Wednesday, January 31, 2007

International polar year (2)

Well, I just discovered that all stamps planned to be issued for the international polar year (see previous post) are displayed at
(Thank you George anyway for sending me the picture of the one from USA).

International polar year

As you may know already, the 1st of March will mark the beginning of the international polar year, a scientific event that will involve 27 nations, highlighting polar research and increasing the understanding of the sensitive environment of the Arctic and Antarctic (to know more on this event, click one ).
At this occasion, eight postal administrations will issue a joint issue : Sweden, Greenland, Norway, Canada, USA, Denmark, Finland, Iceland.
Here is the one from Sweden.

The stamps are designed by two Swedish artists : Svenerik Jakobsson who designed the left stamp and Joahan Petterson who realized the painting pictured on the right stamp. The souvenir sheet pictures a topological map of the Arctic Ocean seabed, and the colored symbols used by the AMANDA telescope to register a neutrino reaction 1500m down into the glacier ice at the South Pole.

Here is the one from Finland.

I really like this one. In case you did not notice it yet, the stamps of the souvenir sheet partially overlap. On the shared part, there is a snowflake hologram that twinkles. The hologram can be detached as part of either of the stamps, or can be used separately as a decorative item on a cover.
I do not have (yet) the issues from the other countries. In case you have a scan of one if them, I will be glad to to show it on my blog.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cover from Spain

Among the nice covers I received last weekend, there was this one.

(click to zoom)

It comes from Spain, it was sent by Ãngel, a reader of my blog (Thank you Ãngel) and also a blogger on his own (see Send me a cover). This is the first nice cover I get from Spain, so I’m happy again to add it to my collection.
The stamp located on the left top corner is one of the two stamps issued by Spain for the Europa 2006 issue. It was issued on the 12th of September 2006 and is dedicated to the integration of blind people. The design of this stamp is the winning design of a school context organized by ONCE (the national organisation for the blind) among young people between 8 and 18 years old. The stamp pictures a keyboard with Arab and Braille digits, and contains the word Normalisation written in the four official languages of Spain.
The souvenir sheet located on the right side is one of the souvenir sheets issued for España 06, the world philatelic exhibition that was held last year in Spain. This souvenir sheet is a tribute to Pablo Picasso and pictures the Picasso Museum together with a portrait of the painter. The stamp located in the middle is also coming from a souvenir sheet of España 06 but this one illustrates Flamenco. The last two stamps are definitive stamps.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Cover from Egypt

I’ve had a very busy weekend. I just can not believe that two days have already passed and that it’s time again to go to work… My weekend was also busy from a philatelic point of view. On Saturday I had to go to the post office to retrieve 5 registered letters coming from various places, and containing interesting stamps on and inside the cover. I’m going to show you all that in the coming days.
For today, a cover that I received few days/weeks ago. It comes from Egypt. I realized that this is the first time I get a cover from Egypt. So I’m happy to have this new addition to my collection.
I think the stamps are very representative of the stamps issued by Egypt these last years. I did not find much information about them, except on the one that is on the left corner. It was issued on the 16th of April 2006 and is a tribute to Gamal Hemdan an Egyptian geographer. All the other stamps are also from 2006 but I could not find anything on them yet. The postmarks are hard to read, but the overall condition of the cover is pretty good.

Friday, January 26, 2007

SEPAC stamps

You probably know Europa stamps, the omnibus series issued by a set of European countries each year and sharing the same subject (at the very beginning they were even sharing the same design). Europa stamps are very famous among stamps collectors and their cost is increasing. Probably surfing on the wave of this success, a set of postal administrations have created the SEPAC : Small European Postal Administrations Cooperation. This is a group of twelve “small” postal administrations. They announced that they will issue the 1st of October 2007 a joint issue in a similar way than the Europa series.

What is a “small” postal administration ? The rules are :
- The post office/postal administration must be located in Europe
- The post office/postal administration must be independent
- The post office/postal administration must have a small market with more than 50% of its philatelic customers living outside the country (!)
The list of the twelve members is : Aland, Faroes Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco and San Marino.
The SEPAC joint issue will be issued every two years and the first theme will be “scenery” (it will be also the same theme in 2009). San Marnio will not take part of the first issue. The first eleven stamps will be gathered in a folder that will be entitled “Beautiful corners of Europe”.Here are the two first pictures of the future stamps from Aland and from Iceland for this issue.

It’s clear that this emission is intended to address only the philatelic market, so we can regret that we are far from stamps issued for postal needs. But, on the other hand, if it gives us the opportunity to see some nice stamps, why not ?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bats from Romania

As I have the opportunity to travel to Romania, from time to time, for professional reasons, I always keep an interested eye on the stamps issued by this country. Unfortunately, I often have the feeling that Romania has kept some bad habits inherited from the past, and issues too many topical stamp sets. This was my feeling when I saw (and received from a friend) this souvenir sheet.

Impressive, isn’t it ? For interested people the bats that are represented are (from top to bottom and left to right) :
- The Greater Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis myotis)
- The Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
- The Brown Long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus)
- The Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus
- The Greater Noctule bat (Nyctalus lasiopterus)
- The Barbastelle Bat (Barbastella barbastellus)
I do not like bats. I remember that when I was in Sydney in 2003, there was this tree in the Botanic garden, full of bats. As it was in the middle of the day they were sleeping, but I was afraid to walk under the tree…
When I saw this souvenir sheet, I thought that there was a low probability to see these stamps on a cover. And I was wrong ! Few days ago I received this registered cover from Romania.

Yes the full sheet is used on the cover. It is a pity that the postal clerk has stuck the registration label on the corner of the sheet. But I guess that examples of this souvenir sheet used on cover must not be so common…

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More lottery stamps

Following the comment from Rob (Hi Rob, I’m gonna write you soon) on my post about lottery stamps from Japan, I had a look to the case of Estonia. Rob is right, the 1st of December 1999, Estonia has issued a Christmas lottery stamp, for the first time.

The design was the same than the one of the “normal” Christmas stamps, with the addition of a 1.90 kroon surcharge and a unique sequential number. The draw has taken place on the 15th of January 2000. According to the Estonian post web site, only stamps actually used on postage before 13 January 2000 were taken as part of the draw. The prizes were certain amounts of money and had to be taken out before the 15th of February 2000.Obviously this operation was not a very big success, since it was not repeated the year after…

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Year of the pig

We just had a major network failure, here at work, so I could not update my blog as usual, this morning. Now I have hundreds of mails waiting for me so I haven’t much time to write. This post will be short. Just to stay in the mood of yesterday, here is a cover I received few days ago.

It comes from China (PRC) and bears the stamp issued by China post for the year of the pig. The stamp was issued on the 5th of January, this cover is a FDC. I think the stamp is quite cute, with this little pigs around their mother. The first day cancel (on the left corner) is also cute, I do not know why they did not put it on the stamp.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lottery stamps from Japan

This is the time in the year when several postal administrations issue their stamps related to the lunar new year. We will soon leave the year of the dog to enter the year of the pig (or boar). I do not collect such stamps, but I’m always interested to see how a postal administration has chosen to illustrate Chinese horoscope.I recently received this cover from Japan.

The stamps on this cover are “New Year” stamps and they picture Chinese horoscope animals. The two stamps picturing a dog (the large one on the left part of the cover and the small one on the right) have been issued end of 2005. The two other ones picturing a board have been issued the 1st of November 2006. A nice cover that illustrates the transition from one year to another!
What triggered my curiosity is the number printed on the two large stamps. After some research I came to the conclusion that they are lottery stamps !
The first Japanese stamp for new year wishes was issued by Japan post in 1935. This stamp pictured the Mont Fuji. Since 1948, new year stamps are issued every year, and since 1949 they picture the Chinese horoscope animal of the year to come. Since November 1989 those stamps are printed with a unique number (usually in red) in order to participate to a huge lottery. In January of the following year, Japan post draws the lots of this lottery and the results are published on its website.
I do not know if such lottery stamps exist in other countries. I would be interested to hear from you if you know something more on this subject.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Marianne of Cocteau

Something different for today. Yesterday I was discussing with some friends about definitive stamps from France. As you probably know, since years now, the French definitive stamp pictures Marianne, the female allegory of the republic. We were discussing which “Marianne” stamps we prefer. Mine is this one.

This is the one we call “Marianne de Cocteau” because it has been designed by Jean Cocteau (1888-1963), the famous French poet and artist. The stamp has been engraved by Albert Decaris. This Marianne has been issued in 1961 and sold until 1967. At this time it has disconcerted the critics because of its design which is very disruptive compared to the previous and following ones. This stamp was also a technical challenge because of its size and the fact that it is recess-printed with three colours. The design of this Marianne was reused in 1982 for a commemorative stamp celebrating Philex France 82 a philatelic exhibition.

I have always been interested and impressed by the work of Jean Cocteau. When I was young, I was highly impressed by his movies : The eternal return (1943), The beauty and the beast (1946), The eagle with two heads (1848) , Orpheus (1950)… I like his universe. I guess this is why I like his Marianne. I like it also because it is so different compared to the other ones that have a much more traditional design.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Frogs on definitive stamps

Following my post of yesterday, I have checked my collection of frog stamps and I was quite surprised to see that several countries have actually issued definitive stamps picturing frogs. A first quick check gave me : Australia, Aruba, Solomon islands, Sweden, New Zealand…
To illustrate the post of today I have chosen some from Australia.

In general, Australia has issued a lot of stamps picturing frogs. I think this is the most represented country in my collection ! It could be understood because there are around 200 species of frogs and toads that live in Australia, and some of them can be found only there.
The three stamps that I show here belong to the definitive set of 1982/1983. This definitive set contains stamps picturing various reptiles and amphibians. The 3c and 27c stamps have been issued on the 19th of April 1982 (they have been re-issued in 1984 with a different perforation) and the 70c has been issued on the 2nd of February 1983.

The 3c stamp pictures a Corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree). This is a frog which is very easy to identify. It gets its name from the bright yellow and black strips that look like the body painting used in some Aboriginal ceremonial dances, also called corroborees. This frog lives in the Snowy Mountains at altitudes above 1000 metres. Sadly, this frog has recently suffered a serious decline in numbers.

The 27c picture a Blue mountain tree frog (Litoria citropa), a very handsome frog that lives in the Blue mountains, west of Sydney (a nice place that I had the chance to visit in 2003).
The 70c pictures a Crucifix toad (Notaden bennetii) which is known also as the Holy Cross toad because of the design of its back that looks like a jewelled cross. The Crucifix toad is actually a frog and not a toad. The only true toad that lives in Australia is the Crane toad (Bufo marinus) which is pictured in several stamps but none from Australia.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Letter from Iran

I have this scan in the hard disk of my PC since now several weeks but each time I forget to share it with you. But today is the day.

A letter from Iran is not something very common for me. I think this is the first time I get one. In fact I bought some Iran stamps from 1966 on Ebay and the seller sent me the stamps in the registered letter. The stamps used on the cover are definitive stamps. Butterfly is a very famous topic among topical collectors. The current definitive stamps from Iran picture butterflies that can be found in this area of the world. There are four different stamps on this cover but they picture only three different species : The greek clouded yellow (Colias aurorina), the lemon butterfly (Papilio demoleus) and the European peacock (Inachis io). It is a pity that the stamps have been stuck on each other, but I like this cover anyway.

Speaking about definitive stamps having a topical interest makes me think about the excellent set of articles that you can read on Adrian’s blog (Akphilately) about lions pictured on definitive stamps. It gave me the idea for a next post about frogs on definitive stamps ;-) Easy no ?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


The packaging of the French definitive stamps booklets has changed : yesterday, 15th of January, the French post has issued the “éco-carnet” (carnet = booklet) with "éco" standing for ecological !

On the cover of the booklet it is written “Pour la planète” which means “For the Earth”. The paper of the cover is made from wood coming from specific forests that are cultivated in an ecological way. And the gum of the stamps are without solvent.
Another change is that the booklet contains 12 stamps instead of 10 before.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Endangered species from Ecuador

I have been very busy last week, so I did not have much opportunities to write in this blog. I hope this week will be better.Today I want to share with you my last stamp purchase on Ebay. This is an item for my frog stamps collection.

This set of four stamps has been issued by Ecuador the 14th of December 2006. The stamps picture endangered species. I could not (yet) determine precisely what species of frog is pictured. But I’m still searching. Each stamp bear the emblem of an organization that works for animals protection.Together with these four stamps the following item has been issued.

I’m not sure how I should consider this item : is it a stamp ? a label ? a souvenir sheet ? This is not the first time that I see a stamp issue from Ecuador with several stamps and a sort of numbered label that also bear a face value (see the last stamps on the Ecuador page of my website). Anybody know what it is exactly ? Does it have a postal value ? And what is the number which is printed on it ?

You know that I’m not really into FDC but this time I also bought the official FCD of this issue. Here it is.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

1999 Souvenir sheet from China

Yesterday, while going through my stock of stamps from China to put them in an album, I found this souvenir sheet that I had almost forgotten. I am often impressed/puzzled/surprised by the souvenir sheets from China. Some of them have an impressive size. For instance this one has only on stamp but the its length is 175mm. And I have some that are much bigger. This one has been issued in 1999 to celebrate the 1999 World Philatelic Exhibition that was held in Beijing from August 21-30,1999. The exhibition marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the convening of the 22nd UPU Congress in Beijing.

The souvenir sheet’s design integrates the logo of the exhibition. It includes three “9” forming a sort of cloud and a pattern of stamp-tooth below. I could not find any information about what is actually pictured on the sheet : a chest ? a sarcophagus ? If anybody knows, I would be happy to get information.
Anyway I think this souvenir sheet is rather attractive, even if more philatelic than postal.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

First stamp issues of 2007

For today, let’s share some information about the first issues from French post for 2007. On the 8th of January the first stamps and souvenir sheet have been issued. In fact these are two single stamps and one souvenir sheet from the Valentine’s day series.

Since now several years (since 1999 I think) the fist stamps issued are heart shaped stamps to celebrate Valentine’s day. Since 2000 those stamps are designed by famous dress designers (except in 2002 where the stamps have been designed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the famous photographer of the earth seen from the sky). In 2007, Givenchy has been chosen. I think Givenchy is quite well known worldwide. I rather like the stamps, I think they are better than the one of last year. The stamps are also available in auto-adhesive format, but in sheet of 30 only!
The next issues will be on the 29th of January. There will be the souvenir sheet to celebrate the start if the Year of the pig according to Chinese horoscope (the picture is taken from French post website, since the stamps are not yet issued)
The design of the sheet is very similar to the one for the year of the rooster (in 2005) and the year of the dog (in 2006) and I rather like it. I’ll try to participate to the first day ceremony to get some first day cancels, but it will be tough. As usual, this issue will also go together with the issue of a philatelic souvenir (sic). I’ll write about those philatelic souvenirs in a future post.
The same day a booklet of ten auto-adhesive stamps will be issued about antics. Here is a copy of the ad from French post, not a scan of the actual stamps since they have not been issued yet.

If you are interested that I keep you informed on this blog about stamp issue from French post, please let me know. I’ll make sure to get you updated.

Monday, January 08, 2007

First scented stamp from India

A lot of other postal administrations have done it before, but the 13th of December 2006, Indian post has issued its first scented stamp. The subject of the stamp is sandalwood.

The sandalwood tree can be found in India, Sri Lanka, Australia, China, Taiwan, Hawaii and some other South Pacific islands. The scientific name of this tree is Santalum album. The particularity of this tree is that as it grows, an essential oil develops in its roots and heartwood. When reduced into powder or paste, the wood has been used in traditional medicine, together with the oil, to cure various problems. The fragrance of the sandalwood is used in aromatherapy to relieve stress and depression. Because of its highly prized oil, the sandalwood is now endangered and is becoming quite rare and expensive. All sandalwood trees in India are owned by the Government and their harvest is strictly controlled. Nevertheless the illegal growing and export of this tree is not uncommon.
Apart for its oil, the sandalwood is sometimes used for construction but more often is used for carving. The stamp pictures one example of artistic carving made with Sandalwood. I received this stamp through an exchange circuit and I got the pleasure to see that the cover used by my contact also bears the same stamp. Actually this cover is a first day cover of this stamp. I can tell you than when you have the cover in your hand, you really smell the fragrance of sandalwood… I do not know how long the perfume will last, but this is quite impressive.

(click on the picture to zoom)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Endangered birds from India, and more…

You probably know now, that I’m always interested in nice stamps picturing fauna or even flora, even though my main collection is about frog on stamps. Through stamps exchange with one of my philatelic contacts (reader of my blog by the way ;-) ) I received recently this very colorful souvenir sheet from India, and I decided to share it with you.

This souvenir sheet has been issued in 2006 (sorry, I could not find the exact date of issue) and pictures some endangered birds from India. The stamps have also been issued separately, they are printed in strip of four “se tenant”. The birds pictured on the stamps are, from left to right and top to bottom :

The Greater adjutant stork (Leptoptilus dubius). This is the rarest stork in the world. It got its name from the similarity with the military adjutant, because it can stand motionless for hours.

The Nilgiri laughingthrush (Ganulas cachinnans)

The Manipur bush-quail (Perdicula manipurensis)

The Lesser florican (Synpheotides indica)

All those birds can be found in India and Southeastern Asia and are highly endangered.

The cover used by my contact to send them is also interesting. I’m particulary interested in the stamps on the right top corner because they belong to a joint issue between India and Mongolia. As the stamps from India and Mogolia have the same design but have been issued at different time this is a concerted issue (see The stamps from India have been issued on the 11th of September 2006 and the ones from Mongolia have been issued on the 28th of September 2006.

The left stamp pictures an Indian god. The right stamp pictures a horse from the Bronze Age and found in Mongolia.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back from Machester

I'm back from Manchester, where I had a very very nice time. A very good New Year eve celebration... Unexpectedly, my stay in Manchester had a interesting philatelic twist. The hotel where I was staying has a restaurant called the "colony restaurant" which is decorated with big curtains picturing stamps from former british colonies. And more. In the corridor of the hotel, the walls are decorated with sort of paintings that actually contains stamps and covers. I tried to take a photo of one located near my room. The picture is not so good (the corridor was quite dark) but I think you can get the idea.

Back home I found some interesting covers in my mail box that I will show you on this blog in the next days.