Monday, April 24, 2017

Week #2017.16 on SébPhilatélie

Monday 17 April: How to promote stamps and coins from overseas territories.
New Caledonia and Bermuda are on the media road to promote their stamps and coins.

Matrixes of the 100 Pacific Franc coins: Marianne common face (here without the engraved year) and the New Caledonian and the French Polynesian faces. Wallis-et-Futuna using both (photograph by Alain Jeannin, La 1ère, March 2017).
For the French very autonomous collectivity the Director of Calédoscope, the philatelic agency, answered questions for monthly Atout timbres. The minting of Franc Pacifique coins was reported by public local channels France 3 and La 1ère late March.

In Bermuda the Director of the philatelic bureau Stanley Taylor participated in a promotion video ordered to BermudaMedia. It was published early this April on youTube. Mr Taylor is known to Gibbons Stamp Monthly's readers: Basil Herwald reported his meeting with him in the July 2015 issue.

Tuesday 18 April: music cinderella for Arthur Russell.
Thank to French public and eclectic music radio FIP (no, not the Fédération internationale de philatélie) - a sort of almost no talk BBC 6 Music - I encounter this stamped album cover.
Arthur's Landing album cover inspired by a certain philatelic era (Band Camp website of the label Strut).
Being a moron concerning music styles, listening to FIP while streetwalking helps me forget the traffic jam noises and to discover new things. The smartphone ear allows to see the album cover on the sleepmode screen.

That's how I disover this cinderella style cover: Arthur's Landing is an hommage album by friends of New York artist Arthur Russell (1951-1992), issued 2010-2011.

Philatelist of the Interwar Period would like the design ; those into aerophilately the motto in Latin.

Thursday 20 April: Proportional cancellations for proportional rates?
For 16 months now, the French post has been carrying pricing in proportion rates: 1 stamp for the 1st weightband, 2 for the second, etc.
Corner of a large envelope 250-500 grams, hence the four adhesive stamp block from an illustrated booklet, partially cancelled 31 January 2017.
But the machine cancellation in sorting office didn't change : a line for upper stuck stamps...

Saturday 22 April: Let's vote! And stamp.
After a far too long presidential campaign - primaries... - French citizens are enjoying an almost political free week-end: the law forbid candidates, parties, television and radio channels to express political messages.
A porte-timbre cinderella booklet for the 2012 presidential election createed and sold by, the website of the Éditions philatéliques européennes.
The most philatelist will try to create a presidential collection: see this interesting website Les Présidents de la République par les timbres or try every electoral April issue of French philatelic magazines since the first universal suffrage presidential election in 1969.

Sunday 23 April: newsbits in Paris and London.
In Paris, Mr Macr... Sorry, too strong is the force of media hypnosis.
The FFAP's Twitter page on Sunday 24 April 2017.
In the Parisian headquarters of the French Philatelic Associations Federation, someone rediscovered the insitution's got a Twitter account that was restarted March 22nd after three years of silence.
George James, Spink's philatelic specialist presents a collection for sale, on 18 April on youTube.
Let's enjoy this moment, a philatelic collection sale by London auction house Spink was the subject of a presentation video this past week: Arthur Gray's predecimal elizabethan Australia collection, with sketches, essays, stamps, varieties,...

A nice catalogue.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week #2017.15 on SébPhilatélie

Quite a week for non philatelic items viewed by a philatelist maniac.

Monday 10 April: "Fedex quests" in video game.
Players of aventure-action and open world video games have developed their own slang along the episodes of different series of such games, from The Elder Scrolls to the current Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, including the part-parodicly American, part-seriously criminal Grand Theft Autos.
Auto-parody of such quests in the last Zelda: this character accepts to buy you specific mushrooms by packs of 55... (Nintendo, via
One of those expressions is a reproach: while some missions are compulsory to conclude the main story, the open world permits a lot of exploration and meetings of characters asking the player for help to carry a letter or find some goods.

In practice these secondary missions call for a lot or return trips, hence the expression "Fedex quest" appeared it seems in the 1990s when the develivery company was a star in America: you move everywhere on the map to carry, bring, etc. like a Fedex truck driver.

Wednesday 12 April: Challenging yet pleasant conferences at the RPSL.
A summary of two recent filmed conferences at the Royal Philatelic Society London, whose display summaries are available for all the Society's website.

Their topic and very specialist approch would have me run away as quick as possible a few years ago, but the volunteering philatelists and postal historians were so enthusiast and good story-tellers that anyone curious could entertain discovering the postal stationery of the Orange Free State, a Boer republic of the late 19th century, by Mike Smith (23 February), and the first decades of the psotal history of South Australia by Pat Grimwood-Taylor (6 April).

To watch: an Orange stamped card used in short-lived Republic of Stellaland, a card signed by Tolkien's father - yes, the Tolkien born in Bloemfontein and major creator of languages and fantasy universe. On the other side of the Indian Ocean, many destinations from South Australia were presented, plus a letter from a small oulet in the Northern Territory to Winbledon, England and its "Too Late" mark... that led to weeks of travelling the wilds within and the ocean without the Austral continent.

Friday 14 April: boomerang effects in the Netherlands and for the Maldives.
The force of philatelists were shown to two organisations these recent times.

First when PostNL decided, starting January 1st, to call back all datestamps from postal counters in private shops, meaning that stamps on all parcels and registered letters would be pen cancelled (standard letters continuing to be machine cancelled in sorting plants). The post company will resume cancellations at postal counters next June with bright new datestamps. A story to discover and follow on StampBoards forum.

WOPA, the Gibraltar-organised website to gather official philatelic bureaus to sell their stamp at face values to international clients, interrupted the page of the Maldives after only a full day, when the Commonwealth Stamp Opinion blog's webmaster and readers wrote down their doubts that the Maldives postal operator was the seller. They believe the agency providing the very numerous stamps and minisheets in the name of Bangladesh was behind. One of WOPA officers intervenes to assure he will check again.

After all, the other postal operators who are issuing too much stamps, have the openess to sell them themselves on WOPA.

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 April: Open class chocolate between Chester and Grenada.
Theses Easter articles were transled on SebPhilately's.

Note: no, this blogger did not receive any free chocolate from Rococo, but is eager to get back to their Chester or London stores... Is thinking of ordering 2 kilograms of choco soon...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Open class chocolate: full sail from Grenada to Chester

Non-religious Easter and personal interests: let's eat fair and sustainable chocolate Britishly and Commonwealthly! With philatelic nibs here and there: open class.

Jute and cotton bag with the colors and engravings of Rococo Chocolates, sold since early 2017 (photograph taken at home, my apologies for the designer).
If chocolate has been of course a good part of comfort eating in my youth, it was surely more for the sugar in it until I looked for taste two decades ago.

This search finds an interesting and unexpected turn four years ago, April 2013, during the first of my yearly trip to Chester, north-west of England. I was early for a meeting under the Victoria clock on Eastgate when I noticed the modest but joyfully pastel display of a Rococo Chocolates shop... far more modest than the exaggerated and nauseating - and I love chocolate... - fountains of liquid chocolate by their luxuous competitor down the street.
The Eastgate in Chester historic center and the 1897-1899 clock. The Rococo store is - for a few weeks now - on the left after the fortification (photograph under licence: Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0).
The shop employees were very courteous, not invading in their advices, but open to conversation on a the work of chocolate. I discover back home that it was opened in 2012 in this provincial timbered house town by a London-based chocolate-maker Chantal Coady, at work since 1983.

The shop under East Gate (photographie sous licence Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0).
Now how will I go back to philately? The bags.

From the plastic ones four years ago (and banned for obvious sustainaible reasons by the European Union members) to the cardboard ones nowadays (next picture), Rococo promotes itself with reproduction of chocolate moulds, in their engraving forms.
The current cardboard bag at Rococo Chocolates. Engravings and chocolate... Let's pray I haven't brought ideas in the mind of Royal Mail and La Poste salesmen: the philatelic program reissued in chocolate form for Christmas.
Easter eggs, birds and fishes, and a cut pod full of cocoa beans. Hmmm.

New issues discovered during my last visit, January 2017, were the sale of a new jute/juto bag - the first picture of this article - and the Chester shop going to move in May to Northgate Street, on the other side of Chester Cathedral. The current store location was chosen by the initial links between Coady's company and the real estate group Grosvenor in London, but put between a restaurant and the hall of Grosvenor Hotel.

The new one, between a small post office and a cheese shop, will have more space that will enable tea house activities and chocolate making and tasting sessions in the basement. "Made in Chester". Can I wait until my 2018 pilgrimage to the Roman city.

For now, let's stick with my 2017 purchase.
The front of a Grenada Chocolate Company packaging, distributed by Rococo Chocolates.
Compared to the four previous visit to Rococo Chester, this year I got more freedom concerning luggage size imposed by low cost airline companies. After a hanful of floral decorated and tasting Bee Bars, I accepted the manager's proposal for Artisan Bars ; for philatelic purposes: if the former are like single definitive postage stamp, the latter are booklets of stamps :)

I even listened - and was successfully sold - the history of The Grenada Chocolate Company, whose drawn landscape packaging make its bars illustrated stamp booklet.
The full packaging... No, sorry, no picture of actual chocolate: how could I and my colleagues during a Friday noon lunch have succeeded to save a bit of chocolate for illustration. But what a tasteful memory...
Tree-to-bar chocolate the motto claims. The company, founded 1999 by three gentlemen, is a cocoa farmers' and chocolate makers' cooperative in Hermitage, Saint Patrick ParishGrenada, the former British colonies in the Windwards Islands.

20 hectares of cocoa trees are exploited in a organic - or the trees - and fair - to the farmers - way ; the chocolate factory tries to be as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible, with sun panels and batteries for example. Rococo's website told how this organisation helps the cooperative survived Ivan and Emily consecutive hurricanes in 2003.
Cocoa pods on tree, stamp of 1966 (via
Organic agriculture, fair trade with farmers and distribuotrs, sustainable energy production... But what of transportation to the continents of consumption?

Hence the out-of-design back and white sticker on the wrapper - an overprint?-, that provides a good story for chocolate shopkeepers: "A Class - Fair Transport".
The Tres Hombres in 2013 : 32 meters, 35 tons of cargo (including Grenada chocolate bars), 5 profesional sailors, room for 10 trainees - meaning you (
Fairtransport is a Dutch company created by three men in 2007. They have been renovating old sailing ships to put them back on the seas for a carbon free transportation of goods. Another way of thinking before reading Seija-Riitta Laakso's thesis on the sail against steam speed competition in the 19th century.
Map of the current Fairtransport routes accross the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. But forget containers, loading's the old way. But has every order to be done in a haste? (
The company has a project for a modern sailing ship and formed an alliance with two other sailing shipping companies. The sticking label guarantees 90% of transportation are carbon-free: 10% being the usual first/last kilometer problem.

Let's conclude on Grenada before the offensive on the family's Easter lamb and chocolate dessert: a very pronounced tasting chocolate, less sweet, whose raw material farmers are respected, whose industrial added value is spent in the country of origin's economy, and whose transoceanic transportation isn't polluting.

That justifies the prices at Rococo Chocolates and an Easter time thought: Do we have to stuff ourselves with food to be happy?

This article is inspired by two articles published Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 April 2017 on SébPhilatélie, my blog in French.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Week #2017.14 on SébPhilatélie

Tuesday 4 April: non philatelic important economic reading before voting.
I'm fed up with the on going French presidential campaign... Let's read comics!
Cover of the 2nd edition in French of Economix, published 2014 (
Its original version was published in 2013 in the United States. Economix is a comic book in which Michael Goodwin tries to explain the history of economics, illustrated by Dan Burr.

A fine exercice of thinking and understanding our world and how politicians can disrupt as much as help make things better.

Goodwin's and Burr's task continues on thank to the current leadership of the Republican Party in the U.S. When could we hope to read a British Brexit version or a French Napoleonian Right Wing one, please?

Wednesday 5 April: all the mail received from Citizens of the World.
This past week, the French public radio show La Fabrique de l'histoire (The Workshop of History) on France Culture proposed four installments on aspects of globalisation, understood in all its dimensions: economic, trades, but also cultural.
Garry Davis dictating the content of a letter he received in Paris, January 1949 (Actualités cinématographiques, 20 January 1949, via the 'Institut national de l'audiovisuel).
On Wednesday, two researchers explained how the World Federalist Movement got momentum by disrupting a session of the United Nations General Assembly in Paris in November 1948. And how much mail its spokeperson, Garry Davis, from people who wished to become "Citizens of the World", meaning wishing the establishment of an actual World State to avoid the conflicts nation-states created in the past decades.

One of the documents played is from a January 1949 newsreel for the movie theaters. In the Paris hotel where his offices were, Garry Davis is seen among the stamped envelopes of supporters for his World Citizenship idea. Stamps and envelopes everywhere, even on a panel to list the different countries of origin.

Friday 7 April: War weapons, a growing stamp topic?
When news are too strong for the philatelist to put them aside... An article on stamps and postal history on militarised chemical agents.
Iran issued a shocking stamp to mark the 10 years of effectivity of the Chemical Weapons Convention  (via a trade website in the United States).

Only states who were victims or whose allies were affected by the use of these horrible weapons had issued stamps to warn their people and the world: the Kingdom of Yemen (North) during the civil war when allegedly Egypt - allied to the republicans - used gas against Yemeni civilians, Iran in support of the Iraqi Kurds after Saddam Hussein's forces gas bombed the village of Halabja.

Even if the United Nations Postal Administration issued six stamps (two per office) in 1991 when the convention was signed, banning and ordering the destruction of these weapons, what postal administration will issue a stamp for the chemical victims of the complex Syrian civil war?

Through the excellent website by a late collector of Australia, Maurice Mishkel, postal history items exist as proof that all countries and powers are concerned since World War One. When a "Chemical Warfare School" publicly received mail in 1946...

Saturday 8 April: Machins will rule the world forever!
Thank to Ian and John Billings of Norvic Philatelics (blogsite and shop), my article tries to summarize how many new Machin stamps were and are to be issued in the first semester of 2017.
The first minisheet marking the 50 years of the Machin stamps, to be issued in June. The different picture recalls the steps of Arnold Machin's artistic thinking (Royal Mail Philatelic Bulletin via Norvic Philatelics).
Good luck for your wallet, Machin lovers.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Week #2017.13 on SébPhilatélie

Tuesday 28 March: the many forms of decimalisation in the Commonwealth.
From the creation of the Australian dollar philatelically commemorated last year to a three-time reissued Cayman Islands definitive series in 1969 described by Moel Cavenhill in the February issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly, many former British colonies kept the ternary monetary system until the sixties and seventies.
The "C-Day" second version of Cayman Islands decimalisation series: 8th September 1969 was the day the Jamaican dollar replaced the Jamaican pound/shilling/pence (via
A change that didn't go smoothly if one looks "outside the scope of the catalogue" for 1961 Pakistan with the numerous local oveprints presented by Mike J. Roberts at the Royal Philatelic Society London earlier in March.

Thursday 30 March: postal dragon in a French comics.
How to remind the e-generation that postal service still exist and are useful: show them in what they read.
Excerpt of the first and second page of  L'Année du dragon, last tome in the Mélusine series (Dupuis Editions).
On 29 March, weekly French and Belgian comics magazine Spirou is pre-publishing by episode the 35th tome of Mélusine, the stories of a young apprentice witch ; on general sale on 5 May.

In L'Année du dragon (The Year of the Dragon), all the dragons disappeared and the magical world is put to an economic stop: no more transportation of mail and packages for a start.

Saturday 1 April: Liberty, Equality, Salmonity.
Not good times for pranks after many politicians' acts in 2016-2017, so let's eat the fishes instead.
A postal sushi postal of the Raw Fish Republic (Florent Chavouet's blog).
From 2010 to 2012 a French illustrator created almost 200 play on words and puzzle based on sushis.

Sunday 2 April: Iain Stevenson RIP.
Sad news: one month ago, edition specialist and philatelist Iain Stevenson died in England. A former professional editor who became university teacher in 1999, he was a specialist of telegraph stamps, postal stationery, North Borneo and Canada.

Stevenson has a connection with Montpellier, France where I live. He studied geography there in the 1970s, wrote on the Scots College (Collège des Écossais) established by Patrick Geddes in the 1920s, and exhibited his collection of Montpellier postmarks at the French Académie de philatélie's event at the Royal Philatelic Society London last November.

The article in French gives many links to retrieve parts of his publications and exhibits. An eulogy was published by the University College London, followed by tributes from his colleagues, students and readers.