365 Stamp Project 111: Nubian Ibex

This 1991 five fulu (fluid are 1/1000 of a dinar) stamp was issued as part of an endangered species four stamp set from the Hashamite Kingdom of Jordan.

Nubian Ibex, Jordan, 1991

The Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana) is a desert-dwelling goat found in mountainous areas of the Middle East, and north & northeast Africa.

In Yemen, they are tied closely with national identity. Their National Ibex Day, is January 22.

It’s more familiar European cousin, the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex), as it’s name suggests, lives in the European Alps.

The Nubian Ibex was extirpated (locally extinct) from Jordan by over hunting. Animals were reintroduced starting in 1989, but they continued to face hunting pressures.

However, reintroductions continued and by 2011 there were over 600 wild Nubian Ibex in Jordan.

On a side note, the royal family claims descent from Hashem, a great grandfather of the Prophet Mohamed, and descent from the Prophet himself. Hence the name Hashemite.

365 Stamps 110: Flag Day

Today, June 14, is Flag Day in the USA.

It celebrates the adoption of the “Stars and Stripes” flag design of the United States on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.

Scott US 2114 Flag over Capitol 22c 1985

The original design had one star and one stripe for each Colony/State. Great Britain was debating with us at the time which designation we would have.

The first international recognition of the Stars and Stripes came when it received its first salute from another country on February 14, 1778. A French ship saluted a ship commanded by John Paul Jones. Naval ships regularly salute one another, but this is the first time it was done under this flag.

The Second Flag Act was passed on January 13, 1794, increasing the Stars and Stripes to 15 of each, for two new states. After that new states would only receive stars and the stripes were cut back to only 13 for the original 13 states.

That flag was the version flown at Ft McHenry during the War of 1812, that inspired Francis Scott Key to write his Poem “The Star Spangled Banner,” which became the national anthem.

That same flag can now be seen at the National Museum of American History on the Mall in Washington D.C.

365 Project 109: Happy Birthday Judy Garland

Judy Garland was born on June 10, 1922 as Frances Ethel Gumm, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She died on June 22, 1969 at her house in London.

She appeared on a couple of U.S. stamps, on this 2006 stamp she appears as herself rather than as one of her film characters.

Judy Garland, US Sct#4077, issued 2007

She and her sisters performed as the Gumm Sisters, and made their film debut in a short called The Big Revue (1929). They performed in several more shorts through 1935, and on the vaudeville stage during that time as well.

Comedian George Jessel played the Oriental Theater in Chicago with them in 1934, and was instrumental in renaming them as the Garland Sisters. Judy became Judy shortly after that.

Judy was signed to MGM studios at age thirteen in September 1935 immediately upon auditioning for the head of the studio Louis B. Mayer.

Being that awkward tween age, the studio had a difficult time placing her, and the studio felt her looks weren’t up to leading lady status. They settled on a Girl-Next-Door look for her, and she played that role in several films in the thirties.

She became the literal girl next door in an Andy Hardy film opposite Mickey Rooney when she became the neighbor girl in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) which set her on a path to costar in many films with him.

In 1938, at 16, she was given the part of Dorothy Gale in the the MGM Musical The Wizard of Oz (1939), after they couldn’t arrange to borrow Shirley Temple from Fox. Apparently the producers wanted Garland, but Mayer insisted on trying for Temple.

That film propelled her to the status of household name and box office star, and better parts began to come her way. It also won her a special Juvenile academy award (Oscar). She also won several Grammys and a special Tony, as well as a Golden Globe. She also got several non-competitive special awards.

Garland claimed that MGM studios provided their child actors with amphetamines and barbiturates so they could cope with the press of making films with rapid turn-over. Mikey Rooney disputed that, claiming that Garland was alone in deciding to take the drugs.

Regardless, she fell into addiction and that caused her health and professional problems for the rest of her life.

Judy Garland was a marvelous interviewee, and talk show guest. The audience, at least, was never sure what would come out of her mouth. Her sense of humor was something else.

Below is a video of some classic Judy Garland as herself on the Jack Paar Show (which became the Tonight Show). This is from May 7, 1967. Judy comes is on from time-marks 2:20 to 11:30.

Judy Garland had two daughters, Liza Minelli and Lorna Luft, and a son, Joey Luft. She was married 5 times, and divorced 4. Her fifth husband was Mickey Deans, who survived her.

In her career she had 40 film acting credits from 1929-1971, and 172 soundtrack credits.

Ultimately, her death was ruled an accidental overdose, despite there being no evidence of pills in her stomach, and there not being a unusual number of pills missing from the prescription bottles. Doctors concluded it was the slow accumulation of the effects of so many years of use that finally her body couldn’t take any more.

Rumors of suicide have circulated since her death, but there is no evidence her death was intentional.

On the evening of June 21, 1969, the first significant tornado of a 6 day outbreak was an F3 storm that severely damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes and businesses in Salina, Kansas. It caused minor damage to an additional 500 homes, and injured 60 people. Because of the time difference, it was already June 22 in London, where Judy Garland was found dead.

Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

This is the anniversary of Mexico defeating a French invading army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 against overwhelming (2:1) odds.

Battle of Puebla,” unknown artist, in the collection of the  Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones.

The Government of President Benito Juarez (served 1858-1872) was bankrupt in 1861 and declared a pause in repayment of foreign loans. Britain and Spain negotiated, and France did not.

Benito Juarez, President of Mexico 1858-1872, stamp probably from 1954.

Napoleon III used the pretext of the loan to send troops to seize control of Mexico.

France really wanted to reestablish an American empire, after losing Quebec and giving up Louisiana. Specifically it wanted a “Latin America” under the French, who thought they were the successor to Rome.

After the battle the French realized it wasn’t going to to be quite so easy, and sent a larger force, which conquered Mexico City and installed Maximilian I as Emperor of Mexico.

Maximilian was thrown out after 3 years with help from the USA after the ending of the American Civil War. The Government of Juarez, who had led the Mexican resistance, was restored.

The Battle of Puebla, while not decisive in getting rid of the French, was great for morale in Mexico, showing they had a chance against the European power. It also probably also saved the American Union, by tying up French troops in Mexico during the early American Civil War, so the French could not aid the US Confederacy.

The first celebrations of Cinco de Mayo were in California in 1863, and it has become a celebration of Mexican American culture, even for those that are bigoted against Mexicans. The day has also become the second biggest beer-selling day after the Super Bowl, and has, like St Patrick’s Day, become mostly an “American” thing.

So thank you to those 4,000 Mexican troops that soundly defeated the 8,000 French troops, delaying an invasion and saving the United States of America’s Union.

No wonder the USA celebrates it.

By the way, the Aztecs formed a runner system to carry messages among their cities. This system was appropriated by the Spanish in 1580, becoming more formally a mail service. The first Mexican adhesive postal stamps were issued in 1856. They were unique in having “district overprints”.

The first stamp featured a portrait of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the parish priest who led an unsuccessful bid for Mexican independence in 1810.

365 Stamp Project 107: Denmark, Frederik IX

This 1963 stamp is from Denmark.

Denmark is the southernmost of what are commonly thought of as the Nordic countries. It shares a border with Germany on the south and Sweden and Norway to the north.

Formed during the 8th century, the territorial area of Denmark grew and shrank over the centuries, as primarily Sweden and Germany fought over the ground. The current borders were established following World War II.

The constitutional government of Denmark is overseen by the Folketing, a unicameral parliament. Executive functions are let by a Prime Minister and cabinet, ostensibly on behalf of the Monarch.

The current Monarch is Margrethe II, eldest child of the man depicted on this stamp, King Frederick IX. She became the heir to the crown in 1953 when a constitutional amendment allowed any child, rather than just male children, to inherit the crown.

Margretha became Queen of Denmark in 1972, and is only the second woman to hold that title, the first being Margretha I, Queen of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, who ruled from 1375 to 1412.

365 Stamp Project 106: Czechoslovakia, railroad

Czechoslovakia declared its independence from Austria-Hungary at the end of the first World War.

In 1939 the country broke up, though a government in exile was formed during the second World War.

The country was re-formed in reality in 1945.

In 1948 the Communists seized control, which lasted until the democratic Velvet Revolution in 1989.

In 1992 Czechoslovakia broke up once again, splitting into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1992.

Like the country, the Czechoslovak State Railways company was founded in 1918.

Starting in the 1920s the company started electrification, and by 1930 it had the fifth largest rail network in Europe.

During the war induced breakup of the country the company was also broken up, but reformed in 1945 along with Czechoslovakia.

It again broke up following the 1992 breakup.

365 Stamp Project 105: Cambodia, Bettas

This Cambodian stamp from 1997 shows two species of fish in the genus Betta. There are about 75 species in the genus. Both fishes shown are male.

The longer finned fish is an aquarium variety of Betta splendens, the commonly found Siamese Fighting Fish. The males are extremely territorial and will fight, even killing, any perceived interloper. Among other species, however, they are extremely peaceful, and are more often harassed by other fishes than being a harasser.

The shorter finned fish a Betta imbelis. They have the English common name of Peaceful Betta. They are sometimes seen in aquariums, and like the fighting fish, may be kept with other fishes.

Unlike the fighting fish, though, these fish can get along with each other if not crowded.

Both species can be found in small ponds and ditches in their native Southeast Asia, where the water may be stagnant and very low in oxygen. These waters don’t support other fishes, but the Bettas, in addition to gills, have a second breathing organ called a labyrinth.

This organ functions sort of like our lungs, and allows the fishes to take in atmospheric air and get the oxygen they need.

This labyrinth organ is what allows captive Bettas to be kept in small bowls. Despite that, though, they do much better in a regular aquarium.

365 Stamp Project 104: Canada, George V

This 1935 stamp from Canada shows King George V.

He was born on 3 June 1865, the second son of Prince Albert Edward, the future Edward VII.

George’s older brother Albert died in 1892, and when their grandmother, Queen Victoria, died in 1901, George became Prince of Wales.

When Edward VII died in 1910, George became King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India.

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany were his first cousins.

With the rise of anti-German feelings during World War I, George changed the family name from Sax-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor.

In 1931 George oversaw the change of the British dominions into the British Commonwealth of Nations, which gave Canada independence from the British Parliament, but retained the monarch as head of state.

This stamp was issued in 1935, less than 7 months before the George’s death.

The King was in declining health after the end of the second World War, and on 20 January 1936 his doctor, Lord Dawson of Penn gave George two lethal injections. This only came to light in 1986 on the publication of the doctor’s diary.

George’s son Edward VIII abdicated by the end of 1936, making way for George VI, the father of Elizabeth II.

365 Stamp Project 103: Leo Belgicus

This 1959 stamp from Belgium pictures the Leo Belgicus, the Belgian Lion, which is depicted on the Coat of Arms of Belgium.

The arms were adopted in 1837 by the newly independent constitutional monarchy. What has become the Belgian Lion had been used as a symbol since at least 1578 during the Dutch Revolt against Spain.

Originally the lion was shown on a shield representing Saxony, a German province. During World War I the shield was removed. In 2013 Phillip, the current King of the Belgians, re-stored the shield to depictions of the arms.

365 Stamps Project 102: Austria 1973

This is a Europa stamp from Austria. Each year several European nations issue a stamp with the same image or on the same theme. In 1973, when this stamp was issued, the image for Europa stamps was a Post Horn, with the design representing posts as well as telegraphs and telegraphs.

The designer was Leif Erimann Anishal of Norway.

Post horns were used by mail carriers, who often rode in the Postillion position on inter-city wagons. That position is on the front left horse of a team. A postilion is anyone who rides in that position, but it was so often a mail carrier in the 18th and 19th centuries that the term “post” became another word for the mails they carried.