Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Four Days of Marigny Square, 1-4 May 2008

This week, a TV Timbres video shows the Parisian philatelic market of the Marigny Square, near the Champs-Élysées Avenue. Coincidentally, the Four Days of this market happened between tomorrow Thursday 1st May to Sunday 4th.

I wish to the dealers who have me presented interesting stamps and covers these past six years that this video will bring them clients during this Spring and Summer. Discussions between some dealers were not happy this Winter concerning the market's activities.

Have a nice shopping if you came to Paris, hoping the sun will come back soon.

One hundred year late commercial

On this day of April 2008, French television operator, CanalSat, delivered a very postal commercial in the papers... even if its details are very strange.

That the free three months offer was presented in an enveloppe, ok: how many of this mail do we receive each week?

That it is franked with a cinderella stamp reproducing how CanalSat pictured its channels, normal: to put a competitor's logotype would have been very hazardous to the success of the operation.

The cancellation speaks true. It reminds me how International Postal Supply Company's machines (located then in New York) cancelled mail. The presence of an "R" in the flame concords with what I read in the sixth chapter of Yvon Nouazé's book L'Oblitération mécanique en France.

However, the letter would have came from the United States and cancelled on 14 September 1907. This miraculous invitation is conclusively delivered one hundred and a half year after been posted... Either CanalSat is a precursor, or a belater, am I wondering while typing this message and watching television at the same time thank to my own internet operator.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

French philatelic counters under cost killer rules

I am back from holiday to always sunny France where it is always sunny in my myopic native eyes, Northern migrants - under mid-season storms - can have some difficulties he he he). There I discovered the La Poste's new policy of time opening for its philatelic counters. There are independent post offices who sell postage stamps and philatelic products only and there is at least one per department with highly-qualified and -pleasant employees.

From this April 2008, the philatelic counters are opened only in businessweek's morning (10am to 1pm) and one afternoon per week. Full and final stop. The employees now work the rest of their timeshift at the main post office nearby. On a printed message, they inform collectors that they will of course be available at this office (mainly for the ones who are taking their trimestrial booking stamp pocket under cellophane (can Jean-Pierre Coffe, protector of traditional ways of living, help French collectors to obtain naturally cut stamps?), but under the waiting people's stress of La Poste which is known to be legendary incapable of adapting quickly the number of open counter in case of massive and unexpected crowds of clients.

In a prefecture of 250.000 inhabitants in middle of a semi-departmental highly touristic area of 500.000 inhabitants, clients of this philatelic counter are bitter - even if the two employess played good roles in these circonstances. Moreover, the first have the same problem as me: because we always bought stamps in a philatelic counter, we do no more receive the order catalogue at home. Bad client! Order not come unexpected! Bad! For the employees, it is worse: finish the time the computer proposed lists of products and just the quantities bought to be quickly added. Now, the clerk must fill the products' codes... that are different from the codes of Phil@poste's order catalogue and website known by the clients.

And I naively thought that philately was sufficiently profitable (with all those stamps never to be on letters)... Visibly, cost killers always find something.

Monday, April 21, 2008

French philately in English world

For those who want to know how to do philately of France and of the French colonial Empire when not living in France, nor speaking French, here are two homonym societies:
* France & Colonies Philatelic Society in New York;
* and France & Colonies Philatelic Society in the United Kingdom.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

50 years of regional stamps in Britain

Next September, British islands' postal administrations will certainly prosper on their old stamps for the 50th anniversary of the British regional issues.

In 1958, the Post Office issued the Wilding's royal effigy with symbols of the non-English parts of the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) and possessions of the Crown (Guernsey, Jersey and Man). Three for the first, three for the second ones.

In 1971, after the decimalization, the Machin series became regional too, but for the then postally independant Channel islands, and for the last time for Man. Here is an example of a Welch 26 pence:

The initial and redesigned symbols are the work of Jeffery Matthews, the other "father" of the Machin design since he rationalized its color scheme and inscriptions. The lack of currency ("p" for penny) was the choice of the Royal Mail in 1997 to avoid a Welsh Act imposing the use of the language in all regional context. However, penny is translated in ceiniog and neither the use of both "p" and "c", nor the possible confusion with a single "c", were considered acceptable.

Nowadays, the subjects of each four Kingdoms (including now England) can use a complete illustrated series of definitives and minisheet in the glory of their culture and symbols. Their values and designs are regularly renewed. These stamps are included in pre-personalized sheets (Smilers) figuring local landscapes and in prestige booklets (alongside a singing Royal Mail cash machine).

Stamp Magazine, in May 2008 issue, reports that a minisheet reproducing the first regional designs is previewed for this Autumn.

To go further:
* interview with Jeffery Matthews in the journal of the Great Britain Collectors Club, 2000.
* Douglas Myall, 40 Years of Machins - A Timeline, chronology published by the British Philatelic Bulletin, 2007. This $2.95 fascicule is available at the Royal Mail website.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Machin in Solomon

The Elizabeth II effigy by Arnold Machin - 40th anniversary last year - served on British territories and some Commonwealth countries' postage stamps to remind the monarchy when the Queen kept the statute of Chief of State.

For example on this Christmas stamp, part of a series issued in 1970 in the Solomon islands.

This reredos was kept in a church at Kia, a town located in the north part of Santa Isabel island.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pray for peace

In these tormented times (but did they really quiet in the end?), let's watch back the hope of the sixties. Not the May 1968 students' movement of Paris, more John Kennedy's and his contemporaries' sixties.

Found on a cover cancelled on 27 November 1967 in Bloomington, Indiana for an arrival in Belgium next December, via Brussels:

The brown stamp was the second one dedicated to the assassinated president. The pictorial "Pray for peace" cancellation is linked to his presidency, both inside and outside the United States.

One book more, harder to retrieve, but which contents lots of texts by these 1960s optimists, all three assassinated: John Kennedy and his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King. German telivision journalist Thilo Koch's Kämpfer für eine neue Welt [Fighters for a new world], 1968 published by C.J. Bucher.

Idealism, when you caught me...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

School blue and Why blue

To know people working in a school helps in retrieving blue postage meters (even if I had to make long and vain explanation how something without a commemorative postage stamps could be useful to me... Only, the technology teacher understood quickly the illustrative logic on a meter).

Here is the result on a single week in March:

These illustrated meters are becoming very common. They are proposed by the machine sellers (read, in French, the ad page of Satas). From top to bottom, you can see here the logotypes of a city council (La Courneuve in Paris suburbs), a sport federation (Seine-Saint-Denis departmental soccer district - guess which teacher received this one?) and one of the main teacher union in France.

For private firms, I have a problem because I have more contacts with teachers than with the administrative part of the school.

But, why are they blue? Laurent Bonnefoy, a French specialist of the meters - he is a membere of the Académie de philatélie, brought back the reason on a mailing list: postal operators judged that blue is the more readable color for the sorting machines. In France, they appear on 15 July 2002 on a first set of franking machine linked to La Poste's servers. The color had been extended to new machines and for new postage contracts. Red is tolerated until the stocks are finished and all machine be connected.

On the Virtual Stamp Club, a question about the Why blue? brought back many examples of color exceptions in United States meter history, whereas Mr. Bonnefoy reminded that the color was decided at the Universal Postal Union. Red until the Beijing Convention of 1999 (RE306 article, point 2.2 for those who could retrieve the text), in application since 2001.

Outside philately, I advice the reading of a little book by French historian Michel Pastoureau: Bleu. Histoire d'une couleur.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Promoting the Salon du timbre

The Salon du timbre (every two years in Paris since 2004) is named Planète timbres this year (Stamps Planet). It will take place between the 14th and 22th June 2008 at the Parc floral, near the Castle of Vincennes (East of Paris).

How can you get people to come? When you open between 10am to 6pm when people are working... Not a problem if you only aimed at retired collectors ? In Paris, a discussion I heard at a stamp dealer's shop seems to indicate that the needy part of the corporation does not believe in the Salon's possibilities to make commerce (they even manage the same lot at the Salon).

Then, there are the school boys and girls that masters has to occupy in this end of school year, when the programs are (nearly) completed and note sheets already printed... motivation of the young is waving.

Hopefully arrives in the Francilien schools and high schools this cover:

... with the Salon du timbre's program of activities opened to groups of children.

The most intriguing: no franking appears on this cover. Or the "Prioritary Letter" logotype strangely played this role.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"A Spirit Undaunted" by Robert Rhodes James

When you kept yourself interested in stamps, you finish by looking intels on their topic.

The Dulac's "young Greek hero" effigy led my mind to wonder if King George VI lived such a reign to earn afterward this artistic comparison.

Last book written by British politic historian, Sir Robert Rhodes James (1933-1999), A Spirit Undaunted: the Political Role of George VI told the political career of the younger prince became King in December 1936 because of the love caprice of his brother Edward VIII.

Cover of the circa 350 page book (

Some introductive chapters replaced the King in the context of what is the monarch's place in the British political régime in the 20th century. What does the Constitution authorize? is a repetitive question each time a governmental difficulty rose. And a difficult one in a State where the fundamental law is mainly unwritten, full of custom, precedent and jurisprudence. Rhodes James quickly told the personal place each King and Queen took from the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689 to the Queen Victoria's youth - a position more or less a consequence of the political context and the monarch's character.

More details are given for the governmental succession problems and the main law votes lived by Prince Consort Albert and his descendants, Edward VII and George V.

The book come back to its title when Edward VIII became King and with the comparison of the two brothers, Prince David and Prince Albert - both changed names when they became King. The philatelist I am discover that the first was deprived of battles during the Great War and didn't understand how his father expressed his love, while the younger served on ship in the Navy and received, mostly by accidents, the scholar knowledges and living experiment necessary to became King. For exemple, a long and fastidious work on his eloquence and an official trip to Australia in 1931.

After the minutes of the December 1937 crisis, George VI is depicted in front of his Prime Ministrers who must to advice him... when they were willing to keep him informed... The friendship between the King and royalist Winston Churchill are the subjects of the most moving pages about the Second World War. George VI lived it like most of the Londoners: in a confortless home, in shelter when needed and supporting soldiers when visiting Malta in 1943.

And when the death happened in 1952 - unpreviewed since Princess Elizabeth was on a trip to Australia when recall back when in Kenya, the monarchy is strong and popular, ready to get in its new - shall I said - "body",[1] Queen Elizabeth II, whose effigy by Arnold Machin is since 1957 the equivalent of Edmund Dulac's portrait of 1937. The portrait of the incarnated monarchy, no more of the mortal man.

Notes :
1 : By the title of Ernst Kantorowicz's masterpiece, The King's Two Bodies.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Archeology of blue French postage meter

Working on my archives, I was looking for - if I kept them... - the first blue postage meters I received in my mail.

This is the very first illustrated meter in blue I received in September 2005 from an expert. Afterwards, this kind of logotypes in blue have grown in numbers, like you can regularly watch on this blog.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tibet (2)

After my day of work, I discover that a part of the French national territory became a dictatorship during some hours this monday, the time necessary for the wet olympic firecracker to be sheltered inside a bus to parade through Paris. To simply have a colored flag or a Reporters Without Borders' poster in hand provoked the wrath of the French anti-riot forces. More worrying, policemen of the People's Republic of China helped...

Flag of Tibet (Government of Tibet in exile website),
forbidden today in the streets of Paris.

All this reminded me of a former affair: in 2005, for the 70th birthday of the Dalai Lama, Austrian Post prepared a official stamp issue. Jean-Louis Emmenegger's article published in L'Écho de la timbrologie of June 2005 told that the Chinese diplomacy was very efficient to cancel the issue. Even a private citizen's order of a personalized stamp on the same topic was cancelled by the government even if its postal authority and printer had already accepted the print.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Tonight, the Olympic Flame arrived in Paris in order to, tomorrow, Monday 6 April 2008, be transported around the streets of the French capital. Polemics did arise over the nature of the politic regimen of the People's Republic of China. Today, in London, it was a vivid polemic in the streets. Tomorrow, the Journal du dimanche newspaper told of an "200 meter long 'hermetic bubble' around the Flame holder", understand a motorcade, police patrols, and around thirty vehicles full of CRS men (the French gendarms responsible of containing and/or repressing demonstrations. Plus: survey of the Seine river, of Paris air space and of the sidewalks along the race permanently.

Personally, my mind has been rubik'scubing my mind: why are the Chinese people not authorized to see the Flame coming to their cities, villages and countries? I imagine that they are so a generous people that they prefer sacrifice their pleasure and offer it to the world. I can not even think a sole milli-second that their government deprived them voluntarily. [Correction: a relay is previewed inside China, between May to August.]

Waiting the Olympic Games, Tibet was an independent state until its invasion by Chine in the 1950s. Its postal system used postage stamps from 1911. First, Chinese ones overprinted with a new value in three languages, then two series in 1913 and 1933 depicting a snowlion, celestial animal in the Tibetan culture.

To see them and learn more:
- the Government of Tibet in exile recalls its philatelic history;
- reproductions of these stamps are sold here;
- sellers propose stamps and covers from Tibet at auction website eBay;
- this collector propose an illustrated site (to admire and buy) about Asian philately, including Tibet.

Finally, to close this topic - while postal administrations are issuing full trunks of olympic stamps, if you want to be able to criticize their errors, theirs oversights, their partiality, their friendship towards merchants of the Temple or with the prince in his palace (yes, I am still talking of philately... why? you thought I was writing about television firms !?), journalists have be free to do their job well or not, and the public's critic mind have to be educated and able to serach for intelligences.

This is not possible every where in the world. Help them to impose the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for it can not only be a philatelic topic: Reporters Without Borders, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, Handicap International, and my apologies to others associations that merit to be quoted and put on postage stamps (in France, for example: 1991, 1998).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Again outside her stamp

Prematurely fired next July 2008 by Nicolas, the Marianne des Français definitive design found shelter at the French Ministry of Defence.

On invitations to a conference day about the duty of defence (in France these days, it is discovered in high school and concluded with one day of tests and presentations at 18 years old), here she is, the quiteful profile of the French Republic's allegory, designed by illustrator Thierry Lamouche.

And it is not the first time she escapes her stamp.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Two marks told more than one

The Institut géographique national (IGN) is the French public service and commerce responsible to cartography French territories. Each end of year, before Christmas, it invites its Francilian clients to a private evening at its Parisian shop, Boétie street, near the Champs-Élysées. While shopping at friendly prices, you are offered appetizers and countries' wines.

2007 invitation came in a squared cover (the scan is partial, the square is too large) and franked with a meter machine. Rate seems to be the "postimpact standard distri", one of La Poste's rates for great number sent of identical commercial mail. Individually, this one cost 0,56 € per cover 50 to 75 grams weight, if 400 units were sent locally (Paris region) or 1000 units if sent nationwide.

I receive this invitation yearly, but this one caught my eye by the IGN's stamp :


Saint-Mandé is the town where IGN headquarters are located. Vincennes, the post office, is its neighbour.

I concluded that IGN may fear that its mail was seen as spam mail and finished directly to the trash bin. That fear may appear late 2006 or early 2007 when constumers complained that they did not receive the invite while they trash it.

IGN could order a new illustrated meter like the ones I regularly present here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Robin souvenir (again!)

While the good philatelic society of Paris was trying to save the Philately (the one with a big P as in Payment), I was occupy with philately (little p, for my pleasure) and fell upon one of the mailing lists in French, that Google Groups makes readable to non-subscribers.

There, a participant needed the catalog value of the famous French Robin stamp, secretly issued in the form of a souvenir minisheet by La Poste some winters ago. Speculation climbed until 150 euros then (0,54 € of face value and 3 € of price - wish card included). I found personally that the catalog values, that a mailer gave, were very excessive (around 200 €).

And there was the shock. A third sender was very disappointed by these values: he paid his souvenir 300 € to a stamp dealer.

To those of you who want to possess this treasure of French contemporary philately (little p: its design is quite appealing if you like snowy landscape), and if you are living in France : if you see it on mail order at 300 € and if you possess this sum to spend, here is my piece of advice:
1. propose a week-end to Paris, 1, 2 or 3 day long depending on your wealth, to your husband/wife/son/daughter/little son/etc. One condition: the week-end must begin on a friday open to business.
2. buy 3 months in advance the cheapest return tickests possible to the French national railway company (SNCF).
3. the said friday, take the train thank to your tickets.
4. go right to the passage des Panoramas (2nd arrondissement). For some months and for some time I think, a stamp dealer will sell you the treasure for a 2 digit sum.
5. take your time: visit Paris, eat French, try the postal museum near Montparnasse station, etc.
6. you can accomodate the duration of your stay by replacing hotel with friends or long time/no see parents.

I am sure that the wisest and most precautious of you would not spend more than 300 euros for the whole stay while you gather pleasure with your passion with your huband/wife/etc. without Paying to much from your Pocket money for over-Paid Philatelic Products.