Also on February stamps - Art Nouveau, animals that forecast weather, and book publishing
On 27 February eight new 1st class non-value indicator stamps will be released in four separate issues. The issues are My Easter, Book Publishing 150 years, Rain or Shine, and Sweet Pea. Also, a stamp on the theme of Art Nouveau will be issued on the same date with a value of €1.05.
The idea for the My Easter stamp came from the Helsinki Orthodox Parish pastor Mitro Repo, Father Mitro, and it was realised as a stamp by Aino-Maija Metsola. The picture themes of the stamp are a three-branched candlestick used by an Orthodox priest and a miniature enamel painting showing the risen Christ and an angel in an elliptical mandorla. The objects were photographed by Oskari Hellman.
In the Orthodox faith, Easter is the greatest festival of the church year: light defeats darkness, life conquers death. “The Orthodox Easter service begins with the lighting of the three-branched candlestick precisely at midnight as the third day begins,” Father Mitro explains. “The three candles symbolise the miracle of the Resurrection and the Holy Trinity. The flame of the candle is seen as a flame of prayer,” he continues. Orthodox priests use the triple-branched candlestick throughout the Easter season until Ascension Day.
The candlestick shown on the stamp belongs to the collection of the Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki. A grapevine ornament is depicted at the lower edge of the stamp. This is from the King’s Door at the Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki, which symbolises the gates of Paradise. The door is opened on Easter night and kept open until Ascension Day. The red used for the stamp’s background is a liturgical colour from Easter till Ascension in the Orthodox faith.
Finnish publishing celebrates
The Finnish Book Publishers Association – the industry’s cooperative and lobbying organisation – will be 150 years old this year. The event will be celebrated with a special stamp comprised of three artworks. Each piece of art depicts reading.
“The choice for the symbol of the first fifty years was obvious – the first fifty years of publishing were dominated by academics and patrons of the arts, so I naturally picked a painting by Eero Järnefelt (1863–1937) entitled Master Carl Gustaf Swan at His Desk (1889),” says the stamp designer, Teemu Lipasti. For the middle picture he selected a delicate work by Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946), Reading Girls (1907). “In this context, the painting stands not only for bold modernism but also for the brave women writers of the turn of the century and the following decade,” the designer explains. Both paintings are in the collection of the Finnish National Gallery Ateneum. They were photographed by Hannu Aaltonen of the Finnish Central Art Archives.
Teemu Lipasti wanted to show the young people of today in the third picture. He decided on an illustration by student Susanna Mukkala showing children reading, which he was able to edit as he wanted. “I modernised the picture to make it representative of the present-day mosaic field of publishing and today’s world more generally,” Teemu Lipasti explains.
“Snail, snail, show us your horns, will it be dry tomorrow?”
A snail, a swallow, a frog, a lamb and a perch symbolise the weather in a stamp booklet containing 1st class non-value indicator stamps. According to an old folk belief, snails foretell fine weather by showing their feelers. People in the old days expected rain if the swallows flew low. It was also a sign of rainy weather if the lambs leapt high. One of the sayings about frogs had it that when a frog made long leaps, hot weather lay ahead. The dorsal spines of the perch were also an indicator of the weather: if they were erect, the summer to come would be hot.
The Rain or Shine booklet costs €3.50. The animals were drawn by Sari Airola and the graphical design for the stamps is the work of Marjo Nygård-Niemistö.
Braille writing on the Sweet Pea stamp
The sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus), an annual climbing plant with large blossoms, is the picture theme on a non-value indicator stamp with lettering in Braille for the blind. The Braille lettering on the stamp reads “1 lk. kl.” (1st class) and in the margin of the sheet is “Suomi Finland”. The stamp was designed by Leena Airikkala.
The system of reading by touch was invented by the Frenchman Louis Braille in 1825. The system is based on six dots which can be combined to form 63 different symbols, like letters and punctuation marks. Numbers are formed by combining two or more signs. Braille is taught in all the countries of the world by a decision ratified by UNESCO.
There was also Braille on three Butterfly stamps issued in 1992 in a stamp series for the Finnish Red Cross. It was then the centenary of vocational training for the visually challenged in Finland.
Art Nouveau stamp in the Antiques series
The new €1.05 stamp shows an Art Nouveau style desk, a lamp (Galerie 1900) and a ceramic timepiece by Arabia (Helsinki City Museum). The wall in the background is covered with Wiener Art Nouveau wallpaper (Tapettitalo). The stamp was designed by Pekka Piippo. The photo of the desk was taken by Annmarie Kääriäinen. The self-adhesive stamp will be issued on a sheet of 10.
Two stamps have been issued previously in the Antiques series, which began in 2007. The stamps represented the Empire style and Functionalism.
Art Nouveau was dominant in Europe during the period roughly 1890–1915. In German it was called Jugendstil and in England the term “modern style” was sometimes used. The school flourished particularly in architecture, interior design, the industrial arts and posters. Typical features of it are rich ornamentation, curved lines and floral themes. In Finland Art Nouveau influenced the National Romantic and Karelianism movements.
Philatelic Centre, Director Markku Penttinen, Tel. +358 20 451 5519, email@example.com, technical information:, Product Manager Petri Pohjolainen, Tel. +358 20 451 5572, firstname.lastname@example.org and Product Consultant Tommi Kantola, Tel. +358 20 451 5531, email@example.com.