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).