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!


United States

I find it funny that I have received very few covers from the United States; you'd think that there'd be more philatelists collecting covers in such a big country. Maybe because stamps and postage are quite costly there?

Anyway, here's an FDC issued 12 May 08 to pay tribute to Edward Trudeau, an American doctor who established the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium at Saranac Lake for treatment of tuberculosis.

Before the cure to the sickness was found, it was common practice for those with tuberculosis to move to "cooler climates" and this was why the sanatorium was established at Saranac Lake in 1882. After Trudeau's death in 1915, the institution's name was changed to the Trudeau Sanitorium, following changes in conventional usage. The Trudeau Sanatorium closed in 1954, after the discovery of effective antibiotic treatments for tuberculosis.

The stamp labels Trudeau a phthisiologist, which is the obsolete term for "tuberculosis specialist."

The two other stamps on the bottom are both definitives.


On this post we have a rather playful FDC from Poland showcasing, you guessed it, children's toys! Issued on 01 Jun 08 in anticipation of Children's Day (20 November), this 2v set shows a choo-choo train and what looks like a xylophone. According to Poczta Polska, this is the second set of stamps issued with the theme of children's toys:
On June 1, 2006 Poczta Polska has issued the first part of the series of stamps with toys, unusual first of all because of their triangular shape. This beautiful issue presents a few universal toys, for the times unknown constantly developing children's imagination. On the stamps of 2006 issue there were the toys, based on the use of spinning motion, i.e. a top and a pin-wheel, while in this issue there are the kid's dulcimer and the wooden choo-choo train (on the stamps), and the playing ball and the rocking horse (on the FDC envelope). Toys can be seen in the triangular stamp frame only partially, in their entirety they are only visible on the complete sheet of 16 stamps of one kind. The occasional postmark applied at Warszawa 1 Post Office includes an example of one more toy - a horse's head on the stick.
Also, this set is among the very few triangular stamps issued by Poczta Polska; the others were issued way back in 1959 (Polish Mushrooms 8v) and in 1963 (Polish Horses, 3 of the 10v are triangular). Others date back to the foreign occupation of Poland, in 1916 and 1918-1919.

The FDC was sent from Nowy Sacz on 27 June 08, almost a month after the date of issue. I guess Poczta Polska also allows use of FDCs with special postmarks even after date of issue, just like here in the Philippines.


Shown here is my first cover from the Ukraine!

Unfortunately, the Українське Державне Підприємство Поштового Зв`язку (or the Ukrainian State Enterprise of Posts) seems to be down so I have limited access to information about these stamps.

Anyway, the stamp on the far right is one in a set of three stamps issued 23 Feb 2008 with the title "Paintings of Taras Shevchenko." The stamp I received shows his self-portrait, painted in 1840.

A bit more on Shevchenko:
He was a Ukrainian poet, artist and humanist. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language. Shevchenko also wrote in Russian and left many masterpieces as a painter and an illustrator.
He was also featured on Ukrainian banknotes as well as on a commemorative USSR coin.

As for the four definitives to the left, I couldn't find any information on them, but they seem to showcase artifacts of Ukrainian heritage and culture.

An interesting thing about this cover is that it was franked twice. Notice that there are four postmarks, but not all are the same! Two are in Ukrainian and the other two in English! I do not know if this is the standard procedure in Ukraine for international posts or maybe it was just a coincidence that this cover was postmarked more than once and in both languages at that!


More on "المملكة المغربية!"

Thanks to an anonymous reader who posted a comment, I was finally able to identify the person depicted on the green definitve stamp on the Morocco cover I posted the other day.

Apparently, it is the late King Hassan II, ruler of Morcco for 40 years, from 3 March 1961 until his death on 23 July 1999.

Hassan II is known for a exercising a rather authoritarian rule over Morocco, which was plagued by many objectiosn from the opposition and a rather poor human rights record. In Morocco's first constitution of 1963, Hassan II reaffirmed Morocco's choice of a multi-party political system, the only one in the Maghreb. The constitution gave the King large powers he eventually used to strengthen his rule, which provoked strong political protest from the UNFP and the Istiqlal parties that formed the backbone of the opposition. In 1965, Hassan dissolved parliament and ruled directly, although he did not abolish the mechanisms of parliamentary democracy. When elections were eventually held, they were mostly rigged in favor of loyal parties. This caused severe discontent among the opposition, and protest demonstrations and riots challenged the King's rule.

The period from the 1960s to the late '80s was labelled by the Moroccan opposition as the "years of lead" and saw many dissidents jailed, killed, exiled or forcibly disappeared.

King Hassan II had extended many parliamentary functions by the early '90s and released hundreds of political prisoners in 1991, and allowed the Alternance, where the opposition assumed power, for the first time in the Arab World. He set up a Royal Council for Human Rights to look into allegations of abuse by the state.

He was succeeded by his son, King Mohammed VI, upon his death in 1999.

A note of interest:

Hassan II survived TWO attempts at his life, the first in 1971 during at function at Skhirat, an ocean resort, and the second on 16 Aug 72, when his Boeing 727 was attacked in mid-air by the Royal Moroccan Air Force while it was on its way back to Rabat. Both were coup d'etat attempts.



Pos Malaysia has never failed impress me with its FDCs. The cachets are always beautifully designed and formatted with the philatelist in mind. That is why I ask my friends in Malaysia to purchase them and send them over even after the first day of issue. Here is an example of one such FDC.

The set featured on the FDC exhibits the cultural heritage of Malaysia by showing three artifacts used by different ethnic groups of the peninsula, namely the Batu Giling, the Supu, and the Kukur Kelapa. More on these tools:
The "Batu giling" or stone grinder is a traditional tool consisting of two parts made of stone, referred to as "mother" and "child". The "mother" is the millstone or base part of the grinder where the chilli or spices are placed, whereas the "child" is the smaller piece of stone used to roll onto the base stone to crush and grind the said spices. Using this stone grinder will produce a fine and well grounded paste of spices or chilli. Something I found interesting about the "batu giling" is that, in Tagalog the word "bato" (which is most probably realted to "batu") means "stone" and the word "giling" also means "grind." I guess this is evidence that proves that Tagalog borrows heavily from the Malay language.

The "Supu" is a small container used to keep tobacco. Made of silver and beautifully decorated with fine carvings, it is also used as a decorative accessory by the Bajau community in the district of Kota Belud, Sabah. Amongst the Dusun Tindal community, it is known as "kuapu" and is used as a decorative accessory for the bride and bridegroom's wedding costume. Another Philippines-related bit of info; the Bajau/Badjao people can also be found in Bohol, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga, Surigao, Davao, and other areas in the Mindanao region of the Philippines.

The "Kukur kelapa" or coconut grater is a tool used to grate or scrape the flesh of the coconut from its shell. The traditional coconut scraper is shaped out of a piece of wood for the seat and at the end is a sharp-edged metal spur. Creativity from the artistic Malays have resulted in the "Kukur kelapa" carved based on the design of a four-legged animal complete with the tail and other carvings of nature-inspired motives such as plants.

The coconut grater was once a very important tool in every Malay household as coconut milk is an essential ingredient in Malay cooking. Although its usage by the city folk have reduced due to the preference of electric tools, this tool is still much in use in the outskirts. The exact same goes for the use of coconut graters Philippines, except the ones here are not as ornate or "special."

This set was issued 10 June 2008, but as you can see, it dos not bear the special franking. This is because it was sent to me after the first day of issue. I guess Pos Malaysia franks first day covers on the spot on the first day of issue? Am I right?

Here in the Philippines, FDCs are released at least a month after the date of issue (since Philpost is way behind schedule due to lack of postal employees), but they all bear the special postmark and the cover (including postage) can still be used any time.

Sometimes, I wonder if what Philpost is doing defeats the purpose of issuing first day covers since it's virtually impossible to send out the cover on the first day of issue. Any thoughts on this?

المملكة المغربية!

My first cover from Morocco! Although I would have been all the more happier had the postmarks been clearer, I think this is a boost for my collection as I have very few (I think only one or two) mail articles from Africa addressed to me.

Thankfully, Poste Maroc keeps up a detailed and updated website on its stamps so I don't have to search frantically or guess the details about the stamps.

The large stamp at the upper right was issued on 18 Dec 02 and commemorates UNESCO year. As many already know, UNESCO is a specialized agency of the United Nations established on November 16, 1945, with a stated purpose to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter.

The two stamps to the left of the UNESCO stamp are part of a 4v set called "Creativite Enfantine" or "Youth Creativity" that features artworks of young children with the themes: my childhood, the post office and telecommunication, the post in daily life, and our environment. The stamps on this cover show the first two. These stamps were issued on 26 May 08.

The last stamp, the green one which shows who seems to be a historic leader or politician, is perhaps a definitive as I could not find any information on it. Neither can I tell who it is since I cannot read Arabic.... Can anyone help out?

The stamps were cancelled on 09 Jul 08. Unfortunately, the place name is unclear and it appears to be in Arabic, so even if it were legible, I wouldn't be able to read it.


Just in time for the Olympics (although now they are already over) I received this beautiful cover from Italy. Although it has only one stamp, I think that it is a very interesting piece since the stamp celebrates the Olympics in Beijing with a very interesting design.

The stamp is one of the two stamps in the “Lo sport Italiano” (Italian Sports) series dedicated to the Olympic Games - Beijing 2008 and issued on 07 Jul 08. The € 0.85 stamp features a disc framed in by a Greek border on the left and a floral border (typically Chinese) on the right. On the left-hand side of the disc, there are some figures of athletes similar to those designed on Ancient Greek ceramics; on the right-hand side there are some athletes depicted in the Chinese style of illustration. The five Olympic rings are pictured in the centre of the disc.

I really like the design of this stamp since it subtly signifies the meeting of East and West while at the same time showing that the two have very different histories and heritages, as demonstrated by the delineation of the two different styles (the Greek and the Chinese). Also, the fact that Italian has an actual translation for Beijing, which is "Pechino" from Beijing's old name of Peking, shows that China and Italy have shared a rather long history together. In fact, it all began with Marco Polo in the 1200s.t I'm a sucker when it comes to these kinds of things, so I'm not sure if many/any others can relate?

The stamp was canceled with a beautiful postmark (with a depiction of Livorno, I guess) at Livorno on date of issue, 07 July 08. A coincidence or not: the stamp was issued 07.07 and the Olympics started 08.08?


Here is another neat cover from Russia that arrived nice and clean as if it never went through the postal system! The "Misssent to Malaysia" franking is the only telltale evidence that it did. The cover has three stamps, all of which share the theme of fauna. Since there seems to be no database of stamp issues provided by the Russian Postal Service, I guess I'm left to figure things out for myself. The stamp on the left with the horse is part of a 4v set titled "Native Horse Breeds" issued 07 Nov 07. The set features the Vladimir, Orlov, Vyatsky, and Don breeds. The stamp on this cover shows the Vyatsky breed. More on this:
The Vyatsky breed is one of the most interesting one in the history of the Russian horse-breeding. Even now its origins are not found. Some of the literature resources mentioned that these horses are descendants of the Estonian clippers, brought by citizens of Novgorod and Pskov in the Vyatsk, Kazan and Perm province near the year of 1720 under the Peter the Great or even earlier under the Tsar Alexei Mikhaylovich. The Vyatsky breed was so well-known that it was even mentioned in the letters and works of A.S. Pushkin, M.E. Saltykov-Shedrin, and V.K. Korolenko.
In a post entitled "Russia" on my blog published 26 Jun 08, I also put up a scan of another cover received from Russia with a native breed stamp on it. That one shows the Don breed. More on that:
The Don breed was influenced by many other breeds over a period of its history. Cossacks brought from their raids horses, such as Karabakh, Turkmenian, and Persian, so it has been mostly influenced by their Oriental origins. From the middle of the 19th century the Don breed was upgraded using Orlov and Orlov-Rostopchin and Streletsk sires. In this period the Old Don originated from the steppe ancestors was turning into the breed for the stud-farms. In the 19th-20th centuries, the Don breed was greatly influenced by the thoroughbreds. Now the Don breed has such qualities that make it irreplaceable in the horse schools for children, in farming, in riding and even in the hippotherapy, which is a treatment method involving horses as a means of working on physical, occupational, and speech-language goals.

The stamps on the upper right I consider to be quite special because they are the Russian issue of the Russia-North Korea joint issue featuring fauna from the two countries. The issue was released on 01 Jun o5. I find this combination quite interesting as Russia was a communist country and North Korea is still a communist country and, plus, rarely do you hear about stamps from North Korea. I remember that when I was younger a friend of my mother's often gave me covers from North Korea as he had family who were left there after the war. Unfortunately, young as I was, I knew little of the value of such articles and lost track of the covers and stamps, which are now gone.
Anyway, a little more on the animals:
The Russian animal featured on the issue is the sable, a small carnivorous mammal, closely related to the martens. It inhabits forest environments primarily in Russia from the Ural Mountains throughout Siberia, in northern Mongolia and China and on Hokkaidō in Japan. Its range in the wild originally extended through European Russia to Poland and Scandinavia. It has historically been harvested for its highly valued fur, which remains a luxury good to this day. While hunting of wild animals is still common in Russia, most fur in the market is now commercially farmed.

The North Korean animal featured on the issue is the Siberian tiger, also known as the Amur tiger, Manchurian tiger, or Ussuri tiger is a rare subspecies of tiger confined completely to the Amur region in the Far East, where it is now protected. It is considered to be the largest of the nine recent tiger subspecies and the largest member of the family Felidae.

The stamps were cancelled with a very nice, clear franking on 24 Jun 08 at Vakhrushi, Kirov Oblast.


I believe this is my second cover from Pakistan; it is always nice to receive covers from these far-off places. Not that Pakistan is in some obscure corner of the world, it's just that you rarely find something from Pakistan when you open your mailbox.

Anyhoo, moving on, the five mushroom stamps are part of a se-tenant set of 10 issued 01 Oct 05. As I do not think that many readers would be interested in reading 15 or so paragraphs about mushrooms, I won't discuss them anymore, but for those interested, Pakistan Post does offer an extensive report on them here.

The two medicinal plant stamps on the lower right depicting Chamomile and Aloe Vera, were issued 28 Oct 06.

More on chamomile:
The name Chamomile (from Greek χαμαίμηλον - chamaimēlon) means "earth-apple", (from χαμαί - chamai: "on the ground" + μήλον - mēlon: "apple"), because of the applelike scent of the plant. It can refer to any of several distinct species in the sunflower family. The Chamomile flower is most often consumed in the form of a bitter herb tea infusion. Taken internally, the infusion's effects include calming of the digestive tract, and easing of the spasms of irritable bowel syndrome, nocturnal cramps and period pains. It's a relaxant and sedative, so it is often taken against insomnia or anxiety.
And on Aloe Vera:
Aloe vera, also known as the Medicinal Aloe, is a species of succulent plant that probably originated in northern Africa. The species does not have any naturally occurring populations, although closely related Aloes do occur in northern Africa. The species is frequently cited as being used in herbal medicine since the beginning of the first century CE, however, it is unclear whether the aloes described in those accounts are derived from A. vera. Extracts from A. vera are widely used in the cosmetics and alternative medicine industries, being marketed as variously having rejuvenating, healing or soothing properties. There is, however, little scientific evidence of the effectiveness or safety of A. vera extracts for either cosmetic or medicinal purposes, and what positive evidence is available is frequently contradicted by other studies. Despite these limitations, there is some preliminary evidence that A. vera extracts may be useful in the treatment of diabetes and elevated blood lipids in humans.

The last stamp, which depicts the Yellow Dwarf Cichlid, is part of a 5v set issued 09 Oct 04.

On the Yellow Dwarf Cichlid:
A laterally compressed cichlid that has a stockier, less elongated body than agassizi, another type of cichlid. The caudal fin is fan-shaped within the male, the dorsal and anal fins meet at a point. The head and the area just behind the gill cover are golden yellow. The belly and the very top of the back may also be golden-yellow in color. The middle area of the body is pale blue as are the dorsal, pelvic, and front parts of the anal fins. The dorsal and pelvic fins are gold-tipped. The caudal fin and most of the anal fin is golden-yellow. Often a red area develops on the caudal penuncle. When a fish is excited, several transverse marking develop on the sides of the fish. A short, black stripeextends through the eye and to the snout.The males can grow to reach 2.8" (7 cm) and the females to 2" (5 cm). These fish are found in shallow swampy regions along rivers. South America; the Rio Paraguay and the Pantanal (matto Grosso).

A funny thing to notice is that all the stamps on this cover were issued in October 2004, 2005, and 2006!

The stamps were tied at the General Post Office at Islamabad, the capital city, on 10 Jul 08. I find it quite odd that the postmark used indicates that the mail article is registered ("Regd.") when it is not. Perhaps they also have the same problems with the lack of postmark stampers that they have here in the Philippines?