Saturday, January 31, 2009

How to fix a first day of issue?

To issue a touristic stamp on Les Sables-d'Olonne is one thing. To date the first day of sale to sell it while the winner of a boat race is arriving is another!

The French La Poste has not forget the sailing world yet, after two stamps linked to its sponsoring of competiting yachts in the 1990s : 1990 and 1993.

(Licence Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND, contact me if necessary)

Reminder: last November 2008, the Montparnasse Tower, in Paris, announced the departure on 9 November of the solitary yacht race around the world, the Vendée Globe. A race that Michel Desjoyeaux seems eager to finish right on the special second day of sale in Les Sables this Sunday 1st February 2009 or on Monday, the first day of national sale. He is not handling a postal yacht, but he sure is helping postal sales to those waiting his arrival on the finish line.

(Actu timbrée, Phil@poste, 2009 ; design: Thierry Mordant)

The design by Thierry Mordant shows that the race motivated the issuance of a stamp. Les Sables-d'Olonne has been hosting the departure and arrival of the six editions of this race since 1989. Located in Vendée, the port and the race are helped by political man Philippe de Villiers, the president of the General Council of Vendée (national right. A man heard regularly on radio to give news on the sailors that were in trouble in difficult situations during this race.

Artist Thierry Mordant delivers his fourth artwork to the French post since 2002, the third maritim city (after Villefranche-sur-Mer and Arcachon) and the second sport scene (after Paris-Roubaix cycling race). The Monaco Office of Postage Stamp Issue (OETP) has been using his talent regularly in very different manners: poster-like (Christmas 2008), official portait (Prince Albert II's first definitive series) or very dense engraved design for commemoratives (Kipling). The always useful and complete on stamps of France, Phil-ouest website, adds stamps for São Tomé e Príncipe... An investigative task to be done by yachting or surfing. It ends on this website, a personal, merchant and astonishing website.

Now, the problem is to find this stamp: philatelic post office? Not open when I am free of my time. Phil@poste's website? And garbage a large cardboard package that the postman will not be able to put inside my mailbox... sigh

Friday, January 30, 2009

A French touch in Hong Kong

A Postcrossing correspondant noticed me the French background behind the postage stamp he used on his postcard:

The building is the home of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Court of Final Appeal, the equivalent of the United States Supreme Court and the Cassation Court in France.

From 1915 to 1963, it was the headquarters of the French Mission in the British colony. After that, it was sold to the Hong Kong government. This Mission added the cupola. Historically, the place was historically remarkable as the residence of the first British governor in the 1840s even if the current appearance was constructed in the 1917.

This 2.60 dollar stamp was teamed with two definitive Bird stamps to reach the three dollars of the airmail rate to France (around 0.30 euro or 0,38 US dollar believing XE). It is part of a four stamp series on the Hong Kong judiciary system, issued 27 November 2008.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

French first-dayers, spoiled clients

Who lived in Paris the collection of new stamps of France, must know this population of collectors used to attend every anticipated first day of sale.

Always the same people. Always present one or two hours before the gates open. Always with numerous envelopes, maximum cards and albums. Ready to wait to buy the new stamps, booklets and other souvenirs. Ready to stick patiently the whole on their said supports. Ready to wait again to cancel their items with the first day datestamp. And again for a signature if the artist is present.

To Phil@poste, the French philatelic service, it is a joy to see so loyal clients: their money spent in stamps is largely unused on mail, and because of the first day cancel, will never be used. All this for reduced costs: the postal workers must surely work on week-ends in exchange with more holidays.

But, a place must be rented.

The La Poste's museum, near Montparnasse railway station, must cost Phil@poste, because I imagine that each part of La Poste group must be profitable and do not make gift to their colleagues. The Blancs-Manteaux Space in the Marais is vast for, finally, not so much people after the first-dayers are done. The Acclimatation Garden is beautiful, but you need to walk from the metro station in Neuilly-sur-Seine, always a difficulty with some older clients. The mini-room in Montmartre, the one used for the end of year booklets in 2007, is really too tiny for such a crowd.

Solution: and if all these Parisian places' rentals were equal to the rent of a permanent shop in the Haussmann district near the Parisian grands magasins?

First advantage: these so loyal clients will have all France's stamps and first day cancels available in the same place. Phil@poste will receive less letters and parcels full of items to be cancelled with a first day cancellation which happened outside Paris.

Second advantage: all other people entering the premises will be beneficial. Tourists looking for stamps for their postcards, afraid by the huge crowds in postal offices, and who will leave with more stamps than needed, scarfs and others philatelic souvenirs. Executive secretaries sent to find pretty stamps and bore by the told crowds ; they are everywhere in this business district.

Thirs advantage: the consolidated certitude that the main part of the stamps printed will be sold to the Parisian first-dayers, completed with the France's stamp subscribers whose subscriptions are bow dealt by Phil@poste and no more by the philatelic post offices. No need to look after the individual tiny orders of thousands of the post offices in the country.

There certainly is a history and an economy of the first day of issue to be written, because of the numbers of collectors and dealers this activity continue to attract.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One loudly little centime here, more silent centimes there

Read on the "News" page at Timbres magazine's website, some new postal rates to be implemented on 2 March 2009. Among them, some La Poste did not speak about one week ago.

Remember (1 or read again French Muggle press): a very little rise. Just one centime per stamp (Muggle journalists had not yet understand the difference between the stamp and the postage it represents). Less than one euro per family per year.

But, like News du Phospho showed last year, you must wait and see the other rates. Then, you discover how the postal operator will compensate the limited rise on the interior rates.

With Timbres magazine, we understand that the European Union (zone 1) postal rates will due: plus five cents again.

Let's purchase non-denominated blue stamps for Europe! (if you did not do it last year)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Does Canada Post want me as client?

When work keeps one busy and that days got only twenty-four hours, messages on the blog are less numerous :(

When a postal operator made difficult one philatelic order grrrrrrr...

You understand that Canada Post/Postes Canada are disappointing me for some weeks.

First, to have an account in order to order on their website. Pseudonym, password, postal and bank coordinates, are you saying? Too easy! With them, you first wait two days to receive a password after they checked your subscription demand. No first spontaneous order then.

Secondly, a one only and clear website, easy to navigate, and where you find quickly everything you are looking for. Like the French Boutique du timbre? Too much easy! They made two sites, the second being exhaustive, long to upload and difficult to browse. Aiguille et bottes de foin.

There is at least the paper order thank to the philatelic bulletin. That's how I avoid the credit card payment problem on Royal Mail website, for exemple. Are you kidding! This week, I receive - finally - a print-for-all letter: no money on my client account. After I find lonely the right codes, the right prices and fill all requested intels to pay with my credit card. Result: O.

A new client is now lost for Canada Post. An advice: go made a visit to Amazon, Phil@poste,... If you want clients, you go search them, not put obstacles in their way.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A new mail system in Languedoc-Roussillon

In regional newspaper Midi Libre of this Sunday 18 January 2009 (1 and 2), the French Post presents his new Languedoc Mail Industrial Platform (plate-forme industrielle courrier or PIC). It will be put in operation next November, in Fréjorgues, on Mauguio commune, next to the Montpellier-Méditerranée airport.

The chief of project, Robert Alberti, accumulates the numbers: more then two millions pieces of mail treated daily (forty thousands per hour) by three teams of eighty people (one for economic mail) and nine "ultra-modern" machines (six for small envelopes, two for larger formats and one to prepare mail). All placed in a 24000 square meter one-level hall. Forty millions euros are spent by the French postal operator to fight competition and deliver 90% of mail the day after posting (La Poste's "Mail Quality Cap" program). Forty millions out of the ninety La Poste is spending in Languedoc-Roussillon. A large part because this platform will cancel, sort and dispatch mail for four départements (Aude, gard, Hérault and Lozère).

Located in the pericenter of Montpellier, north of Saint-Martin area, the current main mail center of Rondelet is treating thirty thousands mail hourly on many floors. Its employees were on strike many times or by rotation late 2008 because the PIC will alter the human part of mail working (three centers replaced by on PIC, less people employed in the end). They obtained two allowances for adaptation and displacement, but the atmosphere is heavy at Rondelet mail center.

To amateurs of new coded cancellations (the ROC ones which replaced postal codes and number/name of départements on French cancellations), secondary platforms are progressively put in place for some years - existing, revamped ot to be built - to prepare and distribute the mail (PPDC). There, the mail is class by postmen's circuits (a task historically done at local post offices early in the mornings, by the postmen).
* in Aude : Carcassonne and Narbonne ;
* in Gard : Nîmes and Alès (to be created) ;
* in Hérault : Saint-Jean-de-Védas near Montpellier, Béziers (to be created in Vendres) and one inside the Languedoc PIC (hence the preparing machine?) ;
* in Lozère : in Mende.

For the Pyrénées-Orientales, the Roussillon PIC in Perpignan cost ten millions euros and three PPDC are planed in Perpignan, Prades (western part of this Pyrenean département) and Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines (south, between the touristic coast line and at the entrance of the Vallespir).

Friday, January 16, 2009

British demonetisation

In January 2009 Gibbons Stamp Monthly monthly article "New Collector", John Holman finds new collection ideas from old philatelic stuffs.

He proposed British readers to interest themselves in the arrival of the euro currency in many countries since 1999: double denominated stamps, both currency on covers, etc. Demonetisations of stamps in the older currencies too (but France, no general demonetisation since 1849). But it concerned the United Kingdom too.

(Effigy by Edmund Dulac, illustration and design by Eric Gill)

Three demonetisations took place on the other side of the Channel (for once, the French expression is shorter: Outre-Manche) and in Ireland for the first one.

In 1915, the stamps picturing Queen Victoria, who died in 1901, were no more usable on mail.

In 1930, it was the turn of King Edward VII stamps, deceased 1910. The process was slow and not too shocking for collectors proud that their stuck-in-album stamps were still valuable for franking.

The adoption of the decimal monetary system in 1971 rendered obselete, on 1st March 1972, the stamps in shillings (s. or /) and pence (d.). The one of one pound (no more) were kept. They are from the Castle and the Machin series.

Let's add to these the possibility to use on United Kingdom mail the British stamps sent to the British post offices abroad, on the condition that the overprint did not modify their face value. How many collectors played to stick Nauruan Georgian stamps on their mail.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

National Medieval Museum, Paris

A little winter pause (despite I am living in a micro-climate: sunny cold without snow. Vive Montpellier!), let's go to the museum:

Musée national du Moyen Âge in the center of Paris,
near the Place Saint-Michel and along the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Postal points in Belgium

La Poste of Belgium is getting rid of the problem of denomination on its stamps. Belgian stamps bear a number of points, representing a postal value. Just put enough points to send something.

On 1 October 2007, the definitive series began the point system. At this time, one point was 0.52 euro, now 0.54 euro. Here you have a postcard sent to France for 1.08 euro !!! I think the sender was lost in this system as I was wondering what labels were under my eyes until I remember the Belgian recent history. From Belgium to France, a postcard only need 0.80 euro (0.65 euro from France to Belgium).

The system applied to "special series" (the philatelic program) too if they bore a value multiple of the point's value.

A new step was taken last 2 January 2009: the European points and Worldwide points appeared for the European and worodlwide rates that are not multiples of the Interior point.

"1" in a European flag or 0.80 euro.

"1" in a globe or 0.90 euro.

Because I do not follow the philatelic program of Belgium, I do not know what to think of this system? Are the circled points well included into the stamp design? Do clients accept this system without being spoiled?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Old booklets now

A new philatelic book received, the one about the first stamps of La Réunion island. Again, the old stock of stamps served to frank.

At Brun Philatélie's, the semi-postal booklets are used now. Twenty years old! My first philatelic year. Even if 1989 was my first complete year of France collected, followed by four others.

Ten 2.20 franc stamps = 22 francs or 3.35 euros. The 60 centimes given to the Red Cross with each stamps can not count as postage. If postal services committed this error, there were 28 francs worth on the letter (4.27 euros). Rate is not easy to find, prioritary letter: too much for 500-1000 grams (2.97 euros), not enough for one kilogram and more (3.85 euros, but to accept the charity as postage...).

I should have order a letter scale for Christmas. Compared to a one litre bottle of water, in a 20°C room, I sent La Poste received a gift of 38 eurocents [or La Poste lost 3.35 euros philatelic sale being use on mail that has to be treated, sent, distributed,...].

Thursday, January 01, 2009

... France January 2009

Midnight, New Year's Day was not a week old that France's philatelic program regains its pace. First day of sale on Sunday 4th in Coupvray with nationwide sale on the morrow.

Two classical designs for the first two commemoratives stamps: the person honored and one significant object/scenes of his life. 200 years of the birth of Louis Braille with an object that permits to perforate words in braille. The castle of Angers for the 500th anniversary of René, Duke of Anjou, Count of Provence and short King of Naples.

Threee annual issues come back. For Valentine's Day, only one design for two values and a haute-couture name right in the middle of it. For the Chinese New Year, artist Zhongyao Li is now a sure bet.

Surprisingly, I find the adhesive artistic booklet has got a soul this year. Is that because of the images rarely put on stamps and illustrating craft? Is the design around the pictures created by Patte & Besset designer duo? Even if the postal mentions continue to be "invisible", the Ministry of Magic made the title-label disappear to avoid new incidents in the Muggle population.

The official nomenclature, inspired by the States-Generals of the Philately, the grand achievement of our Omni-President, knows some kwaks: between "official stamps" gummed with a face value and "franking stamps" autoadhesive with postal use value, where do we put the Chinese New Year issue that is gummed but with a "Prioritary Letter 20 grams" value? And the gummed stamps of Valentine's issued among adhesive ones? I am waiting the solution that will propose the President of the French Stamp Dealer's Union (CNEP), a big fan of this nomenclature.

At least, with this last issue, every client of La Poste can find his/her wish: one stamp for one big occasion, twelve stamp booklets for a lot of Valentine's around the country (or a buy cooperation of the high school lovers club?), sheet of thirty adhesive for a daily writer in love suffering of love dehydration, etc. With a 50 gram version for collage and heavy card.

And, because love is worth three cents, even lovers of the world will receive their Valentine's from France.

For pictures, please wait that the French post declare its stamps to the WADP Numbering System.