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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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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Advances in the field of medical surgery have been dramatic and it´s possible that some philatelists find the subject interesting to collect. My father´s life was extended by many years as a result of two open heart operations. An amazing coincidence was that the surgeon who carried out the second operation had the same name as my father. He even gave me an impromptu tour of the operating theatre the day before the operation and explained the use of the various tools and instruments laid out awaiting his skilled hands.

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Azure WindowThe power of nature should never be underestimated! What was once a major tourist attraction on Malta’s island of Gozo was recently destroyed by a violent storm that hit the islands. Known as the ‘Azure Window’, see photo , a Maltese Environment Commission stated that the collapse of the Azure Window was part of a natural process that was expected, “The question has always been ‘when’ not ‘if’ it would not fall”.

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train stampNew stamps appear regularly with a variety of subjects. Below is a selection of recently-published stamps from around the globe.

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SEPACThis year’s SEPAC theme is ‘Seasons’. SEPAC stands for Small European Postal Administration Co-operation and consists of the following group of small European postal administrations: Greenland, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Åland, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican.

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Joint stamp issue Malta Israel 2014MaltaPost has released a stamp in a joint issue with Israel. The subject of the stamp features “The Knights Hospitaller Halls” as a theme common to both countries. The two countries share a common connection as, at some stage, the Sovereign Military Order of St John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta (SMOM) occupied both.

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