Sunday, August 28, 2016

Week #2016.33 and 34 on SébPhilatélie

A good one and a half week of writing thank to fellow philatelists who seriously participate to forums (you should read forums), and to societies broadcasting their members' reasearch.

Thursday 18 August: Classical postal history of Algeria to 1851.
A very well illustrated and full of postal history and historical knowledge conference at the Collectors Club in New York last June 15th: Kenneth Nilsestuen present the mail (mostly from Europeans) from Algeria starting with a 1603.

The msot ancient European letter from Algiers to Toulon, France dated 1603 (collection Kenneth Nilsestuen, Collectors Club, New York, June 2016).
Look for the engravings and pictures Kenneth Nilsestuen used to put the viewers in Algeria as it was before the French invasion in the 1830s, during which mail increased in number.

Filmed conference available on the Collectors Club website or on Vimeo.

Next part on 15 November with the 1849-1876 period.

Saturday 20 August: Let's Cinderell in London mid-September!
The proclaimed very first World Cinderella Congress will take place in London between Friday 16 and Sunday 18 September, thank to the Cinderella Stamp Club.

From an exhibition at Stamp dealers show at the Business Design Centre, Islington, to lectures, collections and trade tables at the Royal Philatelic Society building, Marylebone, where you could admire the memorabilia of past British Philatelic Congresses donated by the late Francis Kiddle.

Kiddle, a Cinderella specialist, is also remembered through a booklet that reproduced a handful of lectures he gave at Congresses, including three showing how Cinderella collection has become more and more included into philately since the 1980s.

Monday 22 August: Stanley Gibbons' back to philately. Finally!
A summary in French of what the StampBoards participants were commenting since the beginning of the decade: how the Stanley Gibbons company was losing its soul and financial safety.

After creating a mastermind in Jersey, the company bought both competitor specialist stamp dealers and high priced good trades. In a way seeing Spink auction house as its main enemy.

But, the marketplace website strategy was costly, the Jersey heads most interested in profit than products and consumers and the London Stock Exchange players were not amused.

Starting last Spring, the Boards of directors went fast: they let the executive officers refinanced the company while putting forward their new colleague, non executive director/stamp collector Harry Wilson... And as the Gibbons share was down to 7 pence, on 15 July, the Jersey heads were made redundant and Wilson's capacity become executive.

Just in time for the publishing of the August issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly and its three page interview by the fireplace with Wilson that you can even read for free (Buy our shares, please!)

Capitalism and Game of Thrones...

Tuesday 23 August: Somalia postal service back on track.
Those who follow carefully the evolution of states knew that a Federal Government was established in Somalia in 2012, a first since the country collapsed into civil war and war tribe control with a hint of islamism since 1991.

A government whose power was first limited to the control of Mogadishu airport, before a 2013 international operation put a limit to the nuisance of the islamist militias (still there however). Somalia Post was resurrected late 2013 but was not very operative...
Three of the letters prepared and reveived by Indian blogger Jinesh Joseph, forwarded by David Langan to Mugadishu GPO on 10 August 2016 and received around ten days later in Bangalore, India (collection Jinesh Joseph,, with his permission).
... Until two collectors shut the news on their blogs and StampBoards. David Langan, a world postcard collectors, visited the Somalian capital early August and visited the Great Post Office there. Surprised but pleased with the interest, the officials there gave him a tour and accepted the mail he's got for himself and Jinesh Joseph, a world countries collector.

For now, Somalia Post is renovating and opening post offices throughout the country, even in separatist Somaliland it seems. Thank to an agreement with Emirates Post, it receives mail from overseas but delivers it only at the counter... Put your correspondent's phone number along the address.

What the hope? Next January 2017, Somalia Post wish to propose a postbox service for people to collect their mail, and that they can send mail abroad like our two bloggers.

Friday 26 August: An American trilogy (1): cultural diversity.
Even if I know that diversity in the United States society is not without difficulties, I wrote that article to confront the current French problems with diversity to the philatelic happenings in the US and Canada.

The French problems: fighting jihadism and islamism by banning (over)dressed women from the beaches and non pork eating kids from school restaurants doesn't feel very effective to me, even if I am no intelligence agent, nor lawyer.

On the North America side: USPS regularly issued religious holidays stamps for all religions present in the society. A stamp for the end of Ramadan in France... Do you actually want more kilometers of ill-argumented comments on social networks and under newspapers web articles!

Last February, Canada Post reminded all the memory of the only Black soldiers in the Canadian Great War history. Their role was limited to cut wood in the French Jura mountains and suffered the very cold weather there, almost no of them face combat.
Yes, if you search French newspaper websites of 2013, you'll find racist comments on the playing boy in the corner... (personal collection).
Black people on a French stamp can be done, only among the famous trilogy Governor Éboué, writers and politicians Senghor and Césaire. But only on confidential commemorative please, the last time a kid looks not European enough on the current definitive Marianne of the Youth... Hateful comments by readers.

Hopefully, the French post tries to show the diversity of the French population: last June, at the end of the schoolyear was issued a stamp for the 150 years of the Ligue de l'enseignement, an association that promoted all kind of activitives for the teachings of children. La Poste hired caricaturist Plantu (founder of Cartooning for peace) that explicit described the girl on the stamp in the September issue of Timbres magazine.

A shame this stamp was not issued in front of the news camera in a primary school by the Minister of Education on next Thursday, the first day of school in France.

Saturday 27 August: An American trilogy (2): hyperactiv philatelic research.
"Roads not taken" could summarize my impression after many years of watching French organised philately from afar and discovering British and US ones closer through the Royal Philatelic Society London's activities and library.

This opinion strenghtens with the 27-28 October Grand Opening of the American Philatelic Society library in a former match factory in Bellefonte, in the middle of Pennsylvania.

The American Philatelic Reasearch Library has now the space it needed for many years to come, to host members and researchers, lend books on site and by post. In Paris, there is a philatelic library on top of the postal museum... Not sure the same standard.

The speaker of the opening will be David Beech, retired Curator of the Philatelic Collections of the British Library... Sure, there are philatelic books and periodicals at the France National Library, even some digitised... But no specialist portal about them. Better used the British managed Crawford Library project for that purpose.

As I say in French: You may fish something philatelic on the BNF's Gallica website. Fishing's good to contemplate open air nature without being annoyed by fishes.

"Roads not taken": I would say that the French philatelist unconsciously chose local associations over specialised associations and project societies (RPSL, Collectors Clubs, etc.), opposed to what some decided in the UK and the US.

On The Stamp Collecting Forum whose recent threads inspired this American Trilogy, when one asked for advices on how to begin an exhibition, steps, stationery materials, etc. The answer wasn't advices, it was a link to the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors!!!

I fear to discover one day the answers I'd get on a French forum or at an association sunday meeting in France.

Sunday 28 August: An American Trilogy (3): My name's Tomato.
I became aware of the existence of Tomato on Wednesday 10 August. It was standing there in my peripherical vision, on the side wall of the last automated gas station in center Montpellier, France.
Tomato (licence creative commons nc-by-sa 3.0 fr).
Add Tomato locker as one of your address and the next time you order from web hypermarket Amazon, you can retrieve your packet here and not at home.

Amazon is continuing to propose new ways of distributing products: street lockers, drones one day?

But if you listen carefully to people's testimony, like on The Stamp Collecting Forum, you will discover that the new actors of the packet indutry do still need the historic operator.

In a little city and its surrounding rural areas, a forumer discovered that since April the local USPS postmen drive with their vehicles packed by Amazon. Every day, including closed Sunday, a private delivery company unload Amazon arriving boxes and envelopes at the distribution office.

To the rural areas, guess the most common deliveries? Animal food and babies diapers. From the new hip bookshop to your local supermarket, that's Amazon thanked to the USPS daily presence everywhere in the country, especially areas where the income is lower.

Another forumer confirmed with UPS, a private express company. You are not at home, they have to keep the package and come back, lose money. Nowadays either you pay for them to keep it or you won't and they put it in the local postal system with USPS ; and you receive it with one more day of waiting.

Finally, readers from the United States who are Amazon clients too, if you want to financially aid the American Philatelic Society, the American Philatelic Research Library or any other philatelic associations that is a charity under the US fiscal law, go suscribe to Amazon Smile and 0.5% of your purchase will be given back to your chosen charity.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Classical Greece and Antarctica, sidekicks of French philately

During the first 2016 semester, two French keen philatelists proposed conferences at the Collectors Club, the 120 year ols society of New York.

On Wednesday 2 March, Serge Kahn spoke of explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot's first expeditions to the Antarctica at the very beginning of the 20th century. A conference massively illustrated with historic documents, but also mail posted all along the trips at ports of call in the Atlantic, at the countries' post office but British and French abroad offices too.

So a conference that can be of interest for collectors of Spain and Latin America. A question reminded that Britain has centralised archives of Captain Scott's expeditions in Cambridge, that organised philatelic exhibition.

Two weeks later, on Wednesday 16 March, Louis Fanchini made an impressive history and study of the Large Hermes Head stamps, the first of the Kingdom of Greece in October 1861. The French heritage is quite visible and understandable: the Greek order was engraved by the French Désiré-Albert Barre, son of France's first stamp engraver Jacques-Jean Barre, and printed in Paris at first.

It's noteworthy that Fanchini helped make the Wikipedian articles on this series in French and in English as complete as possible for a popular approach.

Both eminent philatelists (both long time elected members of the Académie, Kahn a polar philately judge and stamp show organiser) showed two popular sidekicks of the French philatelists: polar philately and foreign first stamps created in France).

The power point presentations can be read and video accessed from the Conferences page of the Collectors Club's website. Videos can also be found on the Vimeo's Club page: Kahn's here, Fanchini's there.

Note on Friday 26 August 2016:
Those who can access French monthly magazine Timbres can read in the September issue the final and tragic step of Charcot's life and boat by Gauthier Toulemonde, along a presentation and an interview of Serge Kahn.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A trimester commenting Paris-Philex show on SébPhilatélie

Updated Friday 26 August 2016.

Since late May it took place, I wrote and published articles on the collections exhibited at Paris-Philex stamp show, organised as the 2016 French Championship. Here are a short list of topics of these articles in French.

Wednesday 25 May: I'm wrong...
For once, almost without irony... almost, I wondered why philatelic magazines and websites spoke a lot about famous people of the organised philately, scandal of sold out special stamp issues to be speculated now, but not much (never?) about the competition that was the origin of organising the event.
One of the 2016 French national championship's diagonal going to the invasive sponsor and its many special costly issues. Notice the lights on the very high ceiling, please (licence Creative Commons nc-by-sa 3.0 fr).
It seems sadly Paris-Philex follows this trend. So, with my lack of knowledge, modesty of understanding philatelic competition, I tried to comment some collections while still wondering why there aren't much commentary about this sport: how many points? To which categories? Why did the judges underrated this part? etc.

Sunday 12 June: Exhibiting seems so easy.
At first sight, some large gold and gold medal collections are so easy to find during the first walk around the frames. In this first article:
- beautifully presented and smartly written collection on perforated Empire stamps on outgoing mail by Brigitte Abensur;
- the modern philately approach on A3 paper sheet by Marc Gérault who introduced the Marianne by Gandon with vertical pairs out of advertisement booklets;
- or you can force the boundaries of the frame like Laurent Bonnefoy. With a study on a high value definitive stamps of France you may thing it would be sufficient to impress the jury. Non, he found the wrap of a precious parcel between a French bank and the Finnish Revenue in 1907...
A full frame piece of cloth (collection Laurent Bonnefoy) . Underneath another postage for an heavy parcel.
A bad point though: with all the money the French post took out of pigeon pockets, why are the collections not as perfectly illuminated as the traders' booths ?!!

Tuesday 14 June: The award of the best dealer goes to...
Why not awarding traders at a stamp show? Best welcoming and patience (while I really need better knowledge when facing price tags...) AND do not write his prices on the items :)
JF-Stamps of Odense, Denmark (website).

Friday 17 June: looking for exoticism
Let's find new things to impress myself among all these collections.

Four collections about Spain, especially Spanish civil war, from invited Spanish collectors to Juan-José Ara Somohano from Béziers and his two collections, one of whose participated to the Cinderella guest category... In front of it, a philatelic judge was puzzled enough to admit Cinderella study and postal history share a lot in common, just like Cinderella specialist, the late Francis Kiddle advocate these past decades in the United Kingdom.
An example of mixt Daguin in 1934, a good summary of the use of these machines in Chile in my humble opinion (collection Jean-Michel Garaud).
You speak Spanish but Spain's too close? OK, Jean-Michel Garaud proposed Daguin cancellations in Chile.

You long for exoticism but don't want to go as far from the fridge and the television... No problem, instead of local marcophily to the French traditional end date of 1876, Jean-Claude Ferret went down to today's Nemours and La Poste's anonymous cancellation: no more place of cancel, not even a postcode, but a code that's officially a professional secret...

Thursday 23 June: exoticism outside the stamp show
Often stamp show organisers propose tour for non philatelic spouses forced to follow their philatelist. I take advantage being in Paris to discover the Museum at the Porte Dorée, twenty or so minutes by tramway from Paris-Philex.
The façade of the Palace of the Porte Dorée by Alfred Janniot - 1929-1931 - gloryfying the exploitation of the peoples colonised by France, under the principles "free" and "in peace" deeply engraved around the central allegory (picture under licence Creative Commons cc by-nc-nd 3.0 fr - note Janniot died in 1969).
Built as a permanent monument and museum to the glory of the French colonial empire in the thirties, it now hosts a Museum on Immigration in France... What a change! Begun under President Chirac, the project was so debateful on the right side of French politics that President Sarkozy "forgot" to inaugurate it.

A philatelist, a postcard collector or a fiscal one can really enjoy such a museum and the temporary exhibition on borders proposed at the time: horrible commercial postcards showing French and German policemen posing for the photograph expelling Roms at the border, fiscal stamps on visa card of anonymous or famous refugees (Ruldolf Nureyev).

Even an artwork by Cameroonian Barthélémy Toguo reminding that there actual human being behind papers and stamps.

Saturday 9 July: Everything's collectable
What did I hear about the new competitive classes in talks between serious philatelists at traders booths! And all this for one collectable of one open class collection: the mushrooms by Philippe Nadeau. Judge by yourself:
Ah ! Mould on bread... Who never as a child didn't try this small experiment in a plastic box? Collection awarded a large silver (collection Philippe Nadeau, Paris-Philex, mai 2016).
You also got poo from an elephant (along a thick hair and detached piece of skin - no animal was harmed during the creation of this exhibit) by Danielle Jonquet.

But if you carefully read the key of the elements, you discovered there was a serious competitive aspect presented with the element.

For people who are less odorous and more auditive, I can propose Charles de Gaulle's 18 June 1940 broadcast on vinyl disc by Yves Lehmann, a large look-heavy metal plaque in olympic collection of Daniel Hermann, or simply a anti-British propaganda postcard from Nazi Germany in the collection of Gérard Calvi.

Thursday 14 July: Is philately the history of colonisation and globalisation?
With aerophilatelic collections you can wonder a lot.

On how the European powers conquer Africa and then paved their way inside the continent, competing between each, René Maréchal studied the Imperial Airways routes to South Africa and was confronted by Daniel Blanquerin and Air Afrique routes to Madagascar, both starting in 1925 until the end of the 1930s.
What can be appreciated in a competitive exhibition is the variety of introductive pages and overall presentations (René Maréchal on the left and M. Blanquerin right).
The scramble for Africa and Asia created a global space for communication, with mail and telegrams going up and down between the metropole and its colonies. But collectors can discover unusual directions, like Christian Abravanel and its civilian mail from and to Palestine between 1938 and 1945. The most surprising in my eye was a July 1940 envelope from a bank in Jerusalem under British mandate to the Bank of Indochine in Hanoi under French control.

Sometimes these surprising directions are forced by nature. In a classic "maritime cancels on Semeuse", Alexis Cottineau proposed a stamped letter cancel in 1912 by the French Administrator in Kerguelen, the subantarctic archipelago, forwarded by a Norwegian private boat to British South Africa.

Finally, even if these empires and global economy were under European control, we can encounter the wish of the local populations to become independent.

In Égon Habé's collection of "EA" (État algérien / Algerian State) overprints, he showed as an introduction the reactions by French extremist civilians who overprinted "Algérie française" (French Algeria) Marianne de Decaris stamps at a time they fear the government in Paris may open dialogue with the independence movements.

These empires created to bring "civilisation" and "progress" to non European peoples failed then when the indigenous elites asked politely to be treated as free and equal as their colonisers.

To end these tour in the time of empires and globalisation, an encouraging cover who travelled between Rhodes to Tehran in May 1933 between two Jewish men, present in René Maréchal's other collection, Airmail of the Egean Sea in the 1930s. A Jewish Rhodian living under Italian control to a teacher of Alliance Israélite Universelle in Iran, a French educative association who opened schools internationally. It reminds us Jewish (uncomfortably) are a recognised minority in Iran still today, and that airmail companies from three powers carried this letter to destination: Italian to Athens, British to Baghdad via Cairo and Gaza, German to Tehran.

Sunday 14 August: A history of the consequences of war too.
Both World Wars inspired the exhibitors too, especially their philatelic and postal consequences when the fights ended.

In the one-frame class, André Milone circumvented the first four days of the West German currency reform in the French Occupation Zone (Saarland not included, the French franc was in use there, the French governments wishing to annex the industrious region). The Deutsche Mark was established on Sunday 20 June 1948. On Monday morning, new stamps were issued in the regions under French administration.
A 24 June 1948 letter: too late to use these "old pfennig" stamps, hence the postal clerk putting two new stamps (collection Alain Milone, Paris-Philex 2016).
The senders in Bade, Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinat had the possibility to use their remaining Reichsmark stamps for three days at 10% of their face value - the converting rate between RM and DM. Milone's frame chronologically ended with Thursday 24th mail with RM stamps refused as postage, having been demonetised the previous night.

A very colourful collection was Patrice Trzeciak's with covers from West Indies colonies trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean during the Second World War. The study was organised along the routes progressively established as new countries declared war in Europe.

Some collections were about World War One and of interest, especially if confronted with the temporary Borders exhibition at the Porte Dorée Museum. Jean-Luc Flaccus highlighted the city posts in Poland, when some municipalities tried to maintain postal communication while Germany, Austria and Russia were fighting over who got the bigger Empire (perhaps a connection with the size of hands?).

In the fiscal field, Edmond Andrau explained how the parcel paperwork and handstamps became French in a hurry starting December 1918 when the motherland took back Alsace-Lorraine from Germany.

On a side note, I wonder if collectors could improve their collections by adding their bibliography and use sourced maps with key when necessary. Like a student currently working at the National Postal Museum, Washington: "Cite your sources!" like an academic knows how too: it will really help curious readers, fellow researchers and... judges.

Wednesday 17 August: Am I after a stamp show result, a public relation one or is it a question of memory?
Even if there will probably be another article, I try to evaluate Paris-Philex 2016 stamp show. Claude Désarmémien, President of the French Philatelic Associations Federation, is pleased in his editorial of the Summer issue of the FFAP monthly, even if organising a 4 day show in the capital city of the major actors of French organised philately shouldn't have been so difficult.

My main problems were the lack of communication, not the general public at large. Newspaper ads are expensive and the media attention to stamp collecting quite light (the last scandal around a 140-character full of shit or hot air from a politician or a TV-reality star could wipe out any public attention).

I'm wondering why there was only one blog followed almost "live" the stamp show, the professional one of journalist Pierre Jullien on the celebrities and new stamp issues side mainly. Désarménien proposed a picture report some days after the show in the federal website... Report now lost somewhere with no easy to find-it-back link. Not even in a photo galleries section. :(

Almost nothing on the competition and the collections... But one remark on a public usenet forum about Laurent Bonnefoy's frame size entire.

I am not blaming the French philatelists: New York Stamp Show, way bigger in scale, get the same treatment. An Australian example. Shiny rare stamps, meeting friends important to the hobby...

Am I wrong to get interested in the competition backstage? To ask "What's an exhibition?"

But I'm hopeful after my July visit to the Royal Philatelic Society in London: until next 31 October and in conjunction with the First World's Cinderella Congress 16-18 September, the RPSL museum team proposed the late Francis Kiddle collection of British Congress ephemera and his philatelic medals.

Wednesday 24 August: The program booklet.
Let's not forget the most essentieal companion to a stamp show reporter: the program booklet to help find back names of collectors, essential data and memories of how the leaders of organised philately tried to explain how beautiful the show will be while it was organised in the fear of full cancellation.

Thanks to 2016 Paris-Philex booklet editor in chief Martine Divay.

Summary of any other Paris-Philex articles on SébPhilatélie will be published in this article. A note in the timely week summary will inform you.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Elizabeth II, Queen of the Netherlands... Yeah, sure.

WTF?!! to summarize my first thought when I saw the last mail from WOPA.

WOPA, the World Online Philatelic Agency, is a Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau's division created 1994 around the British Crown Dependencies and Territory in Europe. Now, 36 postal and philatelic operators sold there at face value their stamps and products to a large international public (website in six languages and apparently 19 currencies accepted).

There are exceptions, but there is a tendency to sold products that doesn't need separating stamps: minisheets, booklets, yearbooks, or already packaged (British presentation packs, first day covers).
Fifty euros! Fifty! (WOPA).
Yesterday, that's the Dutch part of the webshop that provoked a roaring scream: since Tuesday 2 August 2016, PostNL has been selling a stamp for a registered mail (aangetekend) at the price of 49.95 euros or 43.43 pounds sterling...

The excuse: the stamp is made of silver with a small (tiny?) diamond on it. Okay.

The problem: it reproduced a 1950s picture of Queen Elizabeth II... Let's revise the Dutch monarchy: Wilhelmina (1890-1948), Juliana (1948-1980), Beatrix (1980-2013), Willem-Alexander (since 2013)... No Elizabeth, Queen of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, etc.
The pipeau (reed pipe) is a music instrument, mostly used by philatelic bureaus as soon as the creation of stamps, because thought to be more efficient on collectors thant postmen's posthorn (West Germany stamp issued 1978, via
Worse: nothing on PostNL philatelic website, the CollectClub... sigh.

When you think French collectors raised an eyebrow facing highly oxydable 5 euro Marianne stamps in 2006 et 2008 (issue at Paris Stamp Shows of June). Sport excesses in 2011 (rugby) et 2012 (handball) seem to have end this finally postally useful (though rusting) practise, useful compared to this Dutch monster.

A coincidence made me and the White Knight of the Commonwealth Stamp Opinion have the same discovery and questions while he was writing the Olympic precious metal issues from New Zealand and Australia. He reminds that 50 euros may be a bargain compared to the 125 pound minisheet of Jersey in 2012 (a special edition of the Queen Elizabeth and King George VI around an imperial crown minisheet).

In the context of the Brexit and a certain displeasure towards the European political project, could this stamp be a sign that the Dutch wish to join the Commonwealth? Or is it just a way to find pigeon money.

Friday, August 05, 2016

France in the next Royal London philatelic season

I'm back from holidays through Wales, London and Paris and pleased to read in the mail the 2016-2017 program of the Royal Philatelic Society London.

On the French philatelic side, the main event will happen on the afternoon of Thursday November 24thAcadémie de philatélie, whose president Robert Abensur just applied to RPSL membership.
French philately and postal history in the Small Library at RPSL's 41 Devonshire Place: this is the part directly available to members and visitors to study. Other volumes are available on demand and found on the RPSL Catalogue. The current magazines and journals are in the Large Library with tea and cookies (picture under Creative Commons licence by-nc-sa 3.0 fr).
On Thursday September 29, Ron Brown will propose a conference on the Channel Islands and islanders during the German occupation 1940-1945: from the postal service in those isles to the mail to and from deported inhabitants in camps in France and Germany.

Rest of the program in another (long?) article on the blog in French because next year the Society will take again a tour of the whole world and times of the past centuries. First example in the summer issue of The London Philatelist: Markand Dave and P.S. Dixit look at the Indian settlements' archives and mail of the Danish East India Company...

Complement on Wednesday 26 October 2016:
The Académie de philatélie published the program of the collective exhibition its French members and foreign correspondents will propose at the RPSL on November 24th.