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!


New Covers

Here are some new covers. I unfortunately can never find the time to research about them since I'm always on the go, so there aren't any long explanations on these. However, I'm pretty sure you guys would prefer to see the covers either way.

Anyway, most of these issues are self-explanatory. :-)

Thanks to the Cernohous Family. Belated Merry Christmas to you, too!
Well, actually, the cancellation reads 8 Oct, but I received this just last week!

Interesting postmark. Is it official?

Slovenian food! Yummy! I initially thought this was the Slovenia issue for the Europa CEPT topic on gastronomy, but that theme was for 2005 and these were issued 2008!
Thanks, Enzo Pittana!

Reminds me of my visit to the Singapore National Orchid Garden, a very nice place to visit and be one with nature.

Thanks to Andrzej Bek for this FDC from the late Pope's homeland. I deduce that this FDC celebrates 30 years since Pope John Paul II was declared Pope since his papacy began on 16 October 1978.

Habemus Papam = "We have a pope!"
Non Omnis Moriar = "I shall not completely die"

It's surprising that Poczta Polska offers no English translations on its FDCs and stamps!

Notice how the spelling of Norway is Norwegian is inconsistent ("Norge" and "Noreg").
This is because there are two standard official Norwegian languages. "Norge" is Bokmål (literally "national language"), which is spoken by about 90% of the population while "Noreg" is Nynorsk (literally "New Norwegian"), which is spoken by 10%. The difference between the two is that Nyornsk was intenionally developed in the 1800s to distinguish Norwegian from Danish since Danish was the language used in writing at the time, while Bokmål can be considered the "virgin" of the two in the sense that it arose out of the phonetic evolution of the Norwegian language, and not from intentional intervention.

Although both are officially used, I'd think that Norway Post should at least standardize, right?

Thanks, Jung Min!
새해 복 많이 받으세요

Thanks, YW Leung!

My first cover from Cuba with a postmark and the postmark's not very clear..... :-(
¡Muchas gracias a Alexis Izquierdo!
¡Responderé a su carta pronto!

This wasn't actually sent through the mail system per se, but mailed inside another envelope because, according to the sender, there is not enough space onto which the other Olympic stamps could be affixed. Actually, the cover is indeed quite small compared to the standard size.
Anyway, you can't really tell if this was processed by the post or not since both the Philippine and Brazilian postal systems don't print processing labels on the envelopes (like they do in Italy, the UK, Canada, and the US) and the only way you can really tell that it never went through the postal system is by the absence of a backstamp. But, then again, backstamps are sometimes not applied anyway....
Thanks to Luis Alberto Kalife for this cover!

Notice the neat pointillism on the bird depiction. At first, I thought that this was just a printed image on a commercially available envelope, but after closer inspection, I noticed that the bird was drawn using pointillism! Wow, a personalized, one-of-a-kind cover!
Thanks, Ahmet!


Roma, il capitale d'Italia

Many thanks to Enzo from Venezia for this very nice piece of philatelic stationery. Sadly, however, the Philippine postal workers wrought havoc on the beautiful postcard once again!

The part of Rome shown in this postcard and stamp is the Imperial Forums area. The Imperial Forums a series of public squares that were constructed between 46 BC and 113 AD. For many decades, they were the center of city life and important figures gathered there to discuss the economy or expound upon their beliefs about politics or any other hot subjects of the era.

The forums were built under four rulers, namely Caesar, Augustus, Nerva, and Trajan. The forum shown here was built during the time of Trajan and is the largest and greatest of the Imperial Forums. It was built to honor the conquest of Dacia in southeastern Europe (now Romania).

Much excavation had to be done to complete this forum, which consisted of several parts: a public square, a large temple (the Temple of Divius Traianus), two libraries and the immense Basilica Ulpia. For some time this particular civic building moved the center of political life from the Roman Forum to the Imperial Forums. Many of its marble columns (seen in the post card depiction) still stand today.

The 42 meter tall Trajan’s Column, located between the Basilica Ulpia and the Temple of Trajan indicated the exact height of the hill that was excavated for the construction of the forum.


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.....



Here we have a cover from Cyprus featuring the anemone coronaria (flower), the Beijing Olympics, and the Cyprus refugee fund.

The stamp with the flower is part of a 4v set featuring anemones that was issued 06 March 08. The one shown in this stamp is the anemone coronaria.

The anemone coronaria (a.k.a. poppy anemone, Spanish marigold, "dağ lalesi" in Turkish, "Kalanit" in Hebrew) is a species of flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region. It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 20-40 cm tall, with a basal rosette of a few leaves. The flowers are borne singly on a tall stem with a whorl of small leaves just below the flower; the flower is 3-8 cm diameter, with 5-8 red, white or blue petal-like petals.

The Anemone coronaria is one of the most well known and beloved flowers in Israel. During the British Mandate of Palestine, British soldiers were nicknamed "Kalaniyot" for their red berets.

The stamp in the middle is part of the 4v Olympics set issued by Cyprus post for last year's Olympics. This stamp, as you can see, showcases the sport of tennis.

The last stamp, farthest to the right, is a postal tax stamp issued for the Cyprus refugee fund. These stamps with the same design was issued in 1974, 1977, and 1984, and have been issued every year since 1987. Does anyone have any information on why and how this started? I can;t seem to find any off the net. From what I understand, there was some political unrest in 1972 which I guess resulted in the inflow of refugees into the country. Beyond that I'm not really sure.

Erratum on Монгол улс

Hi guys!

Apparently, Packards were the first cars to come to Mongolia and one of them was used by the last king of Mongolia, Bogd Khan.

Although I haven't found any information to confirm this, I trust one of my blog readers, Bat, who was kind enough to point this out. Thanks, Bat! :-)


Монгол улс (Mongolia)

Here is my first cover from Mongolia, which I wasn't even expecting! Although it is rather boring and not of much aesthetic value, I think it's a good start. What surprises me is that the stamp used on the cover seems very much like your average CTO stampsand I wouldn't have thought twice about classifying it as one had it not been used on this cover.

The postmark is also not all that great; the date is unintelligible and all I could make out was the word "Mongol" written in the Russian alphabet (Russian since there is a strong Russian influence in the country's history).

The Mongolian characters for Mongolia are shown below:

I do not feel like looking deeper into the theme and exploring the story behind since I feel there is a lack thereof, considering that the 1909 Packard probably did not have much to do with Mongolian history and culture.

This time, I think it would suffice just to celebrate the fact that I have received a cover from an exotic location!

საქართველო (Sakartvelo)

Here is another neat cover from Georgia with many stamps. This time the themes are UNESCO world heritage sites, fruits, and mountains.

First, to the world heritage sites.

Jvari Monastery (Georgian: ჯვარი, ჯვრის მონასტერი) is a Georgian Orthodox monastery of the 6th century that stands on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, overlooking the village of Mtskheta, which was formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Iberia.

According to traditional accounts, on this location in the early 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting King Mirian III of Iberia to Christianity, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. The cross was reportedly able to work miracles and therefore drew pilgrims from all over Caucasus. A small church was erected over the remnants of the wooden cross in c.545 named the “Small Church of Jvari”.

Bagrati Cathedral (Georgian: ბაგრატი; ბაგრატის ტაძარი, or Bagratis tadzari) is a11th-century cathedral church in the city of Kutaisi, the region of Imereti, Georgia. The construction of the cathedral, named after Bagrat III, the first king of united Georgia, started at the end of the 10th century and was completed in the early years of the 11th century. Although partly destroyed by the Turks in 1691, its ruins still lie in the center of Kutaisi. The Gelati Monastery, whose main buildings were erected between the 12th and 17th centuries, is a well-preserved complex, with wonderful mosaics and wall paintings. The cathedral and monastery represent the flowering of medieval architecture in Georgia.

Svetitskhoveli (Georgian: სვეტიცხოვლის საკათედრო ტაძარი, Svet'icxovlis Sak'atedro T'aʒari; literally, "the Living Pillar Cathedral") is the royal cathedral of Georgia, used for centuries for the coronation and burial of Georgian monarchs. More importantly, it is considered one of the holiest places in Georgia since the Robe of Christ is believed to be buried here, having been brought to Georgia in the 1st century by a Jew from Mtskheta named Elias. The story tells that on his return to Mtskheta, his sister Sidonia came out to meet him and, on seeing the sacred robe, was so overcome with emotion that she clutched it to her breast and died in a state of religious ecstasy. As it was impossible to pry the robe from her grasp, it was buried with her near the confluence of the two rivers where the 11th century cathedral is now located.

Samtavro Monastery is a little 4th century church that marks the site where St. Nino lived and prayed, while a larger 11th century building holds the tombs of her contemporaries - Georgia’s first Christian monarchs, King Mirian and Queen Nana.

Next, on to the fruits:

Since botany is not my forte, I thought it might be better if I were to show some pictures of the real fruits with their commons names and some information relating the fruit to Georgia.

This fruit shown on the stamp on the extreme right is, of course, a pomegranate (punica granatum). Pomegranates originated from Persia, but have been harvested in Georgia for centuries. The one in the picture looks delicious! Seems nice and juicy; haven't had one myself, though.

This fruit on the left hand side shows a Quince, which is realted to the apple and pear family, as you can see. The quince is native to Gerogia and the Caucasus region. To be honest, this is the firt time I have ever encountered this fruit, and I do not think that would be able to tell much of a difference if I saw them in the market nest to pears! I wonder how they taste.....

Unfortunately, I cannot identify the strange fruit in the middle! I tried looking it up using its taxonomic classification, however nothing seemed to match! Does anyone know what this fruit is? It seems rather exotic because of the mouth-like opening shown on its side! Is it a plum? Or a nut? I really can'te tell. If only I could read Georgian.....

And, for the last stamp:

The mountain in the stamp on the left side is Mount Ushba (Georgian: უშბა), which is one of the most notable peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. It is located in the Svaneti region of Georgia, just south of the border with the Kabardino-Balkaria region of Russia. Although it does not rank in the 10 highest peaks of the range, Ushba is known as the "Matterhorn of the Caucasus" for its picturesque, spire-shaped double summit.


Ms. Khatuna Kipinani, who sent this cover, has informed me that the "strange fruit" that I was unable to identify is actually an orchid! No wonder it seems to have an opening, which would be quite strange for a fruit. Really, I would fail a botany test on identification if I were to ever take one!


Endangered Nigerian Gorillas

Here we have a cover from Nigeria with two of the stamps in the WWF 4v set issued by Nigeria Post on 26 Mar 08.

The Cross River Gorilla is a subspecies of the Western Gorilla that can be found on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, in both tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. While all Western Gorillas are Critically Endangered (in the case of the Western Lowland Gorilla due in part to Ebola virus). The cross river gorilla supposedly separated as a separate species from the western gorilla about 1 million years ago. The Cross River Gorilla is the most endangered of the African apes, and is one of the world's 25 most endangered primates according to the IUCN Primate Specialist Group.

Estimates on the number of Cross River Gorillas remaining vary, with around 250 to 300 believed to remain in the wild, concentrated in approximately 11 locations. Recent genetic research and field surveys suggest that these locations are linked by the occasional migration of individual gorillas. Both loss of habitat and intense hunting for bushmeat have contributed to the decline of this subspecies.

A conservation plan for the Cross River gorilla was published in 2007 and outlines the most important actions necessary to preserve this subspecies. Richard Black, of the BBC, has reported that the government of Cameroon has created the Takamanda National Park, on the border with Nigeria, is as an attempt to protect these Gorillas. The park now forms part of an important trans-boundary protected area with Nigeria’s Cross River National Park, safeguarding an estimated 115 gorillas—a third of the Cross River gorilla population—along with other rare species. The hope is that the gorillas should be able to move between the Takamanda reserve in Cameroon over the border to Nigeria's Cross River National Park.

A study published in 2007 in the American Journal of Primatology announced the discovery of the fighting back against possible threats from humans.They "found several instances of gorillas throwing sticks and clumps of grass." This is unusual, because gorillas usually flee and rarely charge when encountered by humans.


FDCs from भारत गणराज्य

Here are a few FDCs and a cover from India:

This first FDC bears the India-China joint issue issued on 6 June 08 in China and 11 July in India. The design features the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya in India and the White Horse Temple near Luoyang, Henan Province, in China.

The Mahabodhi Temple (Literally: "Great Awakening Temple") is a Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, the location where Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, attained enlightenment. Bodh Gaya is located about 96 km (60 miles) from Patna, Bihar state, India. Next to the temple, to its western side, is the holy Bodhi tree. In the Pali Canon, the site is called Bodhimanda, and the monastery there the Bodhimanda Vihara.

The site of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya is, according to the Buddhist commentarial scriptures, the same for all Buddhas. According to the Jatakas, it forms the navel of the earth, and no other place can support the weight of the Buddha's attainment.

White Horse Temple (pinyin: Báimǎ Sì) was the first Buddhist temple in China, established under the patronage of Emperor Ming in the Eastern Han capital Luoyang in the year 68.[1] White Horse Temple is one of the oldest buddhist temples. It is only 12 kilometers from Luoyang city.

According to the Book of Later Han history, Emperor Ming was said to have dreamed one night in the year 64 of a golden person standing 20 metres tall and with a radiating white aureola flying from the West. The next day he told his ministers, and the minister Zhong Hu explained to him that he had probably dreamed of the Buddha from India. The emperor then sent a delegation of 18 headed by Cai Yin, Qin Jing and Wang Zun to seek out Buddhism. They returned from Afghanistan with an image of Gautama Buddha, the Sutra of Forty-two Chapters and two eminent monks.

The monks names have been variously romanized as Kasyapamatanga and Dharmavanya, Moton and Chufarlan.

The next year, the emperor ordered the construction of the White Horse Temple three li ( 1 li = 415.8 meters; a li is a Chinese unit of measurement that has changed definitional values over time. The figure above is the standardized measurement at the time of the Han) east of the capital Luoyang, to remember the horse that carried back the sutras. It was China's first Buddhist temple.

This FDC showcases the four types of renewable energy currently being developed by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of India, which is responsible mainly for research and development, intellectual property protection, and international cooperation, promotion, and coordination in renewable energy sources such as wind power, small hydro, biogas, and solar power.

As regular visitors would know, the topic of environmental issues is among my favorite stamp themes so I highly value this cover. Thanks, Mahendra!

The Commonwealth Youth Games are a small-scale version of the Commonwealth Games, designed for children and young people.

The inaugural Commonwealth Youth Games were held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2000, and the second in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, in 2004.

The third Games (commemmorated in this FDC issued 12 Oct 08) took place in Pune, India, in 2008, and were viewed in part as a test event for the 2010 main Commonwealth Games. The fourth Games are scheduled to take place in Douglas, Isle of Man, in 2011. From 2011 onwards the Games will revert to a four-yearly cycle. The hosting of the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games has been awarded to Apia, Samoa. Wrexham in Wales has so far expressed an interest in hosting the 2019 Commonwealth Youth Games.

In the latest edition of the Games, in Pune, hosts India topped the gold medal tally with 33 gold, followed by Australia and England with 24 and 18 respectively. The third Commonwealth Youth Games is unique for its green theme, which permeates all aspects of the Games. A special drive is being conducted by the game organisers to create a "save the tigers" campaign to promote awareness of the critical state of the Indian tiger.

In this last cover we have another reference to the Commonwealth Games, this time not the one organized for the youth. The two identical stamps on the upper right of the obverse are in anitipation of the nineteenth Commonwealth Games will also be held in India and are scheduled to be held in Delhi between 3 October and 14 October 2010. The design of the stamps shows the mascot for the event, a white Bengal tiger named Shera. The White Bengal is the national animal of India.

The stamp on the upper left obverse issued 13 Oct 08 obviously pays homage to post offices. As to which post office is depicted or why post offices are being celebrated is beyond me. But, to compensate, a little trivia about India Post:

The Indian Postal Service, with 155,333 post offices, is the most widely distributed post office system in the world (China is next, with 57,000). The large numbers are a result of a long tradition of many disparate postal systems which were unified in the Indian Union post-Independence. Owing to this far-flung reach and its presence in remote areas, the Indian postal service is also involved in other services such as small savings banking and financial services.

Talk about mobilization, eh?
Well, actually, considering that thereare over a billion Indians living in the country, perhaps 153,333 postal outlets are necessary to serve one sixth of the world population.