Saturday, March 5, 2016

Stockerau, Austrai: Pfarrkirche

This cover is interesting for the special postmark. It includes a representation of the organ in the Pfarrkirche in Stockerau, Austria. In 2000 the church celebrated the 275 anniversary of the church tower. Said tower is the tallest, at 88 meters, in Lower Austria. Anniversary celebrations took place in late 2000, culminating according to the postmark on December 1.

The postmark features the organ, the tower, some choristers and a Christmas tree along with stars. This cover has two imprints of the postmark, one each for the postage stamp and for the meter stamp covering additional postage costs. The cover is addressed to someone in Spain. The cover contains the additional notation "drucksache" which means simply "printed matter."

The stamp on the cover is a fairly common stamp of Austria. Part of a set of ten, Scott 1601 is from a set of 10 stamps featuring art from various monasteries in Austria. The present stamp has a sample of stained glass from the Mariastern-Gwiggen monastery in Voralberg. The glass depicts St. Benedict of Nursia. There is in the lower right corner a small rendering of the monastery itself. The stamp was issued in 1993. I can determine no specific relationship between any element of the stamp and the postmark.

The organ was built in 1888 by Johann M. Kauffmann. It is a fairly modest instrument of 25 ranks over two manuals and pedal. The registry does not indicate if and when any repairs, rebuilds or restorations have been done on the instrument.

Also among the items given me by Mark Jameson was this postmark "sampler." It seems to be a 1/2 shilling postage label that has been cancelled by the same postmark. Perhaps one has to pay a token amount for a copy of the postmark; or perhaps it cannot be provided unless tied to a postage indicia of some type. Anyway, another example of the postmark.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Guinea-Bissau: Bach

Guinea-Bissau issued a mini-sheet and a souvenir sheet to commemorate the 260th anniversary of the death of JS Bach in 2010. The mini-sheet featured five stamps, and the souvenir sheet a single stamp in a large selvage. The souvenir sheet stamps feature various renderings of the composer with different (several modern) instruments in the background. The souvenir stamp shows the familiar Bach/console image (reversed) with a silhouette, and a modern piano in the background. The West African nation of Guinea-Bissau issued these (and several other stamps) on 31 January 2010.

Valvasone, Italy: Duomo organ restoration

The organ in the Valvasone, Italy Dom was built by Vincenzo Colombi in the 16th century. It was restored in 1972-1974 by Alfredo Piccinelli. This cover includes a postmark that commemorates the 30th anniversary of that restoration. The postmark shows most of the facade, with the left being occluded by an image of a treble clef. The date given in the postmark is 8 May 2004. I have not determined what that specific date may specify: perhaps concerts, perhaps the date of re-dedication 30 years earlier.

Interestingly, the organ was apparently worked on significantly in again 1999 by Francesco Zanin. While the present cover would include that time frame, this second period of restoration work is omitted. One suspects then that the work completed in 1974 was of such a scale and scope as to somehow eclipse that of 1999.

The organ was begun in 1532, installed in 1533, while painting of the interior and exterior of the protective doors continued through 1535 (exterior) and 1537 (interior). The artist himself died in 1539 with the work only partially complete; it fell to his son to complete the paintings by 1544. To read some accounts, the paintings  by Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone are at least as important as the organ itself.

This site includes good details about the instrument. The instrument is rather small (relatively few ranks, and a short compass) but seems to be a very typical instrument f the Italian Renaissance. This site dealing with music in the region gives more information about the instrument.

Tied to the cover by the postmark is Scott 2590, a stamp depicting Santa Maria Assunta Church in Pragelato, Italy. The stamp was part of a set of 4 marking the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin. The stamp is thus most likely coincidental to the postmark, aside from the "church" unifying factor.

This cover was a gift from my friend, Mark Jameson in Reading.

Villareal, Spain: St James Cathedral

This cover is notable for the postmark. It was created to mark the third Religious Music and Poetry Week held at the St James Cathedral in Villareal, Spain.The drawing shows the "organ at the main altar of the church." The pictures I could find of the altar area of the cathedral show an organ, but it is an instrument installed in a gallery, not like the one pictured. I was able to find information that Gerhard Grenzing did restoration work on the instrument, but the site doesn't include a date, and the instrument restored is the altar gallery instrument, again not the one shown in this postmark.

In this picture above, on the right side, high up on the wall one can see the organ. Below is Grenzing's image of the instrument.

I also found this image (at a tourism site) of an organ in what seems to be a rear gallery in the cathedral. Again, it does not look like the instrument shown in the postmark.

The stamp shown on the cover is Scott 2365, issued 11 April 1984. As such it was issued just prior to the beginning of the conference referenced in the postmark. The stamp shows da Vinci's Study of Man, and the stamp is called, "Man and the Biosphere" in the Scott catalog. The relationship between the stamp subject and the postmark is thus murky at best, and perhaps doesn't actually exist in any meaningful way.

This cover below shows the same postmark, but also includes an image of the gallery organ shown above. One is curious then if the organ in the postmark is really one in the cathedral, or merely emblematic of church organs in general.

I am thankful to my friend Mark Jameson in Reading, GB for the gift of this cover and the enigma of the organ in its postmark.