Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Expensively philatelic

Chères nouveautés du monde :
(French play-on-word : cher means an expensive price and is the polite overture of a letter like "Dear")

Dear New Stamps of the world :

Regularly, the USPS renews its stamps for expensive services (registered, express mail, etc.), with a flying illustration from plane to eagle. For 2007, they are the president of the United States' vehicles that are photographed in action : Air Force One and Marine One. The latter is at the cheap price of 16,25 dollars. Cheap because you are sure your urgent parcel is open by your correspondent tomorrow morning (I wished it would be so easily for the normal rate...). Equivalent of 12,08 euros. Insatisfied ? The 20 stamp sheet will please you at only 325 dollars (twice what I eat monthly).

In Belgium, the centenary of Hergé merits a special issue : a 25 stamp sheet reproduces a picture of the artist and a cover of the 24 albums of the Adventures of Tintin, in 24 of the languages it was translated over the years. 25 times 0,46 € = 11,50 euros (15,47 US dollars). But every one of your twenty-five next letters will be different from the others (if you remember to buy two sheets, one for collection he ! ... 23 euros).

So, once out of many times, I admit that on the next July, 2nd, La Poste of France will be quite moderate with mini-sheets at the price of simple definitive booklets. For 5,40 €, you'll remember the lively ambiance of a rugby stadium with the ten stamps by fantastic sport stamp designer Éric Fayolle. Worse of all, you'll have to pay up to 2,16 € to own four monuments of Brussels with four other in the background of the sheet in the European Capitales series, painted this year by talentuous Marc Taraskoff. Pretty mail coming this summer :)

Boulevard Brune in Paris

This cover contained the thanks from friends of mine after their marriage. It wears the "Un grand merci" stamp designed by artist Ben (Benjamin Vautier). This stamp was advertized by Phil@poste because the point on the i is a perforation...

The place of cancellation interested me more than the stamp or the hole above the i : « 75 BRUNE PPDC - 75014 ».

Reading La Poste's website, a PPDC is a place where mail is prepared and distributed. The mail to expedit is prepared for an Industrial mail platform (PIC), sort of national and international mail crossroad. The PPDC, like the PDC, distributes the mail to firms and peoples.

The PPDC of Brune benefits of the historic importance of the postal places on this boulevard des maréchaux, in Southern Paris. Since the 19th century, the French posts have possessed large places there, quite empty at the beginning : mail platform, headquarters, and the Atlier des timbres-poste where stamps of France and overseas were printed from 1895 to 1970.

Before, from 1848 till 1876, Anatole Hulot used the Hôtel des Monnaies to print the first stamps for the Ceres and Empire series. In 1876, the postal authority gave this misson to the Banque de France for the Sage series, before buying its printer of the rue de Hauteville. 1895, everything was placed at boulevard Brune.

To learn more about the first postal print plant in France (1848 to 1895), I advice you the Catalogue spécialisé by Pascal Behr, Jean-François Brun and Michèle Chauvet, at the Yvert et Tellier editions. The two latter just publish an Introduction à l'histoire postale de France de 1848-1878, whose arrival in my postbox I am impatiently waiting for.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lattes : how can this town be on a French stamp ?

An unexpected stamp begins the topical collection about the French commune of Lattes. Issued for a Stamp's Day in 1991, this stamp by Patrick Camblin is the second in a series about La Poste's activities : here, the mail sorting.

And, there, scrutinizing the newly bought stamp with my 13-year old eyes, the big surprise : the letter on the stamp has got an another stamp on it and a postal code. It is the 2,50 franc about the Winter Olympic Games of 1992, in Albertville, isued 9 February 1990.

The postal code was the biggest surprise : "34970 LATTES" was the city where I lived at that time !

Why this choice ? Did the artist have a bond with Lattes ? Did the minister of the Industry want to please the mayor ? This is the minister that signed the philatelic program in France.

Let's follow the second hypothesis : the mayor then is Michel Vaillat (UDF member, right aisle) and second-in-succession of Willy Diméglio, member of Parliament from 1986 to 1997. However, between 1988 and 1991, the minister is Roger Fauroux in the leftist government of Michel Rocard. Perhaps, the link I am looking for is with La Poste president : Gérard Delage appointed in 1986 by a rightist government, or his sucessor in 1989 Yves Cousquer ?

Simplier : am I paranoïac ? La Post simply just pick one of the thousands of post code ?

The scan I show you is extract from a First Day Cover stamped in Montpellier, the big city next-to Lattes.

Note of Sunday 16 October 2016:
This article, a little bit rewritten from the version in French, was published this week as the second Monthly Item by the Montpellier Philatelic Association. The major change was that I may have found the link between local politicians and the 1986-1988 Minister of Post and Telecommunication Alain Madelin, a famous liberal* leader of the 1990s like Diméglio and Vaillat.

*: French note: by liberal as in "less State, more private entrepreneurship" and not a conservative.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cour des comptes' Saga : advantage philatelists

In the journey to knowledge about the untellable story of the Bicentenary of the French Cour des comptes stamp personalized with a label for the twenty-fifth birthday of the Chambres régionales des comptes, they may be finally have the decisive point : philatelists, their personal webpages and blogs :
* the Blog philatélie,
* quoting philatélistes.net.

Two good philatelic amateur ressources in France.

But, the tradition told by Dominique (a label made one stamp be considered different from the other) seems to start the problem again. I think you are reading the French philatelic saga of the year... but Claude Jamet thinks it may be a sequel-in-production with the TGV in the heroic role.

More seriouly, in the French philatelic magazines of last May, you can read about two new stamps issued in Wallis et Futuna. They pictured two newly considered fish species, discovered in local coral. How much time will I wait until a philatelist (postman, journalist or collector) teach me more of this fauna ? (more than for the number of personalised stamps above, I fear)

Arcachon from Daguin to 2007 stamp

Here is the second cancellation by a Daguin machine, that I bought during the Four Days of Marigny, two weeks ago.

The advert said : "Arcachon / In summer its beach / In winter its woods."

This cancellation with touristic illustration (a "flamme" in French) told the second life of Daguin machines in France. At the end of the 19th century, these mechanical machines were beaten by the speed and efficiency of electrical cancelling machines. But, in 1923, a State secretary for Post's decision changed that : from now on, cancellations can bear a message, under some conditions and -of course- money to the local post office. The Daguin machine was excellent for this since one of its two cancellation stamp can be easily replace by a square filled with a text. This period lasted till the 1960's, even more in some offices were it was decided to wait that the old postman left to stop using the Daguin.

News linked to this cancellation : since Monday 21st May, a French stamp wth a 0,54 € value is sold for the 150th birthday of Arcachon as a commune, French most little administrative division. Thierry Mordant's designs presents the Bassin of Arcachon, its beaches, city, houses and boat, with an evolution in the colours : from blues on the left to orange/yellow on the right. Mordant is well-known for stamps of Monaco these recent years.

See the stamp on La Poste's shop website.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The saga of the Cour des comptes : the magazine's war

Yesterday friday, is issued l'Écho de la timbrologie magazine whose chief-editor announces that the self-adhesive version of the Bicentenary of the Cour des comptes stamp will be sold in July by Phil@poste, and she proudly concludes : "One no more time, no hurry needed. And an excellent reason to read L'Écho de la timbrologie..."

Today saturday, it's the turn to Timbres magazine to appear. It announces that the Cour des comptes (that bought and sell the self-adhesive stamp in the first place) has some stamps left with the personalized label for the 25th birthday of the Chambres régionales des comptes (the reason every one wants to hurry). You have the right to purchase one stamp and label at one euro and write at the adress of one of the Cour des comptes' employee (see Sebphilatélie in French).

Since the hurry problem around this self-adhesive stamp seems to me not the problem of having it, but that collectors wanted it with the personalized label, I think that l'Écho should find another way to tease readers than using its relations with Phil@poste that has now the habit to issue this self-adhesive stamps producted at the demand of firms some months after gummed ones.

In order to watch for an accusation of me having favorite, here is a problem in Timbres magazine : they interviewed Yves Tardy, president of the French Philatelic associations' federation, one month to soon. He was asked about the projects of the FFAP and he answered : "I can't say anything before the board [of the FFAP] has been told" about these projects. More interesting is so the advertisment on page 25 for a book by Guy Prugnon : Taxes et modalités de taxation de la lettre ordinaire dans le régime général international (1876/1975), issued by Timbropresse editions. The author explained in the May issue of Timbres magazine that he tried to summarize the change in the way of calculating and showing that postage were due, on French letter to foreign countries between 1876 and 1975.

Kisses from Eastern Island

A couple of friends took some holidays and went to the Pacific ocean, with a quick stop at the Easter Island, Chilean possession. From there, they sent me a postcard on May 9th that arrives today.

Famous Eastern Island's statues : the moai (postcard by Chilean society Hispapel).

Stamps on the postcard (my friends know me :)

390 pesos ($) is the price for a letter less than 20 grams from Chile to Europe. The stock of stamps is going away slowly : 2001 and 2002 are the years of issue of these two items. On 6 May 2001 began this 100 peses "colocolo" to warn about the extinction of this species, designed here by Hector Carrasco. Roberto Sepulveda B. expressed one of the country's tradition with this 290 peso stamp issued 16 September 2002. They both are printed in offset by la Casa de Moneda de Chile.ar la Casa de Moneda de Chile.

The cancellation is quite big (cica 3.7 cm in diameter) and blue, ink color that begins to be very common on letter : I already knew the examples of Argentina and France. It wears the name of the Chilean post : "Empresa de correos de Chile", like the two stamps.

To go further :
* Correos Chile web site with an interesting philatelic part : each stamp has a little entry since the latter 1990's.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Machin, almost 40 years !

I took the last two days without blog in order to explore the first centimeter of the massive Machin jungle, this definitive series used in the United Kingdom since June, 5th 1967.

Here is a (little) branch :

Issued January, 19th 1999, this non-value indicator stamp (NVI, permanently valid stamp in France postal words) helped you frank a simple letter to Europe. This issued took place ten years after the first two NVI for interior tariffs : the "1st" class stamp for priority mail and the "2nd" class for non-priority.

Here, vines begin to multiply everywhere :
* Easy one to cut : Elisabeth II's profil and the light/dark colour binome are from series' designer Arnold Machin (1911-1999), and it will be a stories for anothers days.
* The dark blue binome and the design of the E letter are from graphic designer Jeffery Matthews, less quoted in France than Machin, but it seems British collectors are very fond of him, I begin to think.
* The idea of NVI, I talk about it above, but there is much more to tell.
* The elliptic perforation on the last third of the stamp are invented in 1993 to fight falsification (read an article in French by Dominique of the Blog philatélie about a perforator).
* For the disparition of this E stamp on April, 1st 2004, the British tariff jungle and the are-NVI-in-the-interest-of-the-clients questions open the dorr to a world I have never imagined since wednesday afternoon...

To go further
Apart a machete :
* In the June 2007 issue of Stamp Magazine, Richard West presents two specialised articles about the first Machin that were pre-decimals (1967-1970) and one monography about One pound Machin. These articles are a big first step into the history of Machin and their content is bigger than the article's titles.
* I advice you the Machin Mania section of GBStamps.com website where I find intels about the E stamp : news of 1999 and of 2003.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mediterranean Games... again !

I love coincidences like this one : I wrote about the only stamp about the Mediterranean Games I earned for years, to find a new one in the following days, at Marigny stamp market.
It was issued for the 1967 Mediterranean Games in Tunis, inside a five stamp series. It represents the Olympic Stadium of El Menzah, built for this occasion.

The stamp wass designed by Hatem Mekki (like 211 others Tunisian stamps) and engraved by French Roger Fenneteaux. This last intel makes me think that the BEPTOM printed the series.

To go further :
* Tunisian stamps engraved by Fenneteaux (Tunisia-stamps.tn site), those of France (n the excellent Phil-Ouest site) and of the TAAF (on the other excellent Philatélie des TAAF site).

New episode of the French personalized Cour des comptes stamp saga

Next épisode of the saga telling the story of self-adhesive "Cour des comptes 1807-2007" stamp se-tenant with personalized label for the 20 years of the Regional Chambers of the same French institution. Last episode résumé : can you receive a cover with this stamp by simply writing normal letter to these Chambers ?

Answer : apparently, some may have more luck in Aquitaine than an other in Languedoc.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bahaeddine Hariri Mosque on Lebanese stamp

This 2006 Lebanese stamp presents the Bahaeddine Hariri Mosque inaugurate the 24th of March 2006 in Saïda (Sidon).
Its building began during the funerals of the father of Prime minister Rafiq Hariri, killed in an bombing 14 February 2005.

The value of 1750 lebanese lira is on may 2007 the equivalent of 0,86 euros or 1,16 US dollars.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Daguin cancellation in Oran, Algeria

Important : the initial version of this article was published the 19th May 2007 and then I wrote that this cancellation was made by a Daguin machine. After a mail from Yvon Nouazé, I rewrite a little part of it on 24th June 2007 to correct and show how I mistook this cancellation for a Daguin.

Here is one of the two first covers that I bought believing it was cancelled by a Daguin machine. I bought those at the 4 days of Marigny, to a covers dealer.

On the back, we discover the sender : « RASCOL-ORAN / 6, rue Péraldi », and the cover is sent to « Monsieur / G. Lemaitre, [?] / à Francheville / (Eure) ». She was franked with a 15 centimes blue Sage type « N under U ».

The cancellation is dated 31 March 1896 and made at the Karguentah post office, in Oran. Algeria was French at the time and the stamps of France were used since January 1849 till 1924.

The two gemini cancellation have a ressemblance to a cancellation made by a Daguin machine, I first thought. Mr. Nouazé made better calculation : the centers of the two marks are too far away from each other (3 cm againt the Daguin 2,8 cm). Secondly, the rotation of one mark looks too little for him. Finally, the crowns and date blocks of the two cancellations are too alike, whereas they must be much different.

This cover is not a Daguin (the devil says to my ear that the machine may be new, the crowns and blocks correctly and newly affixed... but don't dream with so uncheckable things). But, I am disappointed since the cover is well conserved and from late 19th century French Algeria.

For the tiny trace I thought was a proof of the piston toucheur (the mechanism helped to fix the cover on the table to make a clean and perfect cancellation), it is too tiny and too close to the cancellation than expected for a Daguin (3,5 cm from the circle's centers). Postal origin or problem in the conservation during the 111 years of existence of this letter, I may cetainly never know.

I thank Yvon Nouazé, author of L'Oblitération mécanique en France (Académie de philatélie award 2007) about mechanical cancellation in France, that without me asking him, wrote to corrected spontaneously my errors.

On the back of the cover, the postmark of Francheville indicates an arrival on April, 5th 1896, six days later.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Chaco boliviano

Regularly, Argentina's and UK's philatelic people comment the Falklands/Malvinas war that these two countries continue with stamps : either malvinos fishs on Argentinan stamps, or military commemorations on both sides.

In the 1920's and 1930's, collectors of new stamps did certainly watch the same cartographic propagandist issues between Bolivia and Paraguay over the Northern Chaco. Their revendications ended in a war that Bolivia lost.

Cause of the conflict : they might be oil under this Chaco... all wrong.

Stamps remain like this Bolivian example of the 1935 series.

In the number 5 of Opus, European Academy of Philately's review dates 2005, an article by Guy Coutant told this philatelic war : "La guerre du Chaco : 150 000 morts à cause de timbres". But, since the Academy website has not been updates for long months, it is difficult to have more intels about it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Four days of Marigny

At lunch time, today Thursday 17th May, I walked along the aisles of the Four Days of Marigny. Twice a year, the weekly stamp market of Paris lasts four days long. It is located near the Champs-Élysées and the palais de l'Élysée, between the avenue of Marigny and avenue Gabriel (so near the palais that the place hushes of rumors of a certain Nicolas jogging in the neighbourhood...).

As usual when I go there, my hands explored stamps in boxes to find what can please my eyes, curiosity and long patience. I succeeded two major strikes for things I should have looked for so long ago : two covers cancelled by a Daguin machine (for another post on this blog), and the top :
this so cute stoat from the Nature de France series of 2001, that I recall with emotion last april. It was designed by Christophe Drochon with three another animals of the woods. This stoat sold itself at 14,9 millions of stamps: 3rd best steller stamp of 2001.

Guide :
The stamp market of Paris (coins and phone cards accepted) is located at the Carré Marigny for decades. It is open the thursdays, saturdays and sundays of each week, but the presence of the market's dealers depends on themselves only. Twice a year (before Christmas and at Ascension like today), the market opens friday too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Osiris, TAAF's ship.

When you order beautiful stamps from postal administrations, you can be happily surprised, like this corner from a French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF) stamp sheet. It was issued in 2006, and sold to me by Phil@poste. The French philatelic agency designs and prints stamps of France, and prints French overseas stamps. It has the right to sell the latter in France too, but they have postal value only if use in the oversea territory named on stamps.

The ship here is the Osiris, confiscated in 2003 to illegal fishermen in the TAAF's exclusive economic zone. Since then, she has been patrolling the seas of the French Southern islands againt illegal fishery. The design by Serge Markó is valued on a big-sized stamp and with a good choice of colors.

0,90 € permit to send a letter less than 20 grammes from the TAAF to anyplace in the world (i.e. outside France, French overseas and French former colonies and dependancies).

Below the stamp, a white rectangle is printed with a design, very common n French stamp sheets, to forbid reuse of the paper for fraud (but why not print another line of stamps ?).

The last rectangle bears the date of printing. In general, most of the TAAF philatelic program is issued the 1st of January and is printed during the last summer by Phil@poste Boulazac, in Périgueux.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The last king of Iraq

Here is one of the three stamps from a series figuring King Faysal II, issued in 1953. It marked the coronation after 15 years of regency.

Son of King Ghazi, he was three years old when his father died in a car accident in 1939. Consequently, his uncle became regent until the majority of Faisal in 1953.

Three portraits of the young king were used on stamps : two definitives series in 1942 and 1949, and in medaillion on a commemorative for the 75 years of the Universal Postal Union.

After the coronation issue (3, 14 and 28 fils), the king was on every stamps : definitives of 1954 and 1958, commemoratives too.

Faisal II died the 14th of July 1958 during the general Qasim's coup d'État, first of a serie of coups and assassinations until Saddam Hussein took the presidency in 1979.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

United States : 39 to 41 forever ?

Tomorrow, the 14th May 2007, the postal tariffs of the USPS are modified at the exasperation of clients, editorialists and journalists that write down their anger on press articles, viewable for some months now thank to Google News. Nothing's new under the sun : every country run crazy like this at every postal increase (see in New Zealand), while the postal administrations try to explain itself : universal mail delivery service, gas price, cmpetition, etc.

But, this once, USPS innovated with a stamp with permanent value (translation of the term in France : timbre à validité permanente) : the Forever stamp. You buy it now, you can put it on a simple letter forever. Today, it costs 39 cents, tomorrow 41 cents.

The Forever stamp is illustrated with the Liberty Bell, symbol of the 1776 Independance (image by USPS). The stamp is created by Tom Engeman.

And for some weeks, the journalists and specialists in postal affairs have been interrogating themselves : could simple citizens or big companies save money (more : earn money) by making now stocks of Forever stamp ? For tomorrow's 2 cents increase, they had since April 14th, date of issue of the 20 stamp booklets to do so.

In France, I remember no much ado about the red permanent Marianne...

More astucious and philatelic is the solution found by a marketing director of a software society, brought at your attention by Don Schilling on the Stamp Collecting Round-Up. This man is sending thousands of commercial mail. He has to face the postal cost and the fact that lots of people don't read spam. So, he decided to try something : he made a deal with a stamp and coin dealer. The dealer's employees prepare and stick the postage stamps on the mail at their speed. In exchange, the marketing director buy the unused oldstamps exclusively to this dealer with a 10% discount. Better for us - spammed people - and this ingenuous director, addressees seem to open more this commercial mail because of the presence of stamps.

Mediterranean Games

Here is an idea of topical collection, certainly not easy to start, but I think it can be quite unique : Mediterrean Games.

These are sort of little Olympic regional games, happening every four years, opened to sportmen and women from african, asian and european countries around the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas.

The first collecting object I have got about these games is a 20 francs coin of 1993 issued at the time of the Games in Languedoc-Roussillon. The coin were sold at their facial value at the Crédit agricole bank counters.

Then, it's the chance inside parisian dealer's boxes of stamps. I found this stamp of Yugoslavia issued for the 1979 Games in Split. Yvert et Tellier catalogue explains that users had to put this stamp on all their mail during a certain time in 1979. I can only awkardly transcript the designer's name : A. Milyénkoviya.

The three circles refleting themselves on the sea line are the Mediterranean Games' brand. The next Games will take place in 2009 in Pescara, Italy. Official site : http://www.pescara2009.it/

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Portuguese Macau stamps still in use in Macau, China

I come back on a family journey to China that a French-Chinese friend did with his families, last summer. The first letter from Hong Kong took a trip to Manilla before coming to Paris. Here is the second letter posted in Macau, the 21st of August 2006.
My non-philatelist friend always use covers offered by the inn.

Non-philatelist, but he understood (after some -lenghtly- explanations) the interest of the sheet's margins.

Thank to this tab, I was surprised at the first glance : seven years after the merging of Macau into the People's Republic of China, you can still buy Portuguese Macau stamps for the mail. The Imprensa Nacional - Casa da Moeda is the public printer and coin maker of Portugal. Moreover, stamps of the special administrative region of Macau wear the brand "Macau, China" since 1999.

The illustration is about the karting championship that takes place on the Coloane island, the souther of Macauan islands.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Scattered islands on stamps of the TAAF

This thursday 10 May 2007 afternoon, friday and saturday, the Postal and Telecommunation Service of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (in short French TAAF) is selling in advance a sheet of five stamps representing an aerial view of the five Scatterred islands. The stamps and the sheet (with a swimming turtle) are designed by Louis Briat.

Since the 21st of February 2007, these islands are the fifth district of the TAAF with the Southern districts of Crozet, Kerguelen and Saint-Paul-and-Amsterdam, and the Antarctic district of the Terre Adélie. They are scattered around Madagascar (four in the Mozambique Channel).

TAAF issued stamps are mostly buy and keep by collectors. Some frank letters than collectors send themselves to constitute a topical collection about the Polar region or the maritim post.

In order to discover these passions, I decided to send myself letters from the four inhabited Scattered islands' stamps. The issue will take place on the 1st of June with a first day cancellation with the sheet's sea turtle. In June, I'll show you the results.

But, what think the governments of Madagascar and Mauritius at the news of this issue. It is a form of philatelic act of French sovereinty over the islands that these two countries have claimed : Madagascar disputes the fifth islands, Mauritus claimed Tromelin.

To go further :
* with the French written Philatélie des TAAF website, you'll discover a catalogue of the TAAF stamps, with texts explaining the scientific or historical subjects of the illustrations.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Music !

In October 2004, L'Écho de la timbrologie, a French philatelic monthly magazine, presented a topical collection about musical conducting. The chance of lurking into stamp-on-what's-left-of-the-covers at dealers and into the collection of a friend (a young woman... quite unusual), made me discover that the German Post regularly issue stamps in honor of German, Austrian or Swiss conductors.

Above, what I think the most beautiful of one of the most recent stamp : issued in 1994, it represents the German composer and conductor Hans Pfitzner.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Postal competition in Europe, on France 3

Saturday, May 5th 2007 at 7.55 PM (visible quelques jours sur leur site), France 3 show, Avenue de l'Europe was about the introduction of competition on the postal market inside the European Union.

Two cases : Royal Mail in the United Kingdom and the post of Hungary.

Royal Mail's situation remembered me a lot of the French case : big clients go to competitots, introducing a massive tariffs war on the firm-mail market. But, questions arise about the current tariffs payed by simple citizen to benefit of a universal service everywhere in the country ; service only served by the national post administration. Know that in the UK a post office selling Royal Mail's services can be from another brand. Philatelists will nuance by saying that they pay much of the bill with an inflation of stamps and mini-sheets.

The report in Hungary was interesing : how did the local post succeed to close all its post offices in rural regions without making the life of inhabitants difficult ? No one was fired : postmen now circulate in cars throughout their region and propose many services : post, bank, exchanges of goods between villages, etc. But, in the end, a postal manager reminded of the competition problem : if Hungary opens the competition to postal market, this system will not be economicly profitable. Same problem as French rurals.

Until where must the postal competition be open ? How to do it in order to maintain universal service and social links in the country ? The presidential campaign in France didn't often explore these seriously dayly topics.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Nuit Blanche 2004 in Paris

In 2004, La Poste's museum participated to the Nuit Blanche ("Sleepless Night") : one of the many contemporary art manifestations, organized during a saturday night in Paris. Aside a large boredom (cetainly due to my lack of appreciation for some arts...), I got this stationery that the visitor could decorate before sending :

The stamp is a Marianne du 14 juillet, in use at that time. Its creator, Ève Luquet, was the first woman whose project became a definitive stamp in France. On the zoom, you can see in white-pale rose the trace of the two phosphor bands needed for the mechanical sorting of mail (see TimbresPhospho's blog in French to know more about these phosphor bands on stamps of France).

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Aristides de Sousa Mendes

During my student years in Montpellier, I enjoyed the yearly latter-May "Comédie du livre" (an open-air book show) because there, the éditions Verdier sold their received covers and postcards to finance their coffee breaks. I find this stamp, un-cancelled, on a postcard from Portugal :

This stamp was issue in 1995 for the Europa issue, which topic that year was "Peace and Liberty" to commemorate the 50th birthday of the end of World War 2. The second stamp, 95 escudos too, remembers that Madeira island hosted the British inhabitants of Gibraltar.

On the stamp I found, the character is the Portuguese consul Aristides de Sousa Mendes. Working in Bordeaux during the French 1940 defeat, he violated an order from Portuguese strong leader Salazar : from end December 1939 to end of June 1940, Sousa Mendes signed as many as possible visas to help refugees to go to Portugal through Spain. Arrived in Lisbon, the left part of the stamp shows the families and refugees waiting to embark onboard boats to America. These visas saved Jewish families, antinazis from many political parties, who sometimes already fled Germany in 1933.

The punishment Sousa Mendes' family endured was terrible : they survived only thank to the Lisbon Jewish community's generosity. The consul's children emigrated. And he died in 1954 in the most miserable poverty.

This stamp was issued at a time of rehabilitation of the consul by the democratic Portugal.

To go further:
* biography of Aristides de Sousa Mendes on the Wikipedia in English,
* website-catalogue of the Europa issued.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Royal Mail's radical method

Surprises for a female colleague this morning at the mail : the slow arrival of a postcard sent by another colleague during her holidays in England. The first surprise is the timing : 2 months from March, 3rd (date of message) to May 2nd. Here is the second one :
Front picture of the card (scan of a photocopy).

A quiet large sticker announces that the sender was a little cheap in the franking which couldn't reach the airmal rate. Conclusion : the card followed an "alternative service".

On the back, a "First Class" stamp that allows the ending of a less-than-100-grams prioritary and standardized letter inside the United Kingdom. It valued 32 pence between 21 August 2006 and 2 April 2007 (34 pence since).

The tariffs are easily found on the Royal Mail's website and show some severity toward letters to Europe (I think so) :
* there is no tariff to send a post card to Europe ;
* so, you use the tariff for a letter less than 20 grams by airmail : 48 pence,
* and the surface mail (by ship) is not available for Europe : 46 pence.

It miss 12 pence that the Royal Mail decided not to get back through the postal administration in the country of destination. A two months delay and a big sticker seemed to be an adquate punishment in the eye of the British post.

Note :
Thanks to Céline who let me photocopied the card before the unstick the message.

Question :
Do one of you know what can be the "alternative service" use by the Royal Mail ?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

End of ski season

While temperatures in Europe took a trip in the upper scale of the thermometer, the season for skiing is ended. After their one-week long snow week, Physical and sport education teachers are buying the "skiing stars" won by their students. The UCPA sent this simple enveloppe containing some medals from the Hautes-Alpes :
On 0,64 € stamp and two 0,10 € stamps from the Marianne des Français series, new engraving and ITVF brand (now the brand is Phil@poste).
This franking is a mean to use an old stock of stamps since the 0,64 € was replaced by a 0,70 € since the tarriffs change of October, 1st 2006 (non prioritary letter from 20 to 50 grams). With 20 cents more, you can send a non prioritary letter from 50 to 100 grams anywhere in France. UCPA saved 0,86 € compared to the prioritary sending.

I was speaking of it some days ago, new French mechanical cancellations are accused of being anonymous considering the place of expedition. This UCPA cover is cancelled with good old cancellations... you can't read the town from where it starts.