Thursday, 23 June 2016

Australia 1937 - 150th Anniversary of Sydney Cove Landing

In 1770 Captain James Cook steered his ship HMS Endeavour into a bay on the east coast of the great southern continent then known as Terra Australis. He originally named it Stingray Bay, but then altered it to Botany Bay in homage to the wonderful botany specimens retrieved by botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander.

Upon his return to England Joseph Banks raved about the beauty of Botany Bay. After Britain’s loss of the North American colonies, it was suggested that Botany Bay was an ideal spot to start a new colony. Lord Sydney was given the responsibility of devising a plan to settle convicts at Botany Bay. Lord Sydney chose Arthur Phillip as Governor for the new colony. This choice proved to be inspired. Governor Arthur Phillip was a great leader, and he ensured the survival of the early colony by nursing it through its darkest days.

On 13 May 1787, eleven ships under the command of Arthur Phillip, set sail from Great Britain to the shores of Terra Australis. In the fleet were 696 convicts – 504 male and 192 female. There were also 348 free people, the majority of which were marines, the colony’s police force.

On 18 January 1788, HMS Supply reached Botany Bay. After arriving it was quickly decided that this place so raved about by Captain Cook and Joseph Banks was not at all ideal. On 21 January Arthur Phillip and a small party including John Hunter left the bay in three small boats and headed north. They discovered an excellent site for the colony 12 kilometres to the north at Port Jackson. In a letter to England he wrote of the site, 
“the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security...”

On 26 January 1788, the fleet sailed into a cove that Arthur Phillip named Sydney Cove in honour of Lord Sydney. On this day the British flag was planted and the land was claimed by Britain. Of course, the land already had occupants, the Aborigines! The relations between the European invaders and the Aborigines is a long story - one which I will not go into here. Suffice it to say, the Aborigines suffered greatly by the invasion.

On 1 October 1937 Australia issued a set of three stamps commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Arthur Phillip's landing at Sydney Cove. This set of stamps was designed and engraved by E.N. Broad and F.D. Manley. The original die bore the 2d denomination. Two secondary dies, in which the denomination was erased, were then created. These dies were engraved with 3d and 9d denominations by T.C. Duffell.

The details in this design are fantastic. The uniforms are striking. I love the depiction of the trees and the ground. In the distance to the left the three boats in which Arthur Phillip and his officers came ashore can be seen.

Until next time...

Stay Engraver Crazy!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A Mouldy Situation!

Have you ever opened up one of your albums that has been sitting on the shelf for a year or so to discover that one - or perhaps a few - of you precious stamps has developed a fungal disease or has started to rust? I always assumed that I was immune to this. I live in a cold climate with very little humidity, and I store my stamps in a cool, dark place. Safe, right? Wrong! None of this means diddly if the fungus or rust already existed on the stamp microscopically before you added it to your album.

Unfortunately, I have now experienced this first hand. Several years ago I purchased a MNH set of AAT 1957-59 definitives. All of the stamps seemed perfectly clean. Then about a year ago, I pulled out the folder in which they were stored. I was horrified to discover that my 2/3 stamp was playing host to a rather nasty fungus!

Hideous, right? So what happens now? Toss the stamp out as fast as possible and buy a new one to replace it (not always easy to buy a single from a definitive set)? Well, you certainly could, and such an act would be understandable. That growth is rather disturbing. But there is a solution. A solution that was revealed to me by a stamp buddy. It involves a very simple procedure. However, the procedure does have a drawback. If your stamp is mint, the gum will be removed, as the process requires soaking the offending stamp. Of course, there are many who may not wish to do this, and that''s fine. That's the beauty of this hobby. All decisions are our own, and we can do with our own collections as we see fit. But if you are one of those who doesn't care because you never intend to get rid of the stamp, and a lack of gum is not an issue, then the following process may be for you.

The key to the process that will kill the spores, and often remove the staining, is over-the-counter Peroxide. The strength you are looking for is 6%-9% solution Peroxide. Once you have acquired this, the process is simple.

Grab your peroxide and an opaque dish and something you can place on top of it. Place enough Peroxide - directly from the bottle - in the dish to allow the stamp to soak in it easily. Then drop the stamp into the Peroxide. Once you have done this place the cover over the bowl. It is absolutely vital that you cover the bowl straight away! The key to the success of this procedure is darkness. Depending on the size and/or intensity of the stain the process can take between 15 to 30 minutes. You must leave the cover over the bowl for the whole process. It is, however, a good idea to give the stamp a quick check every 5 or so minutes to see how it is going. Give it a swish in the Peroxide, then place the cover straight back on. Once you are satisfied with the results, remove the stamp from the Peroxide and give it a rinse in water to deactivate the Peroxide. Do not soak the stamp for any longer than 30 minutes.

I used the process I just described on the fungus-infected AAT stamp I showed you above. Here is a before and after...

It looks like a totally different stamp, doesn't it? I will say, though, that this procedure may not always give this level of result. What it will definitely do is kill the mould outright and most likely lighten the discolouration, at least somewhat. After seeing the results I got from the above stamp, I'm thoroughly convinced.

Until next time...

Stay Engraver Crazy! 

Friday, 27 May 2016

In the Mail...France 1974 & 2009

I have to confess that when it comes to covers I receive in the mail, I'm a bit of a hoarder. I tend to keep everything, whether I'm interested in the stamps or not. Consequently, I end up with large stacks of covers that, from time to time, need to be sorted into keepers and discards. Last night I decided to go through one of my stacks and I was pleasantly surprised to find a few covers from France with engraved stamps affixed. So I thought I'd share some of the stamps I've found in a few blogs. 

The stamps below have been cut away from the rather large and ugly cover so I can store them more easily.

The stamp on the left is from a set of four Red Cross stamps celebrating the four seasons issued in France on 30 November 1974. It was engraved by Cecilie Guillame, a female engraver who engraved 37 stamps for France. The stamp on the right is from the 2009 Marianne definitive series issued in France on 28 February. It was designed and engraved by Yves Beaujard.


Let's take a closer look at the Red Cross stamp without the postmark. The subject of this delightful stamp is Ete, which is French for Summer. It features children playing on a beach, while in the distance a sail boat rides the waves. I love the colour choices in this stamp.

Until next time...

Stay Engraver Crazy!