Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Johnny Halliday personalised stamps: price down at post offices

Not a fan of the French rocker (the very-thin-middle-of-the-road one...), I just discovered this morning he was hospitalised in California.

Few hours later, I went to my little post office and discovered that the personalised stamps at his effigy were price-downsized: now sold 10.90 euro the ten for 5.60 of face value. Initial price was at 14.90 euro...

The sheet of ten exists in two versions: one sold by La Poste's post office and mailmen and one sold 19.90 euro by a memorabilia store.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Relations between a postman and his datestamp in Morocco

He wished to satisfy a French tourist who was sending a postcard inside an envelope for a friend's son (any reference to my situation is purely fortuitous :p). A Moroccan postman at Meknes-Medina office had some difficulties with the inkage of his datestamp.

Four trials on the A5 left side of the cover. Even the last one, bottom right, shows a beginning of wear in the N of Meknes: its oblical bar is shorter and starts low.

Thank you, postman, for your work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First class definitives video of the United Kingdom

Found than to Machin Mania, this video by Chris Phillips was posted last year on YouTube. Subject: the evolution of the simple letter rate in the United Kingdom from 1840 to 2008.

The first part permits to retrieve the British first types, whose surnames are so exotic when a French philatelist find them in a magazine article.

The second part became a color study of the Machin series: 40 years of use during the Western industrial crisis of the late 20th century.

Only a note on my part: about the calculation. Yes, 2008 rate = 86.5 times 1840 rate... but this multiplicator is no information if you do not know if you need 86.5 times salary work to send a letter today compared to the mid 19th.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Postal strike: how to detect it?

In France these days, it smells like postal strike despite not a word in the press.

New mail sorting facilities (said bigger, speeder, cost-killer) are opening. Employees transferred from old centers (said smaller, slower, expensive) are afraid. The Senate is discussing the future of La Poste (privatisation among other things).

Some have an October feeling of slowliness that confirms Postcrossing.

Today, six of my postcards to both Chinas, Australia and the United States have been travelling for a period of twenty to thirty-five... and are still looking for the goal. Normally, three days to allied Western countries to ten days top to Taiwan, certainly the time needed to go round Big China.

Facing such striky problems, Royal Mail found a solution to play the 'a-strike-sir-no-problem' face in front of clients: no date on the cancelling mark like Ian Billings discovered this week.

Selling companies communicated by mail to reassure costumers. promises no problem to send and deliver goods during the newt November strike, or perhaps one/two days for some specific United Kingdom package.

What would be the solutions?

Did the Royal Mail guarantee service for its big senders? Easy to do for collection, sorting and sending from a mail center to another... but for the final step to your mailbox, outside high density populated area?

To use private operators? Either at the cost of the sender not to lose clients. Or at the cost (already in red) of the Royal Mail not to lose the big clients in a context of aggressive competition.

8 November 2009 : today's Sunday Times reports the effervescent activities of small private operators.

A new pictorial cancel from New Caledonia

I do not regret my Summer stamp order to New Caledonia Post and Telecommunications Office. With the last issue notices came my second type of pictorial cancellation from Nouméa.

A little error on the date block: it reads 28 January 2009 instead of 28 October 2009.

The Cocotiers Square appears again with the koisk and the Céleste Fountain. Saint Joseph's Cathedral stands above the town center.

Google Maps helps to locate all this. But it shows that, from the square, you can not see the front of the cathedral's towers. A good pictorial (when well-inked) though.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apologies from a water polo afficionado

Philately will come back here soon.

I was occupied at the LEN Trophy's first round which took place in Montpellier ; it is the secondary European water polo cup. The home club won the fourth and last qualifying place for the next stage.

No, I was not in the water. If I had tried that, I would finally have touched the three meter bottom of the Venus olympic-size pool in Antigone... for a long time.

Supporter emotions to ease down, pictures to archive and sleep before stamps again. Sleep because in the middle of all this, I forgot the damned Winter time change and to be up at five sharp is quiet early, even to watch water polo.

To help you wait, you can read this topical humorous note I forgot to translate from my blog in French:

Believing the French stamp catalog website Phil-Ouest search engine, there is no postage stamp of France about water polo despite a gold medal at the 1924 Olympic Games.

And because the team did not qualify, not even the hope of a stamped medal of the exquisite
Helsinki's Games series designed by André Jacquemin. The genesis of this late issuedseries was recently told in Timbres magazine in September 2008.

Here you are when you win before the postal printing plant has not yet been launched at full ramming speed to a wall.

Let's picture it again with the shooter on the left, I am sure that you can do a five to ten stamp minisheet with this picture: shooter, arm up defensor, retropedaling goalkeeper, standing coach, worrying president, substitute, the offensive countdown clock, the advert baloons, spectators, referee in white, federal delegate, ball, etc. And with my pool-o-phobic camera, not a change that someone recognizes a living person.
(licence : Creative Commons by-nc-nd, taken during the fifth place match, Cup of France).



They dit it alREADY!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finnish Braille, a definitive commodity

Already presented here, a good habit of Posti: to issue each year a stamp of Finland which denomination is printed in Braille to help blind people.

Here is the 22 January 2009 one with a morning landscape of Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, in Northern Finland.

Always more useful than a commemorative issue in Braille once every decade.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Guernsey pictorial cancellations are rare

Guernsey Post is forty years old[1] (thirty-nine when I received this Postcrossing card), but it can commit errors:

There are pictorial cancellations in Guernsey, but very difficult to discern. Empty inker? Air mail label too thick?

[1] : read October 2009 Gibbons Stamp Monthly's four articles on Guernsey postal, marcophilic and philatelic history.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

France like you smell it

In the Summer 2008 issue of Timbres magazine, Socrate, nickmame of a free spirited philatelist, proposed to import in France the Japan's regional issue. One or two stamps per year and per regions, on a purely regional topic, regionally chosen with work from regional artists.

Alas! The French philatelic service, Φl@poste, heard its socratism and three serious and tragic events happened. First, a φl@telic diarrhea of two hundreds and sixty-four photographed copy-paste on adhesive paper. Then, the twenty-three cent cost per already-personalised stamps. Finally, believing some testimonies on a frp forum, the reprint of some of these souvenirs because they were popular enough...

Puig, excellent cheesemaker in Montpellier,
23 Saint-Guilhem Street, in the historical towncenter.
And, in need of bread, you can go to Lo Monaco,
8 Jean-Jacques-Rousseau Street.

To relay Socrate in the idea department and Φl@poste in the search of pigeons, I propose a series entitled France like you smell it: one stamp per cheese of our regions. According to known men's quotations, there would two to three hundreds stamps, enough for a new diarrhea like in Spring 2009.

And if Φl@boulazac, my new way of calling Φl@poste's printing plant, would want to use again the chocalate-smelling micro-bubble technology improved with the ageing of the odor, the issue title would become a commercial promise.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

France 2011 program (first part only... oh my)

The first part of France's philatelic program for 2011 was published on 29 September 2009 by the Ministry of Industry.

My problem is not about the topics ; let see what the artist will do with them.

It is: it is only the first part, when many postal operators would be happy with that: twenty-one issues plus ten message stamps, nicknamed writing stamps at one moment, semi-permanent stamps on the other.

I see that the Minister of the Industry did not use the big-hearted names described into the magnificent Charter of the Φlatélie... Has none of the signatories sent him one copy?

Or, if his services did receive it, it seems they decided to do it simple and efficient: like before.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Back to optimism and futility: be philatelist

And hop, to be light again and let's sail to Bermuda... (stereotyped music of the Pacific isles) Isles with an encharming name in the Northern Atlantic when Autumn is planting tent in the Southern of France... And one of the British overseas tax havens.

In March 2009, the Bermuda Monetary Authority introduced new banknotes for the four hundreds years of the long last installation of Britishmen and slaves on the site. Yes, a sort of definitive note series with a commemorative first day of issue.

How to use these notes has got many likenesses with all the overwhelming issuance policy of many philatelic services and agencies in the world. To make it simple, one dollar of Bermuda plus cost is worth around one dollar of the United States of America, near-by provider of green notes which usuaully migrate with businessmen, their lawyers, their bankers or people on vacation. The United States dollar is accepted everywhere, but the problem begins if the change is given to you in the local currency. The latter can be used or changed only in the archipelago. Either you spend them or you make a changing office happy.

The Nature and Machin side of a new twenty dollar note
(blog Banknote News, 28 March 2009).

Why am I, right now, interesting in these far away notes?

No, not because of the frog (one of the human-brought-them species). You are confusing with Eric's blog.

Look weel... yes, there!

Below the ocean, the islands-profile hologram, the frog!!

Left bottom!!!

YESSSSSSSSSS: the magnificent effigy of Her Majesty by Arnold Machin.

The new set of banknote is more modern in design and the queen's portrait was disminished to the cameo size it has on the commemorative stamps of the United Kingdom. And the Machin effigy can do that very well without hurting the Monarchy.

The Architecture without Machin side
(blog Banknote News, 28 mars 2009).

On the other side, a little more of fauna and flora, and an historical architectural element of the territory.

Thanks to the Banknote News blog that illustrated with specimen images when the official issuer shows nothing.

Be pessimistic

On the second thought, even British collectors are old disgusting men for the Monaco Postage Stamp Issue Office. In the all new November 2009 Stamp Magazine, the famous model loses her stamps to attract Britishmen to the prestigious exhibition Monacophil, on 4 to 6 December 2009. Yet, on the Côte d'Azur, at worst, she will end clothed with a swimming suit.

In Metropolitain France, the Charter of the Φlately let the French Φlatelic service do whatever he wants. Now, it is the French Southern and Antarctic Territories' Service of Posts and Telecommunications (SPT of the TAAF) that plays the same game. And hop, a highly speculative product non perforated is given to five hundreds happy few (too chics to queue at the next Paris Autumn Stampshow?). And hip, the happy few is happy of the pretty gift, but sad to see the SPT is going back to unperforated bad demons of its Metropolitan older brother. The happy few asks : "So, scandal or no scandal to come?" Then, hypocrites or no hypocrites, the five hundreds future speculators?

Finally, in today's mail, the trimestrial bulletin of the actions of Doctors Without Borders. Little summaries on how received gifts are used to help people around the world, including the nine millions United States dollars from collector (who do not need unperforate pseudo-issues...) Bill Gross. In March 2009, inhabitants of Mayotte chose to make it a French département. The French philatelic pond wondered if it can still issue postage stamps after the process being complete. There may be more urgent tasks: Doctors Without Borders are operating free clinics in the nowadays slums of the future One Hundred and One Département of France.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

October in France: Hell! Three more months!

Sorry for the rudeness, but it is what I thought when I began to prepare this article about France's issue in October 2009... the first time since last January when I decided to follow a whole year.

I flush at once the dolls on 19 October. Advantage: some of the minoritary first day of sales outside Paris. The topic is of no interest to my personal self. It merits a little note though: thank to the people in charge that make engraver Elsa Catelin perform intaglio printing on offset picturing. The result is far from Martin Mörck's sport cars for Danmark, but Phil@poste is trying something...

I go past Hansi's artwork, pseudonym of Jean-Jacques Walz, an Alsatian illustrator known for his pro-French positions at a time when Alsace was a German Empire territory between 1870 and 1918. It will surely please Alsatians, especially with the chosen traditional costume topic. Perhaps something more "Résistant" would have better put its artwork in context, but I will not here replace art politic history specialists.

Resistant during the 1870 War (in preparation of the one hundred and thiry years anniversary of that war and its Third Republican consequences?), Juliette Dodu.

A master subject to attract collector's money: a French resistant to a German invasion, a heroin of the Posts and Telegraphs administration - PTT nostalgia... when a French newsweekly is putting a mediatic final to a popular referendum against the privatisation of La Poste.

Pierre Jullien already wrote what he is thinking of this stamp and I largely second his motion: why the Irish colour in the background? And you really need a pre-mobile phone historic culture to understand that Juliette spied on German telegraphic messages.

Plus an historiographic problem (even if the French Wikipedia's references came from a television-linked author: for Guy Breton, the decorated resistant might not have resist at all. He said it doesn't exist archives of our verdict to the death penalty, nor of the Prussian hereditary Prince, later Emperor Friedrich III's grace.

All this (design and historic): the fault of the designer Claude Perchat and the engraver Marie-Noëlle Goffin? Of Phil@poste pleased to have an easy subject to sell to old collectors? Of the Minister in charge of the philatelic program and of the polician from La Réunion or the Loiret who lobbied for the stamp?

Let be the 12 October stamp for the centenary of the monument put in front the Universal Postal Union's headquarters in Bern. A France-Switzerland joint issue honoring its sculptor: René de Saint-Marceaux (1845-1915).

There, my opinion diverged greatly from Pierre Jullien's point of view.

A topic that goes outside the habits despite the UPU for all season topical diarrhea. That may be because of the Swiss touch (thanks to Silvia Brüllhardt): the artwork and the artist are both represented on the stamp, very rare on French stamps.

Secondly, with September stamp about Eugène Vaillé - an important unknown person before the efficient noisy lobby done by La Poste's Museum Friends Society, philatelists have finally "their stamps", about their passion. Even if the Vaillé stamp design is closer to the desperating classicism of a Juliette Dodu.

Finally, it is not because nineteenth century "official" artists were quickly forgotten by the masses that they are to be forgotten for all. Personally, I would like that some contemporary artists avoid posterity.

Enfin, ce n'est pas parce que les artistes « officiels » sont vite oubliés par la masse qu'il faut les oublier complètement. Personnellement, je souhaiterais bien que certains artistes contemporains évitent la postérité. Outre-noir...

And for that stamp, Phil@poste goes with the violins again to be sure the collectors came to buy: one intaglio printed portrait one! There are not resting, Boulazac's in house engravers.

Yet, on this joint issue, it is the Swiss Post that is considering its collector's money:

Screen capture of the news page in French, Swiss Post's website (initial address, 2 October 2009).

The Swiss gemini will a service stamp, only usable on mail posted at the Uuniversal Postal Union headquarters...

So, only one stamp is of my interest and will relay the Avignon one on my cards to Switzerland and European Union postcrossers.

Already, on a commercial page for the Paris Autumn Stampshow, a catastroph is announced for November: an infamous two stamp minisheet with two different rates, with the vice to choose an expensive and less common one...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Are French collectors old disgusting persons?

It is the question I am asking myself when I read commercial pages in philatelic magazines, and not when I see French philatelic service's director Eslinger putting a Greek sign to warn parents of stamps issued for a population that may, during a symposium, propose to their innocent collecting children unimaginable « têtes-bêches à gros cachet 69. »

Today, it is the Monaco Postage Stamp Issue Office (OETP) that has a very stereotyped communication.

You certainly recall that, since Spring 2009, the Prince's Office has been using the back charms of a model walking to promote the Mediterranean principality's commemorative stamps. One day she is schocking by losing stamped parts of her dress... The other she wears with style a one-stamp dress. Like all good model, she is travelling a lot: from Monte Carlo to London through Paris.

But, when comparing October 2009 magazines from both sides of the Channel...

In the United Kingdom, in Stamp Magazine, she is proudly wearing a Big Ben stamp dress in the eve of the 2010 Festival of Stamp, marked by a great exhibition next May. The British man knows how to appreciate a beautiful woman, and a dress too.

In France, in Timbres magazine, she is again indecent under the graphic tools of a sex addicted illustrator. The message: "Meet me in Paris" at the Autum Stamp Show in November... to see the bottom or the upper ungummed? Makes me believe that only the hope of fresh female bodies can attract Frog collectors.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stridulation in the garrigue

Autumn eventullay began last Tuesday, the 22nd September. But, sunny Summer kept above Montpellier. Cutting through the garrigue by bike is always wonderful.

Talking of garrigue, a middle school in Montpellier is named after this vegetal form you can find around the place - after you go past houses, lower buildings, higher towers and bars of low-rent appartments. Because it is in the middle of the Heights of Massane, one part of La Paillade's popular area. However I advice you to do a morning visit to take pleasure in the panoramas on the surroundings garrigues in the directions of Grabels and Juvignac (and to see the effects of urban nibbling.

The meter is not pagnolesque at all. Very efficient to know how to keep in touch with the shcool though. What shall we do? Go back to Cannes or encourage the creation of logotypes and personalised stamps by students? La Poste would be happy, but not the school's treasurer.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nouméa still got pictorial cancellation

Flammes, French late 20th century pictorial cancellations, are still resisting in the French Republic, but like the times when the General was in London, it is overseas that you have to search for.

From Nouméa, in post paid ("PP" in the middle date block while the upper "P[oste].P[rincipale]" is for "Main Post Office"), this flamme appears on the enveloppes that the philatelic service of the Post and Telecommunications Office of New Caledonia uses to send the new stamp issue flyers.

It is illustrated by Saint-Joseph Cathedral and, it seems to me, the Coconut Palm Kiosk (kiosque des cocotiers).

A philatelic service that I recommend to you.

Philatelicly contraceptive humour

No, this is not a campaign from French philatelic service's Director Eslinger promoting her Greek condom to avoid the multiplication of demanding collectors.

The French National Institute of Prevention and Education for the Health (INPES) launches a website on contraception with small humorous cartoons, and posters and clips on unexpected situations.

"No, darling. That, it's my patch" (credits, INPES website).

On the topic of arranging one's postage stamp collection, an introduction to the contraceptive patch for women, the skin equivalent of the pill.

With all that Phil@poste can print on autoadhesive stamps of France, the error becomes so easy to make :p

Friday, September 25, 2009

Electoral duty on patriotic cancellation

In Germany, pictorial cancellations promote the political life of the country.

This postmark announces the federal legislative elections in Germany on Sunday 27 September 2009 („Bundestagswahl 27.09.09“). The sentence under the ticked round may tell "Each vote counts" as the verb zählen means to count. This cancellation was applied in mail center number 54, sorting mail of the Western part of Rhineland-Palatinate Land.

In Germany, voters tick their vote on a long ballot on which parties are listed on two columns (example). Each citizen has got two votes: one for a local member of parliament elected and one for a correcting proportional list suffrage. In conclusion, each party can be represented while electors can have a known parlementary figure to turn to.

When could this healthy mission of public service be done in France by La Poste and its competitors?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

British online postage

Received yesterday, 23 September 2009, this postage on a Postcrossing card sent in Wales.

The online stamp by Royal Mail (with an airmail-and-commercial label).

We are far away from the illustrative Montimbrenligne online service of La Poste in France. Utility first and for all, even if it lacks the royal effigy, even a crown. The printing adds what you need for an airmail service with a message promoting the online service: "This postage was printed using / ».

A disconnected adress since you are directed on Royal Mail's front page with three entrances: personal clients, businesses or corporations. The online postage is easy to find though.

And quick and efficient: where in three choices and weight. Then, precision of destination if necessary. Her Majesty's Forces are one of the choices ; respect of military duty is not vain in Anglo-Saxon countries. And hop, all the postage solutions are here from the more simple (0.56 pounds like here, around 0.61 euro/0.99 dollar) to the registered insured packets.

Personal touch: I would have preferred a Machin :'(

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Modern art or postal art?

After Finland, there is an other European country whose historical postal operator has proven philatelic inventivity to reach a point it became an eventual editorial line: the Netherlands and its TNT Post.

From souvenirs of the 1990s Timbroloisirs, it came back the two cows marching to the following stamp ad libidum. Definitive values as simple as they were artistically researched.

Here, my eye got art from the postal label se-tenant:
If there were not twenty seven years between the study for horizon by Sigurdur Gudmudsson and the 2006 stamp, man can believe the picture was taken for the stamp on purpose, at a few inclining degrees short. The Icelandic artist has many artwork exhibited on Netherlandese public spaces.

The four stamps of the series, European rate (TNT Post website's archives).

A blue postal element that permit, in my opinion, to change the category of this little 2.6 time 2 centimeter stamp: from a copy/paste picture often soulless to an artistic stamp.

The kiwi, a new philatelic currency

On 7 September 2009, New Zealand Post revolutionarised its definitive stamps and its nationwide postage rate system, creating by communication a new philatelic currency: the kiwi...
The ten first KiwiStamps ( news site).

Sold in booklets of ten, sheets of fifty or rolls of one hundred, these typical pictures of the life in New Zealand bear the name of the country, New Zealand Post's silver fern and the new KiwiStamp calling.

Already, some issues praised the kiwi's particularities, from the fruit to the bird passing through the European descent of the inhabitants themselves.

Known by many countries, the non denominated stamp is enough for a basic letter. One for the standard service, that is 0.50 New Zealand dollar (around 0.24 euro or 0.36 dollar of the United states). Two for a speeder service, that is 1 dollar (around 0.48 euro or 0.72 dollar). This system extended to many dimensions and weights like in Belgium, in a more simple way.

The new WikiStamp rate system (New Zealand Post website).

To each cover format, the size, thickness or weight limites so that you can conclude the postage expressed in a number of KiwiStamps.

Like in Belgium, a client can wonder where the trap is: would not the larger or heavier mail be exponantially more expensive at each point's value increase?

In the New Zealand case, I see that the first weigh level is quite large: up to five hundred grams for a simple letter whose speed delivery is quite reasonable in price. Even up to one kilogram in case of unregular shapes.

To the client to choose: to mail many things inside a reduced size that can be economic in hand and machine sorting and energy consumption. Or post less but in any wished form but more expensive at the first grams.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Czech vintage

Pretty stamp and label on grape, issued in January 2008, by J. a L. Knotkovi... but I can not read enough czech language to discover more on this or these artists.

The World Association for the Development of Philately Numbering System adds an artistic title, as the engraving is: "still life of wine".

Déjà vu?

Here is a card that my family sent for my birthday during the Summer:

Why this sense of déjà vu?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Finland personalised stamp and French postal cautiousness?

Finnish people, Posti and Postcrossing eventually constitute an innovating team. Last morning surprise: yesterday Saturday 19 with the arrival of a card whose message was dated Wednesday 16 September 2009.

The first class stamp (0.80 euro usable depending weight for the interior and the European rates) is thin and plastified. It seems autoadhesive, like most of the stamps of Finland.

The 3.2 × 2.4 centimeter illustration is very small inside the 4,2 × 3,9 stamp from tooth to tooth. And it has got a date and an hour of the photograph being taken: "22/08/2009 15:23".

All appearances of a personalised stamp. Google Images helps find two another examples: one like this train stamp and another on a blog in March 2009 with an elliptical perforation à la Royal Mail. This second model can be seen on the official site of the Omakuva service, a Finnish word for self portrait. To know more would request better Finnish translation or to register the webshop.

A proof of validity can be distinguished under day light: the stamp surface has got many rounded points that a sorting machine can see.

Now, why did I speak of "French postal cautiousness"? There are two things missing on this postcard. Yet, it arrived in three days. By experience that quite efficient and usual between Finland and France.

No cancellation in Finland. Already seen and always in debate: simple error? Economy of ink? Respect of the illustration? A Finnish reader suggested his hypothesis: the place of posting can play, either a post office counter or a mail box.

No French salmon barcodes printed in a French mail center to direct the card to final destination. A machine at the arrival center may not have appreciated the personalised stamp and the lack of cancellation. The human checking let it through: known case? Benefit of the doubt? [plus the bad social context inside La Poste's mail centers] Certainly, put by hand in the bag to Montpellier. May this story happen again in one of Montpellier centers where the card finished by hand in the good box then the good postman race?

Too much questions from a so railway-cute holiday souvenir.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Belgium, store your stamps

Belgium postal service's rates are becoming more and more difficult if you are an e-mail user.

Good point first, there is only the prioritary rate: 0.59 euro nationwide, 0.90 Europe. Economic rate is only for clients using meter machines that help La Poste/De Post to spare cancel ink. The postal direction communicated that all mail were delivered the day after posting. To accept that your letter was non prioritary was senseless.

However, since 2007, you have to master the point system: Belgian points, European points, that you can collect depending on weight.

Starting next 1st January 2010, it is how you can get the points... sorry the postage stamps, that will change. At the postal desk, if you buy less than ten nationwide stamps or five European rate stamps, you will pay ten cents more per stamp!

Belgian consumers are encouraged to buy booklets. To avoid the queuing time cost to their fellow consumers and to limit the financial cost of the postal clerck. He is not there to separate stamps, isn't he? Is he!?

In exchange, the first rates are not rising if you play by the new rule.

Two worries yet. For collectors, they will certainly have to order to the philatelic service or go to a philatelic office if they want single stamps without the ten cent penalty.

A sentence seems to indicate that La Poste wants to get rid of old unused postage stamps: if you do not use the points stamps, you will have to stick 0.69 euro facial value stamps... Either you continue to store them, or you lose ten cents per letter.

Eslinger-the-tattooing-woman (and the Philatelic Service Directors Circus) will perhaps find there a solution to make sure that tatooed stamps are kept in the collectors' albums...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eugène Vaillé: first curator of the French postal museum

The Société des amis du musée de La Poste[1] is just publishing this month a special issue of its magazine dedicated to the first curator of La Poste's Museum: Eugène Vaillé, born in the high cantons of Hérault and a postal servant.

The book's cover, available for fifteen euros.

Laurent Albaret piloted this project of an illustrated and well-referenced biography: act of nominations, philatelic souvenirs of the museum's first exhibitions, familial archives.

Page 10, you discover the acts of a new postal servant's life in the late 19th and young 20th centuries. On the act naming Vaillé, the justice clerk stuck a fiscal stamp of dimension. I think the new employed young man had to pay for it.

Those, fluent in French, who read Albaret's recent articles in L'Écho de la timbrologie will now go deeper into the character's life and career.

If you are in Paris on 19 September or Bédarieux and Poitiers on 19 and 20, you can put the stamp issued for the fiftieth anniversary of Vaillé's disappearance, and the first day cancellation. The first pages of the magazine has got enough blank spaces for that, I think. The stamp designer, André Lavergne, will be signing artworks at the Paris first day site: La Poste's Museum, near Montparnasse Station.

The life of Eugène Vaillé in Hérault (Google Maps).

Hérault now, my native department. Vaillé was born there in 1875 in Bédarieux, a canton seat in the high grounds of the coastal department. He studied in Lodève where his father traded wool. After his successful competitive examination for a postal employment, he was named in 1894 at the telegraph center of Montpellier.

Then, like many public servants in France, even now, transfers by service's needs or will moved him to Normandy and Lyon. He finished in Paris where - happily for the French philately - he reached in 1920 the Ministry of Posts' Library...

He finished his life in the village of Riols, in Hérault, and was buried in Bédarieux.

[1] The Society of the Friends of La Poste's Museum, founded 1947, when the Museum opened.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A cent is a cent, and fifty thousand cents is a big note

Since the introduction of the euro coins and banknotes on 1st January 2002, a Nessy monster appears regularly in the European populist press: one and two cent coins are going to disappear!

The rumor probably got its root into the Finnish old allergy to tiny coins. Add the legendary French-Mediterranean lazyness: to count.. bahhh! Plus the satisfaction of price-in-weight dealers to round their prices up to the next ten cents... only to make their clients happy. Even if these clients have been complaining on rounded inflating prices since 2002. Sigh.

Cent-Nessy has a little brother: Euro-Noty. The one euro coin will disappear in favor of a one euro banknote. Either to compete with the green dollar (the real ones and the false ones which are rumored to be everywhere in the world), or by lazyness again: too much weight in one's pockets.

On last Thursday, in France, Nessy and Noty have a brother. You swear it is not from the same family: the five hundred euro note is going to disappear!!!

Design: Robert Kalina for the European Central Bank (image source).

First, a picture for the reader who use their credit card as soon as twenty-five euros. Germans know it better, not by wealth, but because our European fellowmen like to weight in their hand how much their investments cost them: car, flat, rebuilding the house. Before to give the packet to the seller. A need born in an economic history marked by inflation and shortage between World War One and the rise of a strong Mark under the Federal Republic of 1949.

Le Journal du dimanche of yesterday, 13 September 2009, took notice of a report by Didier Migaud, Isère Member of Parliament. A text received by the Presidency of the French National Assembly on Thurday 10. It is about fiscal paradises and fiscal evasion.

Among the numerous solutions proposed by the Parliamentary Commission on Finances, there is the disappearance of the five thousand banknote. It is too easy to get thousands of euros out of the country because of this note's portability. More seriously, it is one step in a full policy: impose electronic or certified payment above a certain amount. Even to make an obligation for French banks to declare financial transferts to listed countries.

The more mediatic idea (no more five thousand notes) is not going to pass until many years because you need to get aboard all the Euro using States. But it will hide long enough the other more private life disturbing propositions.

Let's come back to collection: some dealers as Lutèce Diffusion are already trying to sell new euro coins by using the Nessy argument. Will they use the five thousand euro rumor to sell pristine banknotes well above their face value?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Joyeux anniversaire, Stamp Magazine !

The British monthly Stamp Magazine is celebrating its seventy-five years of activity with the October 2009 issue, available in newstands until the first week of that month (in France, at the WHSmith on Rivoli Street, Paris).

To summarize: pleasant and easy-to-find reading of news and auctions pages, and specialised yet accessible articles of one to five pages.

On the competitive side, articles are more specialised and need a more attentive reading in Gibbons Stamp Monthly, even if the news pages need a serious revamp. GSM has been proposing its services since 1927, or 1890 if you consider the successive publications of Stanley Gibbons.

With this anniversary issue, a fac-similé of the October 1934 number 1 is offered and commented by Richard West. Sixteen of the current editors and writers present seventy-four philatelic events of the United Kingdom and the world from 1934 to 2008. Like often in Stamp Magazine way of writing, the small facts, long forgotten, are retrieved and told to learn again how the postage stamp and postal system evolved since the 1930s. Thank to Adrian Keppel, the European definitives are not forgotten.

An article by John Winchester on Croydon Airport's postal activities in South London echoes the 1934 article by R. Ridgway on the first airmail flights between England and Australia to be officialised in December 1934.

The news pages are catching, readable and wide: from a scandal in Norway where Nobel price of literature, but nazi supporter, Knut Hamsun was commemorated by a stamp, to the closing of a dealer's shop in London, due to high rent and web sales.

So British are, to a French reader of magazines, the auction sales. They are a large part of the advertising and have their own news part. Investphila of Switzerland proposed classical stamps of Uruguay while buyer-auctionist Tony Lancaster studies without excess the question of auction catalogues: illustrated or simple listing, free or sold.

The Monaco Postage Stamp Issuing Office continues to parade its model with stripping stamps. This time, the dress is of one well-affixed stamp. One stamp that aims to Britishmen: a Monaco stamp for the one hundred and fifty years of Big Ben.

Happy birthday, Stamp Magazine! And to read you again next month!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Meter from Hungary

Printed on 22 November 2007 for a mail sent to France, here is a postage meter from Debrecen, Hungary:
Let's have some Magyar holidays to know if it is a meter from a post office? Are post office meter and private clients meter alike?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The thirty euros of September

By multiplying the booklets, the completist collector of France is seeing the total amount going through the roof. But, he must not complain, he was warned: the Charter let Phil@poste, the French philatelic service, free to do whatever it wants with the benediction of the supposed representatives of federated collectors.

The wait for "stamps of the State" will last until the end of the month. Phil@poste dedicates these stamps for collectors, considered one day a faithful and researched clientship, and a burden to be rid of the other. On 21 Septembre, Eugène Vaillé will be stamped: a French postal librarian, archivist, historian and the founding curator of the postal museum of France. You have to know that because the stamp by André Lavergne is quite anonymous (a portrait and the front wall of the first museum). On 28, the abbay of Royaumont will be depicted by Line Filhon.

From a very long band of paper, the Gardens of France series became rectangular and will become album-friendly for once :p

Even if I found the Jardins des plantes of Paris too green under Gilles Bosquet's bruches while I remembered something as dusty as the Garden of Luxembourg. At least, it will compensate the so-RED booklet of last Spring.

Funfair on a six stamp minisheet by Cécile Millet, why not? First day in the Jardin d'Acclimatation is to attract families, we already know.

Let come the booklets.

Perhaps in all good movie theater on 30 September, after the post offices on the 21st, the Smile booklet with funny drawings with the Little Nicolas character. Youth literature by René Goscinny (yes, Astérix's father) ponctuated with sketches by Sempé. Stamps sold in theater, that will be as fun as funfair stamps first day in a actual funfair...

Corinne Salvi is invited to produce fourteen Invitation stamps, if you like her illustrating style.

Let's remark for both these booklets that the six tiny stamps are designed according their size compared to the eight larger.

Great change for the more than fifty year old philatelic institution of France. The Red Cross issue became a five stamp minisheet (look like a booklet to me). Five different ones for the one hundred and fifty years of the non governmental organisation founded by Henri Dunant. Four historical by Marc Taraskoff and a Rorschach figure hidden inside an artwork by Georges Braque (supposedly doves).

Why the change? Because of the money change I think:
-> ten stamps = 5.60 euros + the gift to the Red Cross = you must break a big tenner.
-> five stamps = 2.80 euros + the gist = you give a little fiver.

If Phil@poste is trying to discreetly relaunch this issue and bust the Red Cross gifts, that is good. Moreover, the issue is mobing two months earlier to avoid the competition of the giftfree Best Wishes booklet.

But this issue is posing me (and some readers who wrote to me) a problem: can a buyer with a Phil@poste bills ask for the regular reduction of income tax for caritative gifts? I will try to have some intels soon.

So, near thirty euros this month, including two euros for the Red Cross. And there are the Paris Autumn Show's issues to come...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer dreams in the French philatelic pond

Some more sunny summer hours before September and the return of empty news, invasive communication in vain and the stamp printing plant of Phil@poste.

I begin to day-dream - or is the sun of Montpellier hitting my head?

Aude Ben-Moha would launch a new Yvert et Tellier catalogue: an encyclopedic Dallay-before-Maury, better in philatelic knowledges. And that for all issuing countries resort by continent, that could explain the slow renewal of the far continent volumes.

The French associations leaving their Federation for accepting La Poste's Diktat. They could fullt come back to the study of postage stamps and postal systems. Whose festival would be simpler, but numerous. Reaching masses to educate them and not to sell them expensive federal souvenirs. To summarize, like their british counterparts.

Following this model, the two French magazines declaring their independence to La Poste. They would continue to talk about new issues, but like they want, as discoverer philatelists, not doing the photocopying job of Phil@poste (or they could sell it advertissment pages for new stamps and first day cancels - what would it think of the number of issues? hihihi).

Their readers being more critical: looking themselves for intelligence into the multiplicity of medias, evaluating facts at many sources and, so, stop snivelling in the readers' pages when they miss one of the many souvenirs issued.

Forgetting new issues pages, readers that go to the articles, to read them, and to write them to send them to editors in chief to change styles and topics. Again, the example of the British societies.

Massive miracle! Eslinger, Phil@poste's Director, abandoning her stupid idea to tatoo engraved stamps with an insane symbol...


No, that is not dreaming. It is the sun striking my head.

Like the stamp of Spain told, free are those who wish to recycle the ideas I put in this message.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quick and efficient: the OPT of New Caledonia

Order sent on 19 August 2009 on a Metropolitan morning (Neo-Caledonian evening). Order ready on 20 August and cancelled at 15.38 at Nouméa mail center... but a delay happened marked with another datestamp on the twenty-first. Arrival in Montpellier this 28 August in the morning.

Here is part of the order: the new definitive Kagu stamp by Laurence Ramon and engraved by Pierre Albuisson.
It travelled with a sheet of four lenticular stamps showing the consecutive Kagu types since 1985.

A cover rich of stamps: Christmas and the Lunar year of the ox, completed with five definitives.

Of course, La Poste in Metropolitan aims for efficiency and not beauty: foreign registered barcode sticker put on the stamps, and not on the empty back of the cover. Sigh...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cinephil school postage

15 August-3 September each year, the same song in French media: the start of the school year. From the parents buying supplies to the little one's breakfast filmed on the fatal morning. Courage! One more week and the press will pass to another September habit.

School's intendants must manage their functioning budget, especially the communication expenses: teachers phoning parents, mails to alert parents of absent students, etc. The franking machine helps to control the expedited mail because it has to pass through one of the intendant's personel. Non professional mail will be more difficult to pass through than with disappearing postage stamps.

Gérard-Philippe middle school (collège) in Cannes communicates its pedagogic activities through the meter: film critic it seems. One more clue is on the show-site of the National Education about its involving in the Cannes Film Festival of 2009. A third class (last year of middle school in France) awarded C'est pas moi, je le jure !, a Canadian movie by Philippe Falardeau from a novel by Bruno Hébert, telling the story of an evil boy.

The meter: 0.51 euro, economic rate. Even under the limelight, there is not little savings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Never satisfied

Poor postal services that had to satisfy so evil clients, including me: too much stamps, not enough engraving, too much minisheets, not enough counters, too much this, too less that, never here, etc. To be digusted to do your job.

In France, the Charter of philately for example. A pretty text written on a napkin between appetizers and small wines. So sublime (the text... the wine too) that the French Philatelic Associations' Federation propose you a large version to hing above your study to remind you of what is good for you (memories of humourous false commercial for pet's food). Critics are, for now, icy fresh on the blogs like the first profesionnal one: Socrate's Chronical in September 2009 Timbres magazine can already be read on their website (click "Lire").

Myself am a boor: always to spit on Phil@poste's work all blog long while this noble institution just offers me more than eighty-five euros of Portraits de régions postage stamps for my mail. Yes, like that, for nothing but open heart... and some ticked cases on a directed survey burying the philatelic counters...


See! I did it again. While the people charged of sending my present (one of the four hundreds... so much unsold?) were careful enough to protect the stamps inside stamped books and artistic notebooks of little value (my flea market family will tell me how much they sold the book part).

Let's take it like it came: some Mariannes des Français and that will complete my mail budget. Thank you.

The worst part: even on serious topic (unphilatelic one so), clients go where the wind push them.

In France, they argue that they are queuing for too long times to post a letter or take a packet because of the ones coming for long banking operations. Postal only counters are called for that La Poste gives only for Christmas packets.

In Algeria, damn clients, they want exactly the opposite! The post of Algeria believed to do well by specialising the counters and avoid the read-again-up errors of the colonisator. Conclusion: clients are waiting and waiting and waiting to get their money from their banking account while the postal only counter is not very busy. So now they want multi-task counters.

31 August 2009: the Charter of Philately, French new useless best-seller, explained here in English.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ellie in Somaliland

Unthinkable but true. Like a French speaking region in Africa uses Marianne stamps on its mail.

Four thousands and three hundreds brothers of this British little penny, in their Harrison and Sons breed, put their overprinted teeth in the Horn of Africa, reported Roy of Machin Mania with the help of a Nederlandese Enschedé specialistin and of the great Douglas Myall.

Since 1991, the North of Somalia has been in a secessionist independence unrecognized by the States of the World (which seems very eager not to came back in divided Somalia). And that, under its historic name of Somaliland, taken from its colonial history as a British protectorate and its short independence in 1960.

Somaliland is one of the many elements of the Somalian geopolitic, mixing for near twenty years now regional independences of Somaliland (salmon on the underneath map) and Puntland (in blue), tribes/clans jealous of their advantages (including islamist inspired ones, in dark green) and a government that was once "exiled" to Kenya for many years before coming back to Mogadishu, and all the grey geographic and social areas in-between.

Know that the nine and a half million inhabitants of Somalia continue to live there. I remember a report in French newspaper Le Monde that told how, despite many civil war and criminal dangers, little entrepreneurs succeeded to create an efficient mobile phone network to take over the communication network from an decaying State. However, more than a thousand civilians already die this year in this never ended Somalian conflict.

The political situation in Somalia on 15 July 2009
(author : FAH1223, original file, licence : public domain).

A country that wish to be independent with a population living on a day-to-day basis: it created accordingly a government, a press agency, a Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, and finally issues postage stamps. That may reopen the "Somaliland" chapter in stamp catalogues if the criteria was the reality of a postal system and not only the membership of the Universal Postal Union.

I had not seen, even in reproduction, one of those Somaliland stamps until Sunday, when the Machin Mania blog received from Douglas Myall scans and confirmation of the existence of British stamps being used overprinted in Somaliland.

In 1996, British printer Harrison and Sons was in difficulty in a contract with the Somaliland government: no more security paper in stock. No alternative quickly enough to avoid the local lack of postage stamps.

Surely with the agreement of the British government, the printer took twenty-one and a half one penny Machin sheets in his printed stock to be delivered to the Post Office. Sent in Somaliland, the stamps were overprinted "REPUBLIC / OF / SOMALILAND / 500 SHILLIN". The new currency was introduced in October 1994 and replaced the shilling of Somalia by January 1995. Two overprints are known: with or without a five branch star on the face value.

As it should have been predicted... Somalilandese clients did not appreciated to put foreign stamps on their leaving mail, especially with the symbol of the former colonisator. They served only for a few days in April 1996 before being retreated and destroyed.

Myall estimates that the majority of sold stamps served on mail. That around thirty covers were bought to one office of the government [of Somaliland or the United Kingdom?].

Many questions:
- which sources can consolidate these writings?
- how many unused items survived? How many foreigners bought and kept these stamps for souvenir or future financing of their retirement?
- how many franked letters in these few days? To which destinations? Where are they now?

Note : the article's title is a reference to the good animation movie by Pixar Studios, Up. Nothing else.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kagu stamp fireworks in New Caledonia

Last Sunday 6 August 2009, the New Caledonian philately - and surely the Groupement philatélique Le Cagou local association - celebrates the one hundred and fifty years of the postal services inside the island. For which, the now famously mysterious soldier Triquéra executed a stamp portrait of Emperor Napoléon III.

A minisheet of four stamps recalled the history of mail transportation. Surprise, they are among the first French overseas postal operators' stamps to be sold on La Boutique du timbre, the web shop of the French metropolitan philatelic service, Phil@poste. The overseas stamps have been available in the Phil@poste paper catalogue, in the philatelic points (that Phil@poste might want not to be bothered with ?) and the Office of Posts and Telecommunications of New Caledonia itself. A new way of shopping overseas stamps that may help buyers to reach the free postage order.

However, those of you who already practised the shopping site of our reverated Metropolitan philatelic service and who read with the greatest attention Timbres magazine (#103, July-August 2009, page 19) are discovering that this recent newelty (late July for stamps from the French Polynesia OPT) is particularly selective.

From the philatelic fireworks of the 7 August 2009, it does not remember these two following issues:

Lenticular Kagus (French: Cagou): by Pierre Forget in the foreground, and by Raymond Coatantiec in the background
(OPT.NC website).

500 CFP francs (or 4,19 euros) for this lenticular stamp (OPT.NC proposes both one stamp alone or a sheet of four). Moving it in front of your eyes let you see the four last definitive types of New Caledonia from 1985 to 2003, and the new one selected after an art competition.

The printer's signature quickly reveals why this stamp is not sold by Phil@poste: it is a creation by the lenticular stamp leader, New Zealander Outer Aspect. Let's play again the psychodrama of 1999 when the New Caledonian minisheet by Cartor was refused by Phil@poste in its catalogues and post offices, concerned about the protection of its own printing plant near Périgueux (which, by the way, just recruted a new engraver, promoting artistic youth and communicating on devil marked engraved stamps) .

How much time before the first letters to the philatelic press from ill-informed collectors enraged to have missed this stamp? How high will the little speculation go in the following weeks?

More surprising the next omission is:

The new Kagu by Laurence Ramon (OPT.NC website).
For the actual look, read here.

Here is the new Kagu definitive series design by Laurence Ramon, an illustrator already used to the archipelago stamps, and interpreted in engraving by Pierre Albuisson.

It marks a return to detailled zoological reality, without symbolic geographic element by Jean-Richard Lisiak, known for stamps in New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna, or simplified and dynamic strokes by André Lavergne.

The year appears. The United States Postal Service does the same on its Forever Stamp to the ire of completist collectors and the unending joy of printing passionates.

Why not on the commercial site of Phil@poste (a good news for the OPT.NC site with secured payment in English)? A punishment to have a recent emergency definitive booklet printed by local Éditions imprimerie du Pacifique (EIP) that prints the personalised labels se-tenant to New Caledonian stamps too? More simply, all the first printed stock might be sent to Nouméa to replaced the Kagu byAndré Lavergne?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The stamp, mirror of the peoples?

The postage stamp has often been described as a sign of a State's sovereignty.

Numerous new States issued stamps even if the government was still provisional, that a war was still going on and that no postal system was functioning. From Czechoslovakia in 1918 to the three postal operators of civil war devasted Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Many independantist movements used perforated labels to promote themselves: from the Brittany porte-timbres to the Scottish labels (for the latter, see Gibbons Stamp Monthly dated January 2009).

The Weapons of Victory, commemorative stamp for the end of World War 2.

But postage stamps are useful to solid existing States too. Caucasian tensions reappear in the Western medias with the tumultuous relations between Georgia and the Federation of Russia, one year after the abkhazian and ossetian-linked conflicts, in the middle of the Olympic Games (an event that may have caused the mediatic and political peace intervention in the middle of sleeping August).

Russian side, the 2009 philatelic program registered to the WADP Numebring System clearly shows the color: national pride through military fact:
- cities famous for their soldiers and military glories... far from the touristic stamps in the rest of the world ;
- victory at the battle of Poltava in 1709 ;
- anniversary of the Central Navy Museum (understand the War Navy Museum of Saint Petersburg) ;
- a history of the Cossacks ;
- the 1945 Victory through the weapons used by the Red Army ;
- birthday of military pilots, including Yuri Gagarin.

The message goes to foreigners too with a reminder of fifty years of a nuclear navy.

But Russia welcomed peoples: a stamp for the four hundreds years since Kalmyks stayed in the Empire. The name of these Mongol migrants stand for "the ones who stayed". Nowadays, the Republic of Kalmykia is located not far from the Caucasus mountains.

Will diplomacy avoid new post-USSR conflicts? Lots of efforts would be needed: issued 18 July, a stamp honoring Andrei Gromyko, sovietic diplomat, minister of Foreign Affairs during the thirty most icy years of the Cold War, known as Mister Niet, one of the most conservative communists in the 1980s...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Finnish drops of Valentine's Day

Drops of Happiness (Onnen pisaroita) was the topic for the Valentine issue of Posti, Finland's postal operator (the issue on the official website / on the WADP Numbering System).

The design is in the line of the work of her author, Janine Rewell (do not trust the complete white main page).

Issued with other four stamps on a brilliant sheet (in black on the scan), big was the surprise to see that kind of stamps on my mail. A big change compared to the meters and classical commemoratives.

With a better renderinf og the colors (Posti) and
for the brilliant see the picture by Éric du Jura.

Received late May 2009 thank to Postcrossing, the postcard was not cancelled. Many hypothesis:
- chance error ;
- the card format - a big fourteen centimeter square - may trouble the machine and, by economy, avoid the human check and handcancellation ;
- a dream: to saveguard the brillant testimony of Valentine, the mail bearing this stamp had not to be touched by ink...
- a nightmare: this stamp is systematicly uncancelled to avoid breaking the cancelling machines.

In France, since 2000, tailors and fashion creators multiplies the heart shape stamps. In fact, when a personalised stamp in that shape?