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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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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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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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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In 2014 the town of Dinant, and particularly the ”Association Internationale A. Sax”, celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax.

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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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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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Mascots on stampsWe know Olympic Games stamps are a popular theme for many stamp collectors and as our parent company, PostBeeld (postbeeld.com), has recently added many stamps on this subject to its stock thought this article about Olympic Games mascots might be of interest to some. The first Olympic mascot, though not official, was named “Schuss” and was born at the Grenoble Olympic Winter Games in 1968. Representing a little man on skis, half-way between an object and a person, it was the first manifestation of a long line of mascots which continue to this day.

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