Tuesday, 24 June 2014

IV Campeonato Mundial De Football - Brasil 1950

On this day sixty four years ago, the very first match of the 4th FIFA World Cup Finals was played in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil Post marked the event by issuing a set of three postage stamps (60 centesimos, 1.2 cruzeiros, 5.8 cruzeiros) which were designed by Bernardino Lanzetta and Marino Pinheiro.

Unlike these days when host nations often begin to market their commemorative stamps months or even years before the big event, Brazil Post released their set on the very day of the opening game which saw the host nation defeat Mexico 4-0 in front of over 80,000 at the Maracana Stadium.

The Maracana had actually staged its very first game just a week before the Finals with a special match which saw the Rio de Janeiro All Stars beating the Sao Paulo All Stars 3-1, with Didi of Rio's Fluminense scoring the first ever goal in the stadium. The 1.2 cruzeiros stamp is dedicated to the newly built Maracana, and the massive stadium also appeared in blue ink on the top of a card issued by the Philatelic Society of Brazil.

Today, the stamps themselves are extremely common to pick up - not just because they were issued in large quantities, but I expect no Brazilian wants to be reminded of them. They are tainted with the national catastrophe brought about by that shock 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the Final match of the 1950 competition which was played in front of a staggering 200,000 (though no-one knows for sure) crowd at the Maracana Stadium on the 16th July 1950.

The 60 centesimo issue stamped with the 24th June 1950 postmark

The Maracana was optimistically depicted in gold, but no winners trophy for the host nation in 1950

Did the footballer in dark shadow predict the catastrophe?

In March 1951, Uruguay issued a set of two stamps to mark their triumph at the 4th FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It is estimated that an incredible 5 million copies of each value were printed. That would have meant that there were four times the amount of these stamps in circulation than the entire population of the nation of Uruguay which was about 2.5 million people back then!

Needless to say that I expect that this issue inevitably turns up missing from the albums of Brazilian stamp collectors...

Monday, 16 June 2014

Maison De La Radio - Television December 1963

It's been a while since my last philatelic post (Karl Bickel & Helvetia in December 2013), and another before that one which recalled the Czechoslovakian 'Television' set of 1957.

On the TV theme, here is a lovely postcard which was issued by a company called 'Panoramas' to mark the opening of The French Broadcasting and Television House in Paris. This example also doubled up as a first day cover - dated 15th December 1963.

The actual 36 x 21.45 mm stamp was engraved by Jacques Combert (1920 - 1993), who designed a remarkable 1300 stamps in his career. This one was was issued in a massive run of nearly ten million.

I've another atmospheric French Television issue, this time designed by the master engraver Albert Decaris. 3.5 million of them were issued in April 1955. The 15 Franc stamp showing the Eiffel Tower transmitting television signals across the rooftops of Paris must have seemed futuristic at the time, but it now looks just as hauntingly similar as the image that was issued in Czechoslovakia two years later:

A classic example by one of the greatest of the French stamp designers: Albert Decaris 1901 - 1988

The Petrin Tower was built in 1891. The construction was inspired by Eiffel Tower in Paris, and was designed by Frantisek Prasil. It took just four months to build...

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sophisticated Discotheque 1979

Well, I never expected to find this little object this afternoon at my local second hand bookshop in a box stuffed with cheap philatelic items and vintage postcards of dogs and aeroplanes. It's about the same size as a typical old fashioned postcard, though the actual card is slightly thicker, and it's covered with shiny gold foil with black print.

It's a fancy-looking flyer for The New Over 18's Sophisticated Discotheque at 'The Mighty' Hammersmith Palais that took place 35 years ago. The shop owner wanted £1 for the item as, in his own words, "this is collectible ephemera". I couldn't just leave it there, so now about 10 hours after I handed him the pound, here it is:

a pity the scan just doesn't convey the tacky glitzy shininess!
My £1 coin got me a used piece of card - albeit a relic of the past. Track back to 1979, it would have been a £1 note handed over the box office counter ('with this special ticket') - and Disco Dancing, and 'Gorgeous Go-Go Girls' awaited...

Not for me though! Well for one thing, in May 1979, I was still a few months shy of my 18th birthday - thus under the official admission age (and I would have most probably struggled to honour the 'Dress Rules'). But the main source of fascination for me now, is that the 'Sophisticated Boutique' was way out of bounds from my own passions at the time - namely the world according to my weekly addiction: the NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS.

So by way of comparison, I've pulled out an edition of the NME dated 5th May 1979 from my stash that I've kept squirreled away for all these years. The issue was published just two days before the Bank Holiday Disco. Flicking the pages to the Live Page that always appeared towards the back of the paper, it's a real blast of nostalgia to see what gigs were on around the same time.

If like me, you missed out on hearing the sounds Cino's beautiful girl DJ partner 'Cherie' was spinning, you may have gone to one of these gigs instead. Or wished you had...

Oh for a time machine...

While they were Disco Dancing over in London W6 on 7th May 1979, there was a rather different noise altogether on the very same night over in Leicester Square. Or in far East London, a Mod revival May Day down Canning Town...

this famous landmark disappeared from Wardour Street at the end of the 80s- a sad loss, but maybe not that week!

More May Day Mods, but the (New Wave of ) Heavy Metal show on the following night  must have been fun!

Two Tone, R&B, British Soul, Reggae and...Belgian Rock!

DB was promoting his new album 'Words of Wisdom'

Just down the road from the Palais, a few nights earlier

The Specials for a quid!

Iggy was in town with his 'New Values' LP

The fab Undertones - gigging furiously, and high in the charts with Jimmy, Jimmy (which was pressed in green vinyl)

No longer a rock venue or a cinema - it's a church now. But at least this magnificent theatre in Finsbury Park still stands today, unlike...

Sadly 'the mighty' Hammersmith Palais, which had opened to the public in 1919 didn't quite make its centenary, as the building was demolished in 2012.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


With the forthcoming 20th FIFA World Cup in mind, this morning when I woke up at about 6am my eyes just happened to fix upon a rather remarkable Brazilian book on the bookshelf. Gente Nova, Nova Gente has been squeezed between the same old graphic novels and 1960s TV annuals at my numerous addresses over the past 30 plus years...

Published in Rio de Janeiro in December 1967 and edited by writer Fernando de Castro Ferro, the book is a stylish multi-coloured romp through the arts and cultural scene in Brasil. Pop art sculptures, Bossa Nova stars, experimental dance troupes, with-it photographers, hip playwrights and highlights of the Cinema Novo scene burst out of the 136 colour and B&W pages. Nearly a half century on, this is an intriguing time capsule reflecting the excitement of Sixties cultural life as seen through the eyes of educated and privileged Brasilians.

I came across this 24 x 27.5 cms book in a secondhand book shop in London's Finchley Road that along with the likes of a cafe, a second hand furniture dealer and a car breakers yard were all knocked down in the late 1990's to make way for the ubiquitous urban shopping and cinema complex.

Gente Nova, Nova Gente if I recall,  cost me about two quid at the time. Not cheap back then, but I expect very few other copies made their way out of Brasil, so I paid a little extra premium for such a beautiful looking item to end up waiting for me to pick up.

Front cover - the official date of publication, 7th December 1967

the swirly psychedelic back cover