Canadian Opera issue sings the praises of Canadian talent
OTTAWA — In time for the 2017 opera season, Canada Post has launched five stamps celebrating two significant Canadian-penned operas and three individuals who helped to put modern Canadian opera talent on the world stage.
In their stamp design debut, Parcel Design Inc.’s creative director Gary Beelik and designer Kristine Do, with illustrator Peter Strain, have created a bold five-stamp issue that embodies the colour and drama of modern operatic performances.
Two of the highly theatrical stamps depict significant Canadian operas. Filumena — composed by John Estacio with a libretto by John Murrell — tells the true story of the only woman ever to be hanged in Alberta: an Italian immigrant convicted of murdering a police officer. The opera is being restaged by the Calgary Opera in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, and held its opening performance on February 4. Commissioned to celebrate Canada’s centennial in 1967, Louis Riel — composed by Harry Somers and featuring a libretto by Mavor Moore in collaboration with Jacques Languirand — romanticizes the life of the legendary Métis leader. It is being restaged in 2017 to mark both the 50th anniversary of its debut by the Canadian Opera Company and Canada’s sesquicentennial.
The additional three stamps pay homage to the artists who bring magic to the stage. Bass baritone Gerald Finley and soprano Adrianne Pieczonka are regarded internationally as being among the greatest operatic voices on the modern stage. Director Irving Guttman, known as “the father of opera in western Canada” for his artistic vision, is credited with discovering and fostering some of the country’s greatest talent.
The issue includes a booklet of 10 Permanent domestic rate self-adhesive stamps (two of each design), measuring 32 mm x 32 mm, and a gummed souvenir sheet bearing a row of the five stamps. An Official First Day Cover, which incorporates lyrics from both operas, is cancelled in Calgary, Alberta. As with all 2017 stamp issues, Canadian Opera includes references to Canada’s sesquicentennial, which are visible when the stamps are illuminated by a black light.
Australia Post celebrates the Year of the Rooster
To celebrate the Year of the Rooster, 28 January 2017 to 15 February 2018, Australia Post is releasing two Lunar New Year stamps.
As the tenth sign in the Chinese Zodiac, the Rooster symbolises confidence, resourcefulness, courage and persistence.
Creating this year’s Lunar New Year range in line with traditional Chinese design and customs, Australia Post Philatelic Manager Michael Zsolt said the products, including a postcard, give everyone an opportunity to send wishes of good fortune and health to family and friends, both here and overseas.
Completing her tenth stamp issue in the Lunar New Year series of twelve, Hong Kong-born Dani Poon said she used paper cut motifs, a popular form of Chinese art, to represent the Rooster in the $1 stamp. The Chinese calligraphic character for the Rooster is shown in the $3 stamp.
“The Chinese assign the Rooster as a proverbial mascot to the five virtues – civil responsibility, marital fidelity, courage, kindness and confidence. Those qualities are illustrated in the minisheet story – the Rooster coaxes the fearful hidden sun out from her hiding place. The puffed-up chest of the Rooster in the $1 stamp sums up the Rooster’s positive personalities. The Rooster is also traditionally related to the chasing away of evil spirits, by calling the sun out and bringing the light to life,” Dani said.
Famous people born in the Year of the Rooster include Britney Spears, Cate Blanchett and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
A highlight of this stamp issue is a special silk minisheet pack, finished with purple foil detailing and where one of the three sheets in the pack is printed on silk. A 24 carat gold Year of the Rooster minisheet in a presentation case is also a highly collectable part of the range.
Collectors and those celebrating the Chinese New Year will be interested in a limited edition (8,888) Chinese New Year Dragon postal and numismatic cover featuring a $1 Perth Mint coloured coin.
Other products associated with this stamp issue are a minisheet, zodiac sheetlet, first day cover, stamp pack, postcard, prestige booklet, customisable $1 stamp in the Personalised Stamps™ range, gutter strip of 10 x $1 stamps with design, domestic and international postage paid envelopes and a Lunar New Year of the Rooster postal and numismatic cover.
The Christmas Island Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster 2017 stamp issue is available from 10 January 2017 at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at auspost.com.au/stamps while stocks last. Personalised Stamps™ can be ordered at auspost.com.au/pstamps. The Christmas Island Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster 2017 stamps are valid for postage in Australia.
For an interview with designer Dani Poon, visit the Australia Post Collectables website auspostcollectables.com.au. The Australia Post Collectables website is a central resource for stamp collectors and philatelic enthusiasts across the globe.
Australia Post announced February 23rd that Fahour has resigned, as of July 2017. Although there is no mention of why or where Fahour is going, the press release sings his praises.
Who makes more? The head of the postal service or the head of state?
In Australia, the answer is “postal service.”
According to the Associated Press, Ahmed Fahour (right), managing director of Australia Post, was paid AU$4.4 million in salary and a AU$1.2 million bonus in the last fiscal year.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should deliver mail: He wasn’t paid a tenth as much — just AU$507,000.
The AP points out that U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan only made $286,137 last year, but in fairness, we should point out that the Australian dollar is only worth 76% of the U.S. dollar. So Brennan made AU$374,780.72, while Fahour “only” made US$4.3 million (US$4,275,090.99, to be exact). That’s at today’s exchange rate; it wasn’t that much different last year.
Just as an aside, the President of the United States receives an annual salary of US$400,000, or AU$524,179.20.
Australia Post didn’t want the senate committee to disclose how much Fahour made, saying it and its top executives “would become targets of unwarranted media attention.” Such as showing up in The Virtual Stamp Club’s LloydBlog.
Turnbull was a banker before entering politics and has a personal fortunate estimated at AU$200 million, but he says he told Australian Post’s chairman “that remuneration is too high.”
“As someone who spent most of his life in the business world before I came into politics, I think that is a very big salary for that job,” Turnbull told reporters.
(By the way, the Associated Press referred to the postal agency throughout its story as “Australian Post.”
5154 (47¢) Chinese New Year – Year of the Rooster
5155 (47¢) Love
U694 (47¢) Northern Cardinal stamped envelope
[PostNL press release]
Postzegels Mooi Nederland zijn ontdekkingsreis langs beken en rivierdalen
Beautiful Netherlands stamps explore streams and river valleys
The Beautiful Netherlands 2017 series depicts the meandering course of streams and river valleys, the cultural and historical landscape, along with a striking national monument. For example, the historic Saxon farm in the village of Anderen is featured on the Drentsche Aa stamp. The stamp for the Linge also shows Fort Asperen (near Leerdam) and the stamp for the Reest features the Reestkerk from the village of Oud-Avereest.
Images of the peace and calm along streams and river valleys
The three streams pictured have meandered through the landscape for centuries. Because humans have left this historic landscape intact, the streams retain their original form. Nature, agriculture, culture and liveability are central to the landscape and coexist well. Each stamp sheetlet combines nature and culture in the form of monumental architecture.
PostNL marketing director Ludo Voorn on the stamp sheetlet: “Designers Sonja Haller and Pascal Brun from Amsterdam have very cleverly managed to cast the stream and river valleys in the lead role. They’ve achieved this by incorporating the meandering streams from beginning to end as lines on the stamp sheetlet, without people or buildings. This brings the striking landscapes of Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland into view.”
Later this year, PostNL will bring out further Beautiful Netherlands stamp sheetlets focusing on the river valleys of the Dommel and the Geul, and a collection sheet containing all five stream and river valleys.
The Beautiful Netherlands 2015 stamps are marked ‘Nederland 1’, the denomination for items up to 20g in weight destined for mail within the Netherlands. These stamps will be available from 30 January 2017 at all Bruna shops and via Collectclub.nl. The stamps are valid until further notice.
[press release] [This stamp’s issue date is February 1]
2017 Black History stamp commemorates Mathieu Da Costa
17th century interpreter believed to be the first person of African descent to arrive in Canada whose name is known today
OTTAWA – Canada Post’s annual Black History Month stamp for 2017 will commemorate a historical figure who continues to fascinate and confound scholars.
Admittedly little is known about Mathieu Da Costa. From the few records that remain, historians conclude he was a free man who earned a living as an interpreter for Europeans who were trading with Indigenous people in the New World. Believed to be of African or even Euro-African descent, his connection to Canada came in the year 1608 – the year Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Québec – when Da Costa signed a contract to work for French fur-trader, explorer and governor of Acadia, Pierre Dugua de Mons.
“While the full story of Mathieu Da Costa may never be known, interest in his life and in his unique connection with our country is a reminder of the values of respect, acceptance and diversity that Canadians cherish,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra.
With no portrait of Da Costa available, designer Andrew Perro and illustrator Ron Dollekamp worked closely with Canadian historical illustrator and storyboard artist Francis Back to ensure the period clothing and sailing ship reflect De Costa’s time and socio-economic milieu. As with all stamps issued in 2017, the Black History stamp will contain references to Canada’s sesquicentennial that are visible only via a special black light.
The domestic rate stamps, available in booklets of 10, are self-adhesive and measure 32 mm x 25 mm. The Official First Day Cover is cancelled in Tadoussac, Quebec, where historians believe Da Costa may have come ashore.
from Israel Post; this stamp will be issued February 7, 2017:
The National Military Organization in Eretz Israel (Etsel) broke away from the Haganah paramilitary organization in the spring of 1931. In the years before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the organization operated clandestinely against Arab rioters during the revolt of 1936-1939 and took part in “Nonetheless” operations together with the Revisionist, Betar and HaTzohar groups to rescue European Jews before and during WWII. Members in Poland fought against the German enemy in the ghettos and took part in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943 as part of the Jewish Military Union, led by Pawel Frankel. Members in Eretz Israel were recruited to fight against Germany as volunteers in the British military. Etsel commander David Raziel was killed in the line of duty in Iraq on May 20, 1941. In February 1944 the Etsel, led by Menachem Begin, waged a campaign against the British authorities and government policy in Eretz Israel. Members were suppressed from within by the Haganah, but obeyed their leader’s decree never to take up arms against their brethren. Together with the Haganah-Palmach and Lehi, Etsel fighters, and especially those sentenced to death by hanging by the British Mandate courts, contributed to the establishment of the State of Israel. On July 13, 1980, the anniversary of the death of Etsel military leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Prime Minister Menachem Begin spoke at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem of those who fought both overtly and clandestinely: “Ö with their blood they sprouted the tree of freedom for their People, with their bodies they paved the way to the mountaintop”.
The Brit Hayyale Ha’Etsel organization (est. 1983) is committed to commemorating the memory of the fighters throughout the generations and to preserving their legacy.
Goals: to organize former Etsel members within a non-partisan social framework, encourage historical research, literary works and documentation to endow the legacy of the Etsel and its fighters. From the start, the organization has worked to achieve government recognition of the Etsel’s contribution to national liberation, defense of the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Israel against Arab rioters and the struggle against the British authorities and against the Arab armies during the War of Independence. The Alliance (“Brit”) works to have the Etsel’s fallen, injured and missing declared as fallen IDF soldiers.
The organization worked to erect a memorial monument dedicated to the Acre prison escapees, to those who fell during the Altalena Affair and to those hanged on the gallows by the British. It has also established the Etsel Museum and the Etsel Museum 1948 named after Amichai Paglin (Gidi) in Tel Aviv-Jaffa in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Etsel Museum in Jabotinsky Shuni Park in Binyamina and the monument commemorating the 51 Etsel members who fell in the battle for Ramlah in 1948. The organization also conducts memorial services and holds services commemorating the fighters in the Etsel plots in cemeteries around Israel. The operations of the Brit, including documentation, publishing and film production, expose the public to the heroism of the Etsel fighters at the dawn of our independence.
— Yosef Kister
Jabotinsky Institute historical consultant and researcher
Description of the Stamp and First Day Cover
The stamp design is based on a photograph of Etsel combat soldiers who fought in the Menashia Battle in Jaffa (April 25-May 1, 1948).
The stamp tab features a quote from the Betar Song, written by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and the Etsel Badge, which was presented by the Ministry of Defense to those who served in the Etsel.
The FDC features a photograph of the Etsel’s Jerusalem Regiment in formation, Jerusalem August 4, 1948.
From left to right: Mordechai Raanan and Menachem Begin.
The photographs and quote are courtesy of Jabotinsky Institute in Israel.
from Israel Post; this souvenir leaf will be issued February 7, 2017:
120 Years of the Zionist Organization of America
The ZOA, founded in 1897, is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. Its roster of distinguished presidents includes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver who led the fight in America to reestablish the Jewish State, and currently, Morton A. Klein who was named one of the top five influential Jewish leaders by the Forward newspaper.
With chapters throughout the United States, ZOA works to educate the U.S. Congress, the media and the public about the ongoing Arab/Islamist war against Israel, and to strengthen and enhance the U.S.-Israel relationship. We promote the legal, religious, political and historic right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, and emphasize the truth that an undivided Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people.
ZOA led the fight to ensure that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act was interpreted to protect Jewish students from discrimination and harassment in federally funded schools. Providing programs, materials and other resources and support to students on college campuses across the country, we are building informed, strong and effective Zionist leaders for the future.
ZOA also has an Israel office in Jerusalem, which works to educate local and visiting government officials, community leaders, journalists, academics and others about ZOAís views on the important issues facing Israel.
The officeís educational and advocacy initiatives have improved security in eastern Jerusalem, addressed anti-Semitic incitement and the plight of victims of Arab terrorism, and encouraged pride in Israelís national rights and Zionist ideals.
— The Zionist Organization of America
Description of the Stamp
The photograph of the Statue of Liberty is from Fotolia. The photograph of the Knesset Menorah and the images of the Israeli and American flags are from Shutterstock.
The four symbols on the stamp represent the main areas of ZOA activity: Congress, Justice system, Higher Education and Media.
from Israel Post; these stamps will be issued February 7, 2017:
“Who is she that comes up from the desert like columns of smoke, in clouds of myrrh and frankincense, of all the powders of the merchant” (Song of Songs 3:6).
The Aromatic Plants stamp series features different types of myrrh and frankincense, aromatic plants which were very significant in the history of Eretz Israel.
Today, Aromatic Plants are mostly thought of as fragrant plants used for the production of volatile fragrant materials ñ “essential oils”, by the distillation process. However, in the distant past this process was unknown and perfumes were produced using methods of extraction or resin drainage from certain plants.
Thus, myrrh and frankincense, which grew mainly in the Red Sea area of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, became an important and precious source for perfumes.
Throughout history, these plants have been used for cosmetics, medicine and mainly for religious rituals in ancient Egyptian, Jewish, Christian and Far Eastern temples.
They are mentioned frequently in the Bible and are among the ingredients used in the incense offering made in the Temple.
The great demand for these plants led to the establishment of trade routes, where caravans of camels carried their wares from the key growing areas to Egypt, Eretz Israel and Europe. Over time, Eretz Israel became an important crossroads on the Incense Route, which was controlled by the Nabateans.
In addition, Eretz Israel was known for growing another well known aromatic plant ñ balsam, which grew mainly in the Dead Sea and Gilead area. Balsam was unique to Eretz Israel and was also used for cosmetics, medicine and incense, and was an important economic resource. Thus, the method for its production was kept confidential, as referenced in the mosaic floor in the ancient synagogue unearthed in Ein Gedi.
A genus (Boswellia) of the Burseraceae family that includes a number of tree and bush species from which the resin used for the incense called frankincense is derived. The resin is collected in containers after puncturing the bark of the young tree trunk.
A genus (Commiphora) that also belongs to the Burseraceae family which includes species of bushes from which the resin used for the incense called myrrh is derived by slicing the bark of young branches. The species most commonly used is Commiphora mirrha.
The balsam plant is mentioned in ancient writings and is consistent with the biblical Tzori plant which served as the source for producing high quality perfume. After some deliberation regarding the identification of the plant, there is now widespread agreement among researchers identifying it as one of the myrrh species of the Burseraceae family, Commiphora gileadensis, which still grows in the southern Arabian Peninsula. This plant was introduced to Israel and acclimatized in recent years and is now cultivated in the Ein Gedi and northern Dead Sea area.
— Prof. Nativ Dudai, Ph.D
The Unit of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
Agricultural Research Organization, Newe Ya’ar Research Center