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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The Spanish Civil War had a dramatic effect on the artist Pablo Picasso’s outlook on life. Not having previously been a man interested in politics, the 1936 Franco uprising in Spain was an event that dragged him out of this disinterest and made him a defender of peace and liberty. After he painted his famous response to the German bombing of the Basque village of Guernica in the north of Spain in 1937, Picasso became a symbol not only of anti-fascism but specifically a symbol of the opposition to fascism by artists and intellectuals.

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In this second part of the story we provide an analysis of the song Bohemian Rhapsody.

Freddie Mercury never really gave a clear explanation about the meaning of the song’s lyrics. The text contains many philosophical and religious elements. According to one of the many theories Bohemian Rhapsody was inspired by the 18th Century book Faust by the German literary writer Goethe in which the main character makes a pact with the devil.

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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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The stamp depicted on the left was issued by Ascension Island in 1979 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of the great British explorer, cartographer, navigator and Royal Navy Captain, James Cook. In both of the stamp sets below, James Cook’s chronometer appears. It is, specifically, a marine chronometer made by the man who invented the marine chronometer in 1730. He was Englishman John Harrison (1693-1776). This was the first of a series of chronometers that enabled accurate marine navigation.

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It’s that time of year again and history tells us that the often-repeated message churned out during the Christmas holiday period, wishing for ‘Peace on Earth’, will never happen. My negativity was aroused when searching for appropriate stamps for this article, whereby I thought I’d take a look back at some of the earlier Christmas stamps. I came across the two Spanish stamp sheets seen above which were issued in 1941 to commemorate the second anniversary of the liberation of Barcelona by General Franco’s forces during the Spanish Civil War.

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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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The man depicted in portrait form and as the main character on the stamps issued by China in 1960 was a Canadian physician, medical innovator, and noted communist. He became expert in thoracic surgery and developed or modified more than a dozen new surgical tools.

Norman Bethune achieved acclaim first for his service as a frontline surgeon supporting the democratically elected Republican government during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). But it was his service in China with the Communist Eighth Route Army during China’s second war with Japan (1937-1945) that would earn him enduring gratitude.

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As I write the euro is the official currency of 19 of the current 28 member states of the European Union and also some of the territories of the Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area. The euro is the second largest and second most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar. The gradual introduction of the currency began at midnight on the 1st of January 1999, when the national currencies of participating countries in the eurozone ceased to exist independently.

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October the second was the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the most influential men of the 20th Century, Mahatma Gandhi (born 1869 – assassinated 1948). In commemoration India Post have issued the fine stamp sheet containing seven circular stamps shown below.

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