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).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Printing matters

Ever since I discover philately some fifteen years ago, I keep feeling uneasy in front of printing methods, especially to recognize gravure from offset.

As a Frenchspeaking native, this feeling is stronger for a year and the exploration of the rich but Englishspeaking jungle of British philately.

For the first fear, Dominique of the Blog Philatélie summarizes the differences with, this time, examples of stamps of France personalized with labels: his first article and the second one.

For the British matter, Machin Mania helps thank to the arrival of lithograph-printed Machin stamps inside prestige booklets : to read.

In French, héliogravure is the English equivalent of photogravure (now gravure if a computer replaces the photograph). Lithography is told offset. The trap for a French philatelist is the faux-ami gravure, because, in France, gravure is used in the context of recess-printed stamps, whose illustration is made by an engraver (un graveur).

Monday, August 27, 2007


Postcrossing is a website that has been helping the exchange of postcards sent by postal ways since 2004.

The principle is simple : you must send a card to another user, writing a code on it to avoid giving your own adress. When he receives it, he records the code on the site. For each recorded card you sent, you can wait for a card to be sent to you by a third user... and so on.

More than 660'000 cards were exchanged since 2004 thank to Paulo Magalhaes' site.

If you don't fancy chance to receive cards, you can go on the website's forum and participate to voluntary exchange depending on countries, card's topics, etc.

Philatelicly, you receive recent stamps of Europe and North America (the technological inegality in the world is visible on the 660'000 card map).

Here are the stamps of the first "official" (i.e. with the help of the blind exchange) postcard I received from Switzerland.

The Switz Post prints the name of the stamp designer and the printer (Enschedé for the insect, Banknote Corp. for the Pro Juventute on the right).

To me, for two weeks, the pleasure to receive cards competes with the one to prepare and stamped cards.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Venetian topic

When a stamp issued March 16th, 2007 about Venice and the Rialto Bridge (and gondola of course), is cancelled with the commemorative date-mark of Venezia Nuova festival, a borough of Livorno, in Tuscany, it prooves that a Venetian topical collection can be something else than a long list of Venitian monuments.

Thank to Riccardo.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

100 years of international reply coupons

On the 1st October 2007, the internation reply coupon will be one hundred years old. This is the cause for philatelic magazines to write about its history.

The IRC is bought by the sender at a post office in his country. He put it in his mail to a foreign receiver. In exchange of the IRC, this person will obtain the stamps necessary to send a prioritary letter to the sender.

The collection of IRC is theorically impossible without one postmark, the one from the selling post office. It can be double-cancelled if the receiver keep the coupon without obtaining the stamps, and with a cool postman.

Pierre Sanders tell the history of IRC and give a multi-lingual bibliography in September 2007 Timbres magazine, while Kathleen Wunderly do longly the same in the same month issue of Scott Stamp Monthly, plus the genesis of IRCs and a touch of humour.

After she summarizes the main points of discussion and the initial projects that took place during the 1885-1906 UPU conferences, Mrs Wunderly makes humour : she tried to find IRC in United States now-a-days post offices... A piece of advice : go to a big city post office, where recent or established migrants may be numerous enough to make IRCs an obligated stock in a post office.

For your personal library, Cent ans de coupons-réponses en France 1907-2007 d'André Hurtré ("100 years of reply coupons in France 1907-2007") is published by the Académie de philatélie.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

James Baldwin

This morning, I went to the paper's store, and hop, my philatelist eyes - once again - catched something unexpected : the cover of a new novel Lettre à Jimmy by Alain Mabanckou.

The illustrated front cover ( website)

Top and bottom, you can easily recognize the two last French definitive series : two red non-value-indicated Marianne du 14 juillet in their adhesive form (watch for the lateral ondulating separations), and one Marianne des Français green (non-prioritary letter).

Full center, an United States stamp about the book's matter : writer James Baldwin (1924-1987). Thomas Blackshear II portrayed him from a 1960's picture. The background adapted a Berenice Abbot's 1938 photograph taken in Harlem, where Baldwin is born. The enveloppe on which the stamp (without cancellation...) is sticked wears the name of a French town : Saint-Paul-de-Vence, near Nice, where the writer dies.

Blackshear is known for his statues inspiring by christian faith and black-american culture, and many stamps for the USPS too. Berenice Abbot is linked to the Lost Generation, these writers and artists who emigrated from the US and came to Paris after World War One.

I admit that my lack of culture (or my hyper-contemporary culture) makes me discover James Baldwin this morning, but I congratulate the marketing service of Fayard editions for doing such a catching philatelic cover.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Good old covers

Here is a good old cover, with everything we need to follow its journey.

1. It was posted in London by Rene Dhondt & Co, on May 25, 1916, and in direction to France. King George V appears on the 2 pence and a half stamps.

Here is the surprise, a mistake on the cancellation date :
A "86" replaced the "16é.

2. On the back, second cancellation without end at the 89 office of London the same day.

3. On the 28th of May, the arrival in Paris is celebrated with the « PARIS R.P. / ETRANGER » mark ("Etranger" = "Foreign")

4. We follow the letter in Paris to the 11th arrondissement of paris (« PARIS XI DISTRIBUTION ») where you can find the Crussol street where destinator mister Van den Bogaert lived.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Boutre à Zanzibar

On a postcard sent by friends, this stamp of Tanzania about the Beauty of Zanzibar, a twelve-stamp issue of June 2006.

The dhow sails near Matemwe, a village in the Northern part of Zanzibar island.

The card picture is a maasai festivity. Kenya is not the only country to have both Indian ocean and savanna landscapes.

Sole problem : no date cancellation. Has the dating stamp been forgotten at the mail sorting facility, or did an other card impeach the cancellation of this one in the machine ?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Channel 4

Small study of a cover fragment :

The stamp is British, from the Machin series. The 24-pence denomination has got many colors. Two are near the specimen's one : terracotta of 1989 and rust of 1991. With my eyes only, this stamp is rust - terracotta seems more red to me.

The cancellation is a commercial picturial one : the "4" is the logo of Channel 4, a public television channel. Its main characterisc : no money from the public, only commercial activities has been financing Channel 4 and its group. This gave it a large freedom of creation, especially for fiction programs : provoking, politically incorrect, social like Queer as Folk, Shameless, Sugar Rush. The group is a movie producer too : Four Weddings and a Funeral, Trainspotting for example.

What survive on the fragment :


Channel 4 has been broadcasting since November, 2nd 1982. The cancellation commemorates its 10th anniversary.

If the stamp was used during the last quarter of 1992, the stamp is certainly of rust color. But, since I don't have an eye for gravure/litho differences yet, I won't go further in this study... for now.

PS :
24 pence, at this time, was the rate for a priority letter less than 60 grams. This page of the Machin Nut's website lists the British postal rates between 1967 and 2004.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Congratulations to Adrian

Congratulations to Adrian, author of the akphilately blog, for his appearance in printed paper.

The collector of stamps figuring Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (national and colonial) is four-page-long interviewed for the September issue of Stamp Magazine.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Thank to Riccardo, here is the 4-July Italian stamp for the bicentenary of Garibaldi, hero of the Rio Grande do Sul fight for independance, of the Italian unification, and the only French army commander to win a battle at Dijon during the 1870 war against the Prussians.

The commemorative stamp is not the first day cover one (in Italy FD cancellation are black and white reinterpretation of the stamp).

Cristina Bruscaglia's stamp used historic documents, such an old view of the house in Nice where Giuseppe was born (then in Piedmont-Sardinia, French in 1860).

Here are the stamps issued for this anniversary (list waited for the postal administrations to declare their stamps). In France, some have been signing a petition to force La Poste to issue a stamp for Garibaldi, born in Nice, French citizen by the treaty of 1860 and defensor of the country in 1870. défenseur du pays en 1870.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mail globalization

When you subscribe to a magazine published abroad, you are not surprised that it arrives from the country involved, with a sticker explaining that the editor has a subscription with the local post. Like this label on a Scott Stamp Monthly plastic bag, coming through the Atlantic from Jamaica, New York.

But, surprisingly at the beginning of July, when the two first magazines were sent to me (I asked my subscription to begin one month earlier to obtain the Machin series article) :

The two stickers :
* one from the USPS,
* the other is a franking from Auckland, New Zealand.

Two hypothesis :
* it is cheaper to sent these kind of mail from the United States to Europe through New Zealand, than directly.
* New Zealand Post is a USPS contractor and sent these kind of mail.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Afghan philately today

In September 2007 issue of Scott Stamp Monthly, Charles Snee presents some covers, philatelic result of his afghan journey while serving his tour of duty.

In January 2007, in post offices of Afghanistan, you find stamps whose dates of issue can spread over more than fifty years : from the 20 poul "Buddha of Bamian" to nowadays stamps (the link connects to the WNS Afghan page).

Thank to this mail, he obtained stamps of the 2000's that Scott catalog hadn't referenced until then, certainly because the editors didn't have the proof of actual postal use.

I strongly advice you to read the "From the Scott Editors" section of this magazine. During my first three months of subscription, each article was a surprising enlightment of what is the serious writing of a stamp catalog.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Belgian priority

Since Wednesday 1st August 2007, the non-priority interior mail rate does not more exist in Belgium for common users. You have to send your letters in priority rate, that exists there under the brand "PRIOR" printed on the stamps or on a label se-tenant.

The Belgian that used the non-Prior rates is affecting with a 0,06 € increase for a simple letter under 50 grams (0,52 € prior), and respecting some dimensions. Don't respect this standard at the same weight, the franking will cost you 1,02 € per letter.

To help the use of remaining 0,46 € stamps, a new stamps of the Buzin's Birds was issued last 9th July. It represents a little owl (Athene noctua, Harry Potter's effect ?) painted by André Buzin, like all the stamps of this definitive series since 1985.

In an answer to the RTBF, La Poste/De Post explains this suppression by its efficiency : thank to the modernization of his mail sorting, 95 % of Belgian interior letters are delivered the next day.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ondulating cancellation

In French, the philatelic expression « Flamme » ("flame" in English, here "illustrated cancellation") is born with the first mechanical cancellation. The date mark was linked to a long design in order to cancel all stamps on the cover. Long... so was chosen a flag or, in heraldic, an oriflame (see examples on

In France, the design lasted with long-period ondulations, long enough to evoke a floating flag in the wind (this kind of wind is very difficult to find when you want a picture of a floating flag...).

In Iceland, the period is very short, the ondulation is nervous... even maritime. You can feel the Northen Atlantic in this cancellation. The cover was sent by the philatelic service of the Pósturinn (Iceland Post for the international public).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

First one in Guam

Since June 1898 they invaded this Pacific island and for the first time of the latter philatelic history, a United States of America postage stamp is illustrated with a Guam topic. Issued 1st June 2007, this airmail 90-cent stamp reproduces a sunset picture of Hagåtña Bay, whose name is also this US territory's capitale name.

Like others US territories (Samoa, Porto-Rico, îles Vierges et Mariannes du Nord), the inhabitants have been using US stamps without any distinctive mark other then the cancellation. Concerning Guam, the same took place during the Spanish rule before 1898 and during the Japanese occupation between December 1941 and 1944. Philippines stamps were in use during these two periods.

Two moments knew others stamps (or almost) :
* when the US Navy administrated the postal service (1899-1901), eleven US stamps were overprinted « GUAM »,
* from April 1930 to April 1931, overprinted Philippines stamps and two new stamps labelled « GUAM GUARD MAIL » were created when the military governor wanted to extend the mail delivery to all the island.