Post-horns – longest running stamp issue

The Posthorn is probably the most iconic of Norwegian stamps. It’s gone through multiple design, color and print changes over its 140 year run. It’s fun and fascinating trying to identify and categorize all the different variations. A few are hard to come by in mint/unused condition and some of the plate varieties are so rare they are out of reach (only a couple found). Hard to believe it’s the longest continuously running stamp design in the world. Other countries such and Denmark and Iceland also had their Posthorns, but discontinued them after a few years.

NK1130, 9 Kroner posthorn from the early 90’s

Norway 1979 mint

Adding my mint Norwegian stamps into inventory as I go. These are from 1979,  with some stunning engravings from Lokke and Morken.

Crown prince Olav ski jumping
old school ski jumping early 1900s
cross country skiing at Holmenkollen Oslo
author Johan Falkenberget

Norge #1, 1855

4 Skilling, sent from Aalesund July 7th, 1856 (NK#1, Sc NO#1)

In 1854, Norway modernized its postal system largely based on the British success the previous ten years. The first Norwegian adhesive postage stamp was issued in the spring of 1855.

Several sketches were submitted for approval in the fall of 1854, including some bearing the semblance of King Oscar I of Sweden in a square aspect ratio. In this time Norway was in union with Sweden, sharing the Swedish monarch. The final design by A. H. Zarbell consisted of the Norwegian coat of arms, a lion holding the axe of Olav. The coat of arms originated in the 12th century and has gone through many design revisions over the centuries. The first Swedish stamp incidentally was also a coat of arms and issued half a year after the Norwegian 4 Skilling. (The 3 crowns design)

Watermark – a lion tipping his hat
  • Known for its very large margins
  • Print run was 2,018,200
  • Paper used was mainly hemp, grey-white in color and course textured leading to poor fuzzy printing qualities
  • The watermark was of the “thick” variety, showing the coat of arms
  • Color varietes range from light blue, dark blue and greenish blue
  • Most known forgeries are crude and don’t have the right amount of horizontal shading lines
  • Highly sought after varieties include; double footed lion and cracked plate
  • Due to the large variety in print qualities, all the original plates were able to be puzzled together by stamp forensics
  • Mint copies are very rare


References and links:

4 Skilling 1855, Centenary of the Norwegian Postage Stamp. Norsk Filatelistforbund Oslo 1955

Norway Number One – The New Handbook – Second Edition. (Gjelsvik, 2000)

Norske Riksvåpen, Wikipedia

Scott Catalogue Vol 6

The Dirtiest South (2018)

The rain kept coming down heavy and loud during the night before the race with a flash flood warning in effect for the area. There was no doubt the 6th running of the Dirty South was going to live up its name.

A few runners decided to hit the snooze button for the morning. The battering of the rain overnight had them tossing and turning with imaginings of being sucked into the muck or being washed away by heavy flowing streams. (Not too far from the truth) Luckily most folks toughened up, walked out their front doors and showed up bleary eyed to the race start. Some runners came as far as Florida and Utah, flying in the night before. 140-ish brave souls toed the line with probably more trepidation than usual. Knowing you’re going to be out on the wet trails for several hours is enough to give one pause.

Flooding on some parts of the course had us a little concerned so out of safety for the marathon runners, the full course was collapsed down to the old 2 loop standard. All runners would now run in the same direction, with the marathoners crossing the finish twice, giving them an easier option to drop in case conditions somehow got worse. This decision wasn’t ideal but was the right call in the end.

At some point right before the race start the rain let up just a little. The forecast had called for a break in the weather so all fingers were crossed. At one point the clouds parted just enough to show some blue sky. But the course and the race were still mayhem. Burnett Creek Rd had flooded over and the Lost Chromosome trail was essentially a flowing stream. All runners jumped with glee into a flooded creek up to their thighs. Luckily it was warmer than usual. Cold creek crossings tend to be less enjoyable.

Then there was the slick, slippery mud. All runners had the pleasure of trying to stay upright, trying to not slide backwards on the climbs, and trying not to peel out on the downhills. From the looks of everyone finishing there was plenty of failing to do any of that. Everyone ended up covered in mud. Depending on where they had wiped out the mud was a different color. Shorts, shirts and faces were covered in 50 shades of brownish reds.

Even under these conditions we had a respectable number of runners under 2 hours for the half marathon. First one in was Roger Schmidt (1:42:51) followed by Sullivan Pierce (1:49:57) and Nathan Helton (1:52:13). A young Sierra Moody came in strong as first female (1:58:47 and 4th overall) followed by Megan Kleeschulte (2:02:47), and Hannah Rosen (2:07:18).

For the marathon we had a few folks cry uncle after one loop confirming for us the course change was a good decision. The full marathon in those conditions is nothing to take lightly.

Alex Brown smashed through the two loops like nobody’s business in 3:52:28. I highly suspect he’s got a cross country upbringing as he was enjoying the mudfest more than most. Sub 4 on that course is impressive, adding in the conditions and it’s doubly impressive. Not too far behind Alex (but not that close either) were trail committee member and new dad Tim Hill (4:09:08) and Brian Williams (4:34:44). Local trail favorite Alondra Moody came in relaxed at 4:33:48, third overall and first female. She was followed by Michelle McLellan (5:00:51) and Jonnie Mae (5:36:31).

A big thanks to the trail committee and other Track Club members for all the support and for filling in the gaps where needed. Next year we’ll once again shoot for the full marathon course. There’s even a chance we might have a spanking new trail to test drive. And the weather next year? My bet is on either a blizzard or tornadoes. Flying cats would also not surprise me.

Photos from around the course by Misty Wong

Finish area photos

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I had an art and design focused blog for over a decade and took it down some time ago. I plan on tossing it back up (if I can figure out how) at some point. And that’s that for this random post.

Dirty South 2018

Strava heat map of the Urban Wilderness area.


One week away from this year’s Dirty South races. I have my notebook of to-do’s handy and am answering the stray random and odd email question. Signups are about on par with last year. Full marathon might have a few more peeps. The weather is crap. It looks like the race name will live up to itself this year.

Ran the Strawberry Plains half marathon in 1:56 and change. It was a good training run with a moderate pace and a couple pickups into high 7s. No idea what time I could get if I really tried. It really helped having Kirby’s company. These road races can hand you some lonely agonizing stretches sometimes.

Finally got out to do a lap at Mr. Storey’s yearly 12 hour run at the North Boundary trails. It’s a good spot. Nothing too technical but enough hills to give you a workout. And the flat gravel is useful too.

January was a good training month of consistency. Fewer miles in each run, but more variety. My mantra is “something every day.” It’s also been fun getting on the bike again. I’m carefully ramping up from here. Dipping into speed work again.

I’m kinda done with the cold now, ready for some spring!

mid jan 2018 – looking up again

Garmin training status

After letting the body heal up for almost 2 months  it’s back to a steady increase in activities. I did a ton of hiking in the last half of December that made the legs strong. These were relatively easy jaunts, as I’ve grown weary and uneasy about re-injuries.

My Garmin annoyingly won’t track status or load when set to “walk” or “hike” mode. These workouts also don’t show up on the training log in Strava.  I’m setting all activities to road/trail running here on out.

The first week in January I unwittingly overdid it as seen in the orange bar in the chart. I was a little blind to how much I needed to recover when coming back to running. I’ve since adjusted.

The Garmin metrics in the Fenix-5 are pretty good it seems. What’s glaringly obvious in hindsight is that I’ve been bouncing between overtraining and under training too much. Going from Redline to Flatline just isn’t sustainable.

My current thinking:

  • Consistency – At least 5 workouts a week. No more redline-flatline-redline. This mainly means keeping my easy days really easy. I mean, for real.
  • Variety – More cross training and different activities. Walking, hiking, biking, swimming etc. If the ankles are too sore for a run, jump on the bike.
  • Specificity/focus – More structure in workouts. It’s too easy to jog along without a specific goal. Fine if you’re satisfied with general fitness. Not fine if you want to improve a little.
  • Strength and flexibility – Increase the amount of Yoga, stretching and strength exercises. Tremendous help in recovery and injury prevention.

None of this is new, I just have to keep pounding it into my thick skull.


2018 onward

2017 – good riddance

A couple injuries set me back this past year. Most annoyingly a tibial stress fracture. Pretty much all the plans I had for 2017 got dumped, no Barkley Fall Classic, no No Business, no road marathons. There were a few notable exceptions and bright spots, but overall it was a let down. The fewest miles run in a year since from way back in the 90’s I think.

But enough with the wining

The injury looks to be totally healed, miles are once again being put into the log. I’ve been hiking a lot more, up and down mountains. My legs are stronger, just not so fast.

Future things

(Subject to change as usual.)

  • Dirty South Trail marathon and half, helping out
  • Trail series, running a race or two would be nice
  • Knoxville Marathon, either race or pace, depends on if I’m able to PR
  • Yamacraw 50K, missed this race too many times, hope to be in proper shape, a sub 6 is doable
  • 2-3 months in Norway running in the mountains, maybe a side trip to Scotland
  • Chip away at the Smokies trails, still much to get done
  • Barkley Fall Classic, would be nice to do more than finish, if so it’ll be the last time
  • No Business 100? Not sure if I have another 100 in me, time will tell
  • Still hope to sub 3 in the marathon, time is running out…

Iceland – 2017

Visiting Iceland you quickly realize it’s nearly impossible to take a bad looking photo. In some ways it’s almost too easy. I got caught up in the tourist mindset a little too much and a little lazy with pointing and clicking. I had little time to push the photographs beyond “post-card” level. Some got close, such as the first one below.

Drove a mile out onto the black beach on the south side of the island. This is looking back onto the island, the ocean right behind me.

The contrasts are amazing, particularly between the arid volcanic soil and the life that clings to it. “How’s this growing here?” went through my mind on a daily basis.

Chunks of ice broken away from a glacier, like miniature icebergs floating about in the bay. Crackling melting sounds mixed with the ocean waves dying onto the beach. The waster onto the porous volcanic beach made a weird sifting sound as it melted through.

The visit was in mid September, so late summer. The warmth was in the air briefly for periods in the daytime. (when it wasn’t gusting and raining)  Oddly enough the nights were fairly warm. I came to realize it’s because the volcanic island  generates enough heat from the ground to keep things more bearable than expected.

Spires jutting out from the ocean, the waves were coming down hard and loud onto the rocks. Had to climb a little to get to this shot.
Inland was generally colder. This area was couple hours drive in a 4 wheeler. Here’s some green life clinging on with help from steam from hot springs. Sizzling sounds and sulfur smells.
Glacier bay on the south side of the island. Seals were playing about, heads bobbing up and down. The occasional floating piece of ice would shift and break, crashing into the water.
Panorama of Skaftafellsjökull. A days hike following up and down the side of the glacier. Immense and jaw dropping sight.

I’ll likely try to get back sometime. There’s plenty of inland and northern coast to explore. From a photography standpoint there’s plenty to do. And from a running and hiking standpoint there’s REALLY plenty to do.