Friday, July 31, 2009

In Guyana, discovering Cacao and Hmongs

A post on the blog of a Russian collector: a French cancellation useful for maximum cards and cachet covers linked to the recent chocolate stamps for the four hundreds years of the arrival of cacao in France. But too, the discovery of some tragic pages of the French colonial history, the United States military history and the South East Asian history.

Agrandir le plan

Starting from Cayenne (North of the frame), follow national road N2 to the South.
Turn to the right at Camp Léonce (Google Maps).

Around forty-fifty kilometers to the South of Cayenne, in French Guyana, the commune of Roura extent itself on 3685 square kilometers including the hamlet of Cacao, at the beginning of the Amazonian Forest. First an "inhabitation" named Sainte-Marie-des-Cacaos (Holy Mary of the Cacaos), then a penal colony (1854-1859), the place has been hosting Lao hmong etnic refugees since 1977.

These moutainers are still victims of three decades of continue persecutions [and ignored by Westerners and their media] since the nineteen seventies, because part of them were preferably recruited as soldiers by France during the Indochina War and by the United States during the Việt Nam War.

Since their welcoming in Guyana, the pioneer hamlet has become one of the suppliers of Cayenne city for fresh vegetables, in a oversea département heavily dependent on importations from Metropolitan France. With courage, work and elbow grease, entreprises can discretly [very discreet in French media] succeed in the economicly fragile French Overseas.

A radio report from the Network France Oversea (RFO), in February 2009, with links to Cacao's institutions ca, be listened here (in French).

Agrandir le plan

With the satellite view and zoom, you can see the agricultural valley of Cacao (Google Maps).

Since 2002, "BPX" was added to the datestamp of Cacao's post office
(from ascan sent by Pierre Millien).

The hamlet has got a post office with a datestamp stating: "973 - CACAO - BPX" for the French Guyana département number - name of the place and the mystery. Thank to Pierre, I can tell that BPX means "bureau postal de proximité" (proximity post office). Let's find now where is the BPX in La Poste's hierarchy of post offices?

Because the place is near of Cayenne and accessible by road, the postman's round must be less adventurous than the one, more upstram inside the forest, reported by Gauthier Toulemonde in the DVD Des courriers très spéciaux.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A country and its three pose stamp

Postcards exchange website Postcrossing's statistics tells that Finnish people is the third nation represented, after the United States inhabitants and continental Chinese. Nine per cent of the soon-to-be fifteen thousands registered users.

However, among the soon-to-be two millions seven hundreds thousands cards exchanged, on out of five came from Finland! Certainly, being there from the start five years afo helps when Chinese users has been arriving for just months ago.

In 2009, a Postcrosser regularly receives cards of Finland, Germany, the United States and the People's Republic of China.

Hopefully, to avoid the receiver's lassitude, Posti is philatelicly inspired: wherever your cards came from Finland, they got rarely the same stamps on them. The thing is the 50 gram nationwide rate is the same than the 20 gram worldwide rate: 0.80 euro. An expensive national postal system for sure, but that let many stamps available for international mail, without having to produce/go buy small cent stamps.

Seldom is intaglio. Frequent are surprises: read me again or Éric.

Today, a simple animal stamp, very topical: a tau emperor. To me a wing retracted butterfly. To scientists and topic collectors,

Aujourd'hui, un simple timbre animalier, fort thématique : une hachette. Plus vulgairement un papillon ailes repliées. Plus scientifiquement, Aglia tau, present in Europe.

Put "the right way up" for my eye.

Put the "right way up" for the face value and the sender's eye.

Put the "right way up" to know who it is and where it came from.

Many opportunies of stamps and positioning of them on mail. In France, these days, you need a massive stocks of 1, 5 and 10 cent Marianne stamps or be pleased with a little number of European and worldwide rate stamps. For the latter, there is only one 0.85 euro stamp available from the philatelic program. A mean to encourage the sale of the eight worldwide stamp booklet with copy-paste monuments of France? To force the use of "stamps of writing"? A heavy increased worldwide rate to come soon? [The same happened with the former European rate before it went up 5 cents.]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The automobile association in Germany

Holliday topic: safety of car drivers and passengers.

Here is a thin postcard promoting stamp collection and writing, a card which was, I think, cut out a junior magazine and stick on a more concrete card.

The topic of the 2003 stamp is the ADAC (on the Wikipedia in German). Founded in 1903, the Allgemeine Deutsche Automobil-Club is a very pertinent, thoughtful and open lobby: civil patrol, repair mobile services (both by what appear on the stamp), diffusion of intelligence on many domains (local road laws and international too, gas, environment, etc.).

A whole lot of activities that surprised the French I am: I rarely heard of such things when French pro-car lobbies are speaking against government in France.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Elizabeth on Australia's stamps

On the website of operator Australia Post, began an exhibition of postage stamps figuring the Queen of Australia, Elizabeth II.

For now, the first part about definitive series and the great events of the begining of her reign. Could the second part be exhaustive knowing that the Australian post has got a yearly "Queen's Birthday" one-, two-stamp, even sometime minisheet, issue since 1980?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer reading brought postal frankings

Sun, bike, garrigue with non-stoppable stereophonic cicadas, chlorined swimmings (I am not fan of marinated fauna), readings, I would almost forget philately. But to receive my order of books with this on the box:

A postage meter printed by Ace Comics' machine, a library specialised in United States comic books.

Cut, this franking is thick for a collection. With a cutter, we are going to slice the board thinly. Put the bottom half to recycling, and the other into the British modernity album.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A modern postal museum

While in France through blog, twitter, ready-to-print articles for magazines, a first day of sale in September 2009, etc., La Poste's museum in Paris (on the right avenue when you face the Montparnasse Tower) advertised on how many things happen there, how modern the institution is, etc...

...the National Postal Museum in Washington proves it!

Born 1993 of the Smithonian Institution already collecting philatelics since 1886 and of the United States Postal Service, the National Postal Museum possesses a rich website, including Arago, a marvellous database full of documents and intels on the philatelic and postal history of the United States.

It is not enough! The museum entertained a channel on YouTube with forty-eight videos from pictures of the postal services in 1903 to the mail incoming on World War Two soldiers, through academic conferences (oh! the Royal Philatelic Collection by its Curator Michael Sefi) and, even, the answer to the greatest question of all:

why were postage stamps created?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

„Traurige Juli“ : Gerd Aretz

Sooner this month of July 2009, German university professor and artist Gerd Aretz died at the age of 79, after almost fifty years of service to the Federal Minister of Finances, responsible of the German philatelic program.

Gerd Aretz
(website of the Bergische Universität Wuppertal)

During this half-century, he designed more than one hundred and thirty postage stamps of the Federal Republic of Germany, issued by the Bundespost and then the Deutsche Post.

Certainly, his main creation would be considered the Women of the German History series (Frauen der deutschen Geschichte), a definitive series in use from 1986 to 2003, that lived the German reunification and the arrival of the euro currency.

They were replaced by photographs of flowers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Calendar coincidences

On this French National day, while France - its leaders and the spectators of the rock concert at the feet of the Eiffel Tower at least - are trying to convince they are the heirs of our glorious Republic, let's go one week later.

The next 21 July, astrophilatelists will celebrate the forty years of the first man on the Moon... with the help of many postal operators other than the one concerned, the United States' one. In the United Kingdom, the Royal Mail is publishing a Smiler Sheet, a sheet of stamps se-tenant with overpaid topical labels, while competitor dealers ordered their owns to the Royal Mail.

The 21... for an European. The 20 July evening then in the United States.

A date that helps me get to this Postcrossing postcard, full of coincidences: we are going to celebrate the sixty-first anniversary of the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler by a group of military, on 20 July 1944. First step for the Walküre operation.

Right after the fail, Stauffenberg (above portrait) was shot without trial. Moltke (below), founder of the plotting groupe the Gestapo named "Circle of Kreisau", already arrested, was sentenced to death and executed in January 1945.

Tribute from the sender. A will to link the two passions of the receiver: philately and history. Cancellation date: 8 May 2009, when we remembers the end of Nazi Germany and of the World War Two in Europe.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Green Summer in Danmark

A friend recently emptied his cave and sent me some postcards and envelopes he found, including this Danish home:

Part of a six stamp series, this six crown one presents a building of 1792 in Liselund, on Møn island.

The artistic credits is quite long, from right to left: engraver Martin Mörck from a photograph by Jens Lindhe of a architectural work by Andreas Kirkerup.

Charming place for a summer afternoon.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Day of the Franks in Germany

No, our neighbours over the Rhine river do not have nostalgia about the currency of their past Mediterranean holidays, a currency that was happily ended with the euro. This nostalgia is far more older.

On this Sunday, July 5th 2009, and that since 2006, Franconia remembers its past as an imperial circle inside the Holy Roman Empire, from 1500 to 1806 and sinister warmonger Bonaparte. The circle encompassed the North of nowadays Bavaria.

A festival takes place each year and is the object of special datestamps and pictorial cancellations, as a quick Google serach shows. The one on my Postcrossing card is a little too light. It came from mail center #90 that sorts mail of the agglomeration of Nuremberg, inside the historical Franconia then.

For the German speaking readers, here is the official site of the Day of the Franks.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Late idea for the Jean Moulin stamp

Specialist of East center France and experienced firstdayer, Éric Contesse went back with a historical touristic report from the first day of sale of the stamp announcing the opening of a memorial to Jean Moulin, in the house in Caluire where the leader of the French Resistance was captured by the Gestapo.

The portrait used by engraver André Lavergne was the picture taken by Marcel Bernard during Winter 1939, in Montpellier :

In 1999, the City inaugurated a reminder (very high affixed) that remind where the now mythical image with hat and scarf was created. The plaque is located on the level under the water reservoir of the Peyrou garden when you are going by the south way to the Arceaux, that is the final part of the acqueduct.

I was waiting to see the stamp with my own eyes, not the informatic one sent to the press. The different treatment for the eyes embarrass me. And, like some other intaglio printed stamps of this June, I find the printing quite "light"... but I am not a printing specialist.

On the margin, six color markers.

The design of the two elements is heavily classic: the sadly known house of Doctor Dugoujon, place of the future memorial, and the portrait.

Thank to the GoogleMaps/Streetview link above, you can see the house despite a tree. By clicking along the "montée de la Castellane" street, you can detail the monument describe by Éric, on the Gouailhardou square, and its composition.

The first picture I saw of this monument to Jean Moulin, I discovered it on a 20 June 2009 article of Le Progrès, Lyon based newspaper.

(Photograph by Pierre Augros, Le Progrès, 20 June 2009 ;
reproduced here in a highly reduced size for illustrative purpose)

Very good picture: the observer took possession of the monument and found a part of the meaning placed (hidden?) by scluptor Christiane Guillaubey. Would you look at it very straightforward and saw the usual representation of Moulin? Or turn around these blocks of wall that conceal from the ennemy the resistant that get assured the meeting place is safe?

Reinterpreted by engraving, Pierre Augros' picture would become a postage stamp that would have be a complete "stamp of the nation", from its topic to the public including its message. A stamp that would have honored both Jean Moulin and all "the army in rags".

But that would have bumped into the classicism of the philatelic makers with the commercial fear to confuse the most faithful of collectors, even let more time for the artist to have a eventual research work. Yes, that must be simpler and less expensive to put a Greek letter...