Thursday, May 19, 2016

French stamps, stars of June 2016 Stamp Magazine

French stamps are at the center of the June 2016 issue of Stamp Magazine of Britain, from a series of little classics to an over-technological new issue.
The June 2016 cover.
First feature article and main cover title, Adrian Keppel, specialist of all definitives of the world and webmaster of a database-blog of stamp engravers, proposes a six page introduction to the Blanc series of France. It was the low values of the country for the first third of the twentieth century.

A lot of ideas of collection are presented: a portrait of Paul-Joseph Blanc, the different types, uses, many of the numerous overprints (charitable, precancels, the government in exile of Montenegro) and projects of unissued overprints (for the prematured liberation of Alsace-Lorraine in 1915)

To end, two sentences on all the uses outside France, first overprinted, then a a keyplate design.

Two pages before, John Grace is this month's Devil's Advocate in which he proposes Royal Mail to issue a stamp that would create such an excitement in the general population to go buy stamps and booklets...

Let's accuse Phil@poste, the French philatelic service, that issued the scratch-and-sniff herb stamp for the European Football Championship...
The 1 euro version of the stamp ; a more expensive one with still another layer of special ink is currently sold at Paris Philex stamp show... Who say GREEDY?
For Grace, the scratch part would surely be a success in a nation of bookmakers, punters and lottery scratchers. Advantage for everybody, including the philatelic world: if there is a win, customer'll be happy ; if lost, let's send a letter!

In the next months Reader's Letters, all the lottery stamp experiments, including by scratching, will be reminded... Don't know if the French pre-personalised ones was so successfull last year.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Second Postcrossing stamp for Russia

For a cross-country topic, go read the article on Mikhail Bulgakov on SebPhilatélie.

Let's find something gentle to say about Russia, whose pol... athl... gas prod... tigers?... landscapes... Artists!1

Yes! Russia, whose landscapes on postcards and artists are wonderful... especially with magic screensPostcrossing it is then!
The stamp, the second on this topic for Pochta Rossii (
The stamp with a surprising transport and housing design, plus an envelope "I love Postcrossing" (why not a postcard?), by I. Sidenko is the second for Russia on the blind exchanged postcard exchange website, launched 14 July 2005. A site where Russian postcrossers are the second most sending with soon 4 million card, while the leading German group is advancing towards 5 million.

Overall, since 2011, it is the 23rd of the topic.

The SebPhilately's Postcrossing Catalogue has been updated accordingly.

1: This little prank will give the same list for France: a government destroying the Labour Law, costly team sport players, too important nuclear energy... But the landscapes and the artists... Let's add the cheeses :)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Eurovision Day: Oh Happy Day!

Translated during the ESC from the article in French written at noon.

The most motivating day of the year: the Saturday of the Eurovision Song Contest final!

A competition superbly ignored by most of the French, idolized almost everywhere else in Europe, down (or up if you're from there) to Australia, and, now, by a paid tv channel in the United States.

A week of rehearsals, semi-finals and the big party... before politicking came back tomorrow.
Motto, key-picture and logotype of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 (via the Wikipédia in English).
So important, that postal operators issued stamps at the effigy of their former Eurovision winners: four stamps for Norway in 2010 for example.
Alexander Rybak, Norwegian ESC 2009 winner, on a stamp from the 18 May 2010 series, on a postcard received via Postcrossing (thank you Jörg, cancelled 3 June 2010).
Last year winner, the Swede Måns Zelmerlöw was awarded a 20 personalised stamp sheet by Austria Post (with a premium of almost 6 euros... by an operator that sell luxuous vacuum cleaner too)... For the first 2016 semi-final he sung the new scenic version of Heroes interpreted now with actual children. Even if the animated ones were artistic too.
The special sheet by Austria Post - a collector would be the name in France (to the product).
No stamp this year from the Swedish part of PostNord ; after all, Austria Post was an official partner of the 2015 contest. Moreover, the Swedish philatelic program seems light and balanced: watch the  2015 and 2016 issues still available.

A default though: most stamps need to be bought by booklet or strip of ten... even at the WOPA agency.

Obviously, the stamp promoting equal rights for lesbian, bisexual, homosexual and transgender people may have attract many of the Eurovision public to the post offices of Stockholm, being issued May 4th, a week before the semi-finals.
Issued the week before the contest and opening the Pride season in the Free World (
However, a musical series was issued 15 January 2015 to acknowledge the celebrity and success of six Swedish pop artists: soprano turned popstar Robyn, disc jockey AviciiSeinabo Sey for soul pop, singer and producer Max Martin and folk duo First Aid Kit.
Two of the 2015 stamps celebrating Swedish pop (philatelic bulletin of PostNord).
The series is pleasant to watch as it is drawn with a pen by Jenny Mörtsell, a common tool of illustration.

Now, what song has touched my ears or my reflexion during the promotions and the semi-finals? Every ones that are pop or rock... obviously or I won't be watching the show right now!

Austria again with Zoë who sings her fearytale à la Disney Classics and in French... Yes, something is not quite Eurovisionesque there ;) Pupil at the French high school of Vienna, the whole of her first album is in French. And Austrians like it since she's the winner of the national public competition. Et ça plaît en Autriche puisqu'elle est issue du télé-crochet national.

In the topic: let's party but lest not forget... The Ukrainian singer Jamala commemorates the Crimean Tatars deported in 1944 by the Soviet government... Born in Kyrgyzstan from a Crimean Tatar father and an Armenian mother, her family came back to Ukraine only after the dislocation of the Soviet Union in 1991. Like France last year with the centenary of the Great War, the goal is not to win but to send a message... Will he hear it ?

And finally, surprise: has France Télévision put some cash aside or win the lottery to host the 2017 edition, right between to two rounds of the French presidential (and tumultuous) election on Sundays 23 April and 7 May?

Imagine: a bilingual song any European can understand, lively, and the final broadcast on the main public channel... Something's fishy here.

Let's hope because he will alone on the scene. Even with the magic screens, it can lack of show. But, since 2010, the entertaining Jessy Matador and his dansers, French know that some Central and Eastern European jurys and televoters have some difficulties with the multicultural live in Western Europe.


We are the heroes of our time...

But we dance with the demons in our mind...

We are the heroes...

Friday, May 13, 2016

Scott Pilgrim vs parcels and Canadian coins

This article full of spoilers is translated from an article of SébPhilatélie, published 1st August 2015.

Scott Pilgrim is a graphic novel in six volumes, published between 2004 and 2010. Written and drawn by Canadian Brian Lee O'Malley, this author studied the black and white manga style just to do it (a color edition is available since 2012). In 2010, it was the object of a well done movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, starring the eternal adulescent Michael Cera.
Cover of the first tome (
The intrigue and the decorum aimed readers whose youth happened in the 1990s. In the suburbs of Toronto, Scott, 23, is unable to live by the imperative of society: no really working, not a student, invasive unpaying roommate, boyfriending a high school student by chance, while playing in an amateur rock band whose members work, pay their rent, hope music can be a livelihood one day.

All this routine is disrupted when Scott glimpse colored hair Ramona Flowers, who rollerskates to deliver parcels for Amazon. To find her again, the hero must discover internet and e-commerce, just two years after the opening of

The internet episode at Scott's rommmate is as funny as it's absurd, but reminds readers of how we domesticate internet in the 2000s: what's the address for Why are you waiting the delivery, you just order something on a Friday evening!

Read the comics to discover what happened to the parcel as soon as Ramona delivers it: a sort of critic of our consumer society from a hero who doesn't seem to understand it... or even to have noticed it exists. For example, when he enters in a franchised café who works his sister... to find that, despite the identical look, this is not THE café she works in.
Screen capture of the video game inspired by both the books and the movie (walkthrough by DPADAttacks!-SpongeFreakDX, posted on youTube 4 March 2011). 
Despite this unsensitivity of the world around him, Scott knows how to defend himself from enemies and take all the coins he can get from their pockets, just like on this screen capture of the beat'em all video game. Yes because having a girlfriend, a potential love story on the side, no car and a patient roommate who wish to have some privacy mean you need at least enough to dine out and take a bus home.

Problem is Ramona has seven evil exes united to destroy any hope in the 8th potential boyfriend... who must behave as a video game hero facing seven bosses to free the princess. Yes, that's it: Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda are sitting right there.
The Legend of Zelda's hero Link and his horse Epona on one of France's Hreroes of the video game issued 2005 when youth was a philatelic target (
Collecting coins (or ruppees or rings for those who prefered Sega's hedgehog Sonic) like a video game hero, Scott is in fact behaving like a video game hero piloted by a video game player: that's a level of meaning that make me read and reread the graphic novel. And notice when secondary character are astonished that Scott battles with the exes without knowing what they want or tells what seems the most appropriate answer to get things into motion...

Like a player who pounds on the main button of the gamepad in order to get rid of the lenghy dialogues and finally get to the beat' em up travelling. But to reach and win against the seven ex, Scott will need to become less predictable.

Introductive headbanner to the Canadian Mint's page about the circulating coins (Canadian Mint website).
A fantasy fiction even if only Scott, Ramona and the seven evil exes diverged from reality: demon invocation, vegan telekinesy (??!), draconic music, and of course: magic sword.

The specificity of the video game, issued alongside the movie, is that the player needs to see the value of the coins he gets from defeating enemies. Despite designed for high definition game consoles - PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Ubiosft Montreal studio created a 16 bit graphism, imitating the 1990s consoles such as the Super NES and the Sega's Megadrive.

But, all coins are immediately identifiable as Canadian coins. Let's have a look again:
A second screen capture (same walkthrough by DPADAttacks!-SpongeFreakDX). 
The exaggerated tail of the beaver for the 5 cent coin (nickel) ; the triangles for the sails of the Bluenose on the little ten cents (dime), a ship well known to philatelists ; the caribou of the quarter of dollar.

Then the studio designer skipped the half dollar bearing the arms of Canada, just like they didn't depict the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II: no politics in a video game.

Directly up to the yellow dollar coin with a childish bird: the loonie who gave the nickname of the coin. Finally, found only after defeating bosses: the bicolor two dollar coin with a large animal. A bison? No, a polar bear, toonie, with strangely exaggerated ears.

What's left to say: since 2012, the one and two dollar coins have been modified to fight falsification while the one cent have been progressively taken out of circulation.

No maple leaf in the game.

Note : the video game presented here was sold on the on-line stores of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 until December 2014.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Week #2016.18 on SébPhilatélie and France Inter

This past week, almost all articles have their version in French and English, but two:

Thursday 5 May: ships on Chine stamps, a way to show power.
Stamped corner of a postcard from the People's Republic of China.
After Gauthier Toulemonde's new special issue on geopolicy, an article about the expanding sea power of the People's Republic of China. The French journalist discovered that former French colony and current French military base, Djibouti, was to host a Chinese facility in the international operation against piracy from Somalian pirates.

I found back in my archives French news article on how the small Pacific islands states and Sri Lanka were courted by Beijing, in competition to other regional, and even, world power.

These stamps I received on a Postcrossing exchange show an Arctic research vessel of Chinare, the Chinese Administration on Arctic and Antarctic (issued 2014) and an oil refinery ship from a 2013 three stamp series on off shore oil production.

Sunday 8 May at 9am: Cinderella for a counterfactual history book.
Cover of the 2011 edition of Niall Ferguson's book (
As a lover of uchrony/alternate history, I am interested in the historians who have tried counterfactual history: to study the documents and facts of past events and tried, by imagining that History could have gone elsewhere, to understand how it would have been possible or impossible, forced by certain choices. The objective being to weight the actors, their choice, etc.

To promote the reedition of 1997 counterfactual history book Virtual History by British historian Niall Ferguson, Penguin ordered a recreation of British 1929 Universal Postal Congress stamp into a Nazi 1949 Universal Postal Congress with the effigy of Aldolf Hitler... Sure to catch the eye of a philatelist.

And as I was browsing for philatelic intelligence:

Sunday 8 May at 6am: Gauthier Toulemonde launch new media offensive.
Cover of the second special Le Dessous des timbres [Underneath the stamps]issue on "The unbelievable French presence in the world" (Timbropresse webstore).
On the model of the first special issue last Autumn-early Winter, editor-in-chief Gauthier Toulemonde made his first appearance on a French national media to promote philately and the second special issue on the French presence in the world through - and I only quote a few examples - stamps of the French post offices in Greece or Ethopia, history on how the French interferd in local affairs of many continents and some anecdotes on French dreamers trying to seize empty territories for themselves.

This morning he was interviewed by Dorothée Barba in the early morning broadcast of national public radio France Inter between 6:17 to almost 7am: anecdotes on stamps and geopolicy mainly, and why do the adventurer want to live and telework from desert island (an experiment he will do again next October).

Because of the heated French debate on the Labour Law reforms, he was asked about remuneration inequalities, the indeterminate work contract (CDI) he prefers as a small firm boss, and what his view on working conditions are.

And at 11.30am in France, let's remember Victory against totalitarism in 1945 and tomorrow reflect on why we need stronger European Union and United Nations.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Fantastic introduction to stationeries of Saxony

Yesterday, Thursday 5 May 2016 at 41 Devonshire Place, Arnim Knapp from Germany presented a conference on stationery envelopes of the Kingdom of Saxony from 1859 to 1965.

And in a half hour he suceeded a high level philatelic presentation (gold medal at Belgica 2001 by the International Federation's archive) while convincing the sitting public and the youTube viewers to get interested in postal stationeries.

Even the non members of the Royal Philatelic Society London can enjoy Arnom Knapp's talent through his pdf booklet on the Society's website and imagine the judicious selection of documents he did for the conference: stationeries of course, preparatory printings and archives,...

... and simple and efficient schematics to explain how these envelopes were printed with embossing, gummed (to close them) and full of safety features to fight fraudulent products.

With the questions of the British presents, versed in Mulready, the reflexion went to the patents that covered the British machines mentioned in the presentation.

I feared the stationery + non-Commonwealth combo: I had a wonderful hour on the genesis of an issue, on a postal history and history of technologies.

Next rendez-vous on Thurday 19 May: Frank Walton will prepare an introduction video to his exhibited collection of Sierra Leone to 1961.

For those interested in French classical and modern stationeries or French contemporary "prêt-à-poster" (the commercial name invented by La Poste), click here and discover a website André Hurtré webmastered from January 2001 to January 2012.

Monday, May 02, 2016

One hundred gold medals for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon specialist

Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon 1ère, the public television and radio channels of the French oversea collectivity, loves philately: early April, both spoke with philatelist Jean-Jacques Tillard who celebrated his one hundredth gold medal at the 53th exhibition of  Lakeshore Stamp Club, on Saturday April 2nd 2016, ten years to the day after he won the first one in this Dorval club, in the island of Montréal, Québec.
Jean-Jacques Tillard at home in front of the albums containing the two collections he was to present at Lakeshore (Marie-Paule Vidal, Flavie Bry and Séverine Luberry for SPM 1ère).
To watch the television report on Monday April 4th, look over here. And for the radio show Brumes de Capelans of Wednesday April 13th: voilà!

Compared to lJean-Jacques Tillard previous interview last October, these two moments show a more personal approach of the philatelic competitor and the man, who accumulated one hundred gold and large gold medals in ten years.

How has he done it? An impressive collection of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon dating back to his youth. Thousands hours of work... and he put his professional career on hold, open a philatelic expertise compagny in order to get a revenue while learning, preparing and exhibiting.

It gave the collectivity a volunteer to promote Saint-Pierre and Miquelon all over the philatelic world, not only in Metropolitan France.

Consequently, it's a Quebecan club who celebrated the recordman. And the local philatelic club of the archipelago has become a full member of the Interamerican Federation of Philately and, thus, five of its member will compete at New York Stamp Show late May: five for a population of six thousands...
Bottom line, full center, a stamp of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon on a stamp of Ecuador for the continental exhibition in Quito, in September 2015 (website of the Interamerican Federation of Philately).
He spoke about it while making fun of the Cassandres of the 2000s who promised him difficulties and failures because Saint-Pierre and Miquelon philately wasn't enough to succeed in competitive exhibition... Exactly the opposite point of view of the President of the Lakeshore Stamp Club after he discovered Tillard's collection in 2005.

What are the main dates, ask the radio presenter?
2 April 2006 : first gold medal at Lakeshore.
June 2007 : first world gold medal in Saint Petersbourg, Russia.
2010 : victory at the Canada Championship.
2012 : first participation to an exhibition in the United States.
2013 : first world large gold in Rio de Janeiro.
The large gold collection became a postage stamp and this book (Jean-Jacques Tillard's website).
2015 : second world large gold in Singapore.
2016 : to the FIP Championship Class?

In the end, what after New York? New projects, he said but keeping some mysteries on their nature.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Week #2016.17¾ on SébPhilatélie

From history as a support for topical philately...

Wednesday 27 April: to the West!
Two finds of philatelic finds that makes me look Westward.

First, the Club philatélique franco-britannique conferenced Briton collectors - of French Britanny - in Rennes last January, reports association Philapostel Bretagne. Among the collections presented, the best aerophilately one at London Europhilex 2015: Jean-Claude Vasseur's Airmail of Newfoundland, now available in print.

Secondly, the Royal Philatelic Society London's Crawford Medal of the year was awarded to Steven Walske and Richard Frajola for the book Mail of the Westward Expansion 1803 to 1861. A wonderful book, especially when I discover the authors made it graciously available in pdf format on the Western Cover Society!

Thursday 28 April: Balkans in French and British magazines of May 2016
Coincidence of periodical publishing again, now with the Balkans, the South Eastern region of Europe, during the period when nationalities fought for their independence against the Ottoman Empire and, then, among themselves for national borders.
Cover of Stamp Magazine, May 2016.
In British Stamp Magazine, John Winchester told the history of Serbia, her first stamp series to 1914 through the hate of the two local royal families... Bloody.

In French Timbres magazine, Laurent Veglio told how speedy the mail between Vienna and Istanbul went when a British company built late 1850 a railway between the Danube and Kustendje (now Constanza in Rumania) on the Black Sea. 1866 it was beaten by a new railway upstream the Danube and connecting to Varna, Bulgaria...

In all these articles, the fall of Ottoman power and the rise of territorial and economic rivalries between the newly independent states.

Saturday 30 April: Balkans, Bermuda and Finland, all for class 2C
Balkanic rivalries that can be illustrated through postal history for some years thank to the International Federation of Philately's class C: a lot of philatelic and postal history material but with a lot of history, sociology and economy meaning, including some documents about that.

How to find examples?

Let's take the most exhaustive study of covers from, to or that went through Bermuda ; a study and collection presented at the Royal Philatelic Society London last Thursday. After his wonderful presentation, David Pitts (who works with Arthur Groten) implied in the end how these letters and covers are testimonies of the commercial importance of the small British archipelago before steamboats, containerships and airplaces.

A hint to class 2C?

While I was googleing to find other reference to blockade mail of the United States after Steven Walske's and Pitts & Groten's recent papers, I stumble upon an April 2013 RPSL conference by Jussi Tuori on how Finland became an independent country at the end of World War One.

What's special about it? It's from an actual class 2C exhibit! Even with the debate on how the jury should evaluate the different natures of the documents presented...

... to Philatelic documents to support History research.

Postcard from Mons Calpe

Found at the last Montpellier stamp show in March, this nice looking holiday postcard posted in Gibraltar to Rezé, France.
Card #12 edited by Estoril Ltd., 9 Main Street, Gibraltar ; still existing believing the local yellow pages.
The Rock with South District on the foreground. The rest of the city and the port on the right ; Spain in the background.

At one euro it's a bargain to keep day-dreaming on an Andalou-British trip in 2017.
Cancel on August 9th 1990 with a illustrated manage for the Rotary International campaign of vaccination against polio.
It was posted a French woman (and possibly her husband with a more English first name) to a relative or a friend in Rezé, suburbs of Nantes, in Loire-Atlantique, on August 9th 1990.

She wrote that she was beginning the fifth month of a pregnancy. She would be soon in Madeira and that, from there, she would come back to Nantes for the 30th, if she found a charter plane ("low cost" was not the expression back then). Holidays by Mediterranean steps? A cruise?

The stamp represents the crest of the H.M.S. Calpe, issued the previous tenth of July.

The Wikipedia in English informs us there were three British naval use of the Latin name of Gibraltar, all linked to the colony.

The first ship of that name was a 1796 Spanish ship, captured 1800 by the British and she served at the battle of Algeciras in 1801, in front of Gibraltar. She was sold in Lisbon 1802.

 The stamp of 22 pence evoked the second one, a Hunt class destroyer, launched 1941 to protect convoys during World War 2. In 1942, as the invasion of French North Africa was in preparation, she was sent to protect Gibraltar. After the war it was lent then sold to the Danish navy and served until 1966. A painting of the ship served on a 5pence stamp issued 1995.

Finally, since 1965, Calpe is the name of the Royal Navy reserve base in Gibraltar.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Week #2016.16 and 17½ on SébPhilatélie

Wednesday 20 April: enveloppes from the French Southern and Antarctic Lands on sale in London.
In the May 2016 issue of Stamp Magazine and Gibbons Stamp Magazine, The Stamp Centre is proposing pack of covers cancelled in the districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF), a uninhabited - but for scientific bases or gendarme forces - overseas collectivity of France.

The Stamp Centre is located on the Strand, near Trafalgar Square, London.

Thursday 21 April: Long live the Queen!
In which country would a specially taken picture would constitute a perfect stamp issue?  No, don't try with Mr Sarkozy or Mr Hollande family lifes, please. (The Queen and her husband at the Windsor mail delivery office, picture published by South African newspaper The Citizen).
My commentary of the first day of celebration and the stamps on the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, by a French Republican desperate by how the Fifth Republic has been sunk by the current generations of French politicians and their leaders: the former and the current French Presidents and how they hate their own Prime Ministers.

And I finally get a King George VI British stamp!!!

Friday 22 April: French philatelic experts' offensives continue
The two main poles of the French philatelic expertise are continuing their offensive against falsification and the gullibility of stamp collectors.

Calves and Jacquart of Paris allied with collectible auction website Catawiki to organise an auction sale late May 29th, one week after Paris Philex stamp show. All lots will have a certificate of expertise.

Master Jean-François Brun, a modern media pioneer, and its allied philatelists continues to post index card explaining what to be aware of and study cases of some stamps and specialities. This April he proposed to study carefully postcards and stamps to avoid fraudulent cancellations on maximum cards.

Tuesday 26 April: How does a stamp show cost?
From the list of new issues and special minisheets by the French philatelic service, the imaginary thoughts of a fictional Director of Finances of Phil@poste: how can he make a profitable stamp show its service financed while it now lasts only 4 days instead of 10 and with suspicious clients...

At least, European Union mail of any weight should be franked with illustrated stamps for some months.