Stamp a New Year

Most of us who have collected stamps at one time or another have some treasured Israeli stamps. The publicity for Tel Aviv 100, with its serrated edge appearance of stamps, was a reminder of all the wonderful, evocative stamps of Israel over the last 61 years.

There is a colourful set of stamps produced by Israel for Tel Aviv 100 as shown in the catalogue from the Israel Philatelic Federation. The catalogue provides articles about the wide range of Israeli stamps and themes over the years.

In the section on new issues, it states that the year 2009 has been designated by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO as the International Year of Astronomy, marking the 400th anniversary of the invention of the astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei. Furthermore, there is a stamp entitled – Jacob’s Staff – Gersonides

The Philatelic Federation catalogue tells us that the study and mapping of the heavens began before Galileo, with the Jewish people making a unique contribution in the form of “Jacob’s Staff” – an ancient measurement tool for mapping stars, which was first described and in all likelihood invented by Gersonides (Rabbi Levi ben Gershon, France, 1288-1344). The staff was 1.4 meters long and notched with scale graduations along its length. Up to seven cross-pieces of varying lengths, called “transoms”, slid up and down along the main piece. By aiming one end of the transom toward a star and sliding the transom along the notched main staff until its other end lined up with another star, one could measure the angular distance between those two stars. Navigators also made use of Jacob’s Staff to measure the altitude of the North Star above the horizon in order to determine their latitude. See new issues

For more interesting information about Israeli stamps, you can look at a Slide presentation and here for some detailed discussion about Stamps from 1970. Another site for musings on Israeli stamps is a blog on Israeli stamps by Adam Caplan.

One fascinating site that is also the site of an Israeli dealer is called Historama: The site discusses early stamps including the fact that immediately after declaration of independence, JNF labels were used as stamps with an overstamping of “Doar”. BUt it also has an Israeli music jukebox and an eclectic range of articles, including a great one on the day of Declaration of Independence in 1948

As to where the Hebrew word for stamp – bul comes from, the Balashon site, which we link to, provides information on – bul The word originates from the Latin bulla, and is still used as the term for a papal edict – originally a “sealed document”. The word Bulletin has a similar origin.

To try your hand at recognising Israeli personalities
, including early Zionist leaders, from their individual stamp, here is a fun stamp site.

.. time to pull out the old stamp albums!

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