Thursday, 25 July 2019

Austria 1959 - International Hunting Congress (Part 2)

It plunges through the forest, leaving a devastating trail of torn branches and gouged earth in its wake. Its shiny brown fur quivers as its dense muscular hides tenses. It rampages across the terrain, unafraid, for it has very few predators, primarily the grey wolf and human hunters. This is the Central European boar (Sus scrofa).

The wild boar is native to North Africa, and most of Eurasia. In fact, it probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene. But due to us humans the wild boar is now one of the most wide-ranging mammals in the world. This in turn has led to the wild boar also becoming a serious pest in many countries, especially since it has begun to cross breed with pigs, creating boar–pig hybrids. Such hybrids are now a terrible menace in countries such as Australia, Canada, United States, and Latin America. 


In 1959, Austria issued a stunning set of four stamps to commemorate the International Hunting Congress in Vienna. To see Part 1 click HERE The 2.40s value depicts a wild boar. This stamp was engraved by Georg Wimmer. The boar exerts a powerful presence in this stamp. Its strength, vigour and fearless nature are all expertly captured by this master Austrian engraver. Just look at that mouth and the single piercing eye. Little wonder this powerful beast has very few predators. An outstanding stamp.

Until next time...

Monday, 22 July 2019

Austria 1959 - International Hunting Congress (Part 1)

It bounds gracefully through the woods. Nimbly, it sidesteps a towering pine and enters a small, grassy clearing, the lush grass glistening with dew from the morning sun. It reaches down to feast on the succulent new shoots, its life blissful, carefree, perfect. This is a snapshot of the life of a roe deer.

The European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), is quite a small deer, and is reddish and grey-brown in colour. On average a roe deer weighs between 15-35 kg. Even the antlers of a buck, aptly named a roe buck, are relatively small, reaching a length of around 25-30 cm. Roe deer thrive in cold environments. Indeed, the species is widespread in Europe, from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, from Scotland to the Caucasus, and east to northern Iran and Iraq. They are not easily confused with the Siberian roe deer, which is somewhat larger.


In 1959, Austria issued a stunning set of four stamps to commemorate the International Hunting Congress in Vienna. The 1.50s value depicts a roe buck. This stamp was engraved by Georg Wimmer. This stamp masterfully captures the grace and vulnerability of these amazing creatures. I adore the way Wimmer has blended light and shadow to give the deer an almost ethereal quality.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

France 1979 - Tourism Series (Part 7)

It was the product of an inherited fortune. It employed an architect so obsessed with perfection, he razed whole sections of the building to the ground if they didn't meet with the approval  of his hyper-critical eye. From the time of its construction in 1630 till 1905 when it was purchased by the state, it passed through the hands of no less than seven different families. It was even visited by Louis XIV in April 1651.


The Château de Maisons, which is now called Château de Maisons-Laffitte, is located in Maisons-Laffitte, a northwestern suburb of Paris, in the department of Yvelines, Île-de-France. Construction of the château was commissioned in 1630 by René de Longueil using the funds from a fortune inherited by his wife, Madeleine Boulenc de Crévecœur, who died six years later in 1636, never to see the fruits of her inheritance. By 1651 the château was complete, and it was in this year that it played host to King Louis XIV in April.

The Château de Maisons was designed by François Mansart in the French baroque architectural style. According to a pamphlet entitled, La Mansarade, the architect realised, after completing the construction of the first floor of the château, that he had committed an error in the plans  So in a ludicrously egocentric move, he apparently razed everything built so far to the ground in order to start afresh! A tall tale? Who knows. But it certainly makes for a compelling story.

René de Longueil died in 1677, and the château remained in his family until 1732. Between that date and 1905 it passed through the hands of no less than seven families. Too many to list here. For a full history of the château, click HERE. In 1905, the State purchased the château in order to save it from demolition. Then in 1914 it was deemed an historical monument. 


On 9 July, 1979, France issued a set of seven stamps in their ongoing Tourism series. To read the previous six parts, simply click on the relevant link. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. In this blog I'll take a close look at the final stamp in this series, the 0,45 value. This stamp depicts the Château de Maisons, which is now called Château de Maisons-Laffitte. This stamp was designed and engraved by Pierre Forget. Contrary to the stamp depicting an architectural monument that I studied in Part 6, I think this one is a true stunner. A far  more interesting and visually appealing design than the stamp shown in Part 6. But that's just my humble opinion.

This stamp has, in my eyes, a somewhat Decaris-esque quality. If compared to Decaris' 1946 Luxembourg Palace design, we can see a marked similarity of line style.


Indeed, even the 1948 Saarland architectural stamp by Decaris bears some similarity, I feel.

Until next time...