Archive for January, 2012

saving squirrels / 貯蓄リス

January 31, 2012

12 May 1980, Sweden
‘Home’ Rebate stamp
design: M. Gavler

Since December I had this incident twice – I slammed on the brakes when I was almost running over a squirrel, which was tottering across the road.  They were both plump, had well-rounded bottom.  I though that was because we had a mild winter and they came out from hibernation too early – but someone told me that squirrels in London never hibernate, as they can find food all year round.

Well, maybe the squirrels don’t symbolize Savings any more – but those winter squirrels are certainly saving some fat on their body.  Better to watch out for little fluffy animals on the road, not to make them a victim of a traffic accident.

This stamp was in a booklet, which was distributed to all households in Sweden and they were valid for inland postage only, and gave a rebate on the normal cost for postcards and letters up to 100g.  This is why there is no face value.




dragons in architecture / 建築に棲むドラゴン

January 11, 2012

15 February 1973, Switzerland
Gargoyle, Berne Cathedral
Roman Capital, Jean-Baptiste Church, Grandson
design: H. Hartmann
engrave: A Yersin

There are Chinese origin dragons and European mythical dragons. European dragons have wings, as well as a long beak with sharp teeth – often their mouths are wide open and spitting fire.  I think the top one is a dragon head ( with a crown and fancy lace ) gargoyle.

I enjoy spotting creatures that live on architecture in European cities and towns.  A Gargoyle is a carved stone figure with a spout designed to convey water from a roof.  They are often imaginary creatures or angry faced humans – grotesque.  If you want to break into a church at night, they will scare you off for sure.

The second stamp shows a capital in the Church of Sain-Jean-Baptiste in Grandson, Saint Michael is killing a dragon with a spear.

龍には中国起源の竜と、ヨーロッパ神話のドラゴンと2種類あるのですね。ドラゴンには羽があって胴体が少し太いけれど、鋭い歯や空を飛んで火を噴くことなど、似ている特徴も多くて興味深い。この2枚の切手は、スイスの建築に棲んでいるドラゴンたち – 1枚目はガーゴイルとよばれる彫刻、2枚目はドラゴンと戦う大天使・ミカエルの柱頭です。


sea dragon? / タツノオトシゴ

January 8, 2012

1959 Turkey
50 years of Maritime High School

I used the top stamp for my studio’s new year celebration image, since the New Year is the year of the Dragon.  Because the Japanese name of the creature in the sea is translated as ‘Child of Dragon’, I thought it was called Sea Dragon in English, too.

Now I know that the Sea Dragon is leafy one, or like algae – and the normal ones are named Sea Horse.  Maybe all non-Japanese people did not get why I used the Sea Horse…  never mind!

This set is celebrating the Turkish Maritime school in Istanbul.  I visited Istanbul for the first time last year.  Beautiful view it has, surrounded by oceans – it is an important place between Europe and Asia.

昨年末はあわただしかったので年賀状をあきらめ、上の一枚をスタジオの年賀の画像に使いました。メールを送り出したあとで「で、どうして Sea Horse の切手なの?」と聞かれて、、、ぇえ!?

タツノオトシゴは英語で Sea Dragon だと思いこんでいたのだけど、こんなひらひらが付いているのとか、さらにひらひらで海藻に見えるこんなのだけが Sea Dragon で、あとは Sea Horse だったのです。日本語でもウミウマとかカイマとも呼ばれてることも初めて知りました。


dragon and lion / 龍とライオン

January 3, 2012

1982 Hong Kong

After a pair of Dragon and Tiger, next one is the Dragon and Lion on both sides of the Queen.

It is obvious that the lion with a crown is the sovereign Britain and the dragon is the symbol of Hong Kong.  Their paws are wide open and eyes are slanted upward – they seem not to be in a peaceful relationship at all.  15 years to go for the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong.  Brave postal officers.  Sharrrrrrr.



year of the Dragon / 祝辰年

January 2, 2012

1 November 1971, Japan
Government Printing Works Centenary
‘Ryu-ko zu (Dragon and Tiger)’ 1895
by Hashimoto Gahō ( 1835-1908 )
layout: Kyohei Maeno

The year of the Dragon has started ( at least in Japan yesterday, so I follow this one. )  I wish you all have a fruitful year – we should really prove that our happiness is not controlled by the unstable situation of the world’s finances.

These stamps, a set of two, were issued to celebrate 100 years of stamp and banknote printing.  So, they are naturally representative of what they can do best for this kind of process.  Surely they took time to do the details of the waves.  I have to look up what ‘tonal engraving’ could be – if I magnify, it seems the tone is made by lines and dots together.

Paper as well, seems a little special for this printing.