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Botswana, the former British colony Bechuanaland, gained independence from Britain on this date in 1966.

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: October 31, 1975
From: Gabarone, Botswana
MC #140

Top right:Issued on: March 24, 1975
From: Gabarone, Botswana
MC #132

Stamps on bottom:
Issued on: September 30, 1966
From: Gabarone, Botswana
MC #1-4

(Source: colnect.com)

Here to discuss the 1717 Guatemala earthquake that destroyed much of the architecture of Antigua is this stamp enthusiast’s pater, current resident of Antigua:

On the 29th of September 1717 the 174-year reign of the Guatemalan capital city now known as Antigua was destroyed by a major earthquake and got the Spanish authorities to thinking about moving the capital once again while they went about reconstructing the more than 3,000 buildings that had been seriously damaged or destroyed.  The deliberations and reconstruction went on for 59 years until another major earthquake hit the town in 1776 and made the decision to move easier to accept.  Antigua itself had become the capital following an earthquake and lahar from the nearby Agua Volcano that destroyed the nearby former capital now known as Ciudad Vieja (Old City), and in two years the capital was finally moved some five miles away to the valley of present day Antigua.  Following the 1776 destructive earthquake it again took another two years to move the capital to the larger valley some 30 miles to the east where the capital is now Guatemala City, but the earth is not still and earthquakes continue to make life difficult for the inhabitants. 

The earthquake of September 1717 was followed by major reconstruction of the many large churches and government buildings in Antigua, and these are depicted in the stamps above.  However, following the 1776 earthquake authorities decreed that the Antigua site must be abandoned, and most of the 60,000 inhabitants did move to the new site, and much of the stone used to reconstruct the town after the 1717 earthquake was taken up and moved for use in the construction of the new capital.  Nevertheless, the Antigua site was not completely abandoned, and the population was reduced to less than 10,000, and over the years the site was gradually repopulated to the present 25,000.  There are still many abandoned and ruined structures all around the site.

Antigua is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a popular tourist destination, with strict control on the maintenance of the appearance of all buildings and the cobblestone streets.  Many of the old churches are still in their ruined state, but a few are now used as sites for weddings, and only a few have been repaired enough to conduct services. 

The Cathedral depicted in the stamp above is mostly in ruins but a small part of the sanctuary fronting on the main plaza has been restored and church services are conducted, but it is no longer officially a cathedral.  A fountain in the center of the main plaza depicting four Mermaids has been rebuilt and is a central feature and popular meeting place.

The façade of the Captaincy General building on the main plaza is as depicted on the stamp but the interior is undergoing a slow renovation and is not yet open.

Thanking you, pater!  I will come visit you and Antigua yet….

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: January 15, 1964
From: Guatemala City, Guatemala
MC #703

Top right:
Issued in: 1943
From: Guatemala City, Guatemala
SW #487

Second row and third row left:
Issued on: December 14, 1972
From: Guatemala City, Guatemala
SW #984, 985, 987

Third row right:
Issued on: January 22, 1973
From: Guatemala City, Guatemala
SW #988

Stamps on bottom:
Issued on: March 12, 1973
From: Guatemala City, Guatemala
SW #995, 998

(Source: stamps.sellosmundo.com)

Scottish biologist Sir Alexander Fleming first noticed an antibacterial fungus growing (and, importantly, destroying the surrounding staphylococci colonies) in his lab on this date in 1928 [“That’s funny,” he famously remarked], leading to the eventual development of penicillin.  You’re a real pal, Sir Alex!  Australian Howard Florey also helped—in fact, he carried out the first clinical trials of penicillin in 1941.  He and German-born British scientist Sir Ernst Boris Chain shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Fleming in 1945.  Love those fungi!

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: March 2, 1999
From: London, England
MC #1791

Top right:
Issued on: September 16, 2010
From: London, England
MC #2997

Second row left:
Issued on: May 6, 1994
From: Andorra la Vella, Andorra
MC #237

Second row right:
Issued on: September 19, 1967
From: London, England
MC #471

Third row left:
Issued on: June 6, 1983
From: Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
MC #85

Third row right:
Issued on: August 7, 1981
From: Budapest, Hungary
MC #3504

Fourth row left:
Issued on: September 1, 2003
From: Monaco, Monaco
MC #2662

Fourth row right:
Issued on: June 25, 2003
From: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
SW #2060

Fifth row:
Issued on: August 3, 1978
From: Port Louis, Mauritius
MC #459-462

Bottom left:
Issued on: September 7, 1995
From: Canberra, Australia
MC #1504

Bottom right:
Issued on: October 27, 1995
From: Roseau, Dominica
SW #2044

(Source: wnsstamps.post)

The Mexican War of Independence concluded on this date in 1821 when the Army of the Three Guarantees, under Agustín de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero, entered Mexico City, proclaiming Mexican independence and the end of New Spain.  Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16, however, commemorating the 1810 Grito de Dolores of Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, which is considered the start of the rebellion.  Hidalgo was a priest in Dolores before coming honestly by his revolutionary notions when he saw the conditions of his poverty-stricken flock.  He was later executed in 1811 for leading some of the first battles against the Spanish, but the bell from his church is now housed in the National Palace [the majority of the building materials of which were pilfered from Moctezuma II's palace, interestingly] in Mexico City and rung by the president every Independence Day.  Le saludamos, México!
Stamp details:Stamp on left:Issued on: September 16, 1960From: Los Angeles, CASC #1157
Stamp on right:Issued on: September 15, 1960From: Mexico City, MexicoSW #1154

The Mexican War of Independence concluded on this date in 1821 when the Army of the Three Guarantees, under Agustín de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero, entered Mexico City, proclaiming Mexican independence and the end of New Spain.  Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16, however, commemorating the 1810 Grito de Dolores of Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, which is considered the start of the rebellion.  Hidalgo was a priest in Dolores before coming honestly by his revolutionary notions when he saw the conditions of his poverty-stricken flock.  He was later executed in 1811 for leading some of the first battles against the Spanish, but the bell from his church is now housed in the National Palace [the majority of the building materials of which were pilfered from Moctezuma II's palace, interestingly] in Mexico City and rung by the president every Independence Day.  Le saludamos, México!

Stamp details:
Stamp on left:
Issued on: September 16, 1960
From: Los Angeles, CA
SC #1157

Stamp on right:
Issued on: September 15, 1960
From: Mexico City, Mexico
SW #1154

(Source: arago.si.edu)

Sir Francis Drake completed his circumnavigation of the globe on this date in 1580, after departing from England in 1577.  His was the second circumnavigation, after Ferdinand Magellan’s—so in fact Drake was the first leader of a circumnavigation who made it around the globe alive.  He was also the second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada, making him a legend among the English and a hated foe among the Spanish, who named him el Draque.  The Spanish king, according to legend, offered an award of 20,000 ducats for his life, but he ended up dying of dysentery in 1596 in Puerto Rico.

Stamp details:
Left stamp:
Issued on: April 18, 1973
From: London, England
SG #925

Right stamp:
Issued on: April 21, 2009
From: London, England
MC #2759

(Source: wnsstamps.post)

Spanish inventor Leonardo Torres y Quevedo demonstrated his Telekino device, a forerunner of the remote control, on this date in 1906 in the port of Bilbao.  He also developed and constructed a chess automaton, what he called el Ajedrecista, which is now considered to have been the world’s first computer game.  As illustrated in the bottom stamp, he also turned his little grey cells toward cableways and cablecars, including the Niagara Aerocar spanning the whirlpool in Niagara Gorge, first constructed between 1914 and 1916 and still running today, which very few tweaks and even fewer accidents.  Personally, he had eight children and, unusually, was a lifelong advocate of Esperanto.

Stamp details:
Stamp on top:
Issued on: September 6, 1955
From: Madrid, Spain
MC #1056

Stamp on bottom:
Issued on: May 5, 1983
From: Madrid, Spain
MC #2586

(Source: stampauctionnetwork.com)

Today is New Caledonia Day, celebrating the possession of the islands by the French, under direction from Napoleon III, on this date in 1853.  New Caledonia is still a special collectivity of France and during WWII, the capital, Nouméa, was the HQ for the US Army and Navy.  The Nouméa Accord, signed in 1998, set the groundwork for a 20-year transitional period that will gradually transfer competences to the local government.  Happy day, Nouvelle-Calédonie!

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: September 17, 1860
From: Port-de-France, New Caledonia
MC #1

Top right:
Issued on: February 9, 2004
From: Nouméa, New Caledonia
WNS #007.03

Middle stamp:
Issued on: July 25, 1990
From: Nouméa, New Caledonia
YC #598

Bottom left:
Issued on: December 7, 2005
From: Nouméa, New Caledonia
WNS #032.05

Bottom right:
Issued on: March 17, 2014
From: Nouméa, New Caledonia
SW #1648

(Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

Happy اليوم الوطني, Saudi friends o’ mine!  Commemorating King Abd al-Aziz’s announcement of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (on this date in 1923), this Saudi National Day let’s celebrate the Nabataeans!  What, you didn’t know about the fantastic Nabataean ruins in northern Saudi?  Well.  After Petra, the site of Mada’in Saleh constitutes the largest known Nabataean complex, with 94 decorated tombs alone, and similar soaring facades to the ones Indiana Jones road hell-for-leather around at Petra.  Despite a history of being thought to be cursed [idol worship, destruction by lightning bolts, that sort of thing], the site of Al-Hijra is gaining popularity as a tourist attraction, and rightly so.  Ummmm…..day trip!

Stamp details:
Stamp on top:
Issued on: September 20, 1985
From: United Nations Office, New York
MC #474

Middle stamps:
Issued in: 1968
From: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
SW #393, 394, 396

Bottom left:
Issued in: 1934
From: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
MC #20

Bottom right:
Issued on: October 1, 1949
From: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
MC #30

(Source: colnect.com)

Today is World Car Free Day!  First introduced as a concept following the 1973 oil crisis, the car-free movement gained momentum particularly in the 1990s.  Carbusters (now the World Carfree Network) organized the first World Car Free Day in 2000, and various cities worldwide have worked to socialize the concept, with, it is admitted, limited success (people like their cars) (change is hard) (trains, I want more trains).  Let’s see what a day can be without driving a car (or, if you normally don’t drive a car, what a day would be like when nobody else drives either).  Then let’s see what another day would be like, and another and another and another……

Stamp details:
Stamp on top:
Issued on: May 4, 2010
From: Helsinki, Finland
MC #2035

Stamp on bottom:
Issued on: July 8, 2008
From: Canberra, Australia
MC #3028

(Source: wnsstamps.post)

Publius Vergilius Maro, the great Roman epic poet, died on this date in 19 B.C.E.  If you’ve never been forced or inclined to dip into the Aeneid, give her a go—it’s got all that epic stuff that makes ancient literature such a blast.  Aeneas [ancestor of Romulus and Remus, son of Anchises and Venus (the Venus), third cousin of Hector (<3)] survives the Trojan War and bumbles around the Mediterranean, à la Odysseus, inducing queens to run themselves through, &c., before founding what would become Rome.  [Once upon a time, this stamp enthusiast was assigned the Swan of Mantua’s Aeneid and through a rather egregious inattention to detail read a good deal of the Eclogues before realizing the mistake.  So if epic (and, as per usual, rather inept—but I suppose if these ancient vagabonds had thought to stop and ask for directions, world literature would have suffered, what?) wandering doesn’t appeal, a little rustic reckoning could be just what you need—gratifyingly engaging, truth be told.]  Thanking you, Vergilī, for reminding us that LATIN DIDN’T FALL WITH ROME.

Stamp details:
Top, second row, third row, fourth row left:
Issued on: October 21, 1930
From: Rome, Italy
MC #345-354

Fourth row right:
Issued in: 1982
From: Monaco, Monaco
MC #1566

Fifth row left:
Issued on: June 9, 1979
From: Rome, Italy
MC #1661

Fifth row middle:
Issued on: September 19, 1981
From: Rome, Italy
MC #1775

Fifth row right:
Issued on: March 26, 2002
From: Tunis, Tunisia
MC #1518

Sixth row:
Issued in: 1981
From: Vatican City, Vatican
MC #783-784

Stamp on bottom:
Issued on: June 4, 1982
From: Paris, France
MC #2293

(Source: colnect.com)