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?