Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Nifty present for stamp collectors - mail them a balsa plane

Have any airmail stamp collectors on your Christmas list? I've been lurking on the Suck UK website again and found the ultimate philately related gift.

Airmail balsa plane from Suck UK mail order

Is this cool, or what? Write a brief message, throw on the appropriate postage on and pop it in the mail. The actual item, before it's constructed is an decent replica of an old style airmail envelope - when airmail was an exciting thing to receive. The design is charming, right down to the iconic red mail box on the front:

Balsa plane mail pack front

If you're interested in buying one, Suck UK ships around the world. They're a pretty inexpensive gift for any philately fan. But, I'd get 2 because one would be for the display and one for play: No idea who Suck UK is, but they have the funkiest gifts I've seen in a long time.

Awesome balasa airmail plane pack


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Before there were drones .... oat driven parcel post

We read, almost daily, about plans to deliver everything from pizzas to parcels via drones. Forecasters see the skies filled with drones dropping off orders. I find it all a bit amusing. Back in the heyday of the big super malls, people crowed home delivery is dead, there's no need for it. Just hop down the road to the nearest mall and everything will be there - one stop shopping. Mail order catalogues, a staple in every house, struggled to find a niche, with many folding by the end of the 1970s. Funny how things didn't work out the way people envisioned. It's also surprising how many malls are now abandoned and rotting away and there's been a resurgence of catalogue driven purchases. Companies like Etsy, Amazon and Ebay ushered in a second life for catalogue shopping and the internet changed how we look at catalogues and the convenience of shopping. Until there are enough drones to fill the gap, old fashioned mail delivery will remain alive and well, despite the futurists predicting its demise. Eaton's Christmas catalogue cover 1903

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Canada's 1969 sad little stamp commemorating first nonstop transAtlantic flight

Canadian stamp: First Transatlantic flight celebration 1919 issued June 13 1969

.15c Scotts #494 / SG #636 #494i (dull florescent paper)
Perf. 12  X 12.5

No watermarks          

Designer: Robert William Bradford
Printer: British American Banknote Co.

In the early days of flight, there was a mad scramble to be the first at just about everything – first across the English Channel, fastest, highest, longest flight. You name it, pilots pushed the limits. After Bleroit's successful crossing of the English Channel in 1909, the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK offered £10,000 to the first person(s) to fly the Atlantic nonstop. That was the sticky part – it had to be non stop in under 72hrs. No serious attempt was made until after WW1 which produced big advancements in air technology making the possibility of an ocean crossing feasible. 

A number of attempts were made but Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, flying a Vickers Vimy, claimed the prize. Photo of Alcock and Brown in front of Vickers airplane 1919

(Alcock and Brown are on the left and right. The archive doesn’t note who the man in the middle was.)

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Canadian #philately - 1859 5c beaver stamp & some not so tortured Canadian history

Canadian Stamp - 5c beaver 1859

July 1859 – pre-Confederation 5 cent Canadian beaver stamp

Cat #15 Scott’s & Unitrade Specialized Canadian and SG #31 (listed under Colony of Canada)

American Bank Note Company - New York – wove papers

Perforations: 11.75, 12 x 11.75, 11.75 x 12, 12

Designed by Sir Sandford Fleming

This has to be one of my all-time favourite Canadian stamps. It’s the one I coveted the most when I began collecting. I’d look at it, through the case in the local hobby store and wonder what it would be like to own it. I grew up with stories of the fur trade in Canada, the Coureurs des bois and the Hudson’s Bay Company, so the history that tiny piece of coloured paper represented was deeply ingrained. I often think it’s a slightly wonky, stoned beaver with Godzilla proportions on that small waterfall but still … it was THE STAMP, as far as my young collector self was concerned.

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Quercus suber stamps – magnficent cork stamps from Portugal

How much time do you spend thinking about the little stopper in wine bottles?  Most of us don’t think about it, beyond the fact it’s keeping our wine in the bottle. 

Cork comes from the Quercus suber, also called cork oaks by we mere mortals. Cool trivia: cork oak an evergreen tree. The average  Cork oak trunk sectioncork oak lives between 150 to 250 years and grows up to 65ft high. It's the bark off the tree that is used to produce cork. Once the trees hit maturity at 25 years, the bark is peeled off the tree every 10 years or so (between 9 and 12 years, depending on the tree).   

The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans used cork for a number of purposes, including building, insulation and of course as a stopper for olive oil bottles. Archeologist in France have uncovered wine amphora with cork stoppers dating back to 3rd BC., with the wine still inside.

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And here I sit with my stamps in a complete muddle, and nobody has bothered to tell me what it's all about."
"Listen now, Hemul," said Snufkin slowly and clearly. "It's about a comet that is going to collide with the earth tomorrow."
"Collide?" said the Hemulen. "Has that anything to do with stamp-collecting?”

- Tove Jansson, Comet in Moominland   

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