Saturday, August 23, 2008

Venezuela - The Metro System

Location : Freeport, Texas

I did mention previously that the last trip to Venezuela was a total waste. Well maybe not because I did get one set of stamps there on the Metro rail system. Sadly I'm not really collecting stapms on train, but it does make for interesting collection.

The stamps on top are dealing with the Metro system, a mass rapid transport system in the Capital Caracas and its neighbourhoods. Apparently the Metro system, which was started in 1983, is a source of great pride in the Venezuela, so the next time you are there, you should make a mental note not to pee when you are waiting for your next train.

An excellent source of information on the Caracas Metro system can be found here at Wikipedia. The stamps in question are dealing with the new developements being made on the Caracas metro system. The top stamp is on the new 4th Line that was opened in 2006. The other stamp deals with the " Metro Los Teques", a line started between the main line with the town of Los Teques.

The two stamps below are the stamps on the metro system of the city of Valencia. Now this is a much newer system that came into service only in 2006. As per wiki, they charge only 500 bolivar for an adult, which comes to about 23 US cents. Which makes it irritating to me because the cost of the stamp on the metro costs 3000 bolivars, a cost that would have gotten me 6 round trips on the metro.

Sources : Urban Rail - Valencia , Urban Rail - CaracasOffical website - Caracas Metro , Offical website - Valencia Metro

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Italy - Como the silk stamp

Location : The Gulf Of Mexico
Sometimes it is frustrating not to have access to the internet because I want to research a bit into the subject that I want to blog on. This is one of the reasons that I have been holding out on this miniature sheet that I am presenting today.
This is apparently the first (and as far as I can tell - the only) stamp sheet to have come out in pure silk. This sheet, priced at approx 2.8 Euro was released by the Italian post to comemorate the Italian artist and sculptor Baldassare Longoni (1876 - 1956). The picture on the left of the sheet is one of his paintings of the city Como, which is famous for the silk it produces. Please note the side edges that I have left out where you can see the fine silk threads coming out.
That said, the above information is something I have deduced using my non-existent knowledge of Italian, mixed with the help of a few translation sites. So there is much that still needs to be resolved. For example why silk? Does it pay homage to the city or to Longoni, who did something in silk as well.

Also It seems to be particularly tough to get hold of an boigraphy of Mr Longoni to know more about that chap. Web searches only lead to auction houses who ask me if I am a neice of Mr Longoni.

Finally the translation of the back printing leads me to believe that this is actually some sort of an envelope and it is supposed to open up. Very exciting and Indiana Jones like! I think I will leave it a mystrey till someone from you kind readers can translate it and shed some more light on it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

USA - Vintage Black Cinema

Location : Gulf Of Mexico, 26 31 N , 094 17 W

Firstly I am a bit surprised that in this age of extreme political correctness in the US, the USPS came out with a stamp sheet called "Black Cinema". Maybe they thought that "Colored Cinema" might be misleading. :)

Regardless, I was thrilled to get my hands on this sheet. I am an minor Jazz fan and so I was very happy to get my hands on the stamps featuring Duke Ellington and Louis Jordan.

Let me tell you a bit about the stamps.

Remembered as the first screen appearance of Duke Ellington, the 1929 Black and Tan features three songs by Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra. In this 19 minute short movie, Ellington, playing himself, is in danger of having his piano repossessed. When his fatally ill girlfriend dances at a night club, she saves Ellington's music - and asks to hear his "black and Tan fantasy" on her deathbed. So by all accounts, it wasn't a fresh and happy short movie.

I haven't seen the movie myself, and I as an policy don't post you tube videos on my blog. But if you are so inclined, you can get the first five minutes of the movie on youtube at this link.

The other stamp I was keen about was of Louis Jordan. This chap was one of the most colorful person in the Jazz industry and was an accomplished singer, Saxophonist, and a bandleader. He had a band called the tympani five and sang his way into peoples hearts right through the 1930s to the 1950's. An amazing personality, the Caldonia was called a short film simply because in that time, no body had coined the term "music video". This was an 18 minute film featuring four of Jordan's songs.

Links : Official website of Louis Jordan.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Egyptian Immigration

Location : The Cayman Ridge ,  19 38 N 083 36 W
Since we have been going through my official papers, let me show you a page from one of the passports. This is the Egyptian immigration at work and for some reason they seem to be using revenue stamps in the temporary visas. I'm not sure if they are still doing that, but I haven't seen too many countries using stamps.
Sadly the impressive Eagle cancellation hasn't been done properly and the stamps themselves are upside down to each other. The whole effect onestly doesn't seem too appealing. But then Immigration officials are rarely known for their artistic sensibilities.  

Venezuela No 2

Location : Off Jamaica , 17 24 N 080 31 W

In line with the yesterdays fiscal stamp, I wanted to put another one I spotted on the official papers. This one seems to have a value written on it of 0.02 UT, a value I'm not sure what it represents in Big Mac's.

If someone could shed some light on then, it would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Location : Caribbean , 14 45 N , 074 33 W
The last few days were busy as I went to Venezuela, but it was sure disappointing. I couldn't get ashore and couldn't get any cards till the very last minute. So sorry folks, but there's not going to be any mail call from Venezuela this time. But I did get a few stamps on the offical mail during this call.
Pictured above is an Venezuelan stamp to be used on the offical stamp parers. I think the notation "Timbre Fisical" on the bottom left means "Financial Stamp". Itas a neat thing, but sadly as its part of the offical papers, can't add it to the personal collection. :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Empire state building - Postal Chute

Location : Atlantic - 24 24 N , 069 28 W
It seems ages since I put up a picture of a post box or a post office out here. So I wanted to show you something different today. I had gone to the Empire state building in New york a few days back and they let us up to the observatory on the 86th floor. On the way I came across this chute which is pictured here. The inscription on the metal plate reads " US Mail - Cutler mailing system, Cutler mail chute Co., Rochester, NY USA".
I saw it on only one floor, but its a safe assumption that this chute goes all along the height of the the Empire state building. I haven't seen such an system in use anywhere else and I doubt in the new skyrises being made today, postal chutes are fitted anymore. Postal chutes must have been a great godsend in those days for all postal employees.
 I heard that once the Empire state building postal chutes shut down and an postal employee had to climb the outside of the building to deliver mail to the top floor. An unfortunate mix up in the new USPS uniform led people to believe that an ape was climbing the Empire State Building. I believe that even made a movie on that!