Saturday, November 29, 2008

Philatelic winter

It is cold. In France at least. Ideal weather for this stamp of Switzerland issued just before Spring though, on 4 March 2008.

Surrounded by a rain of stamped flakes, the character is Lars, the little polar bear, created by Hans de Beer, a Nederlandese writer. Lars has knew success in German speaking countries. He was the star of a television animated series and, two times, of a movie.

The philatelic use of characters from the children's literature is regular when comic art was accepted by adults, certainly best underscored by the Post of Belgium since 1979. In France, postal service director Françoise Eslinger estimated that this choice for the France's stamp day issue was too high a price in rights to pay to attract the same adult philatelic public. She is not wrong and asked to the French Philatelic Associations Federation (FFAP) to choose a new topic for the 2010 Stamp Day. But the same fact did not bother her for the Smilers booklet issued in September for a handful of years now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Flying upside down

Amusing and discreet, the postal bird, emblem of the French post since the 1960s, is flying upside down on this datestamp marked on the back of a reexpedited letter arrived at my new adress.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Where are the Frogs going?

Today, not enough time and energy (thank to illness), to translate the full article I posted in French there, but a summary on what's hot in the France's philatelic pond.

Once upon a time, in a pond, the Frog Post and its philafrog service were accused by the stamped Frogs to produce too many postage stamps and, recently, higher than the face value philafrog products. The croaks of the frogs finished to be heard by the King-Elect of the Frogs. In his wisdom, and because it pleased the Frog Post too, he ordered the organisation of the Croaks-General of the Stamp-frogging.

But, one year after the King's generous croak, the website of the Croaks-General is frozen because, said the officials frogs, they have too much work to do and the results are coming too slowly.

To reassure their obliged Frogs, the Frog Post, the Stamped Frog Federation and the Stamp Changers' Guild printed a proclamation with the first result of the Croaks-General : let's there be stamps above other stamps. Let's them be teethfull, wet-sticky and chosen by the Stamped King of all Frogs (or one of his Froglings if unavailable). The stamps below would be sticky-sticky, sold to unstamped Frogs and ugly.

One month later, inspired by this holy stamped Genesis, the Officier of the Stamp Changers' Guild announced humbly, in Frogstamp Magazine, his idea to revolved the stamped problems: beautiful stamps will be written first in the Book of Frogged Stamps, the ugly others will be written far inside the Book, so that devout Frogs won't be tempted to be interested into them. There were not too many, there were just confusion between good and bad stamps.

And, thank to all this wisdom, all Frogs lived well for a very long time.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Deutsche Post attracts young people to postal relations

The Deutsche Post is trying to attract young clients, the ones massively used to e-mails and sms than to written letters.

This advertissment was published in the teenager weekly Bravo on 19 November 2008, saved from a German friend's bin. It promotes the website.

The picture teases the young reader to one of the three activities you find on the website: a quiz about the social person you are.

More pertinent because it ends in sending franked mail, and sold stamps, the second activity is to become part of a pen pal community (this part is in English too).

The last part is the commercial trap: the "sms stamp". You send a sms or a call to a Deutsche Post service than send back a Handyporto, a code to write down on your letter. Put the letter in a mailbox. Done.

Very modern. I want to know if the Deutsche Post adds something on these letters.

Very expensive too. Cost of the sms/call plus 85 eurocents for a postcard and 95 cents for a letter sent inside Germany. Usual postal rates with postage stamps or by walking inside a post office: 45 and 55... Modern is beautiful :)

More about :
* 16 décembre 2008 : on the Blog philatélie, read a general presentation and an example of mail.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A database at La Poste's Museum

A big step for French philatelists this past week: La Poste's Museum opened a database. You can access sources and objects from the collections.

The classical collectors will be happy: pictures of many stamps, blocs and sheets, galvanos, etc. until objects from the mailmen and postal clercks' daily work.

I wait with impatience the numerisation of the postal archives.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Republic photocopied in color

After Olivier and Dominique, my two cents about the Visages de la Cinquième République booklet, issued by the French post during the last Autum Stampshow, in Paris. The main technical particularity is the printing of these definitive designs in heliogravure, instead of the historical intaglio.

On the "I like / I dislike" level, I am closer to the second point of view: I had the impression to watch excellent photocopies in color of artwork. They are very faithful, but they lack some... recess? Yes, I am a victim of intaglio addiction ;)

Here is what the Marianne des Français became, on a first day of general use (posted on Saturday 8, first day of philatelic issue, but after the week-end's last passage of the postman ; note that the Paris Europe mail center is the one responsible for area where the Stampshow was). To print it in gravure, why not go for a full red, instead keeping the engraved background?

A red that is different from the original stamp. Matter of printing method or ink levels to harmonize the whole booklet?

For the Marianne of Nicolas, four months after its issue, what a shame for those happy that the chosen artist was the designer and engraver. No need of an engraver in heliogravure. A little devil is whistling in my left ear that this gravure booklet is a test before replacing intaglio by heliogravure for all definitive stamps.

The same day of mail, I received a charity commercial for a non governmental organization. The mail contained a pre-adressed stationery for the answer. Specifically a"postreponse" with the Nicolas design as stamp. I found it more pleasant for the eye - an eye I confess as a non artistic one.

However, the deconstruction of the booklet helped rediscover the evolutions of postage stamp printing in France since the late 1950s, like Olivier did on his News de phospho: dimensions of the definitive changed, sorting mail by phosphor bars were slowly modified too, etc. Even the 12-stamp format is recent (2007) and helped Phil@poste to issue an exhaustive booklet on the topic.

Second compliment (there will be ice this week-end): this bokklet is more satisfactory than the commemorative stamp for the fifty years of the 1958 Constitution, issued just before. The style is the one generally used for institutions and important moments of the French Republic, ever since I am a collector (1988)... this unsatisfactory style because perhaps no one believe in our Republic anymore? But I am off philatelic ground here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Princess Alice, chancellor

Princess Alice, countess of Athlone, was the daughter of Queen Victoria's younger son. She 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 one part was settled in this country. She was its 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).

For this series, the Stanley Gibbons do not give the artist's name. It was apparently an engraver employed by the British printer Waterlow that worked on the two designs. The royal effigy of George VI was replaced by his cypher.

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.

This article is a upgraded version of the 4 October 2008 post.

Monday, November 17, 2008

On horseback

After a five stamp series for the coronation issued on 25 May 1953 (one week before the ceremony in London) and two stamps for the royal visit on December 1953, the New Zealand Post Office began the issue of the three-design definitive series figuring Queen Elizabeth II, between December 1953 and the first months of 1954.

The young queen was on a horseback on the high value stamps. Here, the one that cost the less in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue, the three shillings (3/-) issued on 1 March 1953 with a five and a ten shiling stamps. A two shillings six pence stamp (2/6) joined them in July 1957.

And, by this stamp I bought because of my QE2 on engraved stamp mania, the list of researchs to do got one meter longer:
* why the stamp issue of July 1957? What rate change or consumer behavior happened?
* Stanley Gibbons credits "J. Berry" as artist but not engraver, certainly James Berry, specialised in stamps and coins. One more rich biography to reconstruct. Hopefully, this one is remembered by one of his employers: he designed the New Zealand coin of the 1967 decimalisation (£ -> $).
* was the uniform dress one of a New Zealand army corp?
* did Berry work from a picture, with the model? A model put on top a quiet horse or on a pommel horse? If the horse was a live one, can his/her pedigree be retrieved?

My Winter sounds a busy one :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New ads from La Poste

La Poste began a new ad campaign in French magazines, with its slogan "La confiance donne de l'avance" (confidence gives advance/lead/ahead-of-others-ness). Be ahead, remember that in a few years, you will choose the postal operator you want for the less-than-50-gram mail. Quickly said, be with us.

Here is one of the ads, the one that talk the much to the daily client/user. The one who waits his intimate letters, bills and spamming mail, and who got this right under the universal postal service. Here, Lucie was waiting impatiently on this 10 October, for news from his boyfriend or holiday heartbreak, gone or gone back to Paris.

It is easy to reconstruct the scenario because everything is on the cover that the young woman is holding. A cover that was origamied into the postal bird, La Poste's emblem.

She received the letter on 10 October, because, she is three times lucky. She is the beneficial of a efficient postal serice: I translate "95 millions items are delivered every 24 hours" and the datestamp indicates a 7pm 9 October cancellation of the Paris-Bienvenüe post office (certainly, the one opened in La Poste's headquarters). 95 x 10^6 on how many? until which weight? even parcels?

She can read a readable cancellation: she knows her boyfriend is in Paris. With the new coded cancellations, she could have imagine things and be frightened: is he really in Paris? What is he doing in this département? Because, the innocent girl, perhaps not a philatelist, could not have knew that the new codes are not postal ones.

Moreover, her friend recreate the Rowland Hill's legend: even before she opens the cover, will she know who send her news (like the big pink enveloppe with a large red adress won't suffice, and I don't want to smell the paper). He invested in a sheet of Montimbramoi personalised in his effigy. But can lucie say if this young man is not using the same strategem to each of his conquest throughout the country? And, if his money pocket is sufficiently profound, could he have bought different sheets for each princess...?

Will she have to wander on eBay and StampWants to verify that doubt when the philatelist father or little brother of her rivals will sell this philatelic proofs of love in auctions?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Maritime worlds apart

Let's dream a little bit thank to the stamps found at the Autumn Show, while this season, cool but wet, seems to take a long rest on Languedoc.

The Marion Dufresne will sail soon to the French Southern islands. On board, scientists and the cargo necessary to live six months more there, and one cover I sent to myself.

About the orange being deported to the left, it seems that the first print may be affected: watch the stamp shown by Pierre Jullien.

When the Marion Dufresne left the Réunion island, the climate would certainly accomodate my skin and tan. But, these United States' coast should certainly let that sensation lives longer than in the Austral Ocean.

Because of the worldwide rate, the USPS can remind the United States citizens of the postal unity, even if this unity is not political, between the mainland and Caraib and Pacific islands. In 2007, it was Guam ; this year, there are the Virgin Islands and their white sand beaches, turquoise waters and luxurious forests.

Soon, I will turn my mind to our settlements in the Pacific, when snowflakes threaten.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice of 1918

Tomorrow, Wednesday 12 November 2008, a commemorative stamp of France will be issued for the 90th anniversairy of the 11 November 1918 armistice, that ended the fights of the Great War.

(Phil@poste's Actu timbrée website)

This stamp uses symbols clearly comprehensible by the general public, after years to try new treatments that puzzled or angered some: from design by a press caricaturist to contemporary stylish poster, or the reminder of others belligerants' suffering).

Scenes of fight and return mixed into the tricolore flag of France, designed by Patrice Serres, an artist who comes from the comic art.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What are visitors doing at the Paris Autumn Stampshow?


Yeah, okay... The question is not well put: to be deposed of large sums of money and be given paper in stamps and covers in exchange, but in a rather smaller amount of space.

No, I was thinking about to the awards that artists received during the Autumn Stampshow. Now, the visitors are invited to see how the philatelic profession awards artists.

The Grand Awards of the French Philatelic Art, of the Overseas Art and of the invited country (Israel in 2008) are chosen among the stamps issued during the previous twelve months, during a vote late October and by an unknown meeting of people, all connected to the stamp dealers association. An alternative was found when Phil@poste instituted the Ceres of the Philately: the French post clients are asked to vote.

On the contrary, visitors of the Autumn Show were the awarders during an artistic exhibition. Stamp designers of France were invited to provide paintings following a compulsory subject. It was the Creaphil Award. Hélas! Something is roten in the State of French philately. One of the 2007 Show sompetitors received a multitude of votes by the same person. The treachery was exposed on this dubious democratic system and its ungarded urn.

The 2008 solution: the René Cottet Award, from the name of a French engraver, with a safe return to oligarchic vote without the intervention of paying collectors.

It is so cheaper and more pratical than the other solution: to put the urn on the Stamp Dealers Association's counter next to the exhibit. A counter where there is always one person to sell you a 2 euro poster or a 5 euros label of the Stampshow.


But, hey! What are still doing here? Don't you have stamps to buy instead of looking at these paintings? There are not for sale, you know. And we have professionnal to estimate their beauty.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Back from Champerret

The round trip was short, but I came back with happiness to Paris and its so special atmosphere for thirty-six hours. Three of them were for philately, at the Autum Show of the French Philatelic Dealers and Experts Union (CNEP).

I arrived early enough, with good legs and clear mind. It helped me save some minutes from La Poste's counter which queuing system was changed into five small lines to avoid a very very long line that certainly discouraged some buyers at the last Stamp Show in June. Some people were not happy of it (their right-hand line going more fast...). In charge of the postal zone quietness and to indicate that there were one line selling the two booklets issued that Saturday, the security agent spoke of "today's tickets", either showing his philatelic inculture, or a bright clear-voyance about the visitor's maniacal behabior :)

The Champerret Hall, Paris 17th, was strangely arranged this year: the French Metropolitan, Over-Seas and Israel postal counters were put in a separated triangle of space. Israel because of a joint issue with France obtained by philatelist Raphaël Livnat, thanked by the Israeli Ambassy in France. Were they inspired, the firms that chose one of the remaining counters in that triangle? Among them was Timbropresse, publisher of Timbres magazine, surely the sole book seller on the show (not county stamp catalogue).

This Saturday, it was not evident. The alleys of the usual square of counters were quiet filled with collectors compared to those of the last June Stamp Show on a tuesday. Outside Polynesian stamps on stamps, I succeeded to balance my this year limited budget (I will write one day of British books bought some days before) with some British Empire stamps. I avoided to buy the new Maury catalogue of France (a.k.a. Dallay married to Cérès with Armand Rousso as minister), a very encyclopedic catalogue. My Dallay complete five book catalogue will suffice my need while I have all eyes on British philately.

The different dealers presented their numerous Vickrey auctions, like international Feldman and Spink house advertised their own auctions. Concerning the latter, I feel sadness to see beautiful coutner, pretty printed catalogues, polite employees, but not many visitors. The French philatelist want visibly to see right now, to buy now or to make an offer after examination.

Like always, some collections were exhibited on the edges. Like always, I can't get the idea to watch them while I always run to read a philatelic article in a review. I am certainly wrong. How to get new collectors when the main goal is to sell them stamps, not tease them to know stamps, When even collectors and philatelists coming willingly don't look at exhibited collections?

Last surprise: the joined space for stamp artists' dedicaces and the Art of Engraved stamp association was very spacious extending to the white outer walls. The French philately, including dealers, continue to appreciate the artists that nourish them, materially, cashly and spiritually.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Autumn Stampshow comes back

I will be there tomorrow Saturday 8 November 2008 ; some bloggers inaugurated it and wrote their impressions on some "events" created by Phil@poste and Maury, Rousso & Co. to maximalize profits during this pilgrimage to the Espace Champerret exhibit center, Paris 17th Arrondissement until Sunday.

The stamp booklet celebrating old France's definitive figures from 1958 to Nicolas' Marianne in heliogravure printing (instead of typography and intaglio), read the Blog philatélie and the News de Phospho.

About new catalogue of France, the mega-combo ultra hit Maury featuring former Dallay and Ceres catalogues and guest starring Armand Rousso, a catalogue... even a book of real quality: read Ma Philatélie by Vervelle, the Blog philatélie and the News du Phospho.

On the first results of the meeting-eating... sorry, the States-General of the Philately, results already announced before the meeting by the Omni-President: read the News de Phospho and read again Nicolas on the Blog.

In their texts, I got confirmations on my need to arrive early to rush to the post office for my to-be-used-on -mail new stamps (yes, when the Montpellier philatelic counter closes at 1pm...). And a surprise to me on what would do Aude Ben-Moha if her editor-printer listened to her more.[1] I hope I will see. For the moment, it is my subscription to L'Écho de la timbrologie that was cut from my budget, Misters Yvert and Gervais.[2]

Notes :
1 : read the last lines after the pictures at the restaurant.
2 : and thank you if you could, in your next mail try to subscribe me again, to offer philatelic and pertinent gift. A can of delicatessen...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Reading commercials

Commercials and advertisments are invading and sometimes lying, but they might be a very few times artistic performances or useful documents to potential clients.

Example when I read again before archiving the September 2008 issue of Timbres magazine, page 18, I discover a Spink auction house ad to find new salers. They reproduced a letter dated April 1840 "To All Postmasters" of Scotland presenting them the new means of postage, to be introduced on 6 May 1840.

The text described these new means like this: "stamped Covers and Envelopes" and "adhesive Labels", that is the stationery illustrated by William Mulready and the two first postage stamps figuring Queen Victoria (1 penny and 2 pence).

The cancelling stamp was recalled: the red cross must be struck on Britannia for the stationery and on each postage stamps on a letter, plus the datestamp still to be used. You can see almost all the meanings of the word "stamp", as noun or verb, in this letter.

Why only postmasters of Scotland? A Google search, as holefull as it can be, led to the possible identity of Secretary Edward S. Lees in the transcription of a witnesses list invited to speak about the postal reform proposed by Rowland Hill and in this National Library of Australia's summary of a postal annual directory and calendar of 1841-1842. Lees was the Secretary to Post-Office of Scotland. Nothing surprising, administratively speaking: England and Wales are often considered very united, while Scotland and Ireland though united kingdoms, had a specific treatment.

A transcription of this document is available on Wikisource. Don't forget to say your sources and references.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bilingual cancellation in Tunisia

Posted on 27 July 1961, this letter was sent by a insurance company in Tunisia to another in France. It was cancelled at the Thameur post office, in Tunis, certainly located on Habib Thameur Avenue, by the name of the independantist man.

The 30 milims (1.000 milims = 1 dinar) stamp pictured President Bourguiba, inspired by the official photograph in ceremony costum. This way of clothing and the engraving of the stamp remind a lot of French styles ; the 1960 stamp may be issued of an order to the French post and telecommunication cooperative bureau, the BEPTOM. It was engraved by French artist Jules Piel (Timbres-poste de Tunisie website).

The cancellation is bilingual, alternatively in latin alphabet and in arabic alphabet. What the Tunisian post is still doing.

4 November 2008 update:
To marcophils (specialists of postal marks) looking for study and investigative subjects, Yvon Nouazé wrote me that the machine that printed this continuous cancel (circa six centimeters period) is to be identify, and that it was used in Lebanon, Morroco and Guadeloupe too.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Efficient history lesson

1981 : the territorial evolution of Canada, from the British colonial province to the Confederation in 1949.

Obviously, one more map would be needed today to show Nunavut, the last territory created to give more autonomy to Great North native communities.

Simple, scholar yes. But sometimes, it is all we need.