Monday, December 31, 2007

Montpellier through postcards

Main illustrations of local geographic and historic books, postcards are in use again in a magazine-like book: Il était une fois... Montpellier en images, published for this end of year 2007 by newspaper Midi libre.

Another books, with hard covers, can be read at the Central library Émile Zola of Montpellier (look for them in the middle of the first floor, in Human sciences).

Here, among the 68 pages of the town's history (and of its river, the Lez, and its train to Palavas) from the late 19th to the late 20th centuries, Christian Vella, from the postcard club of Montpellier-Juvignac, explains how to begin a collection.

You can bought it on line here for some times.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A mail from the EuroBillTracker team arrived during my Christmas break. Their website permit to register and follow the euro bills that went through your hands.

After a problem with the domain name property, is becoming the new site adress.

It reminds me of the rififi in some philatelic academies these last months, that are finally a little bit explained in the philatelic press (Timbres magazine de janvier 2008 page 15), without being a coopted member of these associations.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. Read me next week.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Charles too

I continue with Royal semi-postal stamps of New Zealand. In 1952, here is the young (age 4) Prince Charles.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Semi-postal princess

On 4th of December, I presented you a semi-postal stamp of New Zealand picturing the future Queen Elizabeth II, issued 1943. here is its companion with a portrait of Princess Margaret.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

30% promised already reached!

Saint Nicolas wrote to his French philatelists friends :

Firstly, I wished that [the French La Poste] followed with resolution the growth of the number of intaglio stamps, to reach in 2009, 30% of issues printed in this technology.

A simple arithmetic based on the 2007 issues of France as presented in Timbres magazine (without the pre-cancelled and the service stamps) gives an interesting result believing the Virtual Stamp Club : 50 issues in 2007 / 16 printed in intaglio.

Difficult conversion : 32% of France's stamp issues are printed in intaglio (taille-douce in French).

Ah! how restful are promises kept... even before they are made :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Elizabeth II on machine stamp, next on postage meter?

Between 1984 and 1985, automates sold stamps which value was printed on demand of the user, in some post offices. The stamp was one like this one:

Queen Elizabeth II's profile is the one used on British commemorative stamps, designed by Arnold Machin from his definitive serie effigy.

There is no machine stamps in this country. This may explain why philatelists are fearing the postage meter, called Horizon labels : available since 2002, they are blank piece of paper with just enough printed intels to post a mail (value, brand, date, number of the printing counter).

Stamp Magazine of January 2008 announced that a new design will be inaugurated in the first weeks of 2008, including a graphic element for security purpose. May the British have better than pale yellow on pale blue design...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How much longer?

How do you sell stamps when collectors buying them can't use them? Make a record of it.

A little more than 15 centimeters and a half is this French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) issued on 21 June 2007. It depicts the sun path upon the Antarctic horizon on the Southern Winter solstice.

It is equivalent to 7 or 8 Marianne definitives (here is the commemorative booklet for the Marianne de Cheffer) or two se-tenant pair of the France-Greenland French issue.

What can you do with it? Nothing in Metropolitan France, unless the discovery of a pedagogic picture about our world in the solar system for 0,90 € (less than a well-sized poster).

If you hang around one of the five TAAF districts (where you can not put a foot unless authorized by French authorities...), you can post a letter to the world (you can have a better price if you write to France, its overseas and the former colonies).

For another beautiful stamps from highly philatelicly valuable territories, visit the Falkland Islands Philatelic Bureau. I only wish all Metropolitan stamps were so inspired and inspiring on mail.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

End of sheets

I like the edge of stamp sheets, even if I don't collect them : I need the stamps on my mail (upper 0,85 € Space Exploration is for world mail) and the money for other hobbies.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Semi-postal Majesty

During the Second World War, the two daughters of King George VI appeared on semi-postal stamps of New Zealand.

In 1942, Elizabeth and Margaret illustrated triangular stamps.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Majesty (2)

Elizabeth once again, then a Princess, with her sister Margaret, on one of the many issues commemorating the 1947 Royal Family visit in Austral Africa.

The series of South Africa was issued in many forms :
* three stamps : King George VI in uniform, with his wife, the two princesses, and all with a legend in English ;
* these three stamps with legend in Afrikaan like here ;
* the two series overprinted "SWA" for use in the South West African mandate, formerley a German colony, and future Namibia.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


This Majesty's face is definitively made for stamp appearances.

Elizabeth II

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Meteorological ad

The pictorial advertisment on postage meter will live long :

In France, really no possibility of cultural or touristic pictorial on new style cancellations?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Last flames in France

France's pictorial cancellations have been disappearing little by little these 2000s. We knew it for months. Late 2007... 2008 maybe, these flammes will be extincted.

I have two registered letter to send these past two weeks. It is a - expensive and unsure - way to find one of the last flames :

Some post offices are still cancelling registered letter receipt with their usual inflammed machines.

But, before you burn your 5 euros banknotes at the post office to send registered mail, watch that the famous esoteric codes are already here (here the 11868A ; the receipt was signed in Lille) :

Who will find the last use of this kind of pictorial cancellations of France ?

Updates (25 November 2007) :
Yvon Nouazé reminds me that one element on these receipt are objects of questioning on the Blog philatélie : FRIM code on the upper right corner (cinq barres et FRAB) that may indicate to the mail sorting machine how the adress is written.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Little tour to Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Like Dominique, I found something free and not useless at the Paris Autumn Stampshow : Saint Pierre and Miquelon 2008 philatelic programmation.

As always, a large part is about local history, geography and fauna/flora.

For the secret of the postal rates, go to La Poste website for the archipelago located near Western Canada. You will see that most of the French Marianne definitives issued there overprinted are not useful on their own.

Inside the islands, rates are adapted to the littleness of the territory : 30 eurocents for the less than 20 gram letter, 53 cents for the less than 100 grams (remind that 0,54 € is the national 20 gram letter in Metropolitan France).

Mail is distributed only in postal boxes (boîte postale ; "BP" and a number on the adress) located inside the post office of Saint-Pierre. Do not forget this number when you write to the French oversea territory. Postal box BP 4100 is the poste restante.

Concerning the philatelic history, I advice local expert Jean-Jacques Tillard's french/english website.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Evening pleasure : a Machin

In those Parisian striking days filled with lots of walk (I hate being crowded in the subway), let's me have some delicaties. Here is a Machin...

...printed in intaglio, issue of 1970. Aaaaaaah !

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Swaziland : so british!

This stamp of Swaziland pleased me immediately : so British while so evocative of Swaziland in my Western mind.

This design appeared in 1933 with the effigy of King George V turned to the left, and used again here with George VI portrait in 1938.

A little bit more on postal history of Swaziland with a recent stamp issue, read this The Virtual Stamp Club post.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Stamps of the World News

Every philatelic magazine has a section which lists the new stamp issues for the last months.

In Timbres magazine, it is in fact the catalogue of stamp dealer Théodore Champion, whose founder promoted the collection of unused stamps. In L'Écho de la timbrologie and Stamp Magazine, it is a small catalogue trying to follow the news with the more informations as the postal operators wants to give (to credit the artists for their work is not usual). For magazines strongly linked to a stamp catalogue, like Scott Stamp Monthly, it is a form of catalog's update that gives the reader the stamp numbers in advance.

Reading these parts is fastiduous for me, without a goal, a good topical index or an unusually long text under an issue description. See Stamp Magazine, December 2007, page 94 :

After the orthographic fault in its own country's name, the Austrian post entertains us one more time. On 29 May 2007, it issued on purpose a stamp with an error in its design. Commemorating German pilot of Italian Formula One car Michael Schumacher retirement, the 29 May stamp forgot the 1994 World Championship title. This error didn't appear on the samp issued in December 2006. Only that some already printed erroneous stamps succeeded to reach the philatelic market... and the inevitable speculation.

Austrian post's solution was to issue the erroneous stamp on 29 May 2007, and a folder with the two stamps on 26 June 2007.

I note that the 29 May stamp is not yet declared by the Austrian post to the WADP Numbering System (WNS) while the Christmas stamps already have been.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Postage meter

I am perfecting my philatelic English : the label "Franking machine" became "Meter" (label "Machine à affranchir" dans mon blog en français ; empreinte de machine à affranchir ou EMA means "franking machine's mark").

Another postage meter of French Polynesia

After a lot of walk because of a 3-day (and counting) strike in Paris public transport (fresh air, cold sun, stinky cars,...), I am dreaming of hot sun, white sand and quiet ocean : back to postage meter on covers sent by the Post and Telecommunications Office of French Polynesia.

This time, the meter was printed by a more standard meter machine. O Pacific franc is the value (1 XPF = 0.00838 € or 1 € = 119.32 XPF). This currency, linked to the French franc, then the euro, was created and has been used in French oversea territories in the Pacific Ocean. Today, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia. The central bank is the Institut d'émission d'outre-mer (approximatively Oversea's Issue Institute).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hong Kong Machin deconstructed

In April 2007, Adrian presented the Machins of Hong Kong, including the commemorative minisheets issued for great historical and philatelix occasions.

In february 1994, for a philatelic exhibition, the 5 dollars green figuring Queen Elizabeth II's sculpted effigy by Arnold Machin is deconstructed. How many steps are necessary to print this series?

The effigy / I don't know yet / a first colored background with a central white zone and Hong Kong in chinese characters / a second color filling the central zone and the effigy (see the $1.30 on Adrian's blog).

First step inside the Hong Kong Machinmania.

Update :
Adrian sent me technical intels about this minisheet : printed by Leigh-Mardon, an Australian security printer, in lithography (offset in French philately) on a fluorescent coated paper. Thank you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Daffy Duck on stamps on stamp

Interlude with a third Looney Tunes' character on an United States stamp :

It is a stamps on stamp because Daffy Duck is watching at his incoming mail franked with the two first Lonney Tunes stamps :

No cancellation by Toon Post, it seems.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

USA's non denominated but permanent valued stamps

In Sweden, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Belgium, etc., stamps are sold with non denominated values printed, but that can be always be used for a certain service : generally the first rate of the prioritary letter.

In the United States, these for-one-service value stamps exist and are useful : you don't have to remember the exact postal rate. However, their monetary value don't evolve : it is the value of their issue. After two or three rate changes, the expeditor can be puzzled when the USPS bring back one of his letter, estimated underfranked with a "first class mail" stamp.

That's why the Forever stamp was in May 2007 a postal revolution in the United States : finally, the federal Congress authorized the existence of a stamp whose monetary value will always suffice for the simple letter postage rate.

How can our US citizen know if he can stick alone his old "first class mail" stamp ? The Virtual Stamp Club found a help page by the USPS (pdf file).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Autumn philatelic show in Paris

Already told by Dominique on Blog philatélie, from Thursday 8 till Sunday 11 November happens the Salon philatélique d'automne, one of the most important French stamp dealer's happening. It is organized by the Chambre française des négociants et experts en philatélie (CNEP, French Chamber of Dealers and Experts in philately).

Like every year, La Poste and its French overseas associates issued some stamps. Concerning France : beautiful engravings by Martin Mörck for a joint issue with Greenland. The artist was there on thursday and friday. A lighthouse minisheet engraved by Pierre-André Cousin is eye-catching too. When Phil@poste wants to produce great intaglio printed stamps, it can!

Concerning this new issued, like some British collectors wrote, postal operators will continue to issue lots of stamps if people buy them. And La Poste desks were the most crowded of the show. because 90% of my bought stamps will finish on mail, I enjoy the large choice tht will be proposed to my correspondents, but can I have international rate stamps for a change?

Mörck was - artisticly speaking -on the counter of the Art du timbre gravé association too. This association promotes the engraved stamps and offers its members artwork from an engravor. This year is a ice landscape, one of Mörck's favorite personal topic.

Speaking of ice, two blocks of Artic ice were exposed at the Greenland Post stand and are melting very slowly. Maybe, the last drinks of happy dealers will be Arctic cold this year.

Like every year, it's what I found by surprise. No official collection. This year, I fall into British and Commonwealth stamps, soon to be shown here for the winter. It is one of forgotten thing connected to that that made me return a second time : I wanted a strange trip to Tristan Da Cunha philately... ne demandez pas pourquoi.

Finnally, at the Autumn Show, you finish by seeing collector's expositions put on the external wall, behind pillars for some. Today, philatelist Jacques Bidet was there to present an exposition rich on stamp projects by Henry Cheffer whose Marianne is commemorated by a French booklet.

And, in France, Paris is not alone to be philatelicly alive, don't forget to read the calendar of the French Federation of philatelic associations (FFAP).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

a blog in French to read

I propose you to read this blog in French, including its Fiscal and social-postal stamp part : Presentation of some stamps and letters (one of the thematic entrance).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Postage meter of the Office of Posts and Telecommunications of French Polynesia

Here is the post paid meter printed on mail containing philatelic announcements sent by the French Polynesia's Office of Posts and Telecommunications.

The OPT is independent from La Poste, France's historic operator. However, the OPT relies on Phil@poste, La Poste's philatelic service, for printing Polynesian stamps.

(yes, I am short today, but I am so hooked uo to the Queen's stamps...)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Royal Philatelic Collection told by Nicholas Courtney

A beautiful book, complete, well-written, and that quotes all its sources page by page, that's what this authorized history of the Royal Philatelic Collection is.

(picture taken from the website of the publisher Methuen)

Believing the biographic note, Nicholas Courtney is not a philatelist. It's just a writer, passionate by history and the Royal family. He had access to the Philatelic Collection, and received the help of every philatelic curators and libraries you can find in London : Royal Archives, Keeper of the Collection, Royal Philatelic Society London, British Library.

The book follows the main actors who has been constituting this collection, since Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh until Queen Elizabeth II (to only names Royals), illustrated by items of the Collection.

This wealth of referenced informations is a dream for an historian philatelist, but moreover, for a young French philatelist, the book is not hidden in a corner of a stamp dealer or send with a big price tag during a sale after the emptying of a collection. Published in 2004, he is available right now at for 39,95 dollars (27,51 €), and used at

I hope for great French philatelists, specialised but readable by all public writer, to see their books be published and made available like that in France. I will certainly have to wait Godot... or Mister Brun (who will certainly receive my visit soon for his second edition of Faux et truqués about stamp falsification, that he has the kindness to print again).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Béziers, where did your beauty go?

This picture reminds me the pictorial cancellations that longly marked mail posted in Béziers, in Southern sunny France : the old bridge, the cathedral, etc.

Last Summer, passing through Béziers, I sent myself a letter :


For those who seek the significance of new French cancellation codes, Claude Jamet and others continue the listing (be careful : pdf file).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Another dessert?

If the pie is not at your taste, think for this winter that you can bake your own jam :

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tag the Queen

November 2007 issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly (page 20) talked about a philatelo-marcophilic game : to superpose Elizabeth II effigy on a Machin stamp with the same profil printed bon a pictorial cancellation issued for the 40th anniversary of the series.

With luck and complicity of the cancelling machine, some readers have got some success.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sabine on a book

One more time, a non-philateic book catch my eye in a Parisian bookshop. This time, it's Sabine:

(picture taken from the bookshop-on-line

Gilles Pécout's book is a contemporary history of France in maps, published by the editor Autrement.

It seems to me this is essays of colours with the design of the 1 franc Sabine, a 1977-1981 French definitive series designed by Pierre Gandon and inspired by a painting of David.

Why did editor or author chose a Marianne that philatelists thought is one of the less revolutionary of all ? Perhaps to remind that 19th France was marked by the research of a quiet running political régime, first based on a rich social group (less dedicated to lose all in a coup), then enlarge to all the male citizens. The length of the 3rd Republic (1870-1940) and the continuous of the Republic régimes since 1945 prooves clearly that France is no more a revolutionary country. But, all this is my opinion.

Bilberry cake in Finland

Glacial temperatures will strike Helsinki this week. It's time to get some pleasure inside home : participate to web 2.0 activities (I'm sure cold explain a part of the Finnish success on Postcrossing), and well-eating.

These bilberries on a 2006 stamp can accomodate lots of topical taste : nature or gastronomic.

Bon appétit.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stamps and votes

Funny crossing of words on a sunday morning Google News' consultation : "timbre" or "stamp" find electoral news these days.

At the eve of the annual electoral day in the United States, citizens, like those of the State of Washington, are using an absentee voting process. Local authorities accept two types of sent votes : put on special boxes of their administration or delivered by the post service. And here is the problem : some citizens refused to pay a postage stamp that they see as a vote tax. But do the others citizens have to supported this service? Have the USPS to be zealous to deliver these mails while they risk to be refused? (knowing that USPS seems to send back directly to sender this sort of mail - or deliver them veeeeeeeery slowly)

More problematic than the driving-vote, in Togo and others young democraties, authorities want to show their good faith at each election : that foreign observers (from paying and commercial countries) report that the process was honnest, free and equal for all electors and candidates.

The first problem is to be assured that a voter don't vote more than one time - some time without knowing it. I remember a press photograph of an Iraqi woman in her headscarf pointing her electoral card and her finger, with indelibile ink on it.

In Togo, democraty exerced by the Eyadema family, it was decided for the legislative election of 14th October 2007 that on all bulletin complete inside the vote office, a stamp must be sticked. The goal was to avoid the elector to be brided outside in exchange for a pre-completed form. But, stamps were not printed in enough quantities, electors began to be angry... finally, the electoral commission decided decided to make bulletin stamped by two official signatories.

In Bulgaria, this sunday 28 October, a handstamp will mark the long ballots for the city hall elections : the elector must tick the candidates he prefered to be seated at his city hall (94 cm long list for the capital Sofia). To be sure a falsified stamp won't replace the one the official supervisor will use : « Just before the official start of the voting process, members of the electoral body will make sections on the stamps' rubber sides. » How errors, freaks and oddities are useful some times.

The democraty's walking, the stamp's polysemic (or vice-versa).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

British philatelic press in Paris

This morning, I walked to two anglo-saxon bookshops in Paris, between Rivoli and Opéra. No philatelic or collectibles books to be seen.

But, at the press corner of WHSmith (248 Rivoli street, near the downpart of the Tuileries gardens and the place de la Concorde), are available two monthlies : Gibbons Stamp Monthly (7,48 €) and Stamp Magazine (I forgot to check the price because I'm a subscriber).

For the rest of the country,... perhaps some of you have already found the good press dealer?

Friday, October 26, 2007

What is my postal code ?

On the 1st January 1968, the départements of Seine and Seine-et-Oise were replaced by seven little départements, including the city-département of Paris, and the Val-de-Marne.

In a little passing of years, it has been a lot to remember and adapt for the inhabitants : introduction of the postal code in 1964, new number for their new département in 1958... A pictorial cancellation helped them remember that Val-de-Marne is 94.

The stamp is the Marianne of Henry Cheffer. This 0,40 franc (new franc, another newelty of 1960) was issed January 1969, two years after a 0,25 and a 0,30 in November 1967. This is the fortieth anniversary of this series that will be commemorated with a booklet next 12th November. A series created in 1954, lost the competition against the Marianne of Muller, and was finally adopted by minister Yves Guéna ten years after Cheffer died.

Speaking of the president

The nowadays French president of the Republic likes to write... even if I believe it is to be read by journalists...

Here is the top of the enveloppe that contained the Letter to educators [note : in French, the title is "enseignant" (teacher) ; educators are the people who run youth centers when school's over or people who have to watch for teenagers with social problems]. With that some of you can find the firms who win a good amount of money for printing and expediting these letters : a long fascicule more than 50 gramms and less than 100.

Cancelled on 17th September 2007, two long weeks after the school starts and the journalists' comments about the letter... I imagine the reaction of your future ex-girlfriend if everybody comment your letter of rupture while sending it to her two weeks letter lol

(cynical mode)So, let me understand. The French president wrote a letter to his "friends philatelists"...(off)

Meanwhile, in the French philatelic pond...

Since the beginning of the week, many blogs, sites (and certainly magazines next months) are reproducing and commenting a letter from the president of the French Republic adressed to philatelists (my God ! has not this man speak about everything yet ?), I compare the very little I know about the French philatelic universe and the rest of the world's philately. [Only one link with the reproducion of the letter].

The president enjoys and supports the idea of states-general of the philately... Maybe actors of the French philately think they don't meet enough ? 17 Octobre at La Poste, 23 octobre for the Grand Prix, etc. On the other hand, if these states-general find the same kind of solutions to problems like the last states-general of the monarchy, it will please me very much (even if the president-collector won't).

From my ridiculous point of view, excentred from the French philatelic pond, two considerations.

First, I think that any pretended miracle solution is vain if it doesn't have consequences on the French philatelic economy : a book cost a lot to be produced, the market is thin, and the communication to non-philatelists thinner. Comparatively, the documentary wealth of the United Kingdom philatelic institutional websites helped non philatelists to find some intels without efforts The British Postal Museum & Archives, The British Philatelic Trust, The British Library. Then, a philatelic book in English (more complete, more precise, illustrated, more expensive of course) is in Amazon websites' stock and is available longer than a French book at a specialized library in Paris.

Secondly, I see that solutions are amongst us, without they are to be shout out loud (but I won't try to impeach an entrepreneur to shout out loud his new products) :
* if you can read only one text of Jean-François Brun et Michèle Chauvet, let it be chapter 20 ("Documentation et recherche", pages 780-799) of their Introduction à l'histoire postale [de France] de 1848 à 1878. To follow the historians' rules to always justify, source, proove, reference an information will paint with a touch of serious the French philately as a discipline creator of knowledges. A French scientific who is a philatelist too will be a better popular commercial for philately in France than a president's letter.
* with pleasure, philatelic magazines come out the all-French topics closet to use the knowledges and capacities of their generalist professional redactors and those of their specialist amateur one-time writers. It is a pleasure for me because if the only professional in philately are stamp dealers, non philatelist media will only speak about philately for the price at auctions of a rarity (without wanting to tell the story behind it) or because a speculation caused by a discreet issue of a stamp by La Poste. To show that postal history is all over the world is a chance to catch new collectors first interested in this part of the world (that's why my only disappointment in Brun and Chauvet's book is the title that forgets to precise "of France").
* to use all means. Television and internet (see the links in my right column) can be read by non philatelists, people who won't spend 5 € for a monthly philatelic magazine or wait in line more than 20 minutes to buy a stamp today because of the first day cancellation. After reading Claude Jamet's thoughts about the Stamp Festival 2007, why do the local philatelic associations continue to pay to organize first day ceremonies when it's La Poste who earn all the money ? Shouldn't these associations lobby television's local offices for a special exhibitions or to interviewed a collector who can speak with stamps about a regional topic or a topic that the news put up front ? Like this, philately will be more present on national television because local offices would have pictures in stock. Non philatelist viewers will after a while act and go to see before it is been showed on tv.

Signed : Yaka Fokon
(will I be the only one to say advices I won't do myself at this estates-general ?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

USPS An American History

Here is a book offered by the USPS, the historic postal operator in the United States. Free of charge because in this country, the work of the federal government payed by the citizens' taxes must be at available to the largest possible peoples (that's why you find so much NASA space pictures than ESA...).

Freely available means for example that the whole text is readable on the USPS website.

I found this opportunity thank to The Virtual Stamp Club, a English-written philatelic forum. The link will conduct you directly to the postal adress to contact. Apparently, to my own surprise, this service accepts to honor demands from foreigners. Thank you very much, I won't waste this opportunity to learn and teach US postal history.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The strike is lasting

The strike in the public transport is lasting in Paris because of the rugby world cup final, a four day holliday, opportunism of the announce of a presidential divorce, and others things that make journalists and French people so lunatic. I take advantage and continue on strike stamps.

In January and February 2007, in the United Kingdom, a postal strike lasted so long that the British government suspended his postal monopoly. The decision permitted to legalize private citizens and organizations to transport mail (some for lucrative philatelic reasons).

If it can be of use for some one : a cover dealer of the carré Marigny, near the Champs-Élysées avenue, is selling covers from the 1971 strike. They are inside a box of 1,50 € covers. They wear a two-flag label (the Union Jack and the one of the country of destination) and a text explaining the legality of the transport. On the cover, there is a cancelled stamp of the country of arrival too.

May philately be a financial danger to UNO?

Thank to Google News in French, I found a UNO press release dated 16 October 2007 that indicated a financial problem about the postal use of stamps issued by UNO's postal administration.

Extract in French is available on my blog in French : during a meeting at UNO, it was decided to spare 3,3 millions US dollars. This amount of money will be needed to pay back the United States', Switzerland's and Austria's post services for the mail they expedit while they bear UN stamps.

The communiqué is full of informations : 87,8 % (!) of all stamps bought to the UNPA slept in philatelic collections. The rest cost UNO 1,5 millions dollars each year.

For fun, let's imagine the fantasies of easy wins that some philatelic service managers are having now, by reading this article, in France and the United Kingdom. 8 stamps out of 10 never used on mail, and no need to sell them glued on first day cover or postal history cards.

Hopefully, UNPA stamps are important through their topics (peace, cooperation, etc) and give a place to children : like this 6-year old Indonesian whose design is chosen for a 2008 series about fighting poverty.

23 October 2007 update :
It seems that this problem has been out for some times (see this threads on The Virtual Stamp Club forum : first and second).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Back to childhood

Every year, the Deutsche Post issued a stamp in the Für uns Kinder series, for us children.

From the German Federal ministery of Finances' presentation ot the one of the postal operator, I can't say if the designers (Olaf and Regina Jäger) are children. A Google serach indicates partners of a design company.

Meanwhile, the topic of the hedgehog and the collage technic with Autumn leaves shaped like hearts are in the way back to chilhood.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Strike action

Tomorrow, there is a strike action of many of the public transport in France (national trains, city buses, metros and tramways). Mainly drivers will protest against the government's project to erase special retirement treatment that benefits public transport drivers.

Some philatelists specialized themlselves in the alternative way of sending mail, while there is a postal strike.

Concerning France and some neighbouring philatelix countries (like the Channel Islands), you can search the bibliography added to the Wikipédia in French article about these stamps and labels that symbolised a effective or imaginary service replacing the defailling State postal monopoly.

Concerning your discovery of French strikes, the big last one (Autumn 1995) makes my fellow citizens discover bicycles of course, and what has been the gadget of the late 1990s : the kick scotter.

Momentary unwilling problem

Since, at the time I can write, Blogger's picture uploading program does not want to work, not many posts these days.

You can take some time to watch -in French- on TV Timbres the interview of Jacqueline Caurat. She was the presenter of Télé-philatélie between 1974 and 1983, the lone television show I knew about in France. She was interviewed by Gauthier Toulemonde, Timbres magazine's redactor-in-chief.

You will see French artist and writer Jean Cocteau drawing his Marianne effigy with Caurat's lipstick.

Late 2004-beginning 2005, a project of DVD release of this old show was announced by the Musée de La Poste, in Paris. But, the project seems to be abandonned : the French Audiovisual National Institute's prices were too high for such a little market as the French philatelic one. The INA uses this prices for its main mission : to archive all French television and radio shows ever broadcasted.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Clever first day card from Australia

Often, during first day ceremonies, postal administrations, collectors associations and philatelic publisher sell first day postal card, whose illustration matches the stamp and its cancellation.

But, if you want to send one of those cards to someone, you have to add another stamps because the original one is already cancelled.

Recently I received through Postcrossing this card :

First day card of September 10th 1998 for the bicentenary of Tasmanian coast exploration by George Bass.

On the other side, you discover that this card is a stationery permitting a worldwide expedition from Australia.

I miss the price of such a first day stationery : is it less or more expensive than the typical first day card? Yet, it is the proof that some postal administrations remember that some collectors dare to use philatelic items in a vulgar postal way.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Christian Beslu

Christian Beslu, here is a relatively unknown person, but everywhere when I look back on my last five years of reading articles about French Polynesian philately.

In Timbres magazine, an article about mini-sheets and booklets issued by the Posts and Telecommunications Office of this French oversea territory, signed : Christian Beslu.

The presentation of a new Polynesian stamp issue, signed : Christian Beslu.

An old document illustrates this stamp, collection of origin : Christian Beslu's.

Finally today, a litterary site about islands taught me more about this collector ( Beslu was a technical documentalist at French firm Thomson, then at the Atomic Energy Office, that makes France a civil and military nuclear power. This post made him live in Polynesia since the 1960s, because the French nuclear testing site was on the Muruo atoll. I understand better his historic knowledge and rich documentation about French Polynesia that Beslu has been sharing with collectors for decades now.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Electoral letter from Lattes

Here is a scan with the evolution of Lattes townhall's franking machine, French commune in Hérault.

It reproduces the "Port Ariane" pictorial cancellation that Lattes-Center post office was using at that time.

The machine was changed between 2000 and 2002. The new one prints postal mark in two parts, asymetrical moves are possible like in March 2002. The color varies, certainly because the ink quality or disponiblity.

To know more about the postal sending of electoral card in France, you can read News du phospho blog's article posted 17 April 2007.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

First day of issue in France

Second step after the first day of issue of the 50 years of space exploration stamp of France :

For once, I remembered to use all the possibilities offered during the first day of issue in France (or "anticipated sellings" in traditional vocabulary) :
* the stamp is sold, a day or two before the others post offices ;
* cancellation of the stamp on mail or on souvenirs with a special illustrated datestamp (here spatial telescope CoRoT) ;
* signature by the author, here David Ducros, illustrator of the CNES (the French spatial center), and you can briefly talk with him and learn how he became involve in the creation of his first stamp.

Generally, these first day issues take place in cities connected to the stamp and are organized by a local philatelic association. It must find a place and earn money by selling its own souvenirs and first day covers, concurrently with those of La Poste. A member of the association can exhibit his collection.

In some cases like this stamp, an institution can be the organisator because of special interest and because it has got the local : here the CNES offices in Les Halles area, right in the center of Paris.

You can obtain the first day cancellation until eight weeks after the issue by sending your enveloppes and souvenirs (with means of return for those last ones) to the Philatelic Cancellation Office :

Bureau des oblitérations philatéliques
61 rue de Douai
75436 PARIS CEDEX 09.

Thank you to a New Yorker reader who told me she was curious on how first day of issue takes place in France.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mysterious coded cancellation in Canada

After two asiatic steps (1 and 2), a thirs letter sent by a friend whose job helps him to travel.

Full sheets of stamps of Canada has got informations about the stamp's conception (authors, printer). The cancellation is vague, less if the code on the right part of the first line means something.

Concerning the new coded cancellations of France, you can read a list compiled by Claude Jamet (pdf file).

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Machin jewelry

In issue 172 of Royal Mail catalog Preview, are proposed objects of collection for fans of the Machin series :
* pin badge in silver reproducing the First class stamp (22,95 pounds sterling, circa 33 € or 46 USD) ;
* commemorative medal in silver, diameter 6 cm (£89,95) ;
* a document containing folders about Arnold Machin's arts and about the palette of the stamp series, plus a Machin stamp in silver (£48) ;
* and a medal first day cover of the Arnold Machin stamp. The medal's faces represent the famous effigy and a sculpted portrait of Arnold by his deceased son Francis (£14,50).

Fortunate amateur will be happy. I think it's more elegant than the Marianne des Français mug La Poste proposed in January 2005.

Promoting the philatelic program of France

For many years, Phil@poste (formerly the National Service for Postal Stamps) has been distributing semestrial flyers to announce next issues and their first day sellings.

The front page is the reproduction of one of the stamp to come.

Clients of Phil@poste received them regularly. The others can find them at the philatelic post offices (one per département) or during first day happenings.

This one is the 2007 second semester flyer illustrated by the next stamp about the space exploration. The first day will happen this 4 October, 50 years after Spoutnik 1 reached Earth orbit.

Postage stamp as an object of propaganda : 0,85 € on a light letter (0-20 gramms) can show the world the engines of the European Space Agency.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Looney Tunes

Since I was imitating Tweety Bird's catch-phrase last day, here are two stamps of the USPS series about the Looney Tunes characters, anthropomorphic animals created by the Warner Bros. during the 1930's and the 1940's.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


A little free speech text today :

The 2008 edition of the first tome (stamps of France) of the Yvert et Tellier catalogue is published this autumn ! And, when you read September issue of L'Écho de la timbrologie magazine, you know it ! Its new cover designed by French artist Marc Taraskoff is the event of the season ! Aude Ben-Moha writes it : this limited edition cover marks the "revival" of the French philately. Plus, she reminds you : buy this limited cover catalogue and you win this painting on a free minisheet ! Yeah !

The illustrator, Marc Taraskoff, is summoned for a commercial two-page interview about this cover, even if he admits that "I am neither a philatelist, nor a collector". But he can judge the content of Y&T catalogue : "it's quite not a harmless book. It's a reference, a true bible."

Conclusion : the content is precious to all collectors. So, let's go to page 86 and read this catalogue critic. The cover, the promotion of an annex mini-book about engraving and recess-printing written by Mrs. Ben-Moha, and which countries are in the others tomes published this month are all the topic of this critic. Nothing about the content and its evolution. :))

I forget the ultimate detail, in the eye of the new French philatelic collector, the one who collects catalogue covers and minisheets reproducing catalogue covers : "The latter [tome 1bis and following] keep their old red cover."

If you want to know some tiny bits of serious informations (yes, as commercial as the above), go read page 15 of Timbres magazine and the answers of the main manager of Y&T, Benoît Gervais, about his catalogue, his covers and his firm. About the tome 1 content, he thinks it became a "semi-specialized" catalogue that give the readers what they have been asking : "more photographs, more iconographic research [? from the redactor of this post], more informations".

Personally, I will wait November and the Autumn Show in Paris to give an eye to this catalogue : will he finally give as much - even more - datas about the stamps' story and career than Dallay.

For the stamps from un-French-related countries, and even if these books were not often in my hands, I suggest you compare Y&T content with Michel, Scott and Stanley Gibbons catalogues. The financial and linguistic effort can be very producive.

4 october 2007 :
If you want to see the content of the Dallay catalogues (France and French philatelic "countries"), you can watch on TV timbres the interview of their authors, Luc Dartois et Jean-Bernard Pillet, by Timbres magazine's journalist Michel Melot.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I taut I tou a putty head in Fiji

One of Parisian weekly stamp market, Carré Marigny, near the Champs-Élysées, is selling modern registered letters from British colonies. They were sent to postal boxes and banks in the Channel Islands.

One of those confort myself in my Machin mania :

Sent at Lautoka, a town in Fiji islands, in 1979, it bears three stamps. On them, the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II... that looks like the Machin stamp series of the United Kingdom. Unless I'm beginning to see this head every where ?

Independent since 1970, Fiji had been a monarchy under the queen of England rule until 1987. This year, two military coups d'État were organized against the alleged power of Indian-Fijians versus the Melaniasian-Fijians.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chalon head, Elizabeth age

The Chalon head are series of British colonial stamps during the 19th century. The name came from the painter whose portrait of Queen Victoria was re-interpreted into stamps : Alfred Edward Chalon.

New Zealand was among these colonies. Its 1855 Chalon heads were the very first stamps of this country. And that's what this 1955 stamp commémorated :

Same crown made under George IV's reign (and visible on the Penny Black and the Machin series), same youth, but different queen : Elizabeth II replaced her ancestor.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

British first class is not Europe first class

I presented what Royal Mail put on unsufficient franked postcard. But, what can it do when the card is not illustrated ?

The éditions Verdier is a French publisher. Inside their books, the reader find a card with a quizz : who are you ? what did you buy ? where ? etc.

The problem of postage due is indicated by a big cancellation beginning with the word "DELAYED" : certainly a message explaining why Royal Mail did not hurry to treat this card for three days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Accident on a pictorial cancellation in Lattes

Back to pictorial cancellations of Lattes, in Southern France, and this day in November 1999, when a letter has got a little accident when it passed through the mechanical chicane.

Note : we all have witnessed the permanent lack of time of our contemporary fellows (me included). I have watched their ignorance about postal tarriffs too. The first with the latter is a good price for the postal administration in France : the wrong idea is that two permanent red stamps are suffisant for a big letter, too heavy for a lone 20-gram red stamp.

In 1999, the red permanent stamp costs 3 francs, against 4,50 francs for a 20 to 50 gram letter. The consumer who posted the letter above lost 1,50 francs.

Since the 1st October 2006, the lost has been lighter : 0,86 - 2 x 0,54 = 0,22 € (soit 1,44 franc).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Senegal stamp againt Apartheid

It suffered inside a dealer's box full of stamps of the world, but it recalls that postage stamps are political messenger of a country.

The international communauty's arm stops the Apartheid to continue the oppression against black peoples in South Africa (the blood on the right). And Nelson Mandela in the fighting leadership figure while he had been imprisoned for 24 years when this stamp was issued.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Intrusive bar-code

To send a postcard and imagine the destinator profit a beutiful view of your journey, is some time more a matter of faith than simple confidence in the postal service. I wrote about the Royal Mail's radical picturesque sticker to make you understand your sender was cheap on rates.

The automatization of mail sorting brings me another example, on a card from the United States, thank to a Postcrossing exchange.

Prudent and respectuous of its buyers and the U.S. Postal Service, the publisher Penrod/Hiawatha of Michigan let a blank space at the bottom right. There, the room is large enough for any Postnet bar-code the USPS want to print. But, here, as you can see, it has remained blank.

Blank because, the USPS maculated the view of Mackinac Bridge with a sticker for its Postnet bar-code... The bridge connects the two peninsulas forming the State of Michigan.

I ask : can not anyone invent a machine whose postal users are intelligent enough to cancel and print bar-code on the same side ?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mail from Cherbourg naval base

For my collection, I have the luck that my sister has been in love with a military man. I kept the covers in this relation, from the bases he worked at, first in the French navy, then in the Army.

He spent his instruction at the navy base in Cherbourg - Querqueville, where the post office has got a pictorial cancellation. The thickness of the stamp impeached the complete mark of a marine anchor, symbol of the French navy mail.

The next week (philately was not the cause... more telephone cost), a simple hand-date stamp was enough to cancel this Summer holiday stamp issued the 5 June 2000. Here, the postal code and the anchor are fully visible.

I possess a very little number of these covers, but I appreciate them because, like Dominique wrote, they are genuine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


How do you collect bills in euro currency without being ruined by money hoarding?

The website EuroBillTracker may help: you can follow the bills you had in your hands. You register the denomination and the two codes on the bill, and wait if another person will have the bill too. You help to make statistics about the movement of bills depending of the printer.

Such a site exists since 1998 for the United States dollar bill : Where's George?

Algerian post encouraging the use of postal code in 1990

Encouraging to use postal code is now a new label on this blog.

This encouragement is the message of this Algerian post's pictorial cancellation of 1990 : "Postal code : five digits / to sort quickly your mail". The stamp depicts automobile repair jobs.

I imagine that green and red signs of the air mail enveloppe replaced avantageously the usual blue and red, too close to the French flag.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Illustrated mystery in Sweden, co-starring Martin Mörck

Today, a mysterious pictorial cancellation on a cover from Sweden, sent at a barely visible date to a French publisher.

The stamp was issued in 1997 and was part of a three-stamp series about marine. This 18th century Compass rose was engraved by Martin Mörck.

I thank in advance the one of you, readers, who will help me discover the significance of the pictorial cancellation. I see a stylised reindeer, or two human beings congratulating one another.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Lattes' pictorial cancellations

Second episode of the Lattes topical collection, French commune in Hérault, between Montpellier and Palavas-les-Flots.

In France, until the beginning of the 1990's, a certain number of schools asked to parents to frank some enveloppes for the mail of a school year. But, thank to the reactions of some parents, it was remembered to schools the principle of the free education.

But the situation ante help the young student I was to have pictorial cancellations from my hometown :

To my knowings, the Lattes-Centre post office (Lattes-Centre is the main town of Lattes ; the Maurin area has got its own office with a hand-datestamp "GA" for "Guichet annexe") used two different pictorial cancellations.

From the 1980's to the beginning of the 1990's, the lower one is a summarizing landscape : Saint-Laurent church built during the 12th century, an amphora, memory of the antic port of Lattara rediscovered and explored by a teacher Henri Prades, and the head of a bull. The latter is for the little number of courses camarguaises organized in Lattes : some young men - the razeteurs - try to take off a little object on the bull's head ; the bull is not often very cooperative. The background is the view of Méjean pond, separing Lattes from the littoral coast.

At the beginning of the 1990's (here, the cover's date is 14 June 1993), the picture was changed and the new commune's logotype is used. But, the cancellation is more an advertisment than the first touristical one, because "Port Ariane" is at the time a project of new neighbourhood around a little marina. It was built and was a success (more because Montpellier population exploded than for the boat parking).

Since when the first was in use : no idea, I will look for.

Until when the second was used : I can't tell because my high school years were a philatelic pause. It had negative points : I missed some pretty stamps. And positive : as a low-money university student when I came back to stamps, I have been having a critic eye on new French stamps. I have some documents that will show (in another article) thant the picture is postally alive under another form.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

First lenticular stamp of France

Here it is : French Post is issuing its first lenticular stamp for the Rugby World Cup that begins at the end of this week, and all the advertisement industry adopts this sport to sell financials, cheese, beef steacks, metro tickets and stamps of 3 € value (normal letter : 0,54 €).

Look for heavy letters from France (exchange of books and reports between science places) or registered letters.

Auto-adhesive, this stamp has two thickness because the animated illustration is constructed with plastic. The right part is platified : be careful with your fingerprints and other little dusts. How this stamp will survive automatic mail sorting, is another story.

Compared to precedent communications documents, the usual signature of the artist Éric Fayolle and of the stamp agency Phil@poste are printed.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Golden Flower in Switzerland

Thank to a Postcrossing, this definitive Swiss stamp arrived at home : its denomination indicates it is valid for a postcard sent to an European country.

A tour inside the Swiss Post website helps to retrieve lots of intels :
* the blue stamp is in the list of valid stamps inside the pdf file "Ordinary stamps 1977+". It was issued in 2002 with another red one, that is valid for a worldwide card. The same year, you can look for one already-seen-on-this-blog insect.
* Europe, Swiss postal rate-ly speaking (.pdf) goes to Russia, Turkey and Greenland.
* The prioritary letter less than 20 grams to Europe needs a 1,30 Swiss franc stampage (around 0,79 € or 1,08 USD). Economic rate is not interesting in this case : 1,20 CHF (0,73 € or 0,99 USD).

A more profound research finds the initial presentation of this stamp : "Special stamps for card sent abroad". These bleu and red stamps are sold in booklet of six, with a discount (0,60 CHF for a six-blue-stamp booklet, 0,80 CHF for the red version). The discount is made possible because these two stamps can only be used for postcards, not letters (read the message inside a booklet).

The illustration is the emblem of the Tourist office of Swiss.

These stamps help greatly the foreign tourists in Swiss, with a discount. We all are not patient or interested enough to take time and discover the philatelic state of a post office during our holidays.

An award for the quality and content of the Swiss Post website.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Post offices and zip codes of the United States

A discovery thank to Don Schilling, this website is trying to compile all United States post office that existed or are still existing. Since the site is partly commercial : you can watch covers on sale cancelled in a particular office.

I found Beverly Hills, California post office, whose zip code became known worldwide with the TV series Beverly Hills, 90210.

The Wikipedia in English can help to discover the secrets behind US zip codes.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Attempt on the King in Montpellier

Great worry in Montpellier, this 5th December 1989 :

This King Francis I - who signed the ordinance of Villers-Côterets in 1539 (450 years before this commemorative stamp) - survived an attempt on its integrity, made with the tumultuous black ink of a pictorial cancellation for the centenary of Montpellier's Institut de Botanique (created by Charles Flahaut).