Thursday, December 29, 2016

French geopolitician Jean-Christophe Victor passed away

Yesterday, Wednesday 28 DecemberJean-Christophe Victor died at too young an age for a knowledge passer with his geopolitical television show Le Dessous des cartes (Underneath the cards/maps).
A planisphere with a political message to analyze, what other picture? (Libray and Archives Canada).
On the French-German channel Arte, every Saturday, he described and explained what is at stake in our world through maps of all scales for a quarter century. In parallel, he created with Virginie Raisson a private laboratory to teach and work on these problems with firms and public powers.

His biography reminds his actions and experience in Afghanistan late 1970s and during the 1980s, a diplomat as a cultural attaché and a humanitarian as a cofounder of Action Against Hunger.

These two aspects of his life can be linked to his parents: polar explorer Paul-Émile Victor and television journalist Éliane Victor.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Week #2016.50 on SébPhilatélie

Wednesday 21 December: The Post Office Without in South Georgia.
In the two last issues of Gibbons Stamp Monthly (dated November and December), Hugh Osborne told the postal history of the British subantarctic territory of South Georgia through the many lacks the post office of Grytviken suffered along the decades from 1904 (without a post office!) until 1932 (and the incredible "32" missing because there are only 31 days a month after all!!).

Thursday 22 December: Current fiscal stamps in Cameroun.
In November Camerunese medias were chatting over all the rises and newly taxes the government was preparing for 2017 to finance all the country needs to be competitive in the context of a new free trade agreement with the European Union.
The current communal and bilingual 200 CFA franc stamp (via
Among the solutions an increase of the fiscal stamp needed for a A4 size document from 200 francs CFA to 600 francs, and larger sizes from 400 to 1000.

The most affected by this decision would be high school and university students who need it to fill the exam forms, and after that the public service competitive exam... in which a birth certificate has to be added with one more communal stamp...

Let's hope that foreign businessmen and tourists will give enough taxes per hotel nights.

Friday 23 December: Tea to perfume mint infusion and Gibraltar stamps to spice Moroccan postal history.
How the British entrepreneurship affected Morocco is the object of geographer Christian Grataloup in French bimestrial Carto magazine: how did it come that Moroccan began to drink mint tea in the 1850s while they had been drinking mint infusion.

Where did that tea came from?

Yes, the English are at fault again: how to get rid of the mass of tea leaves that could not be sold to the Russians anymore? A side effect of the Crimean War. Thank God for the conquest and keeping of the Rock of Gibraltar!
Veüe du d'Estroit de Gibraltar, et des Environs, avec les tranchées du Siège mis en 1704 (Bibliothèque nationale de France, availbale and zoom-in-able on Gallica).
In parallel Richard Garcia continued his articles on Gibraltar classical philately in November Gibbons Stamp Monthly with how postmistress Margaret Creswell and her successors managed the British post agencies in Morocco from the tiny colony.

Saturday 24 December: Postal Lego.
Florence Fraboulet, Director of the French Association for the Development of Philately (ADPhile), explained her actions towards children and schools with a strong sentence: "Make stamp alive in a world that doesn't see it anymore".
The first Lego post office in 1982 (Model 6362 instructions via Brickipedia).
Can the evolution of some major toy brands show and correct this trend? Are Lego fan kids, for example, still educated in postal services today?

With the help of the Brickipedia in English and Wiki Lego in French, my Christmas article show that the golden age of postal services in Lego City was the 1980s, with two little postal vehicle updates in 1998 and 2008.

But, express parcel services (planes, trucks, trains, container ships) were already winning in 2008. Sould we be hopeful for 2018???
A postman among the ninjas (minifigure from Model 70751 via Wiki Lego).

Perhaps, look at the Ninjago brand: fantasy ninja sets of Lego, completed on TV by an animated series. One of the second role is a mailman.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week #2016.50 on SébPhilatélie

Monday 12 December: demonetisation and new notes in high inflation Venezuela.
In his Sunday 11th show, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the demonetisation of the 100 bolivar notes by the next Thursday. In the current inflation inhabitants need "bricks" of these notes to buy the low number of things available, mostly imported.

The 100 bolivar note picturing Simon Bolivar in its 2007 version when three zeroes were cut off (Bank Note Museum).
Maduro and his predecessor Chavez are well known for creating shows... This rushed demonetisation is one of them: while he accused foreign mafias in Colombia to possess lots of these notes, the Central Bank of Venezuela had already announced early this month the printing of new notes from 500 to 20'000 bolivars. Two new coins to be introduced for the former note values.

But, on Thursday the people discovered the new notes weren't there... After two days of demonstrations, looting and illegal border crossing to Colombia to buy goods and food, Maduro reported the demonetisation until January 2nd, blaiming the sabotage of the operation by foreign powers.

If you still believe him, 80% of all 100 bolivar notes have been retrieved by banks... If the new notes aren't there, how is the Venezuelian daily economy working today?

Tuesday 13 December: Demonetisation in India: as many printed as police seized?
Believing The Times of India police and fiscal departments are catching a lot of dishonest people who can't prove how they earned kilograms of precious metal, lakhs and crores of olf and new notes.

And here is the problem for the Supreme Court of India and some politicians: how can thiefs get as many brand new banknotes while the Reserve Bank's printers can't allow one billion common people get their hands on them???

Not a problem for the current government that believed in digitisation of payments from now on.

Saturday 17 December: Can Mayotte become a French département?
A documentary broadcast Sunday 11 on France Ô asked the question: can Mayotte, the little Comorian archipelago who wished to continue to be French, manage to apply all French laws like any other département?
Kalathoumi Bacar, a postwoman, has driven the roads of Chiconi and delivering mail for the past 35 years despite uncertain identities of the destinees and no street names (Zed Production for France Ô).
As an introduction to civil registry and cadastre problems, Séline Soula and Romain Fleury for Zed Production followed Kalathoumi Bacar, a postwomen with 35 year of service. A La Poste's yellow veil under her quad helmet, she drives and walks all king of roads and streets in Chiconi.

Every day she tries to find to whom deliver mail when people have two identities, a traditional built name and a French built administrative one since 2000-2010. No speaking about the slow movement of creating streets names and enforcing their use on mail.

Sunday 18 December: three philatelic reports on Saint-Pierre and Miquelon tv and radio this Autumn.
The local public station Saint-Pierre et Miquelon 1ère continued to follow every step of the philatelic activities in the French overseas collectivity.

This finishing Autumn: the SPM stamps at Paris stamp show early November, philatelist Jean-Jacques Tillard back from Taipei with a new Large Gold medal with a new collection, and a seasonal report at the Saint-Pierre post office where Christmas parcels are back in tons.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Week #2016.49 on SébPhilatélie

As Sébastien is quite hibernating because he cannot be outside in the Mediterranean sunshine during the working days, he's sleepy, playing video games, reading fantasy and sci-fi comics, when he should be writing on the blog.
German personalised minisheet of Super Mario Christmas stamps (
Hopefully Deutsche Post succeeded to catch his attention yesterday evening.

Monday 5 December: 5th Indian demonetisation follow up article.
Started on Monday and to be closed tonight an article on the fifth week after the Indian Prime Minister abruptly demonetised the two bigger banknotes of the country.

As a summary: it looks now like a race between the patience of Indians to get enough notes for their daily expenses and the Reserve Bank of India's printing plants and the Government's initiatives to encourage one billion consumers used digital means of payment.

A new test is currently on with a three day week end: no bank counters opened from last Friday evening until next Tuesday morning because of a muslim festival. Let's check the mood in the lines waiting in front of banks and ATMs in two days.

Friday 9 December: An introduction on the 1920 Allegory issue of Czechoslovakia.
During a 5pm conference on Thurday 8 at the Royal Philatelic Society London, Yvonne Wheatley presented a study of the four design Allegory series of Czechoslovakia, the second in this country's history after the declaration of independence in October 1918.
Cover of the souvenir-booklet, available as a pdf file at the RPSL website.
She explained how difficult was the initial choice: two competitions were necessary. The first provided designs that could not be stamp downsized... The second awarded Brunner's Chain Breaker dismissed for too much modernity...

Finally necessity prevailed and early 1920 the minister of Post looked back on Brunner's project and ordered two others to Benda (The Dove) and Obrovský (Agriculture and Science). Alfons Mucha's Hussite Priest was added to complete the set.

The rest of the conference is a traditional philatelic study, quite interesting for amateurs of types, oddities and varieties as the printer was a private one, absolutely not specialised in stamps at first, and of some use on covers.

Saturday 10 December: Super Mario on personalised print it yourself German minisheet.
For Christmas 2016 the German postal operator and the Japanese video game company Nintendo joined force to catch the general public and children's attention.
Click, slide, create your own minisheet (Post Individuell, Deutsche Post).
Post Individuell, Deutsche Post's personalised stamp service, is proposing for a month a personalised stamps picturing the four heroes of the Super Mario franchise video games. You can modify everything: the postage rate need (from nationwide postcard to international 1 Kg non standard letter, the background color of the sheet (red, green), the four stamp background (red, green, white) and which character you wish on every stamp.

Service is quite expensive for postcard and standard letter rates: 3.49 euro the personalisation to add to the chosen rates.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Week #2016.48 on SébPhilatélie and elsewhere

Monday 28 November: 4th week after the surprised demonetisation in India.
Slowly (surely too slowly for the city workers and employees, and the farmers), things are advancing in India concerning the deliveries of new 500 rupee notes and the use of dematerialised means of payment.

While the leaders of the opposition are trying to fight back, Prime Minister Modi's government aligns the army's, police's and revenue administration's successes against terrorist groups, criminals and frauders who failed to get rid of their old banknotes.

Wednesday 30 November: from scoutism to the Atlantic Ocean scattered islands.
An article to summarise what I get from two Thursday exhibitions at the Royal Philatelic Society London headquarters.

On 27 October Hallvard Slettebø proposed the history and events of the first fifty years of scoutism, from the Mafeking Siege to 1957 Jamboree, including some tragic events during which the scouts played an important postal role.

On 10 November members of the West Africa Study Circle proposed a philatelic and postal history tour of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan Da Cunha, the British Southern Atlantic scattered islands.

Saturday 3 December: The French Academy of Philately in London.
Last Thursday exhibition at the RPSL, on 24 November, the members of the Académie de philatélie proposed many speciality of the French, Maritime and Colonies philately and postal history, with some adventures into other French speaking countries. Greece would seem odd but the engraver of the stamps, the first printer and the philatelist involved are all French (a Collectors Club video to remind the English listening readers).

My native town of Montpellier made an appearance thank to Scottish university professor Iain Stevenson whose links to the city may be connected to a study on the Collège des Écossais, a students' house built on the northern hills (now quite urbanised) by Patrick Geddes in 1924.

Sunday 4 December: too cold to think, let's hibernate.
An article which some newsbits of the week: old pictures of the French stamp printing plant in 1913 on a Sower specialised blog ; letters to Santa in Noumea, New Caledonia ; maybe the end of a piracy affair near Montpellier: the merchant ship Jeanne-Elisabeth trapped under a sand banks with a mass o silver coin for the Kingdom of France just before the Seven Year's War.

A note on how the beautiful Mauritius Post Office printing plate and Bombay cover auctions did: millions, but not as many as hoped... But in France the saga of the special sustainable paper of the 200 years of the Caisse des Dépôts (a French institution who managed some of the State's funding, including loans to build social housing) continued. It seems some merchants are re-inflating a speculative bubble with the variation of phosphorescence between the April first day 3000 minisheets and the November general issued ones...

Finally among the many interesting StampBoards threads opened, answered, continued every day, one reminds that some Arabic wallpapers of the 1960s-1970s can be interesting when used on mail. Especially those Cinderella stamps of insurecting Dhofar that rebelled against the oppressive Sultan of Oman between 1965 and 1975, in the context of the Cold War. The example presented on StampBoards is sent to a stamp dealer in London ; the labels are used alone, but for a standalone Syrian datestamp... one of the regional ally of the rebellion against a government supported by other Arabic countries and the British.