Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Recycle and compost

In my mental pictures, ink point cancellations from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are ugly, dribbled and unreadable while I have regularly received well done cancels.

Posted on 8 May 2009, this postcard was cancelled in Plymouth at 3:06pm. Its commercial message invite to recycle and produce compost through a web adress: www.recyclenow.com/compost. Unless you stick the stamps on the message part of the card, all stamps will be cancelled wherever he is on the upper line with such a cancel.

Recycle now is a information campaign about recycling launched by British non profitable company WRAP (for Waste & Resources Action Programme). Its goals are to limit waste, develop the reuse of material and a better managing of resources.

In France, lack of pictorial cancels, of cancels opened to paid commercial or general public announcement, the enveloppe finishes mostly in the garbage, not even the good one when I see what my neighbours do in the residence's bins...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Back on sheet margins: to the right now!

Issued in March 2009, the stamp about the Palace of the Popes in Avignon had been given a visual, cultural and historical interest by having portraits of these Popes printed on its left hand margin of the stamp sheet.

I went to the always-useful, always-well-organised and alway-so-polite philatelic counter of Montpellier. I bought these stamps and receive the twenty left-hand side stamps. Rumors said the left hand portraits are quite popular.

Here is the scan of these "stamps of the nation" before being altered into "stamps of writing" by the sole application of my fingers, without using any fake alchimic signs.

Observe the great upper ligne that gives the monetary content of the sheet (printed in intaglio like the design), the technical mentions and barcode of this one sheet ("technocontemporary" ink points) and, pleasure of the eyes, the color control squares.

Postcrossing penpals of Switzerland and the Union will be happy to receive this Martin Mörck's piece of art.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Charter of Philately in France

Finally, La Poste's president signed the text.

It can be read on the French Philatelic Associations Federation (FFAP).

The text will certainly be published in the September issues of the French philatelic press and comment all Autumn long by their readers.

The content is sooooooo classic, sooooooo predictable, sooooooo already done for years by the three signatories: the FFAP, the French Stamp Dealers' Union and La Poste. With a tiny problem: one of the signatories is both a director of La Poste's philatelic service and a president of the Association for the Development of Philately that gave money to help organizing happenings.

My thoughts: as useless as the so-called states generals of April 2008, even dangerous. An example: if one mean of issue exists, La Poste will have respect the Charter even if the collector can't use that mean to buy the stamp.

For those who can read French, other comments : Pierre Jullien (very critic despite being one of the preparatory investigator for the states-general...), Dominique sur le Blog philatélie whose readers and modern collectors wonder where the machine stamp are, even La Poste's Museum's Friends Society have doubts about what a postage stamp of France is now... To be updated.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tourism in Switzerland

Questionning with this advert postcard from the Tourism Office of Switzerland:

with markings and labels of La Poste (it is one of my last mail following me after my one year old move to the South). On the upper right corner, print on the card, a stamp-like picture of the Matterhorn and a cancellation:

« Taxe perçue / P.P. / CH-3030 Bern »
(taxe perçue = port payé = postage paid)

The commercial continues with this illustration to look like real mail: a touristic stamp on a postcard? Switz postmark for high number of mail sending? It is plausible for the mark, less for the picture surrounded with teeth.

Communication... for a beautiful country though.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blue Mondays at La Poste

My postal union discovery of this Tuesday 23 June, in the Montpellier issue of Midi libre newspaper, the "Blue Mondays" at the French post.

After a short research on Google and Google News, this practise is just beginning and very localised social conflicts are arising because of it, more when postmen have been already worried for their job when the regional mail system is soon to be reorganised.

Note that my little summary has certainly many gaps. The pieces of intelligence I found seem to appear when postmen in conflict succeeded to catch a local newspaper's attention, like in Alès on 4 June.

For La Poste, "Blue Mondays" are a group of Mondays when there is the less volume of mail to be sorted (hence this Summer experiment). Which days, less postal personnel will be called to work. First problem: their colleagues will be put on holidays that day.

Less personnel because only 40% of the mail will be treated on that day. A link to the Day+2 rumor?

Less personnel, but all the postal rounds will be done. La Poste thinks that 40% of mail can be distributed with a reduce postal corps. Part of this task force are thinking the task will be impossible under normal working conditions (time, distance, etc.).

To be continued.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What does she have on her head?

Yes, what is this object? This one that transformed Arnold Machin's sculpture into Pure Monarchy when the Stamp Advisory Committee asked him a diadem instead of a tiara on the royal head.

This crown was created in 1820 for the coronation of George IV by jewellers Rundell, bridge and Rundell. After him, queens has been wearing it, examples in artworks: Victoria on a portrait by Winterhalter in 1843, Alexandra by Luke Fildes in 1905 or on a picture with her daughters, Mary visiting Berlin in 1913.

The reign ofElizabeth II made it omnipresent: painting by James Gunn in 1954, on the obverse of many British and Commonwealth coins designed by Raphael Maklouf and put on circulation between 1984 ans 1997, and, of course, United Kingdom's definitive stamp series since 1967.

The circle is crowned by four crosses alterning with four ornaments each including the three symbolic flowers of the United Kingdom countries: the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland and the shamrock of Ireland.

And Wales? So long united to England that it was forgotten in this 1820 jewelry? Or had it not find its floral emblem yet (there were only the three quoted flowers on the first stamp of Malta in December 1860)? Or if the leek was there, was it judge disgraceful on a royal crown?

A wealthy ressource (pictures are tiny though, even for paintings in the public domain) on The Royal Collection website. Clic on the items in the right hand menu.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stamps of France to be written in Greek!

After the anglophobic parasital comment coming from the neighbour of the videorecorder about the eurocent/centime difference during the financial report, I was surprised the same man did not comment - on another linguistic problem - Françoise Eslinger's speech, Director of Phil@poste, France's great printer of sticky postage paper, on 13 June 2009, during the Congress of the French Philatelic Associations' Federation (FFAP) in Tarbes.

She announced the concrete results of reflections from the states generals, an event that was reminded by very few people now... Forget the November 2008 stamp classification, here is the one of June 2009. The first was too imprecise because it gave too precise definitions. When one of the leaders of French organised Philately concluded...

Now, there are four groups, simple and easy to determine:
#1: stamp announced in the philatelic program, that Eslinger called "stamp of the nation" (where are the "stamp of the State"?),
#2: the definitive stamp,
#3: the "stamp of writing",
#4: the personalised stamp.

Personally, it seemed to me that these categories has been existing since the late 1990s when the third and fourth ones emerged... After all, time was cyclic for the Ancient Greeks.

But, back to my linguistic problem. You have to recognize these four types. So:
#2: may I (re-)introduce you to Marianne?
#3: the adhesive booklets and announcement stamps, more easy to teach to non philatelic buyers at the new Carré d'encre shop in Paris. Yes, why Aimé Césaire or Franz Stock have got right of a "stamp of the Nââââ-tion" is not very glittering.
#4: go to So.co.ta or Dominique's for some tricks.

The problem is for #1 because the targeted collectors, less and less members of the FFAP (watch the moral report), addicted to filling up albums, must be able to recognize them to stop harrassing Eslinger's ears with the too numerous stamps that are issued.

Hence the great solution: a φ.

The golden ratio! Yes, because the "stamps of the [French] nation" are certainly well proportionated. And it is the first letter of the Greek root that gave the word philately. A good finding from the communication office.

A scandal to me: a Greek letter on a stamp of France?

With judicious and pertinent examples given by Eslinger: the royal shadow in the United Kingdom (that is the second medaillion created 1967 by Arnold Machin after the famous stamp to replace the 1965 temporary one by David Gentleman), the silver fern in New Zealand (notice the speaker's ill-preparation. Minus one point, we are during high school exams these days) and the use of a sole typeface in Monaco.

Conclusion for Phil@poste staff: the phi, symbol of the "stamp of the nation".

On commercial ground: with the complete opening of the mail market in France, will it not be better a new zealander or bosnia-herzegowinan solutions ? A nâââââ-tional symbol for the former or the brand of the postal operator for the latter. The postal bird of La Poste should be on every postage marks treated by this operator to make a difference with its competitors.

More profound: does my nation not have enough symbols to illustrate the philatelic program stamps chosen by the political power? If the tricolor flag may disturb a stamp composition, why not a golden medaillion (or silver or black and white) of Marianne in the British fashion?

I will see how the integration of this stupid phi symbol makes me disgust of some new stamps. But it will not lead me to use "stamps of writing" on my mail as long as I find most of them ugly (while imagining the Hard Times Marianne...).

Despite Postcrossing, will the vicious circle of less paper mail touch me? Or will I succomb to the siren song of the postal competitors, efficiency and price versus symbol-national stain?

Look at the video, you will know why the Charter-noddies always speak of ironing in the months to come. More on the French Charter of Philately when the Board of French Philatelic Frogs will want to read it to the people...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mucha exhibition in Montpellier

The city of Montpellier is awaiting a new temporary exhibition at the Fabre Museum: about Alfons Mucha, between 20 June and 20 Septembre 2009.

This 17 June 2009, Midi libre newspaper wrote about the money paper designer he was in the first years of Czechoslovakia, after World War One: banknotes, postage stamps,...

During Autumn 1918, the castle of Prague was the victim of the artist's effort, when he was not used to such a tiny format. The text-telling in this French paper reminds me of something... maybe a philatelist helped the journalist with articles from the French philatelic magazine?

Reminder: two years ago on this blog.

28 August 2009: Adrian studied the sun from the project to the successive issues.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Post & Go for dumbs

Ah! Philatelic investigation! Listen to the rumors, go check them in post offices, eye lots of stamp sheets... opposing to waiting the information being published in the Official Monitor of the French Philately.

Reporter Brian Sinnott came back with sreenshots of the Post & Go automates, as a how-to-use-it for others.

Alway a summary ici, or wait for the monthly "Machin Watch" in Gibbons Stamp Monthly, whose author John M. Deering is lucky (compared to a French author) to put such detailed intels on British definitive postage in such short time (maximum two or three months, due to the dead line of the magazine printing).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spinning out the Head

After October 2008 and the Post and Go machine printed stamps on demand launched in Bristol, then February 2009 and the new security measures:

One of the Machin with security features, the name given in Royal Mail's Stocklist.

If the slits are visible, you have to scrutinize the stamp to see the security printing waves in the name of the postal operator on the blue background (easily visible on the white of the value) and on the royal portrait.

Now, Ian Billings of Norvic Philatelics reports the first day of an experiment. At the Camden High Street post office, starting 8 June, the saint effigy with waves, intermitting slitted frame and simulated teeth illustrates the paper on which postal counter's Horizon meters are printed (the Horizon labels are currently printed on white adhesive paper). Like that:

Postal clercks are to use these labels only to stick them themselves on express letters, when consumers will ask for a special delivery service (with arrival guarantee the next day before 9am or 1pm), for 4.95 pounds sterling.

No label are to be given to a client. They must only exist printed with postal mentions and uncancelled (except for the first days produced by Norvic Philatelics et Brian Sinnott), and to be stuck to the departing letter.

If the Camden experiment is successful, many means to mark the payment of a postal service will bear the effigy of Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin.

For philatelic tourists, after the visit of the automated office in Tudor Street, you will go at 114-120 Camden High Street. This Northern Central London post office is located south next to the Underground Camden Town station, around two kilometers north-east from Saint Pancras railway station and at five hundreds meters from the north eastern entrance of Regent's Park. Prepare to send your envelope to an adress in the United Kingdom because only the 4.95 pounds special delivery service is part of the experiment.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Return with a United States postal surprise

Finally, my cybernetic friend do want to obey its rightful master, once the latter fired the graphic card. In the same week, this postcard arrived from the United States thank to Postcrossing. A non so common card considering the marcophilic state of this country.

Stamps were cancelled with a red ink datestamp, and not the tiny dots that give sometimes a very unreadable form that can be a city, a State and even a date of mail treatment. In a post office of Rochester, Minnesota, on 3 June 2009, a clerck accepted to get his hand to the handstamp.

The pink dot lines? Mail sorting codes from the French post unusually on top because of the black line code from the United States postal service at the bottom.

These cancellations are not usuel. But, the look-alike ones a Virtual Stamp Club thread is looking for are done by cancelling machines that the USPS announced to be completely replaced by ink dot machines.

Amended because of a misreading of the VSC thread.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Touristic June in France

On the five issues (ten stamps and one minisheet) previewed for June, five can be considered as touristic. Historic tourism for the one about the Jean-Moulin Memorial (and one hundred and ten years of his birth).

Among them, four are printed in intaglio. We can compare how each engraver treat photographed landscapes and composed the illustrations.

Issued during the Congress of the French Philatelic Associations' Federation (FFAP), 12-14 June, "Tarbes" by Elsa Catelin appear to me as an accumulation of multiple elements, while all this is a whole view of the Massey Museum.

The "castle of la Bâtie d'Urfé » by Marie-Noëlle Goffin, issued on 8 June, is classical in its composition: the main building and an artwork the visitor can discover there.

Pierre Albuisson created a panoramic of the Bourse Plazza, in Bordeaux. Issue for 22 June in the commercially beneficial context of the town's club winning the French soccer league. The water mirror is a local attraction of great length (compared to the Place du Nombre-d'Or Poseidon fountain in Montpellier).One out-of-place element helps to create a night landscape whereas the sky location remains white: the statue which is on top the Girondins monument, evking the political victims of the Terror (1793-1794). A great piece of art, this stamp is.

André Lavergn's stamp on the Jean-Moulin Memorial in Caluire, inside the house where the trap closed itself, can be seen as the World War 2 Memorial stamp of the year, emphasizing the role of the French Resistance and the one who became its "face" in the memory, Jean Moulin.

Celebrating their sixty-fifth borthday one year before? Christo and Jeanne-Claude, monumental wrappers of things, give some fantasy to the artistic series, generally reproducing graphic works. Value at 1.35 euro is a change to the 0.56 described before. An ancient plane of 0.56 euro will certainly charm the aerophilatelists for the centenary of the Gordon-Bennett Cup, the flying one, after the vrooooming one some years ago... a time when the three euro souvenirs were born in France.

Finally, often badly judged, sometimes a chance to attract a younger public (including a first day of issue at the Jardin d'acclimation...), but alway at three different denominations: the Nature series.

This year, the two nationwide 0.56 euro stamps depicted endangered species (panda and rhinoceros) and the international ones two species forever disappeared: the auroch for the European Union rate and the condor of California for the worldwide one. Known for animalian paintings, Christophe Drochon succeed to put many different climatic places and vegetations on one scene for the minisheet. Perhaps the isolated stamps will gain if the perforating machine was more working with the artist before "hole-ing" the minisheet.

The event of the month that will be blogged starting mid-June and commented during next Autumn in the philatelic press, is the FFAP Congress during which Our Majesty La Poste will concede a Chart to the organised philately... Will the text be pertinent? [answer depending on yourself's opinion] If yes, will it be respected by the monarchy?

My republican constitution (that certainly can be acclimatate to British rule) makes me judge alone of my French stamp acquisition: Mrs. Goffin's and Misters Albuisson's and Lavergne's stamps will be on my mail, like the disappeared species because, being so realistic, the Nature series is alway appreciated by foreign people on Postcrossing.