Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week #2016.43 on SébPhilatélie and the newsstands

Wednesday 26 October: Stamp artists and philatelic design in Stamp Magazine.
In the British monthly a piece of news, a letter from a reader and two articles encourage the readers to reflect on the role of stamp artists and designers.

In the news: in September PostNord, Danmark and Swede's postal operators, announced its whole philatelic programs will be printed by Cartor, the French subsidiaries of International Security Printers (Walsall a reincarnation ago). The fear is about both countries' tradition of philatelic engraved printing while Cartor doesn't have the equipment... Future will tell.
« Absolute purity of function and form » for Blair Thomson and the end of many debate to the number of stamp issues in the world (British training stamp used before the 1971 decimalisation ; from
In the mail a reader reminds Royal Mail and Stamp Magazine that the credits of current British stamps are too often given only to the graphic agency, and not enough to the eventual artist chosen by this agency. He gives the example of the striking Great Fire of London stamps and presentation packs, dranw by Liverpool-born comics artist John Higgins.

Two articles rewarded creators for their part of the work. Peter Marren told the genesis of the 1966 Battle of Hastings issue and how Harrison and Sons printers and David Gentleman transposed the Tapistry of Bayeux into stamps.

Then, along the publication of their book, Graphic Stamps, by Unit Editions, designers and stamp collectors Iain Follett and Blair Thomson picked the ten best and effective stamp designs from the 1960s to the 1980s. You can learn more on Thomson by this interview for the Australia Post philatelic service and Graphilately, his Instagram picture account of his collection.

Wednesday 26 October: New Timbres Magazine 2016 formula sailing full ahead.
In France, after a first new setting in September 2015, monthly Timbres Magazine is now sailing full ahead to a course wished by the majority of its readers, hence the new motto "New formula / more current".

The collectors of France and its colonies are sure to find organised philatelic news, many articles, end-of-the-mag chronicles on all specialities and times of French philately. The rest of the world and topical philately are not forgotten while fitting a different number of articles and spaces (partly in the chronicles and sent questions on mysterious foreign stamps).

A final note on the diversity of writers and chroniclers, that allows every reader find interest in something unexpected. For a personal example, most technical articles on classical traditional philately elude me completely. But a new series of chronicles caught me off guard with philatelists explaining how they research into a mystery whereas making sure the traditional collectors get the knowledge they wish for to look for the possible rarity in their stamps. 

To worldwide collectors of France and colonial empire, why not learn French reading this monthly? Subscriptions are available on the editor's webshop.

Tables of content of past issues can be browse through this private website managed by a philatelic bibliophile (Timbropresse edited three indexes every fifty issues too).

Thursday 27 October: numismatic souvenirs in the museum shops of London.
In the shops of the Imperial War Museum (near Waterloo station) and the British Museum of London, I found souvenirs from Westair, a company who produced reproduction of ancient artefact or souvenirs around actual coins.
A symbolic front to catch the consumer's attention (Westair).
By visiting many museums I think you can recreate a complete World War 2 coin set. Each coin paired with a square of hardback paper describing one aspect of the British daily life during the war.

At the British Museum shop two larget set were available. A five penny collection, one per monarch since Queen Victoria. And the one pictured above: a predecimal set under Queen Elizabeth II with a decimal Crown (normally the 1977 Silver Jubilee one, but I got the 1972 Silver Wedding and that's fine too).

Of course, at the reasonable price proposed, the coins are used, down to smoothed out Queen Victoria penny. Though when you didn't plan to make a tour of high street coin dealers, it's part of the trip fun :)

Saturday 29 October: television fun with the British Royal Family (alleged) life.
A non philatelic article on two television series setting in the life of either the actual Queen Elizabeth, or a very fictional, tv reality style, Hamlet murderously inspired British monarchy.
Will the heroin succeed in her hereditary role? Will her people know six decades of happiness? Will we see Tony Benn displaying David Gentleman headless stamp projects at the feet of the Queen? Don't know what I am dreaming about: read this book by Douglas Muir urgently (Netflix, screen capture from Behind Closed Doors video, posted 11 April 2016 on youTube).
On Friday November 4th, watch when you want Netflix will issue the ten one-hour episodes of the first season of The Crown, the first part of its biography of the current British monarch. All teasers are depicting many conflicts:  loss of the fatherduty and an embarrassing uncle, the Crown versus the Government, an old style husband facing a new position, a sister in love, and anything that can help Peter Morgan and his team create suspense and force you into binge watching.

The next month, December 4th, will start in the United States on E! the third season of The Royals by Mark Schwahn, a quite different animal. Imagine Shakespeare's Hamlet be played with the will to launch a civil war between a young unprepared heir, a power hungry queen mother and a treacherous uncle... while the sister of the heir and the daughters of uncle are... doing what some stars do that they ought not to do when your life is followed by an hungry crowd of paparazzi.
The royal couple in front of the 90th birthday stamp issue at Windsor's Queen Elizabeth mail centre, on Wednesday 20 April 2016 (picture published in South African newspaper The Citizen).
In comparison the current state of the Windsors and their problems (Does William work enough? Shouldn't Charles stop writing to the government? What other places could be named "Queen Elizabeth"?) and even the past ones are quite uneventful.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A new philatelic webshop for African bureaux

During a side conference on October 5th at the Universal Postal Union Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, the public postal operator of Morocco (Poste Maroc in French, Barid Al Maghrib in Arabic) and seven fellow operators of Africa announced the launch of a common philatelic sale website: the Hub philatélique africain or Africa Philately Shop in the two languages available at .

A press realease was posted by Poste Maroc on his website the same day, explaining the purpose and project around this new tool.
The Moroccan stamp announcing the Africa Philately Shop, printed by the French post's printer plant Phil@poste Boulazac (Poste Maroc).
Host of the website, Poste Maroc issued a nine dirham stamp for the occasion, with the officials signing first day covers.

The illustration is as perforated simple and efficient as the website that I suspect could be easily used with the touchscreen of a smartphone - the object whose text-and-phone only form has permitted to develop banking and commercial services for many, unhoped for during the landline period.

The six countries whose postal operators entered references on the Hub are; Burkina Faso (2), Ivory Coast (7), Mali (1, the 400 francs Serval - the animal in thanks to the French military operation), Mauritania (10), Senegal (12) and the host (2 stamps, 1 minisheet, 3 commemorative covers).

Part can be selected for order, the other not. But I didn't finalize a new client inscription and place an order: the website is currently missing some legal page to reassure the customer and not all necessary page to order were translated in English.

Though when finished, the operation seems promising. The list of participants could reach Centrafrica and the Democratic Republic of Congo, partners of the initiative. And all those who can sign in in the future: officials of the Universal Postal Union and of the West African States Postal Conference that replaced in 2012 the West African Postal Conference, created 2001.

The press release explained the long-term project: that the philatelic new issue trade can be kept under the continental operators' control and to "open the prospect to establish an African platform for e-commerce" (my amateurish translation from the French).

It reminds the multi-sellers site host by Mauritius Post or the World Online Philatelic Agency (WOPA) host by Gibraltar, available in six languages and payment in twenty currencies, even some not used in the represented countries. As of today, WOPA proposed clients to look and buy directly stamps and souvenirs of 39 postal operators from more than 20 European States (a lot of overseas and autonomous regions and three operators from Asia, but more and more "normal" bureaux such as Austria, Croatia, the United Kingdom and, recently, la France).

As soon as the Africa Philatelic Hub/Shop is up and running smoothly, there will one more source for informations on African countries issues and stamps eventually (Ah... what of the postal agencies?) available in the local post offices.

Monday, October 24, 2016

New modern designed Cagou for New Caledonia

Last Bastille Day, Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes newspaper presented the new definitive stamp of New Caledonia, the most autonomous French oversea territory, and its author Sébastien Werling.
The new design (Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes).
With one running line, the illustrator from Strasbourg recreated the cagou, New Caledonia's symbolic endemic bird, to participate in the public competition of last Spring.

His approach is both contemporary and untraditional, and symbolic: are there the letters C and a in the wing? A welcoming open hand on its crest?

The stamps will be issued on Thursday 3 November in New Caledonia and at the 70th Paris Autumn Stamp Show.
The 2013 stamp to mark the opening of Caledoscope, the philatelic street shop in Nouméa.
The printed article of the Nouvelles Calédoniennes is reproduced on the website of the local philatelic club Le Cagou. You can order them soon on Caledoscope, the philatelic service of New Caledonia's Office of Posts and Telecommunications.

Week #2016.42 on SébPhilatélie

A week of pause and, well, unphilatelic leisures. Consequently only 3 posts and article this past week.

Monday 17 October: Collectors Club reminds me there is that book in my library.
A recent conference at the Collectors Club of New York, October 5th, reminded me that Gary W. Granzow's book on security printing through the Perkins-Bacon example, is still to be read, years after its purchase.
Granzow's book, published by the Royal Philatelic Society London.
The company was founded by U.S. inventor Jacob Perkins (1766-1849), who emigrated to England in 1819, and his then associate, British engraver Charles Heath (1785-1848). The latter was very interested in the security engraving machines imagined by the former to created unfalsified banknotes. Joshua Butters Bacon, Perkins' son-in-law, bought Health's shares in 1829.

The conference is didactic and illustrated with the designs from Perkins' patents and for a good reason... During the Q&A, Granzow explained that only Perkins and his closest partners were capable of conceiving, building and maintining the engraving and printing machines!

Perkins-Bacon went bankrupt in 1935 hit by competititve new technics and ill-management. The Royal Philatelic Society London acquired its archives (search the catalogue), that helped the writing of Granzow's Line Engraved Security Printing published 2012.

The 5 October conference can be read on pdf and watch on Vimeo.

Thursday 20 October: A workplace crisis at La Poste? Or in Welfare-State Europe?
The text is my personal insight on the accumulated little incidents at the French public postal operator and to autoemployed parcel delivery workforce in France (some paid - and fined - by La Poste's private subisidiaries). A workforce rebelling in Britain with the support - shocking - of the current conservative government!

My final question is: Can't we find a way to keep the welfare state and not depreciate the economic, social and environmental value of the mail and parcel delivery sector? Or are we, Europeans, doomed to "thatcherize" our whole societies for the sole benefits of the 1% and their minions?

To readers from the United States: yes, I'm French, two steps from marxism :)

Sunday 23 October: Indian Summers and the apex of a crumbling empire.
On Arte, French and German viewers discovered British Channel 4 TV series Indian Summers during the month of October. Two seasons were produced and broadcasted in 2015 and 2016 in Britain.
British DVD edition of the first season  (
Set in the summer capital Simla in 1932 for the first one and 1935 for the second, the series follows a large group representing all kind of situations and behiavors in the British Raj, from the young promising colonial Administrator to the representative of the Dalit who tried to get rights for this cast while pursuing the wish for India's independence.

Amateurs of sopa operas will get their lots of private secrets behind the historical context, all masterminded by the owner of the British club.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week #2016.41 on SebPhilately

This week, I began a series of article on what philatelically and numismatically happened during my Welsh, London and Paris holidays late July-early August 2016.

Monday 10 October: coinage as jewels in Cardiff.
On the first day of my Welsh trip late July I discover the Norwegien Church of Cardiff and its craftsmanship sale some Sundays.
A 1939 silverplated farthing mounted as a necklace, a Coinwear creation I bought late July.
My find was Coinwear, a duo who recycled old coins into earrings and necklaces. You can choose among many gold or silver plated British, U.S., Australian, etc. coins. Either plain like my George VI 1939 farthing necklace or ciselled to highlight the illustration: bords, allegories, kangaroos, and so on.

Tuesday 11 October: stamped mail in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
I was suprised twice in the first half of the new Tim Burton's movie inspired by the first novel by Ransom Riggs in his 2011 ongoing series.

Not only were the covers important in the intrigues: how has Miss Peregrine been communicating with the rest of the world? But three characters manipulated the covers enough to be studied by the philatelist.

The first one carries a dark blue Machin from the Royal Mail, cancelled with a round datestamp (where is the dirty unreadable inkjet cancel?). The other was supposedly mailed from the United States, franed with two stamps - one of which I am sure depicted a bird.

Wednesday 12 October: Artist Freddy Ryman celebrated in Gibraltar.
Two articles in The Gibraltar Chronicle on a stamp exhibition, yeepee! To read them: 7th October and 11th.
The first stamp designed by Freddy Ryman, the first of  Gibraltar on a local event (Gibraltar Chronicle).
The stamps presented are all by Freddy Ryman, who worked on many Gibraltar issues since the 1966 European Sea Angling Championships, the first stamp on a local event in the British territory on the doorstep of Spain.

Philatelists Richard Garcia and Stephen Viñales spoke at the inauguration on Monday 10. The event was prepared with the Department of Education so that students will discover part of their philatelic history.

Thursday 13 October: Between postal and fiscal in the British West Indies.
On Thursday, the 5pm conference at the Royal Philatelic Society London introduced the fiscal stamps of the British colonies of the Caribbean, including British Guyana.
Michael Medlicott illustrated the fiscal use of stamps. For example this 1873 gun licence established in Guyana  (Michael Medlicott collection, RPSL conférence, 13 October 2016).
At the head of a massive collection, Michael Medlicott explained, colony by colony, the creation and printing of stamps for fiscal use... while explaining that many of them were first issued for postal reason, or sometimes greatly collected because they had postal validity while collectors would never see them on any mail.

The conference (pdf on the RPSL website, video if you ask their secretary politely) is then a must-see to complete your knwoledge of the British West Indies stamps.

And, by some documents, some anecdotes and Mr Medlicott's conclusion, another hint to think of stamp collecting not just as a quoted valued accumulation, but as the work of historians: these fiscal issues reflect the evolution of the colonial economy after the abolition of slavery.

Friday 14 October: From the life of Phloi to the one of King Bhumibol.
On Thurday, King Bhumibol of Thailand passed way after 70 years of reign. A reign marked by a great number of political-military difficulties for his country, but also by the success of Thailand in the current Globalisation of the economy.
Cover of the English edition, 1998 (Silkworm Books via
A 1953 novel I bought in Bangkok in 2009 and that I began to read this Summer, is of interest to understand Thailand, the people's passion for their King and the monarchy. Four Reigns by actor and writer Kukrit Pramoj (with a very short political career in the mid-1970s).

He told the life of Phloi, who was placed at a young age in the service of King Chulalongkorn's Queen when her mother left her father, being only his minor wife. Years after years, Phloi became a young woman facing the dilemnia of love or arranged marriage, then the different moments of motherhood, while the country under the successive Kings opened itself to the Western culture and new practises. The novel ends the same day King Ananda Mahidol, Bhumidol's brother, was unexplainly killed.

Sure, literarians and historians must have compared how Pramoj's telling warned young King Rama IX of the dangers of forgetting the past too quickly in a fast changing world.

Sunday 16 October: The tourist office of Cardiff and its own stamp.
Second episode of the Sébastien-in-Wales series: do you know that the Cardiff tourist information office at the Wales Millenium Centre sell its own Universal Mail UK stamp but not the complete booklet?
Fifth at the bootom of  UK0055 booklet issued August 2013, this stamp appears third in UK0021.
Universal Mail is a private postal operator who sells its stamps in tourist areas and museums. The service is valid only for international postcard, but one can mail them into any Royal Mail pillar boxes. After sorting, Universal Mail forward them the most profitable way possible (seldom the most speedy one though, would they my mother seeing me back before receiving the card).

What happened to the other four stamps of the UK055 booklets? A complex but efficient cutting and distributing all over tourist facilities all over Wales?

To occupy your week-end, you can discover the Millenium Center and its surroundings - eventually the whole of Cardiff - by watching the tv series Doctor Who (from 2005) and sequel Torchwood, all filmed and produced at the BBC Wales studio nearby.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Open class fun at the Stamp Festival in Montpellier

This article adapted two articles published on the blog in French: the 8th and the 9th October 2016.

This past week end was Stamp Festival in France, with a two item issue on dance: charleston  on 0.70 € stamp and The Swan Lake on a 1.40 € minisheet. In Montpellier, the local federated association organised a free rule exhibition ; a quiet activity compared to the national competition it will host in 2019.
A small municipal exhibit room but interestingly filled (picture under a Creative Commons licence by-nc-sa 3.0 fr).
I got to read again some collections from previous events or from now known collectors. Jacques Rue shared his Type Blanc in traditional philately while Serge Magallon proposed another trip to Ethiopia, this time from the Italian military post during the Second Italian-Abyssinian War (1935-1937) after mail and pictures from missionaries or Ethiopia's first stamps in previous times. For marcophily and regional the president Michel Soulie proposed Montpellier postal history.
A diamond mark from the machine gun company of the Francoist Valvanera Army during the Spanish Civil War (Juan Ara Somahano's collection, Journée du timbre, October 2016).
What was the major piece of the exhibit in my eye? The machine gun on a military mail from a Francoist company, presented by Juan Ara Somohano, that was in competition at Paris-Philex in May. It goes along the RPG thematic I cynically began with the help of French politician Henri Guaino last July.

Consequently, my second reading at Mr Ara Somohano's collection was by the political symbols stamped or cinderellaed on covers.
How to spice up a topical collection? Find the unimaginable stamp that nobody would be looking at (Czech post via tehe World Association for the Development of Philately's Numbering System).
In the other collections, let's congratulate J. Consejo for the post it that directed visitors to three unmissable documents in his bullfighting collection. First how err-horn-eous was the 1995 stamp on the Camargue region. Then the most hidden stamp of the topic: a Czech stamp issued September 2007 to mark the opening of the first permanent movie theater in Prague by Viktor Ponpero. Watch the screen.

The free style permitted by the non competitive nature of this exhibition was highlighted by two open class collections, way outside the Philatelic International Federation's regulations, but quite inspiring for the inventive multicollectors.

With The Civic Life, Michel Rettgen linked many collectibles papers with the aspects of daily life regulated by State and public collectivities: punched weekly tramway ticket from far ago, Mother's Day special national lottery entry, bags for doggy poop...


No! Come back: they are crispy unused. They hadn't been cancelled by the user :p

Another member proposed an unlisted one frame of an older collection. The philatelic core is the United States fancy cancels from the 1927-1934 period when stamps on registered letters should not be cancelled with the datestamp. To cancel the stamps, the local postmasters were creative: stars, bugs, music instruments, etc.

How to exhibit such covers, that the collector described me as "very common"?

On top of each sheet, he wrote a sentence of a complex funny "Three Mexicans story" while putting collectibles from the topic of the sentence and the fancy cancel: military badge, dead insects, oblong Chinese coin, and...

... a brothel token when the three heroes decided to cheat on their wives. What collection can be used to illustrate rolling pins? :)
The Charleston stamp by Nancy Peña, engraved by Claude Jumelet (Phil@poste via Phil-Ouest).
Really because I like my non-French readership: here is one of the two Festival stamp. I preferred to look and find some less than 10 euro covers in the boxes of two Montpellier dealers present.

Normmaly I should write you to wait until next October for a new Festival exhibition summary. But, after a revolutionary Autumn transfer, the date of the 2017 Stamp Festival is going back to late Winter, started the next 11 and 12 March.

Already, the number of participating associations was slowly decreasing: 118 in 2012 (the first Festival in Autumn) to 87 this year.

Was the change of date ill-chosen? It would be good to know what French Philatelic Service Françoise Eslinger's arguments were in 2010 when she imposed the change, and what are the current Director and the Federation President argument to change back.

Anyway, can associations manage one public event more in the Spring 2017 competitive calendar?

So: next summary in six months.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Week #2016.40 on SébPhilatélie

A light week again on the blog in French, but for a nice reading on Chinese culture and the exhibition at the Stamp Festival in my city.

Monday 3 October: Stanley Gibbons' problems numbered in low pounds.
A summary from a Guardian article of that same day. The situation is bad and my thoughts are with the employees of the catalogues and Gibbons Stamp Monthly whose excellent work is threatened by the stupid cupidity of golden boys.

Wednesday 5 October: Cultural exchange with China.
In the October issue of The London Philatelist, Huadong Zhang proposes a two-part article on the word "stamp" in English and in Chinese languages. Very interesting and that may inspired some review of your Chinese countries and territories collection to check the ideograms for the words "you piao" in Mandarin and "shidan" in Cantonese.

With the issue the list of the Royal Philatelic Society London reminds that both Republics of China and the Special Region of Hong Kong formed a combined group of sixty members, more than many European countries. The issue proposes a summary of the latest Chinese RPSL meeting in Xinjiang, including the local publication of a postal history.

Friday 7 October: Gibbons Stamp Monthly sent through Deutsche Post?
In the gloomy context described above, I was not surprised to see a Deutsche Post label over the plastic bag of the October issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly, received late September.

Was the German way chosen by Gibbons to save money? Or is it a practice of the Royal Mail to save cost - since the 1st class indicia printed is still in its name? Who may know?

Saturday 8 October: Quiet Stamp Festival in Montpellier, or not if you look closely to open class.
This week-end, the French organised philately (nicknamed φl@télie on my blogs) is celebrating the Fête du timbre - the Stamp Festival.
The Guillaume de Nogaret municipal room, one of the traditional exhibit halls of the Association philatélique montpelliéraine (picture under Creative Commons licence by-nc-sa 3.0 fr).
Soon the article in French will be adapted in English because I met an interesting fellow collector who presented me yesterday how open class inspired many of them, despite the opinion of "serious" others.

For those who can not wait and have faith in Google Translate, the paper confronts the non competitive exhibition with the current evolutions of the closest faubourgs of Montpellier city center I walked past going to the event.

A reminder: Montpellier will host the French philatelic championship and federal congress in May-June 2019.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Week #2016.39 on SébPhilatélie and on the web

Monday 26 September 2016: Oh les timbres ! blog's back.
After a long pause, the French well-written topical blog Oh les timbres ! is back with daily articles inspired by the (numerous) new issues of the French Post and the news - even sad ones as the first article is about Nice after the terrorist attack on Bastille Day.

Monday again: new banknote, new generation in Britain.
Since Tuesday 13 September, the Bank of England is introducing banknotes in polymer: stronger, waterproof, cleaner because washable.
Can you spot the publicly known security features on the Winston Churchill 5 pounds note? (Flikr account of the Bank of England).
Be careful though, the Daily Mail journalist (?) James Smith lost 10 pounds: one fiver melted into the microwave, the other into the water tubes from a washmachine. Never play with money.

Friday 30 September: Remembrance of the Channel Island occupation by the Germans.
On Thursday 29, the Royal Philatelic Society London hosted a conference by Ron Brown on "The German Occupation of the Channel Islands 1940-1945". The first half was a traditional philatelic history on how the local authorities of Guernsey and Jersey managed the needs for stamps, with some liberty from the occupying forces.

On the other half, the paper became tragic with the stories of the arrest, captivity in French occupied prisons and even deportation to Nazi Germany camps of some Islanders for crimes of food stealing, listening to the BBC or for only being Jew. These lifes were recalled by Mr Brown with letters and cards sent to or by them.

The paper is available for all on the RPSL website (pdf file). Members (directly) and non-members (write the RPSL secretary) can access the video on youTube.

Sunday 2 October: British Museum's collection of Middle East postcards.
Last Monday 26, Maev Kennedy for The Guardian met St John Simpson, archeologist and British Museum curator for the Middle East collections, to be presented with the collections of postcards and thoughts on the future of this particular mean of communication.

Simpson has been putting some postcards into the exhibits to add views of the daily life of the countries involved, correspondence of European travellers. A new way to study history for today's historians, hence the 5000 card boxes the Museum is keeping.

But, the digital age is hard for postcard collectors and researchers: Tehran youth who doesn't know where the post office is, Bahrain shops not stocking postcards, a new generation of academians who never wrote and sent one...