June 24, 2011

Opening the stacking dolls

My order from Slovakia Post (which I mentioned previously) arrived this week. Opening it was like unpacking a Matryoshka doll, but it was worth it. Read on for the details...

We're not supposed to judge a book by its cover.  I would posit that we are supposed to judge philatelic mail by their covers, however, so we start with the cover for this mail.

When the mailman tried to deliver this to me, he needed a signature.  Since I wasn't at home at the time, I got one of those "come to the post office to get your package" slips.  The to line of the slip said "Par Lamb Sean" and the from line said Slovenska, so I'm guessing that the carrier wasn't familiar with Slovakian mail.  He got the message across anyway and left a note for me on June 20 (as indicated by the "N/L 6/20" marking above my address).  The stamps used to pay the postage for this item are very interesting.  First, there's a 50g stamp showing a flower, but the more interesting stamps are the three €2.30 stamps.  These are quasi-3D stamps that depict a soccer player kicking a ball in an empty stadium.  If the paper is tilted forward and back, the soccer player appears to move across the stamp at four positions to kick the ball.  I'll have to investigate safe removal strategies for these stamps to keep from destroying them.

The other thing I noticed right away with this cover is how Slovakia lists the date in the cancellation.  As I've started listing on the postmarks page, I noticed that the date it was mailed is listed as "15.-6.11.16." rather than spelling out the month.  Since it arrived here on June 20 and most European documents I've seen list the date as day-month-year, my conclusion is that this was postmarked on June 15, 2011.  I'm not sure what the final "16." in the postmark indicates yet and would appreciate any help in this matter.

The back of the cover had a few additional markings.
It's pretty obvious that the stamped text is the sender's address, but what is written below it in pen?  My best guess is that this is how the postman in Slovakia wrote "thank you."  I'd appreciate a translation for this too.

Okay, so we've looked at the outside, let's open the package.  Inside, the contents are all within a sealed plastic mailer, presumably to prevent damage from moisture.  The front...
And the back...
This looks to me like something that would be used as the outer wrapper on domestic Slovakian mail, with address and postage areas marked out on the front.

Within this envelope, there was another wrapper.
It's a much more plain wrapper than the previous.  This wrapper was made up of two of the stiff envelopes, just like the outermost cover, that were cut so they would fit inside the outer cover.  The two portions of envelope were cut to about the same size and nested within each other.  It looks like the plastic wrapper was originally intended to be the outermost wrapper and this wrapper was to be a stiffener to keep from damaging the philatelic contents within it.

Within this wrapper was an invoice listing the purchase in detail; the invoice was printed on A4 paper and folded in half.  Within that, were finally the items that I had ordered.
I ordered and have now received a first day cover and a block of four of the Easter stamp that I recently added to The List.  The card listing the stamp information, printed in English on one side and Slovakian on the other, was an unexpected bonus.  If only the block was a plate block...

So now that I've added another cover and stamp to my March 4 collection, it's time to head off to the National Topical Stamp Show to see what else I can add.  Tune in next week for more about that.

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