Friday, March 30, 2007

Souvenir sheet from Hong Kong

Yesterday evening I could spend some more time sorting the stamp mixture I got some days ago and I found this interesting souvenir sheet from Hong Kong.

It was issued in 1997 but the stamp re-uses the design of a stamp issued in a set in 1992 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first General Post Office. What I find interesting is that on the right border of the sheet, nine of the definitive stamps issued between 1862 and 1997 are represented. From top to bottom :
- Queen Victoria 96c from 1862
- King Edward VII $3 from 1903
- King George V $2 from 1912
- King George VII 10$ from 1938
- Queen Elizabeth II $1 from 1954
- Queen Elizabeth II 65c from 1968
- Coat of arms $1 from 1968
- National flag 10c from 1987
- Map of Hong Kong 50c from 1987
I think this is an interesting idea and it shows quite well the evolution of the design of definitive stamps over the time.
Another interesting particularity of this souvenir sheet is that on the reverse side, on the gummed side, you can find information about the various locations of the General Post Office through the time.




It seems that this souvenir sheet is the tenth in a series (look at the top left corner of the sheet) but I could not find any information about the other souvenir sheets. If somebody can help me it will be great.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cover from Indonesia

I did not get the opportunity to write yesterday, and today again I don’t have much time so this post will be short. I wanted to share with you this cover I got recently.

It comes from Indonesia. This is the first time I get a cover from this country so I was very pleased. I must admit that I do not know much about stamps from Indonesia. I found out that the isolated stamp on the left was issued in 2005 in a set of two about protection of Mangrove forest. The block of four stamps picturing local fauna and flora was issued in 2006. I could not get much information about the plants and animals pictured on the stamps. But I will search further. I was very pleased to get this cover. I have now an impressive collection of covers from the world. Still some countries are missing, but I don’t despair ;-) Coffee break is over, I must go back to work…

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

United nations and a big thank you !


During last weekend, I had the pleasure to find this cover in my mail box. It bears the four stamps issued on the 15th of March 2007 by United Nations (office of New York) in the endangered species series. As you see, this year this series is dedicated to monkeys. And as you can see on the pictorial postmark, this cover is a FDC.
I had two main reasons to be pleased by this cover. The first one is that this is my first cover bearing UN stamps. And what a nice cover ! Nice and very colourful stamps, very nice and clean postmark. The cover was very well prepared so that it arrived in a very good condition. As you know I like FDC when they actually travel through the postal service. Another detail to be mentioned : the illustrated margin that is present on the four stamps. Nice idea to have kept them ! I’m not a specialist of monkeys, so I can not say much about the species pictured on the stamps, but the stamps have been designed by
John Rowe, an artist and illustrator specialized in animals illustration.
The second reason that made me happy is that this cover comes from a reader of my blog (Mrs Yu Ann). Thank you very much for this nice letter. And thank you very much for the stamps that were included inside. I am very pleased by the number of interesting philatelic contacts that I’ve had with some of you thanks to my blog. When I started it, I was wondering if I would be read, and if I would get some exchange with other people. I’m very impressed by the result and it gives me even more will to go further in the writing of this blog. So thanks to all the readers. Don’t hesitate to write to me (
eric.bruth@freesbee.fr) to make any comments or to suggest any subject that you’d like me to address here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A new week begins

As planned I took benefice of this three days weekend to sort out some stamps and to finish some update on my website The Philatelic Frog. I have added few stamps in various countries, but more important, I have also initiated a more thematic way of presenting my collection. I have now added one page presenting the species of frog pictured on the stamps (I have put only one species so far, but more will come), and another page presenting the fables and tales that are illustrated on stamps with a frog. For this purpose I need the help of somebody who could help me to translate a poem from Spanish to English. If this is your case, please contact me.

Better late than never, I also wanted to show you the ATM (LISA) issued by the French Post for “La fête du timbre” (see also here). It is also related to Harry Potter, as for the stamps issued at the same time. I think this is the first time that the French post issues a special LISA for this occasion. I think it is quite nice, but as usual, it is hard to get because it was sold only during the stamp show (one day !) and in specific places. But this is always the case for commemorative LISA from France.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Migratory birds

Today I have a day off, after a very busy week. I’ll try to take this opportunities to work on my stamp collection and to finalize some update of my frog stamps website (Philatelic Frog). Yesterday I was going through a mixture of mint stamps that I received recently and I found some nice and interesting stamps. For today I have chosen this set of four stamps.
(click on the picture to zoom)
This set of stamps was issued on the 27th of April 1997 by Hong Kong. The stamps picture migratory birds. I really find them beautiful. You know already, if you read my blog, how much I like fauna on stamps, so I was really pleased by those ones.

The birds that are pictured on the stamps are :

On the $1.30 Yellow breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola). Obviously the stamp pictures a male because the colour of a female is different
On the $2.50 Great knot (Calidris tenuirostis)
On the $3.10 Falcated teal (Anas falcate)
On the $5 Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor)
These stamps have been re-issued in 2000 printed on Granite paper and sold in two booklets, each booklet containing two different designs.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Romanian pottery (update)

I have not much time to write today, but I wanted to share with you some update on my latest post. I finally found back the scan of the stamp issued last year by Romanian post and that pictures the same pottery than the one illustrated on the post stationery.


If you have this stamp to exchange or sell, I’m interested.

I also found some information about these potteries on the Romanian post website. Here it is.

“Among the Romanian traditional ceramics, wedding pots have a special place. Wedding pots illustrate the technical inventiveness and the imagination of potters, characterized by the originality of the forms, proportions, decorations and chromatics.
Wedding pots were made especially during autumn, when most of the weddings took place. The grooms ordered the pots; usually, four or five at the same time. These were offered to the godparents and to the parents of the bride, but they could also be kept in the house. Today, they are decorative items of the modern interior, or kept in various exhibit forms, on the table, hanging on the wall or to the beam.
The simplicity of the form, the richness of the motifs, the harmonious distribution of the drawings and the highlight through ornament and color of certain portions, which together represent a work of art, is a characteristic of the Romanian peasant art. The composition seems to be perfect due to its symmetrical, alternating and rhythmical distribution of the ornamental motif, but also of the chromatic one.
Pots illustrate features of the peasant creation, such as originality, continuity, ethnic specificity, functionality and last but not least, the artistic virtues.The traditions and interferences of all kinds led to the spreading of the handicraft and to the typological, temporal and territorial diversification, within the specific style of the Romanian popular art.
The postage stamp with face value of RON 0.30 represents pottery from Oboga-Olt.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Postal stationery from Romania

As you know I collect all stamps picturing a frog or including a frog in their design. But I also collect postmarks and postal stationery. I recently purchased this one from Romania.

This envelop was issued in 2006. As you see the right part pictures a pottery on which you can find two snakes and a frog. It seems this is a type of traditional pottery that are made at the occasion of a wedding. I could not find much information about this sort of pottery, if you have some I would be happy to hear from you.
The theme of Romanian pottery was the theme of a set of stamps issued in 2005 and 2006 by Romanian post. If I’m not wrong, the pottery pictured on the envelop is also pictured on a stamp. I think I saw it once somewhere in a philatelic newspaper. But I could not find it back and I did not find a way to purchase it for my collection. Again if you have some information, you are welcome.What is interesting also in this envelop is that the “stamp” is not a copy of a real stamp, but just a simple drawing of a stamp silhouette. In France postal stationery (that we call PAP for Prèt à poster – Ready to post) are “stamped” with a copy of a real stamp, printed directly on the paper.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Skeleton on stamps from Slovenia

I recently received this set of Slovenian stamps that I found quite impressive and that I wanted to share with you.

They were issued on the 23rd of September 2005 in a series about Gothic Art. The stamps, printed se-tenant, picture a detail of the Dance of Death fresco from the church of the Holy Trinity located in Hrastovlje. This fresco, realised by Janez of Kastav was completed in 1490. It is 90cm high and 630cm long. It features eleven figures representing various steps in life. They are all holding hands with a skeleton as pictured on the stamps.
What is quite impressive on these stamps is something that can not be seen on the scan. The stamps are embossed on the skeleton : when you rub your finger on them you can feel the bones. This gives a very striking result and it emphasises the design of the stamps.
I guess that representing a skeleton on a stamp is not very common because it has something frightening which is not very compatible with the wide distribution of stamp. I wonder how many stamps actually picture a skeleton ?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ceramic effect on stamp

On the 7th of March 2007, Finish post has issued this stamp to celebrate Easter. A priori there is nothing exceptional with this stamp, the design being quite standard. But the stamp has been designed by Heljä Liukko-Sundström, a ceramic artist. A thermal powder has been issued in the printing process of the stamp, which gives it a sort of ceramic effect. You can not see it on the scan, you can not even see it when you look simply at the stamp. To detect it you have to flip the stamp over your eyes, and then you see that the stamp seems to be embossed and that it has a similar look than a ceramic.
Frankly the result is not so spectacular. But this shows again that Finish post seems to be interested in innovative stamp design.
Personally I also wonder the need of a stamp for Easter… But this is another topic.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Science-fiction (II)


Yesterday I mentioned another stamps set related to sci-fi. Here it is.

These two stamps have been issued by Sri-Lanka to celebrate 50 years of telecommunication and to pay tribute to Arthur C.Clarke. Clarke (born in 1917) is a British author and inventor, and he is my favourite sci-fi writer. Clarke is the last surviving member of what was sometimes known as the Big Three of science-fiction, which included also Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.
Clarke’s sci-fi work can be classified in the hard science genre, because science and technology take a bog place in his novels, even if sometimes mixed with some religious influence. Most of Clarke’s late novels feature a technologically advanced mankind being confronted by a superior alien intelligence. Clarke’s most famous work is probably the novel and the screenplay of “2001 a space odyssey” (published in 1968) on which he has worked with Stanley Kubrick. This novel was based on “The sentinel” a text that he had written in 1948 for a BBC competition but that was rejected. This text marked a major change in Clarke’s life. Not only because it led to the known success of “2001” but also because it introduced mystical elements in his work that will be present later in all his major books. It is a little bit less known, but two sequels have been written : 2010 Odyssey two (that also became a movie) and 2061 Odyssey three. Also very famous were the series of Rama started with “Rendez vous with Rama” in 1973.

Now back to the stamp. Why a stamp from Sri Lanka would pay tribute to Arthur C.Clarke ? And why would he be associated to 50 years of telecommunication ?
Well. Clarke lives in Sri Lanka since 1956. He has both nationalities : British and Sri-Lankan. Sri-Lanka is sometimes mentioned in his novels.
Then, Clarke’s main contribution to science was the idea that geostationary satellites could be used as telecommunication relays. He published his ideas in Wireless World in 1945; The geostationary orbit is now sometimes known as the Clarke Belt (or Clarke orbit as on the stamps). Now you understand the stamp design.

I discovered the work of Clark in 1989 when reading “Rendez-vous with Rama” and since then I have read almost all his books, except may be some recent ones that he has written in cooperation with other writers.

I promise, tomorrow I’ll go back to more down to earth subjects ;-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sky at Night error (follow up)

I finally found a picture of the wrong "shy at night" stamp from Great Britain that I mentioned in last week's post. I could not find it yet on any auction site...

Science-fiction

I don’t think I already mentioned it here, but I’m a big fan of sci-fi. I’m more into sci-fi books than into movies. Or at least, as far as movies are concerned, I’m more into the old movies of the 50’s than into the modern big productions with a lot of special effects and sometimes weakness in the scenario. When I decided to re-start stamp collection few years ago, on top of a frog stamp collection I thought about collecting stamps about sci-fi. I must admit that I gave up quite quickly because I realized that there are not so much items related to this topic. Even if I did not really start this collection, I always keep sci-fi related stamps when I happen to get one. Here is one example.

This set has been issued by Great Britain in 1995 as a tribute to Herbert George Well (better known as HG Wells) (1866-1946). HG Wells is one of the most prolific author of his time. He has written some stories that have become famous mainly thanks to the movies that they have inspired. The four stamps of the set illustrate four important themes that are used in sci-fi:

- Time travel is illustrated by “The time machine” written by Wells in 1895. Time travel is a fascinating subject. Can you imagine if you had the possibility to travel through time ? Would you choose to go backwards, to see how people lived in the ancient times ? Or would you choose to explore the future, to see what will be ? In “The time machine” the hero uses the machine to check the future and to see what happens to mankind. And he gets a lot if surprises ! Time travel also creates an interesting paradox : imagine that you go back into the past and by accident you kill your grand-grand-grand-grand-…-grand father while he his still a kid. Then if you ancestor has died in his youth, you will never have the possibility to exist. And if you don’t exist, how could you have come into the past to kill him ? More generally the idea that a time traveller could influence the present by making a change in the past is rather interesting and has been used in a lot of books and movies.


- Space travel is illustrated by “The first men in the moon” written in 1901

- Alien invasion is illustrated by the very famous “The war of worlds” written in 1898. I like the idea of an encounter with aliens. I would not speak about invasion, why would they be hostile ? Are we alone in the universe ? Is there somebody else out there ? When you see the size and the beauty of the universe, if we are alone, well… what a waste !

- Future civilization is illustrated by “Things to come” which is not a novel but a screenplay of a movie written un 1935. It is in fact based on a novel that Wells has written before and called “The shape of things to come”

Among those themes, time travel is my favourite. I have read so many stories built around that.
I have another set of stamps to show you about sci-fi but I will keep it for future post. This one is already long enough…

Monday, March 12, 2007

Frog from Nepal (II)

In a previous post (Frog from Nepal) I have shown a stamp issued by Nepal on the 12th of June 2006 picturing a frog. At this time I was very happy to add it to my frog stamps collection because it was my first item from Nepal. So you can imagine how happy I was, last Saturday, when coming back from Post office with this registered letter (I show you the recto and the verso).

(click on the pictures to zoom)


The cover comes from a philatelic contact who lives in Kathmandu. The stamps that are on the back side of the cover belong to the same set than the frog stamp. This set contains in total five stamps all related to bio-diversity (click here to see the full set on WNS website).
The frog pictured on the stamp is a frog that lives in India and Nepal. It is a threatened species. Interestingly this stamp has a link to my last post about design error, because it contains an error. Ok you must be a good specialist to detect it I admit. You want to know the error ? Well look at the scientific name of the frog : Amolops formosus, Günther 1875. For those who are not familiar with scientific names, they are always divided in three parts : a Latin name giving the genus and the species of the animal or the plant. Then there is a name, this is the name of the naturalist who has discovered the species, or who has identified it for the first time as a separate species. And then there is the date (the year) of the discovery. And here is the mistake. The correct name should be Amolops formosus, Günther 1876. Ok I agree, a small error and hard to detect…

Just two things to add, still about error on stamps. In my last post I showed a stamp from Great Britain belonging to the “Sky at night” set. Last weekend I received the catalogue from Canadian post. In this catalogue, I saw that the post from Canada sells some stamps from other countries. Among the stamps proposed, there is the set “Sky at night” from Great Britain. And guess what ? The photo on the catalogue pictures the stamp with the misnamed stars ! I wonder if you get the “wrong” stamp when you order it from Canada (since I know that Royal mail now sells only the corrected stamp) ? I have some doubt but still…Last point : in one comment to my last post a visitor has indicated a link to his website where you can see plenty of errors on stamps :
http//www.danstopicals.com/errorsindex.htm. I invite you to visit it because it is well done.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Design errors on stamps

Some people have specialized their collection in collecting only stamps containing an error. By error I do not mean an error in the printing process creating a variety (missing colour, shifted perforation, etc) but I mean actual error in the design of a stamp : wrong date, misspelled name, historical error, mistake in the design of a flag, etc. I recently read about this stamp, that contains an error.

It has been issued on the 26 of August 2006 by Austria to raise money for WIPA 2008 an international philatelic exhibition that is planned next year. On the scan the error is very hard to see because of the colours that are used, but the name of the country is misspelled : Österrreich instead of Österreich (three “r” instead of two…). The error seems to have been noticed too late, and it hasn’t been corrected.
I’m always completely puzzled when I see such basic error on a stamp. I don’t know how many people are reviewing a stamp design before it is actually printed in a large scale and nobody notices that the name of their own country is wrongly written. How is it possible ?Another recent error (but more subtle) concerns a stamp issued by Great Britain early this year.




This stamp belongs to the set “The sky at Night” issued by Royal Mail on the 13th of February 2007. The picture I show here is a “specimen” taken from the WNS web site (hence the black line in the bottom right corner). It is the corrected version of the stamp. But the first stamps that were printed contain an error. On the wrong version of the stamps, the M36 and M38 stars are misnamed M136 and M138. The error has been noticed and the stamps have been corrected, but it is probable that some of the wrong stamps will be available on the philatelic market…
Do you have in your collection any stamps containing an interesting error ? I would be happy to hear about it and to get a scan, if possible.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Zazzle stamps

I have read a lot about Zazzle stamps, the stamps that you can design on line at http://www.zazzle.com and that can be used on mail from the USA. I know that there are a lot of Pro’s and Con’s about them. In fact they are an elaborate type of personalised stamps.
So far I had never seen any on cover. Until last week, when I got this letter.

(click on the picture to zoom)
It comes from the ISWSC, the International society of worldwide stamp collectors, a philatelic association that I belong to. On the cover you can see two “Zazzle” stamps. The one on the left pictures the logo of the ISWSC. I think this is a rather nice way of promoting a philatelic association. The second one is made of a holiday picture from the sender of the letter. It gives rather nice result (the cover is a bit torn at the top because I had difficulties to open it, but the stamps are intact). Just for the fun, I have played a bit on Zazzle’s web site to create my own stamps using my picture. Here is the result. Don’t worry, I did it for fun, I’m not going to use my face on cover ;-)


In France, you can only customize a label that is attached to the stamp, not the stamp it self. You can do it with some special stamps and also with some definitive ones. Here is an example of what it gives with the Marianne.


I have a problem with personalized stamps. Should they be collected ? Knowing that the possibilities are almost infinite, does it make sense ? Isn’t it opposite to the spirit of collection itself ?


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cover from Gibraltar

I have received last week, this cover from Gibraltar. Thank you very much Angel. This is my first cover from there. I must admit that I did not even realize before that Gibraltar issues its own stamps.
The three stamps on the cover belong to a set of sixteen stamps issued in 2000 to celebrate the new millennium. Each stamp of the set pictures a different time in History. The three stamps of the cover pictures (in chronological order) : the sandy plains – 2 Million years BC (in the middle), the great siege 1779-1783 (on the right), and the city 1830-1900 (on the left). The cancel is very light so hard to see on the scan but it is quite interesting. There is a round date stamp (located on the right stamp) and a big G in an oval (between the left and middle stamps). A very nice cover that I’m happy to add to my collection of covers from the world.


Monday, March 05, 2007

La fête du timbre

Next weekend will be held “La fête du timbre” (the stamp feast) a yearly event organized by the French post around stamps and stamp collecting. This year there will be local events in 118 different cities of France (more details are available, in French, at http://www.fetedutimbre.com/).
As usual, the French post will issue at this occasion a new set of stamps. The idea is to draw the attention of young people to stamp collecting, so usually the stamps picture cartoon characters that are famous among young people. This year, the subject will not be a cartoon hero but Harry Potter ! Here is the stamp that will be issued picturing Harry Potter and also the souvenir sheet.



There will be also a booklet with two other stamps picturing Ron and Hermione the friends of Harry. Personally I’m not a big fan of Harry Potter. I have read the first book and I have also seen the first movie. Even if I found them entertaining, I did not feel like going further. I don’t know why, because usually I’m a good “customer” for this sort of sagas. Maybe I’m getting too old for it ;-)

I will try to participate to the event that will be held in Paris, so that I can get few first day covers. But I’m not yet fully sure this will be possible, because I have a lot of other stuff to do. We’ll see. If I do, I’ll tell you about it on this blog.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Nice landscape… and a new blog

At last, this is the end of the week. It was very busy again, and full of difficulties. Yesterday, when going back to home from work, I was stuck in the traffic jam and I was thinking of what I would show today on my blog. Then I thought also about a recent talk I had with a colleague who’s going to spend few days in Iceland. I have always dreamed of visiting Iceland. Don’t know why. So I decided that I would check my stamps to see if I had any nice stamp showing Iceland’s landscapes. And I found this souvenir sheet.
(click on the picture to zoom)


It was issued on the 9th of October 2001 for the day of the stamp. It pictures the Esja mountain. This mountain towers Reykjavik at the height of 914m. It was created 2.8 million years ago by volcanic eruption. This is also a popular activity area.
I think it gives a very nice landscape. The scan is not so good, but the stamp looks really great in reality. (I don’t know why but some stamps are rather difficult to scan). The souvenir sheet is quite small, which means that it is easy to use on a cover, even without removing the stamp. I think this is a good idea, it is better than those huge souvenir sheets that we have in France, bearing 10 stamps that you hardly see on covers because nobody wants to tear the sheets off to extract the stamps.

Before finishing, I’d like to announce a new comer if the philatelic blogosphere. Sebastien. He has started a philatelic blog, both in French (
http://sebphilatelie.blogspot.com) and in English (http://sebphilately.blogspot.com). Check it, it is very well done. The list of philatelic blogs starts to be interesting…

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Post of Greenland

I recently wrote about my good experience with the Danish post, and today I’d like to speak about my experience with the post of Greenland.

Several weeks ago I bought some stamps from the website of Greenland’s post (
http://www.stamps.gl/uk/Index.htm). The website is well done, easy to use and is available in three languages : English, Danish and German. I still haven’t received by stamps (which is normal taken into account the date of issue) but, last week, I have received again a nice folder containing a lot of information about stamps from Greenland : a catalogue of the available product, a copy of their philatelic publication and some other brochures explaining the good reason to collect stamps from Greenland. Unfortunately almost all documents are not translated in English (I think they are in Danish). So not very useful for me.On top of this, there were some gifts :some mint stamps, but more important there was this very nice card.

The stamp that is on the card has been issued on the 20th of October 2003 and belongs to a series about navigation. The boat pictured on the stamp is the Godthaab (which means Gode Hope in Danish) and which is the boat that brought the first settlers in Greenland. The stamp, and the card have been designed and engraved by Martin Mörck, a famous stamp engraver and designer who has engraved a lot of stamps fro Nordic countries, but also for France and others. He has a very interesting and very beautiful website that I invite you to visit : http://www.martinmorck.com/. There is a very interesting section about the art of engraving a stamp, and a reproduction of all stamps he has produced.