Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Stamp Collecting February 26, 2016

Filed under: Postage stamps,Postal history,Postcards,Stamp collecting — Janet @ 5:11 pm



Norwegian Stamps   Have you ever collected stamps?  So beautiful – each one a work of art, a lesson in history and/or geography, science, etc.



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An Antique Postcard February 27, 2011

Filed under: Denmark,Postage stamps,Postcards,Scandinavia — Janet @ 2:19 am

  In the sorting of my belongings today I found this postcard.  I thought it looked quite antique, but when I turned it over I found the message was dated June 27, 1956.  Well, I guess that is antique – then so am I.  It’s from  the Fish Market in Copenhagen where according to the writer, the women wear newspaper hats.  Look left.  And also note the bicycle.  And the outfits worn by the customers.

  note the Danish stamp


A Bit of History – Postal, Textile, Economic, Personal February 20, 2011

In sorting through my various papers, I’ve come across a bit of correspondence that I had back in June-August 1976.  We were in Fiji at that time.  I was just getting into serious weaving.  Wool was not readily available so far as I knew.  So I must have thought of writing off to Norway to get some samples.

  the envelope which contained the reply – note the stamps

  the samples of the different types of yarns which the company stocked

  tne price list in Norwegian kronor

  and the accompanying letter describing the different types of yarns and their uses and the postal rates by weight and destination.  I don’t know what the exchange rates were at that time nor how the prices would compare with prices and exchange rates today

Searching for the firm on the internet today I find that their main business is fabrics for technical use, they employ 1-10 people, and they are still in Grimstad Norway.  A nice photo of their yarn is on Flickr.  Now I must check my old labels and see if I’ve used any of their knitting yarn recently.  I do like Norwegian knitting yarns.

And looking at the Google map, I find that Grimstad is located in a very southern part of Norway, south of Bergen, south of Stavenger, and near to Denmark.


Thinking of Things Irish February 14, 2011


In sorting through some of my postcards this morning, I came across this one of the Zetland Hotel, overlooking Cashel Bay in Connemara, Ireland.  The Zetland Hotel is where relatively new husband Ian and I spent a lovely weekend in December 1968, only a few months   after we had moved there from Kenya.  It was such a treat to find this hotel.  We had a very spacious room, reminiscent of the rooms in the old hotels in Kenya, particularly the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri, where we spent part of our honeymoon.   Since our honeymoon incorporated Valentine’s Day 1968, in a convoluted way that makes this a good card to post on Valentine’s Day – yes it’s still Valentine’s Day here in Seattle, even though it’s almost over in Ireland, 8 hours ahead of us.

The Zetland Hotel is still there in Cashel Connemara.  A very popular spot.  What struck me then in 1968 when I was a newcomer to Ireland, were the lovely peat fires and the friendliness and casualness of the hospitality.  And I particularly remember the open door to the office and the huge pile of money just sitting there on the desk.  I could hardly believe it, particularly coming from Kenya, or anywhere, where such a trusting situation would not have occurred.

The other memory from that hotel was the bright full moon, a clear crisp night, and daylight not until about 10 a.m.  This was December and  my birthday weekend so I have a few anchors there to pinpoint the Zetland in my memory.

A few years later French President De Gaulle came to Ireland and he too stayed at the Zetland.  I wonder if he had that nice front room that we had occupied.

A bit of postal history also from that card.  I like the address to which it was sent.  Roger Casement Street in Cavan.  I can’t make out the postmark.  Maybe my friend Maire can help me here. It looks like CONAGA…..I can’t make out the rest.  The website showing the Irish names for places in that part of Connemara doesn’t have anything resembling that.   But the stamp – the green 2 penny stamp – the first stamp issued by the new independent country the Irish Free State, 1922.  Note that the stamp shows the entire island of Ireland.  The North of Ireland was not officially recognized as being a separate entity.    A lot of history lies behind the design of that stamp!  A history I might add that is very complicated and I still have much to learn in trying to understand it.


A London Postcard February 13, 2011

Filed under: History,Ireland,Postage stamps,Postal history,Postcards — Janet @ 5:49 am

A postcard from 1957.  Rather nice images of London.  A House of Commons postmark and a 3 penny purple stamp with a very young queen.  And addressed to a Dr. John Mackey or MacKay on Carysfort Avenue in Blackrock County Dublin.  No relation that I know of.

A link regarding the stamp explains that this stamp was known as one of the Wilding issues – they were based on photographs by a Dorothy Wilding.


Postcards from 1957 – Ogunquit Maine February 8, 2011

Filed under: Ogunquit Maine,Postage stamps,Postcards,Travel — Janet @ 5:46 am

n.b.   It’s now getting late and I have corrected this entry any number of times and WordPress seems to keep over-riding my alterations.  I’ll try again in the morning to fix things again.

Remember when a postcard could be sent for 2 cents.  Amazing isn’t it.  Well, that was quite a few years ago.  I seem to have sent quite a few cards during the summer of 1957 when I was working in Ogunquit Maine.  I was the chief cook and bottle washer for 2 vegetarian ladies who owned the Brush and Needle Studio there in Perkins Cove.  The premises are now greatly expanded and are well known as Barnacle Billy’s.  These ladies were like grandmothers to me and they were in fact of that generation.  My Aunt Alice (my mother’s younger sister) and her husband Russ(ell) Ireland owned the Sachem Hotel (since torn down) and also the hotel next door.  Mimi and Auntie Alma were Uncle Russ’s mother and aunt.  I lived over the shop and was the cook, and also a shop assistant in the afternoons.  A wonderful summer job.

In my mother’s archive I have found a number of postcards which I sent to her that summer, but first a card sent from Middlebury Vermont just near the end of the spring semester in May 1957.

  postmark May 23 1957  Middlebury Vermont

Now for the postcards from Maine:

  postmark July 9 1957  Ogunquit Maine

  postmark June 26, 1957 Ogunquit Maine

  postmark June 24, 1957  Ogunquit Maine


  postmark July 11 1957  Ogunquit Maine

  postmark July 26 1957  Ogunquit Maine

  postmark August 3 1957  Ogunquit Maine


Old Postcards Relating to Spinning January 25, 2011

Filed under: Postage stamps,Postcards,Spinning,Spinning wheels — Janet @ 11:56 pm

What could be better than finding my collection of old postcards relating to spinning.  This just fits right in with the theme of what were my grandparents doing when.  Not that there is any mention of spinning wheels or weaving looms in my family history but my grandmothers certainly were needleworkers and knitters – like most women of their time.

My first postcard is not old at all.  But it is reproduced from an old photograph.  I purchased the card in Edinburgh at the National Museum.  The caption on the card reads Carding and spinning in Sutherlandshire, late nineteenth century, Scottish Ethnological Archive.

This card is somewhat old judging by the stains on the back, but it is the subject that is really old.  This card is of one of the Unicorn Tapestries, The Lady and the Unicorn, in the Musee de Cluny in Paris.  The Lady is not spinning on a spindle, as I first thought when I stumbled upon this card in my collection.  Rather she is making a floral wreath and the maidservant is holding a tray of flowers.  I’ll still include the card here because this is such a famous piece of weaving – and before weaving comes spinning.

  This isn’t a postcard – it’s a photo of a girl doing spindle spinning.  The photo was taken in Bhutan by my husband Ian when he was there for four months in 1984.

       a postcard printed in Kobenhavn but with 10 different languages to say A Small Chat.  Note the spinning wheel.


a postcard of a painting by Millet.  Am Spinnrocken     published by a firm in Liverpool England


A postcard from 1906.  Postmark Rathdrum.  (Note the British stamp)  The message is to a Miss Webster in Tullow County Carlow.  Rathdrum is in County Wicklow.


This card is of a Welsh woman at her spinning wheel.  The postmark is 1906 Menai Bridge.  It is addressed to County Wexford Ireland

     a card with the caption Irish Life, Children Spinning and Reeling Wool.  Sent from Johnstown in County Kildare to a Miss Maxwell in Belgium.  Note the Irish stamps.

  this card is of An Irish Spinning Wheel but it is postmarked Jersey and addressed to someone in Jersey.  The date is 1909

  Irish Spinning Wheel, 1905, Kingstown (presumably present day Dun Laoghaire), addressed to someone in Queensland Australia.  Note the Dublin postmark and the stamp.    

        a simple card, really  just a modern photograph.  But it was done for Cleo Ltd., a famous old firm in Dublin where wonderful handwoven and handknitted items are to be found.  The caption for the photo reads Donegal Spinner, Glencolumbcille, Co. Donegal


Trying To Date Old Postcards January 24, 2011

Filed under: Norway,Postage stamps,Postal history,Postcards — Janet @ 12:39 am

I am going through some of my old postcards and trying to date a few of them.  I tend to like the tinted ones dating from the first half of the 20th century.  Here are a few from my collection.  Only one of them has a postmark – 1908.  I’m wondering about dates for the other three.

              This card is postmarked London 1908.  Sent to  Sister Paula at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.  Note, St. Vincent’s Hospital was on Stephen’s Green at that time.  The sender has had a message from St. Anville.  I assume this is the well known all girls Catholic School in Goatstown, maybe 2 miles from St. Stephen’s Green.  It is within walking distance of where we lived in Dublin.  Former President Mary Robinson, and many other prominent women in Irish life,  attended Mt. Anville.


No date or stamp or message on this postcard from Norway.  Sogn is an ancient traditional district in Western Norway.  The card was printed in Bergen.

           no date or stamp but the card is printed in Zurich, so it’s from Switzerland

         this card is from the U.S.  The color-tinted image is of the Blue Hills Observatory in Blue Hills Massachusetts.  The message was for someone in Salem Massachusetts.  Blue Hills is in Milton Mass., south of Boston; Salem is north of Boston.  Checking on google I now find that there are 2 Blue Hills places – a Blue Hill Observatory and a Blue Hills Observatory Science Center, several miles apart.  The Science Center is in Canton, Mass.         

  this image is from the internet and is of the Science Center.  Possibly my cousins can enlighten me on what has happened in this area.  The road system has certainly all changed since our family lived nearby.   I-95 is new to me.  And Route 128 was built long after the time of the old postcard pictured above.


Once Upon A Time …… December 27, 2010

Once upon a time, long long ago, I had a stamp collection.  My interest in stamps ebbed and flowed, only surfacing occasionally after the age of about 10, I suppose.

  my stamp album, which got left behind in the attic of our family home – when my mother sold the house and moved to Hawaii, the album was rescued by my sister Ruth and resided for many years in her barn in New Hampshire.  I remembered the album as being chock-a-block full of stamps.  But in reality – here are 2 sample pages of what I found – no actual stamps on these 2 pages for Norway – just the black and white samples of stamps of the time.


These are the 2 pages for Norway.  Evidently I didn’t have any stamps from Norway.  But in my middle years when I became interested in stamps again and my good old red stamp album had been moved from the attic to the barn, I had a penpal who lived in Norway.  So I am sure I have some Norwegian stamps which would fit very nicely on to these blank pages.  When we lived in Fiji in the ’70’s we belonged to a stamp collecting club – a philatelic circle if you will.  And we also built up a fair collection of Irish philatelic material – and stamps as well from when we lived in St. Lucia in the Carribbean.  So we do have lots of stamps to fill the pages of this album – if we ever get around to it.

The reason I picked on Norway to show the blank pages in my old album is that we have had a rather Scandinavian/Norwegian Christmas with several lovely services in the Ballard First Lutheran Church.  Rather a change from Taney Church of Ireland in Dublin.  There were many similarities though so I wasn’t completely lost.  And the display of Norwegian Dale of Norway, Norskwear type sweaters was most eye-catching.  I was even given a lovely cardigan for Christmas.   

But I chose to wear an earlier Scandinavian type garment – a sleeveless sweater designed and knit by Joyce Forsyth who has her studio in the Cornmarket in Edinburgh.   



  view from the balcony – where a small group of women (of which I was one) sang carols to start the Christmas Eve service

But to return to the stamp theme – the following is an old postcard from my collection.  The card is postmarked Bergen 21 VI 04 – the day of the solstice 1904

         Note the stamp

This is hardly a winter scene but it will have to do.  Bergen, 1904.  The street is so wide.  I don’t remember any street this wide in Bergen but I was only there briefly in 1959.


Ireland and the Emergency June 10, 2010

I love reading social history type books and this is a good one, so far.  That Neutral Island, A History of Ireland During the Second World War, by Clair Wills.

I was just a youngster during the War Years and was only aware of what was happening in my more immediate world of family and neighbourhood friends.  In the suburbs of Boston we were not affected by the War in the same way as countries on the other side of the Atlantic.  Now living in Ireland for so many years I have been very curious about what life was like here during those crucial years and  I love hearing my contemporaries tell what their experiences were during this time.  One friend, slightly older than I am, tells me that she was at boarding school during that time – a boarder at Wesley College, located on Stephen’s Green.  She was hardly affected.  And when she went home it was to a farm in County Kildare.  No shortage of essential food there.  But curiously, and what a number of people have said, is that she never knew what a banana was until after the War.  This is one of the things that seems to stand out in people’s minds when they remember the War years.  Only it was not War as such – it was called the Emergency.

One of my memories of the Second World War is of the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor – it was my fifth birthday.  The terrible news came through on the radio.  I was sitting at the desk in our living room and for some reason had a fountain pen in my hand – I accidentally spattered the wall with blue ink.  As the War progressed I was aware of not being able to get butter and we had Oleo margarine as a distasteful substitute.  We saved fat and took the tins to the local butcher.  Spam was frequently on the menu.  Gasoline was rationed so trips in the family car were few and far between.  You could hardly say we suffered.

My brother graduated from high school the following year in June 1942 when he turned 18 a month later, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  We were very proud of him in his uniform.  Our thoughts and letters followed him around the U.S. as he went from one training station to another, Lake Forest Illinois, San Diego California, Fitchburg Massachusetts, Pensacola Florida.  I became more aware of the geography of the U.S.  Occasionally he came home on leave and how happy we were.  Much to my father’s relief my brother was not sent overseas and eventually he was honourably discharged when the War was over.

My older sister graduated from high school in 1943 and enrolled for nurses’ training in Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge so she continued to live at home.  And my other sister graduated from high school in 1944.  She went down to Washington to do secretarial work in one of the war departments.

Ireland was a part of the world I scarcely heard of.  The headlines during those years were all about the War in the Pacific and not so much about Europe, and more particularly not about Ireland.  I was certainly not aware of the thorny issue of Partition and Ireland’s troubled history.  I might possibly have had an awareness of Ireland through the medium of Irish fairy tales.  Modern Library books were popular in our house and I see that a volume of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales was an early publication in the Modern Library Series. 

As the years went by I became a stamp collector, and I still have some of the Irish stamps which I first collected in the 1940’s.     The following images and information are from wikipedia.

  lst stamp issued in 1922 by the Irish Free State

first definitive series, low values, issued 1922-23.  The designs were: Sword of Light, Map of Ireland, Celtic Cross, Arms of the Four Provinces and St. Patrick.