarpit to simulate how it must have looked like when the mammoths were stuck in the tar. Of course, the tar pools are fenced now to prevent humans - or any other animals - from also getting stuck inside. The museum behind the tar pits is also an intersting visit as there are many exhibits showcasing well-preserved human and animal remains. When I went, there was also a room where you could lie down and look up to watch a movie that was played on the walls. It was very high-tech back then, but they have probably replaced it with something more high-tech by now. Next door to the La Brea Tar Pits is LACMA, or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which I also visited quite a few times.

Now, going back to the stamps. The last stamp, on the uppermost right-hand corner, entitled "Abd El Kader 1808-1883" was issued on 21 Feb 08 to pay tribute to Abd El Kadr, an Algerian Islamic scholar, Sufi, political and military leader who led a struggle against the French invasion in the mid-nineteenth century, for which he is seen by the Algerians as their national hero. One thing to remember about him was that he was noted for his chivalry; on one occasion released his French captives simply because he had insufficient food to feed them. Another noteworthy fact to prove his chivalry:

In July 1860, conflict between the Druze and Maronites of Mount Lebanon spread
to Damascus [where he was staying at the time], and local Druze attacked the Christian quarter, killing over 3,000 persons. Abd al Kader and his personal guard saved large numbers of Christians, bringing them to safety in his house and in the citadel. For this action the French government bestowed on him the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur. He was also honoured by Abraham Lincoln for this gesture towards Christians with several guns that are now on display in the Algiers museum.

The stamps were all tied on 09 May 08, again with the beautiful cancel at 42 St. Etienne.



Finally a cover from Eastern Europe! Here we have a neat little cover from Slovakia with two nice stamps. The one on the right depicts the Raftsmen of the Dunajec River and was issued on 03 Sep 04.

This stamp celebrates the Dujanec River, a part of Slovak culture which is found between Poland and Slovakia. More on this from the Slovak Post website:
The coexistence of Slovak and Polish peoples in the Pieniny region has deep-seated roots. People here shared not only common fates or a particular Goral culture, but also a natural waterway down the Dunajec River. Local raftsmen utilised the flow of the river for a long time, and from this picturesque countryside they sailed through the mouth of the Dunajec River to the Visla River down to the Baltic Sea. Even today, the Dunajec River and raftsmen in Goral folk costumes are intrinsically intertwined and have become inseparable features of both the Slovak and Polish side of the Pieniny. The fact that the territory of the Pieniny was designated the first international Natural Park in Europe as early as 1932 is testimony that people appreciated the beauty and values of the local nature regardless of their nationality. Today, the Dunajec on its winding course through the largest natural canyon in Central Europe constitutes a common Slovak – Polish border along a distance of approximately 20 km.
The stamp on the left is a definitive issued 3 Nov 1998 that shows what looks like a heritage building in Presov, a city in Eastern Slovakia with a long history, as you can see from this excerpt also from Slovak Post:
Present-day Prešov is only the latest incarnation of a site that has known many earlier settlements, notably Paleolithic, Neolithic, Eneolithic, Bronze Age, Hallstatt and La T ne. Under the Romans (145 B.C. to 169 A.D.) a depository of coinage was maintained there and at the time of the migration of nations it was the location of the Prešov-type culture (3rd - 5th centuries). There were continuously inhabited Slav settlements from the to centuries. Its earliest recorded mention dating from 1247, Prešov was incorporated in 1299 and became a free royal town in 1405. A series of privileges and a propitious location facilitated the growth of trades and of commerce with Poland and Transylvania, and since feudal times Prešov has been the political, economic and cultural heart of the Šariš region. The seat of the Šariš žup or county up to 1923, the town has been the administrative centre of an eponymous county since 1996. Events of note in the town's history include the execution by Imperial soldiers in 1687 of twenty-four people for the town's participation in the Thököly revolt - referred to as the Prešov massacre -and the declaration of the Slovak Republic of Councils in 1919. Since 1950 Prešov has been an Urban Heritage Area.

The postmarks were affixed on 27 Apr 08 at Zilina, an important industrial center and the fourth largest city in Slovakia.


In comparison to the covers on the previous posts, this cover is rather plain and bland, but it is the first that I have received from Turkey, so I thought it would be nice to post it anyway.

The stamp on the cover is part of a 4v set issued 07 Feb 2008, which commemorated the 800th anniversary of Nasreddin Hodja's birth, according to

More on Nasreddin Hoca and Turkish folklore:

The tradition of folklore—folktales, jokes, legends, and the like—in the Turkish language is very rich. Perhaps the most popular figure in the tradition is the aforementioned Nasreddin (known as Nasreddin Hoca, or "teacher Nasreddin", in Turkish), who is the central character of thousands of jokes. He generally appears as a person who, though seeming somewhat stupid to those who must deal with him, actually proves to have a special wisdom all his own:

One day, Nasreddin's neighbor asked him, "Teacher, do you have any forty-year-old vinegar?"—"Yes, I do," answered Nasreddin.—"Can I have some?" asked the neighbor. "I need some to make an ointment with."—"No, you can't have any," answered Nasreddin. "If I gave my forty-year-old vinegar to whoever wanted some, I wouldn't have had it for forty years, would I?"

The postmark reveals that this cover was sent from Heykel, Bursa, Turkey's fourth largest city, on 26 Apr 2008.