Saturday 24 March 2018

Twenty Years Ago......

... these lighthouse stamps were issued.

They, and the associated aerogrammes, were the subject of our first webpages which have now been resurrected and can be seen for the first time in many years, after they were lost in a disastrous migration to a new host.

We started with as our ISP.  The internet was only accessed via dial-up modem, free websites abounded and we started on Geocities, later bought by Yahoo.  Geocities didn't want commercial activity, so we moved to, later bought by

Around this time we decided to have our own domain name and host the website independently, and was born.  Unfortunately the downside of such a long address soon became apparent with people writing to, and so on.  When they used these addresses for PayPal payments we never received them!  So we added the extra domain with all pages accessed from both URLs.

The other, personal collection, wing of the first website displayed results of research into the contemporary postal history of the countries of the former Soviet Union, which had become 15 new countries.  We started with Belarus, with an even more primitive webpage:

Because of the very slow speed of internet access it was necessary to make pictures quite small.  For the technically-savvy, the 'alt' code on these images included size-limiters on the images, and an indication of the file-size.
<img style="width: 110px; height: 90px;" src="bel_images/belminmp.gif"
 alt="map 1k">
This was because many readers took advantage of the option to display pages without images (for faster loading), and the text "map 1k" would be shown, giving readers an idea of how long the page with images would take to load!  Nowadays with fibre-internet and mobile 4G access, it is almost impossible to imagine that world.  Think how lucky we are!

Many thanks to our customers, suppliers, blog readers & others who have contributed to our success, and a personal thanks to my partners, Val & John, for their patience!


  1. 20 years?! Congrats! Your story is so important in order to understand those times, and especially how the blogging had arrived nowadays.

  2. Ian, I started using your website in 1999 when my daughter wanted to collect stamps. This rekindled my teenage collecting years and as my daughter collected worldwide, I started collecting GB again.

    I still have a copy of the page you did on the 1st class gold machin varieties. I would love to browse through those early pages again as they provided me with a minefield of information.

    Please keep up the excellent work and many thanks for the service you provide.

    1. Steve,

      Thanks for writing! I'm sure there are others who have been following the website for much of the time, many will be outside the UK. I still have some emails from the old system which I have migrated through all the email clients and are now on the Apple Mail app, and I occasionally need to go back and look at them.

      Many of the pages were lost, as I wrote, but I recovered a lot from the Wayback Archive and have the files, especially the Millennium period. I just don't want to have to rescan stamps just to get those pages back, though where it is necessary to do so, or to show larger images, I shall do so - sometime!

  3. How can I find info on UniversalMail Int. Postcard stamps?

    1. Well as usual, Google is your friend and you can find the UMUK website here

      You can also find our write-up here:


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