Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stamps as ambassadors for a country ?

Last weekend, I read an interesting article in the April/June issue of SETEMPE (the South African Post Office philatelic magazine) written by Hanri de la Harpe (I must admit I don’t know him). The article is about stamp design, and about what should be pictured on stamps. I wanted to quote two sentences that I find interesting :
  • Stamps are important “ambassadors” for a country so their theme must reflect issues that are important to that country and could inform other countries about the diversity, potential, highlights and achievements of the country
  • Stamps should have meaning for their country’s population as a whole and will also be interpreted by the global population. For this reason, the stamp’s message must be clear, easy to understand and accessible to people of all walks of life and all educational levels and the theme should not exclude a social group of any community

I must admit that I quite agree with those statements. Then it made me think of a set of stamps, well, more exactly a set of Souvenir Sheets that France has started to issue in 2003. Tow souvenir sheets per year, ten stamps per sheet (!) so it gives twenty stamps per year and one hundred for the complete set, since I have understood that the complete set will be with ten sheets (last issue should be in 2007). The title of those sheets is “La France à vivre/La France à voir” (France to live/France to see) and is supposed to picture some representative aspects of the French culture in various fields : architecture, gastronomy, folklore etc. When I heard about this is idea I thought it was a very good one. But then I was disappointed by the result. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t like the overall design of the stamps sheets, and the stamp themselves are not so nice. I tried to use them on covers for my pen pals (in order to use those stamps as “ambassadors” of the culture of my own country) but the result is disappointing and it’s hard to get a nice cover with those stamps.
The one I show on this post is the number 7 in the set (ok, I did not choose it only because there is a frog on it !). This is the latest one, issued the 26th of March 2006. So you can decide by yourself if you like it or not. The subjects shown on the stamps are : la mirabelle (mirabelle plum), les marais salants (salt marsh), le carnaval (carnival), les vendanges (grape harvest), le café (coffee shop), le beurre (the butter), la transhumance (transhumance), Le roquefort (Roquefort cheese), L’huile d’olive (Olive oil), Les Hortillonages (no idea how to translate this one !). No all very French specific, but I guess that finding one hundred French specific subjects is not so easy…

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