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Welcome to my stamp blog
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

International Olympic Committee Presidents

My last post highlighted the King of Sweden opening the 1912 Summer Olympic games and the stamps and cover I bought to illustrate that part of the Olympic event.

Today I want to highlight stamps picturing the International Olympic Committee presidents from the beginning of the Modern Olympic Games. There has always been an elected president of the International Olympic Committee since Pierre de Coubertin founded the Olympics in 1894.

San Marino issued a set of stamps commemorating the first seven presidents. While not as colorful or as interesting as the Olympic sports stamps, they are still stamps that have been issued that are part of the story of the Olympics.

1. Demetrius Vikelas
2. Pierre de Coubertin
3. Henri de Baillet-Latour

4. Sigfrid Edström
5. Avery Brundage
6. Lord Killanin

7. Juan Antonio Samaranch

And here is a picture of the page I created to display them.

While Pierre de Coubertin founded the Modern Olympics he was originally the General Secretary of the first International Olympic Committee. Demetrius Vikelas was the first IOC president, but only served for two years. Pierre de Coubertin served from 1896 until 1925. Coubertin was later elected as honorary president of the IOC until he died in 1937.

IOC presidents I don't have stamps for are: Jacques Rogge who served from 2001 to 2013; and Thomas Bach the current IOC president who has served since 2013.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

King Gustav V Opens 1912 Summer Olympics

Part of the development of my stamp collection has become telling the story of the Olympic Games through stamps, postmark cancellations, and first day covers. Telling the story sometimes goes beyond just collecting "Olympic" stamps. It now includes adding stamps that commemorate the associated events and people connected with the Olympic Games.

For example, I discovered this First Day Cover featuring the US stamp commemorating Jim Thorpe the most decorated athlete of the 1912 games in Stockholm, Sweden. But it wasn't the stamp that drew me to the cover. It was the cache depicting King Gustav V who officially opened the 1912 Summer Olympic Games.

The cache was designed by Lorraine Bailey, a cache maker in the Washington, DC. area.

Then I searched for stamps commemorating King Gustav V and found several. I bought these five that were issued in 1911 to 1919 adding them to my collection and creating this new page.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Olympic Hymn

The Olympic Hymn is a choral cantata written in 1894, and performed for the first time during the opening ceremony of the first Olympic Summer Games in 1896 in  Athens, Greece. The International Olympic Committee declared it the official Olympic Anthem in 1958 and has been performed at every Olympic Games since 1960 during the opening and closing ceremonies when the Olympic flag is raised and lowered.

The hymn was written by Greek opera composer Spyridon Samaras, and the lyrics by Greek poet Kostis Palamas. Both poet and composer were selected by Dimetrius Vikelas, the first president of the International Olympic Committee.

Olympian flame immortal
Whose beacon lights our way
Emblaze our hearts with the fires of hope
On this momentous day
As now we come across the world
To share these Games of old
Let all the flags of every land
In brotherhood unfold
Sing out each nation, voices strong
Rise up in harmony
All hail our brave Olympians
With strains of victory
Olympic light burn on and on
O'er seas and mountains and plains
Unite, inspire, bring honor
To these ascending games
May valor reign victorious
Along the path of golden way
As tomorrow's new champions now come forth
Rising to the fervent spirit of the game
Let splendour pervade each noble deed
Crowned with glory and fame
And let fraternity and fellowship
Surround the soul of every nation
Oh flame, eternal in your firmament so bright
Illuminate us with your everlasting light
That grace and beauty and magnificence
Shine like the sun
Blazing above
Bestow on us your honor, truth and love

Friday, January 27, 2017

Role of Art in the Olympics

Pierre de Coubertin believed that sport was an aesthetic experience for both athletes and spectators alike. He conceived of the modern Olympic Games as a spectacle that would demonstrate the harmony that existed between sport and art. He called this ideal "eurythmie".

In May 1906 Baron de Coubertin organized a meeting in Paris for both IOC members and representatives of artists' organizations. The meeting ended with a proposal to the IOC to organize artistic competitions at the Olympic Games in five areas - architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. The works of art that were entered had to be inspired by sports.

The Modern Olympic Games became distinguished as a modern spectacle where fine art and folk art merged aesthetically with a large international sport competition. Host cities shared their distinctive cultural heritage with international visitors.

Art competitions formed part of the modern Olympic Games from 1912 until 1948. Medals were awarded for art inspired by sport in the five categories mentioned along side the medals awarded in athletic competition. These juried art competitions were, however, abandoned in 1954 because artists came to be considered 'professionals', while Olympic athletes were required to be 'amateurs'.

Since 1956 the 'Olympic Cultural Program' has taken their place. Art festivals are held all over the Olympic host cities every four years. Unfortunately, the media never mentions them.

Since I learned about this aspect of the Olympics, I have begun adding Olympic stamps that feature art in connection with sport to my collection.

Monday, December 19, 2016

From Kitty Hawk to the International Space Station!

It's been almost a month since I posted anything new here. I thought it was high time! I hope you think so too! But instead of writing about my Olympic stamp collection, I thought I'd write a little bit about my Space Exploration Collection.

Since I found Hipstamp.com I have been really spending a LOT of time building my collections! In the past it was difficult to know where to get stamps I wanted or needed for my collection. Now, at Hipstamp I can search for specific stamps by Scott Catalog number, Topic, or country. This has really become fun! Going to the mail box each day as the stamps I purchase arrive is like having a little bit of Christmas everyday!

Anyway, I renamed my collection. I originally called it "From Kitty Hawk to Tranquility Base" from the information I discovered at the Wright Brother's Museum about a piece of the original Wright flyer being taken to the moon by Neil Armstrong. But I realized that the space program continued way beyond the moon landing. So I call my space collection "From Kitty Hawk to the International Space Station".

In past years I was never much of a First Day Cover collector, but now I've been adding more and more FDCs to my collection. I really like the way it looks!

This page features the US issue in 2003 celebrating the centennial of the first controlled powered flight by the Wright brothers. Then I began looking for a FDC to go along with the Sheet of stamps. I found this one with a cache of the Wright brothers and their take off at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. The stamp obviously matches the sheet and the post mark that can be seen in the picture is from Kill Devil Hills. 

But if you look closely at the rest of the postmark you can see the Wright flyer in the middle, the Space Shuttle to the left, and the Apollo Space Capsule to the right. For me that tied the maiden flight to the moon landing and beyond! As soon as I saw that FDC I knew I wanted it for my collection!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The 1906 Intercalated Olympic Games

If you do the math, and count backwards from 2016 in four year increments, you don't arrive at 1906. So how can 1906 be an Olympic year?

The intercalated Games were to be a series of Olympic Games halfway between the regular Olympic Games. The proposed series of games, intercalated in the Olympic Games cycle was to always be held in Athens. They were to have the same status as the regular Olympic Games. However, the only such games were held in 1906.

Pierre de Coubertin didn't like the idea at all! Especially not Athens hosting the intercalated games all the time. He had intended the first Olympic Games to be held in Paris in 1900. But instead they were held in Athens in 1896. He had no intention of losing not only the premiere for Paris, but the games as well. So the second Olympic Games were held in Paris, France.

However, because of the "Exposition Universelle" being held in Paris, the 1900 Olympics didn't turn out so well, being overshadowed by the Exposition. The International Olympic Committee supported the Greek idea of the Intercalated games.

The 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri were also overshadowed by an Exposition, the "Louisiana Purchase Exposition". As a result, the Olympic Movement was in difficult shape. It had to regain the momentum of the 1896 Athens Games.

De Coubertin still didn't like the idea, and didn't do anything more than his function required him to do. But the IOC as a whole gave the Greek NOC their full support for the 1906 games. The 1906 were quite successful, unlike the 1900, 1904, and 1908 games. They were not overshadowed by an international exhibition.

These games were the first to have all athletes register through their National Olympic Committees. They were the first to have the Opening Ceremonies of the Games as a separate event. This event introduced the athletes marching into the stadium in national teams, and following their national flag. The Closing Ceremonies were also introduced this year, as was the raising of the national flags for the Olympic victors.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances beyond Greece's control, they were not able to keep the schedule of following the 1908 Olympic Games with another one two years later. International events also eclipsed the Intercalated Games, and they were never held again.

The stamps in this set were issued by Greece in 1906 to help raise money for the games. The two vacant openings are for the two stamps that are the most scarce and therefore the most expensive. Stamps way out of my price range! But who knows what will happen in the future?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Pierre de Coubertin - Founder of the Modern Olympics

The more I research the Olympics, the athletes, and the people who have been associated with the Olympics over the last 120 years, the more fascinating it becomes!

As I mentioned in a previous post, this year I learned that there even was such a thing as the Paralympics, that there were countries that issued stamps commemorating the Paralympics, and that I even had a Paralympic stamp and Maxicard hiding in my collection and didn't even know it! I'll say more about that later in a post about the Paralympics.

But back to Pierre de Coubertin. One of the Olympic stamp sets I had was from Haiti, commemorating the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Two of the stamps had the picture of a man on them that I wanted to find out about.

So I began doing some digging on the internet and discovered it was Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the man credited with founding the Modern Olympics in 1896!

I also discovered that beginning in 1935 lots of countries began issuing stamps commemorating his achievements in reviving the ancient Olympics and his contributions to the overall philosophy of the Olympic Movement. The more I read about and research Pierre de Coubertin the more fascinating he becomes.

As I began accumulating stamps honoring Coubertin Yvonne asked me, "Are you going to build a separate collection of stamps commemorating him?" My response was "I don't know, I might. But right now he is the opening chapter of my Olympics collection. The beginning of the story."

I was also eager to share my new pages, the stamps, and the stories I've gleaned from the internet, about this fascinating individual, with you. If you like stamps and stamp collecting, I hope you'll enjoy looking at the stamps and learning about the founder of the Modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

The picture above is called a "maxicard". It's like a postcard except with the stamp and the cancellation on the front. This one and the stamp on it were issued by France in 1956.
Pierre de Frédy was born in Paris on 1 January 1863 into an established aristocratic family. He was the fourth child of Baron Charles Louis de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin and Marie–Marcelle Gigault de Crisenoy. Family tradition held that the first recorded title of nobility granted to the family was given by Louis XI to an ancestor, also named Pierre de Frédy, in 1477. The annals of both sides of his family included nobles of various stations, military leaders, and associates of kings and princes of France.
In October 1874, his parents enrolled him in a new Jesuit school where, unlike many of the other students, Coubertin boarded at the school under the supervision of a Jesuit priest, which his parents hoped would instill him with a strong moral and religious education.
 As an aristocrat, Coubertin had a number of career paths from which to choose, including potentially prominent roles in the military or politics. But he chose instead to pursue a career as an intellectual, studying and later writing on a broad range of topics, including education, history, literature, and sociology.

The subject which he seemed to have been most deeply interested in was education, and his study focused in particular on physical education and the role of sport in schooling. In 1883, he visited England for the first time, and studied the program of physical education instituted by Thomas Arnold at the Rugby School.
As a historian and thinker on education, Coubertin romanticized ancient Greece. Thus, when he began to develop his theory of physical education, he naturally looked to the example set by the Athenian idea of the gymnasium, a training facility that simultaneously encouraged physical and intellectual development.

The Role of Art
Most of us can recall some distinct visual image or musical refrain from past Olympic Games. When we think of the Olympics we think of an oddly shaped sports stadium, a song announcing an award ceremony, or even colorful logos and flags that memorialize the Olympic Games for both athletes and spectators. These images give the Olympic Games a context that exists for few other sporting events. Pierre de Coubertin believed that sport was an aesthetic experience for athletes and spectators alike. He conceived of the modern Olympic Games as a spectacle that would demonstrate the harmony that existed between sport and art. He called this ideal “eurythmie”.

This set of stamps and souvenir sheets were issued by Mali in 1994 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Olympic Committee and the Modern Olympic Games by Pierre de Coubertin. Each set is an imperforated souvenir sheet, a regular perforated stamp, and an impeforated stamp.

Coubertin found support for his belief in the ancient Greek athletic festivals of Olympia. His theory described a modern sport that was a potent aesthetic experience for athletes and spectators, with sports and art inherently complementary. He wanted artists to contribute directly to the sporting spectacle of the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games became distinguished as a modern spectacle where fine art and folk art merged aesthetically with a large international sport competition. Host cities sharing their distinctive cultural heritage with international visitors became part of the expanding Olympic Games celebrations.

The International Olympic Committee’s extensive stamp collection, housed at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, demonstrates that painters and engravers have been incorporating images of sport and Olympic symbolism into the production of postage stamps from the outset of the modern Olympic movement.

The two souvenir sheets below are still from the 1994 Mali set. The top one is perforted, while the bottom one is imprerforated.

In the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, at the artistic competition, the gold medal winning entry in the literature contest was a poem entitled ‘Ode to Sport’ written jointly by Georges Hohrod and M. Eschbach, which extolled sport as a means toward Beauty, Justice, Daring, Honour, Joy, Fecundity, Progress and Peace. It was submitted in both French and German. The names of the poets, Hohrod and Eschbach, were in fact aliases used by Pierre de Coubertin himself. They were actually the names of two villages near the birthplace of his wife.

The block of stamps below and the selvage was from a sheet of stamps issued by the United States in 1996 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Modern Olympics by Pierre de Cubertin.