Friday, October 31, 2008

The one who looked for finds

There are yet errors to correct in the general philatelic books. Introductions of catalogues about French oversea possession of La Réunion will have to be amended because of what Benoît Chandanson found in the Departmental Archives of the island.

Dealer and author specialised in La Réunion, Chandanson just published a letter that would permit [conditional: let's critics study the new document and thesis] to precise the numbers of the first Reunion stamps that were issued for local purposes in 1852 and served until 1860. On 16 February 1852, the local director of the posts write to his colleague Director of the Interior about the incoming order of the new stamps. While catalogues Yvert and Dallay (2006-2007, page 293) has been giving a 7500 stamp printing, Chandanson's estimate by this letter is lesser and better sourced.

The document reference: 6P123, Archives départementales de La Réunion. The 6P indicates the topical ordering of the archives, here the pre-1946 départementalisation documents about "Finances. Cadastre. Posts. Credit companies."

The article: Benoît Chandanson, "Réunion 1 et 2: chiffres de tirage(s)?", ColFra #394, October 2008. ColFra is a French association specialised on all philatelic, postal, marcophil, etc. topics in the former French colonial empire.

Two ideas:
* go search the nearest local archives and see what could be about posts in there. In France, departmental archives kept the prefect's archives and some of the cities' archives (example of subjects you may find in those documents). Your local archives may have such documents as debates and petition about the building or establishment of a new post office, etc. ;
* even if some do not find them pretty, even a little bit invasive, to multiply intra reference notes let the reader know how important affirmations were assumed and which one are lacking strong proofs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Autumn's here

Ironic smiles

Too much news today, my mind cannot hold, but, philatelicly maniac, it ways everything into postal and stamp ideas. All this while the Omni-President speeches, at Rethel, "a program, very classical and predictable, of public spendings to resolve the crisis". Unless UMP[1] Deputy Mariton was speaking in Le Figaro of "a hyper keynesian Obama". The fourth and last ironic smile on my face today.

The first happened while listening a report on France Info that gave me back hope in the professional soccer. On the last matches, Mrs. Sabine Bonnin was the first woman to be the referee of a second league match in France, because the titulary referee was injured during the play.

And Mrs. Bonnin is an employee of La Poste. Hurray! Right when her firm is sponsoring soccer referees that won us a round stamp. But...

... the journalist concluded with malice: the postwoman had to take a unpayed day to prepare herself for the match. Doh!

The second one, here came France's musketeers: the Members of Parliament saved...

... the world economy?

Don't be so enthusiastic, please.

... orphans and widows?

We are speaking of politic people.

... a kitty on a tree?

After a months long lobbying against the European-inspired lifetime car plate number, they obtained that the number of French départements had to be kept.[2] What a success! French citizens, sleep well! France is saved! La Marseillaise won't be whistle again! The Omni-President could be credible against those men.

And there, postal history returned: why can not Members of Parliament lobby La Poste and force its directors to print again the département number on French cancellations? What the hell, what not the name of the département too?

Those with good memory recalled that, amongst cutting remarks against collectors' rage against too numerous stamps issued, Françoise Eslinger promised that she will speak about the département number problem with her colleagues. May she succeed while not being a MP?

The third ended in a critic to all actors of the French philately. The smile began with a post on the Blog philatélie about the return of La Poste's Museum free stationery. FREE! But, only for visitors of a special exhibition at the museum. The museum wanted to take advantage of next 7-10 November 2008 Paris stamp show...

The problem is: collectors cannot get this commemorative stamped stationery but by visiting Paris. The smile became large smile when I read the official blog of the exhibition: they are taunting collectors LOL, like Eslinger last June.[3]

My day's conclusion I wrote on Les News du Phospho whose author was surprised by how same-intel-alike were La Poste's news philatelic magazine and the news section of French philatelic magazines. It may be time that collectors and philatelists associations and philatelic press get their goals away from those of La Poste. The operator has its own, that I don't always like, but that only refuse to buy and lobbyng[4] could influence.

Let's see the British example where associations/circles/societies are studying whatever and however they want (and not necessarilly like the Royal Mail wants to sell them). And each philatelic magazines get a man who is following new issues, printings, unannounced news by the Royal Mail channels and other channels. Philatelic and postal history written every month without reciting official memos.

But, I am in France. I imagine we have to wait for a solution from our neo-keynesian omni-presidential Master of the European Council.

1 : the UMP is the omni-president's political party, theorically highly liberal in economy and highlier conservative about social behavior.
2 : imiting by the way their glorious predecessors of the IIIrd Republic who have forced the post office, for pedagogic need, to add the name of the département on datestamps. The number alone was estimated insufficient. Times changed...
3 : translation of the second part of the exhibition blog: "Whereas the previous stationery was printed in 15000 items, this one was only in 7000... [...] Stay THE big question amongst philatelists: official stationery or fake stationery?"
4 : lobbying from the collectors to their MPs of course.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Antarctica dollar

Curiosity killed the cat. Me, it cost me eleven euros.

Yesterday, at the Montpellier collectors show, I went through a banknote dealer when I stopped on notes in Antarctica dollars... weird. Pictures showed penguin, but sovereignty signs and map of revendications by some States (like Norway as I saw on one of the notes). There, big doubts: these revendications are officially frozen and the concerning countries often avoid to expose them on stamps and notes because their neighbours would complaint.

On the notes, the search can begin with a text:

"Return this document by mail to Antarctica Overseas Exchange Office Ltd, P.O. Box 61, Custer WA USA 98240 for a refund of one United States dollar, anytime up to midnight December 31st, 2012.

... and this is sold amongt banknotes officially issued all over the world.

I bought two notes in the most little face value... that said the most little sale values. Here you have pictures of the One Dollar with penguins, Soutern Cross and what may be a reminder of the Flag of Argentina.

Back to home, "Google is your friend".

It's quick: a official site and an article on the Wikipedia in English. The private firm has been issuing one dollar to one hundred dollar notes, sold and refund at the face value (you can order a 20 dollar specimen for 10 actual dollars). A promise is made to use 80% of the proceeds to help scientific research in Antarctica. Proofs are to be found, but if Polar collectors followed these notes, proceeds may help scientists.

A critical article was published late 2001-early 2002 on a Australian paper money website (clic on "Articles", then search for "Antarctica"). These notes were considered an "private issue" by the author. Only, He hoped then that the "bank" may have published the use of the proceeds by the publication of the article...

Now I have got curiosity souvenirs in my papers. You, at least, can forge your own opinion will you face these notes in the future.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Collectors' Show in Montpellier

This Sunday (very sunny indeed here) 26 October 2008, the Philatelic Numismatic Cartophile Circle of Montpellier (CPNCM) organised a show in the Montpellier Townhall Meeting Room.

The way was well marked from the commercial centers of the Polygone and the Triangle, but perhaps the first sign a little bit out of the eyes of people walking through a Sunday closed area. Collectors and curious already informed by local press and Toussaint Coppolani's newsletter will already where to look. The competition was perhaps harder on young people and their parents: a manga week-end was organized in near-by Grabels.

Inside, the mini-cafeteria was easily reachable and far more honest than others Parisian show rendez-vous. The number of dealers was more limited, but around fifteen yet. The mix of collections made me look, discover and even buy interesting non-philatelic things related to philately. After research and investigation, you will read soon about them.

Concerning the said Philatelic Numismatic Cartophile Circle of Montpellier, for you who will live in Southern France, it organised regular and by collection meetings at the municipal maison pour tous Marcel Pagnol, on Lavérune Road. The link to Mister Coppolani's newsletter gave a contact to this association.

A very nice sunny morning indeed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

John Hobson Nicholson, a Manx Worthy

Last 1st of August, 2008, the Isle of Man Post Office issued ten 31 and 50 pence stamps to honor ten Manx people. The island, possession of the British monarch, recognized their merits described on the upper line of each stamp: mother of Manx music, last native people to speak Manx, etc.

The one that interest me today is the fifth of the first row: John Hobson Nicholson (1911-1988), an self-taught Manx artist who succeeded to be known in Great Britain. After 1958, he designed the Manx signs of autonomy: banknotes, coins and postage stamps.

In 1958, like the other countries of the United Kingdom and of the royal property (understand the four rugby/soccer countries and the Channel Islands), the Isle of Man obtained from the Post Office a stamp issue valid everywhere, but bearing the triskelion. The ornament around Dorothy Wilding's photograph of the Queen was designed by Nicholson.


Concerning banknotes, a 2008 previous issue may show three, sufficiently recent, to be of Nicholson's art, believing the Presentation Pack. In 1961, he began the work on banknotes after a law reestablished the monopoly of issuing notes to the governement of Man on

Biography of the artist on the Manx National Heritage website.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hermes, son of Ceres

Prepared by Désiré-Albert Barre, the first postage stamp issue of Greece share a graphic genealogy with the first of France, dranw and engraved by his father, Jacques-Jean Barre.

Thank to a well-narrated study, Louis Fanchini completed the genealogy with essays made in the late 1850s. Fanchini, a classical Greek philatelist, wrote starting with Désiré-Albert Barre's ("Barre fils" as often written in France) works for the Commission of money. His article is published in the last issue of Documents philatéliques, the Académie de philatélie's review, dated 4th trimester 2008.

Anatole Hulot, then director of the postage stamp fabrication, was judged too expensive by the French postal administration. Either to create competition, or to made him cut down his prices, the commission of money ordered Barre fils typographical plates with the Ceres design with the help of a new method that can compete with Hulot's galvanoplasty. The "frappe directe au balancier monétaire", used for coinage. The director finally accepted to cut down his printing prices, but Barre's method was ready.

In the beginning of the 1860s, while Hulot and Barre fils had not already been the best friends in the world, Hulot was late to deliver the new Greek stamp plate (a little bit caused by the engraver... guess who?). And Barre fils won the market to produce the plates and the first printing of the Hermes stamps.

I barely summarized this sixteen page study, far more extended than the Hulot-Barre fils rivalry: my discovery of the "balancier monétaire" (a reedition may include an illustration of this apparat), role of printer Ernest Meyer, invention by Barre fils of the value printed on the back of the stamp, etc.

Good reading (in French) and thank to the author.

Reference : Louis Fanchini, « Les essais "Cérès 1858". Pourquoi font-ils partie intégrante de la philatélie grecque ? » [The "Ceres 1858" essays. Why are they entirely part of the Greek philately?], Documents philatéliques #198, Académie de philatélie, 4th trimester 2008, pages 3 to 18.
Regularly quoted in this study, a ressource directly available on the web: the Large Head Hermes stamp specialised site by Louis Basel (in English).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Commercial consideration before Remembrance Day

On the 6 November 2008, Royal Mail will issue the third of the minisheet commemorating the events of World War One, ninety years ago. Each sheet comprised four definitive stamps representing the four Countries of the United Kingdom and one square stamp mixing pictures of soldiers and the poppy, the Commonwealth equivalent of the French bleuet.

The poppy, as a symbol of remembrance and solidarity with the ancient combattants, appeared with the poem of a Canadian military doctor. At the birth of the bleuet of France, there are two nurses who decided to occupy the heavy-wounded recovering soldiers. They were directed to manufacture blue flowers with tissues and to sold them to the public.

This year, beside the minisheet, and outside the philatelic subscription, the three Poppy stamps will be reissued in form of a triptyque. To help collectors to order whatever block they would want, Royal Mail sent them a letter with the full triptyque sheet model.

With a extraordinary consideration, I said.

Friday, October 17, 2008

South of France stamped

Read in the free newspaper MontpellierPlus this 17 October 2008, page 7, the Région Languedoc-Roussillon distributed last tuesday sheet of personalized stamps during the Montpellier Fair.

The stamps reproduced the commercial for the label "South of France". Alexandra Rosenfeld, born in Béziers and awarded Miss France and Europa 2006, plays a little red riding hood adept of Asian fighting sport; she can obviously defend her regional agricultural and traditional food products against a poor wolf of Gévaudan (watch the commercial clip).

The Blog philatélie whose author specialized in following the French personalized stamp service, Montimbramoi, helps retrieve the sheet format that the model is holding in her hands. Remark that the big board beside her depicts the personalisation only, not the postal mentions. These mentions could help precise some details of the Région's order.

I do not translate the article, but be sure that the little philatelic knowledge the author had, was all used in a sexist way. Madam, welcome in South of France :(

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's everywhere!

The eternal effigy of the British monarchy under the reign of Elizabeth II is everywhere.

Sold in its original plaster form, I should have had more than fifteen thousands pounds sterling to buy it.

For a more mass-consumption (and to help close faster more post offices), the machine version with value indicator printed on demand walked its first steps this week. A member of the Virtual Stamp Club braved technical and fellow collectors hazards, including devilous postal clercks to obtain the new stamps at the Ludgate Circus post office. In the financial district of the City, in the heart of London, this office is surprisingly one of those the Royal Mail is wanting to close in the United Kingdom.

Finally, even Google used the legendary effigy to commemorate the visit of its British offices by the Queen and her husband.

Long is the wait
Until I travel again
To the head of the Britain

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reexpedition sticker

Since I moved, the Parisian post office reexpedite my mail to my new adress. Only one postcard required to use the official reexpedition enveloppe presented here by Dominique on the Blog philatélie.

Almost all covers were revamped by a plastified red stickers, easy to take off, and a sticking paper with the new adress on the back.

Sent by the philatelic service of the Royal Mail, this cover helps to understand why postal employees used the red sticker: to hide the pink barcodes and the old adress. Here, the French bottom barcodes and the adress are to separated, hence the need of two stickers.

The british barcode is printed below the adress. On a smaller cover, it will be printed under the stamps.

The French post's reexpedition service, available for six or twelve months, is not free, but has been very efficient until now.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Distributed in September, this flyer from the Royal Mail seemed to have passed like a letter at the post office, without any Irish commenting.

On the back, it announced for 29 September 2008 the stamp issue for the fifty years of Regional Postage Stamps in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It bears a reproduction of an old map of the British Islands (thank you, public domain)... a time when Ireland was govern under the British rule. No more the case in 195 when Ulster issued these local definitive stamps, designed after the Wilding series.

And that fact comprised every insitutional bias British people invented (or how to lose an Empire without losing your face): independence accepted in 1922, change of the United Kingdom's name in 1927, the Republic of Ireland out of the Commonwealth in 1949,...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Martti Ahtisaari and philately

Former president of the Republic of Finland, awarded Nobel Prize of Peace this week, Martti Ahtisaari has been working for the development of Southern continents' countries and Peace for all his adult life, at the United Nations before his presidency, and after. Though, some are very critical for his actions in Kosovo, because it leaded to the independence of this region, and potentially created a precedent for all ethnical population feeling menaced inside their country.

The honor of a postage stamp by his own country already happened in 1997, for his 60th birthday. The Finnish post seems to have this custom to stamp the president around the middle of his term, like Tarja Halonen in 2003.

He revealed a child past of stamp collector in a speech while receiving the chief of government of Andorra, Marc Forné, in November 1999. The text is written in a political neutral language, but he linked the two countries thank to philately, despite their bright new relationships:

"My generation learned about your country at an early age, when stamp collecting was one of our main hobbies. I still remember how exciting it was to obtain Andorra's splendid stamps for our modest collections. They were the pride of our collection. Thanks to our hobby we also learned exactly where to place Andorra on the European map."

Update, 30 October 2008 :, specialised in new issue announcements, reports the arrival on 10 December 2008 of Finland's second stamps picturing the former president and now Nobel Price of Peace.

British Columbia: back to fundamentals

In these times of crisis, during which speculators are feeling the moment the cycle will return like the surfer feels the wave beginning to break..., let's go back to fundamentals thank to Canadian stamps.

Canada Post issued, on 1 August 2008, a stamp for the 150 years of the creation of the British Columbia colony, on the Western Canadian coast on the Pacific Ocean.

(Canada Post website)

Cartographic profile and the origin of pioneer effort during the 19th century: the quest for gold when the long and hard labor built the hope and, sometime, the wealth of the argonaut. Maybe should I read something else than Carl Barks and Don Rosa? :)

The stamp is very well designed and efficient in communicating the intended message. Bravo to Matthew Clark et Roy White de l'agence Subplot Design Inc. of Vancouver.

A little marketing though to justify why you accept to buy the indivisible sixteen adhesive stamp sheet (8.32 Canadian dollars, circa 7.10 United States dollars or 5.25 euros): old photographs of European habitants of the colony on the back.

Fifty years ago, this mythified work of the gold worker was the principal topic of the centenary stamp. The British Columbia was founded in 1858 by separation from the 1849 colony of the Vancouver Island.

J. Harman was classic in this illustration for an instutional stamp, while many stamps of Elizabeth II's reign had been already graphically modern.

Two stamps, tow styles, but fondamentals last: beautifully deliver the message.

In 1908, no commemorative stamp. The times were not at illustrating every passing-by events, only royal heads.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Machin in Gibraltar

Like many British postal entities, Gibraltar used the Machin head on its stamps.

This is a stamp from a four stamp series, issued 1979 for the centenary of the death of Rowland Hill. The portrait, of a young and vigorous reformer, would be used on a British stamp in 1995 too.

On this red 9 pence, the stamp depicted is a definitive one of 1971. Yvert et Tellier catalogue gave a precision: it was sold by machines inside a roll of five: two half-pennies, two of this blue penny and one two-pence. And it bears the royal profile that became as famous as the Rock of Gibraltar profile stamp of 1969.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

tem'post and postal history

Mail sent through tem'post are part of the postal history of France, despite their philatelist receiver putting them in the paper trash. tem'post is a service of La Poste dedicated to big sender of bills, mensual listings or social checks.

This week, I had a thought for those who are trying to follow this history of the contemporary postal service when I discovered that the proof of franking is on the inner correspondance, not on the cover.

When EDF (French former electricity monopoly) and a large part of firms print the tem'post mark on the cover, the MGEN (a professional social security service) print it on the letter, just above the receiver's adress.

Like amateurs of classical covers, the correspondance will always be as interesting as the cover for the historian.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Alice, philagenic princesses

Modified message: too many Princesses Alice. I confused two princesses. My apologies to Saturday morning readers.

Princess Alice, wife of Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was King George V's daughter in law and aunt to Queen Elisabeth II.

In February 1945, she and her husband were honored by three stamps of Australia, where he was becoming Governor-General, representing the King in the place. Their uniforms reminded that the time of war was still on.

Another Princess Alice, the daughter of Queen Victoria's younger son, was honored by one of the stamps issued by Trinidad and Tobago this 3 October 2008 for the sixtieth anniversary of the University of the West Indies, whose she was the first chancellor. But, it was not the first stamp of her long life (1883-1981).

In 1951, the States participating to the creation of the University of the West Indies launched a omnibus two-stamp issue: the arms of the university on the first, the new chancellor on the second. Certainly, the English-speaking Caribbean post offices may have issue stamps in her honor since the fifties (but I lack catalogs).

During a Google search, I found two text cancellations of Jamaica around 1955 (1 et 2), visibly a call to donate to a charity leaded by Princess Alice because the first years of the university were financially difficult.

Thank to the Stanley Gibbons' Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970 catalog, very useful: British world only, stamp designers and printers quoted, precise dates of issues, etc.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

States-General of the Press

The French news website Marianne 2 wrote about the States-General of the Press beginning today, with the same scepticism some, like me, considered the States-General of the Philately (or in French political jargon Grenelle de la philatélie, even reunion on how thirty people conceived philately).

Because French newspaper press is a more serious topic than the collection and study of philatelic and postal items, the Omni-President moved himself to open the discussions on the future of French press.

How to attract young people? What inside: costly report by journalists or verbatim of government's briefings? How do you move it to the press shop or the subscribers? And at what price, when newspaper's website are free or sold dematerialized?

About this last question: same price for the paper and the numeric version, but what a huge margin for the magazine made on printing and postage! Different prices with a bonus for the numeric reader, but what is then the value of work and research, and of the knowledges discovered?