Though not normally having a great interest in the game of golf I find myself absolutely glued to the television for a certain three-day event which occurs every two years.

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Stamps from Montenegro 2008.

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 Round Towers of Ireland are remarkable among the world’s ancient monuments in that whilst they make a bold historical and cultural statement, they were built with a very practical use in mind. The Irish Round Towers were used between the 10th and 12th Centuries as bell towers and hiding places in the time of the Viking invasions.

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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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1Oscar de la Renta (seen above), who died in October 2014 aged 82, was one of the world’s leading fashion designers for more than 50 years. And his work has been commemorated by the United States Postal Service with a stamp series, to be released next month. Born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, de la Renta was apprenticed with Spanish Basque fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga, before moving to Paris to work at the fashion house Lanvin.

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train2005 was the 150th anniversary of the completion of the vital rail link between Dublin in Eire (Southern Ireland) and Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland. An Post (the Irish Post Office) commemorated the event with a set of four stamps, a prestige booklet and a miniature sheet.

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Hyena on StampYou probably know by now that Freestampmagazine comes under the umbrella of PostBeeld, along with our other freely-offered service for stamp collectors, Freestampcatalogue. Accordingly, now and then we like to inform our readers of items recently added to PostBeeld’s already enormous and extremely varied stock.

Among recent additions is a large collection of first day covers and prestige booklets from The Netherlands.

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Unusual-topicsWhat makes stamp collecting interesting for most people is the enormous, and sometimes strange, choice of topics chosen by countries/organisations when issuing stamps. Each year, the organisation PostEurop’s Stamps & Philately Working Group selects the EUROPA stamp theme. It is always very interesting to see what stamp designs for each year’s topic are printed by the participating countries’ postal authorities.

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St Patricks battalion postage stamp IrelandOn September 12, 1997, Mexico and Ireland made a joint stamp issue commemorating the 150 Anniversary of the Irish volunteers who fought for Mexico in the Mexican American War, 1846-1847.

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Ireland Saint Patricks Day stamp 2014On February 20, 2014, An Post has once again issued a stamp to mark Saint Patrick’s Day, one of the world’s best-known national holidays. Everybody knows about Saint Patrick’s Day, which is named after our patron saint, Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461). It is celebrated every year, on 17 March, but not just in Ireland. It is a public holiday here and in Newfoundland, Labrador and Montserrat while the parades and celebrations are big events in the United States, Britain, Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

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