Monday, 28 July 2014

First World War 1914 Stamps

Royal Mail have issued 6 new stamps to mark the start of the First World War, 28th August 1914.

 "These evocative stamps represent the six series themes of Poppy, Poetry, Portraits, War Art, Memorials and Remembrance and Artefacts. The cameo head of The Queen by David Gentleman appears in Royal Mail Red, echoing the colour of poppies, the most poignant symbol of war and remembrance. As ever, they are brought to you in pristine, unmarked condition.


 The poppy quickly became symbolic of the war. It was previously associated with the powerful effects of opium and detested by farmers as a stubborn weed, but its tendency to spring up on disturbed earth made it a common sight among the broken ground of shell-torn battlefields. The poppy’s deep red colour seemed to evoke the blood of wounded men, while the flower’s delicate petals might hint at the fragility of life itself. In this specially commissioned painting, artist Fiona Strickland captures the fine texture and translucency of a poppy’s petals.


In 1914, Laurence Binyon was a senior curator at the British Museum and an authority on East Asian art. Born in 1869, he was too old to enlist at the outbreak of war. He had been a published poet since the age of 16, and on 21 September 1914, The Times printed his seven-stanza poem ‘For the Fallen’. At this time, the British Expeditionary Force was in retreat, having suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Mons. Binyon’s poem is very well known today, being used across the world in the ‘Ode of Remembrance’.


Private William Cecil Tickle enlisted during the height of the recruiting rush on 7 September 1914. Despite being underage, he managed to join the 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment. After a period of arduous training, the battalion was deployed to France and on the third day of the Battle of the Somme attacked near the village of Ovillers. The troops were hit by machine-gun fire from three sides and suffered heavy casualties. Among the dead was Private Tickle. Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.


Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson was born in London in 1889. A leading exponent of Futurism, he went to France and Flanders as a Red Cross orderly, later joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. After being invalided out of the Army, he secured a commission as an official war artist. One of Nevinson’s official works, Paths of Glory, showing two dead British soldiers lying amid mud and barbed wire, was controversially censored. In A Star Shell, Nevinson depicts the weird, unearthly light of an illuminating artillery flare. The shell’s harsh glow reveals a strange landscape of broken ground and barbed wire and captures the disorienting alien nature of the battlefield.


The Response, otherwise known as the Renwick Memorial, was inaugurated in Newcastle in July 1923. A spectacular sculpture by William Goscombe John depicts the volunteers of the Northumberland Fusiliers marching to the station on their way to France. Led by drummers and heralded by the figure of Victory, the men walk resolutely as two sweethearts part for perhaps the last time. Field Marshal Lord Kitchener’s call to arms in September 1914 met with an instant and overwhelming response. While the pre-war British Army needed 30,000 recruits a year, at the peak of the recruiting rush this number enlisted in a single day. By the end of 1915, 2.5 million had volunteered.


On 15 October 1914, Princess Mary launched her Christmas Gift Fund. In a public letter, she wrote, “I want you now to help me send a Christmas present from the whole nation to every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front.” Her appeal was met with an enthusiastic response, eventually raising over £162,000. On Christmas Day 1914 alone, 426,724 gifts were distributed to British service personnel. Each included writing materials, a Christmas card and a photograph of the Princess, and most contained tobacco and cigarettes, all enclosed in an embossed brass box. Many boxes survived, becoming distinctive mementoes of the war’s first Christmas.

Source - Royal Mail
Read more - Telegraph

Monday, 21 July 2014

Puzzles for Postmen - James Addison

Puzzles for Postmen - James Addison - Graphic Designer - Poole Dorset


"I’ve always had a fascination with the Royal Mail. How a letter can physically travel from one end of the country to the other for just 57p is still brilliant (you can’t even buy a Double-Decker chocolate bar for that price).

For the past five years I have been challenging the British postal system by writing and sending cryptic addresses on envelopes. From maps and symbols to word-searches and drawings of the destination, they never fail to deliver and I have a growing admiration for their patience and perseverance.

Puzzling post has been a hobby of mine for quite some time and I am always delighted when the post office writes and draws little messages in return. One envelope had three addresses to various friends’ homes with a little biography about each of them. It invited the Royal Mail to ‘Choose the person who best deserves to receive this letter’. When it arrived I was surprised to hear that there was a written conversation across the envelope where postal staff across the country had diverted its destination in a sort of debate. The final address had a giant pink heart drawn over it in crayon.

For me this sums up the Royal Mail; an efficient machine with a very human spirit and a great team of people dedicated in delivering every letter they receive. Somehow I very much doubt that any other postal service in the world would embrace badly addressed envelopes in such an eccentric and light-hearted way."

Source - James Addison
Source - Puzzles for Postmen

Friday, 27 June 2014

Eid & Ramadan Cards - Salma Arastu

Just in from America, stunning new Eid and Ramadan cards from the ever talented artist, Salma Arastu.

View these and more at Cool Cards - Eid & Ramadan Cards

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

World’s oldest message in a bottle

“Why are people all over the world moved by a plain, handwritten postcard in a bottle? Because in our age of high-speed communications and great uncertainty, time stands still for a moment. It is a message from the past, reaching us now."

When a German fisherman saw an old brown beer bottle floating in the Baltic Sea, he could never have predicted that it was more than a century old. Even greater was his surprise when he found out there was a message in the bottle, dated 1913.

The International Maritime Museum in Hamburg, Germany, analysed the worn postcard hidden inside the beer bottle and discovered that it was written by a baker’s son, Richard Platz. Though much of the ink had faded, a return postal address was readable. The museum tracked down the sender’s 62-year-old granddaughter, Angela Erdmann, in Berlin.

Erdmann never knew her grandfather, and was ‘very surprised’ when a genealogical researcher knocked on her door to deliver the message from her grandfather, who was 20 years old when he threw the bottle into the sea. “He included two stamps from that time that were also in the bottle, so the finder would not incur a cost. But he had not thought it would take 101 years,” she told the Guardian.

“In our age of high-speed communications, time stands still for a moment”
Researchers believe it is the oldest message in a bottle ever found. The Guinness World Record for the previous oldest one dated from 1914 and was discovered after 98 years. The bottle and message are on display in the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg, where experts will attempt to recover the full message.

Holger von Neuhoff, curator at the museum, said: “Why are people all over the world moved by a plain, handwritten postcard in a bottle? Because in our age of high-speed communications and great uncertainty, time stands still for a moment. It is a message from the past, reaching us now. For many visitors in our museum, this was a short journey back in time, combined with the question: what will people in 101 years think about us?”

Source: Positive News - The GuardianThe Local

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Jesus & Mo on Newsnight

Did you catch Newsnight this week? The Author of the Jesus & Mo cartoon was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman.

Prior to this, the Author made his thoughts known regarding the censorship imposed by Channel 4.
"This will be obscure to you if you don’t know the backstory. Last night, Channel 4 News did a piece on the Maajid Nawaz/J&M controversy. They showed the comic, but censored Mo – thus playing to the worst stereotype of Muslims as violent fanatics, pushing liberal Muslims “further into a ditch” (Nawaz), betraying the principles of journalism in a democracy, and providing fuel for true anti-Muslim bigots.
Nice work, Channel 4 News."

Jesus & Mo
Jesus & Mo greeting cards  at Cool Cards

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Postman Pat: The Movie

(pronounce in a deep, gruff, american accent)
"Postman Pat: The Movie"

Pat gets seduced by the lure of fame and fortune.


"The 3D animated film will see Stephen Mangan voice the beloved cartoon character as he enters a TV talent show competition. Ronan Keating will provide the singing voice for Pat.

Speaking to Digital Spy at the recent Sky Arts South Bank Awards, Mangan admitted that he hopes the movie will take Pat to "the dark side".

"What can I say about Postman Pat?" he said. "One of the most iconic cartoon characters ever, and also one of the nicest.

"Being nice for an hour and a half is not that interesting, so we take Pat to the dark side. He gets seduced by the lure of fame and fortune.

"He even falls out with Jess. That's all I'm saying, don't tell the kids!"

David Tennant, Jim Broadbent and Rupert Grint also feature in the voice cast for Postman Pat: The Movie, which will be released in UK cinemas on May 23."

iMDB - Postman Pat - The Movie

Monday, 3 February 2014

Vinegar Valentines

Who knew that Vinegar Valentines was a thing? And why are Hallmark not milking it?

The Collectors Weekly have a great piece on these forgotten gems of anti-sentiment, entitled Happy Valentine's Day, I Hate You.

The Collectors Weekly - Happy Valentine's Day, I Hate You

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Exclusive - Uncooked Valentines

Available only from Cool Cards, a wonderfully snarky range of Uncooked Valentine's Cards:

View these, and more, at Cool Cards

Friday, 31 January 2014

WW1 - 12 million letters a week

World War One: How did 12 million letters a week reach soldiers?

A remarkable and humbling account:

During World War One up to 12 million letters a week were delivered to soldiers, many on the front line. The wartime post was a remarkable operation, writes ex-postman and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

When a soldier on the Western Front wrote to a London newspaper in 1915 saying he was lonely and would appreciate receiving some mail the response was immediate.
The newspaper published his name and regiment and within weeks he'd received 3,000 letters, 98 large parcels and three mailbags full of smaller packages.

Had that soldier had the time to respond to every letter he could have done. Wherever he was fighting, his reply would have been delivered back to Britain within a day or two of posting.

How the General Post Office (GPO) maintained such an efficient postal service to soldiers and sailors during World War One is a story of remarkable ingenuity and amazing courage.

The imperative was clear from the start. Ever since the establishment of the Penny Post in 1840, the ability to communicate by letter reliably and cheaply had become a public expectation.
For fighting soldiers it was essential to morale and the British Army knew that. It considered delivering letters to the front as important as delivering rations and ammunition.

The Boer War of 1899 had established an expectation among soldiers that they would be able to stay in touch with those at home but the logistics of doing so in WW1 provided a challenge on an unprecedented scale.

The GPO was already a huge operation before war broke out in 1914. It employed over 250,000 people and had a revenue of £32m, making it the biggest economic enterprise in Britain and the largest single employer of labour in the world, according to the British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA).

But at its peak during the war it was dealing with an extra 12 million letters and a million parcels being sent to soldiers each week.

Continues at BBC News

Mailman Battles Angry Cat

First dogs, now cats. What next?


It's like we've always said:
"Do not meddle
in the affairs of
For they are subtle
And will piss on
your computer"

Cat card image from our Lettered greeting card range


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Jesus & Mo supported by Nick Clegg

You'll recall our recent post concerning the death threats made against Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, for posting this innocuous Jesus & Mo image?

The free speech petition in support of Maajid would appear to have made some impact with the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg:
"I very much recognise and respect that the visual depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is regarded as deeply offensive and distressing to you and many other Muslims in the UK and beyond. But I recognise too that there are also Muslims, including devout ones, who take a different view.

However, the Liberal Democrats are a party of respect, tolerance and individual liberty. We fundamentally believe in freedom of expression in an open, liberal and free society and therefore strongly defend Maajid’s right to express his views. Maajid was commenting on a recent BBC programme which covered this issue and wanted to make the point that as a Muslim he did not regard depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as being offensive.

It is my understanding that Maajid has made it clear that he therefore tweeted in order to contribute to a live debate rather than out of any intention to deliberately offend, and that his tweet reflects his genuinely and sincerely held religious views. I hope that those who take a different view would respect his right and sincerity in doing so. I’m sure it goes without saying that the death threats and threats of violence Maajid has received are totally unacceptable, and I’m sure you will join me in whole-heartedly condemning them."

The Jesus & Mo author also had this to say:

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Jesus & Mo spark death threats

Hey, how ya doin?

Hope that greeting doesn't offend you... because it seems to have offended some and they're not happy. Not happy as in death-threat not happy.

You know the Jesus & Mo cartoon strip which has been around since 2005? And you know our Jesus & Mo cards? Well Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Killburn, posted an innocuous 'Jesus and Mo' cartoon on his Twitter timeline and stated that he, as a Muslim, was not offended by the content.

His tweet followed a BBC Big Questions programme in which the cartoons were discussed and Maajid Nawaz was included as a studio guest. The cartoon depicts Jesus and Mo saying 'Hey' and 'How ya doin'" to each other.

"On January 12th, Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democrat PPC for Hampstead and Killburn, posted an innocuous 'Jesus and Mo' cartoon on his Twitter timeline and stated that he, as a Muslim, was not offended by the content. This followed a BBC Big Questions programme in which the cartoons were discussed and Maajid Nawaz was included as a studio guest. The cartoon depicts Jesus and Mo saying 'Hey' and 'How ya doin'" to each other.

Islamists and political opponents have now mounted a campaign against Maajid Nawaz, resulting in numerous threats to his life. We note that this, rather than being based on legitimate concerns of Muslims, is a political campaign spear-headed by a group of Islamist reactionaries with a track record of promoting extremism. They are seeeking to use Muslim communities in order to whip up hatred against a liberal and secular Muslim. We are concerned that this campaign will also be used by anti-Muslim extremists as evidence of Muslim intolerance and incompatibility with liberal values which could, in turn, fuel anti-Muslim bigotry.

We note with concern that this attempt to silence Maajid Nawaz is fuelled by Liberal Democrats party member Mohammed Shafiq. Freedom of expression is essential to the functioning of a liberal democracy, and a core value of the Liberal Democratic party. The agitation of a party member against a designated Prospective Parliamentary Candidate is antithetical to these core values."

This is clearly a matter of freedom of speech and has to be challenged. Please petition Nick Clegg and give full support to LibDem PPC Maajid Nawaz and take disciplinary action against party member Mohammed Shafiq by signing this petition organised by Chris Moos.

Watch the BBC Big Questions programme on YouTube "Should human rights always outweigh religious rights?" - skip to around the 53 minute mark for the relevant piece.

Read more at the National Secular Society

Please sign the petition 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Bob Mankoff selects his favourite New Yorker cartoons

New for 2014. We hope soon to have a range of The New Yorker greeting cards, but in the meantime please enjoy these gems as chosen by Bob Mankoff, the The New Yorkers cartoon editor.

Don't go away. There's more.

More of Bobs favourite cartoons here

A TED Talk: Bob Mankoff: Anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon

And from TedEd: Inside a cartoonist’s world - Liza Donnelly