Friday, June 29, 2007

Eric XIV, King of Sweden

This has been a long time since last time I wrote about my collection of stamps about famous Eric. For those who don’t know, I have started a few months ago, a collection of stamps picturing people named Eric (or Erik, Erick or Erich), or picturing items related in any manner to somebody named Eric. I made recently some significant progress in my collection.
In a previous I have already shown a stamp from Sweden related to Eric XIV, King of Sweden that pictures a letter he wrote to Queen Elizabeth I when attempting to marry her !

This king has been the subject of other stamps from Sweden. On the 20th of October 1971, the Swedish post has issued a set of five stamps picturing Swedish Crown regalia. Three of those five stamps are related to Eric XIV.First a stamp picturing his orb.

In 1561 Eric XIV ordered that the orb created for his coronation should be engraved as a terrestrial globe. The orb was cast and jewelled by Cornelius ver Weiden, a Flemish goldsmith who had lived in Stockholm since 1551. Franz Beijer, an engraver from Antwerp, produced the engraving. Then the crown.

The crown was also cast and jewelled by Cornelius ver Weiden.
And finally the sceptre.
As you notice, one of the side of the stamps is not perforated, as very often for stamps from Sweden that are part of a booklet pane.

If you want to know more about the life of Eric XIV I invite you to check his biography at :

I guess you will not be surprised if I tell you that the country that has issued the highest numbers of stamps related to somebody called Eric is Sweden, with almost twenty stamps !

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Covers from Costa Rica

I intended to write this post yesterday but could not find the time for it. I wanted to show you three covers I got from Costa Rica when buying the stamp sheet I showed in my previous post.
The first one is the registered cover that the seller used to send me my purchase.

The four stamps on the cover are belonging to a set of ten stamps (!) issued on the 19th of March 2007 about Orchids of Costa Rica. The stamps picture orchids that you can find in Costa Rica and in Central/South America. Clockwise you can find :
- Guarianthe skinneri
- Kefersteinia retanae
- Coryanthes kaiseriana
- Psychopsis krameriana
I’m not at all a specialist of orchids, but I find them rather attractive. I know that there is a huge number of species that are very different from each others. I have an orchid at home that puzzles me by the periodicity of its flowering : sometimes I have flowers twice per year, and sometimes no flower for more than two years !

On this cover I also appreciate the rectangular cancel (it is not so clear on the scan, even on the cover the cancel is very light). This is not very common to have rectangular cancels.

On top of this cover I got two other registered covers that the seller sent me.

As you can see those covers are franked with stamps issued from the set about pre-Columbian art that I mentioned in my previous post. There are some additional stamps : stamps coming from a set issued in 2005 about national parks : one pictures a flower (a Vine leaf passion flower, Passiflora vitifolia) and the other one pictures a butterfly (Dryas iula moderata).
Additionally you see that one of the covers bear an ATM picture a poison frog. I know two different types of ATM from Costa Rica picturing a frog. This one is the most recent one, used since 2005 I think. Here is another type that is was issued in 2003.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pre-Columbian art

(click on the picture to zoom)
My last purchase on Ebay was this stamp sheet from Costa Rica. I did not find the exact date of issue, but this is a very recent one. The subject of this issue is the Pre-Columbian art from the National museum of Costa Rica. If I understand well the indication in the margin of the sheet, it seems it was issued for a philatelic exhibition organized by the Costa Rica Revenue and Postage Society.
The sheet contains five stamps, each of them depicting a piece of Pre-Columbian art. From left to right and top to bottom we can see :

- a golden jewel having a frog shape : this is the reason why I bought the sheet, because it fits into my frog stamps collection
- a jade jewel having a bird shape
- a sort of stone fresco ?
- a ceramic censer
- a stone statue of a soldier

The margin of the sheet gives some details about each object (in Spanish). Additionally the margin contains the emblem of the exhibition (expo Fila 2007), the emblem of the Costa Rica Revenue and Postage Society, the emblem of the post of Costa Rica and a serial number in red.
A nice sheet that I’m happy to add to my collection.

What is interesting is that the same golden frog jewel has already appeared on a stamp from Costa Rica. Here is a stamp issued on the 4th December 1989 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America.

As you see on the left we find the same golden frog than on the stamp sheet, whereas at the right there is a golden coin picturing Ferdinand V and Isabella I.

When I bought the sheet on Ebay, I made some mistake in computing the shipment cost and I paid a bit too much money for it. The seller had the nice idea to pay me back by sending me some very nice registered covers that I will show you tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2007


You may probably know what is SmartStamp. This is a service started some times ago by Royal Mail which allows you, for a fee of £4,99 for one month (or £49,99 for one year) to print your own stamps directly on a cover. You can read more about this service by clicking here.
The result is a sort of meter stamp which contains a security matrix and an indication of the mail class. More recently, Royal Mail has added the possibility to add a logo, or a picture, in order to customize the stamp. This idea is primarily for companies so that they can include their logo on their mail. Karim, a fellow reader of my blog, had the nice idea to produce a SmartStamp just for me. And he chose to include a picture of… guess what ?… a frog, of course ! Here is the cover I received few days ago.

Thanks a lot for this cover, Karim. I think the result is really nice. I do not know if there are collectors who collect such illustrated SmartStamp. After all, this is like the personalized stamps, the number of possibilities is infinite, as you can produce the stamp as you like.

I wanted to add a few words about the frog that is pictured on the SmartStamp from Karim. This is a Poison dart frog. It is sometimes called Poison arrow frog, dart frog or poison frog. In fact this is a common name given to the group of frogs belonging to the family Dendrobatidae. These frogs can be found in Central and South America. The reference to “arrow” or “dart” in their name is due to the fact that those frogs are used by South American tribes for the preparation of the poison that they put on their arrows or blow-gun darts.
These frogs are usually very colourful, as the one shown on the cover. This is a way to warn the eventual predator that there is a danger to touch or eat this frog. The skin colour can range from bright orange and black to blue or yellowThe poison is coming from numerous alkaloids contained in the skin of the frog. Only a few types contain poison that can kill human beings by entering through cuts or the mouth. The poison is like curare and affects the heart. The Golden Poison Dart frog (Phyllobates terribilis) is reputedly the deadliest creature in the world with enough poison in it to kill ten humans.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Water birds and… a frog

I have the opportunity to receive stamps from all over the world. Usually I get stamps about fauna and flora since these are my favourite topics. And sometimes I get good surprise.I recently received this nice set of stamps.

(click on the picture to zoom)
This et of five stamps was issued on the 18th of August 1976 by USSR. This is a set about nature reserves and water birds. From left to right the birds that are pictured are :
- Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)
- Black-throated diver (Gavia artica)
- Common coot (Fulica atra)
- Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)
- Slender-billed gull (Larus genei)
But if you look closer to the left stamp, the one with the egret, what can you see in the beak of the bird ? A frog ! Here is a zoom on it.

So this stamp has its place in my frog stamp collection ! I was looking for it since a long time now and I was not able to get it, for any reason. And now I got it by accident, through simple stamp exchange. Cool no ?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cover from Korea

Good things never last, the wireless internet connection of my hotel room is still very efficient but is no more free :-(( It seems only the first 24 hours were free. So as I had to pay for it, better to use it as much as possible.Since several weeks I wanted to share with you a cover that I received from Korea and that I found really nice. Here it is.

The actual size of the envelope is quite small, this is why the stamps look so big on it.

The stamp located on the left has been issued in 2006. It pictures a pansori singer. The word “pansori” means “song that is sung at a space bustling with many spectators” and describes a traditional Korean narrative song. In such a performance, the singer sings a song and makes use of body language to the tune of the drummer. During the performance of the pansori, members of the audience freely utter stylized cries of encouragement which blend rhythmically with the singing: as indicated by its name, a pansori performance brings the performer into the midst of the audience. Though the facts of its origin have been lost to time, pansori’s stories reflect the moods of the times. The stamp pictures Mo Heung-Gap, one of the best pansori singer, on a portrait from the 19th century. The stamp was issued to celebrate the fact that pansori was selected by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of the Oral Tradition and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.
The stamp on the right, has been issued on the 21st of February 2007 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Debt Repayment Movement. In 1907 the whole population attempted to participate to the repayment of the national debt in various ways : some people gave up tobacco for three months and used the money saved from this to defend the nation, some women sold their rings and ornamental hairpins. The ring pictured on the stamp celebrate this patriotic movement.

At the end it gives a very pleasant cover that I’m glad to add to my collection.

All information about the stamps are coming from the Korean post website :

Monday, June 18, 2007

Enigmatic cover from Hungary

While I’m writing this post I am in Stuttgart, in my hotel room, experiencing a very high speed wireless connection for free. It’s rare enough to be mentioned ! But let’s go back to stamps and philately.I have recently received this cover from Hungary, which is, for me, a bit of an enigma.

First of all I was thrilled when I got it because it was my first cover from Hungary ! Since then I have received another one that I will probably show you in a future post.
Let’s start by the stamp itself. This is an air mail stamp belonging to a souvenir sheet containing four stamps and issued in 1974 for the centenary of the UPU (Universal Postal Union). The stamp pictures Apollo 15. The brownish thing you see on the upper left corner is a part of the UPU emblem : each stamp of the souvenir sheet pictures a part of the UPU emblem that you can see when the four stamps are put together. As far as I have understood the three other stamps of the sheet picture various means to carry mail. The astronauts of Apollo 15 have carried some mails during their mission to create philatelic souvenirs (according to what I have read on the Net, these astronauts have even carried more letters than they were actually authorized by the NASA… they wanted to make extra money from this ;-) !).
Ok, where is the enigma you will say ? Well in the marking. First see the T marking. For me, this marking is used to indicate a tax to be paid because the letter is not correctly franked. I would not be surprised that a stamp from 1974 with a face value of 2.50 Forint is not enough to frank a letter from Hungary to France in 2007. But on the other hand I didn’t pay any tax, I just got the letter in my mailbox as any other letters. So why the T ?Then the second marking is even stranger for me : what does LEVELSZEKRENYBOL means ? I must admit that my Hungarian is not fluent enough to understand… So if any reader of my blog could help me to decipher this cover, he/she will be welcome. Just drop me a mail at or put a comment on this blog. Thanks a lot.

Protecting against Earthquakes

I am finally back to an operational state ;-) after two days of rest to recover from the jetlag. And today I’m leaving (again) to Stuttgart, the last part of my professional trip. Then I should be quiet for few weeks/months.I wanted to come back on my trip to Shanghai. When I planned my trip, I was expecting to find some time to go to a post office in order to buy some stamps. But with only three days on site and a lot of things to do, it appeared impossible. But I had a good surprise when arriving at the airport. At Pudong Airport, Shanghai international airport, there are, as in all airports, several shops selling souvenirs to the travellers. Among those shops, there is a shop from China Telecom that sells books illustrated with stamps and coins, complete stamps sets of the past years and stamps folders, sort of presentation pack for some specific issues. I selected one of these folders, that fits into my frog stamps collection. Here is a scan of the front page of the folder.

This is a presentation pack of the stamp issued on the 26th of July 2006 and called Protecting against and Mitigating Earthquakes Disasters. The folder contains one example of the stamp and also a block of four. Here is the block of four.

I have already spoken on my blog about this stamp (I think) and about the seismograph that is pictured on the stamp. The small animals that you see around the main vase are frogs (or toads) this is why this stamp fits into my collection. If you want to know more about the seismograph and the way it works, you can read an article that I wrote about it on my website. This type of seismograph has been illustrated on several stamps from China and also from Macau. I’m preparing an update of my website where I will show all of them.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Back to France

Just a short note to tell you that I'm back to France. Unfortunately I feel a bit too sleepy to be able to post something on my blog today. More to come during the weekend, hopefully.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cover from Czech Republic

I have several times mentioned, here on my blog, that I am positively impressed by the high quality of stamps issued by Czech republic. One of the reader of my blog sent me this cover together with a very nice letter (I’m late to answer but don’t worry I will !).

The stamp of this cover has been issued on the 13th of November 1996. It belongs to a still running series about Art on stamps. This one picture a painting called “Breakfast with an egg” by Goerg Flégel. Goerg Flégel is a German painter born in 1566 and who died in 1638. During his life his has painted more than one hundred watercolour pictures, mainly still life picturing meals. If you are interested you can see some of his works by clicking here.
The stamp is recess printed, as all stamps of the Art series. On the scan the stamp looks a bit dark, I think my scanner was disturbed by the intense yellow colour of the envelope. Here is a better image of the same stamp.

As you see the stamp has been cancelled twice : once with a very nice pictorial postmark celebrating the Prague International Marathon. The second cancel is a more standard one. It is a pity that this second cancel is somewhere spoiling the stamp. Never mind this is a nice cover that I’m glad to add to my collection.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cover from Argentina

Finally I managed to find some free time to update my blog and I also succeeded in configuring my laptop so that the Internet connection of my hotel is working. Shanghai is a fascinating city, I have so many things to discover and so few time… I’m also discovering that the real Chinese cuisine has nothing to do with what you can eat in Chinese restaurant in Paris ! But enough about me, let’s talk about stamps.

Since few days I wanted to share with you this very nice cover I got from Argentina.

As you see the cover bears a complete souvenir sheet on the right side. This souvenir sheet has been issued on the 5th of May 2007 to celebrate the Argentina Toy Industry. The toys that are pictured are : wooden horse, toy tea set, tin train and lead soldiers.
The stamp located on the left of the souvenir sheet has been issued on the 9th of September to celebrate the bicentenary of the creation of the infantry corps “Particios”. The first 'Los Patricios' Infantry Regiment is the oldest regiment in the Argentine Army and is permanently based in Buenos Aires
I could not find any information about the last stamp…
The postmark is quite clear : it seems to come from a philatelic centre so this could be expected.
This is quite rare to see a cover franked with a complete souvenir sheet. A rather nice cover, isn’t it ?

Monday, June 11, 2007


Just a short note to tell you that I have arrived safely in Shanghai. I fell a bit jetlagged but that's ok. I'm not sure I'll have a lot of free time to update this blog during the nex three days. I'll do my best.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Best Joint Issue 2006

I think that I already told here in this blog that I am a member of the International Philatelic Society of Joint Stamp issues. Since now several weeks I am even acting as a webmaster, updating the website with the latest news.
Each year, the members of the society vote to elect the best Joint Stamp Issue of the year. For 2006 this is the joint issue between Honk Kong and Austria about Fireworks that has been elected. An issue that I already presented in my blog.
Click here to know more about this election.
And now I'm on my way to Shanghai.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Frogs on private post stamp issue

I’m back in France for one day, just before leaving to China. My trip to Romania was nice, very hot weather there. I have been very busy preventing me from updating my blog… I had also no time to spend on stamps. I wanted to go to a post office to try to buy some recent Romanian stamps, but I could not.
Hopefully some readers of my blog keep me informed about the recent issues that could be interesting for me. For example, Karim, from Germany wrote me about a new set of stamps issued by Pin AG, a private mailing service that belongs to the Pin Group located in Luxembourg. According to what Karim said, this is the only mailing service that claims to cover most of all parts of Germany. There are some others private companies that only cover come specific areas of the country. Pin AG has issued this set of stamps and this stamp sheet.

(click on the picture to zoom)
As you see on of the stamp pictures a frog (a cute one !) and this is why it triggers my interest. These stamps have been issued in May during last Essen Stamp Show.

This is interesting to see that more and more private mailing services (or private post) are using pictorial labels for their “stamps”. At the very beginning of the privatisation of the postal service this was not the case. But I guess that private posts, as public ones, have understood that by doing this, they could also get money from stamps collectors… This is always good to take for them!

(pictures are coming from Pin AG website)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Malaysian frog stamps on cover

Some times ago I have mentioned a new issue from Malaysia picturing frogs. I have had the pleasure to receive this nice cover from Ian, a reader of my blog, and I really wanted to share it with you.

(click on the picture to zoom)
As you see the cover bears the three stamps belonging to the issue I mentioned. It gives a very result and this the best cover bearing frogs stamps that I have received so far. I’m glad to add it to my collection.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Shame on me. I am awfully late to update my blog… But I have some excuses, as you will see. In fact I planned an update on Friday last week, but I had to leave early for a three days weekend to Bordeaux. Then I came back late on Sunday, and I left early this morning, to Timisoara. I’m starting a series of professional trips that will bring me this week in Timisoara for four days, then four days next week in Shanghai, and the week after two days in Stuttgart. While I’m writing these lines, I’m in my hotel room in Timisoara, using a much-too-expensive wifi connection, and sweating heavily : it’s damned hot and wet !

I had prepared some material before my long weekend that I’m going to use now. I wanted, as I did it for Reims, to show you some stamps related to the city of Bordeaux. In fact there are plenty, so I just made a small selection.

In case you don’t know, Bordeaux is a city located in the south west of France, in the Aquitaine, an area very well known because it produces very famous (and sometimes very expensive) wines. If you know something about French wines, you know about Bordeaux. (I know what you think : I always spend my time in area where they produce wines ! This time I was in Bordeaux for the rugby, not for the wine !).But let’s come back to stamps. Let’s start by the coat of arms. Two stamps have been issued picturing the coat of arms of Bordeaux.
The one on the left has been issued in 1941. The one on the right in 1958. If you are interested by the meaning of the coat of arms, here are some details. The leopard is here to symbolise the time when Bordeaux was a British city. Yes, between the 12th and the 15th century Bordeaux was part of the English realm, following the wedding of Eleanor d’Aquitaine with Henri Plantagenet, who became later the king Henry II of England. The fortress symbolises the old city hall, the water pictures the Garonne, the river that crosses the city, the crescent of moon pictures the port of Bordeaux that is called le Port de la Lune (the port of the moon).

(click on the picture to zoom)

This stamp is an air mail stamp picturing a very nice view of Bordeaux from plane. It was issued in 1949. An example of the nice stamps that were produced at this time… Bordeaux has several bridges that cross the river Garonne. Here is a suspended one, called le Pont d’Aquitaine, pictured on a stamp from 1967.

Bordeaux was one of the cities selected to host games of the 1998 Soccer World Cup, so of course a stamp was issued to celebrate this. By the way Bordeaux is also selected to host games of the 2007 Rugby world cup.

And the last, but not the least, another nice stamp that I often used on covers when it was issued in 2004.

This stamp was issued to commemorate the inauguration of the tram that made a lot of debate when it was opened. Works to build the tram have provoked a lot troubles in the city for the circulation of cars (and it is still the case because the tram is being extended…) on top of some technical difficulties that delayed it’s opening. But the tram is now very useful to travel across the city.
This is only a quick selection of few stamps. Bordeaux is really a nice city that you should not hesitate to visit if you have the opportunity.

By the way, the picture used on this post (and some others) are coming from the excellent web sites PHILA ECHANGE and PHIL-OUEST that I recommend to you if you are interested in French stamps.