Monday, February 08, 2016

German underpaid postcard... or a New Year Bank Holiday too long?

Between January 18th and Saturday 23rd, I received this Postcrossing postcard from Germany with a mark indicating an insufficient postage.
Schloss Ludwiglust stamp at 80 eurocents double cancelled in Bremen.
Believing Postcrossing tools, the card was asked by Lara on Wedenesday December 23rd 2015. On a group of 69 cards I sent to German Postcrossers and 68 received since 2007, the trip from asking to registering is seven days.

One month's surprising.

Deutsche Post's postage calculator and its parent website provided the cause of the problem: since the beginning of the new year, the international rate rose from 80 cents to 90 cents. The stamp - a picture of Ludwigslust Castle in Mecklemburg - does not cover it completely, hence the taxation mark "T 10/90".

Now the cancellation from Briefzentrum 28 is the common pictorial cancel of Bremen mail center 28 and 29. On the left side of the mark is the map of both postal zones: 28 being the city of Bremen and 29 the neighbouring Landkreise of Lower Saxony. The main part of the illustration is the statue of the Town Musicians of Bremen, by the Grimm brothers' tales. proposed a clearer view here.

Clearer because mine is double cancelled but I think not on the same day. I can decipher the same "-1 16" that would mean the card arrived at the mail center in January, new rate then. But one of them was surely stricken on the 5th...

The double cancel and the fact that the French post didn't ask me anything would mean that perhaps the postal operators decided that the long New Year week end, from Thursday afternoon to Monday morning may have lost some consumers.

Thank you Lara for the very nice and thankful card, and a late mailboxing that ended with the postage due mark. Thank you to La Poste or Deutsche Post to avoid me paying it or to avoid defacing the card with any sticker or huge announcement mark you're using these days.

I just wish that La Poste will put back illustrated cancellation on French mail.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Week #2016.05 on SébPhilatélie

An eventful philatelic week on the French side of the blog.

Monday February 1st: alternate and counterfactual history on France Culture radio.
As a fan of alternate history fictions (uchronie in French), I suggest to listen to five shows (one on literature with a radio play, and four on history) broadcast by France Inter and France Culture, two public radio channels.

Tuesday February 2nd: stampede in Adelaide after the rise of the postal rates.
What should have been the novelty of Australia Post 2016 postal rates... (Australia Post). 
Easy to follow for English readers on StampBoards forums (here and there), I summarized the new postal rates of Australia Post and an unexpected consequence in Adelaide. And there was a lot to say: a rising from 70 cents to a dollar, and even 1.50 dollar with the new priority rate and label!

All this in a context of great unpopularity of the thank-to-his-post multimilionaire President of Australia Post and an established reputation of snail mail...
... what every philatelist is going to remember of it (scan by GlobalAdministrator posted on StampBoards).
On January 5th, the South Australian main post office decided an emergency issue to face a ragional shortage of 30 cent stamps: a stock of machine stamps - kept for philatelic occasions - was printed "30c Adelaide 2016"... You imagine that now some philatelists and dealers produced covers in the very first days of their discovery and are now looking for genuine letters in every corners of Adelaide.

This week a strip of unused six could reach a thousand Australian dollars, more for twelve with the two types of these labels (change in the position of the year), and up to 1'400 dollars for a 5-8 January cover.

Friday February 5th: Britain got his national Postal Museum back... in 2017.
In preparation for its grand reopening The Postal Museum brand is relaunched by the former British Postal Museum & Archive.
The new logotype of The Postal Museum.
Next year the museum will open near Mount Pleasant mail center, in London, with the underground mail train unveiled to visitors.

Saturday February 6th: the social postman, a new speciality of France.
Since the Direction of La Poste understood they had to find new activities to avoid firing postmen by the thousands, the walking-cycling-driving postmen received new charged tasks: check if the old lady's fine, take pictures for the insurance company,... A policy branded "Cohesio" as cohesion/solidarity.

Because French terrestrial television system (TNT) is going high-definition only next April, the national wave agency is advertising people to check the HD capacity of their TV sets. La Poste appears on the side because postmen are going to help the elderly and the disabled household install their new TNT-HD adaptator if they do not wish to renew their equipment.

Know that, a few months ago, the government was thinking upgrading postmen as driving licence inspectors to resolve the long waiting list of young would-be drivers...

Other update: Timbres Magazine's Gauthier Toulemonde again on national radio.
Finally, I updated an older article because the French philatelic monthly's editor-in-chief talked at lenghth of philately, geopolitics and make other guests speak of stamp souvenirs on Europe 1 last Monday. The previous appearances were listed here in my review in English of his special issue.

Here are the links: Europe 1 Social Club, and illustrated with stamps by Timbres Magazine's team: 12 et 3.

And finally a fine author starts a blog.
Starting September 2015 Laurent Veglio has been writing a series of interesting and well illustrated articles for Timbres Magazine on how French Napoléon III-stamped mail followed the British Imperial maritime roads between 1850 and 1870.

He's got a small amount of postal history articles in Italian hosted by Il Postalista portal, and is going to translate them in French on a new blog. One of them, Austrian aerophilatelicly inspired, was published in Timbres in the February issue.

Have a nice week reading all this and my sources.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Saint Pierre and Miquelon meets the Americas

To be able to speak about one's philatelic activities for twenty minutes (cut with some songs and commercials), without being asked about the most expensive stamp in the world. That's the pleasure you get when listening to Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon 1ère radio on October 7th 2015 morning.
Not numerous but very enthusiast! (from the Club's website)
Brume de Capelans, the local public radio's morning show, received Jean-Jacques Tillard, one member of the Club philatélique de Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, past president, webmaster of and a grand gold medallist in international exhibition for the local overprints late 19th century - that was worth a stamp issued in September 2014 when he and his club hosted an international event in Saint-Pierre!
The Grand Gold medal of Tillard was stamped in 2014 when the archipelago hosted its first international exhibition (Jean-Jacques Oliviéro's stamp reproduced by SPM 1ère).
In the interview, that you can watch on DailyMotion, Jean-Jacques Tillard explains the special status of the French oversea collectivity in the geopolitical and philatelic world. Member of the French Philatelic Associations Federation (FFAP), the Club decided the get along with their continental neighbours by becoming a member of the Interamerican Federation of Philately (FIAF) and participate a lot more to exhibitions outside the French sphere.
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon stamp on a stamp of Ecuador... strange (issued for Expo AFE 150 Años in Quito, September 2015, picture from FIAF website).
He told of the known difficulties to travel for Saint-Pierre to Canada and from there to France, and so the expedition it is to go to the Southern edge of Latin America. But it's the happiness of receiving the adventurous guest at Saint-Pierre in September 2014 too.

Tillard thanked the federation and the elected councils that provided the subsidies to help the members to exhibit and judge so far away. And it's worth it: the pride of showing the islands' flag and culture to the other philatelists of the continent.

Who in the Americas could have placed the French collectivity before its Club became a member of the American philatelic community? And who in France? ;)

Next May Tillard and his colleagues are going to put Saint-Pierre and Miquelon on the map at the New York World Stamp Show.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Cancel in French from Belarus

A little postcard corner from a Postcrossing member. Thank you Elena.
A cancel in latin alphabet and in French.
The stamp marks the sixtieth anniversary of Belarus entry in the Unesco ; Let's remind that in the Sovietic fiction, the Socialist Sovietic Republics of Belarus and Ukraine were independent states, founding members of the Organisation of the United Nations.

The cancel in French is known, see the French Blog timbré de ma philatélie on June 23rd 2014. It would be interesting to compare with a cancel on a Belarus sent to Belarus.

In a country whose population writes in cyrillic alphabet, this mark in latin alphabet with the French name of a "Departement de prestation de services" (missing an accent on the first é), is surely to respect the Universal Postal Union's directive on international mail.

But what is this administrative service? The one in charge of sending and receiving mail from foreign countries? Of the necessary accounting?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

French media frenziness over Timbres Magazine's special issue

French monthly Timbres magazine redaction succeeded to make French general media speak about stamps and philately this whole month of January. A good second strike after the French Philatelic Service Director, Joëlle Amalfitano, went to two radio shows in October 2015.
The special issue cover: promise of "Geopolitics and unusual stories", and a gift to order for all purchaser: a Christmas minisheet from the Palestinian Authority.
It has been a long time without special issue from the magazine whose ancestor Timbroloisirs entertained Stamp World Cups special edition in the late 1990s to the 2000s.

In an editorial, Gauthier Toulemonde thanked funding by ADPhile, an association for the development of philately whose members are the main federated actors of French philately: the Associations' Federation, the Dealers' Chamber, La Poste, the French Red Cross (beneficiary of the semi-postal stamps) and the Philatelic Press Circle. Thank to this help he was confident that enough printed items would be placed in newspaper kiosks and media attention would be catched.

And indeed, the issue was used by journalists and chroniclers in a handful of media: France Inter's press review on New Year's Day on Staline's gift to Roosevelt, France 2's Telematin cultural review with the Gronchi rosa, a full page of Le Parisien about French living leaders on stamps.

Furthermore, Gauthier Toulemonde was guest to two morning shows: on the Parisian regional station of France 3 and on Europe 1. Even if questions are repetitive ones: monetary value of stamps, the most expensive one, or Toulemonde's expeditions. At least, they speak about stamps, philately and postal history for once.

About the content: following a classical atlas order, the redactors found history facts, philatelic stories, miscellaneous and answers to reader's questions about France, Europe, the other continents, finishing with Antarctica. About France, the article told how Dictator-President/Emperor Napoléon III and Marshall Pétain, and supporters of some others, put their head on stamps... while the Résistance used the face of Free French leaders de Gaulle on fraudulent stamps.

The special issue is interesting by the diversity of subjects covered - or reminded: some could find that some stories are too often retold in the French philatelic press... But the use of the news permits a renewal in styles about classical and semi-modern philately, whereas some articles went into contemporary stamps, like two pages reproducing stamps issued by Oceanian countries warning about global climate change.

On the renewal, to propose a synthetic article on living French leaders (or wishing to become leaders) on stamps of France is quite innovative and follows a recent affair when a postwoman reported a letter bearing demonetized stamps of Pétain. Concerning the rest of the world, the efforts are memorable and inventive: parallelism between present and past (Greece under European control), causes of today's tragedies (French problems in Mandate Syria) or illustrations of current problems (South China Sea's islands dispute).

The success is so real that a second volume is scheduled to be available at Paris Philex in May 2016, focusing on the French colonies. The first can be ordered on Timbropresse's webshop.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Week #2016.04 on SébPhilatélie

Sunday January 21st: (almost) joint article on Liverpool stamps.
The French version of the article on stamps of Liverpool, England was enlarged with some British special stamps of the past (the 1969 Metropolitan Cathedral stamp, a beautiful church) and some more touristic streets to visit.

Monday January 25th: postal changes at Gibbons Stamp Monthly?
January 2016 issue of the British magazine arrived in my mailbox three weeks later than usual... with a redundant airmail/Royal Mail sticker on it.

Worse: the February issue has not arrived yet... So, who's saving money on foreign subscriptions? RM or SG?

Wednesday January 27th: same article on Princess Royal's visit to the Falkland and South Georgia Islands.

Thursday January 28th: a French minister resigned, a philatelic contreversy came back to mind.
With the departure of Mrs Taubira from the French government, I remind readers that, if one of the two alleged creators is to be believed, her hand was one inspiration of the current French definitive series.

Friday January 29th: Will the Chester Cathedral in Lego be ready before a French local post office?
A little off philately: the Cathedral of Chester, England is raising money for an educational fund by building the building with Lego bricks. In Montpellier, the inhabitants of Malbosc, a ten year old new area, are still waiting the opening of the post office that should have happened some time ago... but will wait.

Saturday January 30th: two magazines, one topic, a coincidence?
In February issues, Laurent Veglio in Timbres magazine and Edward Klempka in Gibbons Stamp Monthly complete their article like two pieces of a jigsaw.

The former told the story of "the first international regular air service" between Vienna, Austria and Kiev, Ukraine in 1918 during one hell of a period for both countries. The latter described at length the overprinted stamps of the two Ukrainian states that were independent beetween November 1918 and the 1921 peace of Riga.

With these articles, I thought that I read more articles on the Central and Eastern European philatelic and postal consequences of World War One, but not about the postal history of the war itself in the trenchees...

Thursday, January 28, 2016

When the hand of Marianne provoked the French conservatives

Yesterday, Wednesday January 27th 2016, Mrs. Christiane Taubira resigned her position of Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, one of the French Republic's most essential role in the tragic context we live in: a state of emergency that's continuing just like the vigilance plan against terrorism for the past twenty years, exhausting both the collective attention and both French civilian and military forces.
Left, Mrs. Taubira's right hand on a picture published by Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace ; right, Marianne de la jeunesse's hand signed by artists Olivier Ciappa et David Kawena.
A direct link between Christiane Taubira and philately was told by Olivier Ciappa when the Marianne de la jeunesse, the current definitive series of France, was unveiled on the 14th of July 2013 - note that the respective role in this design is disputed by David Kawena who refused the claimed inspirations told by Ciappa (watch the soap opera article on SébPhilatélie - lot of irony in these 2013-2014 texts).

The allegory received a lot of positive reviews by the high school classes chosen to select the three finalist projects proposed to the President of the French Republic. François Hollande chose their favourite project despite other stamp artists being more experience in philately.

At the unveiling ceremony in the Élysée Palace, Olivier Ciappa announced to journalists all the women that inspired him. At the beginning of the Summer - a long slow news period in France, journalists and very convervative people, angered by Mrs. Taubira's law project of extended marriage right to homosexuals, focused on the name of Inna Shevchenko, one of the Eastern European feminist movement FEMEN. The lady envoyed the news by a tweet: all haters and racists would have to lick her backside to send a letter...

Some journalists, like Ivan Valerio of Europe 1 Lab, quoted Ciappa more carefully: he told that he was trying to create a face using features of actress Marion Cotillard, former right wing Minister Roselyne Bachelot and then current left wing Minister Taubira. Three progressive women.

Failing in the task, "I remarked that [Bachelot and Taubira] both did a very gracious movement of the hand, when they spoke a long time, in monologue. I kept this gesture in my Marianne."

One day we'll have the version of David Kawena, known to be more inspired by Disney classical animated movies. Waiting that day, the current Marianne reminds discretly that politics can be done with pertinent and thoughtful speech longer than 140 characters, and that a politician can have strong opinions that he/she would be faithful to and won't contradict in a Mea Culpa editions booka four years later.*

* : note to non French readers, these past months, as the next Presidential election is mediatically approaching, the right wing candidates publish their program books. And because they were in power from 2002 to 2012, in the first chapters, they all apologize for the things they didn't enforce and are now proposing for the 2017-2022 presidency and legislature... At the same time they reproach Mrs. Taubira to stand by her positions, especially in the domains of Justice and equality of rights.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The red boxes, a mark of austral sovereignty

After a beautiful picture of Princess Royal on the British Royal Family Facebook page, a digging into postal activities in the Southern seas (the cold ones).

Note that the final part of the article was updated after publishing thank to information kindly provided by Stefan Heijtz.

While the new president of the Argentinian Nation, Mauricio Macri, visited the British Prime Minister last week, a member of the Windsor family finished her trip to the two oversea territories of the Falkland and the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.

Let's conclude both leaders agreed they disagreed on these islands' future. Down under...
The Princess Royal inaugurated the renovated post office in Grytviken, South Georgia by unveiling its red box (Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands).
Princess Anne, daughter of the Queen, visited British proud citizens, scientists and went hiking in the local fauna and flora. Some acts of sovereignty were on schedule too.

In Grytviken, she unveiled the letter box of the renovated post office of this settlement founded by Norwegians, named by a Swede and inhabited by twenty people in 2008 (thirty if South Sandwichers are counted).

She paid homage to Sir Ernest Shackleton, by his tombstone. At the same time, let's remind the Royal Mail is celebrating the centenary of his failed Endurance expedition.
Princess Anne posted a souvenir card at the old post office in Fox Bay (Government House Falkland Islands, reproduced by The Royal Household).
Back in the Falkland, Anne mailed a postcard at Fox Bay, on the Western island (or Grande Malouine for the Frenchs). And that was the best place to do that. February 2016 issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly informed readers that the almost centenary post office of Fox Bay became a postal museum in March 2015!

The building housed a wireless station in 1918 whose operator was acting as a postman. In 1988, the postal operations were moved to the local store. In 2014, philatelist Stefan Heijtz bought the place and transformed it into a museum with Hugh Osborne's help, another great specialist of the Falkland philately.
Special postcard marking the 21st January event of the pilar box inauguration by Princess Anne (photograph by Government House Falkland Islands, forwarded by Stefan Heijtz).
Now back to the picture: the British Postal Museum & Archive sent a King Edward VII red pillar box to be used on special occasion... Found it! Princess Anne inaugurated the box and mail its first mail in its new location.

Some commemorative covers were produced and will be sold by the Falkland Islands Philatelic Study Group to abound the Group's Stefan Heitz research fund to help philatelic research and publication on the British Saint Pierre and Miquelon - a compliment from me.

To visit the museum, find and ask either Stefan Heitz or one Fox Bay agents.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

All you need is love: the Beatles stamps in the Liverpool docks

In a let's catch up with the sister-blog in French: beginning of translation and adaptation of my articles after my (numerous) visits to Liverpool and Chester, England.

I'm just back from Liverpool, the former huge port of the North West England and now a growing university, touristic and nightlife cities, even if the 1945-1980s wreckage can be seen here and there (and first on Monday morning in front of local post offices).

The 2016 trip was a bit frisky but sunny. On the philatelic side, I made a discovery I should have made way before.

To start: let's remind that the port of Liverpool, from the docks themselves to place where trade was done and passengers were hosted after their train trip, is listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The first stamp of The Beatles Story booklet by the private operator Universal Mail UK.
The port in activity is now downstream the Mersey River, with some installations upstream, but it's nothing compared to its former glory and the containerised leader of Rotterdam.

Facing the town center, the older docks are now visitable under Liverpool One commercial center when the Pier Head Promenade is a platform over the waters when you walk from the Titanic Memorial to the Museum of Liverpool. Note that's the memorial is at the entrance of the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry pier.

Continue to walk to the Albert Dock, a square shaped bassin surrounded by former warehouses, opened in 1846. It was an inventive infrastructure: the first in Britain with no wooden structure for example. To turn it into a more modern and profitable use, chic restaurants and four museums are hosted there now.

Two free public one: the Merseyside Maritime Museum (with enough different exhibitions, objects and activities to entertain you a whole day long) and upstairs the International Slavery Museum that covers all the aspects of the Atlantic Trade from how people lived in West Africa four centuries ago to the suffering of Amerindians and Africans during the colonisation of the Americas and, for the letter, life in the plantations. Finally, the museum reflects on the black history (a difficult concept to explain in France where the expression "gender studies" are misinterpreted by most people) of Liverpool, a former slaver port. Currently, an exhibit warns visitors about child labor and poor women enslavement in India.

The complete The Beatles Story booklet with four of the exhibit rooms.
The first private one is a local window of the Tate Gallery - presenting paintings by Matisse until May 2nd.

The second one, of philatelic importance today, is The Beatles Story, a museum on the career of the famous rock group born in the city. A set of rooms, highly decorated, full of songs and fans' shrieks from Britain, Germany, the United States, etc. from the first local public party of two brothers to the inside a Yellow Submarine.

Emotion is lively in the final two rooms. The first summarized the life of the four beetles after their separation, concluding with a white memorial to John Lennon, his piano, guitar, glasses and the song Imagine.

La couverture du carnet The Beatles Story reprend les mentions de l'opérateur en bas, mais le logotype et la présentation publicitaire du musée.
This White Room is one of the four presented on the five stamp booklet sold at the museum's shop, and ordered to the private postal operator Universal Mail United Kingdom.

For those who missed the many articles and threads on philatelic blogs and forums, not forgetting philatelic press, Universal Mail UK issued postage stamps since 2008, valid for the postcard up to 10 grams sent outside the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies.

The company is gracious enough to catalogue them all there, but the "Bespoke" ones can only be found in the places concerned, like The Beatles Story.

The main advantages for tourists are that the stamps are sold in touristic areas shops: from museum shops to little newspaper/sodas/sweets vendors around. Then the cards can be thrown into the Royal Mail red boxes... because Universal Mail contracted the British operator to take care of the postal process (even if 2nd class mail maybe spee...).

If Universal Mail sells them at the Royal Mail international rate: currently five pounds the booklet of five, I know that street shops and museums can around it: five pounds fifty at The Beatles Story. The price of personalisation or of free market?

With your ticket you can continue to a film and another exhibit in a second site on the other side of the Pier Head Promenade (I haven't done it yet), and then begin the evening with improvised concert in the Cavern on Matthew Street where The Beatles began their stage debut sometimes ago.

But remember that all the pubs around you are housed into the former warehouses of the port of the British Empire, storing all kind of tropical fruits and some insects.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week #2016.02 on SébPhilatélie

Low week on the English side of the week, let's look on the French side.

Monday January 11th: Green maritime landscape from Taiwan.
A beautiful change of scenery for a quarter rate than the French worldwide mail one!
Through a Postcrossing exchange came a beautiful Taiwanese landscape. It permitted me to discover Chungwha Post's Stamp Treasure: every stamps issued in China, following the Republic of China's version: Empire, Republic, then Republic in exile on Taiwan.

Tuesday January 12th: a strange Fijian Kiribati island.
How can we discover interesting territories to create a special postal history collection? Follow some geographers like Martin W. Lewis and his website GeoCurrents. Last November he wrote three articles (1, 2 and 3) on Pacific Ocean state, Kiribati.

In the first one, he told the story of Banaban, a former phosphate mining island, whose ancestral inhabitants relocated themselves in a Fijian island they bought, while keeping Kiribati passports. But now they struggled with the Kiribati government who needs all elevated grounds in case the sea level rises too much... The Banaban elders are thinking joining their island with Fiji, quite far South.

Wednesday January 13th: Happy New Year, Foula!
A small thiry inhabitant island at the edge of the Shetland islands, Scotland, celebrated New Year on Wednesday because they continue to follow the Julian calendar, despite the rest of the United Kingdom in 1752, with one day difference since 1900.

How philatelic? Contrary to other small British islands, Foula don't use a private system to send mail to mainland. They even kept their post office, even if it's a part-time job.

Thursday January 14th: Stamp Magazine's postal marking... A postal history.
Soon on SebPhilately, I will summarize the story on how the wrapping of Stamp Magazine, the British monthly, evolved these past years.

Saturday January 15th: The Arctic Expeditions joint issues of Greenland remembered.
An experimented engraver, a ice blue background, deep black lines... Beautiful.
Again a Postcrossing postcard received recently revived memories of the two joint issued Greenland created in 2007 with France and 2008 with Greenland, all stamps engraved by Norwegian artist Martin Mörck and printed by the Danish postal printer.