Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "philately"

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes

During the summer, British Postcrossing members and old university friends Richard (aka roestimann) and Adam (aka mluc32) met in the city of Basel with a mission: to find all of the six “Basler Dybli” maiboxes!

Why are these mailboxes special, you ask? Well, for one, they’re beautiful! They were designed by Swiss architect Melchior Berri between 1843 and 1844, when Basel re-organised how mail was transported in the city. Upon completion and installation, they were considered the district mailboxes and served as direct connections to the postal network.

Basel Dove stamp

Local postmaster Johannes Bernoulli liked them so much that he requested 10 more to be made — and a stamp as well to commemorate the occasion! The stamp issued in Basel (this was before Switzerland had a unified post office for the whole country and cantons could issue their own postage) was called “Basler Dybli” (or the Basel Dove). The 2½-Rappen (cents) stamp was launched on July 1st, 1845 and featured an embossed white dove on a field of red, carrying a letter in its beak.

Although the stamp wasn’t very popular at the time, years later it became a prized symbol of Swiss philately for its classical beauty, but also for being the first stamp ever on several different categories… Can you guess which ones before having a peek? 🕊

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes

Amazingly, almost 175 years later, these beautiful mailboxes featuring the same dove motive are still in use! Richard and Adam located all six of them, mailed some postcards from them and took some photographs to document their outing in Basel.

If you’re ever in Basel and are curious to follow their footsteps to discover these special mailboxes, you can find them at: Spalentor, St. Alban Vorstadt, Münsterplatz, Schneidergasse, Lindenberg (Kleinbasel) and at the old chambers in Riehen, which is a little outside the city.

What a brilliant postal adventure! Thank you Richard and Adam for taking us along on your trip around Basel to learn some interesting facts about the postal history of Switzerland!

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes
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postcrossing moldova2018

Good news from Moldova, the most recent country to issue a Postcrossing-themed stamp!

Isn’t it a cute one? We love how the postcards zoom all around the world, taking a happy Moldovan postcrosser with them.

The stamp was drawn by Lilian Iaţco, and 120,000 stamps have been printed, as well as postcards and first-day covers to mark the occasion. Sadly, we believe these will only be available in local post offices for now, as Moldova Post doesn’t have a philatelic online shop yet.

As is becoming a tradition, a meetup is taking place today to celebrate the launch of the stamp and use the cancellation mark made for the occasion. The event will take place in Chisinau’s Central Post Office, which might be familiar to some from last year’s event that brought together Moldovan and Romanian postcrossers.

We look forward to seeing this new stamp make its way around the world on many future postcards!

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May is here, so it’s time to choose the best EUROPA stamp of the year!

This year’s theme is “Bridges”, a theme which we are particularly fond of, for what are postcards if not metaphorical bridges between two worlds? Sadly, most post offices took a less poetic approach to the theme, and featured almost exclusively physical constructions…

EUROPA stamp 2018

Nothing wrong with that, but personally, we would have liked to see a bit more imagination in the chosen approach. Still, there are some beautiful stamps in the selection, so please go check out all the entries and cast your vote to help PostEurop choose the best bridge stamp of 2018! 🌉

P.S. – We’re curious to know… which bridge did you vote for? And how many of them have you crossed yourself? Let us know in the comments!

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I believe most postcrossers have a soft spot for stamps. Who can help but be enthralled by their history and design, and the stories they tell in such a small format? There have been stamp collectors for as long as there have been stamps, but philately goes beyond simply keeping a collection. A big part of the field is actually the research of stamps and postal history.

One association whose members are dedicated to these goals is the Royal Philatelic Society London (or RPSL). We discovered it through Barrie (aka PeaceFox), who is both a postcrosser and one of RPSL’s assistant curators. When we first met him at a philatelic exhibition in Tampere last year, he talked so passionately about his work that we promised to check it out. Sometime after that, the Little Mail Carriers magically found themselves in the British capital with a bit of free time… so we sent them to the RPSL to explore and report back. Here’s their travel diary.

Hello from London 🇬🇧! There’s so much to see and do, and everything looks so posh here! But there’s no time for shopping or sightseeing today, as we’re on a mission: to visit and learn about the Royal Philatelic Society London, the oldest philatelic society in the world.

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The home of the RPSL is a lovely historical building in the heart of London, where we were received by their museum’s curator Juliet Turk. She explained that the Society was founded on April 10th, 1869 with a diary which they still keep…

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… but only truly became “The Royal” (as it is known among its members) 37 years later, when King Edward VII gave permission for the usage of the Royal prefix. Over time, several royal figures have been patrons of the RPSL, most notably King George V, who was an enthusiastic stamp collector and also served as president of the Society from 1896 to 1910.

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One interesting project that the Society is responsible for is the Museum of Philatelic History. Their permanent exhibition in the basement features displays on printing, using, collecting and exhibiting stamps, as well as post office tools and other interesting specimens… and even the printing press of Jean de Sperati, a famous master of philatelic forgeries!

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Visitors have access to temporary exhibitions and themed displays throughout the building, as well as historical artefacts related to philately — including this plaster cast effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin. If she looks familiar, it’s because this is the image featured not only on the ubiquitous Machin stamps series, but its silhouette is also used in all the British stamps that don’t have a photo of the Queen herself.

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Juliet also gave us a peek into the museum’s archives, which include the Perkins Bacon records. This British company was responsible for printing many series of stamps, among which is the famous Penny Black. Their impeccable accounting and printing journals detail when each series of stamps were printed, and are thus a valuable resource for philatelists.

But… what about postcards?

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Oh, here they are! These date roughly between 1890 and 1920, and were sent to the RPSL’s Experts Committee, the department tasked with the job of certifying the authenticity of stamps.

Rosemary Green, a fellow of the RPSL, bequeathed a huge collection of archives, over 60 medals, 80 antique weighing scales and 50 Tunbridge Ware stamp boxes in 2012. Among the collection are these adorable kitten postcards, featuring scales.

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To keep their collections in good hands, many philatelists bequeath their stamps and prized postal possessions to the Society in their wills, and as a result, great treasures can be found in the RPSL’s own collection… and also some tiny ones, like this mini-postcard that Juliet showed us!

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How cute is that?!

There is also a library at the RPSL, where members come to research philatelic topics. Since every stamp is a mini-testimony to a certain era, there is a lot you can learn about the world through them. Over the years, we’ve seen many philatelic displays in exhibitions around the world, and it’s very likely that some of the research made for them came from the materials in this extensive library.

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At the end of our tour, we sat down with a cup of tea and marvelled at their colorful bookshelves stretching almost to the ceiling. You should definitely come visit, if you’re interested in stamps and philately! Independent Museum tours are free and guided tours start at £5, but booking is required.

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That was a brilliant visit — thank you Juliet and Barrie, for taking such good care of us! 😊

As we left the building, the sun was shining in London, so we went out to see the sights. Well tell you all about it in a different post… Stay tuned!

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Our friend Iris (aka scrutiny) from Hong Kong has an amazing radar for postal-themed links and projects. A while ago, she showed us these local stamps and they are so cool that we wanted to share them with you too!

Hong Kong augmented reality stamps

The stamps themselves feature historical buildings from Hong Kong, which are being revitalised as part of an ongoing campaign to “enhance public understanding and appreciation of the built heritage in Hong Kong”. But what makes them special is that when hovered with a smartphone using the HKPostStamps app, the stamps gain a whole other dimension!

Iris filmed this video to show everyone:

While not being the first use of augmented reality in philately, it’s certainly a very interesting one. Each building’s rendering includes interactive hotspots, which bring up more information when you touch them on the smartphone screen such as opening hours, website links, and photos. I think that’s pretty neat — how often do you get to hold an historical building in your hands? 😊

Thank you Iris, for taking the time to show us! And if anyone knows of other interesting philatelic issues, share them in the comments — we’re always curious about stamp innovations.

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