For Pope John Paul II’s visit to Austria in 1983, a postcard with a printed 3 schillings stamp, the ‘Bischofsmütze’, was produced as part of the ‘Get to know Austria’ postcard series. The card depicts the wooden image of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus, which is in the Mariazell Basilica, in Mariazell, Austria.

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The 1924 flying pigeon stamp is one of the icons of Dutch postal history. An equally special precursor appeared three years earlier: the airmail stamp with the seagull. This bird comes to life again almost a hundred years later on the Netherlands Stamp Day 2019 stamp sheetlet.

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The Māori people brought the beginnings of their art with them from their ancient homeland in Polynesia when they migrated to New Zealand more than 1,000 years ago and they developed those beginnings to new plateaus over successive generations. Wood carving was the primary art form but it was just one of the Māori’s cultural accomplishments.

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Shown below is a small selection from the thousands of new stamps added to PostBeeld’s stock recently.

A 1956 stamp showing the provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan that came together to form modern Libya in 1951. We have added many more stamps from Libya.

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New Zealand 1994

The ancestors of New Zealand’s Māori people arrived in canoes from Pacific islands before 1300 AD. The Māori had no written language and thus their history and legends were passed on orally from generation to generation, and through carving and weaving.

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Yugoslavia 1994 Ship in a Bottle booklet

As a child I was always fascinated by the puzzle of how it was possible to place a quite sizeable model of a ship inside a narrow-necked bottle. One of my uncles, an ex-navy man, had a beautiful example in his house but he wouldn’t reveal the secret of how the thing was made.

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1981 was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations to be the International Year of Disabled Persons.

Although many countries issued stamps featuring various disabilities that year, they were by no means the first stamps issued regarding the subject.

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What do we see when we look at the drawing on the stamp from Austria (1981) above? Several artists, notably the Dutch ‘master of optical illusion’ Maurits Escher, have incorporated into their designs certain impossible features that cannot exist in three-dimensional space. These include the ‘impossible cube’ on the stamp above, inspired by his designs and the ‘impossible triangle’ by the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd, shown on the first of the three stamps from Sweden (1982) in the continuation of this article.

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The city of Appeldoorn in Holland has, aside from other interesting attractions, a fine museum which currently has an exhibition called Paper Art. One of the exhibitors whose work is featured is Dutch artist Erik van Maarschalkerwaard. He has on display many creations featuring postage stamps, some of which are shown here.

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The beauty of New Zealand is undisputed by those fortunate enough to have visited the country. Indeed, in 2010 NZ Post issued a lovely 25-value mini-sheet depicting some of the highlights to be seen on the country’s North and South Islands. The sheet is entitled “A Slice of Heaven”.

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