Mount Fuji

July 31, 781 – The oldest recorded eruption of Mount Fuji (Traditional Japanese date: July 6, 781).

Mount Fuji,  located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain peak in Japan at 12,389 feet.  An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 60 miles south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.

Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. It is also a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and one of Japan’s Historic Sites.  It was added to the World Heritage Site as a Cultural Site on June 22, 2013.  As per UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”.  (from Wikipedia)

Japan Post Holdings (Japan’s postal service), issued this beautiful color stamp showing Mount Fuji in 2015:

Japan_2015_04_Fuji_volcano_stamp

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The Jews and Wagner

July 23, 1882: “The Jews and Wagner” published today expressed bewilderment at the German composer’s expression of disdain for Jews.  According to the author, it was an un-named Jew who gave him his first piano.  And Giacomo Meyerbeer, the German-Jewish composer, was one of the “first men who helped him.” Wagner claims that the Jews of Vienna have conspired to harm his career, but his three most noted critics –Hanslick, Scheel and Speidl- are Viennese Catholics.

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (Leipzig, May 22, 1813 – Venice, February 13, 1883) was a German composer, conductor, aesthete and reformer of German opera. Wagner did not have a regular musical education, and learnt the most important aspects of composition from Theodor Weinling, the choirmaster at St Thomas’ church in Leipzig. His operas have assured his immortality as a composer, but he composed works in several other areas (incidental theatre, orchestral and chamber music, choral works, songs, arias, piano pieces, transcription and orchestration). His music is typified by the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk (a total work fusing music, the libretto and drama) and the use of leitmotifs, endless melody and sprechgesang.

On March 5, 2013, Hungary issued a stamp commemorating the bicentenary of Wagner’s birth.  The release is unusual because this is the first time that a QR code has appeared on Hungarian postage stamps. With a smart phone and the Internet, information about the bicentenary on the Hungarian State Opera House’s web site can be heard and read. The portrait of the composer is at the center of the stamp design, while a graphic composition referring to a work by him (Das Rheingold) is in the background. Fifty thousand copies of the miniature sheets designed by the Kossuth Prize-winning graphic artist István Orosz were printed by the ANY Security Printing Company.

Shown here is a First Day Cover of the Wagner issue:

wagner_fdc - hungary

Billie Holiday, 1915 -1959

July 17, 1959 – Death of Billie Holiday, American Jazz singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1915)

Eleanora Fagan (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959), professionally known as Billie Holiday, was an American jazz musician and singer-songwriter with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed “Lady Day” by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Holiday was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills, which made up for her limited range and lack of formal music education. While there were other jazz singers with equal talent, Billie Holiday had a voice that captured the attention of her audience. (from Wikipedia)

The U.S. Postal Service issued a 29-cent stamp in 1994 (Scott No. 2856) honoring Lady Day:

 

Billie Holiday - 1994 - USA - SC 2856

Millard Fillmore and the U.S.-Swiss Trade Treaty of 1851

July 9, 1850:  President Zachary Taylor dies and Millard Fillmore becomes the 13th President of the United States.  Millard Fillmore is one the lesser known U.S. Presidents, but he played a major role in furthering the acceptance of Jews as full citizens of the United States.  In 1851, the United States Senate considered a trade treaty with Switzerland.  The treaty included a clause that would have allowed the governments of the individual Swiss Cantons to treat U.S. citizens in the same way they treated their own citizens.  Some of the cantons had laws that discriminated against Jews.  Ratification of the treaty would have meant that American citizens could be treated differently based on their religion.   A group of Jews from Cincinnati protested against this treaty in a letter they sent to Secretary of State Daniel Webster who used his influence to convince President Fillmore to amend the proposed treaty by deleting the discriminatory clauses. In leading the successful opposition to the treaty Fillmore declared that “neither by law, nor by treaty, nor by any other official proceeding is it competent for the Government of the United States to establish any distinction between its citizens founded on differences in religious beliefs.”

The United States issued a 22-cent postage stamp honoring President Fillmore on May 22, 1986 as part of its AMERIPEX Presidential Commemorative set (Scott No. 2217d):

Millard Fillmore - U.S.

Pitcairn Islands

1767 – Pitcairn Island is discovered by Midshipman Robert Pitcairn on an expeditionary voyage commanded by Philip Carteret.

The Pitcairn Islands, officially Pitcairn, form a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean that form the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. The four islands – Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno – are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total land area of about 18 square miles. Only Pitcairn, the second-largest island that measures about 2.2 miles) from east to west, is inhabited.

The islands are inhabited mostly by descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 56 inhabitants, originating from four main families, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world.  The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes the Pitcairn Islands on the U.N.’s list of Non-Self Governing- Territories.

Nearby are some of the first Pitcairn Islands postage stamps issued beginning in 1940, each with a portrait of King George VI:

Pitcairn Islands 1940-52 SG1-SG8

 

Hadassah

July 1, 1915: The list of newly elected officers of Hadassah published today included Henrietta Szold, Chairman; Sophia Berger, Treasurer; Lotta Levensohn, Recording Secretary and Rose A. Herzog, Corresponding Secretary who enjoy the support of such prominent Jews as Mrs. Richard Gottheil, Mrs. B.A. Rosenblatt and Miss Alice L. Seligsberg.

Hadassah is the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and is a Jewish volunteer women’s organization. It was founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold and is one of the largest international Jewish organizations, with 330,000 members in the United States.   Hadassah fundraises for community programs and health initiatives in Israel, including the Hadassah Medical Center, a leading research hospital in Israel renowned for its inclusion of and treatment for all religions and races in Jerusalem.  In the US, the organization advocates on behalf of women’s rights, religious autonomy and US-Israel diplomacy. In Israel, Hadassah supports health education and research, women’s initiatives, schools and programs for underprivileged youth.

Israel Post issued a 25-agorot stamp in 1960 honoring Henrietta Szold:

Henrietta_Szold_stamp_1960 - Israel