Friday, August 31, 2007

More butterflies

In April I have written about a stamp issued by Sweden and picturing a close up of a butterfly. I recently read that Swedish post is going to issue a second stamp in this series, I’ll show it to you when I get it.

But this time this is Finland post that just issued, on the 24th of August, a set of three stamps picturing those little insect, very popular among topical stamp collectors. Again, I think they chose an original approach, by picturing only the half of the animal. All the three stamps are auto-adhesive and have been issued in band of three.
Here are the stamps and some information about them. The first one pictures a purple emperor (Apatura iris). The orange ring that you see at the bottom of the wing is characteristic of an adult of this species. The blue shade of the wings indicates that this is a male (the female does not bear any blue).
The second stamp pictures a chequered blue (Scolitantides orion). I could not get any information about this one…

The third one pictures a palaneo sulphur (Colias palaneo). Once again this is a male that it pictured, as indicated by the brown borders of its wings.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The joy of blogging

When I started this blog I did not know that it would last so long and that it would bring me so much pleasure. One of the biggest joy I have from this blog is the feedback I get from YOU, my readers. I regularly get some comments or emails, providing some additional information, or suggesting a subject for an article, or just giving some encouraging words. Sometimes I get those words through snail mail, and then the joy is even bigger because it gives me the opportunity to get a nice cover. As this is the case for this letter I received from Jose, who lives in Spain (thanks a lot Jose).

This covers is franked with two stamps issued on the 14th of September 2006. This stamp issue is a joint issue between Spain and Portugal and picturing Iberian bridges. I was really happy to get this cover because I’m very interested in joint stamp issues, as you may know if you regularly read my blog.

The 0.29€ stamp (on the left) pictures the “Puente Internacional de Ayamonte”, a bridge inaugurated in 1991. This bridge is located over the Guadiana river. It connects the area of Algarve in Portugal with the area of Andalucía in Spain, helping to bring both countries together.
The 0.57€ stamp pictures the bridge of Alcantara. It was built in the years 105 and 106 by architect Cayo Lulio Lacer. It has six arches looking over the Tajo river. It is 214 meters long and 48 meters high. It bears in the centre an arc of triumph with two marble plaques where features the name of the emperor Trajan to whom it was devoted, and the year it was built.

The Portuguese stamps of this issue re-uses the same design and have been issued at the same date, therefore this joint issue can be classified as a Twin issue.

Once again, thank you Jose and thank you to all my readers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Georgia, the cradle of wine ?

(I know, I know… I have been lazy these last days and I haven’t updated my blog. Well in fact because of some unpredicted external circumstances I was not really in the mood for stamps. But now I’m back to stamps, and back to my blog).
Few days ago I have written about wines from Argentina. I got feedbacks from several of my readers. One from India gave me some information about the wines produced by his country. I did not know India was producing wines ! Another reader sent me some information about this souvenir sheet.

It has been issued by Georgia on the 11th of July 2007. Some people consider that Georgia is one of the first area in the world where wines have been produced. It is sometimes referred as the “cradle of wine”. This souvenir sheet pictures a bronze statue from the VII century BC. It was discovered during archaeological excavations in the city of Vani. This statue is the statue of a Tamada, a toast master, and as you see on the souvenir sheet it is sometimes considered as the symbol of the earliest wine making in the world. The sheet also pictures amphora that were used at this time to carry and to stock the wine.
“Georgia cradle of wine” is also the name of a national competition that was run beginning of the year to promote Georgian wines. The winner of the competition was offered a replica of the bronze statue pictured on the stamp.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Origami on stamps (3)

A long time ago I have written here and here about my interest for Origami and about my quest for stamps related to this subject. Due to lack of time, I hadn’t progressed much on this quest. Yesterday, almost by accident, I happened to come across a set of stamps that fits into this subject.

This is a set of stamps issued on the 29th of August 1974 by Solomon Islands to celebrate the centenary of the UPU. Each stamp pictures a famous and impressive Origami item, with the map in the background. Here are some details for each stamp (ordered by face value ) :
· 4c : Postman, adapted from a model by George Rhoads
· 9c : Carrier Pigeon, by Akira Yoshizawa
· 15c : St. Gabriel based on the angel by Neal Elias
· 45c : Pegasus by Isao Honda

My skills in Origami are for sure not at the level of those designs. I’m still fighting with the basic models ;-)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Birds from Argentina

I recently got the opportunity to add some new items to my collection of stamps issued in 1966. Among those items, there were those two stamps from Argentina.

They have been issued on the 26th of March 1966. They are both semi postal stamps (the one on the right is an airmail semi postal stamp) bearing a surtax for the children. Both stamps have been printed on a very thin paper making them rather fragile compared to other stamps issued at the same time by Argentina.
The stamp on the left pictures a Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis, the scientific name written on the stamp is the old name of this bird). It is a common bird widespread throughout South America.
The stamp on the right pictures a couple of horneros (Furnarius rufus), a bird from South America that take its name from the very particular shape of its nest. This bird builds a nest in mud that looks like a wood-fired oven, the Spanish word hornero comes from horno, meaning oven. The nest is used only once, and contains two chambers for the 3 or 4 eggs. An adult hornero is usually sitting on top of its nets to protect the chicks.To be noticed that the hornero is one of the national emblems of Argentina.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Zealand

New Zealand is a country where I would really like to go. I don’t know why but I have been fascinated by this country since I was a kid. May be because this is so far away from France… I have a plan to go there in 2011 for the Rugby World Cup (I know, I know, I sound obsessed by rugby.. but I’m not, well not completely.). This is just a dream for the moment. Four years from now, this is far away. A lot of things may happen in he mean time.This introduction just to explain you how happy I am when I get a cover from New Zealand. And even more when it was not expected because the cover I’m showing you today comes from a contact who normally leaves in the USA ! He spent few days of holidays in new Zealand and had the nice idea to send me a cover. So here is the scan.

A very simple cover, but rather nice. A very clear and clean postmark from Wanganui , that makes me jealous when I see how dirty are the postmarks we usually get in France !
The two circular stamps belong to a set that I already mentioned
here and picture endemic animal from New Zealand. The two stamps on the cover picture a Yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) and a tuatara, a very strange animal that looks like a lizard but that relates both to lizards and snakes (this is a very strange animal, there is so much to say about it that, if you are interested, I invite you to check the article on Wikipedia).
The third stamp belongs to a set of seven definitive stamps issued on the 9th of May 2007 and picturing various sceneries of New Zealand. This one picture the area called Whakarewarewa, a geothermal area full of geysers. According to a Maori legend, this is the place where the goddesses of fire (Te Pupa and Te Huatu) emerge from the earth’s core inhaling and exhaling, and then creating geysers.I did not resist to the idea of showing you the full set of definitive stamps that I find rather attractive. Here is it. Nice isn’t it ?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Postal stationery from Belarus

I recently received this postal stationery (this is an envelop) through a stamp exchange circuit. The sender had used this envelop to wrap his stamps, and I finally found it almost more interesting that the stamps themselves ;-)
I could not find the date of issue of this stationery, neither could I find the occasion for which this cover was issued. For sure it is related to sport. I’m not very familiar with Cyrillic alphabet, but I could find out that the word written in white and blue letters on the top of the illustration means “sport” .

What I liked is that the illustration re-uses the design of three different stamps issued by Belarus. The first one, starting from the left, is a stamp issued on the 25th of October 2001 about windsurfing. Here is a picture of the original stamp.

In the middle, we can find a stamp issued on the 14th of November 2003 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the FIFA, the international football federation. The full set contains four stamps, and here is a picture of the original stamp reproduced on the cover.

The last stamp on the right was issued on the 1st of February 2002 together with three other stamps to celebrate the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games. The stamp pictures the biathlon. Here is a picture of the stamp.

There is also a sort of postmark which contains inscriptions that I could not decipher. If you know more about this postal stationery, don’t hesitate to contact me

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cover from Guatemala

I’m back from Marseille. France has won against England ! Once again ! I had a very nice weather and I was lucky enough to travel in the same plane than the French rugby team ! I also got the opportunity to meet Johnny Wilkinson himself (the number 10 of English team), at the airport of Marseille on my way back home. What a weekend !

Well, back to Paris, back to work and back to bad weather ;-) For today I have selected a cover from Guatemala. This is my first cover from this country ! I was not able to find detailed information about the stamps. The only thing I can say is that they were issued on the 12 of December 2006 to celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relationship between Brazil and Guatemala. I could not find any information on what is actually pictured on the stamp.
What is puzzling also is the postmark. I should say the postmarks. Both postmarks are rather impressive. As you see the stamps are cancelled first with a first day cancel. Then there is a second cancel, dated from the 24th of July 2007 (the date when the cover was actually sent). I wonder how this is possible that this letter was sent (and cancelled) in 2007 whereas the stamps were already cancelled in 2006! This is a strange situation that could not occur in France. I wonder how it was possible. If you have any explanation, I will be happy to her from you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Away to Marseille

Just a short post to tell you that I will leave tomorrow (early in the morning) for a three days weekend to Marseille, a city located on the South coast of France. I’m going there for rugby. Last weekend the French team has won against the English team in London, and on Saturday this is the revenge, that will be held in Marseille. I hope we will win once again, this would be a very good sign in this time of preparation of the Rugby World Cup that will start on the 7th of September in Paris.Marseille has been pictured on several French stamps. To illustrate this post I have selected a recent one that I really like.

It has been issued in 2002 for the 75th congress of the French federation of the philatelic associations. This congress, that is held every year, was held in Marseille between the 17th and the 20th of May.
The stamp pictures a part of a very nice area of Marseille : le vieux port (i.e. the old harbour). On the stamp you can see St Jean’s fort (le fort Saint Jean) and the cathedral Sainte-Marie-Majeure (on the left side of the stamp), the entry of the harbour being on the right side of the stamp. This is an area where you can find me, tomorrow afternoon, because I’ll for sure have a walk there, as I always do when I go to Marseille.

Fishes from Taiwan

Yesterday was a day off in France. I took this opportunity to spend some time sorting my stamps and covers, and preparing update of my frog stamps website. The result is that I had no time to write for my blog…For today I have chosen another cover received from a fellow blogger. This time he cover comes from George. Thanks a lot George

This is a nice FDC from Taiwan (actually the cover has been damaged during the transport and it arrived bent in two, but it does not show on the scan). The two stamps are belonging to a set of four issued on the 27th of July 2007. This is the 2007 issue of the Taiwan coral reef fish postage stamps, knowing that a first set has been issued in 2006. As you see, this issue pictures very colourful fishes.
The stamp on the left pictures a fish called Paracanthurus hepatus, commonly known as blue tang. This fish has one or more sharp blades on each side of the caudal peduncle which it sticks out in self defence when in danger.
The stamp on the right pictures a Nemateleotris magnifica, commonly known as fire goby, a very popular aquarium fish.
The two other stamps of the set, not present on this cover, picture the species Balistoides conspicillum and Cetoscarus bicolour.
Have a look also to the very nice first day postmark. You may have noticed also that both stamps bear the inscription “Taiwain” instead of “Republic of China”, as it is the case now for stamps from ROC since almost the beginning of the year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

2550th years of Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha

I have received this cover few days ago, from Velu, a fellow blogger who maintains the Stamp of Velu (if you don’t know his blog, go to have a look, it is very interesting). Thank you very much Velu for this fantastic cover.

The six large stamps of the cover have been issued on the 2nd of May 2007 to celebrate the 2550th years of Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha. The stamps have also been issued in a souvenir sheet. Here is a picture of the full sheet.

Any person who has awakened from the “sleep of ignorance” is called a Buddha. But Siddharta Gautama, is known among Buddhists to be the Supreme Buddha of our age. He was born in Lumbini (today Nepal) and has died in India, 80 years later. The exact date of his birth is not precisely known but it is commonly accepted that he was born in 563 or 566 BC. Before his birth, his mother Mahamaya had a dream in which a white elephant entered her body. Priests interpreted this dream as an indication that she would give birth to a son who would rule the world or renounce to everything to become a great spiritual leader.
At the age of 80, Buddha announced that he would enter Parinirvana, the final deathless state, abandoning the earthly body and getting free from the cycles of birth and death. The Mahaparinirvana refers to the ultimate state of Nirvana, the everlasting highest peace and happiness.
Buddha’s parinirvana occurred in the year 544 BC, the full moon on the May 13th 2006 marked the beginning of the 2550th year of the Mahapanirvana of Buddha. This is the event that is commemorated on the stamps.
The stamps picture various representations of Buddha : a statue of Buddha when he was still a prince, Buddha as an ascetic having renounced to royal luxuries to meditate on the essential truth, a head of mediating Buddha, Buddha holding the nectar of immortality in a jar, various incarnations of Buddha, past and future…Together with this cover, Velu sent me a very informative folder issued by Indian post, from where I got all this information. Here is a scan of the front page of the folder.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cover from Moldova

I have recently received this very nice cover from Moldova from a friend of Eric. This cover made me very happy for two reasons. First one is that this is the first time I receive mail from Moldova ! (one country more in my collection of covers) And the second one is that, as you can see, it is franked with a frog stamp ! So great !

Before speaking about the stamps, I wanted to highlight the very clean cancel from Chisinau (the capital of Moldova). It is very clear, very easy to read and very well placed on the stamps. I would love to be able to get such clean postmarks on the cover I send from France !!!

The two large stamps belong to a set of four issued on the 29th of September 2005. The set is about reptiles and amphibians. The four stamps of the set have also been issued as a souvenir sheet. (You can see the souvenir sheet on the Moldova page of my website The Philatelic Frog).
The stamp on the right pictures a toad. This is a Common Spadefoot (Pelobates fuscus), a rather common toad that has the particularity that when it feels attacked, it exudes a secretion that smells like garlic : hence its other common name : garlic toad.
The stamp on the left pictures a Meadow viper (Vipera ursine) a very widespread venomous viper that can be found from France to China.The last stamp belongs to the definitive series issued in 1992 and pictures the coat of arms of Moldova. Those arms picture a stylized eagle holding a cross in its beak, a sceptre and a branch in its claws. Its chest is protected by a shield that bears the head of an auroch with a sun between the horns, two diamonds, a moon crescent and a five petal flower. You can see a coloured representation of the arms of Moldova
here, on Eric’s blog.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wines of Argentina

Before speaking about the cover I selected today, let me tell you a small anecdote. I work for an international company, present everywhere in the world. Everyday, I interact with my colleagues in USA, China, India, Germany, Romania. This is a fantastic experience. Regularly, our management tries to “help” us to deal with this multi-cultural environment, by providing tools and trainings to teach us how to behave in front of other cultures. Recently they put in place a website where you can learn all sort of tips about the life in other countries. I checked it very quickly for the moment, and of course I checked what they were saying for French people. The main fact that is reported in the first page of the site is : Food is one of the great passions of French people ! And you see a picture with a plate of cheese, a bottle and a glass of wine. Interesting to see that we are presented mainly as food and wine lovers! But finally, this is not very far from the reality ;-) Personally I enjoy good food and good wine.

So wine is the subject of today. I’m not a big specialist of wines, but I really enjoy having a glass of wine with a good meal together with good friends. Even though I really enjoy French wines, I’m not the sort of French guy who thinks that only France is making good wines. I’m very interested in discovering the products of other countries. I have experienced already wines from Australia, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, USA, Romania and even China !

Argentina has become and important country in wine making. And this leads us to the cover of today. It is franked with a souvenir sheet of two stamps. This sheet belongs to a set of four souvenir sheets issued on the 3rd of March 2006 to celebrate four of the main wine regions of Argentina : San Juan, Salta, Rio Negro and Mendoza. Each sheet contains two stamps: one picturing a scenery of the area, and one picturing a step in the wine making. The souvenir sheet on this cover is the one dedicated to Mendoza. The wine type produced in this area is Malbec. Malbec is a red type of wine. This is a dominant red variety of French wines of Cahors (for those who know them). The Malbec grapes have been introduced in Argentina by French agricultural engineer Michel Pouget in 1868. This is a grapes which is now widely planted in Argentina and has become one of the premier wine variety of Argentina. The Argentinean Malbec produces a wine that is softer and less tannic than the French Cahors.

It is a pity that the souvenir sheet has been slightly spoiled during the transport. But still it gives an impressive cover.Do you like wines ? Does your country produce wine ? I would be interested to hear about it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lakes of Kyrgyzstan

I recently received this souvenir sheet through a stamp exchange circuit, and I must admit that I could not identify immediately the its origin country. After some research I found out that this souvenir sheet has been issued by Kyrgyzstan, a country issued from the former soviet union and that is now a member of the CIS.
The stamps have been issued on the 10th of December 2005 and picture various lakes. From left to right and top to bottom : Chatyrkul lake, Sonkul lake, Sarychelek lake and Issykhul lake. The lest and right border of the sheet give some information about the lakes : surface, altitude and depth.
On the top and bottom margin, some fishes are represented. I guess they are types of fishes that can be found in those lakes. Unfortunately I could not find out what are the four species of fiches that are pictured on the sheet. If somebody knows, he/she is welcome to help me.
I have seen, in my Scott catalogue and one the web, other stamps from Kyrgyzstan. What is strange is that all the stamps I saw bear the name of the country in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, whereas this stamp sheet bears only the name in Cyrillic. I wonder if there is any reason behind… If you are interested by stamps from Kyrgyzstan you can check this

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The frog in the moon, once again

Between 1972 and 1974, the archaeological site of Mawangdui located in Changsha, China, has been excavated. On this site, the tombs of three persons from the Han Dynasty have been discovered. The tomb number 1 was the one of a woman who died in her fifties. Inside the coffin, T-shaped silk banners were found on the coffin. One of these banners, depicts the Chinese abstraction of the cosmos and the afterlife as seen at the time of the Han Dynasty. This silk banner has been reproduced on a set of stamp and on a imperforated souvenir sheet from China, issued on the 25th of March 1989. Here is the souvenir sheet, depicting the full banner (as usual, click on the picture to zoom).
The top of the banner pictures the heaven, the bottom the underworld and in the middle is pictured the earth. If you look closely on the top left corner of the banner, you will see a crescent of moon, and just near the moon, you will see the silhouette of a frog, as in the legend I wrote about yesterday. The frog is not very easy to see, because the banner is quite dark.
The three stamps of the set picture each of them a part of the banner : the heaven, the earth and the underworld. Here is the stamp picturing the heaven where we can see a bit better the frog in the moon. It is still a bit dark, I must admit those stamps were extremely hard to scan.

I got all those stamps from a Chinese friend who was kind enough to send me the full set of stamps, but also the FDC and a sort of first day program, that I show you here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Chinese legend

Today I would write about a Chinese legend I learned about recently. Everything started with a stamp sent by a Chinese friend for my frog stamps collection. Here it is.

The stamp belongs to a set issued on the 25th of September 1987 about folk tales. The stamp itself pictures “Chang’e flying to the moon”. As you see, a frog is pictured near the moon. Of course I tried to find more about this story and here is what I learned so far.
I found several versions of the same legend. One of this version tells us that Chang’e was a young girl working in the Jade Emperor’s palace in heaven. Having accidentally broken a precious jar, she was banned from Heaven and was sent on Earth to live with ordinary people. There she met Hou Yi, a young archer, who saved the Earth from destruction : one day, ten suns arose in the sky instead of one, blazing the Earth. Hou Yi shot down nine of the suns and became a hero. Hou Yi and Chang’e married together. In order to live an eternal life with his beloved, Hou Yi searched for an elixir to bring them immortality. After a lot of adventures, he succeeded to get from the Queen Mother of the West, a pill to become immortal. The Queen told Hou Yi that they should both take half of the pill, and not more. Going back home Hou Yi decided that it was wiser to wait one year before eating the pill. He put it in a box, asking Chnag’e not to open it. But she became too curious, and like Pandora in the Greek mythology she opened the box while her husband was away. Afraid that he would discover what she did, she swallowed the complete pill. Because of this overdose, she started to float into the sky landing on the moon, where she turned into a frog !
There are some other versions of the same legend. The variations are around the way Hou Yi gets the pill, or the way Chang’e eats it. But the end is always the same, the two lovers are separated for ever. Also I understood that normally Chang’e turns into a three legged frog, which is not the case on the stamp. It seems that, when looking at the moon from some places, you can see the silhouette of a three legged frog. Hence the legend.

The frog in the moon, can be seen on another set of stamps, issued two years later. But I’ll write about them tomorrow.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Just to be fair

Yes I have to be fair today. In previous posts, here and here, I have criticized the French post administration because the postal clerk had stuck a REGISTERED label on the stamps of a cover. So today I would like to show you that this is not always the case, and that sometimes the stamps are safe. Here is a registered cover I got from Russia.

As you can see, the label has been put on the verso of the cover, not on the stamps. There was not so much free space on the recto anyway. I’m glad that the cover was not spoiled.

May be a few words on the stamps themselves. The two large stamps on the right top corner have been issued on the 15th of May of this year. They celebrate the 250th birth anniversary of the Russian painter Vladimir Borovikovsky. The stamp on the far right pictures a portrait of the painter, by I.V.Bugaesky-Blagodarmy, painted in 1824. The other one is a portrait of the Gagarina sisters painted by Borovikovsky in 1802.
The small stamp just on the left of the large stamps is part of the definitive issue of 1998. For the specialist, it pictures a class VL65 electric railway locomotive.The set of stamps on the left border are belonging to the definitive issue of 2003. The green one pictures Catherine palace and the statue of Aphrodite. The yellow one pictures the great palace of Petrodoverts and the statue of “Samson rending the laws of the lion” which is a part of the fountain of the palace. I have already shown a cover bearing those stamps

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

First day cover, frogs of Malaysia

Not much time today, because this is hard time at work. We have to prepare 2008 budget, so everybody is running everywhere trying to gather all the needed information, taking into account than more than half of the team is out for holidays… Why do they always choose the time when everybody is out to request the next year budget ? After several years I still wonder…

So today just a short post to show you a FCD I received recently. This is the FDC of the frog stamp issue of Malaysia that I have shown here and here. I really like the frog shaped postmark. Cute, isn’t it ?