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!


Cover Collector's Nightmare

I have complained and ranted many times in the past about the crazy practices of the Philippine Postal Service, and here I present you with an exhibit of proof of how they can destroy covers.

Already prone to damage because of its large size, this cover was "taped" and postmarked for "security purposes" to prove that the letter arrived at the mail processing center in bad order. Ironically, they made the matter worse by putting tape and applying strange markings.....

Thankfully, the cover was not particularly philatelic, or I'd be wailing the loss due to strange Philippine postal practices....


Here is a personal FDC from China sent from Shanghai on 03.07.2010.
The cover has the 2v set issued to showcase the ruins of the Loulan Ancient City (楼兰古城遗 址).

Loulan or Kroran is an ancient oasis town on the north-eastern edge of the Lop Desert. Loulan, known to Russian archaeologists as Krorayina, was an ancient kingdom along the Silk Road. In 108 BCE, the Han Dynasty defeated the armies of the Loulan kingdom and made it into a puppet/allied state. The kingdom became integrated into the Han Dynasty and was given the Chinese name of Shanshan, though the town at the northwestern corner of the brackish desert lake Lop Nur retained the name of Loulan. The ruins of the town of Loulan are on what were the western banks of Lop Nur, now dessicated, in the Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang. The site is now completely submerged in the desert

The stamp on the left shows the 佛塔 or Pagoda, and the stamp to the right shows the 间房 or the three walled sections.


Principat d'Andorra

Here's another cover from Andorra which I like very much because of the concept behind the stamp design.... It is not so evident in the scan, but the stamp has a reflective surface (although the reflection is not at all clear) in the shape of a mirror. This stamp was issued for the Europa 2010 issues, and the common theme this year is Children's Books, so I am guessing that this stamp is a reference to the story of Snow White. The inscription around the "mirror" is Catalan for, "Mirror, magic mirror, tell me who is..." which I guess is the first half the famous line in English: "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"


Wallis et Futuna

Here us a cover from another exotic part of the world: Wallis and Futuna! W&F is an Overseas French Collectivity of three larger, volcanic islands and many smaller islets around those. Here is a map to show exactly where (and exactly how remote) this place is.

I will not dwell too much on the stamps as they are not really my topic, but I will say that we also have many varieties of Bougainvillea here in the Philippines, so it is interesting to see that they also have that in Wallis and Futuna!


ශ්‍රී ලංකා

Sri Lankan script, called Sinhala, is an offsrping of Indian Brahmi script and, to an untrained eye like mine, it can easily pass for some type of decorative border designs.

At any rate, here are two covers I have received from this nation. I received another one before through the CCCC, but I decided to just save the stamps since the envelope used was of extremely poor quality, resulting in the deterioration of the envelope on its way to me in Macau (where I was staying at the time).

At any rate, this first one with the meter postage is the first I received way back in 2007!
While I generally do not like meter postage, I sort of like the design on the Sri Lankan one, and the imprint is not bad, either, especially considering that most meter postage in third world countries like India and the Philippines are often unintelligible!

This second cover is not in very good condition as it is actually a large bubble wrap envelope, but I like the design on the side and the overall look of the cover nonetheless. It's just such a pity that the envelope was damaged on its way to me, probably because it was a bubble wrap envelope prone to piercing.....

As requested, my friend Clarence George used the 4v Olympics set and the 60 years of independence stamp (which I like very much since Independence issues are among my favorite themes). Thank you very much for that, Clarence!



Here's what could have been a nice cover, but there are so many things wrong with it:

1. The envelope size is huge!
2. The makeshift "Carta Priotaria" label is of low quality
3. The postal workers in the Philippines decided to write their storage number "02700" in big, bold permanent marker
4. The address is not handwritten

Well, what can you expect from a non-collector, right? This was sent by an eBay member.

Just thought I might share it anyway.

About the stamps, besides the two Olympics stamps on the right (which were carelessly affixed crookedly and with no seeming care for aesthetic spacing), there are some stamps that show Uruguayan festivals.

Three of the stamps feature Fermina Gularte (known better as Martha), who was a well-known Black Uruguayan dancer and showgirl in the Montevideo Carnivals.

The vignette features the "Desfile de Llamadas," (lit. Sp. "Parade of the Calls"), which is a festival held every year in February. Part of the festivities is a competition, for which contending groups rehearse during much of the year to participate in one of the most popular fiestas in Uruguay.

The name "Llamadas" has its origins in the nineteenth century when the slaves of black used drums to communicate. After abolition of slavery in Uruguay, this practice continued as a tradition between different families. who would come out and share time together. It is one of the purest manifestations of Afro-Uruguayan culture.



Just a quick post today of an old cover from Mozambique. Honestly, I initially thought the athlete on the left stamp was a male. The athlete is Maria de Lurdes Mutola, an athlete from Mozambique who has specialized in the 800 m. She was born in Maputo. She is the fourth Track & Field athlete to compete at six Olympic Games.

The S/S, as it reads on the stamp, celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of EUROPA stamps, one of my themes!

Thank to Carlo Pinto for this!


Covers from a good Belgian friend

Here is a selection of covers from a far-from-me-yet-not-so-exotic country today: Belgium!
I have been delaying this post for quite some time now since I haven't had the time to sit down and scan the covers and research on them, but here they are.

These first three FDCs are courtesy of good friend, Thomas Vandaele. He has been very kind and consistent in sending me Belgian FDCs and special cancellations, and I hope that he isn't disappointed that it has taken me such a long time to post his wonderful covers!

This first cover has two stamps from the 5v set issued 08.06.09 to celebrate milestones in the history of aviation and space navigation. The two in this set show the round-the-world trip of the Zeppelin in 1929 and the first Channel crossing by Blériot in 1909.

Here is a photograph of the actual craft that Blériot used to cross the Channel. It's no wonder that he was awarded GBP1000 for the achievement. I certainly wouldn't ride that thing over any surface, water or land!

Here is the complete set of stamps:

The designs of the other stamps:

2009 : Frank De Winne visits the ISS and is the second Belgian in space)
1969: first steps on the Moon
1969: 1st Concorde flight

The next cover has the 2v set that shows two personalities of the Belgian feminist movement Martha Boël (more about her here) and Lily Boeykens (more about her here).

This third cover I really like because the stamp on it has a plane design in the background (it's a shallow reason, but shallow reasons make life more interesting, don't they?)

This issue showcases Largo Winch, a Belgian comic book series by Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme, published by Dupuis. The principal character is Largo Winch whose birth name is Largo Winczlav.

In the first two volumes of the series, L'héritier and Le Groupe W, Largo, a young and handsome orphan, is propelled to the head of a business empire, Group W, after his adoptive father Nerio is murdered, and goes through a lot of troubles to preserve his inheritance and avenge Nerio. The following albums are more or less based on the same basic plot: someone is trying to harm Largo's company or to take control of it from him, and he has to fight that someone to ensure the survival of his holdings.

Below are three more covers that I've had for quite some time. I particularly like the second-to-last one for some reason. Perhaps it's the handwriting and the lively design of the S/S as well as the layout of the cover. Thanks to Bertrand D'Hooge for that one!

Isle of Man

Here's a great cover with nice, large stamps from the Isle of Man!

This cover has a bit of a war theme to it as the stamps were issued to commemorate wars, battles, and those lost in the line of duty.

The first, leftmost stamp shows a depiction of the rescue of the Lusitania by the wanderer, a fishing boat. The RMS Lusitania was an ocean liner owned by the Cunard Line and built by John Brown and Company on 7 May 1915 and sank in eighteen minutes, eight miles off the of Clydebank, Scotland. She was torpedoed by German U-boat U-20Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, killing 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, and was instrumental in bringing the United States into World War I. The sinking of the Lusitania was a coup for anti-German sentiment and caused great controversy.

More information on the Lusitania and its terrible fate here and here.

The next two stamps to the right are from a 4v set issued in 1981 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.

The upper stamp pays homage to Major Robert Henry Cain VC (2 January 1909 – 2 May 1974), a Manx recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Cain grew up on the Isle of Man and joined the Territorial Army in 1928. After working overseas he was given an emergency commission into the Army in 1940. He saw action during the Invasion of Sicily in 1943 and again during the Battle of Arnhem the following year. During the battle Major Cain's company was closely engaged with enemy tanks, self-propelled guns and infantry. Cain continually exposed himself to danger while leading his men and personally dispatched as much enemy armour as possible. Despite sustaining several injuries he refused medical attention and for his gallantry he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The lower stamp shows the Festival of Remembrance. This annual Festival, held at the Royal Albert Hall, commemorates and honours all those who have lost their lives in conflicts, and is both a moving and enjoyable evening. There is a matinee (2pm) and an evening performance - both are exactly the same except that the Royal Family attend only the evening performance.

The stamp on the far right shows one of six stamps issued to to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of World War 1 and the personal contributions of a selection of local soldiers.

This particular stamps features Pte Joseph Killey was born in Ramsey, the son of a carpenter. In 1915 he enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion and was soon serving with them in Belgium. He was killed in action on July 8, 1915 during the Battle of Boesinghe where British troops had taken over a stretch of front line from the French.

See the entire set here.