(1) WRITE THE ADDRESSES USING YOUR OWN HANDWRITING
as these give a more personal touch to the cover
(2) PLEASE DO NOT USE TAPE OR STICKERS ON THE REVERSE;
the Philippine postal service damages the cover with scribbling that highly devalues the aesthetic value of the cover, which is what I am after
(3) PLEASE TRY TO USE COMPLETE SETS
or at least same themes when sending covers, but it is okay if this is not possible or if this would be expensive, and
(4) PLEASE USE SMALL ENVELOPES,
not too small, but maybe around 4"x6" or something like that; big envelopes are not very attractive unless they have many stamps.
An interesting thing to note about "Mayotte" is that it is the corrupted French version of "Jazirat al-Mawt", which means "Island of the Dead/Death" in Arabic.
The two covers below have basically the same stamps, except for the first one, which has an extra stamp (did the sender pay extra postage for the first one or did he pay insufficient postage for the second one?)
At any rate, the stamps show basket weaving (la vannerie) as well as embroidery (la broderie), which I guess are either an industrial activity or a pastime (or both) of the locals. There is also a stamp showing the jasmine flower. I wasn't able to find out if they are native to Mayotte or if they were introduced by the French during the colonial period, or if they even actually grow in Mayotte at all!
This second cover has a nice special cancellation with the map of Mayotte. Mayotte is made up of two islands, Grande-Terre (or Mahoré), and a smaller island, Petite-Terre (or Pamanzi).
I was surprised, too, when I hear of a town called Hell in the Cayman Islands!
Here's an interesting write-up from Wikipedia:
I got this registered cover by writing to the postmaster at the Hell post office, who was kind enough to accommodate my request for a registered letter from Hell. I wonder if he receives many other requests from collectors for a postmark from his station like the postmaster at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica does.... I have read on the internet that many people on cruises make sure to visit the Hell Post Office to send their friends and relatives correspondences from the place.
Hell, Grand Cayman is a group of short, black, limestone formations in the northwest Grand Cayman town of West Bay. It is roughly the size of half a soccer field. People are not allowed in amongst the limestone formations but two viewing platforms exist for tourists. There are numerous versions of how Hell received its name, but they are generally variations on "a local official exclaimed, 'This is what Hell must look like.'"
It is also claimed that the name "Hell" is derived from the fact that if a pebble is thrown out into the formation, it echoes amongst the limestone peaks and valleys and sounds as if the pebble is falling all the way down to "Hell."
Regardless of how it first came to be called Hell, the name stuck and the area has become a tourist attraction, featuring a fire-engine red hell-themed post office from which you can send "postcards from hell", and a gift shop with 'Satan' passing out souvenirs while greeting people with phrases like 'How the hell are you?' and 'Where the hell are you from?'.
Ironically, some of the stores in the area feature prominent quotations from the Bible on their sides. This is due to the pious nature of Caymanian society.
Hell can be quite busy as it is a stop for cruise ship tours.
The stamps used show scenery of the Caymans, I suppose. It seems that the Caymans would be a very nice and relaxing place to visit.
Thankfully, the postmaster was thoughtful enough to include a chop from his own office that reads "Hell," because the chops used on the stamps do not read "Hell." I guess it is a regulation in the Cayman Postal Service system to cancel registered letters with the generic red cancellation instead of the post office-specific cancellation.
Now, if only the postmaster had handwritten the addresses instead of cutting and pasting the ones from my letter, this cover would truly be a complete gem in my collection!
Aruba is an island in the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 kilometres north of the coast of Venezuela. Aruba, which has no administrative subdivisions, is one of the three countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, together with the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles. Aruban citizens hold Dutch passports. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape.
The four definitives with a depiction of a church show the Kapelo Alto Vista, which has a significant place in Aruban history as it was the first church established in the whole of the Caribbean. Also called the Pilgrim's church, it was constructed by Spanish missionaries in 1750 and to this day the Chapel of Alto Vista continues to conduct services between its pale yellow walls.
This chapel is known for being very Spartan and simple. Unlike many other places of Christian worship in the world, this edifice is not elaborately designed nor ornately decorated. In fact, its pews are outside the building! This gives us an idea of how life in the region was for the Europeans who ventured into these unknown tropics in a time when passages across the sea from the Old World took months! Things were very simple (and makeshift, even) because times were hard. I believe this church stands testimony to that. I just wonder why it has not yet been declared a world heritage site (?).
The other stamp to the far left celebrates the 70th birth anniversary of Queen Beatrix, who was born on 31 Jan 1938, the first child of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. I take it that the picture shows a family picture taken shortly after her birth.
I like this cover because its sender thoughtfully included two of my favorite themes: archaeology (which is actually a very rare theme to find on stamps) and the Olympics.
The two archeology stamps are part of a 3v set issued in 2008.
The 50 leke stamps shows the ruins at Oricum, an Ancient Greek city in the northern part of Epirus (modern south Albania). The city, said to have been founded by Euboeans , was originally on an island, but already in ancient times it became connected to the mainland; it covered an area of 5 hectares, but archeological remains are scarce. The 10 leke stamps shows the ruins of Butrint, an ancient Greek city and an archeological site in Sarandë District, Albania, close to the Greek border. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. An interesting thing to note is that, had the communists not fallen in 1992, this site would probably have been demolished and replaced by a submarine base or an airport since the communists did not care much for its historical value. I think we should be thankful that the communists were dispelled before this connection with the past was destroyed forever! The third stamp in the series shows Antigonia, the chief inland city of ancient Chaonia. The Olympics stamps is part of a set of 4 issued in 2008, of course, to commemorate the Beijing Olympics. Thanks to S. Nushi for this cover!
Andorra is a small country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, with an estimated population of 83,888 in 2009. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, French, and Portuguese are also commonly spoken.
The Principality was formed in 1278. The role of monarch is exercised jointly by the two co-princes, the President of the French Republic and the Bishop of Urgell, Catalonia, Spain. This peculiarity makes the President of France, in his capacity as Prince of Andorra, the only reigning monarch actually elected in regular intervals by vote, the vote being that of another country at that!
Andorra is a prosperous country mainly because of its tourism industry, which services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually, and also because of its status as a tax haven. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the de facto currency.
In the cover above, there are four definitives of different denominations, each showing the Andorran coat of arms with different colors as backgrounds. The stamp to the far right celebrates the 2009 Tour de France, which passed through six countries, one of which was Andorra.
The 2009 Tour de France started on 4 July in the principality of Monaco with a 15 kilometrer individual time trial which included a section of the Circuit de Monaco. The race visited six countries: Monaco, France, Spain, Andorra, Switzerland and Italy, and finished on 26 July on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
The winner of this Tour de France is Alberto Contador, who won by a margin of 4′11″. Contador also won the 2007 Tour de France.
This cover is courtesy of a new philatelic friend, Jean-Pierre, who travels the world extensively and is kind enough to send me a cover from the exciting places he visits. This is the first of many covers from hard-to-obtain countries that I will be posting in the near future.
The islands are also known as St. Christopher and Nevis because St. Kitts was originally called St. Christopher. In the 17th century Kit, or Kitt, was a common abbreviation for the name Christopher, and so the island was often informally referred to as "Saint Kitt's island", which was further shortened to "Saint Kitts."
Unfortunately, the cover was soiled by markings from a permanent marker, which was probably applied to scratch out an incorrect routing code that was applied during sorting. If only the mail sorter got it right, then I wouldn't have this unsightly mark running across the bottom of my cover.
I especially like the $2.50 stamp showing the architecture of the historical building of the Queen's Royal College, one of the oldest secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago, and the only all-male Government-run secondary school in the country. The building was built in 1902 and cost 15000 British Pounds at the time. It accommodated six classes for 30 boys each. The lecture hall could hold over five hundred persons at a time.
Notwithstanding the German origin of the plan, a legacy perhaps of Mr Hahn's student days in Berlin, the design of the interior is very definitely tropical with a delightfully aristocratic touch from the days when European school architecture was austere.
The large stamp on the far right commemorates the British Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting held in Port of Spain, one of the developed areas of the islands of Trinidad. The buildings shown make up part of the Port of Spain skyline.
Here is a cover that I sent to Poste Restante in Macau with the expectation of receiving it back since no one would be claiming it (it was addressed to me). Thanks to the dependable and efficient Correios de Macau, I received the cover back with the great chops that they apply at Poste Restante in
These two covers are almost identical, save for the addressee. These covers contained the payment that I made to eBay sellers. Thankfully, they arrived safely at their destinations, payment intact, and were returned to me by the friendly eBay sellers.
On 14 April, I was lucky enough to be at the Manila Central Post Office on the actual day of issue of this IRRI set. I had not known of this issue beforehand since there are no announcements made other than at the bulletin board at the Philatelic Division - nothing online. As usual, the official FDCs were not yet ready so I decided to make my own and sent it to myself registered. The cover didn;t come out very well, but it's the thought and the memory that counts, right?
The main post office building is quite small, and I believe it is just there to accept mail and sell stamps because, from I understood from one of the postal clerks, the mail sorting facility is located somewhere near the airport. Unfortunately, I didn't find any stamp dealer because I lacked the time (and perhaps the initiative since it was so darn hot and humid!) to look for one. Apparently, there is a small philatelist community in Brunei with something like 75 members, including its officers and some other government officials, if my memory serves me right.
The little philatelic corner they have at the left entrance to the building is, like I said, little, but it serves its purpose. It's an air-conditioned facility (thanks heavens!), so it's a cool relief from the outside heat. The philatelic desk still sells stamps and SS's from as far back as the late 70s (!!) at face value, which is a fraction of the current market value! So I spent quite a lot of time and money enjoying myself as I picked out the issues I wanted. Sadly, there were virtually no recent issues. I have not looked into this, but I got the impression that Brunei Post has been churning out only 2 or 3 commemorative issues yearly as of late. I guess it might be because there is little demand for Brunei stamps (?). I mean, there are some that have been sitting there in the post office storage for some thirty odd years now, and even after my purchase, I saw that there are still plenty left!
Well, anyway, enough of the rambling.
Below are four covers: three sent from the General Post Office in Bandar Seri Begawan and one from the Airport Post Office. Two are registered, one from each branch.
Sent from the BSB GPO. The lady postal clerk was very patient with me and was even kind enough to write "the Philippines" in the local script, which looks similar to Arabic.