Saturday, April 30, 2016

Week #2016.17¾ on SébPhilatélie

From history as a support for topical philately...

Wednesday 27 April: to the West!
Two finds of philatelic finds that makes me look Westward.

First, the Club philatélique franco-britannique conferenced Briton collectors - of French Britanny - in Rennes last January, reports association Philapostel Bretagne. Among the collections presented, the best aerophilately one at London Europhilex 2015: Jean-Claude Vasseur's Airmail of Newfoundland, now available in print.

Secondly, the Royal Philatelic Society London's Crawford Medal of the year was awarded to Steven Walske and Richard Frajola for the book Mail of the Westward Expansion 1803 to 1861. A wonderful book, especially when I discover the authors made it graciously available in pdf format on the Western Cover Society!

Thursday 28 April: Balkans in French and British magazines of May 2016
Coincidence of periodical publishing again, now with the Balkans, the South Eastern region of Europe, during the period when nationalities fought for their independence against the Ottoman Empire and, then, among themselves for national borders.
Cover of Stamp Magazine, May 2016.
In British Stamp Magazine, John Winchester told the history of Serbia, her first stamp series to 1914 through the hate of the two local royal families... Bloody.

In French Timbres magazine, Laurent Veglio told how speedy the mail between Vienna and Istanbul went when a British company built late 1850 a railway between the Danube and Kustendje (now Constanza in Rumania) on the Black Sea. 1866 it was beaten by a new railway upstream the Danube and connecting to Varna, Bulgaria...

In all these articles, the fall of Ottoman power and the rise of territorial and economic rivalries between the newly independent states.

Saturday 30 April: Balkans, Bermuda and Finland, all for class 2C
Balkanic rivalries that can be illustrated through postal history for some years thank to the International Federation of Philately's class C: a lot of philatelic and postal history material but with a lot of history, sociology and economy meaning, including some documents about that.

How to find examples?

Let's take the most exhaustive study of covers from, to or that went through Bermuda ; a study and collection presented at the Royal Philatelic Society London last Thursday. After his wonderful presentation, David Pitts (who works with Arthur Groten) implied in the end how these letters and covers are testimonies of the commercial importance of the small British archipelago before steamboats, containerships and airplaces.

A hint to class 2C?

While I was googleing to find other reference to blockade mail of the United States after Steven Walske's and Pitts & Groten's recent papers, I stumble upon an April 2013 RPSL conference by Jussi Tuori on how Finland became an independent country at the end of World War One.

What's special about it? It's from an actual class 2C exhibit! Even with the debate on how the jury should evaluate the different natures of the documents presented...

... to Philatelic documents to support History research.

Postcard from Mons Calpe

Found at the last Montpellier stamp show in March, this nice looking holiday postcard posted in Gibraltar to Rezé, France.
Card #12 edited by Estoril Ltd., 9 Main Street, Gibraltar ; still existing believing the local yellow pages.
The Rock with South District on the foreground. The rest of the city and the port on the right ; Spain in the background.

At one euro it's a bargain to keep day-dreaming on an Andalou-British trip in 2017.
Cancel on August 9th 1990 with a illustrated manage for the Rotary International campaign of vaccination against polio.
It was posted a French woman (and possibly her husband with a more English first name) to a relative or a friend in Rezé, suburbs of Nantes, in Loire-Atlantique, on August 9th 1990.

She wrote that she was beginning the fifth month of a pregnancy. She would be soon in Madeira and that, from there, she would come back to Nantes for the 30th, if she found a charter plane ("low cost" was not the expression back then). Holidays by Mediterranean steps? A cruise?

The stamp represents the crest of the H.M.S. Calpe, issued the previous tenth of July.

The Wikipedia in English informs us there were three British naval use of the Latin name of Gibraltar, all linked to the colony.

The first ship of that name was a 1796 Spanish ship, captured 1800 by the British and she served at the battle of Algeciras in 1801, in front of Gibraltar. She was sold in Lisbon 1802.

 The stamp of 22 pence evoked the second one, a Hunt class destroyer, launched 1941 to protect convoys during World War 2. In 1942, as the invasion of French North Africa was in preparation, she was sent to protect Gibraltar. After the war it was lent then sold to the Danish navy and served until 1966. A painting of the ship served on a 5pence stamp issued 1995.

Finally, since 1965, Calpe is the name of the Royal Navy reserve base in Gibraltar.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Week #2016.16 and 17½ on SébPhilatélie

Wednesday 20 April: enveloppes from the French Southern and Antarctic Lands on sale in London.
In the May 2016 issue of Stamp Magazine and Gibbons Stamp Magazine, The Stamp Centre is proposing pack of covers cancelled in the districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF), a uninhabited - but for scientific bases or gendarme forces - overseas collectivity of France.

The Stamp Centre is located on the Strand, near Trafalgar Square, London.

Thursday 21 April: Long live the Queen!
In which country would a specially taken picture would constitute a perfect stamp issue?  No, don't try with Mr Sarkozy or Mr Hollande family lifes, please. (The Queen and her husband at the Windsor mail delivery office, picture published by South African newspaper The Citizen).
My commentary of the first day of celebration and the stamps on the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, by a French Republican desperate by how the Fifth Republic has been sunk by the current generations of French politicians and their leaders: the former and the current French Presidents and how they hate their own Prime Ministers.

And I finally get a King George VI British stamp!!!

Friday 22 April: French philatelic experts' offensives continue
The two main poles of the French philatelic expertise are continuing their offensive against falsification and the gullibility of stamp collectors.

Calves and Jacquart of Paris allied with collectible auction website Catawiki to organise an auction sale late May 29th, one week after Paris Philex stamp show. All lots will have a certificate of expertise.

Master Jean-François Brun, a modern media pioneer, and its allied philatelists continues to post index card explaining what to be aware of and study cases of some stamps and specialities. This April he proposed to study carefully postcards and stamps to avoid fraudulent cancellations on maximum cards.

Tuesday 26 April: How does a stamp show cost?
From the list of new issues and special minisheets by the French philatelic service, the imaginary thoughts of a fictional Director of Finances of Phil@poste: how can he make a profitable stamp show its service financed while it now lasts only 4 days instead of 10 and with suspicious clients...

At least, European Union mail of any weight should be franked with illustrated stamps for some months.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Open class: corgi!

Royal season of celebration for Queen Elizabeth II's birthday: let's propose an open class collection on her favorite dog breed!

Under ultraviolet light highlight by Canada Post (Details, January-February 2016 issue).
Thank you Canada Post for this idea - quite ridiculous - for an article.

In the January-Fébruary issue of Details, its new issues catalogue, the Canadian operator highlighted page 14 "What's hidden in our stamps?" by putting two "permanent" stamp booklets under ultraviolet light.

And around the yearly royal effigies magicly appeared the crowned royal monogram and, right in the middle, a corgi!

Don't forget to buy the UV lamp to Canada Post : antifraud policy and philatelic revenues (Details, January-February 2016).
Canada Post found a new way of revenue after a whole bunch of stamp printings: autoadhesive in booklets, gummed in minisheets, uncut printing sheet, framed engraving inspired by stamps, gold/silver coins,... and so lamps for collectors curious of luminescence, phosphorescence and other "black light"... Yes, I am dumb in this domain: hopefully there are French specialists.

Open class I wrote: now something more or less philatelic, but collectionnable!
Logotype of Corgi, one of the collections of British publisher Transworld.
I recently finished to read the second tome of Alan Johnson's autobiography of former British Ministor of the Interior. A Labour Party officer coming from the Union of Communication Workers (UCW), he was at first and quite young a postman from 1968 to 1987, part of his life covered in Please, Mister Postman.

It's a very interesting testimony of the job of a postman at the end of the imaginary Glorious Thirty - a debatable concept of French history... but quite unable to explain the 1945-1975 economic period in Britain.  Johnson was an orphan too soon, raised by his sister while not very school-minded. Thank to the unexpected career in the Post Office, he succeeded to place himself back on the intellectual and creative tracks he was on, a prospective rockstar or a poet. But, married at 17 with her spouse's first child, and with a son coming...

He enjoyed these years of sorting and delivering mail, and under the dark clouds of Thatcher's neoliberalism, to find how the needs for productivity can allow postmen (and women) to be better paid. He did that because, in those decades, the Post Office never get enough workers and functioned thanks to overtimes the young employees accepted to perform.

There is fun to read how Postman Johnson performed his delivery duty, first in London suburbs, than in Slough, mushroom city outside Western London, and finally as rural postman. Fun because the small number of anecdotes that makes unforgettable the rounds he walked or drived daily without any surprise for years.

The ambition to speak, to act made him participate more and more in the union's activities until he became a full time UCW elect officer at the end of the book.


How does that connect to royal corgis ?
Elizabeth (at 10) with Dookie, one of her first two corgies in 1933 (family archives of King George VI, Royal Collection, reproduced by The Daily Telegraph on October 1st 2007).
Alan Johnson's autobiography is published by Corgi, one of the numerous editions of Transworld, itself part of Random House, itself part since 2013 of Penguin Random House publishing group, a property of Bertelsman and Pearson.

Corgi has been publishing massively printed paperback books since 1953, one year after Elizabeth II accession, twenty years after the Princess discovered the animal.

A Canadian booklet, a book cover taken off the book, a picture reproduction ordered to the Royal Collection, a screen capture of the only film role of the Queen signed by Daniel Craig (check 36 min 12 sec), some fantasy stamps from philatelic agencies printed for countries where there are no corgis, and voilà! An open class collection :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Finally George VI's back!

Today with the 90th anniversary stamp issue in Britain, I get something honoring King George VI.
Then Albert Duke of York holding his first daughter Elizabeth circa 1930, picture by Marcus Adams.

Of course, the minisheet by Ranald Mackechnie with younger George is lovely and more dignified than the Summer 2013 stampede among some postal operators of the Commonwealth to be the first to photocopy a prepersonalised stamp on his birth.

The rest of the issue can be watched and is described on Norvic Philatelics website and blog.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week #2016.14 and 15 on SébPhilatélie

Summaries of the articles on the French side of my blogs that weren't adapted over here.

Sunday 3 April: British machine stamp to Spain while a British empire is falling down
Correos, the Spanish postal operator, will start using Post & Go like machine next week during a national exhibition. More at Norvic Philatelics' blog.

But on, lots of people have been wondering what's happening to Stanley Gibbons since the group's current direction bought many philatelic businesses and an auction website whose refurbishment was costly. At the London stock exchange, this strategy seems not to attract investors...

Monday 11 April: rightless citizens of France in colonial Guyane
Thank to a France Culture programme, I discover historian Miranda Spieler who worked on how some inhabitants were living without their rights as citizens in French Guyana: freed slaves, former prisoners of the penal colony who cannot pay their trip back to Europe, etc.

What of their mail?

Tuesday 12 April: Fourth episode for RTÉ's Inside the GPO
This blog article is updated after every new episode of the Irish television on the Great Post Office of Dublin. In the fourth installment, last Tuesday, Christmas is almost near the postal employees, the clients and visitors of the music and carol happenings.

Saturday 16 April: Thursday 14th, a great USA day
On Thursday the American Philatelic Research Library announced the third stamp of the McCoy Inverted Jenny block of four have been found again on April 1st by the New York branch of Spink. Does that clear the mystery of the heist in 1955?

That same day at the Royal Philatelic Society London, Gordon Eubanks proposed a conference on the imperforated stamps of the United States from 1851 to 1856 - after the first two stamps of 1847. With a nice way of telling stories as well as describing classical stamps and their many types (my personal black beasts), he offered an introduction to these stamps and the postal history of the country, looking both at the West and to the British world economy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ancien Régime France and London technology at the RPSL

On Thursday March 31st, the Royal Philatelic Society London hosted two conferences.

During the tradition 5pm one, Christopher Hitchen presented "The Post in Paris up to the Revolution", that can be - to me at least - an introduction to French postal history before the Industrial Age.

The video of the conference can be watched on youTube here and a summary can be read on pdf by all visitors of the RPSL website.

Earlier in the afternoon, there was a presentation of the "digital services" proposed by the Society mainly to members, but to visitors and researchers too.

Mark Bailey described the content of the RPSL website and the intesresting elements reserved to members: links to live and on-demand youTube videos of the conferences.
The importance of web availibility of the 2015 conferences on youTube: dark blue the present at 41 Devonshire Place to exhibitions and conferences, light blue the web views of conferences (screen capture from Mark Bailey's presentation).
His presentation highlighted how important it was to non-Londoner and overseas members that exhibited collections and collections are now available online.

Then, with communicative enthusiasm, Geoffrey Eibl-Kaye showed how The London Philatelist Archival Edition's software works and helps the philatelist finds all the necessary past articles of the Society's journal. An edition that was refurbished software-side recently and now sold on memory stick.

Finally, Mark Copley presented the two in-house scanners. The Plusteck I discovered during my second visit at 41 Devonshire Place for my first study trip in the library. Don't forget your memory stick or laptop.
The Bookeye 4 by Image Access.
The new one, purchased thank to a donation, is the very professional Bookeye 4 by Image Access that can quickly scan an A2 size space. Very efficient to digitalise whole books, one of the current projects of the Society concerning archives and old books.

It can be used by philatelic associations for a small fee per scan or, if a volunteer is provided, against some scanning for the Society's project.

I thank Chris King, past president of the RPSL, who gave me permission to publish the links to the youTube videos (here and there if you missed them during the reading), usually reserved to members. Let's enjoy French postal history and the services of the Society!

Friday, April 08, 2016

Let's define phosphorescence errors on stamps of France

On Tuesday April 5th, two Parisian experts and two specialised philatelists proclaimed that phosphorescence error collection is in need of strong, unquestionable definitions.

The experts are Messrs Calves and Jacquart who already made the news in Autumn 2015 by providing compulsory digital certificate with every of their expertises and letting future buyers and auction houses check their certificate database. The 2015 French expert offensive's still on the move ; one of their competitors, Jean-François Brun - a philatelic telephone and internet bulletins pioneer in the previous decades - and his fellowship, launched a blog to explain expertise and to recognize falsification by the next Christmas.

The specialists are masters of their domain and works with the two main catalogue of France. Olivier Gervais, webmaster of an exhaustive site on phosphorescence and an uptodate blog, contributes to the Spink catalogue whose many of us are impatient to see its future first completely refurbished edition. Dominique Sellier, maintained a blog entitles The Museum of Sans Phosphore, participates to the Yvert et Tellier catalogue.

Reading regularly Mr. Gervais' blog, you will discover that the study of phosphorescence bands let you understand that a "phosphor"less stamp is difficult to determine. He then praised the experts who do it conscientiously in his last article this very Friday 8th: Mr Marziano (based in Cap-d'Ail, right next to Monaco) and Mr Calves.

The proclamation precises the different states of a phosphorescent problem on stamps. The French post experiment automating mail sorting in the sixties with some trial on fluorescent paper, before switching to phosphorescent bands printed on the design. In 1970 the Mariannes  by Cheffer and Béquet became the first issued with one band for second class mail and two for first class. These bands have been printed on a majority of French definitive and commemorative stamps.

First, the four signatories reminds that never phosphorus was an ingredient of the phosphorescent ink, hence the vocabulary be precise in French language: "phosphor band" or "phosphorless" mean nothing there. "Phosphorescent" and "pho" are to be used in all descriptions and communications.

Secondly, the errors, the heart of the matter. Three cases are explained.

Are considered ordinary stamps the ones that bear insufficient phosphorescent ink on the normal location. With a powerful ultra violet lamp any little points of ink would proove these cases... if the collector and the expert take the time to check.

On the contrary, if the stamp is spotless of any of this ink, an eventual error at the printing plant, they will be entitled "phosphorescent bar less stamps".

Interesting too are the other kind of printing errors: stains of phosphorescent ink on the design, misplaced bars, etc.

Let's not forget that the study of plate blocks on which are printed the date of production is helpful to know what happened with the phosphorescent print. In France the Sococodami association is proud to take an inventory of this knowledge.

Next episode: the implementation of this policy in both catalogues of France next Autumn.

Next hope: that collectors, experts and dealers use it honestly.

Saturday 16 April 2016 update:
In French (but an intelligent use of Google Translate may help), Oliver Gervais proposed a first lesson how to study phosphorescence errors on stamps of France. Read his blog Les News du phospho on April 13th. The main tip given is how to be sure the stamp is not "rémanent": with a normal collector's UV lamp, you may not see any phosphorescent ink, but under in an "absolute black" and a powerful UV lamp, you could spot tony dots of ink. The stamp will fall from phosphorescent band-less stamps (yippee!!!) to normal status because it was printed normally but for a shrinking ink tank.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Week #2016.13 on SébPhilatélie

Monday 28 March: the end of La Poste UK.
When you are a Stamp Magazine subscriber in France, receive it brings you a contemporary post paid printed sheet. Since January 2015 the British subsidiary of the French and Swiss posts served the magazine to France under a return address "La Poste UK"...

But this brand stopped 2012 when it become Asendia after the merger with the Swiss and some British marketing mail managers. By March 2016, the return address is finally corrected.

Wednesday 30 March: An Post's museum and Easter Rising Centenary event.
Part of the stories into RTÉ, the public radio and television network of Ireland, latest documentary on the Great Post Office of Dublin is the building and opening of  a new cultural place to celebrate the Easter Rising of 1916.

Witness History, that's the place, is now open and its website live.

And don't forget the Postal Museum and Archive, located in the same building.

Thursday 31 March: Postcrossing and the beautiful cancellation.
For a decade now, the cancellation by the French post are inkjet printed and do no more display any places: nor the place of mailing, neither the sorting plant...
Posted in Béziers... or 24585A. Promise!
If you want traditional round cancel, you need to send a parcel, stick stamps on it and hope for a postal-able postal clerk: an example.
Received through Postcrossing, a French born most famous Indian entepreneur and aviator, J.R.D. Tata, cencelled in Mumbai, 9 March 2016.
Or participate to Postcrossing and receive cards from many countries that allow you to learn by reading a cancel.

Sunday 3 April: British success in Madrid, fear of collapse in London.
While Ian and John Billings reported on the new Intelligence AR stamp distributor (Post & Go) to be launch by Correos at a Madrid philatelic show late April, participants have been following the collapse of the share value of Stanley Gibbons since the group bought marketplace website BidStart.

The drop is so deep, many are afraid the catalogue and edition side of the British philatelic monument could be lost with the superfluous part of the ship. Hopefully the cameronite rats-captains would find a way to save themselves before that.

Friday, April 01, 2016

The only fish accepted on April Fool's Day

In France, April Fool's Day is pictured by a fish. I hate this day, consequently, here is the only way I can accept fish today:
Thank to Sihem Chaabene for La Poste tunisienne, in 2009, the perfect way to accomodate pranks by journalists and blogs (