Bleeding over the edges

1 10 2008

Lebanon, 1961, Scott C296, 20mm x 36mm

Here we have a somewhat anonymous-looking strip of land with boundaries to the east and west but extending to the bounding pane at the north and south. Topographically, a number of waterways are depicted along with a central ridge feature running to the northeast. And who is the gentleman shown in profile to the left?

It turns out that the land is the central coast of Lebanon, with the coastal cities (for the western border is the Mediterranean Ocean) of Sidon, Beirut, and Jbeil indicated in script. The western border is with Syria and is somewhat altered from its present shape owing to subsequent conflicts in the region. The central mountain range is Mount Lebanon itself, home of the famous cedar trees. There is no indication on the map to the south of where Lebanon ends and Israel begins, although the composition suggests an emphasis not so much on that border which loomed so large in later years but perhaps with domestic concerns in the capital. And the portrait situated right by that capital is that of President Fuad Chehab.

The year this stamp was issued was in the interval between the bloodletting of the 1940s and that of the mid-1970s, during a Presidential mandate marked by factions seeking to gain the upper hand in the nation. Perhaps some of that shows through too.

90 miles

23 08 2008

Cuba, 1971, 40mm x 36mm

The first of these two stamps show how the Atlantic tropical storm tracks seem irresistibly drawn to the island of Cuba, where, fueled by the warm Gulf waters, some of them turn into the “great” hurricanes making landfall. We see the lines of latitude and longitude, along with the neighboring land masses, South Florida, the Yucatán, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and the Bahamas, but no labels on them.

Cuba, 1973, 40mm x 28mm

Here’s an issue from two years later, minus the hurricane paths but plus a few labels and some indications of depth and elevation. The Florida mainland and most of the other islands are cropped away here, and it appears that a few latitude lines chosen are different from the ones from before. The main thoroughfare from Pinar del Rio in the west to Santiago del Cuba in the east is highlighted in red with knots indicating the main population concentrations. Not shown: the Bay of Pigs, Guantánamo.

Not yet determined

13 08 2008

Pakistan, 1961, Scott 122, 39mm x 23mm

The text in the upper region in white reads Jammu & Kashmir (Final status not yet determined). And in the lower section of the stamp, next to the denomination, Junagarh & Manavadar which were once also disputed areas between India and Pakistan. The most prominent features shown in Pakistan are the waterways: the five rivers of the Punjab and River Ganges flowing through East Bengal.

The overprint in red marks the Lahore Stamp Exhibition of 1961, along with the national symbol of the Minar-e-Pakistan also depicted on the emblem of the city of Lahore.

As of the time of issue, the stamp was inaccurate as it postdates the accession of the two Gujarati seaside states to India in 1947, however the division into East Pakistan and West Pakistan which was the situation at the time. And, of course, the controversial status of Jammu and Kashmir which continues to this day.


24 07 2008

Tuvalu independence issue

Tuvalu, Scott 29, 1976, 28mm x 45mm

Here we have a map stamp which depicts almost pure ocean – only 300 square kilometers of the approximately 200000 shown here given over to solid ground, the rest of it being the South Pacific. Or, viewed another way, it depicts an actual map being torn in two, with the background the color of parchment rather than the usual ocean blue. The northern half of the map shows the mainly Micronesian Gilbert Islands, which is now part of Kiribati, the southern half shows the islands making up Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands) with its Polynesian majority.

Why the split? To most people in the rest of the world, both Polynesians and Micronesians (and probably Melanesians too) would be lumped together in the category “people from the remote South Pacific” and that would suffice. Originally, the racial and classification was devised by the French ethnographer Jules-Sebastian-César Dumont d’Urville in the nineteenth century based on his observations. Recently, however, mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA analysis has been used to investigate how much of the similarities among these groups can be attributed to common ancestry and how much of the differences to isolation of populations.

At any rate, the process of separation between the two nations seems not to have been extremely acrimonious.

The route to Africa

20 07 2008

Liberia, Scott C43, 1942, 39mm x 24mm

Once again we have a stamp issue commemorating the air supply route from North America via South America to western Africa in the middle of World War II. Only three countries are depicted (the United States, Brazil, and the issuing country of Liberia). An outsized 4-engine transport plane (possibly a C-108 Flying Fortress) is shown alongside the coast-hugging path southward.

I am not sure that the business of transport is considered to have enough charisma to show up much on stamps nowadays, relatives to the most popular topicals.


Outermost Europe

13 07 2008

Réunion island stamp

Réunion, Scott 65, 1907, 35mm x 21mm

This small spot of land is Réunion Island, an outermost region of the European Union and an overseas département of France. The map on this century-old issue is somewhat hemmed in by the heavily ornamented frame in a contrasting hue (here carmine red), especially the legend which does little to indicate that the island is a tiny speck in the midst of the Indian Ocean. The nearest landmass to this is the even smaller island of Mauritius (particularly famous in philatelic circles).

Here is a Space Shuttle image of the island which for me gives a good idea of its geographic isolation. These days, however, like most place in the world, it is possible to get onto the Internet from nearly every place on Réunion island for just about free.

Time for a puzzle

9 07 2008

Yesterday I received my copies of the last two editions of the journal of the Cartophilatelic Society and was very happy to see the article I had written up. (It seems that my electronic address had gone astray somewhere along the way, so I had not been able to receive word the publication prior to this.) Here I present pictures of the five stamps which I used the illustrate the point of my piece. Incidentally, I notice that one of these stamps was also mentioned in a recent Marginalia column at the website.

Rather than just giving away the subject here, I thought I would try something different and set this up as a challenge for my readers. Can you see what the common theme is for all five of the issues depicted, which sets them apart from over 90% of all map stamps issued? It is something quite specific which any observant reader (or one who happens to have the April 2008 issue of the journal) would be able to state in very few words. When you have come up with the answer, put it into the comments on this post, and the first one with the correct interpretation will receive from me three map stamps from my accumulation.

Good luck!

West Germany, Scott 1009

Argentina, Scott 287

Australia, Scott 276

Jersey, Scott 183

Soviet Union, Scott 3180

The answer has been revealed