Archive for the '1955-59' Category

radio antenna system / 国境の山の鉄塔

June 28, 2017

1959 Austria
Radio Antenna System
designer: R. Fuchs / engraver: Rudolf Toth

Radio antenna system standing ( oh, is it still there? ) on the Zugspitze, a mountain on the border between Austria and Germany.  Beautifully engraved stamp, nice to look at to be chilled on a hot evening.


hand of God / 神の手

February 6, 2017


31 May 1958, USA
International Geophysical Year

The hand of God is giving Adam a human intelligence – a part of Michelangelo‘s huge fresco ceiling in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican.  The background for this stamp is the burning surface of the sun, which could be the mother of the earth.

When I read about Michelangelo’s life, I discovered that he was always angry because his life was affected by the change of rulers, and also what those rulers forced him to create.  Well, 500 years later in our global era, we still have to be aware about what a ruler wants and how our life is influenced by that.  I am imagining Michelangelo’s feeling when he painted this hand of God.




bird is hand / 小鳥がつまむ小枝

January 10, 2017

24 October 1959, Tunisia
Red Cross Day

Tunisia was a part of France until 1956 and their stamps often show influences of French design.  But this bright one, only three years after the independence, shows they are clearly developing in their own aesthetics.  The blue bird looks fingers pinching a twig – thus categolised in ‘hand’.

It is unfortunate but the country is recently opposite to this optimistic atmosphere.




Handshake 2 / 握手 その2

November 20, 2016


24 October 1959, France
300th Anniversary of the Treaty of Pyénées.
designer:  Serveau, engraver: Jules Piel

The left is the French king – ‘fleur de Louis’ heraldry on red sleeve – and right is Spanish king with orange sleeve with ‘castle-leo’ heraldry.  And this handshake had happened in 1659.  The origin of handshake was to proof that there is no weapon in their hands – well, it was one condition before the friendship, really.


mono colour and strong 3 / 単色で強い切手 その3

December 11, 2014


1 December 1955, Germany
Supplementary value, 1

Not just bright colours, but quiet tint can be strong, if the stamp design is good.  This elegant swirl adorns the number 1 – because the background is grey, white lines stand out beautifully.



350 years apart? / 350年のちがい?

July 31, 2014


1959 Bermuda

In 1609 an English ship was drifted to an island which was already named Bermuda after a Spanish navigator Juan de Bermudez, who reported about this uninhabited island in early 16th century.

This stamp is celebrating this arrival of English people with two Royal heraldry in 1609 (King James I) and 1959 (Queen Elizabeth II).  In spite of 300 years apart between then, there are not much difference.

Well, the primitive patterns on battle shields in 1066 were quickly stylised to heraldry by 1189, when Richard I made the College of Arms, then has been staying similar until today.  The ‘walking lions’ against red background was designed more than 900 years ago.

1959Bermuda001 – Version 2




bugle horn and horse 4 / 馬と角笛 その4

February 10, 2014

24 February 1958, Poland
400th Anniversary of Polish Postal Service
design: S. Malecki

Second feature of a day – I have too many horse stamps but I don’t want to continue for a year.

This is celebrating 400 years of postal history.  This horse looks gentle.  The White silhouette should be the airplane for the modern air mail.



bugle horn and horse 2 / 馬と角笛 その2

February 9, 2014

15 November 1958, Romania
Centenary of First Romanian Postage Stamps
design & engrave: Serban Zainea

Celebrating 100 years of postage stamps – and the bugle horn and horse were the main delivery method still at that time.


bugle horn and horse / 馬と角笛

February 4, 2014


1 April 1958, Germany

The Chinese calendar had just turned the year of the Horse – so, I am still featuring more stamps with horse.

This German stamp is depicting the early postal service man on horse, who is blowing a bugle horn to ask if anyone has a letter to be delivered to a remote place.  The horn became an icon of the postal services.



Pegasus / 翼を持つ馬

January 5, 2014


13 January 1957, Italy
Etruscan Horse

One of the legendary creatures – Pegasus has reverential atmosphere suits to the New Year.  The Greek mythology which tells us this creature has its roots goes back to 15th century B.C., visual materials are dated from 8~9 century B.C. – I have just learnt how old this creature was!

The horses with wings in this stamp is claimed from Etruria, where one of the ancient civilizations was cultivated from 9th century B.C. in the centre of Italy.



harvest and appetite / 収穫と食欲

October 14, 2013

1958San Marino001
1958San Marino002

1 September 1958, San Marino
design: R. Franzoni

Here in London we have the beginning of autumn colours, but the weather is already winter…  I guess the southern Europe is still in sunshine and people are harvesting for a few more weeks.  In Japan there is a saying ‘sky is high and horse will grow fat in autumn’ and in fact I was always gaining some weight in autumn, after the air cools down and my appetite came back.

These illustrated vegetables are dynamic and thankful.



beach holidays / 海の夏休み

August 17, 2013


7 March 1957, Canada
Canada – All Seasons Playground
designer: Laurence Hyde / engraver: Yves Baril

Another visual chill-out from Canada, where I found many cool stamps are from.  The girl is having great time in the water!


I like these crisply engraved single coloured stamps with geometrical expression of water.


designed by Laurence Hyde / engraved by Silas Robert Allen



celebration / よくがんばった

July 21, 2013


1957 Colombia
7th Tour of Colombia

Today is the final stage of the Tour de France 2013 – post Armstrong ‘clean’ tour as well as the 100th edition.

I have been supporting Nairo Quintana from Colombia since he made his great challenge in the mountain stages.  He won a stage yesterday and became 2nd place in this years Tour.  I always support the small built athletes in any sports – he is 166 cm high, 20 cm shorter than the winner Chris Froome!

Colombia has a long history of cycling as this stamp tells us.  Quintana might be the first Colombian winner of Tour de France in the coming years.




prudence on the road / 信号は守ろう

December 18, 2012


7 August 1957, Italy
Road Safety Campaign
designer: R. Mura

I have seen two cars ignore the red traffic light and went over it, in one day…  Even when we are living through a hectic December and dealing with all the things that this festive season brings , we really need to at least appreciate the traffic lights for the sake of other people’s safety!

Earlier this month I encountered a number of attractive Italian stamps for the first time, at a nice philately-shop in Milano.  Only because I had not seen good ones before, I thought that most Italian stamps were boring – but I was wrong.  This simple yet strong stamp tells me that I should get rid of my prejudice and visit local stamp shops anywhere I am able to.



Northern Birch / 北国のシラカバ

April 25, 2012

4 September 1957, Iceland
design: Mrs. B. Arnasson
Icelandic Birch and Norwegian Spruce

Cool mono colours, crisp intaglio engraving and simple composition.  These stamps evoke an adoration for the short and precious Northern Summer and praiseworthy energy of trees.


floating envelopes / 宙に浮く封筒

March 28, 2012

1958 Turkey
Letter Writing Week

I finally realised myself that I have an envelope fetish – I cannot throw away used but not damaged envelopes, especially one that has a nice coloured lining or printed patterns.  I made a set of artworks, using those insides of used envelopes for a charity exhibition, and it was very satisfactory when someone bought them.

So, I am naturally attracted by this charming 1950s stamp from Turkey.  They are on their way to be delivered, as they have cancellation marks.



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。


girl scout 2 / ガールスカウト2

August 4, 2011


19 January 1957, Philippines
Girl Scout World Camp at Quezon City

The girl scouts movement started in Japan in 1920, but in the Philippines it started 63 years earlier, in 1857.  This clover leaf is the emblem of the girl scouts.  Simple and clean design, with four tents behind a silhouette of a girl, with a streak of cooking smoke… I get hungry somehow.

p.s. The Scouting Movement started 1907 – it seems the year 1857 on this stamps has nothing to do with the Scounting… a bit of mystery remains.



who’s land is it? / 誰の土地?

February 19, 2011

1957 Egypt
‘Gaza, part of Arab nation’

It is a fact that stamps which feature maps have been used for political messages.  And this one reminds us that it was not long ago when Egypt was claiming this land as theirs.  Still now, they have the control over the South end of the Gaza strip around the Rafah area.


racing girl / 速そうな女子

March 10, 2010


28 December 1959, China
1st National Sports Meet

In recent cycling competitions of Women’s sprint, you always find strong Chinese girls.  I realise that they have long history back to 1950’s.  This stamp has beautiful composition and colour combination and the girl looks very fast.