Category Archives: History Through Philately

History Through Philately—Happy birthday to the American Red Cross!

History Through Philately stamp

On this date in 1881, Clara Barton (1821-1912) and Adolphus Solomons founded the American National Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and national disasters.

I learned about Clara Barton and the Red Cross several decades ago when I was in the Boy Scouts and trying to earn two Merit Badges (First Aid and Stamp Collecting). Until today, I had not known about Adolphus Solomons. He doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, so I still know next to nothing about him.

Barton was born in 1821 in Massachusetts, putting her in her 40s when she was working with the sick and wounded during the Civil War. Her tireless dedication earned her the nickname Angel of the Battlefield.

After the Civil War ended, President Lincoln commissioned her to search for lost prisoners of war. Using the extensive records she had compiled during the war, she succeeded in identifying thousands of the Union dead at the Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp where 13,000 people had died.

In 1870, while she was in Europe, she worked behind the German lines for the International Red Cross when the Franco-Prussian War broke out. In 1877, she organized an American branch of the International Red Cross.

The American Red Cross received its first U.S. federal charter in 1900, and Barton headed the organization into her 80s, dying in 1912 at the age of 90.

Following are Red Cross stamps issued by the United States, including the Scott Catalog number and the issue date.

Scott #702, “The Greatest Mother,” issued May 21, 1931Scott #702, The Greatest Mother

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Scott #967, Clara Barton, issued September 7, 1948Scott #967 Clara Barton

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Scott #1910, American Red Cross, issued May 1, 1981Scott #1910 American Red Cross

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Scott #2975c, Clara Barton, issued June 29, 1995Scott #2975c Clara Barton

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Halls of History (4-15-14)

Halls of History

April 15 is an interesting day in history. To wit:

  1. 1452—Leonardo da Vinci born.
  2. Scott #77 Abraham Lincoln1865—President Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by John Wilkes Booth while at the play, An American Cousin, at the Ford’s Theatre.
  3. 1892—Closing ceremony of the Games of the I Olympiad in Athens, Greece, the first Olympic games of the modern era. The original Olympic games had been held from 776 BD to 394 AD.
  4. General Electric Company is founded. In 2011, by various measurements GE ranked as the 26th-largest firm in the U.S., the 14th most profitable, the fourth-largest in the world, No. 5 best global brand, No. 63 green company, and No. 15 most admired company.
  5. The RMS Titanic sinks in the north Atlantic ocean after striking an iceberg, taking 1,517 people to a watery grave.Rand McNally published its first road atlas.Scott #2016 Jackie Robinson
  6. 1947—Jackie Robinson played in a baseball game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the so-called color barrier in major league baseball.
  7. 1951—Heloise born. Smile if you or your mom was a great fan of Heloise.
  8. 1965—The first Ford Mustang rolled off the show room floor, two days before it was to go on sale to the general public.
  9. 1990—Gretao Garbo died. Smile if you or your dad had a Greta Garbo poster from the 1940s or ’50s.

Most recently, which means last in this list, but certainly not least:

10. 2013—Two home-made bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring another 264 people.

Boston

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History Through Philately–Happy birthday to the ASPCA!

History Through Philately stamp

With my WordPress problems of these past three months now firmly in the past (see WordPress problems resolved!), I seem to have more time to do the things I like to do, such as blog camping (see May I camp out in your blog?) and blogging.

Long-time readers know that I am a big fan of serial blogging, too, but serial blogging takes a lot more effort than just putting up a pretty picture every day, or a cute quote.

Scott #776, Texas centennialSome of my blog series include

I have always had a love of history, with war history being at the top of my list. I find it amazing that humans can be so cruel to other humans, usually under the guise of religion. Right now I’m reading The Crusades by  Zoé Oldenbourg. Just a sampling of how cruel the crusades were: “The Aemenian nobles of Edessa who were plotting to overthrow their new lord were punished in the Byzantine fashion by mutilation–having their eyes put out and their feet, hands, or noses cut off.” The Crusades were in the Eleventh Century, yet killing in the name of religions continues to the present.Scott #993 Railroad Engineers of America

Philately, or stamp collecting, by its very nature encourages the study of history, so it was only natural that I became a philatelist, or stamp collector. At one time I had a huge stamp collection, include Railroad Postal History (RPO), but it was sold when I evacuated Texas in April 1993 and wound up here in San Diego.

I still collect stamps, virtually (much less financial investment), and subscribe to daily emails from history.com. Coupled with Wikipedia’s On this day section on their front page, I get my fill of history each day.

So without further adoo (that’s Texan for adieux), on this day in 1866….

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded in New York City. It is entirely separate from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which was founded in England in 1824 to prevent cruelty to carriage horses. The ASCPA’s mission is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” It’s motto is, “We are their voice.”

One might wonder why anyone would be cruel to a defenseless animal, and perhaps even if their mission might be outdated. All one has to do is pay attention to the news, and it’s easy to see that their mission is not outdated, and that if humans can be cruel to other humans, they certainly can be cruel to defenseless animals. Examples include dogfighting and cockfighting, not feeding an animal enough (often happens to dogs and horses), not giving them clean water, keeping them outside in very hot or very cold weather, hitting an animal (another way to “train” an animal). Some that were recently in the news include setting cats on fire, shooting cats and dogs with arrows, drowning newborn dogs by throwing them into fast-moving rivers, abandoning newborn cats by “throwing them away” in a dumpster.

In celebration of the founding of the ASPCA, here are some United States postage stamps featuring cats, dogs, and horses, the three most commonly abused animals:

Scott #2372, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2372

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Scott #2373, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2373

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Scott #2374, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2374

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Scott #2375, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2375

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Scott #3232, issued August 20, 1998Scott #3232

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Scott #3670, issued September 20, 2002Scott #3670

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Scott #2098, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2098

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Scott #2099, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2099

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Scott #2100, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2100

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Scott #2101, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2101

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Scott #3230, issued August 20, 1998Scott #3230

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Scott #3671, issued September 20, 2002Scott #3671

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Scott #4451-4460, issued April 30, 2010Scott #4451-4460

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Scott #2155, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2155

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Scott #2156, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2156

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Scott #2157, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2157

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Scott #2158, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2158

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History Through Philately — Happy birthday to the United States postal system!

History Through Philately stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On this date in 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States postal system. That was almost a full year before the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.

According to History.com:

Today, the United States has over 40,000 post offices and the postal service delivers 212 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million homes and businesses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. The postal service is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with over 700,000 career workers, who handle more than 44 percent of the world’s cards and letters. The postal service is a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers its expenses through postage (stamp use in the United States started in 1847) and related products. The postal service gets the mail delivered, rain or shine, using everything from planes to mules. However, it’s not cheap: The U.S. Postal Service says that when fuel costs go up by just one penny, its own costs rise by $8 million.

Following are some of my favorite United States postage stamps, one from each decade.

Benjamin Franklin
My favorite scientist born in the current United States (Boston).
Scott #1, issued in 1847

Scott #1 Benjamin Franklin

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Thomas Jefferson
My favorite president, possibly because he also was a scientist.
Scott #29 issued in 1859

Scott #29 Thomas Jefferson

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Steam Locomotive
Any stamp with a train on it is going to be a favorite!
Scott #114 issued in 1869

Scott #114 Locomotive

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Zachary Taylor
Most early stamps had pictures of people in profile.
This was the first non-profile picture stamp that I added
to my stamp collection. At the time it cost me a whopping
$300, but the few other stamps that had non-profile
pictures cost $1,000 or more. So I had to settle.
Scott #179 issued in 1875

Scott #179 Zachary Taylor

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry
This was the first stamp for which I paid over $1,000 for.
It was also my first stamp with a face value higher than ten cents.
Scott #218 issued in 1888

Scott #218 Commodore Perry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christopher Columbus
This was the first stamp in my collection with a face value over $1.
Scott #245 issued in 1893

Scott #245 Christopher Columbus

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Empire State Express
Notice that the train is upside down. This was caused
by multiple pass printing, i.e., the sheet of paper was
printed first with color and then run through again
to be printed with black. Called an “invert,” they are
rare and expensive. I never owned this one because it
was simply too expensive, currently costing around $60,000.
Scott #295a issued in 1901

Scott #295a Empire State Express

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Golden Gate
A couple of decades before the Golden Gate Bridge was built.
Scott #399 issued in 1913

Scott #399 Golden Gate

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Head of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol Dome
Bicolor stamps were a favorite of mine.
Scott #573 issued in 1923

Scott #573 Head of Ffreedom on the Capitol Dome

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Texas Centennial featuring Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin
I was born in Texas, so Texas stamps were another favorite of mine.
Scott #776 issued in 1936

Scott #776 Texas Centennial

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John Philip Sousa
Even though I played the piano and the violin,
I have always been in love with march music,
and there’s no one better than John Philip Sousa.
Scott #880 issued in 1940

Scott #880 John Philip Sousa

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Railroad Engineers of America
My dad was an engineer with Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Scott #993 issued in 1950

Scott #993 Railroad Engineers of America

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Chief Joseph
This was one of the first multicolored postage stamps.
Previously stamps were one- to four-color printing.
Scott #1364 issued in 1968

Scott #1364 Chief Joseph American Indian

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Canadian International Philatelic Exhibition
Also in the late 1960s, the Postal Service realized that they could make a lot
of money by catering to philatelists. All they had to do was issue lots of postage
stamps each year. Philatelists who collected unused stamps would buy every one
of them and store them rather than using them to require the Postal Service to
actually do work, like delivering mail. They went from issuing a dozen stamps
each year  to issuing many dozens, often attached to each other.
That’s when I quit collecting  unused stamps; not sure if the
USPS factored into their profits the people who quit.
Scott #1757 issued in 1978

Scott #1757 Canadian International Philatelic Exhibition

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Weaver violins
I played the violin from the age of 6 to 38.
Not good to take your violin to the beach.
Scott #1813 issued in 1980

Scott #1813 Violins

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Blue Jay
Screech owls and blue jays inhabited our yard when I was growing up,
and my wise old grandmother loved them both, as do I.
Scott #2483 issued in 1995

Scott #2483 Blue Jay

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spay and neuter your pet!
Please! There are tens of thousands of dogs and cats
killed each year because there are not enough forever homes.
By spaying and neutering your pet, we can prevent that.
Scott #3670 issued in 2002

Scott #3670 Spay and neuter your cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Animal Rescue — Adopt A Shelter Pet
Throughout the years all of my adopted pets — Bosco, Bougher, Union, Pacific,
Zoey the Cool Cat — have come from animal shelters. Please adopt!
Scott #4454 issued in 2010

Scott #4454 Adopt a shelter pet

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #1

History Through Philately — Mrs. Silence Dogood

History Through Philately stamp

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The very first adhesive postage stamp in the world was issued by Great Britain on May 1, 1840, for use beginning May 6. It is known as the Penny Black:

British Penny Black

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The Penny Black is not a rare stamp since 286,700 sheets were printed comprising 240 stamps each, for a total of 68,808,000 stamps. An estimated 1.5 million Penny Blacks still exist. A used Penny Black in FINE condition can be had for about $125, and an unused one in FINE condition can be had for about $3,500.

Of course, a postal system existed in many countries prior to 1840 but without postage stamps. When the carriage fee was paid, the postal clerk made a mark in the upper right corner indicating fee paid and took the envelope for delivery. Eventually postmarks came into use. Created by Henry Bishop of London, they were called a Bishop mark and were first used in 1661 at the London General Post Office.

Here in the United States, the first postal system was established in 1692 under a grant provided by King William and Queen Mary to Thomas Neale. The United States Post Office was established by the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775, and is one of only a few government agencies expressly authorized by the United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7; known as the postal clause).

The Congress also named Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General. Franklin had been a postmaster in the Colonies for decades so he was a natural choice.

Many States and Cities started issuing their own postage stamps after Britain got everything started. It was not until the Stamp Act of 1847 (March 3) that Congress authorized the printing of stamps by the United States Post Office, and the first stamp the Office issued on July 1, 1847, bore an engraved picture of Benjamin Franklin, the first Postmaster General:

Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #1

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Five cents paid the rate for a letter weighing less than one ounce and traveling less than three hundred miles. About 3,700,000 stamps were printed and many survive today. Used and unused stamps in very fine condition sell for, respectively, about $600 and $1,600. However, stamps in poor condition can be purchased for as little as 10% of those prices.

Contrary to today’s FOREVER postage stamps, the first United States postage stamp was declared invalid for postal use after July 1, 1851.

Following are other early United States postage stamps featuring Benjamin Franklin, each one above a trivia tidbit about Franklin. I have included their Scott Catalog number so you can easily find them to purchase for your own stamp collection.

Scott #38, 1860Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #38Invented the lightning rod and bifocals.

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Scott #63, 1861Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #63Invented the Franklin stove, named after him.

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Scott #133, 1869Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #133Served as the first United States Ambassador to France.

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Scott #134, 1870Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #134Became wealthy by publishing
Poor Richard’s Almanack [sic] and The Pennsylvania Gazette.

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Scott #212, 1887Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #212Helped found the University of Pennsylvania in 1740.

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Scott #247, 1894Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #247Elected first president of the American Philosophical Society.

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Scott #300, 1903Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #300Governor of Pennsylvania from 1785 to 1788.

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Scott #331, 1908Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #331Born in Boston on January 17, 1706.

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Scott #423, 1912Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #423Used the pseudonym “Mrs. Silence Dogood” to write letters to the editor of
the New England Courant, which happened to be his older brother, James.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Sunflower and clouds

Friday Flower Fiesta (3/8/13) — Flowers on stamps

Friday Flower Fiesta

History Through Philately stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I thought I would take a break from orchids today (we’ll get back to them next week) and combine my love of philately with my love of nature.

Here, then, are some flowers from my photograph collection and a United States postage stamps featuring that flower.

Scott #1183 Kansas Statehood

Sunflower and ladybug

Sunflower and clouds

Kansas entered the Union on January 29, 1861, and its 100th anniversary of statehood was celebrated with the release of Scott #1183 on May 10, 1961 — why the Post Office didn’t release it on January 29, 1961, is beyond me. Its official nickname is the Sunflower State, and the highest point in the state is Mount Sunflower at 4,041 feet above sea level.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1256 Poinsettia

Scott #2166 Poinsettia

Poinsettia

The poinsettia is native to Mexico and was introduced to the United States in 1825. The poinsettia industry was started by Albert Ecke in Los Angeles in 1900. His son, Paul Ecke, developed a specific grafting technique that allowed the poinsettia industry to expand, but it was Paul Ecke Jr. who was responsible for advancing the association between Christmas and poinsettias. Paul Jr. changed the market from mature plants shipped by rail to cuttings shipped by air, sent free plants to television stations for them to display on air from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and appeared on The Tonight Show and Bob Hope’s Christmas specials to promote poinsettias.

The Ecke family poinsettia operation moved to Encinitas (that’s right here in San Diego County!) in 1923.

Left to grow on their own, poinsettias will grow tall and scragly. The Eckes developed a grafting method, known only to them, that allowed them to create a compact, bushier plant. In the 1990s, a university researcher discovered, and published, the grafting method, allowing competitors to flourish, particularly those using low-cost labor in foreign countries.

In 2008, Paul Ecke III decided to stop producing plants in the U.S. The Ecke Family operations still control about 70% of the United States market and 50% of the worldwide market.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1737 Roses

Scott #1876 Rose

Yellow rose

Rose blooming in November in San Diego, California

Roses are used to make perfumes, jams, jellies, marmalade, tea, rose syrup, and skin products. Some rose petals are candied, and rose creams are a traditional English confectionery.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1877 Camelia

White Camellia

Several Camellias are used to make tea, Camellia sinensis, known as the “tea plant,” being the most popular because its tea is considered the finest made from Camellias. Camellias also produce cooking oil for hundreds of millions of people in China and Southeast Asia. Camellia oil is also used to clean and protect the blades of cutting instruments.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott E1878 Dahlia

Scott #4167 Dahlia

Dahlia

There are a great variety of dahlias, resulting from their eight sets of chromosomes; most plants have only two sets of chromosomes. The best place to see dahlias in San Diego County is at the annual San Diego County Fair in June and July. For as long as I have been going to the Fair (18 years), there has always been a dahlia show with hundreds of beautiful flowers on display.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1879 Lily

Lily

Some lilies, especially Lilium longiflorum (the common Easter Lily), are toxic to cats. The mechanism of toxicity is not understood but it involves damage to the renal tubular epithelium, causing acute kidney failure.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
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Scott #1660, Texas state flag

History through Philately — Texas becomes the 28th State

History Through Philately stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1660, Texas state flagOn this date in 1845, the Republic of Texas entered the United States of America as the 28th state.

When the United States bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803, the U.S. attempted to include Texas in the Purchase. In 1819, after sixteen years of dispute, the boundary was set at the Sabine River, which is the current border of Louisiana and Texas.

Scott #776, Texas centennialFrom 1819 to 1836, Texas was part of Mexico. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico, becoming the Republic of Texas. As most declarations of independence do, this one resulted in a war between the Republic of Texas and Mexico, including the Battle of the Alamo, lost by the Texans, and the Battle of San Jacinto, which resulted in the Texans soundly defeating the Mexicans.

Scott #1043, The AlamoTexans elected Sam Houston as President of the Republic but also endorsed Texas entering the Union as a State. The likelihood of Texas joining as a slave state delayed formal action by the U.S. Congress for more than a decade. Congress agreed to annex the territory of Texas in 1844, and on December 29, 1845, Texas entered the United States as a slave state. A dispute involving the southern boundary of Texas resulted in the Mexican American War, which the United States won.

Scott #1038, Texas statehoodThe Mexican American War ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in which Mexico ceded the current lands currently comprising California, Nevada, and Utah, as well as parts of Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The southern boundary of Texas was set as the Rio Grande river.

Other interesting facts about Texas:

  1. 3738 Texas greetingsThe south Texas farming and ranching community of Kingsville welcomed me to the world on March 11, 1955. Kingsville is located in the disputed territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande.
  2. Texas is pretty much a red state, which is one of the many reasons why I don’t live there anymore. I left on April 15, 1993, and arrived in San Diego 12 days later, taking a circuitous route to Fargo, North Dakota; over to Seattle, Washington; and down to San Diego.
  3. Scott #1995, Texas mockingbird and bluebonnetTexas has a gross state product (GSP) of $1.307 trillion, second behind California’s $1.936 trillion. If Texas were an independent country, its gross domestic product (GDP) would rank as the world’s 11th largest.
  4. Texas does not have a State income tax. Its money comes from property taxes and sales taxes.
  5. Texas has a population of 26,059,203, making it the second most populous state (behind California).
  6. Texas is the second largest state (behind Alaska), with 268,820 square miles.
  7. Scott #2968, Texas statehoodTexas is headquarters for 57 Fortune 500 companies (tying for first with California).
  8. Texas has three cities ranked in the Top 10 for population: Houston at #4, San Antonio at #7, and Dallas at #9. (California also has three cities in the Top 10: Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose.)
  9. Kingsville, TexasMy hometown of Kingsville has an average high temperature of 65°F in December. However, on Christmas Even 2004, six inches of snow blanketed the city.
  10. Texas has the most farms and the highest acreage in the United States.
  11. Texas leads the nation in livestock production — cattle, sheep, and goats.
  12. Texas leads the nation in cotton production.
  13. Texas A&M UniversityMy alma mater, Texas A&M University, is the state’s first public institution of higher education and has the state’s largest enrollment at 53,337 students (fourth largest in the nation). It is the nation’s only land grand, sea grant, and space grant university. Texas A&M also has the largest main campus of any university, with 5,500 acres.
  14. Two presidential libraries are located in Texas: Lyndon B. Johnson in at the University of Texas at Austin and George Bush at Texas A&M University. A third one is in the workds, George W. Bush at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
  15. Scott #1742, Texas windmillThe Texas healthcare system is ranked third worst in the United States by the Commonwealth Fund; 25% of Texans do not have health insurance, the largest percentage in the nation.
  16. Texas emits more greenhouse gases than any other state, with Port Arthur (a heavy oil refining locale) having some of the dirtiest air in the United States.
  17. I survived many hurricanes and tropical storms while living in Texas, the most significant of which were Beulah (1967), Celia (1970), and Allen (1980).
  18. The deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 people.
  19. My childhood home in Kingsville, courtesy of Google Streetview:

420 West Alice Avenue, Kingsville, Texas

I planted the two oak trees after Hurricane Celia in 1970. They were just a foot high.

Scott #2204, Battle of San Jacinto

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1242, Sam Houston

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Palomar Observatory

The “big eye”

History Through Philately

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Russel Ray, Property Consultant home inspection this past Thursday was out on Palomar Mountain. It caught me off guard when I scheduled it because I had no clue that there were homes up on Palomar Mountain. There are, though, including this beauty:

House on Palomar Mountain

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Palomar Mountain is a historic place, so there were also a few “historic” homes, such as this one:

Old building on Palomar Mountain

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I saw those two buildings after the home inspection, which was on a rather non-descript home. Once I finished the inspection, I headed over to the “Big Eye,” more properly known as Mount Palomar Observatory:

Mount Palomar Observatory

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Big Eye is only 62 miles from where I live yet I had never been there. It’s not a tourist attraction because it is a working observatory.

I have been infatuated with the place since I was a young stamp collector and landed this stamp in my collection:

Palomar Mountain Observatory

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

At one point in my early life I even wanted to be a meteorologist, an astronomer, a star gazer. Then I discovered that in order to be a good one, I would probably have to go to four years of college, two years of graduate school, and two more years getting a doctorate. I was pretty sure that when I finished four years of college, I would be finished with school. I was right.

Some interesting things about the big eye, the Palomar Mountain Observatory:

  1. The Palomar Mountain Observatory has several telescopes, the largest of which is the 200-inch Hale Telescope. Other telescopes include a 60-inch telescope, not named but located in the Oscar G. Meyer Building (Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer weiner…………….), the 48-inch Samuel Oschin telescope, and a 24-inch telescope completed in 2005.
  2. Inches refers to the size (doesn’t it always?) of the mirror lens that collects light.
  3. Corning Glass Works in Corning, New York, manufactured the lens. It was their second attempt. The first lens was flawed because the glass was so hot that it melted the supporting structure, allowing bricks and steel bolts to float to the surface. The flawed disc is on display at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.
  4. The dome is 137 feet in diameter, making it the third largest dome in the United States, behind the Superdome and the new San Diego Central Library dome (see America’s second largest dome is nearing completion).
  5. The 200-inch telescope is named after George Hale (1868-1938), the driving force behind its construction, and the builder of other major telescopes throughout the United States: a 40-inch telescope at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, still the world’s largest refracting telescope (1897); a 60-inch telescope (1908) and the 100-inch Hooker Telescope (1917) at Mt. Wilson Observatory near Pasadena, California.
  6. Construction began in 1936 and was completed in 1939. The lens, however, did not arrive until November 1947, having taken almost a decade to build and install.
  7. First sky images from the Hale Telescope were taken on January 26, 1949.
  8. The dome rotates to keep the sky in line with the dome opening (seen on the stamp) and can rotate 360° in four minutes.
  9. It was the largest telescope in the world from its completion in 1949 through 1976, the second largest through 1993, and currently the third largest.
  10. The observatory has over 2,000 acres of land owned by the California Institute of Technology, which owns and operates the telescopes. The original observatory was on 160 acres of land bought by George Hale with a $6 million grant from the Rockerfeller Foundation.
  11. Pluto’s demotion from planet status resulted from work done by CalTech astronomers at Palomar Mountain Observatory using the Hale Telescope.
  12. The telescope originally was capable of seeing 2 billion light years away. Computer and digital imaging programs, such as “adaptive optics,” installed during the past decade allow the Hale Telescope to see 13 billion light years away.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Scott #3706, Greetings from Hawaii, 2002

For the birthers, of which one is one too many

History Through Philately

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On this day in….

….1959 — Hawaii becomes the 50th state in the United States of America. That’s August 21, 1959. For our birther friends, President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. That’s 714 days after Hawaii became a state (remember that 1960 was a leap year). So what’s the problem? Both Hawaii newspapers even announced his birth!

I’m trying to imagine Obama’s parents saying back in 1961, “Our son will want to go into politics and become President of the United States, so we will need to put fake birth announcements in the papers to make it appear that he is ‘natural born.’ ”

And his birth certificate? Snopes.com does the best job of debunking all of the birther claims. Now if only the birthers can learn to read and comprehend. Of course, I guess birthers would claim that Snopes.com is simply a bastion of the liberal, left-wing media……..lol

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s explore Hawaii.

The oldest United States stamps featuring Hawaii were “overprinted” stamps recognizing the Hawaii sesquicentennial. Overprinting was used to commemorate special events and was done by taking a standard issue stamp and printing text on the stamp:

Scott #647, Hawaii sesquicentennial

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Scott #648, Hawaii sesquicentennial

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Those two overprinted stamps were issued in 1928. If, like me, you were wondering about the sesquicentennial of Hawaii being recognized on a United States stamp in 1928 and what the sesquicentennial was all about, they recognized Captain James Cook’s first documented visit to Hawaii in 1778, Hawaii’s first contact witih European explorers. (That was close! I was sure a birther was going to come up with some off-the-wall story………) Captain Cook originally named them the Sandwich Islands.

The Queen of Hawaii was overthrown in 1893, apparently with covert help from the United States. In 1993, an Apology Resolution was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton apologizing for the United States’ role in overthrowing the Hawaii Kingdom. (I guess it will be ninety years before we apologize for Bush’s illegal invasion of two foreign countries….)

Hawaii became a United States Territory in 1898 with the passage of the Newlands Resolution. There probably wasn’t any doubt after the Japanese bombed Hawaii on December 7, 1941, that eventually it would be more than just a territory. That happened on this date in 1959 when Hawaii became the 50th state. (Now if we can just let Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia in as states….)

Scott #0799, Hawaii statehood

Scott #799, 50th Anniversary of Hawaii Territory, 1937

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Scott #1682, Hawaii flag

Scott #1682, Hawaii flag, 1976

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Scott #1733, Bicentennial of Captain James Cook's visit to Hawaii

Scott #1733, Bicentennial of Captain James Cook’s visit to Hawaii, 1978

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Scott #1784, Hawaiian wild broadbean, 1979

Scott #1784, Hawaiian wild broadbean, 1979

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Scott #1963, Hawaii state bird and state flower

Scott #1963, Hawaii state bird and state flower, 1982

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Scott #2080, 25th Anniversary of Hawaii statehood, 1984

Scott #2080, 25th Anniversary of Hawaii statehood, 1984

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Scott #3105c, Hawaiian monk seal, 1996

Scott #3105c, Hawaiian monk seal, 1996

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Scott #3706, Greetings from Hawaii, 2002

Scott #3706, Greetings from Hawaii, 2002

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2721 Elvis Presley

Making music at the Museum of Making Music

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I grew up playing the piano and violin, as well as singing. Then I discovered The Beatles and rock ‘n’ roll. The rest, as they say, is history.

Music has been such an integral part of my life that whenever I watch sports on television, or when a commecial comes on, I turn the sound off and listen to music.

Recently I discovered the Museum of Making Music right here in the San Diego area at 5790 Armada Drive in Carlsbad. It’s in an area of offices, and it’s in Carlsbad, so seeing a big sign from the freeway, well, it ain’t gonna happen. In fact, there were no signs at all telling us that the Museum of Making Music was right there….. that building!…… right there!……. You have to know the address and simply go to that address. Here’s a map, though:

Museum of Making Music

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Following are some pictures from my visit.

Look closely at the piano in the following picture and you can see clues that it just might not be a piano. Instead, it’s a receptionist’s desk.

Museum of Making Music

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Stringed instrumentMuseum of Making Music

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Knutsen 1908 Lower Bass Point Harp Guitar
also called a “one-arm harp guitar”Museum of Making Music

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

1910 Edison phonographMuseum of Making Music

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

AccordionMuseum of Making Music

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Colorful instrumentsMuseum of Making Music

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Throughout the museum there are areas set up with real instruments for anyone to play, including guitar, piano, and, most notably, drums. It’s quite interesting when a young wannabe drummer decides to practice, so to speak…. being nice here.

Lastly, I would be remiss, negligent, and not true to myself if I didn’t include these three pictures:

Museum of Making Music

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Museum of Making Music

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Museum of Making Music

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And is it just coincidence that Elvis Presley is mentioned in the bottom right corner of the last picture? I think not. Elvis Presley died on this date in 1977. It made headline news in my small corner of the world in Texas.

Scott #2721 Elvis Presley

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos