Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy new year 2013

I wish you all a very happy new year 2013. I hope this new year will bring you all what you may desire. I wish also that it will be full of philatelic surprise.

As you could see I have been away from this blog for several months. I hope I will be able to come back very soon. I was too busy on other fronts... See you very son here!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Errors on stamps… even on the country name!

Errors on stamps are more frequent than we can imagine. This is always surprising for me as I guess a stamp goes through a big numbers of controls before being issued. But still, from time to time a stamp is issued by a postal administration with an error on it. Sometimes the mistake is in the legend of the stamp, a wrong date, a wrong name or something wrong in the design. 
I recently received a stamp that contains a more spectacular mistake: the error is in the spelling of the country itself!

The stamp is part of a set of two picturing commercial jets. It was issued recently by Macedonia. Here is the stamp.

And here is the second stamp of the set which bears the right spelling of the country.

As you can see, on the first stamp, the Cyrillic equivalent for E is missing. The result is something like Macdonia instead of Macedonia. 

I think the stamp was withdrawn by the postal administration. I don’t know if they re-issued a correct one or not. I check on Ebay and the price for the wrong stamp is not so high so I guess this stamp must not be so scarce. 

Saturday, October 06, 2012

A nice set of stamps from Monaco issued in 1966

If you follow my blog regularly you have probably noticed that, recently, I haven’t updated it very frequently. I’m quite busy these last days, not to say these last weeks. Busy at work, with very few free time to allocate to philately. And this very little time I have decided to dedicate it to putting some order into my stamps collection.  Indeed my stamps collections are becoming a mess. I have for instance decided to scan all items of my collection of stamps issued in 1966 in order to display them on a dedicated website (I will communicate you the URL when it starts to be good enough). This exercise gives me the opportunity to go through some very nice stamps issued 46 years ago (Damned! I’m 46 already…), much nicer than a lot of stamps issued recently. There are some beauties that I would have loved to see on my incoming mails.

I would like to share with you the last set that I scanned. This is a set of five stamps issued by Monaco on the 1st of February 1966 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the birth of Dante. I guess, I don’t need to say who was Dante degli Aligheri (often referred as Dante). He was the major Italian poet of the Middle Ages who write the Divine Comedy, a masterpiece of Italian literature. 
Dante’s exact date of birth is not really known but the best assumption is that he was born in 1265, so this set of stamps should normally have been issued in 1965. Moreover each stamp is inscribed 1965 but in fact the set was really issued only in 1966. I did not find any explanation of this delay so far. If a specialist of Monaco stamps has the information I would be happy to ear from him/her.

The stamps are rather large and recess printed. The first one pictures a portrait of Dante himself. 

On the left part I guess this is Beatrice, the woman he loved, even though he married another one and on right side this is the evocation of evil or Hell.

The other stamps picture various scenes of the Divine Comedy, the master work of Dante.  The Divine Comedy (“Divina comedia” originally simply called “Comedia”) describes Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Paradise (Paradiso). The Divine Comedy is a poem composed of 14233 lines divided into three canticas: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. The poem is written in the first person. 

Inferno, is the first part. Hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth. If we add the introduction this gives a structure of 9+1 that can be found also in the two other parts of the poem.

At the beginning of his journey Dante enters a dark wood in front of a mountain and is assailed by three beast: a lion, a leopard and a she-wolf. The second stamp of the set pictures Dante in front of the leopard, symbolizing lust.

Right after, Dante is rescued by the poet Virgil who will guide him through Hell and Purgatory. The third stamp pictures Dante and Virgil boating across the muddy swanp of the 5th Circle. 

Purgatorio is the second part of the work. The structure 9+1 is again seen in the structure of this part. The fourth stamp pictures a scene taking place in the purgatory with Dante watching the arrogants.

Finally Paradisio closes the Divine Comedy and reusus the 9+1 structure with 9 spheres and one last part called the Empyrean. The last stamp of the set evokes Paradise. Dante is pictured on this stamp with Saint Bernard and Beatrice his first and only true love.

Nice set of stamps, don’t you think? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Back from London

I'm just back from London where I spent a very nice week of holidays. Actually, I arrived in London at the last day of the Paralympic games and I could attend to the Marathon. A very impressive experience.

I did not intend to give any philatelic twist to this trip to London as I was travelling with someone not interested in stamps at all. But nevertheless, you can not really escape from stamps, can you?

When I visited the London 2012 shop in COven Garden, I found that you could buy presentation pack containing one Pin's and one stamp from the 30 stamps series issued by Royal Mail in order to announce the Olympic games. Here is the exemple of the Athletics stamp, the number 1 in the series.

And here is the Aquatics one. The number 17 in teh series.

As you can see, the pin's is on the top and reproduce exaclty the stamp design. The stamp is included in a platsic cap. I found this way of presenting the stamp very strange. I could not find a way to take out the stamp without tearing everything apart (which I did not do). So I guess these items are made to be collected like that... A bit weird I think. 
I also saw on Royal Mail website that they also sell the same pack with a commemorative coin instead of the pin's.

Speaking about coins, at the London 2012 shop you could also buy "coin covers" including a stamp with an associated cancellation and a commemorative coin. Here is the exemple of the Athletics one.

In fact they are not covers. They are pieces of cardbord on which the stamp is stuck and the coin is affixed. The cancellation is not an actual postal mark if I understood well. So again a strange item I think.

Anyway the London Olympic and Paralympic games were a very great event and I'm glad to have participated to at least a small part of it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cute frog on prepaid evelope from Canada

On the 16th of July the Canadian post issued a pre-paid envelope bearing a printed stamp picturing a cute frog. The enevlope is sold with a card bearing the same picture.

Here is the envelope and a zoom on the "stamp".

Here is the card.

This envelope is part of a series called "write me back". The idea is that you send a note to your friends, putting the card and the enevelope in your letter so thatthey can write you bakc. Several designs exist in this series.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Edith Piaf and Miles Davis on a FDC from USA

I recently received this nice FDC from USA and decided to share it with you as it gives me the opportunity to come back on a stamp set that I really like.

As you can see this is a First Day Cover for the two stamps issued jointly between France and USA to celebrate the shared cultural history between both countries. The stamp pictures two legends that I don’t need to present: Miles Davis and Edith Piaf. The choice of both artists is not an accident. Edith Piaf is one of the very few (very very few) French singers who became famous in the USA.  Miles Davis is beloved in France where he performed frequently. He was even made a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor, a very important distinction in France.
I really like those stamps. You may have a better view on this scan coming from the USPS website.

I already wrote about this issue in a previous post where I showed the stamps issued also by France and a FDC that I sent to myself.

Both countries have adopted exactly the same design for the stamps, nevertheless there are some differences. The names of the artists are written in color on the stamps from the USA while it is in black & white on the French stamps. I must say that I prefer the choice of French postal administration as it goes very well with the rest of the stamp.
Two other differences to be noted: the USA stamps are “forever” stamps, meaning they don’t have a specific face value but they are valid “forever” for postage at the standard rate within the USA. The French stamps bear face values: the standard letter rate within France for the stamp picturing Miles Davis and the standard rate for a letter to the USA for the stamp picturing Edith Piaf. Also the French stamps are gummed stamps while the stamps from USA are self-adhesive.
Another difference: the American stamps are sold in the form of a sheet of twenty stamps (ten of each). On the back of the sheet there is a QR code, that once scanned with your smart phone, leads you to a website full of information about both artists. See below the back of the sheet.

As you can see also on the FDC, the two postal administrations have made very different choices for the first day cancel. I like the one from USA but I think it gives disappointing results with the black silhouettes on the black background of the stamps.

I read an interview from Greg Breeding, the creator of the stamps,  that was very interesting. He explained that he started going though a lot of pictures from Miles Davis first and he was struck by the way Miles Davis often leaned back while playing the trumpet. Then going through pictures of Edith Piaf he realized how she used her body and hands to express her voice. He finally selected the two pictures of the stamps on which Edith Piaf and Miles Davis share a diagonal position that gives a very attractive symmetry to the stamps.

This is not the first time that Edith Piaf appears on a French stamp. She was already the subject of a stamp issued in 1990.

No French stamp so far had been issued picturing Miles Davis, and this is the first time, I think, that both artists appear on the stamp from the USA.

This joint issue between France and USA is the fourth one. The first one was in 1983 with a common issue to celebrate the US bicentennial (each postal administration issued one stamp with a different design). The second one was in 1986 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty (each countries issued a stamp with the same design). And the last one was in 1989 to celebrate the bicentenary of the French Revolution (USA issues one stamp and France issued a se-tenant set of three stamps).

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A simple but nice cover from Italy

The Olympic Games of London are not the only story filling the news these days, there is also the landing of Curiosity rover on Mars, the red planet. On this last event I’m shared between being impressed by what human being can do and being sad that we can spend such a huge amount of money for this sort of activity instead of solving the problems we have on Earth. Anyway… 

As a funny coincidence I have received this week a cover from Italy bearing a space related stamp so I decided to share it with you. Also the cover has a very clean cancel, despite the fact that this is not a “philatelic” cancel: this is more and more difficult to get such clean postmark. 

So here is the cover. 

And here is a closer look at the stamp.

The stamp was issued on the 12th of April 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first man in Space, Yuri Gagarin. Indeed on the 12th of April 1961, the spacecraft Vostok I completed an orbit of the Earth with Yuri Gagarin on board. Gagarin is very famous, so no need to introduce him I guess. He was born in 1934 so he was 27th when he accomplished his mission. I’m quite impressed by the risk these guys were taking at this time.

The Italian stamp pictures Gagarin at the time of his flight, and the Vostok I spacecraft in the background. For information the first day cancel of this stamp issue re-used exactly the same design than the stamp (here is a picture coming from Italian post website).

Gagarin has been pictured on a huge number of stamps. Only one from France, as far as I know. A stamp issued in 2001 to celebrate the century and commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first man in space.