Thursday, May 26, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 248

Lagos, Portugal

My French friend took a holiday to Portugal with some friends recently and sent the travel postcard on display this week.  I especially liked the card since it shows several views of Lagos in southern Portugal.  Readers who used to receive the family gathering newsletter from me years ago may recall that my oldest son lived two years in Portugal.  One of the places he stayed was Lagos; hence this card was a lot of fun to receive. 

Lagos is a tourist destination with beaches, rock formations, summer nightlife, and historic places of interest.  This maritime city established during the pre-Punic civilizations.  It has existed for more than 2,000 years, first colonized by the Romans and known as Lacobriga, and home to the Carthaginians who recruited Celts to aid in the Punic Wars against the Romans.  During the sixth century the town was occupied by the Visigoths and later by the Byzantines.  In the 8th century the Moors arrived from North Africa and fortified the town and annexed it into the coastal region known as the Algarve.  In 1174 permission was granted allowing Christians to build a church outside the city walls dedicated to Sao Joao Baptista.  This church is the oldest church in the Algarve. 

During the Age of Discovery Portuguese explorers and trading ships carrying spices and goods would flow in and out of the port of Lagos.  One such notable person was Henry the Navigator who frequently lived in Lagos.  On a sadder note, Lagos was also the gateway for African slave traders with the first slave market established there in 1444. 

For almost 200 years from 1576 to 1755 Lagos was the capital of the Algarve.  The end came when an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the old town in 1755.  Although some walls withstood the quake most of the buildings found in Lagos today date from the rebuilding period following the quake.

Art & Concept:  G.A. Wittich is identified as the publisher with the number 151761 Edicao Vistal on the reverse lower left corner.  The stamp on the card shows a view of one of the newer buildings at the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in Europe.

For more information about Lagos and surrounding areas, see:,_Portugal

Thursday, May 19, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 247

Home Prairie, San Juan Island, Washington, ca 1890

This is another postcard made from a photograph in the collection of the San Juan Historical Society and published by Arcadia Publishing Company.  It shows what was then called the “Home Prairie” of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  Today it is part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park, also known as American and English Camps.  

The picture was taken around 1890 and shows a horse drawn binder, at the upper right, cutting and bundling the stalks while two men, at the left of the horses, gather the cut grain into shocks before threshing.  This vast grain field was under the direction of Israel Katz a storekeeper in the town of San Juan.  Far in the mid background on Mt. Finlayson’s lower slope, just barely visible on the card, is the George and Eliza Jakle homestead. 

Last September we visited the English Camp where the British Royal Marines had established a garrison in 1859. There is also an American Camp where the United States soldiers were stationed.  These garrisons were built here during a border dispute that resulted in a 12-year occupation by both countries. Other than the killing of a pig that crossed the boundary lines no shots were fired.  The dispute was finally resolved by a peaceful negotiation led by Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany and the signing of the Treaty of Washington.  In 1872 the British abandoned their camp and in 1874 the American camp was disbanded.  Before it housed the military this open area had been home to native peoples for as long as 1,000 years.   In 1961 it became a National Historic Landmark and in 1966 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  There are markers and informational posters here and there on the grounds.

A few buildings have been restored and there are a couple of old trees that date from the camp era.  It is possible to climb up the hill about 200 feet to where the commander’s home used to be but now there are only a few ruins remaining.  At the site of the home there is an informational placard telling of the history of the home and a little about the occupants.  From the top of the hillside there are great views out toward the water.

Here are a few photos showing what the grounds look like today.

This fenced tree dates from the time of the English Camp.  

It is not uncommon to see eagles, like this one, soaring in the skies in the islands

Restored building

 Two views of the blockhouse

This was originally a kitchen garden that supplied vegetables for the camp.

Today it is filled with flowers.


The photo above shows the view looking down from part way up the hillside onto the kitchen garden and the encampment grounds.  The officer’s quarters were located about half way up the hill and the commander’s home was at the top of the hill.

For additional information, see:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 246

 Astronomical Clock, Hampton Court Palace

Upper left:  west front, Hampton Court Palace; upper right:  Astronomical Clock; lower left:  Hampton Court Palace and Thames River; lower right:  Sunken gardens with pond.

These two postcards come from the collection of travel cards shared by Jim and Kelsey.  They are Natural Colour Series, Photo greetings U.S.A. and Great Britain and published by the Photographic Greeting Card Co., Ltd., of London, England. 

The top card shows the Astronomical Clock, a 16th century clock in Hampton Court Palace.  Designed by Nicholas Crazter and made by Nicholas Oursian the clock was installed on the gatehouse to the inner court in 1540 and is still functioning today.  It is 15 feet or 4.6 meters in diameter with three separate revolving dials made of copper and moving at different speeds to display the hour, month, day, position of the sun, signs of the zodiac, number of days since the beginning of the year, phases of the moon, and the hour the moon crosses the meridian when the water is at the highest point at London Bridge.  The high water time was of great importance since barge was the preferred method of transport and during low water there were dangerous rapids.  William Herbert did a restoration of the clock in 1711.  By 1831 the astronomical dial had been removed and replaced by a 1799 mechanism from a clock at St. James’s Palace.  In 1879 the astronomical dial was found and Gillett & Bland manufactured a new clock movement.  The Cumbira Clock Company made a full restoration in 2007-2008 in time for the 500th anniversary of the accession of King Henry VIII.

The second card shows four views of Hampton Court Palace and grounds.  Located in Greater London at Richmond upon Thames, Hampton Court is a royal palace, one of only two surviving palaces owned by King Henry III.  Today it is open to the public and a major tourist attraction.  An independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces, cares for the buildings and grounds without funding from the Government or the Crown. 

Thomas Wolsey, the Archbishop of York and Chief Minister of Henry VIII, took over the property in 1514 from the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.  During a seven-year period of time beginning in 1515 he spent 200,000 gold crowns to build the finest palace in England.  Little of Wolsey’s building remains unchanged; however, his seal is still visible over the entrance arch of the clock tower.  There were 44 lodgings reserved for guests with the very best state apartments set aside for the King and his family.  Henry VIII stayed there immediately after the apartments were completed in 1525.  Wolsey fell out of favor and knowing that his enemies were planning his downfall, he passed the palace to the King as a gift in 1528. 

Henry VIII added the Great Hall, the Royal Tennis Court, and vast kitchen designed to feed his court of 1,000 people.  His only son, Edward VI, was born at the palace.  When Henry VIII died in 1547 he was succeeded first by his son, then by both his daughters.  Queen Elizabeth I had the eastern kitchen built that has since become the palace’s public tea room.  Rebuilding and expansion projects were undertaken in the late 1600s by William of Orange and Queen Mary II.  Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul's Cathedral, drew the plans and William Talman was selected as master of works.  A vast new palace somewhat resembling Versailles was to be built piece by piece, first demolishing existing antiquated parts of the palace and replacing them with new sections including two courtyards.  The project was not finished, however, and the palace ended up with two architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque.  Pink bricks were used throughout giving the structure unity and symmetry was achieved with the low wings.  King George II was the last monarch who lived in the palace.  

The palace is home to many works of art and furnishing from the Royal Collection.  Much of the original furniture dates from the 17th and 18th centuries.  There are several state beds still in their original positions.  A crystal chandelier dating about 1700 hangs in the King's Privy Chamber which also contains the Throne Canopy.  The King's Guard Chamber has arms, muskets, pistols, swords, daggers, powder horns and pieces of armor displayed on the walls.  

 With thanks to Jim & Kelsey as always for sharing the postcards.

For more interesting details about the clock and palace with photos of the exterior and interior of the palace, see:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 245

Cinque Terre

My friend, who now lives in Italy, occasionally is able to take small trips and is kind enough to send postcards when he does.  This postcard picture is of Manarola one of the five villages on the Italian Riviera called Cinque Terre or The Five Lands in English.  The other four villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore.  They are part of the Cinque Terre National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

People have been building terraces and houses on the rugged, steep hillside cliffs overlooking the sea since about the 11th century.  Today these villages are very popular tourist destinations.  There are paths, trains and boats to connect the villages.  Although there are a few roads in the towns they are narrow and in want of repair in places.  Parking can be a half mile away from the town therefore it is better to leave the car behind in the nearby larger city of La Spezia and take the train.  Unlimited day passes for tourists are available with travel time between the villages only about 5 minutes.  There is also a walking trail connecting all five villages one section of which is wheelchair friendly between Manarola and Corniglia.  The main trail to Corniglia ends with 368 steps.  Parts of the trail may be closed because of needed repairs. 

Grapes and olives are grown in this northwestern, Italian region known as Liguria. 

 Fishing is the main occupation as well the main source of food for the village population.  The houses were painted the different bright colors by the fishermen who wanted to be able to see their own house while they were at work offshore.

The stamps, above, were also interesting.  The one on the right is the generic type Italian stamp and just shows a design with an envelope speeding off on delivery.  My friend explained that the second stamp on the left commemorates the 65th anniversary of the insurrection by the women of Carrara, a little town in Tuscany during the Nazi occupying forces of World War II.  

For additional information, see:

Many thanks as always to my friend for continuing to send such beautiful and interesting cards.