Saturday, June 24, 2017

Week #2017.24 on SébPhilatélie

That week between 12 and 18 June 2017, nobody on the old continent can keep his eyes shut: Summer was here. And Winter was but a long-forgotten legend only the eldest spoke with glee to sceptical children who preferred to break open the fire hydrant in the burning streets of the capital...

Yes, I shouldn't bingewatch Game of Thrones during heatwave episodes :)

Monday 12 June: What's this stamp's message?!
Considering my two decade long career as French voter, I am still puzzled by the message of this stamp designed by Louis Briat in 1995.
Louis Briat's National Assembly stamp, issued 15 May 1995 (via Phil-Ouest.com).
It commemorated the bicentenary of the Directoire decree that decided the Council of Five-Hundred, the new lower chamber of the First Republic, be hosted in the Bourbon Palace, where the National Assembly sit to this day. Another stamp in 1998 marks the effective installation in the building in 1798.

But the meaning of the symbols... decided by the artist... ordered or accepted by the political and postal authorities...?

After two decades of political despair in front of my democracy, I concluded that the nightly blue palace kept Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People prisoner of the political elite.

Now, under the current Macronmania, I'm thinking that the People entered the sleepy palace to set the old political world ablaze... Not very Emmanuel Macron that idea... Is it a premonition of what would happen if he failed considering some of the new deputies: Le Pen and Mélenchon.

Tuesday 13 June: No stamp at the Oaxcala post office. What of the Museum?
I receive a holiday postcard from Oaxcala, Mexico. The sender was sad that no postage stamp was available at the post office of this city, famous for precolombian archeological settlements.
A Mexican counter label, 12 April 2017. The postcode 68001 corresponds to the current set of codes for Oaxcala city and state (thank you Sophie).
At least, it makes me get interested in the MUFI, the Museum of Philately, located in Oaxcala. Its website and Twitter account are quiet interesting to browse and follow.
Will this little fish stand still in his stamp? (MUFI's Twitter page, June 2017).
For example, yesterday Friday 23, the MUFI opened an exhibition on water and the sealife, displaying stamps of fishes like in an aquarium. And collectors of missing colors would like the little animation the MUFI team published with a Singapore 1960s error.

Wednesday 14 June: Uninspired stamps of France...
The article in French is the evil kin of the one published the same day in English.

While touristic stamps of France are often wonderful, inspired and sometimes looks innovative in treatment, commemorative anniversary are sometimes dull.

Why engraved a phi letter in the hand of a Queen of France? Fun with or against collectors? Or, I wish, an angry gesture by an engraver fed up by adding this stupid symbol on all commemorative stamps of France since 2010? I'm afraid the answer will be the former.

The main part of the article are about the centenary of the Lions Club. Too many postal operators just copy-paste the anniversary's or the organisation's logo. And have the gods of philately and good taste mercy for Monaco...
Simple designs yes, but useful design for the Lions Club (Jersey Stamps webshop).
Praise by Jersey Stamps! At least, this often accused of issuing too costly and useless stamps issued a six stamp series that explains what is a Lions Club for.

Thursday 15 June: Universal Mail stamp puzzled a French Muggle family.
A family from Nantes received a postcard from the son's friend visiting London.
The postcard and its many labels (Presse Océan).
The local newspaper Presse Ocean showed the card on 15 June explaining the problem and even that the French post couldn't explain it.

Philatelists will recognize a Universal Mail UK stamp, the private post that aimed at tourists' international postcards.

The sending family bought a booklet at any commodities in central London, but not a post office. Universal Mail franked card can be dropped in a Royal Mail box. At the sorting center, these cards are gathered and given back to Universal Mail that forwards them by anyway at the lower cost possible.

In this case, early April, the chosen route was lenghthy in distance and time: through Praha, Czech Republic. Hence the postage paid label with the Czech Post's logo.

Saturday 17 June: Royal June of travels.
Is it the Royal Philatelic Society London's June activities? Or my Summer-is-coming state of mind? For the second year in a row, I got travel inspired by the June articles and displays at 41 Devonshire, London.

I could only invite you to check the summary of the June issue of The London Philatelist, the last edited by Steve Jarvis, and the collection and talk by Frank Walton, his last as President of the society.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weeks #2017.22-23 on SébPhilatélie

Ten days in June, before Summer hit the South of France (and the rest of Europe it seems).

Thursday 1st to Sunday 4 June: Interamerican exhibition in Saint-Pierre-and-Miquelon.
During four days, the Club de Saint-Pierre (with a refurbished website) hosted its third international exhibition in this French overseas collectivity, SPM Expo, with six countries of the American continent attending.
The poster of the exhibit designed by Jean-Jacques Oliviéro (official website).
To follow the event the website and its blog were of course useful, and were reinforced by the local radio and television public channel, SPM 1ère.

A list of reports and interviews to watch back:
- Club president Stéphane Fouchard presented the event, the importance of exhibiting and the value of collecting stamps during the radio news on Thursday morning ;
- On the Wednesday evening tv news the mounting of the exhibit was reported ;
- On Friday the camera followed high school students training their Spanish with Jaime Benavides, the Mexican reprsentative (on this link look for the 2 June 2017 edition), followed by Fouchard explaining this was the sole continental competition for 2017 and the impact for the archipelago ;
- On Sunday (article on Monday) a report of the award ceremony took place with the 109th and 110th medal and Grand Prix for Jean-Jacques Tillard and a gold medal for Loïc Detcheverry for Cancellations of Nova Scotia on stamps of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Jim Taylor, President of The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada was interviewed too.

Sunday 4 June: 50 years of Machin, 10 years of philatelying in English.
A personal article on me and the English language. It dated well before I needing it for philatelic purposes, but since my first subscription to Stamp Magazine, English philatelic reading became quite addictive.
The June 2007 issue of Stamp Magazine that encouraged my continuing subscription.
The Machin series is to thank for too.

Wednesday 7 June: Were chocolate bar wrapping be recess-printed!
Warning: open class topic getting off-topic... but...

After many weeks of thoughts I finally opened and ate the Rococo Chocolates bar I bought last January in Chester (remember). A powerful taste for only 63% dark chocolate from Peru!
Okay, I admit, this item is damaged. I need to learn how to unmint chocolate packaging... Must be like carefully open envelopes.
Back to philately... Let's try at least.

The drawing outside and inside the cardboard wrapper are the same that of the shopping bags and could have been printed in intaglio.

The article was written to mark the day the Rococo Chester team opened its new premises: 118 Northgate.

Friday 9 June: Another souvenir of Frédéric Bazille's paintings.
Thank to Michel Soulié, President of the Montpellier Philatelic Association, I now held a 1980 souvenir edited by the association for the Day of the Stamp, inspired by The Pink Dress, another view of the Castelnau village by impressionist Frédéric Bazille.
Local Montpellier souvenir at the Day of the Stamp 1980, illustrated by G. Jeanjean, inspired by Frédéric Bazille.
Readers in the Americas could see paintings of Montpellier-born Bazille in Washington, D.C. until the 9th of July at the National Gallery of Art.

Sunday 11 June: The Postal Museum to open 28 July in London.
Finally - some almost waited 20 years - the Postal Museum is to open in London on Friday 28 July 2017.

More informations on the Museum's website and Twitter account.

Today, 21 June, there still some informations missing, especially how to book for the Mail Rail, the new attraction reactivating the former London postal underground train of the British Post Office.


After such ten days, Spring felt very well, the Winter children thought... But Summer was coming.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

French villages got talent... and a stamp

On Tuesday 13 June 2017, Rochefort-en-Terre hosted the one-night contest Le Village préféré des Français on France 2, the main public television channel, presented by Stéphane Bern, our current perfect son-in-law and expert on European royalty.
Very rare event in France nowadays: a new stamp announced on prime time tv (ok, not the best audience of the night facing an international football match) and in a knowledgeable way: the picture shown is the engraved one, not the computer before gravure one (France 2, catched and captured thank to Dominique Stephan of the Blog philatélie, an important blog for amateur of France from the Sower to current events).
The village in Morbihan, Brittany, won the 2016 edition of the show created in 2012 and broadcasted live in June. A sort of Let's spend the holidays in our homeland. I have been told of many past participating villages by weekenders, hikers and... of course: stamps.

For a long time now the French post has a tradition of issuing "touristic stamps" on cities, villages, regions, natural parks, islands,... And whatever techniques the artists and the printer used, the result is often far better and enjoyable than the other main category: anniversaries of personalities and institutions that can be very logo-only or with not enough hints of why they are commemorated.

Sometimes the smaller the place, the bolder the artist or the printer: multicolor intaglio printing are common in France, but not often with such stricking color as bright red on quieter colors. Other examples can be found (browse Phil-Ouest.com database or your Dallay/Spink catalogue) with seldom colors such as brown, violet and dark orange together for village close to mountainous cliffs.

Artists' side: you can find modern-style illustration like the summer beach of Saint-Brévin-Les Pins last year, or use of the sky and clouds to place symbolic elements of a city.
The illustration project by Elsa Catelin before engraving (via Blog Philatélie). It's the form generally presented by Phil@poste in its catalogues and publications.
During the 2017 edition of the tv show, the stamp for Rochefort-sur-Terre was presented in exclusivity. The stamp was added at the last moment (officially in May) in the philatelic program and its illustration hidden until tuesday night.

Enthusiastically (his normal behavior) Stéphane Bern showed the inside of a file to the camera: a complete sheet of the new stamp alongside the engraved one-page souvenir Phil@poste edits with each issue. He insisted enough on the artist Elsa Catelin, one of La Poste's in-house engravers.
First day cancel in Rochefort-en-Terre (La Poste Bretagne's Twitter account)
And the announcement: the first of day of sale for the morrow - Wednesday 14 - in Rochefort and Carré d'Encre, Phil@poste's shop in Paris, and the general sale on Thursday.

This show can be watched again for 30 days (but because of TV tax that may be not possible outside France): over here. The stamp announcement was cut and posted on youTube over here.

For a more negative article on the new stamps on France: read this other article in French on SébPhilatélie.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Week #2017.19 to 21 on SébPhilately and French television

Only five articles in three weeks?!

When we say that French people are lazy with all the May's Banking holidays while the summer sun's arriving too: Labour Day, Victory Day, Ascension, and soon Pentecost... For the latter two: yes, we boast ourselves of being a secular republic.

Thursday 11 May: Micro-Philippinian vs Macro-Russian stamps.
Two postcards, two very different stamps.
A stamp and a cancel very haphazardly made... But efficient and cost saving. Thank you Pascale for the postcard from Bohol island.
Size: 2.5 x 2.2 cm for PhilPost 2015 issue on its Mailing Center picturing the Central Post Office of the capital Manila. Even if the composition is a superposition of... unequal text, picture and logo. The cancel of the Tourist Center is not traditionall round, but very horizontal too.
Large 1997 painting of the "Russian" monastery in Mount Athos, autonomous orthodox enclave in Northern Greece. Thanl you Olga via Postcrossing.
The complete contrary to this large painting, gold shining, round and neatly cancelled 5 cm square stamp from Russia.

Dmitri Anatolyevich Belyukin, one of current institutional painter of the Federation, painted Saint Panteleimon, a monastery founded originally by monks from Russian plains in the 11th century. The printer did a very good job with these bright colors.

Saturday 13 May: Free French postal history in London.
In April the Stuart Rossiter Trust, a British foundation encouraging postal history research, published The Free French in London 1940-1945 by Peter A. Baker.
The announcing flyer.

In a 64 illustrated book, the author studies the mail from the forces, administrations and government gathered around Charles de Gaulle between 1940 and 1945.

9.50 British pounds plus postage.

If you are interested in postal history of the military and French episodes such as the French-Prussian War of 1870-1871, check the publications by or helped by the Trust.

Wednesday 17 May: 4 Android video games for Finlandia 2017.
The main page of the project: http://16tiko.projects.tamk.fi/en/
In the months before European philatelic exhibition Finlandia 2017, the museums of Tampere and the Tampere University of Applied Science worked together on a project for business information students: they had to create video games inspired by the museums.

The 25 games created can be downloaded and played on smartphones and tablets running with Android. On Google's Play Store look for the titles and help yourself with the icons.

Four of them are inspired by the Posti Museo, the Finnish postal museum opened Septembre 2014.
The postal and philatelic games' icons (site of the projet).
Two of them are "scrollers": you have to move the main character or boat on the screen to avoid obstacles and retrieve flying letters in Finnish landscapes and coasts (Postal History by NoClueGames) and mail barrels lost at sea (Castaway by North Star).

Again in Stampedu by Placeholdr Software (for stamp stampede), the player must follow the rythm of the game: letters of different rates are descending quicker and quicker. Would you succeed to frank them correctly while avoiding dangerous fuming black ones. Your reward: stamps!!! At least digitised ones by topics.

World of Stamps by Team Vasama will certainly interest elder collectors: quiz on countries and topics of stamps with stamps to collect as prizes.

An interesting initiative.

Monday 22 May: A philatelic counter in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Without being hopeful, a traveller friend of mine discovered that Luang Prabang has a philatelic counter for 55'000 inhabitants!
A philatelic counter in central Laos in French! A little sign in English will help the majority of tourists still writing postcards (with Tomath's autorisation).
Okay, the city and surroundings are touristic, with I am told fabulous falls and river beaches, including places worthy of a former royal capital.

Stamps bought there seem to spread from 2010 to 2015, Buddhist inspired as much as the 40th anniversary of the National Day with all the symbols of a communist people's régime.

Saturday 27 May: "Suomi! Finland in my heart... Forever!"
This week took place Finlandia 2017, an European exhibition, in Tampere where the Finnish postal museum was opened in September 2014 - remember: it opened with a correspondence exhibit that permitted a media frenzy minisheet.

Not able to attend, I summarize what stamp issues marked this event organised along the year of the centenary of Finland's independence.

Saturday 27 May p.m.: The many problems of first and last kilometers of transportation.
On Saturday early afternoon French public channel France 2 proposed an economic weekly magazine, Tout compte fait, on the transportation of food, mail and goods nowadays.

It summarizes with efficience how the city delivery by bike works (or not considering health and working insurance), how La Poste put its postmen at new tasks to find new revenue (delivering medicine, watching on city problems, visiting elderly), and how barges on river can help deliver goods and food in the country and inside the city.

The reports can be watched again at this address for a week after broadcast. But it may appear on the magazine's youTube page afterwards.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Weeks #2017.17-18 on SébPhilatélie

Tuesday 25 April: A philatelist in Hôtel Matignon.
The Hôtel Matignon is the official residence of the French Prime Minister since it was confiscated and then bought to Austria after the First World War. A place in Paris that the Austrian Empire received from the Duchess of Galliera to serve as its embassy in the French capitale.

What is the connection to philately?


Ferrari on a 1968 stamp issued by  Liechtenstein (Colnect.com).
She was the mother of Philipp von Ferrary, the famous and excentric rare stamp collector who refused to inherit the title and wealth of his father.

His life and how his family perceived it (not good) is the object of an article by Jeremy Havardi, published in the May issue of Stamp Magazine.

Concerning the name of the first Prime Minister of 39 year old President Emmanuel Macron... Who knows? The answer will be given next Sunday after the presidential investiture.

Sunday 30 April: The little miseries of the British completist collectors.
The life of a British collector who wish to own a most complete collection of new issue from Royal Mail is already expensive. Lastly it's becoming quite awful.

The Guernsey philatelic service has begun to overprint its Post & Go stamps every time a cruise ship enters St. Peter's Port... but accepted with difficulties subscription to these series.

In Stamp Magazine dated May 2017 Richard West complained he received his 50 pounds worth mini-sheet of the last Her Majesty Accession Machin stamp... with two margins removed so that it could fit the Royal Mail order service's protection and envelope.

Finally, the two main blogs to be informed live on new British issues are dubitative in front of the next Mills issue next June. The stamps are focusing on England... South East England... very near London... As a caricature of the conservative don't-care of the country map. Whereas one stamp could have being a hit with Tolkien's fanatics.

English-able readers are invited to read Norvic Philatelics and The Commonwealth Stamp Opinion blogs for more details (precise links in the article in French).

Tuesday 2 May: Quick reading of the French National Exhibition palmares.
During the bank holiday week-end for Labor Day (1 May in France), the French Federation of Philatelic Associations gathered in Cholet, West of France, for Phila-France 2017 and his annual congress.

The palmares of the national exhibition is online over here.

The article in French is full of my curiosity in front of titles and topics in the list, unable I was to attend the show.

But the Grand Prix was awarded Olivier Gervais' collection on Luminescence on French definitive stamps (1959-2009), a major advancement for this speciality. Mr. Gervais is the author of an impressive website and updated blog on the topic. Now he exhibited , may his website be recognised by organised philatelic organisations...

On another philatelic specialist, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon expert Jean-Jacques Tillard got another gold medal... He is on a good way to the 200th gold with the Group series of the French territory near the Canadian coast. Note that Saint-Pierre will host a new international exhibition early June 2017.

Thursday 4 May: May the Stamp be with you.
On the Day of the Force and of Prince Philip's future retirement announcement - and anniversary week of the Penny Black issue in 1840, the Royal Philatelic Society London, the Philatelic Traders Society and many dealers, agencies, collectors join their forces for the first National Stamp Day Celebration of the United Kingdom.
The logo of the movement launched by the PTS and the RPSL (PTS website).
The monthly Stamp & Coin Mart proposed ideas to stamp collectors to get involve in this promoting effort of the hobby.

You can check two hastag words on Twitter to follow happenings and consequences: #stickastamp (thanks to Buckingham Covers' stickers) et #celebratestamps17.

Monday 8 May: French speaking Africa, a philatelic Bermuda Triangle?
On one Saturday, May 6th, three occasions show studying and collecting French speaking African recent stamps and postal history need patience and research.
This stamp of Niger is quoted 125 USD by Scott catalogue who doesn't know it uncancelled... Check low valued auctions for unused ones and your envelope shoebox... Who knows? (unused stamp via Hipstamp).
English speaking readers are invited to check the StampBoard.com's threads if they have information on the mysterious Tunisian Klussendorf-type ATM stamp (1999-2000) and Niger's Abdou Moumouni Dioffo stamp (1997) whose catalogue listings are non existent for the former, or seems to imply the greatest of scarcity unused, even rarity cancelled.

Why Ivory Coast issued a minisheet in 2001 for a Universal Postal Union Congress that never took place in Abidjan and two others in August 2015, four months after a UPU meeting in Geneva with an illustration of the post office in Grand Bassam, are the object of an article by Marc Parren in the May 2017 issue of The London Philatelist.

With historic and philatelic research, the author proposed to discover the recent political crisis in Ivory Coast, the military mail sent during the French and United Nations missions (the latter still continuing), and how the country succeeded to get the right to host the 2020 UPU Congress.

A French blog, La Poste aux armées, on military mail helps to complete Mr. Parren's paper: recently, the French field postal service was privatised into the "Service postal international pour la Défense" (SPID, Postal International Service for the Defense) and since 2012 served by a joint operation by the French post and Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company.

La Poste and Sodexo's contract with the Ministry of Defense was extended for 4 years (announced last February).

Monday, April 24, 2017

Week #2017.16 on SébPhilatélie

Monday 17 April: How to promote stamps and coins from overseas territories.
New Caledonia and Bermuda are on the media road to promote their stamps and coins.


Matrixes of the 100 Pacific Franc coins: Marianne common face (here without the engraved year) and the New Caledonian and the French Polynesian faces. Wallis-et-Futuna using both (photograph by Alain Jeannin, La 1ère, March 2017).
For the French very autonomous collectivity the Director of Calédoscope, the philatelic agency, answered questions for monthly Atout timbres. The minting of Franc Pacifique coins was reported by public local channels France 3 and La 1ère late March.

In Bermuda the Director of the philatelic bureau Stanley Taylor participated in a promotion video ordered to BermudaMedia. It was published early this April on youTube. Mr Taylor is known to Gibbons Stamp Monthly's readers: Basil Herwald reported his meeting with him in the July 2015 issue.

Tuesday 18 April: music cinderella for Arthur Russell.
Thank to French public and eclectic music radio FIP (no, not the Fédération internationale de philatélie) - a sort of almost no talk BBC 6 Music - I encounter this stamped album cover.
Arthur's Landing album cover inspired by a certain philatelic era (Band Camp website of the label Strut).
Being a moron concerning music styles, listening to FIP while streetwalking helps me forget the traffic jam noises and to discover new things. The smartphone ear allows to see the album cover on the sleepmode screen.

That's how I disover this cinderella style cover: Arthur's Landing is an hommage album by friends of New York artist Arthur Russell (1951-1992), issued 2010-2011.

Philatelist of the Interwar Period would like the design ; those into aerophilately the motto in Latin.

Thursday 20 April: Proportional cancellations for proportional rates?
For 16 months now, the French post has been carrying pricing in proportion rates: 1 stamp for the 1st weightband, 2 for the second, etc.
Corner of a large envelope 250-500 grams, hence the four adhesive stamp block from an illustrated booklet, partially cancelled 31 January 2017.
But the machine cancellation in sorting office didn't change : a line for upper stuck stamps...

Saturday 22 April: Let's vote! And stamp.
After a far too long presidential campaign - primaries... - French citizens are enjoying an almost political free week-end: the law forbid candidates, parties, television and radio channels to express political messages.
A porte-timbre cinderella booklet for the 2012 presidential election createed and sold by HistoriaPhil.com, the website of the Éditions philatéliques européennes.
The most philatelist will try to create a presidential collection: see this interesting website Les Présidents de la République par les timbres or try every electoral April issue of French philatelic magazines since the first universal suffrage presidential election in 1969.

Sunday 23 April: newsbits in Paris and London.
In Paris, Mr Macr... Sorry, too strong is the force of media hypnosis.
The FFAP's Twitter page on Sunday 24 April 2017.
In the Parisian headquarters of the French Philatelic Associations Federation, someone rediscovered the insitution's got a Twitter account that was restarted March 22nd after three years of silence.
George James, Spink's philatelic specialist presents a collection for sale, on 18 April on youTube.
Let's enjoy this moment, a philatelic collection sale by London auction house Spink was the subject of a presentation video this past week: Arthur Gray's predecimal elizabethan Australia collection, with sketches, essays, stamps, varieties,...

A nice catalogue.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week #2017.15 on SébPhilatélie

Quite a week for non philatelic items viewed by a philatelist maniac.

Monday 10 April: "Fedex quests" in video game.
Players of aventure-action and open world video games have developed their own slang along the episodes of different series of such games, from The Elder Scrolls to the current Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, including the part-parodicly American, part-seriously criminal Grand Theft Autos.
Auto-parody of such quests in the last Zelda: this character accepts to buy you specific mushrooms by packs of 55... (Nintendo, via SuperSoluce.com)
One of those expressions is a reproach: while some missions are compulsory to conclude the main story, the open world permits a lot of exploration and meetings of characters asking the player for help to carry a letter or find some goods.

In practice these secondary missions call for a lot or return trips, hence the expression "Fedex quest" appeared it seems in the 1990s when the develivery company was a star in America: you move everywhere on the map to carry, bring, etc. like a Fedex truck driver.

Wednesday 12 April: Challenging yet pleasant conferences at the RPSL.
A summary of two recent filmed conferences at the Royal Philatelic Society London, whose display summaries are available for all the Society's website.

Their topic and very specialist approch would have me run away as quick as possible a few years ago, but the volunteering philatelists and postal historians were so enthusiast and good story-tellers that anyone curious could entertain discovering the postal stationery of the Orange Free State, a Boer republic of the late 19th century, by Mike Smith (23 February), and the first decades of the psotal history of South Australia by Pat Grimwood-Taylor (6 April).

To watch: an Orange stamped card used in short-lived Republic of Stellaland, a card signed by Tolkien's father - yes, the Tolkien born in Bloemfontein and major creator of languages and fantasy universe. On the other side of the Indian Ocean, many destinations from South Australia were presented, plus a letter from a small oulet in the Northern Territory to Winbledon, England and its "Too Late" mark... that led to weeks of travelling the wilds within and the ocean without the Austral continent.

Friday 14 April: boomerang effects in the Netherlands and for the Maldives.
The force of philatelists were shown to two organisations these recent times.

First when PostNL decided, starting January 1st, to call back all datestamps from postal counters in private shops, meaning that stamps on all parcels and registered letters would be pen cancelled (standard letters continuing to be machine cancelled in sorting plants). The post company will resume cancellations at postal counters next June with bright new datestamps. A story to discover and follow on StampBoards forum.

WOPA, the Gibraltar-organised website to gather official philatelic bureaus to sell their stamp at face values to international clients, interrupted the page of the Maldives after only a full day, when the Commonwealth Stamp Opinion blog's webmaster and readers wrote down their doubts that the Maldives postal operator was the seller. They believe the agency providing the very numerous stamps and minisheets in the name of Bangladesh was behind. One of WOPA officers intervenes to assure he will check again.

After all, the other postal operators who are issuing too much stamps, have the openess to sell them themselves on WOPA.

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 April: Open class chocolate between Chester and Grenada.
Theses Easter articles were transled on SebPhilately's.

Note: no, this blogger did not receive any free chocolate from Rococo, but is eager to get back to their Chester or London stores... Is thinking of ordering 2 kilograms of choco soon...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Open class chocolate: full sail from Grenada to Chester

Non-religious Easter and personal interests: let's eat fair and sustainable chocolate Britishly and Commonwealthly! With philatelic nibs here and there: open class.

Jute and cotton bag with the colors and engravings of Rococo Chocolates, sold since early 2017 (photograph taken at home, my apologies for the designer).
If chocolate has been of course a good part of comfort eating in my youth, it was surely more for the sugar in it until I looked for taste two decades ago.

This search finds an interesting and unexpected turn four years ago, April 2013, during the first of my yearly trip to Chester, north-west of England. I was early for a meeting under the Victoria clock on Eastgate when I noticed the modest but joyfully pastel display of a Rococo Chocolates shop... far more modest than the exaggerated and nauseating - and I love chocolate... - fountains of liquid chocolate by their luxuous competitor down the street.
The Eastgate in Chester historic center and the 1897-1899 clock. The Rococo store is - for a few weeks now - on the left after the fortification (photograph under licence: Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0).
The shop employees were very courteous, not invading in their advices, but open to conversation on a the work of chocolate. I discover back home that it was opened in 2012 in this provincial timbered house town by a London-based chocolate-maker Chantal Coady, at work since 1983.

The shop under East Gate (photographie sous licence Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0).
Now how will I go back to philately? The bags.

From the plastic ones four years ago (and banned for obvious sustainaible reasons by the European Union members) to the cardboard ones nowadays (next picture), Rococo promotes itself with reproduction of chocolate moulds, in their engraving forms.
The current cardboard bag at Rococo Chocolates. Engravings and chocolate... Let's pray I haven't brought ideas in the mind of Royal Mail and La Poste salesmen: the philatelic program reissued in chocolate form for Christmas.
Easter eggs, birds and fishes, and a cut pod full of cocoa beans. Hmmm.

New issues discovered during my last visit, January 2017, were the sale of a new jute/juto bag - the first picture of this article - and the Chester shop going to move in May to Northgate Street, on the other side of Chester Cathedral. The current store location was chosen by the initial links between Coady's company and the real estate group Grosvenor in London, but put between a restaurant and the hall of Grosvenor Hotel.

The new one, between a small post office and a cheese shop, will have more space that will enable tea house activities and chocolate making and tasting sessions in the basement. "Made in Chester". Can I wait until my 2018 pilgrimage to the Roman city.

For now, let's stick with my 2017 purchase.
The front of a Grenada Chocolate Company packaging, distributed by Rococo Chocolates.
Compared to the four previous visit to Rococo Chester, this year I got more freedom concerning luggage size imposed by low cost airline companies. After a hanful of floral decorated and tasting Bee Bars, I accepted the manager's proposal for Artisan Bars ; for philatelic purposes: if the former are like single definitive postage stamp, the latter are booklets of stamps :)

I even listened - and was successfully sold - the history of The Grenada Chocolate Company, whose drawn landscape packaging make its bars illustrated stamp booklet.
The full packaging... No, sorry, no picture of actual chocolate: how could I and my colleagues during a Friday noon lunch have succeeded to save a bit of chocolate for illustration. But what a tasteful memory...
Tree-to-bar chocolate the motto claims. The company, founded 1999 by three gentlemen, is a cocoa farmers' and chocolate makers' cooperative in Hermitage, Saint Patrick ParishGrenada, the former British colonies in the Windwards Islands.

20 hectares of cocoa trees are exploited in a organic - or the trees - and fair - to the farmers - way ; the chocolate factory tries to be as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible, with sun panels and batteries for example. Rococo's website told how this organisation helps the cooperative survived Ivan and Emily consecutive hurricanes in 2003.
Cocoa pods on tree, stamp of 1966 (via Colnect.com)
Organic agriculture, fair trade with farmers and distribuotrs, sustainable energy production... But what of transportation to the continents of consumption?

Hence the out-of-design back and white sticker on the wrapper - an overprint?-, that provides a good story for chocolate shopkeepers: "A Class - Fair Transport".
The Tres Hombres in 2013 : 32 meters, 35 tons of cargo (including Grenada chocolate bars), 5 profesional sailors, room for 10 trainees - meaning you (Fairtransport.eu).
Fairtransport is a Dutch company created by three men in 2007. They have been renovating old sailing ships to put them back on the seas for a carbon free transportation of goods. Another way of thinking before reading Seija-Riitta Laakso's thesis on the sail against steam speed competition in the 19th century.
Map of the current Fairtransport routes accross the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. But forget containers, loading's the old way. But has every order to be done in a haste? (Fairtransport.eu)
The company has a project for a modern sailing ship and formed an alliance with two other sailing shipping companies. The sticking label guarantees 90% of transportation are carbon-free: 10% being the usual first/last kilometer problem.

Let's conclude on Grenada before the offensive on the family's Easter lamb and chocolate dessert: a very pronounced tasting chocolate, less sweet, whose raw material farmers are respected, whose industrial added value is spent in the country of origin's economy, and whose transoceanic transportation isn't polluting.

That justifies the prices at Rococo Chocolates and an Easter time thought: Do we have to stuff ourselves with food to be happy?

This article is inspired by two articles published Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 April 2017 on SébPhilatélie, my blog in French.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Week #2017.14 on SébPhilatélie

Tuesday 4 April: non philatelic important economic reading before voting.
I'm fed up with the on going French presidential campaign... Let's read comics!
Cover of the 2nd edition in French of Economix, published 2014 (amazon.fr).
Its original version was published in 2013 in the United States. Economix is a comic book in which Michael Goodwin tries to explain the history of economics, illustrated by Dan Burr.


A fine exercice of thinking and understanding our world and how politicians can disrupt as much as help make things better.

Goodwin's and Burr's task continues on EconomixComix.com... thank to the current leadership of the Republican Party in the U.S. When could we hope to read a British Brexit version or a French Napoleonian Right Wing one, please?

Wednesday 5 April: all the mail received from Citizens of the World.
This past week, the French public radio show La Fabrique de l'histoire (The Workshop of History) on France Culture proposed four installments on aspects of globalisation, understood in all its dimensions: economic, trades, but also cultural.
Garry Davis dictating the content of a letter he received in Paris, January 1949 (Actualités cinématographiques, 20 January 1949, via the 'Institut national de l'audiovisuel).
On Wednesday, two researchers explained how the World Federalist Movement got momentum by disrupting a session of the United Nations General Assembly in Paris in November 1948. And how much mail its spokeperson, Garry Davis, from people who wished to become "Citizens of the World", meaning wishing the establishment of an actual World State to avoid the conflicts nation-states created in the past decades.

One of the documents played is from a January 1949 newsreel for the movie theaters. In the Paris hotel where his offices were, Garry Davis is seen among the stamped envelopes of supporters for his World Citizenship idea. Stamps and envelopes everywhere, even on a panel to list the different countries of origin.

Friday 7 April: War weapons, a growing stamp topic?
When news are too strong for the philatelist to put them aside... An article on stamps and postal history on militarised chemical agents.
Iran issued a shocking stamp to mark the 10 years of effectivity of the Chemical Weapons Convention  (via a trade website in the United States).

Only states who were victims or whose allies were affected by the use of these horrible weapons had issued stamps to warn their people and the world: the Kingdom of Yemen (North) during the civil war when allegedly Egypt - allied to the republicans - used gas against Yemeni civilians, Iran in support of the Iraqi Kurds after Saddam Hussein's forces gas bombed the village of Halabja.

Even if the United Nations Postal Administration issued six stamps (two per office) in 1991 when the convention was signed, banning and ordering the destruction of these weapons, what postal administration will issue a stamp for the chemical victims of the complex Syrian civil war?

Through the excellent website by a late collector of Australia, Maurice Mishkel, postal history items exist as proof that all countries and powers are concerned since World War One. When a "Chemical Warfare School" publicly received mail in 1946...

Saturday 8 April: Machins will rule the world forever!
Thank to Ian and John Billings of Norvic Philatelics (blogsite and shop), my article tries to summarize how many new Machin stamps were and are to be issued in the first semester of 2017.
The first minisheet marking the 50 years of the Machin stamps, to be issued in June. The different picture recalls the steps of Arnold Machin's artistic thinking (Royal Mail Philatelic Bulletin via Norvic Philatelics).
Good luck for your wallet, Machin lovers.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Week #2017.13 on SébPhilatélie

Tuesday 28 March: the many forms of decimalisation in the Commonwealth.
From the creation of the Australian dollar philatelically commemorated last year to a three-time reissued Cayman Islands definitive series in 1969 described by Moel Cavenhill in the February issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly, many former British colonies kept the ternary monetary system until the sixties and seventies.
The "C-Day" second version of Cayman Islands decimalisation series: 8th September 1969 was the day the Jamaican dollar replaced the Jamaican pound/shilling/pence (via colnect.com).
A change that didn't go smoothly if one looks "outside the scope of the catalogue" for 1961 Pakistan with the numerous local oveprints presented by Mike J. Roberts at the Royal Philatelic Society London earlier in March.

Thursday 30 March: postal dragon in a French comics.
How to remind the e-generation that postal service still exist and are useful: show them in what they read.
Excerpt of the first and second page of  L'Année du dragon, last tome in the Mélusine series (Dupuis Editions).
On 29 March, weekly French and Belgian comics magazine Spirou is pre-publishing by episode the 35th tome of Mélusine, the stories of a young apprentice witch ; on general sale on 5 May.

In L'Année du dragon (The Year of the Dragon), all the dragons disappeared and the magical world is put to an economic stop: no more transportation of mail and packages for a start.

Saturday 1 April: Liberty, Equality, Salmonity.
Not good times for pranks after many politicians' acts in 2016-2017, so let's eat the fishes instead.
A postal sushi postal of the Raw Fish Republic (Florent Chavouet's blog).
From 2010 to 2012 a French illustrator created almost 200 play on words and puzzle based on sushis.

Sunday 2 April: Iain Stevenson RIP.
Sad news: one month ago, edition specialist and philatelist Iain Stevenson died in England. A former professional editor who became university teacher in 1999, he was a specialist of telegraph stamps, postal stationery, North Borneo and Canada.

Stevenson has a connection with Montpellier, France where I live. He studied geography there in the 1970s, wrote on the Scots College (Collège des Écossais) established by Patrick Geddes in the 1920s, and exhibited his collection of Montpellier postmarks at the French Académie de philatélie's event at the Royal Philatelic Society London last November.

The article in French gives many links to retrieve parts of his publications and exhibits. An eulogy was published by the University College London, followed by tributes from his colleagues, students and readers.