"Children's Toys and Games" is the theme of the 1989 EUROPA series sponsored by CEPT, the Council of European Posts and Telecommunications.

Among the many member nations of the European postal community issuing stamps with this theme is Guernsey, one of two bailiwicks of the English Channel Islands, which has issued a three-stamp set.One of CEPT's stipulations is that the stamps issued by its members show games of ancient origin that are still played today. Guernsey's set does just that.

The 12-pence depicts a boy and girl playing the game Le Cat. The game, which is known in many countries, is played by placing a pointed stick on the ground and bringing a broom handle forcefully onto the pointed end to send the stick flying into the air. The player who sends the stick farthest wins.

The 16-pence features a little girl playing with a Cobo Alice doll on the beach. These rag dolls have a long history in Guernsey, and little girls still play with them today.

The 23-pence shows three little girls playing a variation of Guernsey hopscotch, a game familiar to children throughout the world, including the United States.

Also issued by Guernsey is a new 18-pence definitive stamp that depicts a view of the small town of Le Variouf, situated on Petit Bot Bay. Because Guernsey is off the French coast, many of its people speak French and some geographical features have French names.

The Guernsey stamps should be available at local dealers.

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The Manx cat is featured on a set of four new stamps from the Isle of Man, an English crown dependency in the Irish Sea.

Manx cats are often considered lucky mascots. They are in great demand in many parts of the world, where they are frequently seen in show rings as well as in homes. The Manx cat is unique because it is tailless, and also features full, rounded cheeks, a short, thick neck and long hind legs.

The Manx cat stamps are issued in denominations of 16, 27, 30 and 40 pence. They should be available at your local stamp shop.

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Turkey has issued two new stamps to help publicize its campaign to beautify its countryside. The stamps are semipostals, which carry a surcharge, with the additional revenue going to the beautification program.

The 100-lira (plus 25 liras) depicts an allegorical interpretation of a pair of human hands, in green to symbolize vegetation, restoring parched desert land. The 400-lira (plus 50 liras) shows the power of man to plan properly in creating a beautiful countryside.

Another new set from Turkey consists of four stamps featuring butterflies that inhabit that country. It is the second in Turkey's butterfly series. The four species featured on the stamps are identified by their scientific names. The set also includes a souvenir sheet.

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The East African nation of Uganda has released a set of four stamps to highlight the important role game preserves play in maintaining wildlife.

The 10-shilling shows two giraffes in Uganda's Kidepo Valley National Park. The 25-shilling illustrates four zebras at the Lake Mburo National Park, west of Lake Victoria. The 100-shilling features a male African buffalo in the Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda's largest game preserve. The 250-shilling pictures four white pelicans in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The 350-shilling souvenir sheet honors the many game preserves by featuring a pair of roan antelopes grazing in Lake Mburo National Park.

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Many readers have inquired about the origin of postmarks.

Postmarks originated in Colonial times, when manuscript postal inscriptions were introduced under the New York Ordinance of Dec. 10, 1672, which established an inland postal system between the Colonies. "Post Payd" is found on the first letter sent under this system on Jan. 22, 1673.

In recent years, handstamps and machine cancellations, like those we see every day on the mail we receive, have been standardized by the Postal Service.