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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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.


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.


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.


The Magic of Post Cards June 9, 2010

Filed under: Art works,Photography,Postage stamps,Postal history,Postcards — Janet @ 11:38 am

I am always on the lookout for postcards to add to my eclectic collection.  When I was in Hong Kong, I had high hopes of finding something unusual but all they had were the touristy glossy ones.  In Dymock’s Book Store in Stanley though I found some notecards which were reproductions of old photographs.  On the front of the notecard was an old photograph and on the back was a more modern photograph.  Here are 2 I bought – unfolded to show the front and the back.

  Star Ferry 1930/1997  Queen’s Road Central 1929/2007

These cards were done by Catherine Art Depot and in looking up their website I find they do all sorts of interesting things.  Alas, my days in Hong Kong were too short to follow up with an on-site visit or phone call to inquire about sources for old postcards and photographs.  An idea for my next visit.

Along the same idea, my college friend Bonnie recently visited Jerusalem and she sent me a notecard which she found in the Christian Quarter at the Elia Photo Service, Kevork Kahvedjian, Photographic Dealers.  This notecard featured a photograph of the Port of Jaffa.  Elia Photo Service is run by 3 generations of an Armenian family in the old city of Jerusalem.  The grandfather, Elia Kahvedjian, 1910-1999, took the photo in 1936, the year Bonnie and I were born.  Incidentally, the name Kahvedjian is very familiar.  The town I grew up in (Belmont, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston) was ethnically quite diverse and a number of my school mates had names that were similar.

  Jaffa 1936

These modern reproductions have a value all their own.

As far as old postcards go though, all I could find in Hong Kong was a book about them.  But this book is a treasure in itself.  It was written and published just before the handover in 1997.


The reproductions in this book do not include any messages that were written but the photographs and the stamps of the time are of great interest and are reminders of aspects of the history of Hong Kong.  Here are just a few samples from the book.

Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank, 1924.  The accompanying text reads as follows:  “No bank has been so closely allied to the territory as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, known to everyone as “The Bank”.  It occupied the same premises – No. 1 Queen’s Road – since 1865.  During the ensuing years four buildings have occupied the site, from colonnades with a graceful dome to the present high-tech launch pad of steel and glass which is one of the most daring and innovative corporate headquarters in the world.  In between came a classic colonial -style building followed by a monolith of imposing granite”  (shown below)


   monolith of granite

  Judging from the stamp accompanying the text, I would say that this postcard dates from 1937.  Part of the text reads as follows:  “Impressive military parades and colonial pomp have always played an important role in maintaining the spectacle of empire.  Right up to the Chinese handover, the Queen’s birthday has been marked by parades and a public holiday.”


Changing Colours June 8, 2010

Filed under: China,Colours,Hong Kong,Ireland,Postal history — Janet @ 11:33 am

Changing from red to green – when the British handed over Hong Kong to China on July 1 1997, the colour of the postal service changed from red to green.  I wonder at what point the men (and women?) were out there with their paint brushes all around the Territory.  Would it have happened close to midnight?  I read in wikipedia that these classic pillar boxes which were painted green in 1997 have gradually been phased out of use and replaced with a new design.  However, I did find, again in wikipedia, a green reminder of earlier years.

  classic red pillar box in the Museum Gallery in the Central Post Office, Hong Kong

  part of the ceremony at the Handover   (photo from Wikipedia)

  one of the last colonial post boxes, in Central, a Scottish Crown Type C   (photo from wikipedia)

  Post Office in Stanley

  Central Post Office

  new design of Hong Kong post box

  historic franking stamps in the Post Office Museum Gallery

This transition from red to green has lead me to wonder when it took place in Ireland – presumably following Independence in 1922.   Unlike in Hong Kong, many of the historic boxes still remain.  They just get fresh coats of paint.

  VR pillar box in Kilkenny  (photo from wikipedia)


On the Subject of Post Boxes and Post Offices May 29, 2010

Filed under: History,Hong Kong,Postal history — Janet @ 1:47 pm

Today I took the bus to Stanley, one of the earliest settled areas on Hong Kong Island.  Stanley is now a popular tourist destination for shopping in the Market.  I travelled down down a windy windy road to sea level.  And pictured below is one of the eating/drinking establishments, the Pickled Pelican,  near the entrance to Stanley Market.  This was a popular spot today, the first hot day I have experienced since my arrival.

I wandered around in the Market itself, only buying a couple of items in the ubiquitous Dymock’s Book Store.  As I was making my way back to find the bus stop I came across the Stanley Post Office, shown below.

I thought about the history of Stanley, where I had read about the last stand made by Hong Kong troops before the territory fell to the Japanese in December 1941.

I thought about J.G. Ballard’s books telling of his experiences in Singapore during the 2nd World War when he had been in an internment camp.  I’m sure the internment camp in Stanley would have been similar.  How many survivors of that experience would still be alive today?

Near where I get the bus in Edinbugh Place in Central Hong Kong is the General Post Office.  I was browsing in there the other day and I came across a plaque listing the Postmasters General from early days up to the present.  Again, very much the British names until 1997 when the handover took place.

History of Stanley

Roots of the India Rubber Trees in Stanley – a sample of the dense and lush vegetation in Hong Kong

Postmasters General in Hong Kong

A bit of postal history in Hong Kong

Another colonial post box in Hong Kong