Sunday, April 29, 2007

Google News

In the "Chronique de Socrate" of May 2007, a monthly opinion article published in Timbres magazine (readable on their site, in the "Lire" section), the author appreciate the vigor of philately on the web. He searched the words "timbre" and "stamps" on Google. I frequently used Google News to find press articles on philately, and I smiled when I read this text : if only these millions pages were philatelic.

This sunday morning, I look for "stamps" on the English-speaking Google News. If the recent Star Wars issue by the US Post makes the big titles, I quickly discover that the US media are interessed in the life and eatings of the governor of Oregon. And not because he is a known philatelic activist.

Ted Kulongoski is opposed to a project of the Bush administration to reduce the importance of food stamps. Nothing philatelic with teeth and mail in this topic : these are to help poor families to buy food. And if this week, the governor beats the Force out of stamped Jedis, it's because he has lived like a person with no ressource receiving 21 dollars of food stamps for the week, the average help received in the Oregon state.

Less political, English written press articles are often about the tax you have to pay on official papers when you buy a house, for example. In French, this double meaning of the word "stamp/timbre" exists.

So, even if these millions pages found by Socrate chronicler are not philatelic, they permit to discover the world.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

This week-end, take place a first day issue in Paris and four towns in the four overseas départements. Are released four stamps and an illustrated sheet in the annual series Nature of France. Four endangered species are depicted :

(image from the L'Actu timbrée site of La Poste)
As usual, for this soon-to-be 50 year series, the stamps can be use for the major postal tarriffs : 0,54 € for the less than 20 gramms letter in France, 0,60 € for the same weight in the European Union, and 0,86 € for the 20-50 g in France (1 cent more than the simple letter worldwide). But, no economic stamp (0,49 €).

While it was often in the recent years that the economic stamp of the Nature of France series that helped this series to be one of the French philatelic best sellers.

In 2001, spectacular example with the animals of the woods : 43,1 millions of squirrels (3 francs) were released into collections and mails (9 to 12 millions is a good score in France). Better, for a 4,50 francs stamp : the stoat whose eyes seemed to be right into the eyes of the readers was sold at 14,9 millions of units, third best sell for an individual stamps in 2001.

Even if the 2006 series 2006 received the Prix citron at the last Salon philatélique d'automne, I will continue to follow this annual series, that gives fresh air, in contradiction to some French commemorative stamps graphicly less-(ill- ?) inspired.

Notes :
1. The numbers of sold stamps are regularly announced by Phil@poste, published by the French philatelic magazines, Timbres magazine et l'Écho de la timbrologie, and finally are printed into the Dallay catalogue (recently described on this blog).
2. If some readers, out of France, send me mail, the first three answers will be franked with one raccon of the 2007 Nature of France series.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Last months for pictorial cancellations of France

Timbres magazine told the history of French illustrated cancellations last February, because they are disappearing and replaced by cancellations made by moderner machines. They illustrated the mail posted in a precise post office since they were town-chosen : archeology in Lattes, local or national commemorations, etc.

But, to rationalize its activities (and make beneficits while obliged to serve every home in the country), La Poste decided to cancel all mail in the Mail Centers. Disappeared so the place of posting. Here is one of the new type of cancellation :

In May 2007 l'Écho de la timbrologie magazine, a reader sent an illustrated letter with the different new cancellations he found : even the name of the département of cancellation was replaced by a number that doesn't seem to be a zip code.

Concerning the past, the death of French illustrated cancellations closed the large number of illustrations that has existed. Perhaps, more time for collectors to look for the perfect piece for their collection.

For the future, these cancellations are anonymous... Claude Jamet illustrated an article with hope : a new cancellation that was illustrated during a comics festival in Corsica. He rememorated us with the German example of illustrated cancellations, but not well-put. I remember that the majority of cancellations from Canada and the United Kingdom I have saw, were very badly printed.

Let's positive the French case : since the new blue cancellations and the ones I wrote about here, the cancellations are beautifully printed, easily readable for 100% of the mail I have been seeing. Hope that these confidence in these well-done cancellations may inspired the return of illustration soon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dallay catalogue 2007-2008

See on website : next 21st of June will be published the three new updated catalogues from French editor Dallay. Their authors, Luc Dartois and Jean-Bernard Pillet are interviewed in the May 2007 issue of Timbres magazine (page 15).

Here is a stamp catalogue for those - like me - who have not a passionnate love for value, and are curious of all intels linked to the stamps' life : their authors, printing methods, dates of issue and retreat, number of stamps printed or sold. These informations are the first step on the road to others informations : why this artist ? Why this illustration ? etc.

Lucky we are that Dallay exists since 2001 to help find these first little pieces of informations. Because, as a philatelist in my twenties, I think that philately as a discipline is amnesic : who is this engraver, dead for centuries enough to be forgotten in nowaday's magazine ? Why this stamps is more valuable than an other ? The postal tarriffs history may help find an answer, but, for French tarriffs before Dallay, finding postal tarriffs were difficult or expensive (but, in this case, Mr. Brun's work is invaluable).

What was the BEPTOM (apart an African stamp seller, whose stamps never have put a teeth on this continent) ? For a French collector reading philatelic magazine, this question seems genuine and easy since almost all biographies of glorious French stamp designers and engravers speak of their career at the Bureau d'études des postes et télécommunications d'outre-mer (Office for the postal and telecommunication studies for the Overseas). I was surprise that Le Monde des philatélistes and Timbroscopie magazines wrote only short notifications when the BEPTOM disappeared in December 1994. Only, the collectors were notified where they would have to buy the stamps after that. Nothing about memory, the history of this institution that formed many of the French engravers between the 1950's and the 1980's, its actions in African countries. All seems to be focused on the needs of the collector-buyer-valuer.

Thank to Dartois and Pillet to have begun a laborious task with the redaction of a real catalogue that is an encylopedic-dictionary of France and French Overseas philately.

Note: on the same topic of big excellent books. This one explains how cancellation machine works. It is called l'Oblitération mécanique en France (Cancellations by machines in France) par Yvon Nouazé (already used by Dominique and awarded by the Académie de philatélie) has astouned me. In my young career of philatelist, it's one of those rarest times in which an author wrote about one thing, and came back on how philatelists have studied it. Finally, philately studied itself ! This happens in a chapter about the Daguin machine, for which you can find lots of books and articles on the cancellation and values, but before this book, I have much trouble to find how the machine actually works. Thanks, Mr. Nouazé, for your researchs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Roma capitale

Here is a stamp issued by Poste Italiane, last saturday, April 21st, about Roma as capitale of Italy.
This picture is an aquarelle by Giorgio Borghesani representing a landscape viewed from the Forum Romanum. On the left, the remaining columns of the Temple of Saturn. On the right, the brown building is the Curia Iulia, where the Senate met after Caius Julius Caesar. Between them, a 7th century church was builded : Saints-Luke-and-Martina church.

A pretty archeological landscape, isn't it ?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Let's vote !

First round of the presidential election in France, this Sunday 22th of April 2007 :

Upper part of the first page of a French elector's card.

I advice you these articles in French from TimbresPhospho postally linked to this event :
* about the sending of the elector's card, with specific cover, postal marks and, in the past, very low value stamps,
* about the big cover containing the candidates' programs, whose preparations give temporary work to students and workless citizens, and more work to postmen and women (this year, 44 508 024 citizens have to receive it on the week preceding the vote),
* and the (posthumous) big achievement : the issue of commemorative stamps for the président de la République's anniversaries by the French post. TimbresPhospho concentrates on the 5th Republic presidents since they have more powers than those of the 3rd and 4th Republic.

Friday, April 20, 2007

San Andrés y Providencia, Colombia

This Colombian stamp of 1956 is one of many illustrations that postage stamps have been using as national sovereignity symbols.
This 5 centavos stamp took place in a larger series about the departments of Colombia, viewed through a landscape, an economic activity.

For the San Andrés y Providencia archipelago department, a map played the role, certainly for political reasons. If you click on the link I let you, you can see, on an article of the Wikipedia in English, a map that localized the archipelago at the larger scale of the Caribbean Sea : between the Colombian and Nicaraguan waters.

Since 1822, the possession of these islands by next-to-be Colombia opposed the States that were forming, uniting, dividing themselves in former Spanish Central and Southern Americas. In 1928, the dispute ceased with a treaty, but Nicaragua came back on it in the 1980's. Since 2001, the case is studied by the International Court of Justice.

Digression. In another bloodier case of territorial revendications on islands through stamps and philately : a British reader of Stamp Magazine dated may 2007, accused Argentina to continue its "philatelic propaganda campaign" about Falklands/Malvinas islands. The four stamps qualified were issued JUly 2004 to show four endangered species of fish, which are swimming in these islands' seas...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lunch in Kenya

I took advantage of a friend's trip in Kenya to get a cover. He sent me back those four 2001 definitive stamps (year when swiss printer Courvoisier ceased).
The 5 shilling stamp shows an avocado and the 35 one a coconut. The total franking is 80 shillings, around 0,85 or 0,86 euro.

Cancellation says « MOMBASA / 17 JAN 2007 / KENYA ». Mombasa is the second largest and main port of this country.

Let's eat, now we have some appetizer and dessert.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Where do you find these personalized stamps ?

Late March 2007, Dominique announced an auction on eBay : one sheet of personalized stamps. The main stamp was the commemorative "Bicentenary of the Cour des comptes" (Court of Financial Auditors) attached to personalized label for the 20th anniversary of the Regional Chambers of Financial Auditors.

This wednesday afternoon, the beginning price on 2 auctions is set at 280 euros and 400 euros the sheet of these stamps (5,40 euros of actual postal value), that are normally for the Regional Chambers mail use...

Since I am not a speculator (but I'm thinking...), I simply wrote to the Regional Chamber of Languedoc-Roussillon and asked for some advice regarding its activities. And I received this enveloppe franked by a franking machine.

Did my letter arrive after the stock of personalized stamp was exhausted ?
Did this Chamber have these stamps ?
Might I have written specifically to have these stamps ?
What are the conditions the employees received to use them ? (And were they authorized to give them to an eBay seller ?)
Worse : are the Regional Chambers the ones that made this stamps be printed by the postal printer (Phil@poste Boulazac) ?

French philately nowadays : enough questions to write a book.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Marianne des Français on a book cover

Since I am at looking for stamps on non-philatelic books... I just see a stamp-look-alike cover in a bookshop. On a book entitled Tous Français. Immigration, la chance de la France (Everyone's French. Immigration, France's luck), the Marianne des Français is printed, the one from the definitive series, without the leaves and the birds.

. website for the cover and WNS website for the stamp.

On the back of the book, is written "All rights reserved" : who concluded the agreement ? Designer Thierry Lamouche or Phil@poste ?

Two stamps of France in Mr. Bean's book

Saturday, April 7th, gare de Lyon in Paris : holidays finally ! I was buying some magazines for the 3h30 of TGV journey when my eye caught the cover of this book :
Photograph found on the website (and available in English)

On the right side, you can see a stamp issued in France in June 2006, one of the six members of the Personnages célèbres annual serie about about Mozart's operas. Each stamp reproduced a costume's design found in the archives of the French National Library (Bibliothèque nationale de France). The costumes were put in front of a golden background by stamp designer Valérie Besser. The Mr. Bean's book used a character from The Abduction from the Seraglio.

The book is the holidays diary of comic character Mr. Bean, played by British actor Rowan Atkinson (watch him in the TV series The Blackadder, it's better I think). Bean tried to discover France and sent some post cards franked with another 2006 French stamp : "Antibes - Juan-les-Pins", designed and engraved by Pierre Albuisson.

Phil@poste (responsible for the French stamp designs and selling) must have authorized the reproduction of these stamps. They were not chosen by chance : Albuisson's one won the Grand Prix de l'Art philatélique (Main French philatelic art prize) in November 2006.

Monday, April 16, 2007

End of holidays

I'm back from the sunny (and rainy) Montpellier, in Southern France. I'm sorry for your waiting.

In the following days and weeks, two EFO, generously sold by the philatelic post office of Montpellier, some nice and surprising covers (even one of those is revolting).

See you soon.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Zealand's new postal tarriffs

On The Stamp Collecting Round-Up, Don Schilling wrote about the June postal tarriffs increase in New Zealand. After the 2004 0,40 dollar became 0,45, five cents more in two months : 50 cents for the ordinary letter.

The New Zealand Herald reader's reactions are full of angryness againt this inflation (like anywhere else in the world in this sort of case).

Formally, I remark that the next-to-be 50 cents for a letter in New Zealand is equivalent to 0,27 € thank to convertor. Half the price of the French post for a 20 gramms letter inside the country.

But, a remark from the Herald's readers make me look at numismatic pages (particularly an article of the Wikipédia in English) : the 5 cent coins were demonetised in 2006. So, it is some months that, in New Zealand :
* either the public has been giving up 5 cents to the post office at each buy of one stamp,
* either the post gave up this 5 cents,
* or both parties agreed to buy/sell enough stamps to make the total price at an giveable amount of existing coins.

Anyway, the NZ post found definitively a solution to that next June 2007.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

When stamps can be useful, not speculative

Like Eric, I received late March's New Year's presents of Phil@poste, the part of the French post that produce and sell stamps. I am less enthusiastic then him.

The engraving reproducing Mozart enfant of Jean-Baptiste Greuze is for me flat and insipid, photocopied... Where is the engraver's hand ? The two annual engravings offered to its members by the Art du timbre gravé association are stronger.

Then, the Happy New Year special mini-sheet... Again an another pre-personalised mini-sheet that must be the event of the month... and that will nourrish the speculation (aDominique's article on the Blog philatélie). An advice to the French post : let human's hands engraved and let the philatelists personalized themselves this kind of sheet by selling them with white seals se-tenant.

What will I do with this two presents ? Certainly, archived them. Perhaps use them as a card and postage stamps. Yes, because stamp is to send mail. But, philatelic speculation seems to be à la mode in France.

Whereas this proposition I did (and that lasts till 21st april), I am suspicious of the stamps like pre-personalized mini-sheet or Harry Potter issued last March in France. But, if some know how to use them... :

I found this cover thank to a school (collège is a junior high school). It is franked with four "Harry Potter" : 4 times 0,54 € = 2,16 €. The content weighted between 100 and 250 grams (2,11 € is the exact cost). It contained a little book of poetry, that was written by students during a competition. This competition was organized by the Poésie en liberté association in junior and high schools of the département of Seine-Saint-Denis. One book was sent to each principal of the département to make them know of the existence of the competition.

Concerning my previous topic : a litterary for youngs association promove its activities by using litterary topic stamps, during the week of these stamps' issue. BRAVO !

Note : I know I won't be earning lots of money with this cover but it pleased me very very much more than the Poste's presents.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The mourning of Nehru

Here is a stamp I like very much : the one issued at the death of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964. Independantist leader in British India alongside Gandhi and Prime Minister of the Republic of India from 1947 to his death.

The picture is strong since it links the leader with his people : a great man watching far away in front of an attentive crowd.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Copa del Rey de baloncesto on Spanish machine stamps

While in my France, machine stamps are often the same (pale) blue-yellow kinds, the Spanish Correos has generalized illustrated stamp machines. It even has got a philatelic program : see the etiquetas issued since 1997 on the Correos' site.
This two etiquetas used at a post office desk (since printed with the date of use) used the same illustrations about the Copa del Rey of basket-ball. I found them already separated, but at the same stamp dealer in the passage des Panoramas.

Dated on the same day (27 March 2000), they must have been used on the same letter (I wish I could have in its entire... snif). They franked a 17 gramms recorded letter, certainly from Spain to France : 705 pesetas for the expeditor (nowadays 4,24 € at the final official pesetas/euros rates).

Thanks to those who can tell me in which towns I can find the churches visible in the background ?