The Battle of Britain

October 31, 1940 – World War II: The Battle of Britain ends: The United Kingdom prevents an inevitable German invasion.

The Isle of Man Post Office issued a series of stamps on September 15, 2010 commemorating the 70th Anniversary of this battle which was a critical victory for the Allied forces against Nazi Germany.

battle of britain - isle of man


Dr. Robert Barany – Nobel Prize Winner

October 30, 1915: It was decided today to award the Nobel Prize in Medicine to Dr. Robert Barany of Vienna University for his work in the physiology and pathology of the ear.

Österreichische Post, the Austrian postal service, issued a stamp in 1976 honoring the 100th anniversary of Dr. Barany’s birth.

robert barany nobel prize winner

Don Giovanni

October 29, 1787 – Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni receives its first performance in Prague.

The opera is in two acts with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga (now called the Estates Theatre).   Da Ponte’s libretto was billed, like many of its time, as dramma giocoso, a term that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements.

Monaco issued a postage stamp in 1987 commemorating the 200th anniversary of the writing of the opera.


Monsignor Thomas John Capel, 1836 – 1911

October 28, 1836: In Ireland, John Chapel and his wife gave birth to Monsignor Thomas John Capel, the controversial Catholic cleric who in a show of ecumenism that was unusual in the 19th century addressed the Young Men’s Hebrew Association at Chickering Hall on November 12, 1884.

Capel’s birth certificate indicates he was born in Ramsgate Kent, England, which is believed to be a documentation error.

Today’s philatelic artifacts include covers from Ramsgate Kent (1910) and Boston, Massachusetts (1895) – the location of Chickering Hall.  The cover from England, with a hand-drawn cachet depicting an Irishman,  is particularly interesting as it relates to Capel’s birthplace.

ramsgate kent cover with irishman - 1910

boston mass cover 1895

Israel and Jordan Peace Treaty

October 26, 1994 – Jordan and Israel sign a peace treaty.  On the same day, Israel Post issued a stamp commemorating this important event.

From the Jewish prayer service:

“May the One who causes peace to reign in the high heavens let peace descend on us and on all Israel, and let us say: Amen.”

israel-jordan peace treaty 1994

Picasso and Modigliani

October 25, 1881:  Birthdate of Pablo Picasso.  Picasso befriended the Italian-Jewish painter Amedeo Modigliani.  He posed for a portrait by Modigliani and tried to help him be a commercial success.  According to a 2004 film featuring the relationship between these two artistic giants, Picasso painted a portrait of Modigliani.  Picasso reportedly uttered Modigliani’s name on his death bed.

I submit for your enjoyment and reflection two philatelic artifacts:  a 1973 souvenir sheet from Antigua and Barbuda honoring a 1953 Picasso painting entitled, “Woman with a Dog” and a 1970 stamp from Monaco showing a 1920 Modigliani painting titled, “Portrait de Dédie”.

picasso souvenir sheet - antigua and barbuda 1973       Modigliani - Monaco 1970 Portrait

The Birth of a Nation: Zambia

October 24, 1964 – Northern Rhodesia gains independence from the United Kingdom and becomes the Republic of Zambia (Southern Rhodesia remained a colony until the next year, with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence).

The first set of stamps issued by the newly independent nation on this day was to commemorate their Independence. The country was to have been called Zambesia, but the then Foreign Minister, Simon Kapwepwe, persuaded the House of Representatives, and the House of Chiefs, that Zambia would be snappier, and more easily accepted.

The 3d value shows President Kaunda against a background of the Victoria Falls, the 6d shows the College of Further Education, Lusaka, named after the former Governor, Sir Evelyn Home and the 1/3d shows a Barotse dancer.

zambia - first set of stamps

The Battle of El Alamein, 1942 – 1943

October 23, 1942:  The Battle of El Alamein began with a major attack by British forces on Rommel’s Afrika Corps and their Italian Allies.  When the fighting started the Axis were on the verge of sweeping the British out of Egypt, seizing the Suez Canal, cutting the Imperial lifeline to India and destroying the Jewish community in Eretz Israel. The well-supplied Allied forces overcame the usual timidity of their generals and broke the Axis lines, starting the Germans on a long retreat that would end with surrender in Tunisia in 1943.

Pictured here is a souvenir sheet issued by the Grenada Grenadines commemorating the battle as part of its series called, “The Route to Victory”.

el alamein souvenir sheet - grenada grenadines

Nikola Tesla

October 22, 1927 – Nikola Tesla introduces six new inventions including a motor with onephase electricity.

Hrvatska Posta – the postal service of Croatia – issued a stamp honoring the 150th anniversary of Tesla’s birth on October 7, 2006.

nikola tesla - croatia

However, the Croatian philatelic agency has provided some very detailed information about Tesla in their posting regarding the stamp.  I excerpt here from Renato Filipin’s write-up:

“Nikola Tesla is one of the greatest scientists and inventors in the history of the technological development of humankind. His patents and theoretical work created conditions for the electrification of the world by his system of the poly-phase alternating current, and the work in the field of high-frequency currents and wireless transmission of electromagnetic waves made the development of radio-technique and telecommunications possible. Tesla’s research also helped towards the invention of the radar, and in many ways brought about the development of lighting. Tesla had a rather unusual way of arriving at an invention. He first worked out the whole idea of the way a device should work to the smallest detail in his mind and he would “see” how it works, and then he would proceed to prove it theoretically, sketch it and finally make the device itself that would then work without any problem. Nikola Tesla was born at midnight between the 9th and 10th July 1856 in Smiljan, a small village near Gospić. As a young child he had already shown a feature of innovativeness, and according to his words he had inherited it from his mother. He attended elementary school and high school in Smiljan and Gospić, and graduated from high school at the Great Science Gymnasium in Rakovac near Karlovac. He studied from 1875 to 1878 at the Austrian Polytechnic Institute in Graz, but when his scholarship was stopped, and on account of lack of funds he had to interrupt his course of study. Three years later, in 1881 he went to Budapest to work there for a Telegraph Company. Next year, while walking along the streets of Budapest, he hit upon the idea of rotating magnetic fields and electro-motors that are would be fed by the alternating current. After working for some time in Paris and Strasbourg, he went to the USA in 1884. When he arrived in New York, Tesla approached Thomas A. Edison in order to start working for him. He did not work for Edison for a very long time. As they disagreed about the issue of the application of the alternating current, this disagreement later led to open enmity and was nicknamed “the war of currents”. As Tesla wished to practically apply the invention of the rotating magnetic field, he formed his own company in 1885, called Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing Company. The hardest time for Tesla was the period from 1886 to 1887, when he worked as a common labourer, digging canals for the laying down of cables in New York. Despite all this, he formed the firm Tesla Electric Company in 1887 with a laboratory where he could finally work on the improvement of the ways of application of the alternating current. These years are the time when he filed his patents of the electro-motor and the system of distribution of the alternating current. He held a lecture before the members of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers on the 15th of May 1888 and showed them the working of the induction motor fed by the alternate current. In the same year George Westinghouse bought off his patents connected with the application of the alternate current. Three years later Tesla filed a range of patents from the field of high-frequency currents, and one of the devices that produce such currents was named the Tesla coil. He went back to Croatia on a short visit on account of his mother’s death in 1892. In the same year he held a lecture on the alternating current and electrification in Zagreb. Ever since his childhood, Tesla’s great wish was to curb the power of water, particularly that of the Niagara Falls. Westinghouse’s plan for a hydro-electric power plant was approved in 1893, which would transmit three-phase alternating current produced in generators by a power-transmission line to Buffalo. The hydro-electric power plant was completely finished in 1896, and in the process of building up the generator and the system of transmission of electrical energy nine of Tesla’s patents had been used. In 1893 Tesla helped Westinghouse to illuminate the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago dedicated to the achievements in electro-technology by using the alternating current. Part of the exhibition was reserved for Tesla’s inventions, and by performing a number of experiments he proved the victory of the alternating current over the direct current. The perception that a high-frequency current can be transmitted by only one conductor brought about the invention of the transmission of electro-magnetic oscillations without wires. Undertaking a research into this field, our inventor discovered the basic principles of radio technology. As early as 1896, Tesla started experiments with X-rays, and he also invented the first tele-automats – devices that can be used to operate at great distances without wires. At the end of the 19th century in Colorado Springs, Tesla performed various experiments with very high voltages and high-frequency currents. In the laboratory he conducted tests that led to the discovery of stationary waves of the Earth, and he also managed to produce artificial lightning with the voltage discharge of many million volts and the length of the lightning of up to 40 metres. Tesla also released great quantities of current into the earth, and owing to resonance he achieved greater discharges at the top of the pole. These experiments were a preparation for Tesla’s next project – the establishment of a wireless power transmission facility with the help of the tower in Wardenclyffe on Long Island. The Wardenclyffe Tower, i.e. the project of the World wireless system has never been completed, and it was dismantled for scrap in the course of World War One. After this unsuccessful project Tesla never recuperated financially, and he filed for bankruptcy in 1915. In 1906 he illustrated how a bladeless turbine, later called Tesla’s turbine, worked. In 1917 he received the highest award of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Edison’s medal. In the same year he laid down the fundamental principles of the radar that refer to the radar frequency and power, and in 1931, on his 75th birthday, Tesla appeared on the title page of the journal Time. Nikola Tesla filed a total of 112 patents in the USA only, and 156 all over the world. He received honorary doctorates for his work at numerous universities: Columbia University, Yale University, University de Poitiers, Polytechnic Institutes of Graz, Vienna and Bucharest, and the universities of Belgrade, Brno, Grenoble, Paris, Prague, Sofia and Zagreb. Nikola Tesla never married, he left no direct heirs, and he also suffered from phobias, fear of hair, bacilli and peaches. He was fascinated by cleanliness and the number three. At the end of his life he liked to keep company with pigeons. Besides his mother tongue, Tesla fluently spoke English, French, German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. He died on the 7th of January 1943 in a hotel in New York, room No. 3327. To honour the great inventor, the unit for magnetic induction in the SI system was named Tesla in 1960. In 1975 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) established the Nikola Tesla Award that is given to the deserving individuals in the field of electro-energetics. As commendation for Tesla’s achievements a crater on the Moon carries his name, and the Australian composer Constantine Koukias composed an opera called TESLA – Lightning in his Hand.”

1948: The Capture of Beer Sheva

October 21, 1948: At four in the morning, Israeli troops attack the fortified positions of the Egyptians outside of Beer Sheva (a/k/a Beersheba).  The Egyptians are taken by surprise since they did not know that the Israelis had opened the road to the Negev two days earlier.  The Egyptians surrendered and the ancient place to which Abraham returned after “the binding of Isaac” was in Jewish hands.

The stamp pictured today, featuring the Beer Sheva Coat of Arms, was issued by Israel Post in March 1965 as part of its Town Emblems series.

beer sheva coat of arms