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.

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