Football Star Johan Cruijff (Netherlands 2017)

[press release]
Silver stamp for football icon Johan Cruijff

PostNL honours Johan Cruijff by issuing a pure silver stamp. This special stamp comes exactly one year after the death of the Dutch football legend, and marks the fifth time that PostNL has issued a silver postage stamp.

Support the Johan Cruyff Foundation
PostNL marketing director Ludo Voorn reflects on the death of Johan Cruijff a year ago. “Everyone loved Johan Cruijff. Besides his widely respected great skill on the football field, he was always committed to bringing children together through sports. The Cruyff Foundation has built on this notion for years. We are proud to support their work by donating part of the proceeds from sales of this silver stamp.”
Niels Meijer, director of the Cruyff Foundation, feels it’s very special that PostNL is issuing such a valuable stamp in honour of the footballer. “Johan always filled a social role. We continue to do that. We will certainly be investing the proceeds from the stamp sales in a project such as Schoolyard 14. This will challenge students both during and after school to play and exercise together.”

Availability
PostNL has commissioned the Royal Dutch Mint to manufacture the postage stamp, which is made from pure silver. The stamp, in a deluxe storage box, is available for €25 via www.postnl.nl/cruijff. The stamp has a limited run of 1,400 copies. The postage stamp has the ‘Registered Mail’ designation, and may be therefore be used to send letters as registered mail. The stamps are valid for an unlimited period.

[Cruijff was a world-renowned and -beloved player and coached who died March 24, 2016, at the age of 68 from complications resulting from lung cancer. For more, see Wikipedia. —Virtual Stamp Club]

Special Moments (Netherlands 2017)

[press release]
Special moments featured on stamps

Many of life’s special moments deserve personal attention. For that reason, the ten stamps feature wishes including gefeliciteerd (Congratulations), liefs (Love), veel geluk (Lots of luck), sterkte (Feel better), succes (Good luck), hoera (Hooray), fijne dag (Have a nice day), proficiat (Well done), voor jou (For you) and beterschap (Get well soon). Every stamp features an emoticon; a face depicted by punctuation marks. The stamp sheetlet also contains seven stickers that can be used to decorate the envelope or card, also with an emoticon.

Special designs for special wishes
For this stamp sheetlet, Marenthe Otten designed both heart-shaped and square stamps. “The focus of each stamp is a wish appropriate to a special moment in the life of a loved one. The shape of a heart or flower emphasises the personal nature of the message. These wishes are in the form of colourful handwriting with cheery illustrations,” says the designer.

Availability
The ‘For Special Moments’ stamp sheetlet consists of ten stamps marked with ‘Nederland 1’, which can be used for items weighing up to 20g destined for mail in the Netherlands. These stamps will be available from 27 March at all Bruna shops and via Collectclub.nl. From 10 April the stamp sheetlet will be available from all PostNL sales points. The stamps are valid until further notice.

De Stijl Art Movement (Netherlands 2017)

[press release]
New stamps tell the story of the De Stijl art movement

On Monday 27 March, PostNL issues the De Stijl (“The Style”) Centennial stamp sheetlet, celebrating this influential 20th century Dutch art movement. The stamps feature iconic works by Theo van Doesburg, Piet Mondriaan, Cornelis van Eesteren, Gerrit Rietveld and J.J.P. Oud. As artist, designer or architect, all are important representatives of De Stijl. At the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, mayor Pauline Krikke received [in advance] the first issue of the De Stijl Centennial stamps from Herna Verhagen, CEO of PostNL [photo below].

The PostNL head office is currently also decorated in the De Stijl Centennial style, inspired by Piet Mondriaan’s Victory Boogie Woogie. [see video] In this way, PostNL supports the celebration of the national theme year ‘Mondriaan to Dutch Design’ in The Hague. [text continues after video]

Special introduction to De Stijl
Mayor Pauline Krikke is honoured that the first stamp sheetlet was issued in The Hague. “It’s extraordinary that, with these stamps and the decoration of the head office, PostNL is connecting itself with Mondriaan and his De Stijl contemporaries. Our city is also closely linked via the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Only this museum has organised three large exhibitions, including The Discovery of Mondriaan featuring 300 art works by the internationally renowned artist. This stamp sheetlet will enable the Netherlands to become acquainted with the founders of this art movement in a whole new way.”

Contemporary character
CEO Herna Verhagen, about the new stamps: “It’s impressive to see how De Stijl artworks, each with its own individual surface distribution of horizontal and vertical black lines, also maintain a contemporary look in stamp format. The designers René Put and Brigitte Gootink have deliberately used black and white images in their design. With the addition of the distinctive red, yellow and blue colours in transparent areas, they give a unique twist to the illustrious collections in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam.”

New inspiration
2017 marks one hundred years since the founding of the Dutch art movement De Stijl. Throughout the year, numerous events and exhibitions will be organised in the Netherlands. Artists who joined De Stijl at the time were looking for a totally ‘new art’ that also had to modernise society. Along with Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh and Escher, Piet Mondriaan is now globally recognised as one of the most celebrated Dutch artists.

Availability
Each ‘De Stijl Centennial’ stamp sheetlet consists of ten stamps marked with ‘Nederland 1’, which can be used for items weighing up to 20g destined for mail in the Netherlands. These stamps will be available from 27 March at all Bruna shops and via Collectclub.nl. The stamps are valid until further notice.

Passover Haggadah (Israel 2017)

Passover HaggadahIssue date April 4, 2017

Hundreds of different Passover Haggadahs have been designed at kibbutzim, by kibbutz movements, pioneer trainings, youth groups tied to the kibbutz movement, in Hebrew military units that operated in Eretz Israel during WWII, by groups of those uprooted in Europe after the war, by Jews attempting to enter Eretz Israel illegally during the British Mandate, by the Haganah, the Palmach and the IDF.

These Haggadahs were geared toward large public Seders, which were very different than an intimate family Seder. These public Seders were more like the mass pilgrimages of ancient times. At the Seder, participants read biblical chapters related to the exodus from Egypt and discussed Moses, who is not mentioned in the traditional Haggadah. When the Holocaust became known, a heart wrenching memorial prayer was added to the Seder.

These non-traditional Haggadahs meant no disrespect to the story of the exodus from Egypt. Their authors felt that they were the ones who had been enslaved and were going forth into freedom. At the Passover Seder they expressed the spring, the love in the Song of Songs and the story of their times, which they had lived through personally. These Haggadahs included Hebrew literature and chapters on current events.

Over the years, many traditional texts were brought back into the Haggadahs, but they continued to include poems, chapters on spring, the Song of Songs and the biblical story of the exodus from Egypt.

The editors of the texts in these Haggadahs were members of the various groups that conducted the Seders, including teachers, authors and cultural figures. Some of the most well known Israeli and local artists and illustrators contributed illustrations to the Haggadahs. The three Haggadahs featured on the stamps represent three Zionist values: security, Aliyah and settlement.

The Kibbutz Artzi Federation, 1944 (Aliyah)
Avraham (Tushek) Amarent was a member of Kibbutz Mizra, an artist and a scholar. He bequeathed all of his artistic works to his kibbutz. He decorated for the Seder and was among the designers of the Haggadah that was used by all the Kibbutz Artzi Federation kibbutzim. He wrote in his memoirs: “… when the spring returned, the Jewish people were in danger of being annihilated in the diaspora, Eretz Israel was at war and the human spirit reinforced the longing for salvation and freedom”. Illustration courtesy of Dalia Hadshi.

Pirkei Pesach (Passover Chapters), Haganah, 1948 (security)
This Haggadah was written and edited by the Haganah cultural service for Haganah soldiers during Israel’s War of Independence. It was titled: For the Festival of Freedom – Chapters for Passover Parties, 1948. It was purposely not called a Haggadah in order to preserve the honor of the traditional Haggadah.

It was designed by artist Arieh Allweil, one of the founders of the Hashomer Hatzair kibbutzim who specialized in traditional script and painting Jewish motifs.
Photos of the Haggadah from the National Library collection, Jerusalem.

Illustrations courtesy of Ruth Sperling.

Kibbutz Ein Gev, 1944 (settlement)
In 1943, when the Holocaust became known, a “black” Haggadah was prepared at Ein Gev. A year later Ludwig Schwerin, who was close to the members of the kibbutz, designed a Haggadah of consolation featuring a view of the kibbutz: a group of members and children overlooking the kibbutz from Mount Sussita – an expression of hope despite the ongoing world war. Photos of the Haggadah: Ein Gev archive; illustrations courtesy of Dorit Bodker and Anat Fuchs.

Muki Tsur
Researcher and educator, member of Kibbutz Ein Gev. Co-wrote with Yuval Danieli the book “Leaving in the Month of Spring” (Passover Haggadahs from the kibbutz), .2004
Co-edited the book by Zvi Shuah “Today you Leave for a New Land” (texts from the Kibbutz Haggadah), 2011.

Aviram Paz
Author of the book “The Exodus from Egypt – Then and Now” (rare Haggadahs from the 1940’s), Maarechet Publishing House, Kibbutz Dalia, 2015.

The three stamps in the series are issued in stamp sheets with decorated margins. The margin designs are based on the Haggadah featured in each stamp.
The FDC design is based on the Kibbutz Artzi Haggadah.

50 Years Of Settlements (Israel 2017)

50 Years of Settling the Golan, Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria Issue date April 4, 2017

Since its earliest days, settling the land was at the forefront of Zionist activity in Eretz Israel and great efforts were made to acquire land and build communities throughout the country. The moshavot (agricultural colonies) established by immigrants of the First Aliyah, the kibbutzim and moshavim (communal agricultural communities) originating from the British Mandate period and the urban towns founded in the early years after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 – are all examples of links in the golden chain of the momentum of settlement which has existed continuously throughout the period of the Jewish people’s return to Eretz Israel.

Immediately following the Six Day War in 1967, new towns were established in portions of the country that had recently come under Israeli rule. A group of young people from kibbutzim in the Galilee established a new community in the Golan Heights in July 1967, which subsequently developed into Kibbutz Merom Golan; and children of the original settlers of Gush Etzion, which was destroyed during the War of Independence in 1948, reestablished the town of Kfar Etzion in September 1967. Some three months after the Six Day War, the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol adopted a plan to establish towns in the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley, and within a decade dozens of new communities were established in these areas. The momentum of establishing new settlements in Judea and Samaria grew in the mid-1970’s, and increased significantly from 1977 after the new government headed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin took office.

Due to the lack of agricultural land and water in the mountainous areas of Judea and Samaria, a new model of rural communities called “community settlements” was established. This model was based mainly on production industries, tourism and services as well as employment outside the community. Urban towns were also established in the new areas, some of which eventually became cities.

Agriculture developed in fields that were advantageous in the unique climate and soil of each area. Apples are grown very successfully in the elevated area, the Golan Heights. The hot dry climate of the Jordan Valley was crucial to the development of the date-growing industry and the traditional vineyards and olive groves of the mountainous areas of Judea and Samaria have been rejuvenated.

Remnants of ancient Jewish towns have been unearthed in archeological excavations near many of the new communities in the Golan Heights, Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria. These communities renew and strengthen the historical bond between the Jewish people and its historic homeland.

Based on a publication by the Settlement Department and Division of the Jewish Agency for Israel and World Zionist Organization.

Description of the Stamps and the First Day Covers
Golan
Stamp: apples against the background of the Sa’ar River. Tab: the ancient city of Gamla (Rina Nagila, courtesy of the Golan Regional Council).
FDC: Kibbutz Merom Golan (photo from the early 1970’s, courtesy of Tova Mendel, head of the Golan Archive, current photo – Albatross).

Jordan Valley
Stamp: date grove against the background of the Samaria Mountains (Penny Elimelech, courtesy of the Jordan Valley Regional Council).
Tab: Alexandrion (“Sartaba”) (IDF Archive).

FDC: Mehola (older photo — Ariel, courtesy of the Jordan Valley Regional Council Archive, current photo — Penny Elimelech).

Judea and Samaria
Stamp: olive branch against the background of a group of youths at the Sebastia train station (train station — National Photo Collection, youths — Kobi (Yaakov) Dagan, olive branch — Shutterstock).

Tab: Herodion (www.goisrael.com).
FDC: Kfar Etzion (photo dated April 30, 1947 — National Photo Collection, current photo courtesy of Moria Halamish).

Memorial Day 2017 (Israel 2017)

Memorial Day 2017
Issue date April 4, 2017

The letter card, cover and stamp – all of which are special and unique to Memorial Day – constitute the basis of a sensitive, original and extraordinary tradition that came into being following the War of Independence.

Since Memorial Day 1952, a long line of Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Defense have signed personal letters to bereaved families of the fallen and Israel’s premier artists take part in designing the covers and stamps for this commemorative day. Thus, from year to year, an unprecedented tradition has formed which, over time, has become one of the most recognized and extraordinary ambassadors of Israel’s commemorative culture.

(From: “Dear Families” published by the Ministry of Defense, on the occasion of Israel’s 50th Anniversary)

The graphic design of the Memorial Day stamps has been expressed over the years symbolically and through monuments.

The National Memorial Hall
at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem

Dedication and sacrifice in defense of the State of Israel take an invaluable toll, which is the silver platter on which our independence and sovereignty were achieved.

On the eve of Memorial Day 2010, the government of Israel approved the establishment of a National Memorial Hall on the grounds of the military cemetery at Mount Herzl to commemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers (government meeting no. 147).
For the first time since the establishment of the State, the names of all of Israel’s fallen, who gave their lives to defend Israel at home and abroad, will be united in one place.

The Memorial Hall’s location at Mount Herzl – the pantheon of Israeli heroism, constitutes a continuation of the Zionist vision of revival and realization.

The torch-shaped Memorial Hall will be 18 meters high and feature a perpetual flame. The name and date of death for each of the fallen will appear on a plaque beside a memorial candle that will be lit on that date each year. A military cantor shall perform a memorial service every morning for soldiers who fell on that date.

The memorial plaques will be made out of tank steel and produced at the Merkava tank factory. Bereaved families, heads of state and the general public will be able to come to the Memorial Hall every day throughout the year.

National ceremonies will be conducted in the Memorial Hall center, including memorial wreaths marking the nation’s solidarity and appreciation of its fallen warriors.

The team planning the commemorative site includes Kimmel Eshkolot Architects in collaboration with Kalush Chechik Architects and curator Dr. Orit Shaham-Gover.

The project is managed by the Ministry of Defense’s Families and Commemoration Department, in collaboration with a steering committee of public figures and representatives of the bereaved families, commemoration experts and former IDF commanders.

A cornerstone laying ceremony for the Memorial Hall building was conducted on April 30, 2014, the eve of the Hebrew month of Eyar (“the month of heroism”). Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

Based on the Ministry of Defense Families and Commemoration Department website.

Images of the National Memorial Hall on the stamp and FDC — courtesy of Kimmel Eshkolot Architects.

Jerusalem – 50 Years of Reunification (Israel 2017)

Jerusalem – 50 Years of Reunification – Souvenir Sheet
Issue date April 4, 2017 

The year 2017 marks fifty years since the unification of Jerusalem. The 50th anniversary of unified Jerusalem is a local, national and global event that is meaningful for the State of Israel, for the Jewish people around the world and for all the communities and peoples that cherish Jerusalem.

The fact that the capital of Israel and of the Jewish people no longer sits alone with a wall at its heart will be celebrated throughout the year.

Jerusalem is a metropolis that attempts to balance different beliefs and opinions, opposing tastes and habits. The Old City inside the ancient walls, the old neighborhoods outside those walls and the new neighborhoods built in this generation are all one city, special and unified.

From the time King David declared Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom to the present day, daily life in Jerusalem has always existed alongside its stance as an object of desire and longing.

Fifty years ago the two parts of the divided city were united in a historic turn of events. During the subsequent fifty years, Jerusalem has also known heartache and suffering, but despite the hardships it has become one city.

The capital of the Jewish world fulfills its calling as the capital of the State of Israel and as the heart of the Jewish people, while also maintaining the places that are holy to people of all religions.

On the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, the State of Israel is marking the historic event that took place in June 1967 with a series of events in Israel and abroad.

Jerusalem salutes its soldiers, embraces its residents, welcomes its guests and celebrates with all those who love it.

Hundreds of thousands of peoples from all around Israel and the world will march, visit and pray during the festivities. A wide range of participants will take part in the many various festivities, in the spirit of the diverse nature of Jerusalem — a vibrant city that is open to different opinions and to people of all backgrounds. The city combines the old and the new, tradition and innovation and has its own unique character.

A single thread runs from the excavations in the City of David through the digging of the foundations of the light railway: one central city where everyday life is intertwined with history.

Description of the Souvenir Sheet
Western Wall stamp
Jews at the Western Wall: photographers from the photography department of the American Colony, circa 1900. G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress, Washington DC.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem stamp
The water tower at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus campus – courtesy of the Hebrew University Archive.

Sheet Background
A section of the Temple Scroll; Israel Museum Photo Archive; Anemone and digital background — Shutterstock.

The light railway, the Knesset and the Shrine of the Book — Pini Hemo; Ammunition Hill and the Bridge of Strings ñ Meir Eshel; Lion Statue — courtesy of Ariel Events.

Israel-Portugal Joint Issue – Dolphin Research (Israel 2017)

Israel-Portugal Joint Issue – Dolphin Research
Issue date April 4, 2017

The diplomatic relations between Israel and the Portuguese Republic developed in stages. An Israeli consulate was first opened in Lisbon in the late 1950’s. After the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in April 1974, this was upgraded to a general consulate and in 1977 to an embassy, the highest indication of full diplomatic relations. Since then the two countries have benefitted from friendly and collaborative relations in many fields.

The Jewish people have ancient ties to Portugal, but the Portuguese Jewish community experienced dramatic changes beginning in the early 15th century: expulsion, forced conversion and the Inquisition. In 1989, a formal apology from the Portuguese people was issued to the Jews and in 1996 the Decree of Expulsion was nullified on the 500th anniversary of its issuance.

During WWII, many Jews passed through Portugal, mostly immigrating to other countries and later also to Israel.

Israel recognized four Portuguese “Righteous Gentiles”. The most well known is Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who issued visas to thousands of Jews while serving as the Portuguese consul-general in Bordeaux, France during the Holocaust. An Israeli stamp was issued in his honor in 1998.

This stamp is issued to mark 40 years of friendship between the countries.

Tzipora Rimon
Israeli Ambassador to Portugal

Dolphin Research
The study of coastal dolphins is a relatively young field of research that has developed in both Portugal and Israel in recent decades. In both countries, the coastal dolphin population exists alongside fishing activity and at times dolphins are caught by fishing equipment, causing them injury and even death. Bottlenose dolphins are top predators of the coastal marine environment in both countries. They are considered to be a sentinel species for a healthy sea, both in the broad sense of the health of the system as well as in the narrow sense of human health, as consumers of food products from the sea.

Common Bottlenose Dolphin
(Tursiops truncatus)
This dolphin species belongs to the family Delphinidae and is most commonly found in tropical to temperate oceans, mainly in the shallow waters of the continental shelf, where water depths are up to 200 meters. Mature dolphins range from 2-4 meters in length and weigh between 150-650 kgs. Dolphins tend to live in groups of up to 12 members, although a number of groups may join together to create a larger super-group of 100 or more dolphins. The two main factors that contribute to group size are food availability and danger from predators.

Dr. Aviad Scheinin, PhD.
Dolphin & Sea Center Manager, IMMRAC – Israeli Marine Mammals Research & Assistance Center
The Morris Kahn Marine Research Center – Top Predators Project manager, University of Haifa, Israel

Photos of the dolphin, boat and flags – Shutterstock.

Felts Honored By American Topical Association

[press release]
ATA 2017 Distinguished Topical Philatelist Selected

For her wide-ranging contributions to philately, Vera Felts has been selected to receive the American Topical Association’s highest award at the National Topical Stamp Show awards banquet June 24 in Milwaukee.

As ATA executive director since 2009, Felts has brought innovation and a positive attitude to the office and many of the organization’s programs. She spearheaded the highly successful ambassador program which has resulted in hundreds of new members, and managed the transition to a new topical checklist database, which has made ATA’s signature checklists better than ever.

For the past 18 years she has served as registration chair and managed the show cachets for the St. Louis Stamp Expo.  She edited the APS gold award-winning newsletter of the Southern Illinois Stamp Club for 15 years, and co-founded its SIRPEX local show.

A life member of APS, she served eight years as coordinator of its newsletter exchange. At the Science Center in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1999 she founded a long-running youth stamp group.

Felts is revered throughout philately for her devotion to helping people advance and enjoy topical collecting.

The Distinguished Topical Philatelist (DTP) award has been presented each year since 1952, by the ATA, the largest affiliate of the American Philatelic Society.  Don Smith served as chair of the selection committee.  The scrolls signed by all of ATA’s 119 DTPs can be viewed at http://americantopicalassn.org/awardsdtp.

FDC Writing Contest: Entries Now Accepted

[press release]
Nominations Open for FDC Writing Award
Doug Weisz Won 2015 AFDCS Philip H. Ward Citation

Nominations will be accepted through May 1 for the Philip H. Ward Award for Excellence in First Day Cover Literature, presented annually by the American First Day Cover Society. All works published in 2016 are eligible

All articles published in First Days, the AFDCS journal, are automatically considered. Others may be submitted to the Ward Award Committee chair, Mark Goodson, 202 W. Temperance Street, Ellettsville, IN 47429, bgdsn@comcast.net.

Douglas S. Weisz, Len McMaster and Alan Warren were the winners of the 2015 Philip H. Ward Award. Dorothy Knapp: Philately And Family, a book by Weisz, a well-known first day cover dealer, received first place. (Weisz is pictured with a copy of his book.)

McMaster received the first runner-up prize for “The 1898 One-Cent Green Franklin, Scott 279; The Issue Date and EDUs,” which appeared in the March-April 2015 issue of First Days. Warren, a charter member of the AFDCS, wrote a five-part series in First Days, “Denmark Birth Certificates: Commemorative First Day Covers,” which concluded in the September-October 2015 issue.

Back issues of First Days are available for $4.00 each postpaid within the U.S. from Jeffrey Bennett, 1601 River Farm Drive, Alexandria, Va. 22308. A searchable electronic archive of every issue of First Days from its inception in 1955 through 2014 is available on DVD for $79 postpaid. In addition, AFDCS members also can download back issues since 2011 for free on the AFDCS website.

The awards are presented each year at Americover, the annual show and convention of the AFDCS. Americover 2017 will be held August 11-17 in Independence, Ohio.

The award is named in honor of Philip H. Ward (1890-1963), the distinguished Philadelphia stamp collector, dealer and journalist who was a pioneer in the field of first day covers. The award was instituted by the AFDCS in 1964.

Additional information about the AFDCS can be found at www.afdcs.org.