The subject for 2019’s Europa stamps is National Birds. Spain has a bearded vulture on its 2019 six-stamp Premium Sheet.

The bird is adapted to live in the harsh high landscape of the Pyrenean mountain range from Navarre to Catalonia.

Its anatomy is unmistakable. This huge bird can reach wingspans of up to 2.80 metres. Its Spanish name, “quebrantahuesos” (bone-breaker) comes from its way of feeding. Among other things it feeds on bones which it drops from a height onto rocks to crack them into smaller pieces. It does this in areas known in Spanish as “rompederos”.

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According to calculations made by an international team of scientists there are 307 million lakes in the world. That number includes all natural lakes, but not human-made lakes such as reservoirs formed by dams. Most lakes on earth are small, with nine out of ten lakes covering less than one hectare (2.5 acres).

The world’s largest lake is the Caspian Sea, which extends over 378,119 square kilometres (145,993 square miles), an area about the size of the American state of Montana or Germany. No other lake is larger than 100,000 square kilometres in area.

The 1943 French stamp shown above features a mountain lake in France, Lac Lérié and the magnificent Meije glacier. The stamp was designed and engraved by Pierre Gandon after a photo taken by Paul Almásy. The lake is situated 2,450 metres above sea level on a plateau in the department of Hautes-Alpes.

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The tractor was a very important invention for the development of agricultural production throughout the world and tractors on postage stamps can be an interesting topic for the stamp collector. Maybe some of the following shown here will be of interest also. The stamp above depicts Demeter, the ancient Greek goddess of the harvest, as an allegorical figure representing agriculture, looking down upon tractors ploughing a field, engraved and printed by Thomas De La Rue & Co. Ltd., and issued by Greece in 1951 as one of a set of six stamps publicising Greece’s post-Second World War economic recovery.

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Coffee is second only to oil as the most-traded commodity in the world.

 

As mentioned in the previous article, Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world. Coffee is also an important agricultural product for the economy of many Central and South American countries and various islands in the Caribbean. The Costa Rica definitive stamp set below includes three values – the 45 and 80 Centimos and 10 Colones – showing a female coffee bean picker.

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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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Each summer a small island in the Irish Sea becomes the focus of motorcycling enthusiasts from around the world.

The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency between Great Britain and Ireland. The island is about 32 miles long and, at its widest, 14 miles wide. It has been inhabited for more than eight thousand years. English is the main language spoken but the island has its own Celtic origin language (Manx). The Isle of Man’s Tynwald (parliament), is believed to be the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world.

The island used British stamps until 1958 when Great Britain’s regional issues began. The Isle of Man Post Office was founded in 1973 to secure postal independence and, since then, the island has issued its own stamps.

 

The first issue was a fifteen pence commemorative which depicted the Vikings landing on the island in 938.

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An extremely popular event is held each year in the period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in The Netherlands. A radio station, NPO Radio 2, hosts a week-long programme playing what listeners vote to be the best 2,000 songs of all time. The following article was written by one of the contributors to our Dutch-language ‘Postzegelblog’ website, Randy Koo:

The polling stations are closed. And for the 16th year the six-minute and six-second mini rock opera song Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) by the band Queen is number 1 in the TOP2000. Meanwhile, a film (biopic) with the same title has recently appeared in the cinema. How did Queen come into being and why is Freddie Mercury so important to the music world?

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There’s no doubt of the attraction of young animals and the ability of many a young mammal to draw an ‘Ooo’ or ‘Aaah’ from the human being. It can also be the subject of interest to the stamp collector as images of young animals are often printed on postage stamps.

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This stamp is part of a  sheet issued by Australia in 2005 was spookily entitled “Creatures of the Slime” and focussed on the world’s first animals – multicellular organisms, some probably related to worms, jellyfish, and snails, dating back some 560 million years. Known as Ediacaran fossils – predating dinosaurs by millions of years – these creatures have a particular connection to Australia. They are named after the Ediacaran Hills of the Flinders Ranges World Heritage site in South Australia.

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For thematic stamp collectors the horse has always been a very popular subject. If you are interested in horse sports or a particular breed there is bound to be a stamp to satisfy your interest. The stamps shown below were issued by the German state of Saarland which, following the Second World War, from 1947 to 1956 was a French-occupied territory (the “Saar Protectorate”) separate from the rest of Germany. You may notice two values shown on each stamp. The reason being the postal tariffs were adapted to French postage rates – mail to France was to be franked at the domestic postage, mail to Allied-occupied Germany at the foreign tariff.

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