Monday, March 30, 2009

Security Machin: the Deconstruction begins

Philatelists on the other side of the Channel began the precise study of the new Machin stamps, the one with the new secutiry measures to avoid their reuse.

The trained eyes of Ian Billings has already discovered variations/errors/types (?)es of these young stamps.

Inside the Design Classics commemorative booklet, he remarked the cutting in two of the security slits. Printed by Walsall. In sheets and by De La Rue, the slits are in two semi-ovals (or two "cuts" in Billings' text).

Now, he can add that the gap is wider on the definitive booklet stamps, issued 31 March 2009.

Moreover, he makes us aware of a second difference that isolate stamps from the commemorative booklet: these Machins got simulated rounded teeth when United Kingdom's adhesive stamps got horizontal teeth.

I let to Machin Mania the presentation of printing cylinders and marginal mentions on stamp sheets. But, I understood there these "dots"/"no dots" thing I heard during my London season.

Finally, the great specialist, Douglas Myall, aka Deegam, proposed two new terms adapted to these new stamps in his Deegam Report #80. He placed them in the public domain to help others describe the stamps. Here they are thank to Machin Mania:

OFNP/PSA: non phosphor neither fluorescent paper / P for the PVAl water soluble layer ; S for self adhesive and A for acrylic adhesive. And because the PVAl was removed to ensure that uncancelled used stamps will not be used again:


The Complete Deegam Machin Handbook lists all known types and variations of the Machin stamps. It is available on cd-rom for thirty nine pounds sterling, updated with the Deegam Reports.

Overseas news

With a dozen or so stamps issued each year, the Mayotte General Council and its philatelic commission present the French overseas collectivity. A place whose inhabitants chose yesterday, Sunday 29 March 2009, the statute of a complete French département.

This philatelic program shows mainly fauna, flora and the islands' landscapes. The local culture and traditions constitute the second part while institutions and public personalities conclude the list.

In 2011, at the end of the departmentalisation process, will the philatelic autonomy disappear? A common French département can not issue its own stamp. Mayotte's postal service is operated by the oversea service of La Poste.

In Tromelin island, from 27 October to 1 December 2008, an archeologic expedition took place, directed by Max Guérout. As originary from Béziers, he has the privilege of an article in Midi Libre, the regional newspaper, this Monday 30 Mars 2009. The goal of the expedition was to retrieve traces of the L'Utile ship, lost there in 1761. In 2006, the precedent team found traces of habitations from the slaves who were in the ship's cargo.

To know more: the Research Group in Naval Archeology manages a website on Tromelin with a daily blog of the mission. Photographs help to forget the "Iced Saints" and other quick rains of Metropolitan March.

Tromelin and its history, future topics on French Southern and Antartic Lands?

Finally, on the Antilles side: I remember that the postal director in Saint-Martin or Saint-Barthelémy told a French philatelic magazine about stamp issues by late 2007, the year these two islands were separated from Guadeloupe and became two French oversea collectivities. No news since?

And, of course, I can not find the magazine issue.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Saving Private Phil@poste"

Today, I summarize the main problematic of the article in French for the foreign readers.

Pierre Jullien is a French journalist. He regularly works for Le Monde and writes articles for Timbres magazine. He has a passion for the philately and the places of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.

Yesterday, due to comments about the 240 and more stamp issue next April 2009 in France, he posted a call to "save private Phil@poste".

To the readers not used to the French postal system. During these 2000s, La Poste group was reorganized into services. Phil@poste is in charge of philatelic productions. The post office service is in charge of the profitability of post offices and accessibility of postal services every where. The mail service operates the sorting and distributing of the mail.

It seems that the philatelic inflation by Phil@poste in search of new clients and non used on mail stamp collectors is caused by the mail service.

Explanation: the services are now independent and are selling their services to one another. Post offices now sold DVD movie sponsored by La Poste, books, postcards, etc. because part of the income get to Phil@poste for payment of the postage stamp production and to the mail service for operation of the main postal service.

But, when Phil@poste lose part of its income to the post offices when they sale themselves the stamps. That's why it operated its own webshop and personalised overpriced stamp service: that is money that won't leave Phil@poste's pockets.

But, when used on mail, Phil@poste has to give its part to the mail service. Conclusion: Phil@poste needs collectors or one-time stamp buyers to keep unused the stamps they get. By Pierre Jullien, that is the story behing the 240 stamp issue with a pre-personalised 23 eurocent premium on each stamp.

Second explanation: the mail service has been operating since December 2008 a philatelic service on the web. Montimbrenligne permits the sender to order and print directly a postage mark on a cover or a sticker.

No queuing at a post office for the sender. No money to give back to the post office and the philatelic services for the mail service.

Worse case scenario for Phil@poste: senders massivelly adopts the Mail service's franking system. I can imagine this service would compete for the philatelic program decided by the government. The Mail service proposed 200 designs to illustrate your postage mark: simple pictures, nothing artistic. But, since everything is on the web, commemorative or temporary illustrations could be proposed, designed by the same reknown artists as postage stamps or new ones looking for occasion.

And, in the "green" communicating era we are living, these service is in the good spot: the final user pays everything that is needed for its satisfaction because he is using its own paper and its own ink. Contrary to postage stamp use for which the cost of production is not paid by the sender, but by Phil@poste.

And the mail service don't have to care about running a printing plant or please collectors.

I advice you to follow how philatelic services are operating in country where the postal operator splitted its services.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Attraction to the sheet margins of France

The duel was concluded by Nicolas: despite its human, that is financial, cost to Phil@poste, there has to be engraved postage stamps printed in intaglio in France's philatelic program. With a number and a quality of issues sufficient to please the collectors-electors-clients.

How Phil@poste can make profitable this upper order and please the down buyers?

To call known engravers. No problem in France where these artists sign their stamps and are known and interviewed by regular collectors. For the Avignon palace of Popes stamp, Martin Mörck's touch is a quality proof for mixed printing in offset and intaglio.

Let's put the perforations to the right of the sheet. Reduce the left margin and we have a large right margin, large enough to include engraved portraits of the popes who lived in Avignon.

Sale potential: ten stamps with their margin.

Plus the beautiful postage amateurs who were missing commemorative stamps for the European Union and Switzerland.

But, some well placed color markers can suffice. They are, apparently, a necessity for the printers and the quality controllers at Phil@poste Boulazac, the French postal printing plant near Périgueux.

On the Menton stamp by Ève Luquet, the margin is pretty with these pastels: yellow, pink, clear blue for the sea, clearer to the sky...

Sale potential: two to three margin stamps.

Marketing can - sometimes - be useful, inspired and discreet. That is the France I like.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stationery from Ukraine

Received thank to Postcrossing during this Winter 2009, this stationery from Ukraine:

The "E" design reminds me of the euro currency symbol (€). I think so that this postal product includes the postage for all the European continent. The reciprocity is not true for the mail sent through the French post: outside the European Union, all other European countries are considered "rest of the world".

Thursday, March 26, 2009

264 new stamps of France!

Through its Philinfo bulletin, Phil@poste, the French philatelic service, is provoking rumors of revolt on fr.rec.philatelie: two hundreds and sixty four different postage stamps are to be issued on 27 April 2009!!!

It is la France comme j'aime, [the France like I like it], the series replacing Portraits de régions, a twice a year ten stamp booklet issue on traditional customs and places of France (example). Already, these former series received many negative feedbacks: just agency's photographs put on gummed paper, no possibility to buy each stamp separately, many first day cancels, etc.

The new series will blow everything on its way :)

Twenty-four sheets of ten different stamps illustrated with photographs about the twenty-two Metropolitan regions, Paris and the French Antilles (Guadeloupe and Martinique, surely Guyane and Réunion will be present on the second episode). Ten stamps for the first rate prioritary letter to France and oversea territories up to 20 grams = 0.56 euro.

Price: 7.90 euro the sheet... 7.90 - 5.60 = 2.30 euro too much. But, you have a nice illustrated cardboard.

Total: 7.90 x 24 = 189.60 euros (256 US dollars) including 55.20 euro (74 dollars) with no postal utility. Happy will be the first-dayers who need many stamps for their cancellations: Phil@poste will give them a discount of twenty euros for each 24 different sheets bought. Enough to catch the sixty different first day cancellations.

Don't forget the two adhesive twelve-stamp booklet about the flora of our beautiful Metropolitan regions (one for North, one for South). But, for these, you just have to pay the postage: 6.72 each.

Do not get on your nerves. Summarize quietly.

1. We are in a free commerce country: you sell at the price you want, you buy what you want the price you want.

2. In France, during the reign of Nicolas, you have to play under the rules of the sacred states of the kingdom. All these stamps are not to be collected, f****** h****. How many time will we have to repeat you that ! Hem... quietly, I said :D

The two adhesive booklets are for the beutiful franking by the plebs (second category) and the large quantity of sheets sold higher than the face value, they are "stamps with value added" (timbres à valeur ajoutée, third category).

No, Mister Borrey, no need to thank me to remind again to mad collectors the wise decisions came, thank to fine wines, to the philatelic deputies facing collectors' doléances.

Conclusion, value for collection needed on 27 April : 0 euro 0 cent. There, you see that the States General of Philatelie, they are working :)

I stop smiling now. Phil@poste must find money. Collectors and first-dayers want to give them some... Do you often refuse money?

Then, the regional spirit is present in the non collectors' minds. Is Phil@poste wrong to propose them a franking products that is meeting their regionalist needs? No, it is a firm prospecting new clients.

In Languedoc-Roussillon, the great debates on the Septimany name for the region, the survival of shows in occitan without any subtitles in French on France 3 Sud television channel and the useless street marks in dead local language prove this point even if the Frenchs do live anymore like they are thinking their ancestors did.

Phil@poste want to turn these feelings into money. That's all.

We have to wait now to see if my non collector fellowmen and women can buy ten stamps 2.30 euro more expensive than usual, and keep them as souvenir hoping to resale them with a increase value in some ye

[Southern French readers regrouping]


té, l'est passé où l'autre fada ? [yé, his where this donkey]

hé, connaud ! ramène-tes miches [hé, dumby! bring your back here]


[the author returns :]
Sorry for the final letters of the sentence, I was out to die laughing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chandanson and Brun exploring Réunion's two first stamps history

This week, I finally got enough time and mind to read Les Deux Premiers Timbres-poste de l'île de la Réunion. Légendes et réalité de Jean-François Brun et Benoît Chandanson [The Two First Postage Stamps of the Island of La Réunion].
As promised in Chandanson's archivistic teaser published in Col.Fra, October 2008, the study quotes many documents from archives, described with accuracy, and confront them with the articles and books written by philatelists about these two local stamps. The numbers of stamps printed, sold and still existing are at the heart of the problematic.

The careful study of archives is a very formative work, that shapes a critic spirit and the capacity to find pertinent problematics. Mister Chandanson came back from it with precious knowledges.

But, to me, the most exciting part was the stamps and letters illustrated repertory. Exciting thank to the notes on some "metamorphosis" that happened on some pieces:
- cropping the margins... certainly for aesthetic purposes ;
- dividing a pair... so thirsty for money ;
- a detached stamp sticked on a letter with ressembling ink traces or with redrawing the marks of the pencil... is not the red line trespassed?

The madness of philatelic modes (on letter or detached?) reached paroxysm with the ninth notes (page 62). A letter was franked with a thirty centime stamp, stick in the horizontal way as a 1927 sale picture showed. In 1954, it was photographed detached. In 1980, it was back on the letter... vertically!

A very interesting reading (in French).

Une intéressante lecture.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Queen Elizabeth II in Saint Lucia

Again at the Stamp Festival, I found another royal postcard (non used for correspondance like the first one). This time, let's go to the Caribbean. In Saint Lucia, politically independent since 1979 after a period of Statehood associated to the United Kingdom after 1967.

The island was still a British dependency when a definitive series was issued on first March 1964. It comprised the same stamp as on the postcard for the five low values (1 to 6 cents), and two extracts of a Queen Elizabeth II portrait and six lanscapes with the same portrait in a medailon or the monogram (EIIR crowned) for the higher values from 8 cents to 2.50 dollars.

At the time of the issue, the currency was the British West Indies dollar, replaced in saint Lucia by the East Caribbean dollar in 1965.

The low value type stamp, like the illustration of the card, are extracted from a painting of the Queen by Major A. C. Davidson Houston for a British regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, as printed on the back of the card:
The D'n'D Stamps website gave the Major's name for the 1970 issue of a five dollar stamp picturing the seated portrait, that already appeared on the 8 cent stamp in 1964.

The Castries datestamp is not entirely readable. I would say : "21 MY / 68" or "63". Too late either way for a first day card (if the Stanley Gibbons catalogue is correct), but a nice correspondence between the portraits done more than thirty years ago.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1978 Royal Visit in Guernsey

At the 2009 Stamp Festival in Montpellier, I found this first day postcard in the thematic stock of a Parisian dealer.

The Guernsey Post Office borrowed the famous plaster to its british counterpart to mark with two stamps the visit by the Queen of the Channel Isle, late June 1978. This seven pence with a green background and a twenty pence with a blue one.

Remember, in 1969 already, Arnold Machin's artwork appeared on the first series of the island's postal independence.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Philatelic traffic jam on 28 March

The French philatelic calendar is usually light and predictable (for use of non-French readers travelling):
- Stamp Festival: a first day of sale in one hundred towns, late February or early March.
- Spring Stamp Show by the stamp dealers' association (CNEP) in a provincial town.
- Every two years, the Paris Stamp Show (Salon du timbre) in June.
- The congress of the French Philatelic Associations' Federation (FFAP) in June (Tarbes in 2009, in Paris when a June Stampshow).
- The Autumn Stamp Show by the CNEP in Paris, early November.

The savant Académie de philatélie adds public conferences and exhibitions from his members. A first one at La Poste's museum and a second during the FFAP Congress.

This year, while the Academy is celebrating the 50 years of its Documents philatéliques review, the public exhibition with conferences will take place on Saturday 28 March 2009. The thirst to enlarge philatelists' knowledge will be fulfilled.

But, between Friday 27 and Sunday 29, the CNEP organised its Spring Show in Mâcon, a little Norther next to Lyon. The need to enlarge one's collection will be fulfilled with two first of sale, signing cession by stamp artists, etc.

Unless you are well organised and informed in advance, planning the week-end will be difficult for those interest in both happenings.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Club philatélique de l'Élysée

With the catalogue of Boule's 92th sale by order, we learn more on this recent philatelic association, that made London newspapers waste ink on one of its members.

Created during Spring 2008, it was localised at the 17 George-V avenue, in Paris. The new adress of the Dallay catalogue became Maury by Armand Rousso's graces... Could this club be one of this philatelic businessman's operations?

One of the first pages and the last one of the Boule 10 April 2009 sale catalogue gives a new adress: "10 rue de la Frange Batelière", in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. If we put aside the typo (Grange), it is the adress of Boule's shop in Paris, near the philatelic Drouot street. And the same telephone number.

What is this page announcing : a prestigious philatelic exhibition from Thursday 21 to Sunday 24 May 2009, Ascension week-end in France. "Presentation of exceptional collections never seen in France yet." With the presence of fifteen dealers, the philatelic press and a first day of sale on the 23 with the "Chocolate" stamp.

The place: the Pavillon Gabriel on the avenue of the same name. Reception and TV show's recording are the main activities of the place. You can see it while wandering on this street, parallel to the Champs-Élysées and the gardens of high-security places: the United States, Japan and United Kingdom's embassies and, of course, the palace of the Presidency of the French Republic. As the page recalls, the Paris stamp market, the Carré Marigny, is very near (300 meters).

The location, the date (is it the chosen week-end for the 4 days of Marigny?): an essay to dynamise the Carré Marigny? It would need to know the relations between this market association, the Club and the dealers present in the pavilion.

The prestige (bling-bling?): to want Paris to become a philatelic place attracting more-than-rich collectors like the Elite Club in Monaco or the auction traditions in London?

The press euphory in Great Britain: communication to prepare the Anglo-Saxon businessmen to forget shares for postage stamps while the stock exchanges are on fire?

Next episode in the next tabloid? With pictures of Nico and #3 at the gala dinner on 22? Yeah, coco, mistery of the press releases.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Artist Lamazou in Montpellier for a "4th day of sale"

Is Phil@poste trying to get closer its provincial collector clients? Does La Poste group want to show its policy in favor of men/women rights egality?

Yesterday, Thursday March, 12th 2009, Titouan Lamazou "honored" by his presence the Montpellier-Prefecture post office at 4pm (and not, its philatelic counter, in same building). He signed his Women of the World booklet: twelve photographic and painting portraits of women he met travelling the globe.

(Montpellier'Plus, Friday 13 March 2009, page 2)

I have no idea of the popular success of the operation: I had other priorities and at 6.15pm, the city center post office was slowly operating after the rush hours. Only proofs of the artist's presence, the two A4 posters hung on a panel put on the sideways at the front door.

The communication success is more tangible: Thursday 12th, Montpellier'Plus announced the event and offered its second page this morning, Friday 13th (even if the text is a press release). The free daily paper is distributed along the tramway network of Montpellier.

I imagine all this must be part of a national tour (?).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

USPS in crisis: stamp issues delayed!

Reported by the 23 March 2009 issue of Linn's Stamp News, is a news unenvisageable in France, even by this damned collectors who buy everything. The United States Postal Service decided to report three issues planned for 2009, for financial reasons and due to the forcoming change of postal rates.

The fourth part of the Flag of Our Nation series, that previewed the flags of the fifty federated States and the United States' possessions, is reported in 2010. Two others are now previewed in the next years: one on painter Edward Hooper and one on a christian topic (an angel playing lute).

On one side, the finances of United States historic operator are in the red: mail transport, opening of offices, the delivery of mail five days a week weight on the insufficient revenues, caused by the postal competition and the decrease of posted paper mail in favor of e-mail. Modernisation costs to remain competitive and fluctuations of gas prices don't help.

We may imagine that the philatelic activity would be spared because it is thought very beneficial in postal income non used on mail. But we forget the problems of the USPS statutes: all modofication in the universal service has to be accepted by the Congress... For example, changes in the postal rates, always previewed, but never on the number of cents allowed. One, two cents? Consequences: new philatelic costs to be decided just too few months before. Do we reprint one cent stamps? Print enough of two cent ones? But what do we do with them if the accepted rise is only one cent? And this commemorative stamp, at which face value do we print it? How much hours of unpreviewed work to be paid to printers?

Last point that regularly came black in talks on the US-based The Virtual Stamp Club, but whose cost is difficult to esteem: is a success of the Forever stamp, very current politic in Europe, penalising USPS' finances since its introduction in 2007?

Problems well known by European postal operators for a consequence that would never imagine: to postpone philatelic issues.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ten years of the little Słania Machins

On 9 March 1999, ten years ago today, the Post Office (soon to be Consignia, then Royal Mail) issued these four tiny chefs d'œuvre.

High value postage stamps picturing the royal effigy by Arnold Machin, engraved by THE master of engraving: Czesław Słania.

Forty years too (on 5 March), others high value engraved Machin stamps were released, but in a larger format than the definitive series.

Only, a great engraver could represent faithfully this magnificient profile on a so small surface of paper.

Shame: in 2003, they were replaced by iridescent ink and flat means of impression, spread last month over a large part of the Machin palette.

End of my promotion page in favor of intaglio printing and the Machin series... for now.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Expert offensive in France

While you can easily find advertisments for company expertising and evaluating quality of stamps in United States Scott Stamp Monthly, three French philatelic experts are trying an offensive to convince French collectors to check their important possessions.

Claude Jamet, a former philatelic editor-in-chief, recalled late 2008 that this subject is taboo in the French philatelic pond: do collectors want to know if their goods are genuine or falsified? Even if I read the reverse point of view from buying collectors: lack of professionalism from some experts and their easily signature on a multitude stamps' back, easily falsified afterwards. So the confusion between the role of this signature and the one of the certificate of authenticity. Without speaking of the price for the owner.

In March 2009 Timbres magazine issue, three experts launched their speech to the common collectors. Pascal Scheller wrote a reminder about the expert signatures in the quick news part, on page 8. On page 17, Pascal Marziano is interviewed. Just miss Jean-Jacques Tilleard in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon.

In what Marziano told, he evoked Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States where philatelic experts work in committee.

Very good coincidence: in the February 2009 issue of British Stamp Magazine, the Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society London is the subject of a report by Julia Lee on six pages.

She submitted a vertical strip of three George VI definitive stamps overprinted to serve in the Morocco Agencies. One was bearing a known variety: a horizontal line as black as the overprint strikes one of the stamps. Is it genuine (catalogued 650 pounds sterling) or a inked-imposed genuine (10 pounds before alteration)?

The expertise process was followed, step by step, with the expert knowing exactly what he was lokking for:
- visual description,
- comparison with archives full of two hundreds thousands cases examined by the committee since 1890,
- and even with the Royal Philatelic Collection,
- bright white light,
- a 10x magnifier,
- ultra-violet lamp,
- until the 33'000 pounds spectroscop and the possibility to use the one at the University College London.

When stamps fresh from the post office are not baked in an oven to verify if the change of color on the expertised stamp was not caused like that.

During each session of the committee, the files are examined and, in case of discord, the study is done again with the help of other members and one of the fifty specialist philatelists who regularly help the committee. A team work.

For a tiny bit of paper

To separate postage stamps from one another, old problem. Cut with scissors, pre-separate them with points, lines or perfortations... In the first decades of the postage stamp history, inventors and clients looked for practical solutions. Today, again, the matter is still interesting.

Very certainly, the whole United States' philatelic program is now self-adhesive: on sheets, booklets, rolls of hundreds of stamps.

On this postcard, the ondulated line helped to detach easily the stamp from its backsheet. On the left handed stamps, from the Flags of the States series designed by Tom Engeman, one of most favourite illustrators of the USPS, the horizontale line separates the two stamps. Even if on the lower right and upper left of Iowa and upper right of Illinois, a tiny bit of paper connects them though (around one millimiter in length).

British side, the new Reinforced Security Machin stamps (or "with security features") are not celebrating their first month that variations have already appeared. The oval slits must render impossible to detach the used stamp from the cover. Ian Billings constated that the slits are two semi-ovals on stamps from sheets, but four quarters of oval on the stamp from the commemorative booklet to be issued on 10 March (linked to the "Design Classics" issue).

A tiny bit of paper again. Is this a second type of this stamp that will be permanent on stamps printed by Walsall? An error in the sliting and that will be quickly corrected?

The Machin series, a always renewed sage: here, again, don't forget...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Palais des papes: from the photograph to the engraving

I regret not to be a better photograph.

Following Dominique's investigative study for the Blog philatélie and Timbres magazine last second semester 2008, I followed the trail of a photographic inspiration for the Palais des Papes stamp to the website of a picture agency.

Martin Mörck interpreted in engraving a panorama of the palace of the popes in Avignon, Southern France, for a touristic stamp of France to be issued next Monday 9 March 2009, with a first day of sale this week-end. This panorama is credited like that in the current issue of Timbres magazine: "D'après photo © C. GUY/".

Up up up, on Google and hop: the "Creative and Travel Imagery" website appeared. The pictures on the front page let me dream :)

In the search engine: "palais des papes guy". Hop again: the creations of Mister Christian Guy picturing the historical buildings. And I bet on picture #125059 from the orientation, the small buildings in front of the palace and the vegetation.

If pictures are free of rights on the site, this one is on "managed rights": the agency sell the rights in the name of the artist. You have to be registered, but the form for a access code must be filled with many compulsory intels from your company's name and your telephone number. That supposed clients from the professional editing sector... including Phil@poste looking for pictures to inspire the engraver. The practic is not uncommon in France: the artist can not design from nothing and can certainly not travel each time a stamp is ordered.

Contrary to the stamp for the Paris Summit for Mediterranea, there is an creative artistic act in this stamp. Second difference, the Nordic Mörck did not level the Sea up to Avignon... but he put the palace back to Middle Age, blessed era before the reciprocating engine.

Monday, March 02, 2009

March in France

The 2 March 2009 new postal rate stamps are just bought that three new issues will happen in six days!

France's Constitutional Council has fifty years of protecting the Constitution... but contrary to the Accounting Court in 2007, it will not have a joint issue in every French Overseas Collectivities. For the stamp, after an imaginative "Fondation de France" anniversary stamp, Stéphanie Ghinéa gave form to an artwork quite... contemporary. It is not her fault: it is the new logotype of the institution. Supposed to be Marianne. In comparison, after all, Nicolas has 'a' taste. And that is for Thursday, 5th.

The following week-end, direction Avignon and the Palace of Popes. FINALLY! Finally, a stamp to mail letter to European Union countries and Switzerland. Martin Mörck interpreted with engraving the stone construction. Already, the issue is talked about: portraits of popes and anti-popes that resided in Avignon will be printed on the left margin of the sheets. An essay to please engraving amateur? But, which of our political elite will throw a stone in the philatelic pond by recalling that : Popes on the stamps of the Republic! Enough to laugh for a week and forget about strikes or problematic trial.

Now I have an idea of excursion for the week-end. Thank you, La Poste.

But, Monday 9, next day after the International Women's Day, you will have to be back on your horses: a adhesive twelve stamp booklet on the sale composed of photographs and paintings of twelve women met by Titouan Lamazou all around the world.

Phil@poste gave you the rest of the month to put your albums in order.

On Friday 27, take the train gain to the Spring Stampshow in Mâcon. On that day, the city stamp will be waiting for you, designed by departmental artist Pierre Albuisson. The classic philatelic landscape of a fluvial city and a statue of a local hero (Lamartine). I want stamps like that again.

On saturday, a minisheet illustrated with sportive emperor penguins will be issued. It is composed of two stamps engraved the five-year presidency star, Yves Beaujard. "Protection of the poles" is the title for these stamps, one at 0.56 euro and the other at 0.85 euro. To encourage people to write to people all over the world, why not issue more practical diptych, like the joint issued with Greenland and Brasil?

There was a first. There was a thirty-first. And then, April.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Postal rates up. Practical problems up too

Today midnight (at least, if the postal datestamp is still a legal proof), postal rates are modified for mail sent from Metropolitan France, the four Overseas Departments-Regions (Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Réunion) and in two Overseas Collectivities (Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin). In brief, where La Poste operates and Phil@poste is sole master on philatelic issues.

(I love parts of sheets, even if I broke them for my mail)

A too little one eurocent more for the most known rates: 0.55 euro for a less-then-20-gram letter nationwide will become 0.56 euro. More centimes elsewhere, in multiples of five: more easy to cash at the counter.

Because I send mainly postcards to the European Union (0.65 > 0.70) and the world (0.85 no change !?), thank to Postcrossing, my problem is not the cost. Indeed, lucky I am not to have to weight my centimes on stamps against the ones needed to buy nutritive but perishable food. But I don't forget to catch the dozen of good euros I can when looking for high value goods.

My worry is practical and political. For the latter, my refusal to use Nicolas' Marianne stamps obliges me to manage my 1, 5 and 10 cent stamp stock of the smiling Frenchs' Marianne by Sir Lamouche. Until the arrival of an allegory more republican, democratic and open to the future (yes, I am an utopist or a naive).

Practically, the half-sheet presented above plus the stock already purchased may help me to spare one cent stamps (0.56 + 0.10 + 0.04 = six stamps on a postcard or one cent gift to La Poste) and to use with reason the 5 and 10 cent stock (0,55 + 0,10 + 0,05 = 3 stamps and that makes a pretty postcard to a European neighbour, despite the lack of European rate commemorative stamps).

In conclusion, I regret the Youth Collection (example) that gave 20 and 30 cent stamps. They helped fixing good franking to foreign penpals.