Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A stamp for Montpellier's own Frédéric Bazille

This article summarises in part articles of SébPhilatélie in French: the maximum cards preparation, comments on the wonderful organisation, and a sort of illustrated conclusion.

Yesterday, Monday 20 February, the French post issued an artistic stamp in honor of impressionist painter Frédéric Bazille, born 1841 in Montpellier. The chosen artwork is View of village of 1868.
The stamp on a maximum card I made at the first day sale in Montpellier, Friday 17 February (postcard edited by the Fabre Museum, Montpellier municipal museum).
Bazille was a talented painter, born in a rich trade family of Montpellier, in Southern France - a family we met already on this blog thank to Kenneth Nilsestuen with a letter between a wine trader in French conquered Algeria and the Bazille-Castelnau branch of Frédéric's family.

The family owned a domain on the outskirts of 19th century Montpellier : the domaine of Méric, where the garden overviews the small Lez river and the nearby village of Castelnau-le-Lez. On Vue de village, Bazille depicted the daughter of a domain's worker with the village in the background.

A high definition picture of the painting and school activities to discover it are available on the Réseau Canopé website, the French public education information service.

The sad part of the story is that Frédéric Bazille, while volunteering the army, died during the 1870 war between France and Prussia, only aged 28.
A part-walk part-tramway route from the place of the first day sale to the Domaine of Méric, passing in front the Fabre Museum, in Montpellier (Google Maps modified with free software Paint.NET).
The first day of sale was proposed in Montpellier, in an uncommon place for the city and its federated philatelic club. The Association philatélique de Montpellier generally organised such event in a municipal hall ; the Fabre Museum was thought too late.
The merry postal team of the Préfecture post office, the President of the Montpellier Philatelic Association (in blue) and one of the deputy mayor (Midi libre, Montpellier local edition, 18 February 2017).
The sale ended in the historic main post office of the town center, near the Préfecture, the official residence of the French State administrator. I thought the place too tiny and crowded at peak let-me-get-my-registered-or-parcel hours...

... But the post office team was efficient and happy to oblige in such short notice. The postal clark specialised in philatelic matters was there with stamps and the first day datestamp ; his boss all smile with the offered coffee machine and cookies. The Association got space enough to propose René Maréchal's collection of impressionist paintings through stamps and pictorial cancellations.

Let me say that, for the past decade, despite the French post's delusional try to profitability of the philatelic sales, the Montpellier Préfecture post office has kept the status of an actual philatelic post office whereas the philatelic subscription were centralised on order by Phil@poste and that post offices were forced to time the seconds spent by each employee with clients... Letting some post offices with the idea that philatelic consumers were a waste of time!

Montpellier Préfecture never surrendered and is proven right: for the past year and a half, Phil@poste and the Post Office Direction are reintroducing philatelic counters in chosen post offices!!!

This improvised first day of sale is a wonderful gift for a wonderful philatelic friendly team.
For amateurs of how baby are mad... stamps are printed: the right part half sheet of the Bazille stamp, with all colour verification dots and the marginal identifications.
A question remained: why a stamp for Bazille now?
The Rose Dress, 1864, shows a cousin watching the same village accross the small river (postcard edited by the Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
Because Frédéric Bazille has got an international exhibition on the run: Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of of impressionism was inaugurated in the Fabre Museum during the Summer 2016, is currently finishing in Musée d'Orsay, Paris, before cruising to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. from April 9th to July 9th.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week #2017.07 on SébPhilatélie

The main event this past week in Montpellier is the first day of sale of a stamp in the artistic series: a painting View of the Village by Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870), a talended impresionist born in a trade family of the city.
The Frédéric Bazille stamp (via Phil-ouest.com).
Sunday 12 February: Some "patients" of the RPSL Expert Committee.
On 9 February the conference at the Royal Philatelic Society London was a presentation of some false stamps and fraudulent alteration of stamps and letters by Chris Harman, Chairman of the RPSL Expert Committee.

The group of volunteering specialists assure collectors and dealers that the items are what they are thought to be. And, listening to Chris Harman, some frauders are very ressourceful: the most striking example to me was a 1847 U.S. letter whose stamp and cancels looked genuine (and quite valuable) until it was proven that the year in the correspondence was tampereed (from "1841") in order to hide the perforated stamp was added much later.

But the exhibit and the conference present a large range of problems to be aware of, from classics to modern, and from Britain to contemporary China.

Monday 13 February: Shouldn't an international registered letter be signed for?
A little day to day mystery: why didn't I have to sign for a registered letter from French Polynesia? Are the French postal employee so smartly equipped that the view of the postman's notice and your identity card is sufficient?
Service letter from the French Polynesia Philatelic Service postmarked 19 January 2017 that is an (discreet) international registered letter.
By Friday I know: I had to sign the postal clerck's smartphone for a registered package from the United Kingdom.

Wednesday 15 February: The location of the stamp, the maximum card creator's problem.
Preparing for the first day of sale of the Bazille stamp, I bought postage card of the painting at the Museum Fabre shop... but on Friday where should I put the stamp without spoiling the picture?

Friday 17 February: A first day of sale in a so philatelic post office.
A summary of the discovery of the Bazille stamp, made enjoyable by the crew of Montpellier Préfecture post office.

The historic town center post office had continued to provide philatelic service at the counter despite the atmosphere of service productivity of the last decade: the Post Office Direction wanted the shortest period for a clerck to serve a consumer while the Stamp Post Office (Phil@poste) wished to deliver the philatelic subscription by mail... Let's say the traditional clientele of collectors haven't been happy ever since.

But in Montpellier Préfecture, the two philatelic clerks were added to the workforce of the main office with a little trick: whenever a customer for stamps appears, he is served immediately by the philatelic clerk on duty... without disturbing neither general service nor time and money profitability it would seem. In fact philatelic counters are reappearing... by order from the top.

This first day of sale inside this post office is a victory of service to collectors. Thank you, postmen!

Sunday 19 February: Algeria's 2017 philatelic program commented in El Watan.
The Algerian newspaper El Watan continued to print a weekly chronicle on philately, both new issues and thematic of Algeria. To be found every Thursday with the help of the weekly column menu.
Émis le neuf février, ce timbre célèbre l'anniversaire de la reconnaissance du tamazight, les langues berbères, comme langue officielle en Algérie (Algérie Poste).
The last article by Arslan Selmane, on 16 February, announced the main issues of the stamp programme for 2017, in the critical way the chronicle is always.

But this year there are good points and a lot of hope: 2 singer women to be honored, military battles of the Algerian history, touristic views, return of minisheets,...

On my side of the Mediterranean, in the middle of a very strange and nervous presidential campaign (we Frogs are now debating the good and bad points of colonisation when one of our candidate visit Algiers), I wonder how the Battles stamps will be received by part of the French public... But the French post issuing a 55th anniversary of the ceasefire in Algeria next month, I think the trouble will stay among French people.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week #2017.06 on SébPhilatélie

Sunday 5 February: A new post office in Liverpool town center.
During my yearly trip to the city of the Beatles and former port of the Empire, I saw that a new post office, privately own it seems, is to open on the groundfloor of the former Lewis store building, near Lime Street and Central Stations.
The windows of the future Central Village post office (and coffee shop) on  Renshaw Street late January 2017 (picture under Creative Commons licence by-nc-nd 3.0 fr).
The article summarizes the current post offices I know in this area.

Monday 6 February: Criminal letters sent to bullfighting lovers.
In local news around Montpellier, forty or so bullfighters or bullfighting associations officers received postal stationery trapped with razor blade hidden in the adhesive flap. At least one man was deeply wounded to a finger.
An example of a letter received by an association in Béziers and cancelled on Wednesday 1st: a green letter stationery whose Datamatric code was hidden with a green letter Marianne (Midi libre).
Back in 2006 another stream of such letters were sent to bullfighting associations from Nîmes, Gard. The coded cancellations on the 2017 envelopes are from the same département.

Tuesday 7 February: Tea With Puppets, coffee with Canadian stamps.
Since last October a new postcast was launched on many on-demand platforms, and included a blog: Tea With Puppets with an interest on new issues of Canada and, for now, one on former issues.
 Tea With Puppets.
Friday 10 February: From human tragedies to natural history: stamps and the academics.
Last Autumn two French historians, Alain Croix and Didier Guywarc'h, published at the the University of Rennes Press a book on how stamp issues reflects the memory of the two World Wars.
The cover (Gibert Joseph bookshop).
Timbres en guerre is a very interesting read from the semi-postal and war tax stamps of 1914 to the flow of commemorative issues, well after the events. The authors wonders how the governments' motivation evolved along the way, what the public may have understood of the stamps... and, when the knowledge was available, if the face value and printing numbers show if the stamps were to be seen by the nationals.

Of course symbolism or realism are part of the problem, including what the public wished to see (comparison between the fiftieth anniversary of World War 2 issues of the U.S. and of the Marshall Islands).The topic appears many times concerning the crimes of war and the Holocaust: interesting to discover how Eastern European countries managed their philately.

A must-read for philatelist and muggles alike.
David Lank  explaining how the background of a stamp is important: is it a temporary weather or the climate the species knew? (youTube).
But, you may already have lost faith in mankind with these past and the recent events. Turn to nature!

Professor David Lank donated his topical stamp collection of natural history to the McGill University Library, Montréal, Québec. In English he proposed a speech at the inauguration of an exhibition of part of this collection, on Thursday 12 January (to see until May 14th).

It is amazing to listen how he introduced the slow growth of the postal system to his public, while displaying both beautiful and colorful stamps and depiction of animals in postal history.

A must-see on youTube.

Saturday 11 February: Prolific postal historian Ted Proud passed away.
Monday 6 February Ted Proud (1930-2017) disappeared. He was an important postal history dealer from 1961 to 1987 with his Proud Bailey Company.
The Proud Bailey logo on the "museum-website".
But he will be remember for the many books he published on the postal history of British colonies and military forces: a treasure of documents, lists of rates and post offices, some maps that help the postal collector to discover the territory he wishes to enter before going into more specialised works.

Let's hope that the International Postal Museum website, where one can access all his books for a small donation, would be continued.

He was rightfully invited to sign the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 2008.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Postal history: Etihad Museum's inaugural exhibition

Saturday January 7th 2017 the Etihad Museum opened in Dubai, a national museum on the history of the United Arab Emirates before and after their unification in 1971.

Managed by Dubai's Culture Authority, its contemporain architectural building is a neighbour of the one where six emirates signed their union (the seventh joined the next year) putting an end to the British protectorate.
Visit the postal exhibit and zoom in the introductory text in English and Arab thank to Dubai360.com. Many items can be seen by wandering the room: click on the green marks (beware: flying inside the pictures with a computer mouse is ultra-sensitive. Airsickness in view).
The first temporary exhibition until April 30th is the postal history of the emirates and their first stamps from 1909 mail to the 1971 independence.

A beautiful achievement for Abdullah Koory, President of the Emirates Philatelic Association, created 1996, who is sharing his impressive collection.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weeks #2017.02 and 03 on SébPhilatélie

Tuesday 10 January: a conference on mail during the conquest of Ethiopia by fascist Italy.
On Sunday 8th at the Montpellier philatelic association, Serge Magallon from the Béziers club proposed a conference on Ethiopia.
One of the military stationery presented: the sender colored the Italian East Africa in red and celebrated the victory... dateed of the 14th year of the Mussolinian régime (collection Serge Magallon, Montpellier, 8  January 2017).
After an introduction on the most famous peoples and facts of the African country, he presented letters and military postcard stationery from May 1936, the month Italian troops sent by Benito Mussolini conquered Ethiopia. Soldiers whose fascist enthusiam is easily found on their postcard to family.

The paper permits to recall the privileged postal and railway link between Ethiopia and Djibouti: mail to the French colonial post were franked as interior mail until the Italian civil post started.

Serge Magallon's one frame collection can be viewed on the Montpellier association website.
The week after, French monthly L'Histoire published a special issue on the history of Ethiopia from the Queen of Sheba to King Haile Selassie, not forgetting the tragic dictatorship after him.

Wednesday 11 January: 2nd cute Postcrossing stamp for Belarus.
The stamp is autoadhesive with straight lined separatione (Postcrossing  website blog).

Monday 16 January: they still stamp their mail!
Two examples of recent mail that show that non-collectors are still using postage stamps and written correspondence.

First a professional sent a colleague a large file franked with four French lottery stamps. Another cover bears a simple red Marianne with the current anonymous cancel of France but it was sent by my nephew during his sky class: teachers bought psotcards, kids wrote messages and all is enclosed in the addressed and stamped covers provided by parents.

There is hope.

Wednesday 18 January: Still a Greek letter as the symbol of the French Republic on stamps...
One of the Friday 20 January issue of Finland with the new postal rate symbol (press release by Posti - direct link to the shop).
... while Finland post office, Posti, decided to put a profile map of the country for interior rate and a euro currency symbol for European rate.

Saturday 21 January: the epidemic of British illustrated machine stamps still growing.
With the December addition of a Canadian test and soon the issue of machine stamp in the Netherlands and the Isle of Man, I summarize what had happened since Royal Mail and Intelligence AR laucnhed Faststamps and Post & Go in Britain in 2008.

Last year the fashion got out of hand: Madrid, Qatar and now privatised Post NL using the British system, perhaps Canada creating its own and Man may use the Irish one (to be confirmed).

... while in France the machine stamp haven't changed since 2000...

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Week #2017.01 on SébPhilatélie

Tuesday 3 January: The usefulness of IT in philately.
On Wednesday 12 October 2016, Mark Bailey and Mark Copley presented how useful information technology can be for philatelist and collectors during the Crawford Seminar at the Royal Philatelic Society London home.

How to perfectly scan, work the image or manage the different color systems depending if you need to publish on a website or to print a book. And how to prepare a conference powerpoint or an e-book. An interesting lesson.

The powerpoint can be dowloaded on the RPSL website.

Saturday 7 December: A site for Soviet postcards.
Nice find: Soviet Postcards by Kathya proposed pictures of postcard, some illustrated stationeries and other little collectibles created during the time of the Soviet Union.
Seasonal postcard between New Year, winter landscape and industrial growth of the Soviet Union. Not very sustainable, but smily (Soviet Postcards).
Sunday 8 December: In Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, the mail will pass "if Canada allows".
Again, part of the Christmas mail and parcels for the French North American oversea collectivity was detained in Toronto, Canada. 2.2 tons this year. And it wasn't "if weather permits".

It all arrived finally on Monday 2 January morning: the last Christmas gifts and the letters for a national professional election. But, now the mail destined to Metropolitan France has to snail through Halifax and Toronto...

Saint-Pierre's postmaster assured the viewers of local channel La 1ère that, this year, the recrimination was sent high enough so that this kind of episode should not happen again in 2017.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Week #2016.51 on SébPhilatélie

Monday 26 December: Spink catalogue, Brun's expertise and U.S. organised philately thinking about the future.
Three December news: Spink launched the 2nd edition of his French stamp catalogue and one of the French philatelist who participated in revamping the modern Marianne definitives wrote about it on his blog: News du Phospho.

Long experienced expert Jean-François Brun published three new papers to explain and warn collectors on falsification and fraudulent stamps and cancellations. A must-read in French. One is a study on how very early the philatelic journals knew of the Sperati family business, way before Jean became famous.

Finally, a summary on the cyclic event many Western countries' organised philatelies experienced every decade? Two decades? To gather and think about to spend savings to ensure the future of philately. The last French let's meet and chat a lot experience was... φ. The current one without publicity seems more probant towards schools and reading collectors.

Let's hope the best for the U.S. 2016-2017 experience.

Saturday 31 December: Benin and Cameroun, two current French-Chinese-British philatelies.
In the January 2017 issue of Timbres magazine a study of a 2003-2008 definitive series of Benin by Nicholas Pertwee is proposed, showing that with curiosity, perseverance and an Evangelist association receiving lots of mail, you can study a current African country series in a very traditional way, including overprints and postal rates.

On the same continent and century, Marc Parren proposed his "observations" on how the Cameroon Postal Services managed their issues from 2009 and 2015 in the 98th issue of Cameo, the journal of the West Africa Study Circle. A very enlighting read to understand how developing countries' post offices are struggling between the cost of printing their philatelic needs in advance of their sales, the temptation to get to the collectors' wallet without having the communication capacity to reach them...

... and the risk of delegating to agencies or a powerful friendly country.

Sunday 1 January: finally the French new international rates are on.
Although less people are sending paper mail these days, every announcement of more expensive postal rates make commenting people angry...

In France, by (commercial or political) precaution, the rates starting this Sunday (technically on all items mailed after Saturday noon) were announced last Summer, but only for the national rates (economic, environmental, priority).

Postcrossers like me had to wait until today to discover how much it will cost the French senders of actual postcards (more than 700,000 since July 2005): +3 eurocents to +5 eurocents on all nationwide and rest of the world letter, but +10 cents to the European Union and Switzerland !

And, there, no journalist to work out why can mail to the neighbouring countries be more expensive to send than to the rest of the world from one year to another.

Postcrossers, the financial director of La Poste thank you very much.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

French geopolitician Jean-Christophe Victor passed away

Yesterday, Wednesday 28 DecemberJean-Christophe Victor died at too young an age for a knowledge passer with his geopolitical television show Le Dessous des cartes (Underneath the cards/maps).
A planisphere with a political message to analyze, what other picture? (Libray and Archives Canada).
On the French-German channel Arte, every Saturday, he described and explained what is at stake in our world through maps of all scales for a quarter century. In parallel, he created with Virginie Raisson a private laboratory to teach and work on these problems with firms and public powers.

His biography reminds his actions and experience in Afghanistan late 1970s and during the 1980s, a diplomat as a cultural attaché and a humanitarian as a cofounder of Action Against Hunger.

These two aspects of his life can be linked to his parents: polar explorer Paul-Émile Victor and television journalist Éliane Victor.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Week #2016.50 on SébPhilatélie

Wednesday 21 December: The Post Office Without in South Georgia.
In the two last issues of Gibbons Stamp Monthly (dated November and December), Hugh Osborne told the postal history of the British subantarctic territory of South Georgia through the many lacks the post office of Grytviken suffered along the decades from 1904 (without a post office!) until 1932 (and the incredible "32" missing because there are only 31 days a month after all!!).

Thursday 22 December: Current fiscal stamps in Cameroun.
In November Camerunese medias were chatting over all the rises and newly taxes the government was preparing for 2017 to finance all the country needs to be competitive in the context of a new free trade agreement with the European Union.
The current communal and bilingual 200 CFA franc stamp (via Cameroon-Info.net).
Among the solutions an increase of the fiscal stamp needed for a A4 size document from 200 francs CFA to 600 francs, and larger sizes from 400 to 1000.

The most affected by this decision would be high school and university students who need it to fill the exam forms, and after that the public service competitive exam... in which a birth certificate has to be added with one more communal stamp...

Let's hope that foreign businessmen and tourists will give enough taxes per hotel nights.

Friday 23 December: Tea to perfume mint infusion and Gibraltar stamps to spice Moroccan postal history.
How the British entrepreneurship affected Morocco is the object of geographer Christian Grataloup in French bimestrial Carto magazine: how did it come that Moroccan began to drink mint tea in the 1850s while they had been drinking mint infusion.

Where did that tea came from?

Yes, the English are at fault again: how to get rid of the mass of tea leaves that could not be sold to the Russians anymore? A side effect of the Crimean War. Thank God for the conquest and keeping of the Rock of Gibraltar!
Veüe du d'Estroit de Gibraltar, et des Environs, avec les tranchées du Siège mis en 1704 (Bibliothèque nationale de France, availbale and zoom-in-able on Gallica).
In parallel Richard Garcia continued his articles on Gibraltar classical philately in November Gibbons Stamp Monthly with how postmistress Margaret Creswell and her successors managed the British post agencies in Morocco from the tiny colony.

Saturday 24 December: Postal Lego.
Florence Fraboulet, Director of the French Association for the Development of Philately (ADPhile), explained her actions towards children and schools with a strong sentence: "Make stamp alive in a world that doesn't see it anymore".
The first Lego post office in 1982 (Model 6362 instructions via Brickipedia).
Can the evolution of some major toy brands show and correct this trend? Are Lego fan kids, for example, still educated in postal services today?

With the help of the Brickipedia in English and Wiki Lego in French, my Christmas article show that the golden age of postal services in Lego City was the 1980s, with two little postal vehicle updates in 1998 and 2008.

But, express parcel services (planes, trucks, trains, container ships) were already winning in 2008. Sould we be hopeful for 2018???
A postman among the ninjas (minifigure from Model 70751 via Wiki Lego).

Perhaps, look at the Ninjago brand: fantasy ninja sets of Lego, completed on TV by an animated series. One of the second role is a mailman.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week #2016.50 on SébPhilatélie

Monday 12 December: demonetisation and new notes in high inflation Venezuela.
In his Sunday 11th show, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the demonetisation of the 100 bolivar notes by the next Thursday. In the current inflation inhabitants need "bricks" of these notes to buy the low number of things available, mostly imported.

The 100 bolivar note picturing Simon Bolivar in its 2007 version when three zeroes were cut off (Bank Note Museum).
Maduro and his predecessor Chavez are well known for creating shows... This rushed demonetisation is one of them: while he accused foreign mafias in Colombia to possess lots of these notes, the Central Bank of Venezuela had already announced early this month the printing of new notes from 500 to 20'000 bolivars. Two new coins to be introduced for the former note values.

But, on Thursday the people discovered the new notes weren't there... After two days of demonstrations, looting and illegal border crossing to Colombia to buy goods and food, Maduro reported the demonetisation until January 2nd, blaiming the sabotage of the operation by foreign powers.

If you still believe him, 80% of all 100 bolivar notes have been retrieved by banks... If the new notes aren't there, how is the Venezuelian daily economy working today?

Tuesday 13 December: Demonetisation in India: as many printed as police seized?
Believing The Times of India police and fiscal departments are catching a lot of dishonest people who can't prove how they earned kilograms of precious metal, lakhs and crores of olf and new notes.

And here is the problem for the Supreme Court of India and some politicians: how can thiefs get as many brand new banknotes while the Reserve Bank's printers can't allow one billion common people get their hands on them???

Not a problem for the current government that believed in digitisation of payments from now on.

Saturday 17 December: Can Mayotte become a French département?
A documentary broadcast Sunday 11 on France Ô asked the question: can Mayotte, the little Comorian archipelago who wished to continue to be French, manage to apply all French laws like any other département?
Kalathoumi Bacar, a postwoman, has driven the roads of Chiconi and delivering mail for the past 35 years despite uncertain identities of the destinees and no street names (Zed Production for France Ô).
As an introduction to civil registry and cadastre problems, Séline Soula and Romain Fleury for Zed Production followed Kalathoumi Bacar, a postwomen with 35 year of service. A La Poste's yellow veil under her quad helmet, she drives and walks all king of roads and streets in Chiconi.

Every day she tries to find to whom deliver mail when people have two identities, a traditional built name and a French built administrative one since 2000-2010. No speaking about the slow movement of creating streets names and enforcing their use on mail.

Sunday 18 December: three philatelic reports on Saint-Pierre and Miquelon tv and radio this Autumn.
The local public station Saint-Pierre et Miquelon 1ère continued to follow every step of the philatelic activities in the French overseas collectivity.

This finishing Autumn: the SPM stamps at Paris stamp show early November, philatelist Jean-Jacques Tillard back from Taipei with a new Large Gold medal with a new collection, and a seasonal report at the Saint-Pierre post office where Christmas parcels are back in tons.