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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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.

The man commemorated on the 1968 USA stamp above is Leif Erikson, the first known European to have discovered continental North America before Christopher Columbus. There are many other statues of Erikson in various cities in America and many countries have featured the exploits of the 10th Century Icelander on postage stamps such as those below.

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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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minivanOn July 14, 1956 the company Clípol was founded in Andorra, the tiny independent principality situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. It’s known for its ski resorts and for its tax-haven status that encourages duty-free shopping. The company’s name came from a combination of the names of the owners: Clement Travesset and brothers John and Henry Pol. They previously ran a taxi service, but then decided to start a bus service. To begin, they bought three Mercedes ‘minibus’ vehicles, which quickly became icons in the Principality.

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Penny Black stampsThis year, 2015, is the 175th anniversary of the first issue of Great Britain’s ‘Penny Black’ postage stamp. Looking back to 1990, the stamp’s 150th anniversary, we feature some of the stamps released that year to mark that first issue.

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

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