Monday, January 25, 2021

Poland: Olkusz


The most recent issue in Poland's "historic organs" series shows the instrument in st Andrew's Basilica in Olkusz. This stamp was issued in the latter half of 2019. It is in a similar format to other stamps in the series.  The instrument was built by Jan Hummel and his apprentice Jerzy Notrowski in the early 1600's. By 1972 the organ was not playable, and a long series of improvement projects was begun. This Polish organ site gives great details about the instrument, including specifications and photographs. the level of research that has gone into the reconstruction of the instrument is laudable. I must thank my friend Mark Jameson who has generously shared with me copies of the stamps, various FDC's, and some of the large folios the Polish post office has prepared related to the stamps in this series.

Poland: St John, Torun


Poland continued its "historical organs" series with two stamps in 2019. The first to be issued was for Torun Cathedral. Similar to others in the series, there is a single large format stamp in a mini-sheet. The cathedral church of St John the Baptist and John the Evangelist contains two instruments. The smaller of the two is shown on the stamp. It's believed that an instrument was in place by 1497. A new instrument was installed in 1688. Work was done on this instrument over many years though it remains mostly as it was installed. This site provides good details, the stoplist as it has evolved over the years, and several helpful pictures. The stamp was issued 21 June 2019.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Poland: Holy Trinity, Gdansk


Poland continued its Historic Organs series in 2018 with a stamp showing the instrument in Holy Trinity, Gdansk. The first mention of an organ here seems to be from the early 1600's, an instrument by Merten Freise. Freise himself continued to work on the instrument for many years. It received significant attention in the mid-1700's by Friedrich Dalitz. The instrument was stored away from the church during World War II. Work to restore the organ began in 2008 and was completed in 2018.

The stamp is embossed, such that one can feel elements of the design, in addition to the visual representation. As with other stamps in this series, the format is large, a 10x7cm mini-sheet format containing a single 8x5 stamp. 

 My friend Mark Jameson has prepared a detailed summary of the instrument, including a specification. One may view it here.



Friday, January 15, 2021

Malaysia: St George's Church Pupua Pinang


The Malaysian postal service issued this stamp celebrating the St George Anglican Church in Georgetown (Pulau Pinang, or just Pinang, or Penang) in 2019. It is part of a series of stamps noting various religious structures in that nation. The stamp shows the iconic exterior of the facility; the selvage includes an image of a new pipe organ by the Mander firm of Great Britain.Pinang may refer to the Malaysian state, Pinang, or to the Pinang Island, though they appear to be essentially one and the same. The church is the largest in South-East Asia.

The British East India Company seized the bit of land that includes Georgetown in the late 1700's. It was a British enclave that affected British characteristics for many years. The church of St George was begun in 1815 and consecrated in 1819. A pavilion was erected in 1886 in the lawn in front of the west end doors.

A new organ was installed by the Mander firm in 2018. The firm's website give s bit more history: the church was built by Indian convict laborers. The building was bombed in 1941 and looted. It was restored and re-opened in 1948. The first organ was a second-hand Bryceson instrument originally serving a church in Singapore. That was replaced in 1899 by a Forster and Andrews instrument. That organ received some work in 1931, but was then destroyed in the 1941 bombing. Electronic instruments served the church until 2017. The area in which the church is situated was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, and major restoration of the church was done again in 2009. 

The Mander site gives some interesting details about the placement of the instrument in the church, as well as specification. 

The sheet of stamps has 20 stamps arranged in four columns of five stamps each. There is narrow selvage on all sides, and a wider selvage dividing the four columns in the center. The organ, and church steeple, are shown there. Other religious buildings appear in the outer selvage. The stamps include an indication "4/5." I have not investigated yet, but I suspect that may relate to the stamps appearing in the series being produced by the postal authorities. 

Great Britain: Hampton Court Palace


In 2018 Great Britain issued a set of stamps celebrating the Hampton Court Palace, most strongly associated with King Henry VIII. Six stamps show views of the exterior of the building, and two landscape shots. A mini-sheet of 4 stamps shows interior views. Shown inside are the Great Hall, the King's Bedchamber, the Chapel Royal, and King's Staircase. Two of these stamps pay the FirstClass postage rate, and two of the stamps are denominated 1.45 British pounds. The chapel image includes the facade of the organ contained therein. The first organ in the chapel was installed in 1711-1712, built by Christopher Schrider. Harrison and Harrison Ltd did the most recent work on the instrument in 2013. The current instrument is contained in the case for the original Schrider instrument, built by Grinling Gibbons.

Poland: Veit Stoss carvings


Veit Stoss was a German-born sculptor living in Krakow, Poland in a period spanning the Gothic and Northern Renaissance eras. Some of his most important work is found at St Mary's Basilica in that city. The altarpiece is the largest in the world and was created between 1477 and 1489. Poland commemorated this masterpiece with a set of six stamps (Scott #925-930) plus a miniature sheet (#931) in 1960. The six stamps show details from the altarpiece; the sheet-stamp shows the central panel. The altarpiece is about 13 meters tall and 11 wide. There are 3 panels on each side of the triptych design, and a larger central panel. Each is painted wood. On the center panel in the middle left is an angel playing a portatif organ. The angel is shown with robes of gold and green, and wings of gold. The stamp is essentially in black, but the angel and the organ are still visible. 

Guinea: German and Austrian Composers



Guinea issued a mini-sheet and a sheetlet of four stamps commemorating German and Austrian composers in 2017. The sheet of four stamps includes images of Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and Schubert. The mini-sheet shows Anton Bruckner. An organ is in the background of the Bruckner stamp.

European colonizers divvied up the African continent savagely in previous centuries. Portugal, France and Spain all laid claim to areas that included the name "Guinea." The region was a major source for gold which is why it was important to the colonizers. After the various colonies gained independence they took various names: the Spanish region became Equatorial Guinea, the Portuguese region became Guinea-Bissau; French Guinea became simply Guinea. Thus these stamps are from the formerly French region, and include French on the stamps and use francs for the denominations.

Anton Bruckner is closely associated with the St Florian Church in Austria. He has been interred in the church's crypt since his death. The organ pictured on the stamp seems to be that of the St Florian church. Rather than a larger picture of Bruckner in the selvage of the sheet as is often done with this sort of stamp issue, an image of JS Bach is shown.

The organ was built in the 16th century by Franz Xavier Chrismann of Slovenia. It presently has more than 7000 pipes.