Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summer holidays

I’m in the holiday mood today! Tonight I’m on holidays for one week. I will leave tomorrow for Avignon (located in Provence, in the south east of France) and I’ll come back next Thursday. I’m not sure I’ll have a Web access there, so I will probably not update my blog before next week.
To illustrate this post I have chosen a stamp issued by French post in 1938 (the 20th if June 1938 to be more accurate). A nice recess-printed stamps, as they were all at this time. The stamp pictures a famous place in Avignon : the Popes’ Palace (le palais des papes). This is the biggest Gothic palace in all of Europe, with 15.000 sq meters of floor space. Its construction was started in 1335 and completed twenty years later, under the leadership of two popes, Benedict XII and his successor Clement VI.
Avignon is also famous for the yearly Theater Festival that takes place in July. This festival was created in 1947, and every year, the most prestigious performances of this festival are given in the Honor Courtyard of the Popes’s palace.
So I will leave the heat wave of Paris (even though while I’m typing this post it is raining…) for the heat wave of Provence. See you in one week, and until then have a great time with yours stamps.

More about ancient seismograph

Following the post of two days ago about first appearance of a frog on a stamp, where I spoke about the Chinese stamp picturing a seismograph, I got a mail from George from Taiwan telling me that yesterday (26th of July), Chinese post has issued a new stamp picturing the same equipment. He also sent be some scans. I wanted to show you this one, a maximum card with the new stamp. Not bad isn’t it ? Thank you for the information George.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cover from Nepal


Last weekend I was very happy because I got my first cover from Nepal ! I had never received any mail from this country before, so I decided to show it to you. I have put the recto and the verso since the stamps are all on the verso. The overall condition is rather good, even if the cover is a little bit stained on some parts. On the recto there is only the addresses and the registration number. On the verso there are ten stamps ! I have no information on the stamps on the top. I have to check my Scott catalog and I did not find time yet to do it. The eight identical other stamps have been issued the 20th of August 2005 and they picture Her Majesty Queen Mother Ratna Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah, the queen mother of Nepal. The postmark is not really readable, but the cover comes from Katmandu. In the cover there were also two souvenir sheets from Nepal that I will surely show you in a future post. They are quite interesting. I’m going to send back some French new issues in exchange.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

First time

Some months ago, I have read an interesting article in “Topical time” (the bi-monthly publication of ATA, the American Topical Association) about first time in topical philately. The purpose of the article was to find the first time a specific topic appeared on a stamp. For instance what stamp pictured a plane for the first time ? Several topics were reviewed like that. And as you can imagine, I can to the question : when did a frog appear for the first time on a stamp ? (it has been a long time since last time I spoke about frog on stamps no? :-) ). The very first appearance of a frog on a stamp would be this one :

This is a stamp from French Guyana, issued the 2nd of June 1947. In fact this stamp belongs to a set of ten stamps, with all the same design but different colors. The stamps picture a seal which contains the silhouette of a frog. You’ll tell me, yes but this is not a postage stamp, this is a revenue stamp. And you’ll be right.So if we stick to postage stamp, the first appearance would be on this stamp from Netherlands, issued the 13th of November 1950. It belongs to a set dedicated to children, and pictures a girl playing with a toad.

Another early appearance, worth to mention is this one :

This stamps is form China, issued the 1st of December 1953. It belongs to a set about inventions from ancient scientists. It pictures a seismograph. This is a very ancient type of seismograph invented in China. The principal is the following : all around the central vase, there is a set of dragons. Each dragon carries a ball in its mouth. In front of each dragon, there is a mouth. When a seism comes, one of the ball falls from the mouth of the dragon to the mouth of the frog. The ball indicates the direction of seism. This seismograph is pictured in various stamps or postal stationary from China and I s quite interesting to see, I think.
Now if we restrict our research to the first stamp picturing an identifiable frog, then this will be this stamp :

Issued by Yugoslavia the 8th of June 1962, it pictures a Yellow-bellied toad (Bombina pachypus). In fact this stamp belongs to a set containing another stamp with a frog but I don’t have this second one so I can not show it to you.

Monday, July 24, 2006

About some French new issues

My only activity related to stamps during last weekend has been to sort out the latest French new issues that I have bought to put them in my stock book. And doing this, I realized two interesting things that I hadn’t detected before and that I wanted to mention here. The first one concerns the stamp issued by French post on the 26th of June 2006 and commemorating the 100Th anniversary of the French Open of Golf.
The design of the stamp itself is quite simple and not very exceptional. I like the format, it is a square which is not so common within recent French stamps. But what is more interesting is that the stamp is slightly embossed so that it’s surface looks like the surface of a Golf ball. Of course you can not see it on the scan, but when you hold the stamp in the light, it appears clearly and it gives a rather nice result.
The second fact concerns another stamp issued the 26th of June (in fact they both belong to the bunch of stamps issued in June during the stamp faire Le Salon du Timbre).

This stamp celebrates the 10th anniversary of the corporate foundation La Poste. What is to be noticed on this stamp is that it is printed on Kraft paper, hence its brown color. And even on the gum side it is brown ! It gives a very interesting result for a stamp which would have been not so interesting without that…

Friday, July 21, 2006

Coral reefs from Cocos (Keeling) islands


Did I tell you already that I “sort of” collect stamps from Australia ? Why “sort of” ? Because I don’t really do it with the objective to have a complete collection but I’m more in an “accumulation” process. Why Australia ? Because I have been there twice already and I have fallen in love with this country. I’m currently thinking about my next trip to Australia (unfortunately not before mid or end 2007). As a sort of souvenir, I have subscribed to new issues from Australia. Yesterday I have received the sending for the second quarter and among various stamps and sheets, there was this sheet, from Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I found it rather impressive and I decided to show it here. This souvenir sheet has been issued the 13th of June 2006 by Autsralian post, and shows the diversity and abundance of the marine life in the Cocos islands, including corals. I think the result is quite spectacular. On the other hand I’m wondering… a sheet of 20 stamps… isn’t it too much ? At the end it seems to be more an issue for philatelists than an issue to fulfill real postal needs. No ? Never mind, I like it anyway.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A cover from Taiwan


Again a very busy day of work is waiting for me so I will be short today. I wanted to show you this cover that I received from George, a reader from Taiwan, who also maintains a very good blog (the blog about ATM referred in the link section). Nice cover, isn’t it ? Thank you George ! The stamps used on this cover picture scenic spots from Taiwan and they express the pleasure of travel.
If I understood well, they are stamps that can be personalized, i.e. they are also sold in a version with a label bearing a customized design. As the famous “smiler sheets” that we can find in Great Britain (I wonder why they are called smiler sheets ?), or the “Timbres personalisés” that French post is selling. More and more countries are issuing such personalized stamps. The majority has chosen the same idea : a label bearing the customized design is printed se-tenant to the stamp. But in some countries the customized design is directly printed on the stamp it self. I think this is more interesting. Some time ago I wanted to start a collection of worldwide personalized stamps, ordering from all countries where it is possible customized stamps with picture of my face ! But I finally gave up when I saw how expensive such exercise would be. And having my face on a stamp is funny, but is it really needed ? I wonder if those personalized stamps are really a commercial success or not ?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Nudity on stamps !

I regularly read, in the philatelic newspapers, the section about new stamps issues. I’m always looking for any interesting new issue for my collection, or more generally any interesting new stuff. One week ago I was browsing a French newspaper when I came across this souvenir sheet. It has been issued by Netherlands on the 28th of April 2006 and belong to a set of souvenir sheets called “My Netherlands”. Each souvenir sheet of the set pictures a specific area of Netherlands. This one is dedicated to Vlieland.
My first impression when I saw the sheet is that it was not very beautiful. At list according to my taste. Then something tickled my mind. I was attracted by a detail on the very left bottom corner of the sheet. I had to take my magnifier and yes ! The two characters that are pictured on the left border are naked ! One woman and one man, pictured from the back. Click here to see a close up (don’t click if you are offended by nudity). As far as I’m concerned, I think this is the first occurrence of nudity on stamps. Ok this is not on stamps but on the border of a souvenir sheet, but still… I know, you will tell me that naked people already appeared on stamps, but this was only on stamps picturing a painting. I know no example of a stamp (or a souvenir sheet) picturing an actual picture of a naked person ! Do you know any ?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Origami on stamps (2)


Some days ago I was wondering on this blog if there is any stamp picturing Origami art. I finally found some, almost by accident, while going through my Scott catalog. I found these three stamps. They are from Brazil. They have been issued the 11th of November 1988 and belong to the Christmas issue. They do not represent very academic Origami art but still, this is paper folding. The fist stamp on the left pictures an abbey with nuns, the one in the middle pictures the nativity and the last one, Santa Claus. And as you can see, Origami is mentioned in the legend of the stamps.
If you ever find other stamps picturing Origami I’m still interested to hear about them.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Norfolk island

I’m back from Manchester where I have spent four days. The weather was just wonderful and I have had a very nice time. I could relax a lot. I was staying in a very luxurious hotel, in fact this trip was a part of my 40th birthday gift. I do know why but I always wanted to visit Manchester, somebody remembered it and offered me this very nice trip.
Now back to stamps ;-) I must admit, that before receiving this cover, I did not know where the Norfolk island was located. I know it’s a shame, but geography has never been my preferred area at school. When I got this cover I checked my atlas to know where it was and I finally found out that this is a small island located near Australia, on the east side. This is something I appreciate when receiving covers from all over the world : to discover some places that I did not know before or that I would not be able to locate on a map. The two stamps on the left belong to a set of stamps issued in 2004 and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight. The long stamp on the right belongs to a set picturing landscape of the island. Once again I’m impressed by the quality of the postmarks which do not spoil the stamps and still remain very readable. Overall I think this is a very nice cover.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Away for few days

Just a short note to tell you that I'm away to Manchester for few days. I'll be back next monday, so see you then...

Flowers from Czech republic


Last weekend I have spent some time trying to clean up the mess among all the covers I have received since several years, and I have selected few of them to be shown here on my blog. This is the case of the Iceland cover of yesterday’s post, and this is the case of this cover. It comes from Czech Republic. I like fauna and flora on stamps, and I think this cover is quite simple but beautiful. The sender took care to find stamps that are related together even if they don’t belong to the same issue. He took great care when preparing the cover and sticking the stamps, also securing the cover so that it does not get damaged (bent) during the transport. Very often I receive covers from philatelists on which the stamps are not well stuck and they finally get torn. This is really a pity. On my side I always try to make sure that everything will be al right, sticking the stamps correctly, and putting something hard in the cover so it does get bent.

Some words about the stamps. The small one, on the left side belongs to the definitive set and has been issued the 22nd of October 2003. It pictures a cornflower (Centaura cyanus), a very common flower in Europe. The two others belong to a set of four issued the 12th of March 1997 about flowers. The one on the left pictures a Dog’s tooth violet (Erythronium desn-canis), an edible plant native to Europe. The second one pictures a Lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) which is widespread in Europe and very often pictured on stamps!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Nordic mythology


For today, here is a cover from Iceland that I received few years ago. It’s rather nice, I think. The usage of a complete souvenir sheet to stamp a cover is no so common, so I decided to show it here. The souvenir sheet has been issued on the 26th of March 2004. It belongs to the set “Top of the world”, the Nordic joint stamps issue that gathers stamps from Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe islands, Norway, Sweden, Aland, Finland and Denmark. Each year since 2004, each of these countries issues a souvenir sheet bearing two stamps and illustrating the Nordic mythology. To know more about this sort of omnibus stamp issue, click here.
This souvenir sheet from Iceland pictures Odin and his horse Sleipnir. Odin is the chief god in Nordic mythology. He is the god of war, wisdom and also magic and poetry. Odin is the god who’s welcoming warriors who have died in battles. He is usually pictured as an old man, with a gray beard and having only one eye. He has sacrificed his left eye to be allowed to drink from the “Well of Wisdom”, showing by such an act his willingness to get the knowledge of the past, present and future. Odin has created the world with the help of his brothers from the body of Ymir, a giant that hey killed. On the stamp sheet, Odin is riding Sleipnir, his magical eight-legged horse ! In the modern culture, Odin is well known under his German name Wotan, as one of the main characters of Richard Wagner’s opera cycle “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (The Nibelung’s ring).

Friday, July 07, 2006

Origami on stamps ?

No stamp picture today. Because as you will see I did not find the one I was looking for. In fact I need your help, my fellow readers, to fulfill a quest. Here are some details.
On top of philately I have several other hobbies. One of them is Origami. In case you don’t know, Origami is the art of folding paper. It comes from Japan and the objective is to create beautiful models using only paper folding, without cutting and without glue. I find this exercise very relaxing. At least as relaxing as sorting my stamps! I’m still a beginner at Origami, I have unfortunately not enough time to practice a lot. But some people can do fantastic things. Now where is philately in all that ? This week I was wondering if there is any stamp picturing Origami ? Any stamp showing the act of paper folding or even a completed model. I tried to find one but I failed. So I thought that may be some of you could help me to find out if there are any stamps on this subject. I guess the highest probability if from Japan. So if you know any, please send me a mail with information about the stamp and I’ll try to find it for my private collection. And I will show it on my blog.Just to conclude, in case you haven’t seen any Origami art, here is a picture of a paper frog made by Robet J. Lang (
http://langorigami.com/index.php4). Nice, isn’t it ?

Have a great weekend, see you next week.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Spring in Germany

I haven’t much time to write today but I wanted to show you this cover I received few months ago. It comes from Germany, a very trendy place these days with the Soccer World Cup. I find this cover simple but beautiful (it reminds me a motto that my company has used for some time : make it simple, it will be beautiful). The fuzzy area on the top left corner is the address of the sender that I have hidden for privacy reason. In fact this is a first day cover for the stamp stuck on the top right corner. This stamp has been issued the 13th of April 2006 and belongs to a set of four stamps about the four seasons. This one pictures Spring. I do not really see the need to have a stamp for each season, but well, may be this is a sort of message stamps, as the ones we also have in France : this is a girl, this is a boy, thank you, happy birthday etc. This time this is a stamp just to say this is Spring. What I like on this cover is the postmark that I find really cute. I made a close up of the stamp and postmark so that you can better see it. Nice postmark for a topical collection about birds.

And finally in case you don’t know : France is in final of the Soccer World Cup ! Allez les bleus!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Silver stamps

During the last stamp fair, Le Salon du Timbre, the French post has created a small surprise in the philatelic world by issuing a silver Marianne stamp ! As you probably know, Marianne is the symbol of French republic and is pictured on the French definitive stamps. The current definitive stamp design is called La Marianne de Lamouche, because it has been designed by Thierry Lamouche. This design has been selected in 2004 after a national contest on the subject “Marianne and the protection of the environment”. It is now used on the definitive stamp since 2005.
This silver issue in a first time for French post as far as I know. I don’t remember any other stamps issued in silver in France. The stamp has a face value of 5 euro and can be used for postal service. But honestly who’s going to send a cover with a silver stamp traveling through the postal service, taking the risk to have it damaged ? The stamp is quite fragile anyway. As you can see on the scan, it is sold in a packaging the size of a credit card.
This is again an example of a stamp issue made for collectors. Is there really a need for a silver stamp ? I have some doubt. On the other hand the result is quite nice so why not.
Another surprise is under preparation : tomorrow the French post should issue a stamp “Merci les bleus” to thank the French team for their good result so far in the Soccer World cup. And we haven’t won yet the semi-final ! If you want to know more about this stamp (and if you read French) you can check the excellent blog of Dominique who also display a picture of this stamp at :

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Clovis


In my post The year 1966 in stamps I was announcing that I would surely show you some stamps issued by France in 1966. Here is the first one I wanted to show you. This stamp is very special for me for various reasons.
First of all it has been issued in 1966 the year of my birth (more precisely it has been issued the 7th of November 1966). Secondly it pictures Clovis, the first king of Franks, and Clovis is the first name of my grandfather ! I can tell you this is not a very common first name in France. In fact Clovis is the ancient form of the modern Louis. I know very very very few people bearing the first name Clovis… Third point this is a stamp designed and engraved by the famous stamps designer and engraver Albert Decaris. I really think he has produced very nice stamps. And last point that makes this stamp special for me is that this was the first French stamp I got when I started by collection years ago, when I was still a little boy…Now back to the subject of the stamp. It pictures the baptism of Clovis by Saint Remi, the bishop of Reims. Clovis was born in 466 and succeeded to his father Childeric I in 481 as king of the Salian Franks. He will later become the first king of all Franks, reaching the unification of the whole nation, in 509. He is considered as the founder of France and also of the Merovingian dynasty that will rule France for two centuries. In 496 Clovis converted to Catholicism at the instigation of his wife, Clotilde. This is very important act that will greatly influence the history of France and Western Europe. Clovis died the 27th of November 511 and his realm was divided among his four sons : Clotaire, Childebert, Chlodomer and Theuderic.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The amber room

I got this cover two years ago and at this time I made a mental note to find out what the stamps were about. And, as very often, I forgot… Recently, while sorting some of my stuff, I found it back and again was impressed by the beauty of the cover (it is actually much nicer than what the scan shows. The stamps are really impressive !). And then I decided to find out what was pictured on the stamps. My stamp catalog helped me to find out that those three stamps that have been issued the 25th of May 2004 belong to a set of four commemorating the opening of the re-constructed amber room. I had no idea of what was the amber room, so I decided to make some research on the Net and I found out a quite fascinating story.
The original amber room was a chamber decorated with amber panels, gold leaf and mirrors. It was built in 1701 and was located first at Charlottenburg Palace, the home of Friedrich I, the first king of Prussia. Its beauty was such that it was sometimes referred as the 8th wonder of the world ! It covered fifty five square meters and contained more than six tones of amber! After several moves, it ended in 1755 at Catherine Palace of Tsarskoe Solo near Saint Petersburg. The amber room disappeared after World War II. What exactly happened remains a mystery and the search for the amber room has become one of the greatest treasure hunts of all times. The most common theory is that it has been destroyed, but some people believe it has been dismantled by the Nazis and is located somewhere in private collections.
In 1979 has started a big program of re-constructing the amber room. This very expensive project ended in 2003 and the re-constructed amber room has been dedicated by the Russian president for the 300th anniversary of Saint Petersburg.
The three stamps on the cover pictures details of the amber decoration of the new room. The fourth stamp of the set pictures a mosaic.