Monday, March 28, 2016

Week #2016.12 on SébPhilatélie

Tuesday 22th March: Difficult times in our world.
Thoughts after the too many jihadist attacks in Europe, the Middle East and, let's not forget, the North and Western parts of the African continent. Discovering all these countries and populations through postage stamps could help remind we are all in this together.
Shrimp fishing on horseback, one of UNESCO's intagible cultural heritage, is practised in Oostduinkerke, Belgium (stamp issued June 2015 by bpost).
One of the Serval stamps of Mali, printed by French plant Phil@poste Boulazac, issued 2014 (colnect and UPU's WNS), an educative thank to the Allies who came to help Mali in 2013.
Saturday 26th March: Being offered a magazine... a trap to whom?
The same day the April issue of Timbres magazine was published, competitor-by-order-only L'Écho de la timbrologie sent me its own April issue free...

Created 1887, the French monthly was retrieved by philatelist printer Théodule Tellier in 1990 as he was managing the Yvert plant, waiting for the son, Louis Yvert, to be ready. Both men were the founder of the philatelic family firm Yvert and catalogue Yvert et Tellier.

But, since a decade now, L'Écho has been no more available at newsstands: yearly subscription and individual issue order (printed or digital) are only available online... The question was then, and still now: how do you find new readers? For example me who didnot resubscribe late 2008 because reading it was too quick.

Eight years later, it's still not my cup of tea even if some collectors can find it interesting: only four articles, and a lot of news about new issues of France, of the associations and the Federation.

To me, nothing compare to Timbres magazine with many articles, in which I find what I want and lots of thing to discover. Bonus in April: after an undecided new formula last September (the principles are different from the results, and I love the results), the editor in chief announces a complete renovation for September 2016, a revolution even, like the zero issue of ancestor Timbroscopie in 1984 who shook the leaders of the time: Le Monde des philatélistes, that finally merged 2000 with its competitor to form Timbres magazine, and L'Écho.

Thank you, L'Écho, but no, thanks. Waiting April 15th the new exceptional issue of Timbres magazine on the French presence in the world through stamps (after the first one), philately and postal history. And now for the renovated magazine in September.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Merry visit of the GPO in Dublin

Until mid-April, you can watch the episodes of a documentary about the daily life of the Dublin Greater Post Office, its current employees, clients and operations on RTÉ, the public television of Ireland.
Logotype of RTÉ.
The branch is located in the rebuilt GPO, partly destroyed during the Easter Rising, during which the building housed the independentists' headquarters. Nowadays, the façade and the underground levels dated from the original construction between 1814 and January 1818.

During Tuesday 15th March episode, the GPO employees are presented from the counters to the nightshifters, including the helpful calling center. Costarring some colorful clients.

With Tuesday 22th episode, the documentary took surprising roads following the artistic events that take place in the hall of the post office during open door nights with concerts and the opportunity for visitors to post a special postcard. The clients and their happy life or their difficulties brought the first episode into perspective: homeless people getting shelter under the façade, a mother sending a bag of clothes to her migrant daughter unable to go further than France. Hopefully, a meeting of Postcrossers introduced the inventivity of An Post and its communication service.

The third episode, broadcasted Tuesday 29th March, Christmas and the Centenary both approaching, illustrated the importance for the Irish society of the GPO building: it's the rally point for demonstration in the capitale, a place for an association to offer hot meals and warm clothes to homeless people, and for refugee father to have a bank and begins saving money for the future of his children. Behind the counter, while Baby Jesus is difficult to find among the Christmas decoration put in storage last year, an employee tries to catch a pigeon... Finally, the construction site of the new centenary attraction, Witness History, are completed enough for six female dancers to prepare their interpretation of the Eastern Rising.

Christmas is approching in the fourth episode launched Tuesday 12th April. Aerial dancing show on the columns outside, music and singing in the hall, and carolling for charity under the portico, while specially prepared letters and parcels are being franked with the Christmas illustrated machine stamps at the counters. In the back office, Santa's secretaries are working to ensure all children will get their answers before the great day. And after a rare theft in the hall and the desperate very final client at closing time, Santa visited the GPO!

A lot of works are going on in the building in the fifth episode on Tuesday 19th April: the continuous renovation of the historic part of the place, the crane pilot who had got the best view on Dublin for eight months, and the mysrery of the "little house on top of the Post Office". Inside, the sixteen stamps of the Centenary issue are prepared by meeting the descendants of the stamped people, especially when they can provide pictures that Zinc Design put in form (example of the Malone brothers: the first killed in the Army at Ypres in 1915 ; the other while fighting the British Army in Dublin the next year). Finally, the Tanzanian mother, filmed in an earlier episode, comes again to post a laptop to her daughter, trapped in Paris by immigration laws.

In the last episode, on Tuesday 26th April, the  GPO Witness History is finally opened after two years of building. The final artworks, especialy the sculpture to the children killed during the rising, are placed and an original poster of the 1916 Easter Proclamation is hung there. Outside, groups of pupils and of tourists discovered the history of the place with their teachers or their guides. With a debate: are the holes in the columns really bullet holes?

This documentary series is part of RTÉ's programming for the centenary of the Irish insurrection.

The GPO building is also Ireland's public operator An Post's headquarters, and its postal museum and archive.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Datamatrix in Costa Rica

While the French post has begun to place barcode in a data matrix fashion on many of its franking, including definitive postage stamps for the European and Worldwide rates, I wish for a world history of this new numeric tool on mail.
Precancel stamp printed on demand for a postcard from Costa Rica to France, dated 3rd March 2016.
Because the first on this way might not be a more developed country. Thank to Lorena on her Postcrossing card, I get a precancel stamp printed on a counter machine at a Correos de Costa Rica branch.

France is in the zone 3 of this postal operator's rates and it cost six hundreds colones, a little less than one euro.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Week #2016.11 on SébPhilatélie

A week of wandering of my mind... even in philately.

Monday 14th March: a red postcard, nice for a quiz.
Just a card received from Germany thank to Postcrossing.
Red stamps by
Can you identify all this modern red stamps?

Friday 18th March: when French politicians become delusional...
One of the French philatelic haven, the Kerguelen islands in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands become famous this Wednesday after a conservative right politician proposed on newsradio to arrest without due process every Frenchmen coming back from Syria and isolate them in the Kerguelens...

Stay tune for the new postal history of the French penitentiary colony revival.

Saturday 19th March: regional exhibition in Montpellier.
The local association organised in Montpellier the regional congress of Languedoc and Roussillon with a four dealer and almost thirty collection event.

Part of those collections I found interest in were already exhibited last year at the annual Spring show in May or at the Stamp Festival last October. But I didn't mind a new look at Claude Pesche's postal history of the Jerusalem post offices from the Ottoman Empire to 1948... How many "philatelic countries" could there be in a city or a region?

Two tickled my curiosity by reshaping known stamps or knowledge into something unusual. J. Paraseit studied the postal history of La Réunion during the franc CFA currency period (1945-1975) with overprinted stamps of France and he proposed covers cancelled by the travelling post office on the sole and now closed railway of the Indian Ocean island.

Back in France, J. Ara Somohano exhibited covers sent, received by or linked to the Spanish Republicans who took refuge in France after the Retirada ; many covers addressed to internment camp where the French Republic and then Fascist France put them.

Finally, in the court of honor, a guest from sister-region Midi-Pyrénées, Henri Taparel proposed a two time Grand Vermeil collection and lesson on the postal rates of Communist Russia from 1917 to 1923, a time of civil war and economic difficulties. Imagine the government telling you a one kopek stamp is now worth a ruble without overprints!

Mr. Taparel's presentation is highlighted by introductive text placed at the date of new rates to explain what was happening at the time of decision. Something some departemental and regional exhibited collections have trouble to perform on their first two pages (no bibliography or a personal pensum) or as a conclusion. I hope to see it again elsewhere, but you can grasp part of the Russian specialist's knowledge on his personal website.

Sunday 20th March: coin collectors should avoid those.
In French specialised magazine L'Histoire of March 2016, France National Library coin and medal curator Jérôme Jambu analyses the coins of the Islamic State/Daesh/ISIS, that were announced in November 2014 and seems to circulate since June 2015.

He presents the announced characteristics of the coins and the meaning of them in history and propaganda context of the djihadist organisation. Because all coins who were studied in Europe are all faulty to the announced norms, it is supposed that Daesh is creating only faulty described coins to trade them and gain world strong currencies...

To Mr. Jambu, as for oil and archeological items smuggling, buying these coins is helping to finance terrorism.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The postmen of Mafate, heroes of La Réunion

From an article on SébPhilatélie, remastered, published Thursday February 6th 2014.

If you are interested on postal services in the French Overseas, La Réunion has got legendary postmen: the ones whose rounds took days of walking to reach the isolated settlements in the island's calderas. The inhabitants of the Cirque of Mafate continues to receive mail thank to this walking postman.

Watch for reruns on France 1ère and France Ô, both public channels who broadcasted in overseas territories for the former and to the Metropolitan French public for the latter: an example on March 2013 on Réunion 1ère. Reporter Jacques Pavet followed current postman Cyril Maillot walking 30 kilometers a day through mountain paths, tropical forests and plains, carrying fifteen to twenty kilograms of mail, banknotes to serve the inhabitants or any necessary packets (medicine, lottery tickets,...).

Bat'ker, Le Facteur de Mafate, 2008, album: Lé Gadianm (clip on youTube posted by Booster Label).

The postmen of Mafate are part of the folklore réunionnais, an island reputed in Metropolitan France among hikers. In 2008, Bat'ker, a band of La Réunion, wrote and performed a song and a clip, Le Facteur de Mafate. The website Réunionnais du monde published an interview with Irvin Pausé, postman from 1951 to 1991, who estimated he had walked five times around the Earth with the Mafate rounds.

These walking postmen are presented from time to time on national television in France like an episode of Faut pas rêver, a geographic documentary on France 3 in 1995, or a side-report in the mid-day news on TF1 in May 2012 with Cyril Maillot's predecessor and a meeting with retired Irvin Pausé in his shop. An important enough subject so that Angelo Thiburce, who walks in another sector of Mafate, has got a page on the Wikipedia  in French after his retirement.

But, because La Réunion is an overseas département, the stamps of Metropolitan France have been used since départementalisation in 1947. And no stamp on the postmen of the Cirques has been issued yet.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Nigerian philately get national news coverage

Translated from SébPhilatélie, an article written Monday March 7th 2016.

Between 2002 and 2007 some French philatelists enjoyed themselves because the President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, was a stamp collector... We end up with a sad Marianne in a poor frock of the time of crisis chosen without any popular consultation, states general of philately... generous with the guests... that end with a wallpaper stamp program whose "philatelic" part is forced to be bear a Greek letter...

Worse, Sarkozy became the historian of Africa during a speech in a university in Dakar, July 26th 2007 when he said, among reductive points of view of the continents and its peoples:
The African man has not enough entered in History.

While in Africa, banking and services through mobile phones are rising, shipping companies are modernising ports and harbours, countries like Rwanda went from genocidal putsh régime to a democracy opened to its neighbours and the Commonwealth...

And in Abuja, while not being a philatelist, a former President eventually helps the pastime.
The Chairman of the National Philatelic Promotion Council described one of the British issues of Nigeria who served overprinted in the Trust Territories of Cameroons ; he insisted on the multiple identities of this colonial stamp and of the history of both countries (NTA News, 3 March 2016).
In Abuja, Nigeria's federal capitale, a philatelic congress took place, reported the national news channel Nta on Thursday March 3rd. The main topic was how philately and postal services were assets to the economy of this emerging country despite many developing problems, internal politics and djihadist danger with Boko Haram.

Between conferences, initiation to stamp history (with a painting of Rowland Hill) and a stamp exhibition, former chief of state Olesegun Obasanjo came to support the passion of collectors, highlighted the importance of stamp to teach the history of the country and praise the work of the National Philatelic Promotion Council since its creation in 1992.
Chairman Ahmadu Ali (left) listening attentively President Obasanjo speaking about the role of stamps (NTA News, 3 March 2016).
And, with the improvised speach of the non amateur, Mr Obasanjo succeeded what one waits from a leader in a non partisan matter:
"Stamps tell story.
Every stamp has something unique about it.
It has story to tell.
And when you put them together, you get history.
And when you look at your collection of stamps,
you get history out of them."

And he finished holding the philatelist's shoulder: what better support could you hope from the former President of your country!
One of the stamps described by Ahmadu Ali: 1953 stamp of Nigeria overprinted 1960 for the British Cameroons during their months of self-determination (scan from
And the reporter immediately illustrated this poem by showing the Promotion Council Chairman, Ahmadu Ali - celebrating his 80th birthday. He explained the design of one of the U.K.T.T. overprinted colonial stamp of Nigeria, that served in the British Cameroons between the independence of the French Cameroon in 1960 and their union with the latter in 1961.

And he concluded on this complex history with the sparkling eyes who learnt and taught something from his collection.

By browsing a little bit Google, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) discretly but surely promotes and performs its services with efficiency, and constitues a national philatelic center, both by smartly managing a philatelic program and by encouraging a National Philatelic Promotion Council that served as a national federation at the International Federation of Philately in 2004.

Nigeria follows the advices of the Universal Postal Union and its World Association for the Development of Philately. In 2011, the Nigerian Philatelic Service (who's got its own websiteasked for a report on the policy to follow, the rule of a stamp program, etc.
The journalist explaining the postal reform by Rowland Hill and its revolutionary effect on the British economy (NTA News, 3 March 2016).
In all this document and the Abuja event, accent is discretly put on the economic value of the postage stamp in an emerging economy. By its use of course, especially with the development of packet mailing and shipping. But the value of its collection and study too.

It can be watch in the NTA report and in this February 2nd 2009 article of Nigeria Communication Week, probably inspired by the efforts of the Pomotion Council. And journalist Emeka Okafor wrote it well for this readership: there is an ancient philatelic trade in Nigeria, a national agency to print the new issues, therefore there is business to do for suppliers.

And for the emerging upper and middle classes, a patrimony to create through pleasure of collecting, studying and exhibiting. New technologies are not the only way of enjoying a social status.

That's what the journalist explained in front of the portrait of Rowland Hill when he told the economic impact of the 1840 postal reform in Britain: contrary to what we felt sometimes in Western countries, the post and the stamp haven't say their last words in emerging countries.

Back to France: After Joëlle Amalfitano, deputy director of the French philatelic service in October , Gauthier Toulemonde, editor-in-chief of one of the two main monthly, in January and February, when will the former president-useless-philatelist of the Republic go to national media to promote philately and stamp collecting?

That would compensate a little bit the disastrous consequences of the states general of philately, and if he met Ahmadu Ali, perhaps he could apologize for the Dakar speech.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Week #2016.10 on SébPhilatélie

I got quite philatelic fun this week writing on both blogs.

Sunday March 6th: unusual rate drops and demonetisation.
From philatelic forums and Google searches, I learnt that strange things will happen in three countries in their postal system, inimaginable in France or many countries.

By a special agreement between the Unites States Postal Service and the Postal Regulation Commission, the former will be forced to cut down the first class rates on April 10th... Whereas the financial situation of the public company is not safe yet. Talks began on how the public will react that Forever stamps' value is going to shrink a little.

In Sweden, there soon will be one year that the European Court of Justice declared unlawful that PostNord in Sweden add value added tax on public postal services.

In Lithuania, Lietuvos paštas reminds in the press that stamps only valued in litas, the former currency before the euro became the national currency on January 1st 2015, will cease to be valid by the end of the year 2016.

Monday March 7th: Nigeria slowly ascending the philatelic world.
A lucky find on youTube from the Nigeria's news television channel, NTA News: early March, the National Philatelic Promotion Council, established 1992, successfully organised an exhibition and conference in Abuja.
Former Nigerian President (right) praising the study of stamps and honoring Ahmadu Ali, current chairman of the National Philatelic Promotion Council, who celebrated his 80th birthday (NTA News, March 3rd 2016).

A must-see video from NTA and a must-read article on my blog: how does stamp passionates in emerging countries succeed to make the public aware of stamps, stamp collecting, philatelic studies and competitions? Surely a translation in English will be coming here soon.

Wednesday March 9th: PostNL will double the Postcrossing stamp catalogue by March 29th!
The Postcrossing official blog announced on Wednesday that the historic postal operator of the Netherlands will issue a ten stamp minisheet, kitsch-like, promoting the postcard exchange website and touristic place and arts of the low country.
Look at them if you don't fear to loose eyesight (PostNL through the Postcrossing blog).
The Postcrossing stamp catalogue will be added stamps #13 to 22 in one issue, the second one on this topic by PostNL.

On a side note, I discovered that Dutch stamps are only available though a special philatelic website of PostNL - and not the postal site of the operator, and at street level in news/library franchise.

Philately in general media on a very very slow news day in France

When the Syrian civil war(s) and its consequent flows of refugees travelling to the European Union... Or the economic ans social debates in France... Or even the composition of France's football/soccer team for the European Championship in a hundred days (at home please)... When even a local vendetta-like murder happened in daylight in a respected clinic in the town center... are not enough to fill a regional paper, journalists sadly go to philately.

Two types of them.

First, the century old postcard or letter that fi-nal-ly reached the recipient... An error of the post is now impossible because all sorting office and mail center equipment and buildings have been replaced, renewed, rebuilt in the last decades.

But, anyway, journalists continue to wonder how it happened when the recipient's descendant calls them... When it's surely someone who found this card in a second-hand book or in its collection without idea how to use it and perhaps thought the message moving enough for the family.

Second type rehappened this week in southern sunshine Midi libre, after a previous episode from Britanny in June 2015.
The front page of Saturday March 12th 2016 issue (screen capture of the website).
Someone, in a horrorful shriek and thereafter shock, is watching at a face of fascist and racist dictator Philippe Pétain on the stamps used on a received letter...

Friday evening, the event was teased on the newspaper's website. And the full story (a semi-page with a huge picture of the our accused stamps) printed and announced right on the middle of the frontpage and highly placed on the website mainpage.

How many casualties? Unemployed people? Threat to national security?

What's the story about every time it happens?

Generally, a web purchase that can fill just a standard letter, that is franked with stamps from the 1940-1944 that are demonetized and forbidden on mail since Liberation. Either the postman (postwoman in June) reports it to his hierarchy or the recipient shrieks in absolute horror and goes into shock while calling a local journalist.

You can take the Midi libre article of Saturday, replace the name of the local stamp dealer and the regional mail center director, and you can reprint it anytime it will happen. The dealer teaches the Muggles stamps in franc currencies can still be used on mail, but the a handful of demonetized ones, especially those of Emperor Napoléon III and of Philippe Pétain.

The mail sorting director explains how many letters goes through his center every night. That the machine correctly reroutes this kind of old franked mail to a human because it doesn'y recognize the phosphor band less stamps. That the postman in a hurry, because of productivity, quickly evaluate the authenticity of the stamps and if the value is equal to the necessary rate in euros (1 euro = 6.55957 new francs = 0.0655957 old pre-1960 franc).

And, generally there, begins the bashing of La Poste and of the postmen. An anonymous philatelist source accuses loudly the latter not to be able to recognize all French stamps from 1840 to this day.

The former beats itself up by explaining why the said letter is not even taxed!!! At maximum because of the use of unlawful stamps, at minimum because 6 old francs is way under the 0.80 euro priority letter rate (but close if 6 new francs). The director explains they risk behind trapped with a mail if the recipient refuses to pay the tax (a fixed penalty plus the double of the insufficience) and his workforce would have lost a lot of tim at every step of the way.

Finally, the article concludes on one of the reader's comment: an old stamp with a 2016 clear dated round cancel! Not very common these days in France with the recent unlocated inkjet printed cancel at mail center. But valuable... if you can make a star of this enveloppe thank to mediatisation. Sigh.

Whereas these are the same postage stamp collectors and dealers that used or sold the many old stamps in their stock because they are disappointed with their financial investment. Like in many countries, French stamps issued between 1940 and 1980s were so broadly bought that you can buy them with a discount, or cheat the post by underevaluating a franking in old franc, etc.

Now they know they can continue: La Poste won't bother, mainly because the deputies and senators renounced to demonetize all stamps in franc... After all, it's a strategy to dry up the stock.

Hopefully, the rest of the newspaper let you know more important things about postal services. On Monday April 4th, the new Montpellier area of Malbosc will finally see its post office open after a five year announcement and difficult construction (the region is located under an Autumn/Spring storm climate with many dry small rivers not to forget).

And, relayed on the French side of this blog in April 2015, Midi libre restarts his participation to a school competition organized by Fondation Varennes to help high school students discover firms and occupations. In 2015, the regional platform of La Poste at Montpellier Airport was explored by students of the northern suburbs.


Nice idea: instead of jumping on an imaginary fascist conspiracy through stamps, Midi libre can send his Tintin and his anonymous philatelist source spend six days, from Sunday evening to Saturday noon following the mail from the post offices and the street mailboxes to the refused by machine letters to the rural area postman.

Let's see how they cope.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Videos on postal services in the French Southern Islands

As I was looking for documents about the Indian Ocean Philatelic Meetings last Saturday, I came across some documentaries on the French Southern and Antarctic Lands' website (, all available on the Territory's channel on DailyMotion.

The most recent one was first presented during the 6th Indian Ocean Philatelic Meetings organised on October 2014 by the TAAF in la Réunion, where their administrative headquarters are. Documentarists Laure Bourru and Clément Brelet participated to a rotation of the Marion Dufresne to Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam islands in August and September 2013 to discover "The postmen at the edge of the world".

Postiers du bout du monde : les Terres... par TAAF

Four times a year the ship brought new peoples and mail to the French bases in the Southern islands. Like many reports, the film shows the crew, scientists and other passengers during the cruise marking the mail with their own mark and signatures on mail sent or given to the captain.

On each island, you watch the postman, either a professional one with a sense of adventure or a volunteer to the job for a season. They sort the incoming mail and prepare the outgoing mail of the temporary inhabitants... and accept all philatelic demands: posting their envelope from their base or to wait the passing of a specific boat, for example the Australian Antarctic one... even if it takes years.

The minutes I found the most interesting are the one with a scientist receiving a packet with this rotation. He told how important is the small post office (with the rank of gérance postale in the French system) to manage a daily life while being so far away from friends and family: he wrote and post mail on special occasions, even if he knows it won't leave until the next rotation...
One of the stamps picturing the Marion Dufresne by engraver Claude Jumelet, the second of her name. In action since 1995, it was refitted in 2015 and is one of the main charges in the Territories' budget.
Other videos on the postal services to the remote districts of the French Republic are:
- Posted July 2012: philatelic and postal aspects of a Marion Dufresne rotation, video by Jean-Marie Bou de la Meschaussée. Delivering the new stamps issued and the mail by helicopter, marking the mail, posting registered mail between island post offices, sending packets (and why there must be high value stamps in the programme), 
- On TF1 in 2012, a series of report on the Scattered Islands with (around 18'50") national gendarmes managing the Juan de Nova post office.

And on the postage stamps of the TAAF:
- September 2014: artist Claude Perchat presented the 2013 stamp on the Knight of Tromelin (1735-1815), whose name was given to one of the Scattered Islands that France owns around Madagascar and Mauritius, and administered by the TAAF since 2007. She detailed how she created the most truthful portrait while there is none of the man that cruised to Tromelin in 1776 and found the survivors of a slave shipwreck in 1761.
- In 2007 the philatelic service issued a Travel prestige Booklet with stricking pictures of the Southern island districts landscapes taken in November 2016 by Lucia Simion. The video follows the project from the picture selection to the printer Phil@poste Boulazac.
- To promote the 2012 Paris Stamp Show, Marc Boukebza described the TAAF in a La Poste video.

The French Southern and Antarctic Lands, organised in 1955, are divided into five districts: Crozet, Saint Paul and Amsterdam, Kerguelen, the four Scattered Islands and, on Antarctica, Adélie Land with Dumont d'Urville station. Each district's got a postal gérance (or vaguemestre on the Scattered as personel are military) and can manage philatelists' mail as any postmaster would: here are the postal addresses.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Week #2016.09 on SébPhilatélie

Two articles of the French blog weren't translated or adapted here this past week. Here are summaries.

Wednesday March 2nd: The Crawford Library soon in the comfort of your home.
The March issue of The London Philatelist was sent with a supplement on the Crawford Library wrriten by British Library retired curator David Beech. He summarized the life and bibliophile generous passion of James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford - he gave his libraries of astronomy and philately to the nation.
Ex-libris of the Bibliotheca Lindesiana, commonly known as the Crawford Library or libraries (around 1900).

But the main parts of the booklet is how the Curator worked on the preservation of the Crawford Library from 1983 when he started his career at the Philatelic Collections of the British Museum, collections later moved into a new institution and building, the British Library.

On 30 May 2016 the next stage will be launched at the International Stamp Show in New York: a large part of the Crawford Library will be available on-line through the Royal Philatelic Society London managed Global Philatelic Library.

Wait for the red "British Library" sign, but for now you can look into the catalogue. It's believed the Library contains 95% of all philatelic publications of all kind by the beginning of the 20th century... Wait...

Addendum on Thursday 24th March 2016: The London Philatelist supplement can be read as a pdf file through the Global Philatelic Library website.

Saturday March 5th 2016: The mysterious Indian Ocean Philatelic Meetings.
Always named in French it seems, the Rencontres philatéliques de l'océan Indien are largely known to French and British Commonwealth through the 2014 joint issue between six postal countries: remember the turtle?
The six stamps put together in a commemorative document by the French philatelic service (scan by
Host to the 6th Rencontres, the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF) managed to create this issue, sure to be available in France (that is Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean), at the TAAF postal service to the scientific bases, and the Seychelles Postal Service. Postal agencies' websites of the Comoros aimed at financial and phone services, the one of Madagascar is trying to work since its birth late 2015...

Yesterday, I decided to resolve a problem: what are these Rencontres? What happened in the first five? Was there a 7th meeting in 2015?

Read the Google-only result on the French blog: it seems the idea of a French association, Association philatélique de l'océan Indien, succeeded beyond expectation. I managed to find intelligence about the Rencontres on French overseas départements and in Mauritius: school children and the general public were invited to discover philately through other domains of knowledge on the Indian Ocean nations' cultures and history, while the postal operators discussed cooperation between them.

I hope to find or read more about these Meetings.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Stage costumes and Boulazac printing plant under the regional limelight

In February, the French philatelic printer, Phil@poste Boulazac, and a future stamped institution invited journalists to discover the birth of a postage stamp to be issued on 11 April.

Delphine Pinaza is proud to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the National Centre for Stage Costumes, opened in Moulins, in Allier, North Auvergne, that served as a historic theater, opera and ballet costume conservation and storage facility and a public museum.
The National Center for Stage Costumes stamp design (
Since the weekend of February 25th, two reports are available: an article in regional newspaper La Montagne by Antoine Delacou and a filmed report by Julien Privat for the public regional station France 3 Auvergne.

Even if both followed the script carefully - missing to say the first day date for the latter, they seem to be eventually interested in discovering, then explaining, stamp design and printing.
A photograph of the engraving* by Marie-Noëlle Goffin: in reverse what you will feel under your fingers when touching the stamp parts printed in intaglio (Antoine Delacou for La Montagne)
For example, Antoine Delacou didn't forget to take a picture of the engraving plate by Marie-Noëlle Goffin, that helps explain the double printing method for this stamp. On television, Julien Privat visited the engraver in her studio in the département of Allier... despite her being available at the printing plant.

After a good look on her engraving position and material, she explains how this stamp was a challenge with the strict lines of the former military barracks and the long title of the Centre. Mrs Goffin is well known by every visitors of French philatelic exhibitions because she often engraves in front the public and answers the question.

The designer of the stamp is fashion startist Christian Lacroix, nothing less to promote this particular stamp and the Centre to which he is the honorary president. In the second part of France 3 report, his flying costumed angels printed in offset are explained by the Centre Director Delphine Pinaza.

But there, the tv reporter proved to be a non-philatelist because he said the new 0.80 € stamp will be the cheaper way to own a Christian Lacroix design... missing the 0.46 € Saint-Valentin 2001 stamp and the public transportation subscriptions that allows you to enter inside Lacroix's designed tramway cars in Montpellier ("20'000 leagues under the sea" line 3 and "King Louis XIV" golden line 4).
Phil@poste Boulazac printing plant in July 2013 (Street View, Google Maps).
Those passionate by stamp printing will love the report around 1'10 and 1'20 with machines in action at Phil@poste Boulazac, the French post printing plant in Périgueux agglomeration, in Dordogne. A place that replaced the Parisian Atelier des timbres-poste established by the French postal administration in 1880, housed on Boulevard Brune from 1895 to the opening of Boulazac in 1970.

A move outside the capital that was recalled yesterday, March 4th, in Sud-Ouest newspaper, by the death of Yves Guéna, Mayor of neighbouring Périgueux from 1971 to 1997 and ultimately member of the Constitutional Council 1997-2004, but also Minister under President de Gaulle, especially Minister of Posts and Telecommunications 1968-1969... Who thought "conflict of interests"? No, "aménagement du territoire" or the name for national space planning in France: 1960s and 1970s were on Parisian industrial deconcentration mode.

Anyway, after some doubts around the 2010s that Boulazac plant was to be kept by La Poste - and even printers were fearful in this 2013 article in Sud-Ouest, it is good to see that Phil@poste printer get media attention outside the printing of a new Marianne or sadly the rise of postal rates.

Between the centre-museum in Allier and the printing plant in Dordogne, the province is winning a little bit of fame. Let's hope it gets national the weekend of this stamp issue, Friday April 8th to Sunday 11th.

* : be careful, despite 27 years of reading philatelics, my understanding of stamp printing and its vocabulary kept as low as a bookworm forced to follow maths class.

This article is a modified version of this one in French.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Lego Architecture sends postcards from Venice

Today, the LEGO Facebook page in French republished one of the holiday postcards promoting one of the new Lego Architecture collection box by the colored brick firm.
The postcard is finely stamped but ill-cancelled in Venice (from the brand's Facebook page in French).
Created in 2008, the architecture series let you built monuments and famous buildings from the whole world, aims at an adult public and perfectly decorated a living room or a home library.

Box 21026 recreates the monumental skyline of Venice, Italy's lovers and carnival city, put alongside each other from piazza San Marco to the Rialto bridge. The latter in Lego replaced the real one on the promoting postcard pictured above.
The stamp used by Lego (already seen here).
On the back, the card is franked with a World Heritage Venice stamp of 2007, engraved by Antonio Ciaburro, with a striking view of the Rialto.

Two other monuments are so philatelically illustrated on the Lego Architecture Facebook page: the campanile and the basilica.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

When contemporary art reminds of philatelic studies

Translation of part an article published on SébPhilatélie, Friday 20th of February 2015.

Despite I profoundly never understand a large majority of what's exhibited in those places, I still try to visit museum of contemporary art when I visit a new town... Often for nothing, but once in a while.

In June 2014, as I discovered Toulouse, I entered the Abattoirs, former slaughterhouse in action from 1825 to 1988, refurbished as an contemporary art museum in 2000.
Two excerpts from Silvia Regenbogenreihe by Franz Gertsch, 2002, under glass at the Abattoirs, Toulouse.
The museum team understands that to catch unwilling people like me, you should show less and change the collections regularly. So, after a disturbing and noisy underground art video experiment, non sense works and reimagined African arts, I quickly found an interesting thing other than the architecture of the building.

A room with nive large panels reproducing the same picture of a woman, Silvia, in a formal pose. The only difference: nine different colors. Considering art alone, neither the French Wikipédia article on the Swiss artist, nor the empty note at the museum, helped me understood...
Franz Gertsch's artwork note as proposed by the Abattoirs Museum.
Let's get to my philatelic emotion inspired interpretation: the repetition of the same picture, reproduced in the most detailed way possible, and trying to find the finest nuance of color: three of outremer blue... or - more evocative for a French philatelist: vermilion.

Isn't that artwork what postage stamp printers have been working on since 1840? What drive specialised collectors and philatelists since James Lindsay, Earl of Crawford, compiled intelligence on anything related to the issuance and printing of stamps? A question of finding and understanding why there are different shades and accidental colors.

As I observe the nine printings, I remember how a mistaken Prussian blue change the history of some very low value French Sage stamps of 1880, or the lengthy debate about the denomination of the British Machin palette, etc.

After some thoughts, humour arrived with a first season scene from television series Ugly Betty that caricatured the snobbishness of naming every tone of red - a scene replayed in the fourth season. And no, I did not think of the fifty shades of grey at the time...

And as I didn't understand the artist's motivation to mutitply the shades of a photographed portrait, I found it marvellous to the French green/red/blue-violet gradings of the Marianne series to distinguish the weight rates... because we don't light ourselves no more by candlelight and surely wouldn't confuse a five cent stamp very light brown of shade with a 250 gram priority letter one in a redder brown tone, worth three euros more in February 2015.

Conclusion of this contemporary art trip: one hour philatelic contemplation, followed by a two hour walk along the Garonne River. I've known worse with that kind of art. And for free as it was an art festival week-end in Toulouse.