Thursday, July 31, 2008

To count only visitors: relevancy?

The website of Timbres magazine published the daily number of visitors at the Paris stampshow Planète timbres last June.

95247 visitors came voluntarily between June 14 and 22, and 20253 school boys and girls and their teachers, who could be seen and heard on the playful areas.

The most charged day was the opening Saturday with 15853 visitors and schoolers. Monday and Tuesday were the most quiet to visit: between nine and ten thousands visitors or schoolers (but I witness that, even on Tuesday, the first day sale booths were heavily crowded).

These data are informative but with negative aspects: they only tell that the news of a stampshow reached philatelists and Île-de-France schools. Not the commercial satisfaction of stamp dealers and collectors looking for necessary items, wished or lucky finds.

The wisdom is in Mike Czuczman's position, organisator of the London Stampex, reproduced in August 2008 Stamp Magazine. As always, he communicated the number of visitors of February Stampex (4917 people). But, a reader asked the magazine how visitors were counted: there was no ticket, nor mechanical counting device.

Czuczman explained that there were 4917 given welcome booklet with a souvenir postcard to visitors at the entrance. He accepted the number as visitors because some took one per entry, others not when coming a second time, etc. At least, it gave an idea.

He continued: "However, we are considering not issuing numbers in future, as it seems to concentrate minds on a rather irrelevant aspect. What really counts is whether the visitors, exhibitors and dealers have an interesting and productive experience".

Next September, will one of two French philatelic magazines go beyond the visitor numbers to report the stamp dealers' and collection exhibitors' satisfaction?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Luff Award 2008: A specialist of France awarded

The American Philatelic Society announced today the three recipients of the Luff Award that honored the most meriting of the philatelists (read the press release by Fred Baumann on the Virtual Stamp Club).

Among them, this year, a specialist of the philatelic and postal history of France: Stanley J; Luft, known in France as a foreign associated member of the Académie de philatélie since 2000.

His two main collections are the definitive stamps of France and the French military posts and mail since the Revolutionary War in the late 18th centuty.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Swedish enigma continues

In September 2007, I presented a silenciously mysterious pictorial cancellation on a 1997 mail from Sweden (and reproduced here). Thank to a exhibited collection and my very thin knowledge of Swedish language, I can now talk a little more about it.

Kjell Ardvidsson published on line his collection about ten years of inkjet cancelling in Sweden on the inevitable philatelic exhibiting website Exponet.

And there, one of the picture talked to my memory. The illustration visibly served at the mail sorting facility in Karlstad, Värmland County, in Western Sweden.

Ardvidsson described it as the "Värmland symbol". However, my sole ressource is the Wikipedia in English's article about the region that develops the heraldic history. A wolve is mentioned that was replaced by the actual eagle.

I will continue to wait and look for what this symbol represents.

Kjell Ardvidsson has got his own website : , with, among other things, a specialised part about postage meter.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Postal History of Frontignan, by Henri Dubois

While I am weighting the difference of access to philately in French regions compared to Paris, the chance of walking through a new and used bookshops quiets my fears.

After I looked with no result for a used book upstairs, I was walking back the ground level of the shop toward the exit... when a philatelic detail caught my full attention: the left half of a datestamp cancellation.

I took the thin fifty-something page book and discover that, since November 2007, this Postal History of Frontignan by Henri Dubois was waiting its new owner. Even its three added flying sheets are still there. I was in fact in the local tourism and history part, in a Languedoc bookshop.

Of course, this is a monography, with a detailed chronology of the local post office and the conflicts of interests between the municipality and the posts' departmental direction. For France, you would certainly need thirty-six thousands books like that to cover each communes. Difficult to be written, to find and to stock at home. But one monography can cover a little part of a department, like here with Hérault. Frontignan post office was first dependent of the one of Sète, and after that directed the small offices in Mireval and Vic-la-Gardiole, two others communes in the canton.

Thank in the preface by Jean Valette, historian of Frontignan, the searcher author of this book is Henri Dubois, who worked with René Albelanet on a Postal History and Marcophily of the Pyrénées-Orientales (Histoire postale et marcophilie des Pyrénées-Orientales), 1991.

A refreshing drop of surprise in an ocean of summery heat.

Henri Dubois, Histoire postale de Frontignan, Municipal printer plant of Frontignan, 1992, 56 stapled pages and 3 flying sheets, ISBN 2-9506315-0-9.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Philatelic and sport ceremony at the White House

When, in France, La Poste organizes anticipated sales for first day of issue and sells each time mainly to the same collectors, the United States Postal Service just presents inaugural ceremonies (with first day cancellations of course).

From time to time, one of these ceremonies has got a mediatic potential, like the one that took place on Wednesday 16 July in the federal capital Washington. You can discover reports by witnesses and photographs on the Virtual Stamp Club.

On the White House's South Lawn, President of the United States George Walker Bush God bless his future retirement was invited to a base-ball match by children and to reveal the postage stamp issued for the centenary of Take Me Out to the Ball Game song, one of the most popular sport hymns that only this country can create.

The Chief of State being always followed by a swarn of journalists, the USPS can hope for many reports on television and radio channels, on digitalized or ink printed papers... and wait for the orders. The 42 cent stamp was designed by Richard Sheaff, one of the more prolific illustrator working for the USPS.

On a special page of the USPS website, Piney Bowes' personalised stamps are presented too under the excuses to frank your mail with pictures of your favorite base-ball teams. Rates make La Poste's Montimbramoi be a present in comparison:
* twenty 42-cent pre-personalised stamps at 17.95 dollars for a face value of 8.40 Oïe!
* just six then, for the boy's collection? 9.95 dollars only... 2.52 face value Pfiou!

Hopefully, USPS offers you for free (yes, free) one pre-adressed parcel if you want to donate new or used base-ball glove to Pitch In For Baseball, whose goal is to present this sport to children all over the world.

4 August 2008 update
Reported by Linn's Stamp News (read The Virtual Stamp Club), based on an internal USPS e-mail, two art directors were thanked ("être remercié" in French is a polite hypocritical way to say "you're fired"). Coincidentally, the two last United States' stamp issues on 16 July 2008 were supervised by these two men: Take Me Out to the Ball Game for Richard Schaeff and Black Cinema for Carl T. Herrman.

France: parcels and oil price

Listened on France info, a public news radio, this morning (temporary link): starting 1st October 2008, the postal rates of La Poste for parcels sent by firms will change depending on the oil price.

The uprising cost of hydrocarbures has already been one of the official causes of the lattest rise of postal rates in many countries.

I try an amateur hypothesis: will the next major postal operator in France be the one who will adopt his transport capacity to means that consume less non renewable energies?

In the case of French parcels, it will depend on the reactions of:
* the client firms who are using the former monopoly's services by choice or by custom;
* the transport policy of the competiting operators on this parcel market;
* ... and the choice of consumers, an old motto of mine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Simenon and philately

A research about the cover of novel will let me discover writer Georges Simenon.

Last edition cover of The Little Man from Archangel (Le Petit Homme d'Arkhangelsk,
from Le Livre de poche editor website), ISBN 9782253142782.

A summary on (be careful of intrigue spoilers) explains the role played by stamp collecting in the novel, and why a full set of stamps of the world is displayed on its cover. But it hints that this cover can be erroneous: no rare or expensive stamps in this lot, which any of us met one time or another during our collector's live.

The 1997 cover (, ISBN 978-2253142782.

In 1997, the Lady McLeod stamp was reproduced above a scene picturing the couple, heroes of the novel. This blue and white stamp was used in the middle of the 19th century to frank mail transported by the ship christened in honor of the British Governor of Trinitad's wife. The service carried mail between some harbors of this Caraibean island.

This stamp alone contrary to the new cover. After a reading of this novel, I will judge and propose a first prize for the best philatelic cover.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Clive Abbott (1933-2008)

His death is briefly reported in the August 2008 issue of Stamp Magazine: Clive Abbott was the first artist whose name was printed on a postage stamps of the United Kingdom he created.

The artist and printer's signatures on British commemorative stamps lasted only four years: began with the two stamp series for the opening of the Post Office Tower de Londres in 1965, it had already been abandoned when Abbott depicted Ralph Vaughan Williams in action for the 1972 centenary stamp.

A surf on the catalogue-site Collect GB Stamps helped me find the final signed series in January 1969. But the search for printing differences between printers of British definitives is still practiced in Great Britain.

Note: in Spring 2007, Cross Post, the Journal of the Friends of the British Postal Museum & Archive published an article on Clive Abbott and his British stamps. The article was recently reproduced in Gibbons Stamp Monthly.

31 July 2008 update: in August 2008 Gibbons Stamp Monthly, Jennifer Toombs wrote an obituary for Abbott, with whom she designed two omnibus stamp series for the Crown Agents (25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II coronation and 21st birthday of Princess Diana). The philatelic artwork of Toombs is the topic of an article in the same issue.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reading under an umbrella

The time to catch up with the semi-daily rythm of this blog, I propose you some blog articles to read, published during my pause:
* profiting of the recent 2008 Salon du timbre in Paris and Summer correspondence, La Poste in France is developing its personalised stamps: to read on the Blog philatélie ;
* in France, phosphorescent bars can be a way to understand Phil@poste's issuing policy believing Les News du phosho ;
* on the same blog, for nostalgic like I am, there is still work to do on the Marianne des Français, its printing, errors, uses, etc., and even spectacular discovery for the Marianne du 14 juillet ;
* the Stamp Collecting Round-Up presents one of the last proofs of the stamp printers/coin manufacturers alliance against the collectors of new issues ;
* Claude Jamet wrote about all these topical problems by starting with the Code of deontology of the Universal Postal Union.

Before the September articles of the French magazines, three video clips are broadcasted on TV timbres reporting a day at the 2008 Salon du timbre, filmed on Thursday 19 June.

I do not forget the Machin series: the Machin Mania's authors posted a helpful page to help find old threads on their blog and other Machin website.

Have good readings.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Holiday at last

I am back from my job-personal migration from Paris to a sunny region in Southern France. A second one late August will occur and a second pause of this blog.

While I was moving, some philatelic ideas came under my nose:
* in the national press, the French Senate has been promoting its European exhibitions by imitating stamp perforations ;
* fans of dated corner blocks hold up the philatelic counter in Montpellier. All sheets of Nicolas' sorrowfull Marianne are now without their date of print (don't forget to watch your clock if you want to buy stamps in your near-by counter while travelling in France).
* at the secondary counter in Maurin, commune of Lattes near Montpellier, concerning booklets, the clerk has got only one type of booklet: the ten stamp Holiday one. No our Highness the Omni-President's Marianne in the facility. And what will you have at disposal when entering your French post office during your stay in France?

The next article very soon now.