Thursday, November 29, 2007

Paquebot mail

I have received this cover some weeks/months ago already, but I haven’t shared it with you yet because I wanted to decipher it completely before. Unfortunately I did not succeed as you will see below.The cover was sent by Velu (thanks a lot Velu for this cover and others).

As you see this is a paquebot mail. What is a Paquebot mail ? The concept is based on the fact that a merchant ship on the high seas is sovereign national territory of the country whose flag she flies. Therefore mail posted aboard a ship in international waters is to be franked with stamps of the country of the ship’s registry. Then when the ship reaches the next port, the mail is handed over to the postal service. Those specific mail are marked with special postal marks (several models exist) to indicate their special status.
On the cover sent by Velu, you see clearly the PAQUEBOT MAIL – POSTED ON HIGH SEAS mark. You also have some indication on the ship (see left part of the cover) : this is the MT.MARONI, registered at WILLEMSTAD, Netherland Antilles. I could not find the signification of the remaining information, below the name of the ship There is a signature on the left bottom corner, I guess this is the signature of the captain ?
The stamp located on the right top corner is a stamp from the Netherlands Antilles (so the country where the ship is registered) : I could not identify the stamp, sorry. If somebody can help ?
You see that the stamp has been cancelled by an ugly unreadable postmark, but there is also a mark from PANAMA post : so the mail was handed over to PANAMA post on the 24th of September. I guess that this red meter mark adds some additional franking, otherwise how should we interpret the 0.45 written on it ?
As you see there are a lot of things that I could not really identify on this cover, so any help is welcome.Paquebot mails are rather rare in these modern days, so thank you very much Velu for this cover that I will keep preciously.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tribute to Greenish post

(Just a quick post for today… so much work… so little time).

I have already shared with you the good experience that I have had with the Greenish post. I recently had, once again, a proof that this postal administration shows respect to stamp collectors. I recently received this cover, containing a letter announcing that the Greenish post will have a booth at the Salon d’Automne, held in Paris early in November.

As you see, the cover is franked with an actual stamp, and is very nicely postmarked. Except from Greenland, Gibraltar and Ireland, I never got any letters from any other postal administrations franked with real stamps. They always use pre-paid postage mark or similar thing. So I was very pleased to see that people at Greenish post take the time to put a stamp on a cover to write to their customers. Nice, isn’t it ?The stamp is one of the two stamps issued early this year to commemorate the International Polar Year. Here is a picture of both stamps, in case you haven’t seen them already.

They have been issued also in a souvenir sheet. The postmark from Tasiilaq is very clean. In case you don’t know, Tasiilaq is the city where is located the philatelic bureau of Greenish post.
I know what you think, this is normal that Greenish post is showing so much respect to their philatelic customers : this is mainly because the philatelic sales probably represent a big part of their income. This is surely true, much more than for the French post, for sure. But still…

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Frogs on postmark

My topical collection about frogs does not include only stamps, but also postal stationeries and postmarks. Early in November, when I have visited the Salon d’automne, the stamp fair, I could not find any new stamps for my collection, but I could buy few covers bearing interesting postmarks picturing frogs. Here are the two nicest ones that I have bought.

The first one is a first day cancel of a UN stamp issue about endangered species. The stamp, issued by the office of Vienna, was issued on the 4th of April 2002 and picture a Sonoran green toad (Bufo retiformis). What is strange is that this toad can be found only in the area of Mexico, so I wonder why it was chosen for the Autsrian office. Anyway, as you see the very nice first day cancel reuses the same design than the stamp. I like it.
The second cancel is also a first day cancel, but what is very strange is that it is not applied on the stamp issued on this day, but on a standard Machin stamp. Here is the picture.

Back in March of 2000 Royal Mail issued the Water and Coast stamps. They were the third instalment in a total of 12 sets issued as part of the Millennium Projects series. The complete set comprised of four stamps featuring photographs, both in black and white and colour, representing different coastal aspects of Britain. One of the stamp pictures frogs legs and water lilies in the first stamp that represented the has a good place in my collection. Here is the stamp.

As far as I understood the first day cancel that I showed above is the cancel of the first day of issue of this stamp. So I wonder how it could be applied on a Machin stamp. In France I don’t think this is possible : a first day cancel must be used only to cancel the associated stamps. Is it different in Great Britain ? Does anybody know ?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Japanese maximum card

I recently received several covers from Japan through the Asian Cover Collectors Club. I’m still fighting to find information about the stamps that were used on them to be able to share them with you. But in one of the covers, the sender has put this very nice maximum card, as a gift, in order to stiffen the envelope and to avoid that it gets bent.

The design of the card is identical to the one of the stamp. The stamp belongs to a series about modern Japanese art. This specific stamp was issued on the 7th of July 1980. It pictures a painting from Seiho Takeuchi (1864 - 1942), entitled “Dear me… this is a shower”. I could not find information about this painting and also about this strange title.
Seiho Takeuchi was born in Kyoto. He was a key-figure of the Kyoto painting circle of his time. He was considered the last “meijin” (master artist) by his contemporaries. Like many Kyoto artists of his time, he was also involved in textile design in the early years of his professional life. A visit to Europe in 1901 proved decisive for the next stage in the development of his style and themes. His work of this period can best be characterised as a successful fusion of the best of Japanese painting techniques and styles, and Western art. In the second half of his career his main sources of inspiration were China and haiku poetry.
The postmark is also very nice. I guess this is a first day cancel. A large red cancel, as I have seen very often on covers from Japan that I have shown here on my blog.I’m not into maximum card, but I think this one is really nice. If you are interested to get it, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Covers from Gibraltar

(I am finally back on line earlier than plan. It’s good to be back thinking about stamps, it helps forgetting the difficulties that life sometimes bring to us…)

Today I wanted to show you a set of three covers that I received from Gibraltar thank to Angel.The first one is franked with a set of four stamps issued on the 4th of May 2006. This is the Europa issue : the theme of Europa stamps in 2006 was integration as seen by your people. I think is set illustrates very well the theme, showing kids of different origin and religion, playing together. A nice colorful set that clearly illustrates the message that they want to give !

The second one is franked with two stamps. The one on the left side belongs to the set issued on the 31st of March 2006 to celebrate the 2006 Soccer World cup in Germany. The full set contains seven stamps that have been issued in a souvenir sheet that I want to show you because I find it very attractive. As you see, each stamp pictures a kid with the face painted according to the color of the flag of one of the previous winner of the world cup : Brazil, England, Argentina, France, Uruguay, Italy, Germany. I think this is a very nice idea. This is quite different from the usual “soccer” stamp showing game actions.

The second stamp was issued on the 28th of February 2007 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signature of the treaty of Rome. The treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community (EEC) and was signed by France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (the latter three as part of the Benelux) on March 25, 1957. The full set contains six stamps, each stamp picturing the flag of one of the countries that have signed the treaty. The set has been issued also in a souvenir sheet that I show you here.

As you see Angel has chosen for both stamps, the one using the French flag : a blue, white, red thematic. Very nice.

The last cover is franked with the set of four stamps issued on the 30th of June 2007. This is the 2007 Europa issue commemorating 100 years of scouting. The stamps depict Gibraltar Scouts from 1908, the 1950’s, a 1980’s Sea Scout and modern day Scout.

All three covers are postmarked with very nice and clean cancel.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cover from Italy

(A quick post for today. My daily life is currently disturbed by severe strikes in public transports in France, so I haven’t much time to update my blog)

I haven’t received so many mails from Italy so far so I was quite happy when I got this one from Pierliugi. Thank you very much Pierliugi.

The large stamp has been issued on the 9th of June 2007 (the cover is in fact a FDC of this stamp). It pictures the Chianca dolmen. The Chianca dolmen is one of the largest dolmen of Europe. It is located near the city of Bisceglie. It was discovered in August 1909. The research was continued in 1910. This dolmen has a broad corridor and is composed of a funeral part and an access passage. It is 1,80m high and the cover stone measures 2,40mx3,80 ! A huge dolmen and a very nice stamp ! The nice first day cancel reuses the design of the dolmen.
The second stamp belongs the definitive series “Women in Art” (Donne dell’arte) , started in 1998 with stamps bearing a face value in Lira. In 1999 the stamps of this series were issued with a double face value Lira/Euro and after 2000 they were all denominated in Euro. The series seems to have ended in 2004. This is a very nice series that pictures portrait of women. The stamp of the cover was issued in 2002 (I think it reuses the same design as one used on a stamp in Lira in 1998 but I’m not completely sure). It pictures the portrait of an Etruscan woman named Velia Spurinna. I could not find a scan of the complete series, but if I find one I’ll show it here, because this is really a very nice series.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The stamp as a link to the internet !

Last week, during the stamp fair held in Paris, I had the opportunity to visit the booth of the Swiss post. I do not know much about stamps issued by Switzerland so I took some time to check the latest issues that were available. I was quite intrigued by one stamp, but unfortunately the lady of the Swiss post was quite busy, so I could not get details about it. Of course, once home, I searched on the internet to find some information and I was quite surprised by what I found.First of all, here is the stamp.

It has been issued on the 31st of October and it is the result of the collaboration between the Swiss post and the Swiss Tourism Office. The pictures is a scenery of the Swiss Alps, nothing really special about it. But what triggered my attention is the right part of the stamp, the logo that looks like cells that you can find in a beehive. I found out that this logo is in fact called a BeeTagg. It is a sort of barcode, that you can “read” with the camera of your mobile phone (of course you need a camera on your mobile phone ;-) and you need to install a specific software on it… a software that you can download for free from a website). Once you have “scanned” the barcode with your mobile, you just need one click and you are re-directed to a specific website. By visiting this website you participate to a draw and you can win some prizes related to skiing. So this barcode is a sort of hyper link, in some way… I guess this is a first ! (and probably the last time, because I do not really see the interest of it).
I did not know about this BeeTagg stuff, I discovered that this is already used on other support than the stamp. You can check is you want to know more.

And to answer the question you probably have in mind ;-) : I did not test the BeeTagg myself, because my mobile is not in the list of mobiles compatible with the software !
Ha, and one precision that may help you understand why I was so intrigued by this stuff : I work in the area of mobile communication, so everything that relates to mobile phones is in my area of interest.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Very nice cover from Germany

The day of yesterday has gone so quickly that I could not find the time to update my blog and to share with you the item I had prepared. So let’s do it today. I have received this very nice cover some weeks ago already. It comes from Germany and was sent by a reader of my blog : thank you very much Kalpana for this cover, for your very nice letter and for the stamps/aerogrammes you sent me.

As you see the cover is franked with two copies of the same souvenir sheet. This souvenir sheet has been issued on the 1st of March 2007. It pictures the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin. The LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was a very large dirigible that was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin (“Graf” being a rank in the German nobility). With a total length of 236.6 meters, the LZ 127 was the largest airship of that time.
It flew for the first time in 1928. In 1929 it flew all over the world in 21 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes. From 1930 to 1936 it was used for regular transatlantic trips between Europe and South America : the stamp on the souvenir sheet pictures also the route of these trips from Friedrichshafen to Buenos Aires. The usage of such airships decreased a lot after the accident of the Hindenburg in 1937and the LZ 127 was dismantled in 1940, its aluminum parts being used by the German war industry.
The LZ 127 has been pictured on several stamps from various countries. I think that this souvenir sheet is really nice. The tamp bears a surtax, but I do not know for which purpose this surtax is used. Additionally the stamp is written “tag der briefmarke” which means “stamps’ day” if my German is not too bad…
The cancel is also extremely nice : it pictures the same dirigible. The cancel is the one used during a stamp fair held between the 26th and the 28th of October in Sindelfingen, as indicated also by the label that is put on the cover under my address.
Nice cover, isn’t it ?

Friday, November 09, 2007

France-Greenland Joint stamp issue

As I announced yesterday I would like to speak about the joint issue between France and Greenland. As a spin off of the international polar year, both countries have issued a common issue to pay tribute to famous French explorers who have traveled to Greenland.The French part of this joint issue is a pair of se-tenant stamps celebrating Jean-Baptiste Charcot (1867-1936).

The stamp on the left is a portrait of Charcot and bears the face value of 0.54€ which is rate of a standard letter (below 20g) for France. The stamp on the right pictures the Pourquoi-Pas (“why not”), probably his most famous boat. The face value is 0.60€, the rate for a letter to European countries. Jean-Baptiste Charcot is very famous for his expeditions in the Polar regions, including Greenland.
The issue of the Greenish post is a souvenir sheet of two stamps and one label.

The label is the same portrait of Charcot as on the French stamp. The stamp picturing the Pourquoi-pas is also reused. But the second stamp pictures a portrait of Paul-Emile Victor (1907-1995) another very famous French explorer who devoted his life to polar region. The stamps are also sold separately.
As very often, for joint issues, the French post has issued a presentation pack containing two pairs of French stamps and two copies of the Greenish stamps. Here is the cover of the pack.

Those stamps and souvenir sheet are very nice I think. This is not surprising since they have been designed by Martin Mörck, a famous stamp designer and engraver that I have already mentioned here.

As I said yesterday, the first day ceremony of these stamps was held during the Salon D’automne. For the occasion, Martin Mörck was present to give autographs. I was able to get his signature on a First day cover of the Greenish issue. Here is it. I was thrilled. This is the first time I get a signature of a stamp designer.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Salon d'Automne

Today was the first day of the 61st Salon Philatélique d'Automne, a stamp fair that is held every year in Paris in the first half of November. The stamp fair will run until Sunday. I had decided to take a day off to be able to attend to this first day, and I'd like to tell you about it. The fair opened at 10H00 AM, but, when I arrived at 9H00 there was already more than 15 people waiting in front of the entry ! Why did I go so early, one hour in advance ? It is because I wanted to buy some LISA (the French ATM) issued by the French post for this occasion. I know from experience of the previous years, that on the first day of the issue, this is extremely difficult to get the LISA. You have to queue for hours in front of the machines, because there are a lot of German and Belgium sellers that buy hundreds of LISA (ATM collection is very famous in Germany and Belgium). So if you want to avoid a long wait, the best is to arrive early to make sure you will be among the first ones in front of the machines. This is what I could do, so I was able to buy some. (Rui and George, watch out your mail box, a surprise is coming to you !). Here is the LISA and the associated receipt.

I find it quite attractive this year. It pictures several monuments from Paris, that you surely know, if you have ever been to Paris.
After avoiding the queue for the LISA, I could not escape the queue to purchase some new issues. This stamp fair is also the occasion for the French post to issue one or several new stamps. Usually they issue one new stamp each day of the fair. Today this was the first day of the joint issue between France and Greenland. But I'll speak about this issue more in details in my next post. So I bought some stamps and I queued again to get a First Day Cancel on a rather big number of covers that I had prepared for my philatelic contacts and for some of you, my readers... After queuing for the French stamps and first day cancel I had to queue for the Greenish stamp issue (I wanted to have both parts of the joint issue !). Hopefuly the crowd in front of the Greenish post was not so big.
So at around 11h30, 1h30 after the opening, and 2h30 after my arrival, I could start enjoying the fair full of booths from sellers and also foreign post offices, as the Swiss one, the one from Belgium and many others. I was a bit disapointed because I could not really find any stamps for my frog stamps collection. On the other hand my collection starts to be so big that this is hard to find a stamp that I don't have already. So I bought some covers bearing frog cancels, and also some pre-stamped postcards. I will for sure show them soon on this blog.
I left the fair at 01H00 PM, rather tired (ad hungry ;-) ) but quite happy. There was a lot of people, I think, once again, this fair will be a success.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Historic sites of the Yangtze river

I could not update my blog yesterday for reasons that I haven’t understood… Blogger simply refused to upload pictures. Today it seems to be fixed. On Monday I showed the three maximum cards sent by my Chinese pen pal about the Dragon Boat Festival. Today I’d like to show you the cover he used to send them to me.

This is a handmade FDC bearing the four stamps of the sets issued on the 15th of October and picturing historic sites of the Yangtze river. This are contains several archeological and historic sites that are going to be submerged with the completion of the Three Gorges dam. The construction of the huge dam, is highly criticized worldwide. It has started in 1994 and should be completed in 2009. Some of the threatened historic sites are going to be moved to higher places, as it was done for some Egyptian sites in the 60’s, for instance Abu Simbel.

The four stamps of the set picture the following sites : Zhang Fei Temple, Shibaozhai Village, Ancient Dachang Town, Qu Yuan's Temple. I wonder if “Qu Yuan” is the same than the one of the legend linked the dragon boat festival that I mentioned in my post on Monday ? Anybody knows ?
The four stamps are really nice I think, they really pay tribute to the beauty of the sites.

The last stamp, on the far left is a definitive stamp that I already
showed on a cover some months ago.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Duan Wu festival

I have been lazy these last days. Even if I had a four days weekend I did not update my blog. Shame on me. In fact I took advantage of these four days to take some rest, sort my stamps and to mail letters and stamps to some of my philatelic contacts, including some of my readers. I was so late in answering to all the mails I got !Today I have decided to show you the last item I got for my frog/toad stamps collection. I received it recently from one of my Chinese pen pal. He sent me a set of three stamps, and also the associated maximum cards. Here are the cards.

The set of three stamps was issued on the 25th of June 2001 by China to celebrate the Duan Wu festival, also known as the Dragon Boat festival. This is a traditional festival that takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. This is why it is also called the double fifth.
During this festival dragon boat races are organized, and people prepare “zongzi”, that are bamboo-wrapped steamed rice dumplings
There are several legends around the origin of this festival. One of them tells the story of a poet named, Qu Yuan, who lived more than 2000 years ago, and who tried to warn the emperor of an increasing corruption within the government but failed. In as desperate protest, he threw himself into the river and drowned. Qu Yuan's sympathizers then jumped into dragon boats, and started to beat the water with their oars to frighten the fishes so that they could not eat Qu Yuan’s body. They also made rice dumplings wrapped in reed-leaves (zongzi) and scattered them into the river in the hope that fishes would eat the rice dumplings instead of the body of the deceased poet.
The first stamp of the set (on the top) pictures the famous dragon boat races organized during the festival.
The second stamp pictures the preparation of zongzi (that are pictured on the card). The shape of zongzi ranges from relatively tetrahedral to cylindrical. Wrapping a zongzi neatly is a skill which is passed down through families, as are the recipes. Traditional Chinese zongzi are wrapped in bamboo leaves, but the leaves of lotus, maize, banana, shell ginger are sometimes used as substitutes in other cultures. Each kind of leaf imparts its own unique smell and flavor to the rice. The fillings used for zongzi vary from region to region, but the rice used is always glutinous rice (also called sticky or sweet rice). Depending on the region, the rice may be lightly precooked by stir-frying or soaked before using.

Where is the link with frog and toad ? The link comes from the last stamp. As I said the festival is held on the fifth day of the fifth month. But the fifth month was considered as an evil month. To fight against this evil, protective charms were developed. One included wearing five colored threads or ribbons. These five colors represented the five elements (azure for wood, black for water, red for fire, white for metal, and yellow for earth). Another charm included the method of combating evil with more evil. People would embroider the "five poisons" on clothing or stamped their images on cakes. The "five poisons" are represented by the centipede, the lizard, the scorpion, the snake and the toad. The five poisons are pictured on the third stamp and the toad is also pictured on the card.

The cards I showed you are not strictly maximum card in fact. A maximum card should gather the maximum of coincidences between the picture of the card, the stamp and the postmark. On the three cards here, the postmark is a standard cancel of the first day of issue, which is not really illustrating the subject.