Friday, December 28, 2007

Birds from UK

(This is probably my last post for 2007, so I would like to take advantage of it to wish you a happy new year. I hope 2008 will bring you all what you may desire. Thank you to all of you, for this wonderful philatelic year spent together. And let’s hope 2008 will bring us even more pleasure with stamps and covers !)

If you read regularly my blog you know how much I like fauna stamps. So you can imagin how happy I was when I received this set of stamps from Adrian (thank you so much Adrian ! I know I’m late for sending you some stamps but don’t worry they will come…).

I read regularly in philatelic magazines that British stamp collectors complain about the quality and the high number of stamps issued by Royal Mail. I must admit that I often agree with them when I see the modern issues. But from time to time, there is a set of stamps that seems to break this trend. This is the case of this one, that I really find wonderful. Don’t you think ?
These stamps were issued on the 4th of September 2007 and picture birds from UK that are under a recovery program. Each stamp pictures an endangered bird species, with indication of the number of birds observed in past years and in recent years, to show the progress of this recovery. The birds that are pictured are (from left to right and top to bottom) : White-tailed eagle, Bearded tit, Red kite, Cirl bunting, Marsh harrier, Avocet (which by the way is not a species but a sub-family), Bittern (again a sub-family and not a species), Dartford warbler, Corn crake and Peregrine falcon.
As you see Adrian has sent me the bottom of a sheet, with the “traffic lights” on the right and the indication of the date of issue at the bottom.A very nice set of stamp to finish this year !

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cover from Hong Kong

I think this is the first time I show a cover coming from Hong Kong on this blog (even though this is not the first time I get one). It comes from one reader of my blog (thank you very much for this nice cover and the stamps included inside. By the way you did not tell me which specific stamps from France you would like?). Here it is.

Covers franked with a full souvenir sheet are rather rare, this is why I really like this one. As far as I could find out, the souvenir sheet has been issued on the 7th of September 2002 to celebrate the participation of Hong Kong post to AMPHILEX 2002, an international stamp exhibition that was held in Netherlands. The stamp embedded in the souvenir sheet re-uses the design of a stamp belonging to the Landmarks series of 1999 and pictures Tsing Ma bridge located in Hong Kong which is the 6th largest suspended bridge. I guess the background of the souvenir sheet is a view of Amsterdam.
The small stamp is part of the very beautiful definitive series issued on the 31st of December 2006 and picturing birds. This stamp pictures a Red-whiskered bulbul. I do not resist to the pleasure to show you the full set, because I think this is a really beautiful series.

The high value stamps are interesting : they have small perforations around the face value indication. Very nice !Thanks again for this cover !

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Italian regions

I hope you’ve all had a nice Christmas time. Mine was very quiet and very nice. For today I want to show you a new cover I have received from Italy, from Pierliugi.

The two stamps located on the left are part of the definitive series “Donne dell’arte” that I have already mentioned in a previous post. This stamp, with a face value of 0.10 Euro, was issued in 2002 for the first time. It has been reprinted several times and if I’m not wrong the ones on the cover are part of later re-print (because of the Sp.A indication at the bottom of the stamp, that was not present on the original printing). The stamp pictures a part of a female terracotta statue from the 3rd century BC. The large stamp belongs to a set of four stamps issued on the 29th of April 2006. This set is actually a part of a series celebrating Italian regions. This series has started in 2004, with four stamps issued each year. The stamp on the cover pictures the area of Puglia or Apulia, an area that is a part of the south-eastern Italy bordering Adriatic see. Here is the area on a map.

As you see the stamp pictures a map of the Puglia region, the coat of arms of the region (on the top left corner of the stamp). On the left side of the stamp is pictured the Basilica St Nicholas located in Bari, the capital of the Puglia. All stamps of the series are made on the same model, picturing the map and coat of arms of the region, and a famous place located in the area. Here is the full set of 2006, where you can see that on top of Puglia the other regions that are celebrated are Piedmont, Tuscany and Lazio.

To come back on the cover, you can see also the very nice Christmas cancel from Bari, the city from where the cover was posted, and also the capital of the Puglia region ! A very nice cover, thank you very much Pierliugi. It gave me the opportunity to discover this series of stamps which I think is very nice and a good tribute to the regions of Italy.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, with this Santa Claus on the 2007 Chritsmas stamp from Aland.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Print your own stamps !

I have already written about the possibility proposed by some postal administrations to print yourself your own stamps. You subscribe to their service, and then, from the Internet, you can print some labels that are actually valid for postage. Some of the companies that propose such services, also propose to include some pictures or logo in the design of the stamp. This is the case for the American Here is a cover sent by Mr Zhenbang Huang, a reader of my blog, who lives in the USA (Thank you very much for this cover. I will send you soon the stamp you asked me for).

As you see the “stamps” have been customised using drawings of some very famous tourist places : (clockwise) the Taj Mahal, The Pisa tower, The Eiffel tower and the Parthenon. A very nice idea. I don’t know is those designs are “standard” ones proposed by or if they are completely customized ?
As for all these sort of stamps you find on the right side a barcode, that is encoding the information about the validity of the stamp and the face value.
This is the first time I get a cover with stamps coming from, so I’m happy to add it to my collection !

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Time for gifts (3)

Here is the third (and normally the last) episode of my series about gift sent by postal administrations. Today I’ll speak about the gift I received from the Swedish post. I have a subscription for new issues from Sweden, so to thank me of my fidelity, I receive this very nice engraving.

Nice, isn’t it ? It was included in a presentation pack. Here is the complete object.

This engraving re-uses the design of two stamps issued in a souvenir sheet on the 10th of May 2007 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of Linnaeus. Here is the souvenir sheet, as a reference.

First let me say a word about Linnaeus. Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) (known as Carl von Linné after his ennoblement by the Swedish king Adolf Fredrik in 1757) was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist. He is sometimes referred as the father of modern taxonomy. His most famous work, Systema Naturae, published for the first time in 1735, established the foundation for the modern scheme of nomenclature.
The Linnaean system classified Nature within a hierarchy, starting with three kingdoms : Animalia (for animals), Vegetabilia (for plants) and Mineralia (for minerals). Kingdoms were then divided into Classes, divided into Orders. Each Order was divided into Genera and then Species. The groupings were based upon shared physical characteristics. To this day, only his groupings for animals remain, and even the groupings have changed significantly since Linnaeus’ time.
If you look at scientific names of some animals, you will see that a lot of them are followed by the indication “Linnaeus”, indicating that they have been classified by him.Swedish posts has also issued a stamp picturing a portrait of Linnaeus, on the 25th January 2007. Here it is.

The plants that are pictured on the souvenir sheet and on the engraving are : on the left, Musa x paradisiacal, a sort of banana tree, and on the right Padophyllum peltatum, commonly known as the Mayapple. A funny anecdote about the last one : despite of its name, this is the flower that appears in May, the apple appearing normally in the summer. It is sometimes called the Devil’s apple or the Wild lemon (because of its taste). Only the fruit of the Mayapple tree can be eaten, the plant itself can kill a human in 24 hours !

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Time for gifts (2)

As promised yesterday, I would like to show you today the gift I got from the Canadian postal administration. Well, this time it was not really a Christmas gift. It was a gift to thank people who have answered to a survey they have organized few months ago. What is interesting is that I’m not even a customer of Canadian post. I juts happened to register once on their website to get some information about a stamp issue. Then I started to receive their, very interesting, philatelic publication. I answered the survey and now I got a gift. Nice isn’t it ?The gift is in two parts. The first one is a First Day Cover. Here it is.

As you see this is an FDC of a joint issue between Canada and USA. Both stamps have been issued on the 28th of May 2006. As they bear the same design this issue qualifies as a twin issue. The only difference between both stamps (except the denomination) is the size : the USA stamp being smaller than the Canadian one. This issue commemorates the 400th anniversary of the exploration of North America coats by Samuel de Champlain in 1606. For Canada, this stamp is the third in a series honouring 400 years of French settlement on this continent. An interesting anecdote about this stamp is that there are no reliable portraits of Champlain, so they decided to show instead the type of vessel he used during the 1606 expedition. I think the stamp design is rather nice, and the overall FDC is beautiful. The two first day postmarks are really impressive, mainly the one from the USA !

The second part of the gift is a souvenir sheet of stamps from China !

This stamp is a part of a joint stamp issue between China and Canada issued in 2005. This stamp pictures a Cougar. The full issue contains two stamps for each country. The second stamp from China pictures a leopard. I have already show here the stamps from Canada belonging to this issue.
I’m really surprised that the Canadian post offers a Chinese stamp sheet as a gift to their customers…

Monday, December 17, 2007

Time for gifts

Christmas is coming and also the time for gifts. Postal administrations are sending gifts to their customers to thank them for their fidelity. Last week, I had the pleasure to get one from Finland, from Canada and from Sweden. The one from Finland is actually a Christmas card, as last year. The recto of the card bears one of the two stamps issued on the 2nd of November by Finish post for Christmas and picturing a Gingerbread mouse (click on the pictures to zoom).

As you can see the stamp is cancelled with a first day postmark, a nice and funny one. I read somewhere that if you rub the stamp with your finger you can smell Cinnamon, but this is not true. I tried and the stamp does not smell anything.
The second stamp issued at the same time for Christmas pictures a straw goat and a mouse and it is put on the other side of the card. This time the stamp is cancelled with the famous Santa Claus cancel that Finish post is using every year.

This is a very simple but nice surprise. Tomorrow I’ll show you the gift I got from Canadian post.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A short message

Just a short message to tell that if I did not update my blog since the last two days, it is just because I ran out of scanned materieal. I have some nice covers and stamps to share with you, but I could not find the time to scan then yet. I'll try to solve this over the weekend, so that I can be back next week with lots of stamp stories.
See you then.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Today I would like to show you two letters that I have received from China, sent by ZHOU Fan (thank you !) and that have a very special characteristics. Here they are.

As you see, they actually are Cécogrammes. Cécogramme is a French word used by UPU to name such mails. This is a letter or a package containing documents sent or received by visually impaired people or by assisting organizations. This type of mail benefits of a franchise in whole or in part in the postal systems of many countries.
Two types of documents are accepted in such mail : embossed documents (e.g. texts written in the Braille alphabet, this is what was inside both covers) and sound documents such as audio books.
Those mails are identified by the word Cécogramme printed on the cover (see the red cancel, in French and Chinese) and by a specific label. The UPU recommends the usage of a label of 52×65 mm, white on a black background, picturing a stylized silhouette of a man seen in profile and walking with a white stick (see the label on the left top corner of the covers).
Depending on its status (registered, or air mail…) a cécogramme may require additional franking as it is the case on the covers I show you here.

The first cover bears a stamp issued for the
2007 Special Olympics World summer games held in Shanghai in October. Check their website if you want to know more about these special games that enable people with mental disabilities to open through sport. This was the first time that this special games were held in Asia, and the second times only that they are held out of the USA. The stamp pictures the emblem of the competition. The logo is shaped like an eye with the figures of two athletes jumping in the pupil, resembling a blooming white magnolia, Shanghai’s city flower.
The second cover bears a stamp issued also in 2007 but that I could not identify yet. If somebody can help. I quite like this stamp, with a black background.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Volcanoes of Indonesia

Here is a very nice cover I got few weeks ago and coming from Indonesia.

The three stamps belong to a set of five issued on the 5th of June 2003 and picturing volcanoes. The three volcanoes that are pictured on those stamps are (from top to bottom) : Ruang, Tambora and the famous Krakatau (or Krakatoa). The two other stamps of the set picture the Merapi and the Kerinci.
The five stamps have also been issued in sheet containing two of each stamps and two labels. I could not find a scan of the complete set or of the sheet, so I can not show it to you. Sorry. Indonesia is the country with the greatest number and density of active volcanoes. Indonesia usually is a the top of the statistics for active volcanoes, eruption and unfortunately, fatalities due to volcano ! Just look at this map of the volcanoes located in Indonesia and you will understand.

I like this cover. The shape of the stamps is rather unusual and quite well appropriate for the subject. The cancel is very clean and neat. It seems to come from a philatelic bureau, so this must not be a surprise.
Volcanoes on stamps must be a very interesting topic to collect….

By the way, following some questions I got recently : if you are interested to get a cover or a set of stamps that I show on my blog, then just send me a mail to and we will see what we can do. Thanks.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Golden Ratio

I love mathematics. I have always been fascinated by arithmetic and geometry. So I was particularly interested by the souvenir sheet issued by Macao on he 26th of October and entitled “Science and technology : the golden ratio”.

So let’s speak a bit about mathematics. What is the golden ratio ?
This is a ratio ;-) easy no ? Two quantities (let’s call them A and B, and take the assumption that B is greater than A) are said to be in golden ratio if the ratio between the sum of both quantities and the larger one (here A+B divided by B) is the same as the ratio between the larger one and the smaller (here B divided by A). This ratio has a value equal to 1.6180339887… and is usually named using the Greek letter Phi. This is what is pictured in the first stamp of the souvenir sheet, the value of the golden ratio.

This golden ratio is not only a mathematical object. This is also a concept that has been used in art. At least since the Renaissance, many artist have used the golden ratio to proportion their work because it is said to be aesthetically pleasing : a golden rectangle in which the ratio of the longer side and the shorter one is the golden ratio is considered as being particularly aesthetic. The golden ratio may be found in the proportion of the Parthenon, conceived by Phidias (490-430 BC). This is one of the first use of this ratio which is known in architecture and art. This is why it was “Phi” was chosen to name the ratio itself, because of Phidias.
Plato, Euclid, Leonardo Da Vinci have made a lot of reference to the golden ratio in their work. So you see it goes far beyond mathematics itself. Even more, some people have discovered the presence of the golden ratio in nature. Da Vinci indicated that the ratio between some parts of the human body was following the golden ratio. Even in the animals or in the plants, some people are seeing this magic ratio, you will have some examples below.
But first let’s speak about another mathematical object : the Fibonacci sequence. Fibonacci is the common name of Leonardo of Pisa, a mathematician who invented a very famous sequence in the 13th century. His idea was to answer to the following problem : if a pair of rabbits is placed in an enclosed area, how many rabbits will be born there if we assume that every month a pair of rabbits produces another pair, and that rabbits begin to bear young two months after their birth ?
If you list the number of pair of rabbits you get every month, you get the following sequence :
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233,…
This is the Fibonacci sequence. You can notice that one element of the sequence is equal to the sum of the two preceding elements. Here is another stamp from the same souvenir sheet, illustrating the sequence, using the rabbits story.

What is the link between the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence ? Well if you divide on element of the sequence by its predecessor you get an approximation of the golden ratio ! And the bigger is the element you choose, the more precise is the approximation ! It’s magic !
From the Fibonacci sequence you can draw spirals. And here we find back the relation with nature. It is said that the shell of the Nautilus is following a spiral built on the Fibonacci sequence. As illustrated in the following stamp.

More, if you mix together several spirals, you get the pattern of the heart of a sunflower, as shown here.

This is because it can be found in the Nature, that the golden ratio is sometimes called the divine proportion : as if God would have built our world, using the golden ratio as a metric.
Just to be complete, the souvenir sheet also shows another usage of the golden ratio : the Penrose tiling. I’m not going to detail it here because it is a bit complex and I’m not sure to be able to do it in English ;-)

You see, that mathematics are fascinating. I wonder if there are people who collect stamps related to mathematics ? If yes, I would be glad to hear from them.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mail from Pakistan

I recently got a letter from Pakistan. This is not the first one I receive, I think I showed some here on my blog. But this one is a bit more enigmatic for me. I show you only the verso of the cover, since the franking is there. Nothing special on the recto.

The stamp that is put twice on the cover belongs to a set of twelve definitive stamps issued on the 11Th of September 1994 and picturing Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), a Muslim politician who is considered as the father of the nation because he has actively taken part to the creation of Pakistan. His portrait has been reused later on another set of definitive stamps. The other stamp was issued on the 14th of November 2000 to celebrate IDEAS 2000 : the International Defense Exhibition And Seminar. The total face value of the stamps is 37 Rs, which seems to be the correct franking (see also the hand written indication on the top of the cover).
The cancel is a bit enigmatic for me. The cover comes from Peshawar. First, there is no indication of the year. The date is just 12th of November, and there is a blank where the year should be. Then it is written FRANCHISE POST OFFICE. What does it mean exactly ? Does it mean that the cover was cancelled in a place (a shop for instance) which has the franchise of being a post office ? Anything else ?
If you have any information about this cancel I would be very happy to hear from you.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New blogs

Just a short note (I'm very busy today... no time for stamps) to announce you two new blogs maintained by friends : Selos e cartas, maintained by Rui and Gem's World Postcards, maintained by Glenn. Have a look to them !

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My first cover from Algeria

Yes I’m glad today to show you the fist cover I received from Algeria. And as you’ll see it bears a lot of stamps. Here it is, a registered cover sent by Abdel.

An interesting number of fauna and flora stamps, exactly what I like ! And inside the cover there was some mint fauna stamps that I will may be show you in a future post. But let’s speak about the stamps of this cover.
The stamp on the right top corner was issued on the 25th of January 2006. It belongs to a set of four stamps about wading birds. This one pictures a Common crane (Grus grus). The stamp below was issued on the 17th of March 1999 and belongs to a set of three stamps picturing flowering trees. This stamp pictures an orange tree.
The stamp located on the left of the crane stamp was issued on the 24th of January 2001. It belongs to a series about birds that was started in 1998. This stamp pictures a Greylag goose (Anser anser). Just below, the stamp picturing a cheetah was issued on the 20th of July 2005 in a set of two dedicated to the Cheetah of the Tassili.
The stamps located below the cheetah stamp is part of the definitive series about roses. This one was issued on the 7th of September 2004 and pictures a Rosa odorata.
Finally the last stamp, the one you can see three times on the cover, was issued on the 10th of April 2007 and pictures Cheikh Mohamed Ameziane Belhaddad (~1790-1873) one of the main leaders who has taken a big part to the fight against French occupation.

As you see the postmarks on the stamps are a bit heavy, but not too much. Interestingly they are of a blue color and not the more traditional black one.
I really don’t know much about the philately of Algeria, so I’m really happy to e able to add this letter to my collection of worldwide covers !

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cover and stamps from Portugal

Life is full of coincidences. I have spent the weekend in Fontainebleau (a city located in the south of Paris and near a large forest) and as the weather was not so good I have spent some hours reading various philatelic newspapers and browsing the “new issues” sections. My attention was specifically triggered by a stamp and a souvenir sheet from Portugal, and I decided to try to find more information about this issue. Then yesterday, when I came back home, I found a letter from Portugal, sent by Rui, and franked with the stamp I was looking for ! And more, the cover contained a mint copy of the stamp and of the souvenir sheet ! Thank you very much Rui.First here is the cover.

The letter is franked with a standard ATM and a stamp picturing the Portuguese national flag. The stamp was issued on the 5th of October, and belongs to a souvenir sheet named : the symbols of the republic. Here is the sheet.

As you see the souvenir sheet contains five stamps, each of them picturing a different flag : from top to bottom, and from left to right, the flags are :
- the national Portuguese flag
- the flag of the president of the republic
- the flag of Azores
- the flag of the Portuguese assembly of the republic
- the flag of Madeira
The sheet is also marked, on the top, with the emblem of Portugal 2010, an international philatelic exhibition that will be held in Portugal in 2010 ;-) I could not find information about the face that is pictured on the top right corner of the sheet. If somebody could tell me ?
What I found interesting is that the stamp bearing the National flag has also been issued separately. But as you see below, with a different perforation.

The isolated stamp has a cross in the middle of the perforation. This is something that can be found quite often on modern stamps from Portugal. This is quite funny to see that the stamp extracted from the souvenir sheet and the isolated stamp are therefore different ! And obviously Rui has used the one form the souvenir sheet to frank my cover !