This is Part 1 of a new series featuring stamp errors. The first stamps we talk about were issued by the Republic of Palau, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo, forming the westernmost part of the Caroline Islands.
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As a child I was always fascinated by the puzzle of how it was possible to place a quite sizeable model of a ship inside a narrow-necked bottle. One of my uncles, an ex-navy man, had a beautiful example in his house but he wouldn’t reveal the secret of how the thing was made.
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So far, we have mainly focused on Europe, but stamp collecting had also begun, albeit a bit later, over the Atlantic Ocean in North America. But it is not entirely certain who can be seen as the first American stamp dealer.
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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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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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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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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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And further memories for me as my father-in-law worked on the installation of the radar system for one of the Ocean Liners shown on the sheet below, the SS Canberra. In the past some of these ships competed to be the fastest to complete the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
How about this attractively illustrated sheet from Great Britain, 2001, depicting weather conditions and a barometer.
The above stamps from Portugal, 1997, are the second in a three-part series celebrating the 500th anniversary of voyages made by the explorer Vasco da Gama.
The stamp top left depicts the erection of a large stone cross inscribed with the coat of arms of Portugal placed as part of a land claim on the East African country of Mozambique. Stamp top right shows the arrival of a ship of da Gama’s fleet at Mozambique.
Bottom left stamp shows the impending arrival of the fleet in Mombasa, Kenya and the last stamp features the reception on board ship of the King of Malindi. The town of Malindi lies 120 kilometres north-east of Mombasa.
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