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.

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