Saturday, March 26, 2011

Belgium: Composers

This booklet strip of 5 stamps was issued by Belgium. It features several early composers, on the stamps themselves, and in the selvage. The composers include Josquin de Prez, Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchoise (who is holding what looks like a lyre of some type), Johannes Ockeghem (with men gathered around a music desk), Jacob Obreacht, Adriaan Willaert and Orlandus Lassus. And then, most interestingly, in the left-hand selvage is a little positiv organ. It appears that it is actually the left-hand side of the image that includes Dufay and Binchois, but the stamp perforations create a gap. It's difficult to tell how large this instrument is and whether it might actually be movable, and thus a portativ.

Ajman: Schweitzer

Ajman is a Persian Gulf sheikdom that is part of the United Arab Emirates. It issued a few stamps independently in the 1960's, but modern stamps are in the name of the UAE. However, many spurious stamps have been created in the name of Ajman. They are all relatively cheap and are not even catalogued by Scott. This stamp seems to be a photograph of Schweitzer playing at an un-named console. If one knew details about the image, one might be able to determine which instrument it is. As it is, the caption "giving a concert" is not enough to know much more about the stamp.

Great Britain: Lichfield Cathedral

The 1st-rate stamp in the series features the rood screen and choir at Lichfield Cathedral, northwest of London. Established some 1300 years ago, the cathedral began as a shrine to house the bones of Chad, and later was the site of a Norman church and then a Gothic Cathedral, with substantial alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries. The choir program of the cathedral maintains its own website, with information about the organ. The present organ dates from 1884, with the most recent work being done in 2000 by Harrison and Harrison. A nicely detailed specification may be found here. The casework for the choir-facing section of the organ is barely discernible in the stamp image.

Update 4/2011: The current issue of the Jounral of The Organ Club (of Great Britain) has an article that includes information on the Lichfield Cathedral organ. The Club visited the cathedral and other local sites on the 21st of August 2010. The article includes notes on the cathedral itself and information about the organ, including reflections on Club members' playing of the instrument, and a current stop list.