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
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.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Week #2016.49 on SébPhilatélie

As Sébastien is quite hibernating because he cannot be outside in the Mediterranean sunshine during the working days, he's sleepy, playing video games, reading fantasy and sci-fi comics, when he should be writing on the blog.
German personalised minisheet of Super Mario Christmas stamps (
Hopefully Deutsche Post succeeded to catch his attention yesterday evening.

Monday 5 December: 5th Indian demonetisation follow up article.
Started on Monday and to be closed tonight an article on the fifth week after the Indian Prime Minister abruptly demonetised the two bigger banknotes of the country.

As a summary: it looks now like a race between the patience of Indians to get enough notes for their daily expenses and the Reserve Bank of India's printing plants and the Government's initiatives to encourage one billion consumers used digital means of payment.

A new test is currently on with a three day week end: no bank counters opened from last Friday evening until next Tuesday morning because of a muslim festival. Let's check the mood in the lines waiting in front of banks and ATMs in two days.

Friday 9 December: An introduction on the 1920 Allegory issue of Czechoslovakia.
During a 5pm conference on Thurday 8 at the Royal Philatelic Society London, Yvonne Wheatley presented a study of the four design Allegory series of Czechoslovakia, the second in this country's history after the declaration of independence in October 1918.
Cover of the souvenir-booklet, available as a pdf file at the RPSL website.
She explained how difficult was the initial choice: two competitions were necessary. The first provided designs that could not be stamp downsized... The second awarded Brunner's Chain Breaker dismissed for too much modernity...

Finally necessity prevailed and early 1920 the minister of Post looked back on Brunner's project and ordered two others to Benda (The Dove) and Obrovský (Agriculture and Science). Alfons Mucha's Hussite Priest was added to complete the set.

The rest of the conference is a traditional philatelic study, quite interesting for amateurs of types, oddities and varieties as the printer was a private one, absolutely not specialised in stamps at first, and of some use on covers.

Saturday 10 December: Super Mario on personalised print it yourself German minisheet.
For Christmas 2016 the German postal operator and the Japanese video game company Nintendo joined force to catch the general public and children's attention.
Click, slide, create your own minisheet (Post Individuell, Deutsche Post).
Post Individuell, Deutsche Post's personalised stamp service, is proposing for a month a personalised stamps picturing the four heroes of the Super Mario franchise video games. You can modify everything: the postage rate need (from nationwide postcard to international 1 Kg non standard letter, the background color of the sheet (red, green), the four stamp background (red, green, white) and which character you wish on every stamp.

Service is quite expensive for postcard and standard letter rates: 3.49 euro the personalisation to add to the chosen rates.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Week #2016.48 on SébPhilatélie and elsewhere

Monday 28 November: 4th week after the surprised demonetisation in India.
Slowly (surely too slowly for the city workers and employees, and the farmers), things are advancing in India concerning the deliveries of new 500 rupee notes and the use of dematerialised means of payment.

While the leaders of the opposition are trying to fight back, Prime Minister Modi's government aligns the army's, police's and revenue administration's successes against terrorist groups, criminals and frauders who failed to get rid of their old banknotes.

Wednesday 30 November: from scoutism to the Atlantic Ocean scattered islands.
An article to summarise what I get from two Thursday exhibitions at the Royal Philatelic Society London headquarters.

On 27 October Hallvard Slettebø proposed the history and events of the first fifty years of scoutism, from the Mafeking Siege to 1957 Jamboree, including some tragic events during which the scouts played an important postal role.

On 10 November members of the West Africa Study Circle proposed a philatelic and postal history tour of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan Da Cunha, the British Southern Atlantic scattered islands.

Saturday 3 December: The French Academy of Philately in London.
Last Thursday exhibition at the RPSL, on 24 November, the members of the Académie de philatélie proposed many speciality of the French, Maritime and Colonies philately and postal history, with some adventures into other French speaking countries. Greece would seem odd but the engraver of the stamps, the first printer and the philatelist involved are all French (a Collectors Club video to remind the English listening readers).

My native town of Montpellier made an appearance thank to Scottish university professor Iain Stevenson whose links to the city may be connected to a study on the Collège des Écossais, a students' house built on the northern hills (now quite urbanised) by Patrick Geddes in 1924.

Sunday 4 December: too cold to think, let's hibernate.
An article which some newsbits of the week: old pictures of the French stamp printing plant in 1913 on a Sower specialised blog ; letters to Santa in Noumea, New Caledonia ; maybe the end of a piracy affair near Montpellier: the merchant ship Jeanne-Elisabeth trapped under a sand banks with a mass o silver coin for the Kingdom of France just before the Seven Year's War.

A note on how the beautiful Mauritius Post Office printing plate and Bombay cover auctions did: millions, but not as many as hoped... But in France the saga of the special sustainable paper of the 200 years of the Caisse des Dépôts (a French institution who managed some of the State's funding, including loans to build social housing) continued. It seems some merchants are re-inflating a speculative bubble with the variation of phosphorescence between the April first day 3000 minisheets and the November general issued ones...

Finally among the many interesting StampBoards threads opened, answered, continued every day, one reminds that some Arabic wallpapers of the 1960s-1970s can be interesting when used on mail. Especially those Cinderella stamps of insurecting Dhofar that rebelled against the oppressive Sultan of Oman between 1965 and 1975, in the context of the Cold War. The example presented on StampBoards is sent to a stamp dealer in London ; the labels are used alone, but for a standalone Syrian datestamp... one of the regional ally of the rebellion against a government supported by other Arabic countries and the British.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Week #2016.47 on SébPhilatélie and other blogs

Monday 21 November: 3rd week of demonetisation in India.
I have continued to follow the implementation and consequences of the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupee banknotes in India, announced Tuesday 8 November by Prime Minister Modi.

The main conclusions I end up by reading The Times of India are that daily waged workers in cities and farmers in rural areas continue to struggle because of the lack of liquidity, in the former's bosses' pockets or because their savings-at-home notes are now worthless.

Improvising a lot, Mr Modi's Government seems to play by the ear: encouraging the dematerialisation of monetary payments, enjoying retailers' initiative to dispense new notes from their credit card terminals in their shops, and promising now to put as much notes as possible in the country. Last move was to stop exchanging old 1000 rupee notes over bank counter, to encourage the use of bank accounts and credit cards.

On the winning side police and army confirmed that criminal and paramilitary groups are strangely quiet since November 8th... Too occupied to smuggle their old notes stock to bank counters discreetly... Not enough it seems. The Indian revenue services seems busy checking people and firms putting too much money on their bank account.
Comparison between a normal version (upper one) and the erroneous one (bottom) (Times Now).
On the collectors' side, a second lawful type for the new 2000 note was acknowledged by the Reserve Bank of India: the rush at all printing plants crreated this error that may trouble citizens in the future.

Wednesday 23 November: French philatelic service hired communication agency.
French communication news website CB News announced Insign, "alternative communication solutions agency", just gets two new clients: a chesse protected indication and the French philatelic service, Phil@poste.

The former wishes to be known and have new way of communicating and selling in France and worldwide. Check your magazines and stamp exhibitions next year for the results.

Friday 25 November: Millions to be exchanged next week at David Feldman Autumn Sales.
Philatelic auction house David Feldman will propose a full week of sales starting Monday 28.
The printing plate of the 1847 Post Office of Mauritius (David Feldman).
The gems of the week will be proposed on Thursday 1 December 6pm: the printing plate of Mauritius "Post Office" 1847 stamps and the "Bombay cover" of 1850. Both estimated millions of euros.

The plate was considered lost for three quarter century, hidden in French philatelist and politician Maurice Burrus' estate owned by his niece. Rediscover by her heirs, David Feldman organised a world stampshow tour to present it in London, Singapore and Monaco in 2015, and New York last May.
Blue Mauritius (
Both items are the objects of two brochures written by experts of the Mauritius Post Office, available in pdf format (the plate, the cover). Among the author, Helen Morgan who wrote a book on these stamps.

Saturday 26 November: find Summer again by any means necessary.
After one week of British-Mediterrean weather (always rainy/too hot temperature), the return of sunshine on Saturday made me find many signs that Summer is coming back... Don't believe George R.R. Martin.

Among the signs the colors of the December issue of Timbres Magazine and of its third special geopolitic issue on borders, in newsstand December 13th.

Sunday 27 November at Timbres au type Semeuse: the French stamp printing plant in 1913.
The writer of this French Sower stamp blog found higher quality pictures of a known newspaper report of 1913 in the French National Library website. The journalist visited the French postal printing plant in Paris.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Already a second type for the new 2000 rupee note in India

Since Tuesday 8 November 8pm the people of India has been trying to work, consume and simply live with a lack of high value notes after Prime Minister Modi demonetised the 500 and 1000 rupee notes by surprise.
The new 500 rupee note (Reserve Bank of India via the Wikipedia in English).
On Thursday 10 two new banknotes (500 and 2000 rupees) were issued at crownded bank counters... A very theorical issue for the 500 rupees. Testimonies in the Indian media seems to imply the new higher note can be found, but that two and a half week later (today) the 500 rupees are in short number.
Comparison between a normal version (upper one) and the erroneous one (bottom) (Times Now).
Worse 24/7 new TV channel Times Now announced today that an erroneous printing version of this long awaited 500 ruppe note is circulating. The default is a shift to the left of part of the design and to the right of a visual security feature.

The Reserve Bank of India acknowledged the problem and explained it was caused by the rush to print enough notes in such short notice. It assured people that both version are legitimate as long as all security features can be found on the notes...

... But should people be confident in the notes? Would the first fraudulent designs be accepted because consumers would not be able to be sure if it could be the legal erroneous one? Or would people refuse all 2000 notes altogether to avoid such deception?

Sadly this problem is only a small one compared to the daily struggle of the daily paid workers (whose employers haven't enough cash to pay them daily) and of the farmers (whose savings for seeds and crop insurance are worthless and their banks cashless).

And it has only been eighteen days...

Daily summaries of the demonetisation consequences on the blog in French: 1, 2, 3,...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Londonian society looking for new iconic doorstep

Two weeks ago the council of the Royal Philatelic Society London voted on an important decision concerning its headquarters at 41 Devonshire Place, in the British capital.
Andrew Martin arriving at a certain doorstep to present the king and philatelist George V in  the recent philatelic Timeshift documentary (BBC Four, first broadcast Monday 14 November 2016).
President Frank Walton's message recalled the two decade long debate - speed up by the necessity these past six years - on how to fund the standards upgrading of the building open to members and visitors all year long: from all level accessibility to respect of the Heritage Listed obligation in the Marylebone area, including the modernisation of all networks (from the web to electricity).

A task that would have moved out everything for fifteen months. And in the end would have let the Society still with the problems of space for the library and the museum, and welcoming researchers and public.
One of the announcing poster for Stockholmia 2019, the 150 anniversary exhibition of the RPSL, with the famous door redesigned by Maria Gadh (exhibition website).
In the end the commercial value of the building is equal to the estimated cost of renovating it completely... The council decided to sell 41 Devonshire Place and find a new renovated and more spacious nest for all visitors, conferences, books, periodicals, archives, museum artefacts, personnel of the Society... if possible at the public transport crossroad in London.

41 Devonshire Place has been the Royal Philatelic Society London since 1925.