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!


Crna Gora (Black Mountain)

Here is a nice, neat cover from a country you never hear of every day: Montenegro.

Montenegro is located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia and the disputed entity of Kosovo to the north and east, and Albania to the south. Its capital and largest city is Podgorica, from where this cover was sent.

There are three very interesting and beautiful themes represented on this cover, two of which are among my favorites!

The first is the history and culture of the country, which is represented by the Coat of Arms, or "Grb Crne Gore" in Montenegrin. The coat of arms was adopted on 13 July 2004.

The second is immigration. The two stamps on the upper right read "Integracija Imigranata," which, although I have no background in the language, I take to mean "immigrant integration." There are many groups in the country, some of which are Montenegrins, Serbs, Bosniaks, Albanians, Muslims and Croats. Also, the constant changes in government and the expansion and loss of lands throughout the nation's history probably contributed to the diversity of ethnic groups in the region.

The last theme is landscape/nature, which is very beautiful. I could not get much information in English on this, but I think this is a photograph entitled "Pejzaž," or "Landscape" and it was taken by Marko Radunović. The word pejzaž is derived from the French word "paysage." The interesting thing about the depiction on the stamps, besides the beauty of the landscape, is that it might be related to the etymology of the country's name. Apparently, the country's name is connected to the Slavic language reference to excessively mountainous regions are called. Perhaps the mountains in this picture are what the Slavs were referring to when they named the land "Black Mountain."

If you notice on the left side there is a purple postmark? I think that it was meant to be a backstamp, but was placed on the wrong side (maybe the envelope was face up when it was being sorted?) and so my otherwise perfect cover is now marred by this low quality franking. Postmarks here in the Philippines are notoriously sloppy because they are only replaced once in a blue moon (due to budget constraints) and since they are made of rubber, they have a tendency to become distorted as uneven pressure is constantly applied.

It really annoys me that oftentimes messy frankings like these destroy the quality of the cover! And, sometimes, they even place this ugly postmark directly on the stamp, which as we cover collectors know, is very ugly. If only the franking were neat and sharp, then maybe it would be forgivable, but it is not. This is the kind of stuff you have to put up with in a third world country: either no sense of aesthetics or not funds to be able to have one.....

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