Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008... ...2009

After December 2006, I was thinking a lot about how philatelic services manage the last week's issues of the current year.

Remember, on 1st December 2006, the Monaco Postage Stamp Issue Office (OETP) issued more than half og its 2007 philatelic program. The next year, two 2008 issued appeared in October and December 2007. This year again, two main issues on Arctic explorations and one stamp were issued before their printing date of 2009.

On the French side, generally, it is quiet, almost August-quiet after the Autumn Stampshow in Paris. The French issuer is full of money when its Monegasc neighbout is still hungry?

In December 2006, Monaco had two causes: an international exhibit and, certainly, been taken by surprise by La Poste's changes of rates on last 1st October. Remember the French post is the postal operator in Monaco, even if the country is philatellicly independent. The OETP do not issue small value stamp, but it has almost one per rate (example). We can imagine the annoyance for clients to have a systematic travel to the post counter to obtain small cent machine stamps.

In December 2007 and 2008, the January events can be an excuse : the yearly circus festival and, this year, the Prince Albert II going to Antarctica. But, don't these can be foresee? Even with the delays imposed by the printer, Phil@poste Boulazac, can not OETP issue these stamps in a year printed on the stamp?

My paranoiac mind wondered and wondered. It can not have confidence into philatelic services. One hypothesis emerged: the catalogue value.

Among the many habits circulating between collectors, collection exhibitors and their juries, there is the one of the stamp used during its period of sale. A mode institutionalised in France with the Dallay catalogue that values the stamps cancelled used for a precise rate and during the period of sale.

But, not everybody have his Dallay(-Maury cuckoo) with him to verify dates of sales and value. Certainly, some buyers confront with large scales the stamp printed year with the month and year of cancellation.

In this game, stamps issued late in the year are losing against the others: less chances to be used during the year of issuance and more chances to be believed used outside the dates of sale. And, by inconscious consequences, less bought by collectors and correspondents?

Here is my hypothesis for the French philatelic quiet starting mid-November and ending as soon as the first Janury week-end, and of the Monaco rish to issue its next year stamps.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

France 2008...

Little game to end the year: what remains of the philatelic program of France, in the end, outside the check list published each month in the French magazines?

Definitive stamp specialists were enjoyed in their research on philatelic printing in France at the beginning of the 21st century: with the last of the Marianne des Français series and the new Marianne of Nicolas, they have lots of new material to understand better how Phil@poste Boulazac, La Poste's printing plant, works.

The Megaloceros stamp, in the Nature series, was to be remarked: the only non-definitive stamp to bear a 0.65 euro denomination for a simple letter to the European Union. The 0.55 euro value climbed on the first march of the podium, a march as high as a skyscraper compared to the few 0.85 euro issued thank to joint issues.

The unprogrammed stamp for the States-Generals of the Mediterranean, wished by our Sovereign in July 2008, permitted to a investigative blogger to let know how Phil@poste created stamps, published in Timbres magazine and Blog philatélie. I thank though La Poste to inform the Gard inhabitants of the danger of the submersion of coastal regions by the seas in a speculative future.

If I add the closed world of Philatelists (the ones with a big P), I told of the ingratitude of the Grand Award of the Philatelic Art (whose composition I have not discovered yet...) againt the recorded libraries for blind people, created by Valérie Besser, yet a important social topic. Personally, I would have give this :( to the 50 years of the 195 Constitution stamp, not counting lots of agencies' pictures put on soulless stamps (except the Summer Hollidays booklet)...

But, for another history of France stamp, inspiration was with the designer to recall the Great War. Thanks to Patrice Serres.

Let's talk artists. French collectors discoveres foreign talented artists with the joint issues: Francis Back engraved by Jorge Peral for the Foundation of Quebec and the landscapes by Mrs. Vu Kim Lien for Viet Nam. Despite not being a fan, the Best Wishes booklet let fourteen artists-students be known on Phil@poste's now-prefered philatelic product to the general public.

More positive for the philatelist world, the militantism of Raphaël Livnat gave birth to the aeropostal join issue with Israel.

To end 2008 (for now), as a gift in its big questionning-election of stamp award , Phil@poste estimated the value of 2008 stamp collection at one hundred and fifty euros.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fina centenary in Uzbekistan

I often wonder if some stamps really circulate in the country whose name they bear. An answer from Central Asia.

A sport centenary: of the International Swimming Natation. I imagine that this synchronised swimming figure was done by the Uzbek team, before been photographed and afterwards put on a 450 sum stamp (0.23 euro).

Nothing more on this issue: the national post's catalogue is two and a half year out of the road, and the declaration of 2008 issues at the WADP Numbering System is to be done.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Quick! Let's stamp champions

With the 2000s, the sport champions of the year knew their quick stamping by their countries' post offices. Without upgrading to the Australian and the Chinese People's Republic sprints for their gold medal last Summer, the British media wondered recently if Royal Mail will stamp Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 Formula 1 world champion.

The topic is not frivolous, you see, even in a country where the Royal Family members are the sole living people on postage stamps. First, because some consider - foolish conception - that this F1 activity is a sport. Then, because the idea did not come from philatelists, but from the general media. Finally, with the movie posters and the James Bond and Harry Potter novels, Royal Mail may have...

But what to answer on BBC Radio Wales about this hypothesis of a non-programmed stamp for 2009 when you are Stamp Magazine's editor-in-chief? Guy Thomas explained it in the January 2009 issue: first of all, take profit of these three minutes to talk philately to a great number of Welsh people.

As today, Royal Mail had not answer the question.

The post of Finland was less scrupulous with the previous champion, Kimi Räikkönnen.

A minisheet with two first class stamps (0.80 euro each): the victorious pilot and his car.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Transparency in Finland

Here is the last sensation from the Finland post, sold at the single letter rate (0.80 euro, and not more than 3 euros like the lenticulars of France, Austria, and other stamps with heat-activated ink, but I am drivelling).

A Winter transparent stamp. Before, the lenticular stamps picturing ski champions were quite thin.

On this mail received thank to Postcrossing, I can order the postcard to the editor by writing down the barcode. More seriously, the most astucious and artistic-gifted can play with the envelope paper and their pencils to personalise this season's stamp at no cost.

A little worry, from a recent reflexion read on a English-speaking philatelic forum: are not the few plastic stamps issued forbid the recycling of the envelopes on which they are stuck? But it is a very little worry: Who would throw out an envelope without keeping the stamp to himself or for a collector?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Direct from the printer

New mail bid order until 30 January 2009 at Boule, the 91st sale. New catalogue sent by the printer plant: the Imprimerie graphique de l'Ouest, located in Le Poiré-sur-Vie, in Vendée.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Year stationery from Hong Kong

During the last 2008 Autumn Stampshow in Paris, the new stamp sale company, Théodore Champion S.A., offered this to its clients:
a postal stationery of Hong Kong, transformed into a speciman. Red color, little format, I would say it is an envelope to send wishes, even gift in form of banknotes during the Chinese New Year festivities.

By the Hongkong Post website, three dollars frank a letter from 50 to 100 grams inside the region, under 50 grams to mainland China and Macau, under 20 grams to the furthest parts of the world. That would make many banknotes in the first two cases. But, as I can't find intels on registered mail...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Negus brothers

Nine months after James, in February 2008, Stamp Magazine, in its January 2009 issue, announced the disappearance of his brother Ron last November.

James Negus was a specialist of philatelic edition and bibliographic research, and of the souvenirs published at British philatelic exhibitions.

Ron organised the Royal Philatelic Society London archives and became then its "honorary archivist". He collected Poland.

Both were prolific authors for the philatelic press, generalist and specialised alike.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

France: directed opinions?

The 2008 stamp election was recently launched by Phil@poste, proud of this year's website replacing paper ballots. Before, this award was called "Ceres of the philatelie" and not "the stamp of the year"... maybe the first title required too much of philatelic culture... But this website is a good way to predict the way the French philatelic pond is flowing in this States-General era, thank to a compulsory survey.

I got the idea to print these screenshots when I was imposed a second reading and filing. The first time, I refused to answer some questions, because no answer was what I am philatelicly thinking or living.

If you are a collector, you must chose who you are:
* a subscriber (to new stamps directly to Phil@poste),
* a réservataire (to new stamps at your local post office),
* a catalog's client (you order what you want in Phil@poste paper catalogue),
* or a client of the Stamp Shop (you order what you want at Phil@poste website).

I am not in any of those cases... There is a French traditional place that is missing in this question, where you can find philatelicly qualified postmen to interact.

The philatelic counters (point philatélie) are not there.

There opening hours were heavily restricted in Spring 2008. Now, I think collectors should check their philatelic clerck's age: if he is approaching retirement... shut down of the counter will arrive very soon.

Oh! Don't worry. If he is young or the counter closed, you will find every thing at the post office near door: employees not used to philately and our stamped folks, long waiting, etc whereas we are certainly very lucrative client of La Poste, in the general public case. Buying stamps, not using them.

In any case, you can order by mail or internet. No human relations required. Just a full confidence in unknown people: reading correctly the order, cutting correctly the stamps, manipulating the cardboard enveloppe with some dignity during the travel to your always-too-tiny mailbox.

Questions after States-Generals. You can see you have to answer, you can not withdraw a question. Personally, I do not care about the four 2008 innovations on stamps of France. Worse: I thought the fourth one (originally cutting around the minisheet) was a 2003 innovation on the Gardens of France minisheets. Pleased on 14 stamps a booklet last November? Don't care. I care: do they please me for my collection or my mail?

After the disappearance of pictorial cancellations and of the datestamps, we are to bury the philatelic counters under tons of numerous, innovating, ordered new stamps of France.

Too cold here. Let's go to Kenya!

Very wetty cold in Montpellier today. Icely and snowy elsewhere in France. Let's go to Kenya!

Lake Naivasha, in Kenya, is the topic of stamps in British colonies of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika since 1935, during the reign of George V. On 11 April 1938, the same landscape is reused in the new definitive series figuring King George VI. The Lake appeared on the 10 pence, 1 shilling and 2 shilling stamps.

If I possess this 1 shilling stamp, it must be very common and worth little pennies. Certainly less than the 30 pence the 2008 Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth Catalogue gave it cancelled (#145 ; 23 pounds sterling unused... but had this kind of stamps ever put teeth in Africa?). But, I should retrieve it in my archives to be sure it is not one of the undertypes that appeared during the printing history by De La Rue:
* -a: black and brown of 1942 instead of black and yellowish brown: 30 pence too;
* -ab: quite visible variety of the broken mountain (August 1948-June 1949): 450 pounds;
* -ac: linked to the previous, the retouched mountain after June 1949: 275 pounds, one thousand if unused;
* -aw: more discreet, the inversed watermark at 2750 pounds cancelled;
* -b: perforated 13x12.5 in October 1949 instead 13x11.75 = 60 pence;
* -ba: the deep black and brown printing of 14 June 1950: 2.25 pounds, twenty-five unused.

In comparaison, the George V version in black and green had only one variation of perforation in 1936. A lucrative one unused: 1300 pounds.

Final episode of the Lake Naivasha stamp, it is reissued on 1st February 1952 with the mention "ROYAL VISIT / 1952" to commemorate the visit of Princess Elisabeth and her husband, on their way to the British Dominions in Oceania. On the 6, King George VI died and the couple went back to London.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Charity stamp in Bahrain

The postcard was posted on 3 July 2006 in Bahrain, while the Soccer World Cup was played in Germany (topic of the right-hand stamp).

The two side stamps picturing King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah franked the postal card rate to Europe: 150 fils, still applying in December 2008, when you read this page of the Ministry of Transportation website. For your knowledge: one dinar is a thousand fils, and 150 fils are around 0.30 euro today.

The middle one is particular: a 10 fils charity stamp (less than 2 eurocents). Compulsory believing this blog, but for which good action? Still a philatelico-financial mystery.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Scene of Daily Philately

Montpellier, a tobacco-press store in the town center. Late this morning.

After ordering her nicotine drug aromatised with tobacco, a young woman wants ten stamps.

The dealer asks if a twelve stamp booklet can do, but finds a ten stamp one. These are stamps, just decorated with jokes.

Embarrassed answer: I want normal ones. It's to put them on job demand mail.

Illustrations from La Poste's stamp store.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Stanley Gibbons: Massive Discounts!

The British dealer Stanley Gibbons always has some discounts under its arm. But, since November, it is a discount festival, with some arguments...

10% off the retail price on a major part of the stock: philatelic books, albums, and some United Kingdom and Commonwealth postage stamps. Non valid on the package and postage though.

End of a catalogue edition, with the new edition in printing = good times to buy if you are not a fanatic of your stamp's precise day-base value.

And, I think, you should not be with the current variations of prices and currencies. For example, the Scott catalogues saw many up variations of stamps values, some times more because of the dollar decadence these past years than because of the philatelic market. At Gibbons', it is the recent fall of the Sterling pound (less than its usual value of 1.50 euro) that motivates the seller. In a 20 November 2008 mail:

37 % down on retail prices for Japanese clients! 28% for Yankees! 16% for Europeans. Massive! But, no need to change the price stickers. These numbers are, on 20 November, the loss of value of the Sterling pound.

Finally, the British government cut the Value Added Tax (VAT) to help consumption during the Christmas season and this period of economic auto-persuasive crisis. Gibbons recalled it to its domestic market, but with a warning: in January 2009, Stanley Gibbons prices will follow the inflation rate...

Polite and courteous yes, but still merchants.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Philatelic legends of La Réunion deconstructed

The October 2008 article was a teaser for a new book published by Jean-François Brun et Benoît Chandanson, philatelists, authors and dealers.

Les Deux Premiers Timbres-poste de l'île de la Réunion [The First Two Postage Stamps of the island of La Réunion] announces the authors' mind in its subtitle : Legends and reality. One legend was beginning to be deconstructed in Chandanson's article in Col.Fra: how many of these stamps were really printed?

Certainly a good moment of reading.

Monday, December 01, 2008

High value stamps, new eldorado?

In November, I bought Atout timbres (a monthly philatelic magazine, edited by Yvert and Gervais, 1.90 euro) to see how it has evolved. Even if I will not be a regular reader, the paper has a two strong points: the news pages and the main article (here, about the Sabine series).

A mini-debate is launched in the mail page: a reader regrets the impossibility to frank packets with postage stamps in France since 2005, because La Poste encouraged its Colissimo system: either stationery packets, or adhesive postal papers with bar codes. Answer of the redaction: if the high value stamps are then rarer on mail, they will be more attractive to collectors (I imagine: catalogue prices, resale prices, postal studies more difficult -> more awardable, etc.).

So be it.

I am beginning the high value quest. During the Autum Stampshow in Paris early November, I let my adress to the Boule mail auction house in order to receive their United Kingdom and British Empire October 2008 catalogue.

Plastified envelope resisting to postmen and their machines. The little rectangle on the left says: "Dated mail / Thank to La Poste / Prioritary", meaning I paid the prioritary rate, please transport it prioritarily. It worked: posted on 25, arrived on 26.

With a handstamp cancel, please. You can find it, even in La Poste's modern mail center in Northern Île-de-France, near Paris.

(my apologies for the quality of the scan, I was distracted and in a hurry)

The franking uses the old stock of modern stamps. The one that now old collectors and dealers regret to buy in the good old days, when they believe prices would go through the roof while optimist annual catalogues were published.

The denominations are in new francs (used between 1960 and 2001 on stamps).

3 x 4 francs Wasquehal stamp of 1991
+ 2.30 francs Appel à la résistance - 18 juin 1940 of 1990
= 14,30 francs

1 euro = 6.55957 francs

2.18... euros = 14.30 francs, exactly what is needed to send prioritarily this 100-250 gram catalogue in Metropolitan France.

What will be the future value of this high value franked mail?

Financially, buyers will argue that:
* stamps are too old compared to their date of use, even if they are still valid ;
* the stamps lived a difficult travel. The more automic the mail sorting is, more numerous the gummed stamp teeth are damaged ;
* it is a philatelic mail: who else than us would use such old stamps, when a meter machine can do it faster.

Intellectually, this mail recalls:
* the problem of the postage stamp stocks hold by the philatelic professionals ;
* confronted to other enveloppes, it helped study the evolution of how mail is franked and sorted in the contemporary French postal system.