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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I’ve long been fascinated by the incredible feats of the brave and extremely tough men who set off from Europe and Scandinavia in search of fabled lands. It’s possible that those featured in this article were preceded by unknown explorers but here we mention those whose exploits are confirmed in history.
Ferdinand Magellan (born circa 1480 – died 1521) was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by the Spaniard Juan Sebastian Elcano after Magellan was killed on the island of Mactan (now part of the Philippines). He was also discoverer of what was named the Strait of Magellan, a navigable sea route in southern Chile separating mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the south. The Strait is the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
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Among the thousands of stamps recently added to PostBeeld’s ever-increasing stock are some nice stamps for the thematic collector interested in railway stamps and, in particular, stamps featuring railway stations.
This stamp is the station at Maryborough, Victoria – built in 1890 of red brick with stucco edging and an attractive clock tower. This magnificent station boasts one of the longest platforms in the southern hemisphere and still provides freight and passenger services. American author Mark Twain visited Maryborough in 1895 and was most impressed by the town’s grand railway station.
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While Orville and Wilbur Wright are generally considered to have been the first to complete a powered and controlled aircraft flight it is also generally accepted that the aeroplane was the invention of Sir George Cayley in 1799 at Brompton, near Scarborough in Yorkshire, England.
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Naturally, the ease with which one can communicate with people worldwide via email and other modern instant messaging systems has its advantages, but these methods have caused a great decline in the act of physically writing a letter and sending the item to another person via a postal delivery service. The big question is if, and when, will the postage stamp as we know it cease to exist? And what, if any, effect will this have on the value of stamp collections in the future?
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The man in the photograph above features in the Guinness Book of Records more than once! He was responsible for producing the artwork for more than 1,000 stamps for many countries, an incredible amount considering the time and precision demanded for every single engraving.
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Now and then we focus on the incredible variety of subjects that can be found on postage stamps, some being very unusual. And today I came across some such stamps. Those in question feature a sport whose participants must not only have a considerable amount of stamina but also excellent navigational skills. The sport, orienteering, began in Sweden in the late 19th Century and involved the crossing of unknown land with the aid of a map and a compass.
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As a young boy collecting stamps I was often more attracted to those with colour and shape rather than rarity. Diamond-shaped stamps from Hungary, Monaco and the Burundi particularly caught my eye.
The stamp on the left is from Hungary 1953, overprinted to celebrate a famous 6 goals to 3 victory by the national team over England at Wembley Stadium.
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Investigating the origin of the English-language term “Gordon Bennett”, once commonly used as an expression of surprise, I came to the conclusion that there does not seem to be a definitive explanation. Various theories abound. What is certain is that a motor car race held in Ireland in 1903, and a hot-air balloon race first held in 1906, was named after a certain Gordon Bennett. In tracing the origins of Gordon Bennett, I discovered that there were two famous Gordon Bennetts who might have been the source.
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