Monday, April 30, 2007

Guernsey post

In previous articles I have told you about my experience with Danish post and Greenish post. Today I will share with you an interesting particularity of my experience with Guernsey post.I have recently purchased some stamps from the Guernsey post website: (http://www.guernseystamps.com). The website is well designed and is available in various languages (eight in total !). It was very easy for me to find what I was looking for. I was looking for one of the latest issues : ten self-adhesive stamps issued in booklet.

This set of stamps has been issued on the 8th of Mach 2007 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the foundation of “La société Guernesiaise” an organisation that works for preservation of wildlife and natural environment. Of course I am interested by this stamp issue mainly because of the frog stamp. It is rather nice, and pictures a Common frog (Rana temporaria) one of the two frog species that can be found on the island.

I have received my stamps only few days after my order. I was really happy that it was so quick. I got my stamps in this cover.




What is interesting is that the cover bears two postage stamps! This is only the second time that I get a letter from a postal administration, franked with postage stamps. The other case was from Portuguese post. All the other postal administrations I have been in contact to, never use postage stamps on their sending, even for philatelic mail. I think this is really a pity.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Centenary of the first Egyptian stamp

On the 1st of January 1866, the first set of stamps to be used in Egypt was issued. It was a set of seven stamps (5, 10, 20 paras and 1,2, 5, 10 piasters). Actually, as Egypt was under Turkish suzerainty, those stamps were Turkish stamps overprinted for Egypt. (I tried to find a good scan of those stamps but did not succeed. I only found very bad quality scan). A funny detail about those stamps is that they caused problems to postal clerks from Europe and elsewhere because they could not determine the country of origin. As a result a new series of stamps was ordered for 1867, in which the central design left no doubt as to the country of origin: the Sphinx and Pyramid at Giza were placed in the centre of the design, with Cleopatra's Needle and Hadrian's column in Alexandria in the side panels.
Anyway, one century later, in 1966 (a very good year ;-) ), Egyptian post issued this souvenir sheet to celebrate the Post day and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first stamps issue.

The souvenir sheet contains a reproduction of two of the seven original stamps : the 5 piasters and the 10 piasters. The souvenir sheet bears a surtax, the face value being 140 Milliemes + 60 Milliemes. The sheet only exists without perforation.
This is my most recent purchase in my quest for stamps (and souvenir sheet) issued in 1966. I’m quite happy with it, because it gives me also the possibility to see a good reproduction of those first Egyptian issues that I will probably never own, seeing the high value they have in Scott catalogue. There is something striking in this item : this is the bad perforation of the pink stamp reproduced on the souvenir sheet. They could have chosen to reproduce a better version of the stamp, no ?
I actually have two copies of this souvenir sheet, so if somebody is interested to get one, just contact me to see if we can make an exchange.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Commemorative cover from Canada

Again I’m a bit short in time, so I will be quick today.
Two days ago I mentioned that Bob sent me a commemorative cover. So now it’s time to share it with you. Here it is.

As you see it commemorates the 150th anniversary of the city of London, Ontario, Canada. London was first settled by Europeans in 1826 but was incorporated as a city on January 1, 1855. This is the creation of the city that was commemorated by the cover in 2005. Thank you again Bob for this very nice sending.
I must admit that I did not know there was a London city in Canada, ignorant as I am. I even checked on Google map to see where it was located precisely. I must go now. Tomorrow I should have a bit more time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lenticular stamps from Australia, and prestige booklet

I am a subscriber to new stamp issues from Australia. Even if I’m a bit disappointed by the stamp issuing policy of this country (too many stamps, much more than really needed) I keep my subscription for sentimental reason (I have really felt in love with Australia after being there twice). Yesterday I have received the second sending containing the recent issues of 2007. Among them there was these souvenir sheet and stamps (take care this is not a scan but a picture taken from Australian post website).




This set is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the surf Bathing Association of New South Wales, an organisation that brought standardisation to surf lifesaving instruction, regulations and practice. The stamp set was issued on the 6th of March. The particularity of this souvenir sheet is that it is lenticular : the image is “moving” when you flip the sheet over your eyes. I have already mentioned lenticular stamps from Ireland (I must admit that the stamps from Ireland were better realized than the ones from Australia). Of course the image I show you does not really reflect the “moving” aspect, but if you have the chance to see the real sheet, this is impressive. On the other hand I wonder how many people are going to use such stamps on a cover ?
This souvenir sheet and the other related stamps have also been issued in the form of a prestige booklet.


It seems to be a trend these days to issue prestige booklets, containing stamps and additional information around the topic of the stamps. Australia is not the only country to do that, I have already seen one from Ireland, from Netherlands. Even if these prestige booklets are rather nice items, I always wonder if they are really needed ? They are not really postal items, because nobody is going to destroy those booklets to take out the stamps that are anyway available separately. So they are pure philatelic items. I wonder if they are accepted in a competitive exhibition ? Does anybody know ?
If I was nasty I would say that those prestige booklets are an additional mean from post offices to take out the money of stamp collectors…




Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Letter from Canada

I can not believe that we are already Tuesday and that yesterday has passed so quickly that I could not find five minutes to update my blog ! Is it me or time is accelerating ? For today I have selected a cover that I just received from Canada.

(click on the picture to zoom)

It was sent by Bob, the blogger of Stanlick Stamp Exchange. Thank you Bob. The letter contained a very nice commemorative cover that I will show you in a next post (not everything at the same time ;-) ). This letter came in a very good condition. Some words about the stamps.
The stamp located on the far left was issued in 2006 to commemorate the 100Th anniversary of the foundation of McClelland & Stewart, an important publishing house in Canada. The next one was also issued in 2008 to commemorate the 80th birthday of the Queen Elizabeth II. If I’m not wrong this is the self-adhesive version of the stamp, another standard version of the same stamp was issued few months later in the form of a souvenir sheet. The stamp in the corner is also a 2006 stamp celebrating the World Lacrosse Championship that was held in London, Ontario, Canada (the letter is posted from London, Ontario, Canada as you can see on the rectangular postmark). Lacrosse is a sport popular mostly in North America. I did not even know that there was a World Championship of Lacrosse… How many countries in the world do have a national team of Lacrosse ?
The last stamp, on the bottom row, is from 2002 and commemorate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the University of Manitoba.
On top of the nice and clean rectangular cancel from London, there is a ink jet impression over the stamps that says, both in French and English : from anywhere to anyone, de partout jusqu’à vous.
A nice cover, inst’ it ?
By the way if your are interested in Candidan stamps I found this interesting web site :
http://www.collectionscanada.ca/postal-archives/080608_e.html You can find there all information related to stamps issued by Canada.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Election time

As you may know already, today is the first round of the election of the next French president. We have twelve candidates for this first round, and tonight we will know what are the two who remain in the race for the second round that is planed on the 6th of May, in two weeks.
As for all elections, everybody who is registered in the electoral list has received this letter.
A rather thick enveloppe, containing a summary of the program of each candidate (what we call the "profession de foi") and a copy of each balot paper. With twelve candiates, it makes a lot of paper ! As you see the cover does not bear any stamp, of course, but bears the folowing mark :


Which could be translated as : franking settled with La Poste, authorization political elections. These letters are distributed by the French post as the normal mail. The state pays back 0,15 euro for each enveloppe to the French post.
How does it work in your country ? Do you get also the same type of sending prior to the election ? How is it handled ? I would be happy top hear about you on this.




Friday, April 20, 2007

Number 200 : new frog stamps

I have a day off today, so plenty of time to deal with stamps (well among one thousand other things to do...). This post is the number 200 ! When I started my blog I did not know I would go that far... and I did not know that writing a blog would give me the oportunity to meet so many interesting people. Thank you to YOU for your emails. Keep writing I always enjoy getting news from my readers...
For today I have chosen two new issues related to frogs. The fist one is a stamp from Namibia.

This stamp is the part of the 4th definitive series issued by Namibia on the 15th of Februray 2007. The full set contains twelve stamps about bio-diversity. This one pictures an African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus). Not the cutest frog on earth isn't it ? As far as I know this is the first frog stamp issued by Namibia.
The next issue is coming from New Zealand.

This set of stamps was issued on the 5th of Mach 2007 about native wildlife. The frog stamp pictures an Hamilton frog (Leiopelma hamiltoni) a frog endemic to New Zealand. New Zeland has already issued several stamps picturing frog, and each time it was this species !
And again this is a first : the first circular stamp picturing a frog !

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Abu Simbel

My collection of stamps issued in 1966 is growing more and more every week. My last purchase in this matter is a set of stamps from Syria among which these two stamps.

They have been issued on the 15th of March 1966 to celebrate the “Save the Nubian monuments” philatelic week. For this reason, they fall also into another of my collections : stamps related to Ancient Egypt. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt. I had the luck to go to Egypt in 1997 to visit some of the wonderful places that you can see there, among which Abu Simbel that let me an unforgettable souvenir.
Abu Simbel is an archaeological site located in the southern Egypt on the west bank of Lake Nasser. It contains two massive rock temples and is a part of the UNESCO world heritage site known as “the Nubian monuments” (
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/88).
The construction of the temples of Abu Simbel started in approximately 1284 BC and lasted for 20 years. They were originally carved out of the mountains during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari (the big temple is dedicated to Ramses II and the small one to Nefertari).
What makes this place exceptional apart from the colossal statues that are placed at the entry of the temples, is the fact that the complete complex was moved because of the Aswan dam construction ! In 1959 started an international donations campaign to save the monuments of Nubia because they were under the threat from rising waters of the Nile that were about to result from the construction of the dam. The salvage of Abu Simbel began in 1964 and was completed around 1968. To be moved, the temples were actually cut in pieces, and reconstructed somewhere else, higher in the mountain. Very impressive ! This campaign to save Abu Simbel (and other Nubian monuments) has been celebrated and supported by philatelic issues from various countries, like the two stamps from Syria.
The stamps picture two the four 20 meter statues of Ramses II that decorate the entry of the main temple. Only three of the statues are intact, the fourth one has been damaged during an earthquake.
The legend that is spread by the tour guides when you visit the site is that the name Abu Simbel comes from the name of a young boy who was the guide of the Italian explorer who rediscovered the site at the beginning of the 19th century.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rodents from Czech republic

I do not have much time today to write anything long in this blog, but I wanted to show you a cover I got recently from Czech republic.


It bears two stamps from a set of four issued in 1991 about rodents. The two stamps picture a Garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus, on the bottom) and a Northern birch mouse (Sicista betulina, on the top). I wonder if there are some people who collect rodents on stamps ? I not so sure there are so many stamps on this topic.
This cover makes me think about an article I recently read in the French philatelic press, where they underline the (still) strong tradition of engraved stamps in Czech republic. I had noticed it myself, and I am always positively impressed by the high number of engraved stamps issued by this country, even in the recent years. A lot of other countries (including France) should follow this example. I’m sure there would be less complains from the stamp collectors about the low quality of the stamps issued by their homeland.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cover from Russia

Here is a cover I recently received from Russia. I found it rather nice and wanted to share it with you.

The two stamps located on the right part have been issued on the 25th of January 2007 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the birth of the Russian painter I.I.Shishkin. The stamp on the far right is a painting from him, called “In the north wild” realised in 1891. The other one is a portrait of I.I.Shishkin by I.N.Kramskoy realized in 1880.
The stamp located in the middle, is extracted from a souvenir sheet issued on the 19th of September 2006, to celebrate the 100Th anniversary of D.S.Lkhachev (I could not find who he was). The sheet contains six stamps (six time the same stamp) and two labels. On the cover you can see the top right corner of the sheet, with one stamp and one label, and the margin.
I like this stamp, I think this is a nice portrait. I find it very expressive. Don’t you think so ?
The last stamp is a definitive one issued in 1998.
The postmark is nice also, very clean, very neat. And this is a rather large cancel. I guess the rectangular mark means “air mail” ? I don’t think I saw it before…

Before leaving, here is an answer to a question I very often get from the readers of my blog. How do I get all those covers ? Do I have so many friends all over the world ?
I would be happy to have so many friends! No, in fact I do belong to several associations as the
CCCC which helps you to receive nice covers from a lot of countries in the world. The fee is very low, and of course, you have to send back a nice cover for each cover received. I got some very good philatelic contacts thanks to the CCCC. If you don’t know it yet, you should give a try…

Monday, April 16, 2007

Frog on stamp on stamp!

I made last week an interesting discovery for my frog stamp collection : a stamp that pictures a stamp that pictures a frog ! Here are the details.
This stamp was issued in 1976 by Netherlands. It belongs to a set of stamps that were all issued with surtax for various purposes. The surtax of this specific stamp was used to help wildlife protection.

The stamp pictures a Green frog (Rana esculenta). The design of the stamp is not very exceptional, but this is one of the very rare stamps that picture frog eggs. I only know another stamp from Spain, picturing a Bell toad (Alytes obstetricans) with eggs. So in itself this stamp was quite interesting.

In 1979, the theme of Europa stamps was the postal service. At this occasion, Netherlands has issued two stamps among which one celebrates philately : here is the stamp.



As you see, the stamp pictures a magnifying glass, and a set of stamps issued by Netherlands. And among the stamps that you see, there is the frog stamp of 1976 (on the right side). So this Europa stamp can fit in my collection because it pictures a frog !
Actually it pictures a stamp that pictures a frog ! A frog on stamp on stamp. I think this is the only existing case!

Friday, April 13, 2007

And a new blog

I just got an email from Eric from Canada (nice first name ;-) ) annoucing the creation of his new blog : http://canadianphilatelist.blogspot.com. Have a look ! Very good start.
Welcome to the philatelic blogger world Eric.

France new stamp issues

I have been asked if I could give some information about the next stamp issues from France so this post will be dedicated to the next three issues planned in April. I have already mentioned the rugby stamp that is planned next Monday. On the 30th of April, two souvenir sheets and one booklet are planned. The first one is a sheet of four stamps in the “Nature” series.

It pictures protected species from overseas. Since now several years the nature series take the form of a sheet of four stamps. Last year we had the small animals set which was quite criticized for its design. I'm not sure that this one is better. As a fauna stamps fan, I think this subject was worth a better design. But the questionable design of recent French issues is a debate that I'm not going to open here.The next one is a booklet belonging to the “holidays” series. At the difference of the previous issues in this series all ten stamps of the booklet have a different design with a general shade of blue that I rather appreciate.


The last one is a souvenir sheet from the series “Jardins de France” (gardens of France). Again a large sheet containing only two stamps with a high face value : so stamps that you will hardly see on a cover. The sheet of this year is dedicated to the parc de la tête d'or (golden head park) located in Lyon. A park that I really like and that I visit each time I go to Lyon (once a year).



If you are interested in getting any of these stamps then don't hesitate to contact me and I'll see what I can do for you.



Thursday, April 12, 2007

Toys on stamps, from Spain



A very short post today, only to show you this nice cover I got from Angel, the blogger of Send me a cover.
This registered letter comes from Spain and bears the set of stamps issued in January this year picturing toys. The set contains eight stamps (two stamps are duplicated on the cover) and has been issued in booklet. A very nice set of stamps and a very nice cover. Its is a pity that the postman did not find a better place to stick the green label of the post office just on top of two stamps ! It shows the care he takes about stamps… Anyway, thank you very much Angel for this nice cover.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Saint Pierre and Miquelon


I have received this letter end of last week and it made me happy for several reasons.
First of all it was sent by a friend of mine, Rob, who lives in Canada. Thank you very much Rob! The cover is impressive. In fact the colours look sharper on the scan than in reality: probably a wrong settings of my scanner…
Secondly, it comes from Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and this is the first letter I receive from there. In case you don’t know it, Saint Pierre and Miquelon is a little piece of France located far away from the main land. This is a group of small islands off the eastern coast of Canada. Those islands are part of France and form the Territorial Collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. On top of the two main islands (one called Saint Pierre and one called Miquelon) other smaller islands are part of the territory : Ile aux Marins, Ile aux pigeons, Grand Colombier, Petit Colombier, Ile aux vainqueurs.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon issues its own stamps. You can find more information about them on the official website :
http://www.spmtimbres.com/. You will see that a reasonable number of stamps are issued every year, and very often they are engraved stamps, which makes them attractive.
As far as definitive stamps are concerned, Saint Pierre and Miquelon re-uses the French definitive stamps (the famous Marianne) overprinted with “Saint Pierre et Miquelon” on three lines. These are the stamps that you can see on the cover sent by my friend. In fact on this cover you can see 17 different Marianne of Lamouche (the current definitive French stamp). All those stamps have been issued in 2005 (11 have been issued in January and 6 in March following a change of postal rate). The two stamps located on the right bottom corner are the TVP (Timbre à Valeur Permanente) i.e. the stamps without indication of face value that are valid for a standard letter within France (standard service for the red one, economic service (slower) for the green one).
The picture on the cover if a picture from the Ile aux Marins (the Sailors’ island). In fact the cover is originally a PAP (Pret à Payer) i.e. a postal stationary that has been transformed into a normal cover.
At the end it gives a very pleasant philatelic souvenir.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rugby stamp from France

As you may know already, France is going to host the 2007 Rugby World Cup, starting in September. As a big fan of rugby, this is an event that I am expecting with a lot of pleasure. I’ll have th opportunity to attend to quite a big number of matches, among which the opening game (France versus Argentina) and the final !
At this occasion French post is going to issue soon a stamp about rugby. The first day ceremony is planned next weekend, on the 14th of April. Here is the stamp.
The stamp is much nicer than the one issued for the 1999 Rugby World Cup. The stamp issued at this time was exceptional because it was oval (as a rugby ball), but the design of the stamp was ugly, at least as far as I’m concerned.
This new stamp looks better. As you can see, on top of the stamp is written “Allez les petits” that one could translate as “Go, the youngsters”. This encouragement is very famous among rugby fans in France, because it was the one used by Roger Courderc, a very famous journalist who has commented on a lot of rugby games for French TV. He has helped to make of rugby a very popular sport in France. I think this was a very nice idea to pay tribute to him through the issue of this stamp.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Some words before the weekend

Just a few words before the weekend. I succeeded in cleaning my mail box, so I answered to all emails I got so far. I would like to than Zhenbang Huang who sent me a scan of all the nine other souvenir sheets of the Hong King Classics series that I mentioned in Souvenir sheet from Hong Kong.
You can see the full set of ten sheets by clicking HERE.
Something else, if you are interested in Horses on stamps, I invite you to visit the beautiful website of Nadya at http://horse-stamps.narod.ru/. It is available both in English and Russian. Very impressive work !
Happy easter.

Iris on stamps, tabs and more

So here we are, on the edge of a new three days weekend, thanks to Easter. I’ll have plenty of time to deal with my stamps, and to be able to answer to all the mails I got so far. I recently received a lot of emails from some of you, don’t worry I will answer soon, I’m just extremely late in this…

For today I chose a set of stamps that I scanned some times ago but that I did not yet show on my blog up to now. This set comes from Israel and was issued in 1978. The stamps picture three types of Iris that can be found in Israel, and that belong to protected species : Iris lortetii, Iris haynei and Iris nazarena.

A nice set of stamps for people who collect flowers on stamps, isn’t it ? The particularity of the stamps from Israel is the tab. Since 1948, Israel almost systematically issues stamps with tabs attached. The tab is usually used to give information (as on this set), but can also contain pictorial element to enhance the design of the stamps. As you can see on the stamps of this cover I got recently.



I think Israel is the only country doing this. Some other countries have issued, from time to time, stamps with illustrated tabs, but Israel is the only one to do it systematically. I wonder why ? If you are interested in stamps from Israel, the following web site gives a lot of information about all commemorative stamps issued since 1948 : http://www.israelphilately.org.il/catalog/

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Beijing opera

I have received recently, from one of my Chinese friends, this set of two FDC bearing the six stamps issued on the 10th of March 2007 and entitled “Sheng roles in Beijing Opera”.





Beijing Opera is a national treasure of China. It has a history of about 200 years. Four major roles are part of it : sheng (male), dan (female), jing (painted face male) and chou (clown, male of female). The “sheng” roles are divided into four sub-roles :
- laosheng : an old or middle-age man wearing a false beard and whiskers who reads the dialectal spoken parts of the play
- xiaosheng : a young man who has a handsome appearance and a gorgeous voice
- wusheng : who is adept of martial arts and who uses them on stage
- wawasheng : a child with a clear voice
Those four roles can be seen on the six colourful stamps of the set.

I like those FDC for several reasons. First of all, I always appreciate more FDC that have actually travelled through the postal service, than “mint” FDC. Those ones came in an extremely good condition, which is rare enough to me mentioned. Then the stamps are rather colourful and attractive, the postmark is clean (which, I must admit, is common on a FDC…).
The last point is that those stamps give us some highlight about Chinese culture. Since I’m a child, I’m fascinated by Chinese theatre and opera, in which I don’t understand anything, but which is always very colourful and so different from what we see here in France.
I always like when stamps illustrate a particular aspect of the culture of the issuing country; After all, isn’t it a bit of the role of stamps, to be small ambassadors of a country in the rest of the world ?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Butterflies

Butterfly is a very popular topic among stamp collectors. So this is not surprising to see so many stamps picturing all sort of types and species of butterflies. Recently, Swedish post has started a new series about this topic. The first stamp of this series was issued on the 22nd of March 2007. I was interested by the original approach that they use for this stamp. Look at it.

Instead of picturing a butterfly in a traditional way, they decided to show a close-up of the wing of a Large Blue (Maculinea arion), which is a protected butterfly and very rare in Sweden.
As you can see the stamp is a self-adhesive stamp with an interesting perforation.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Better late than never

I'm back from a three days weekend to Tours and I just found in my mail box the gift sent by the French philatelic service to their subscribers for the new year best wishes ! As we say in French : Mieux vaut tard que jamais (Better late than never). After all we are only in April... I anyway wanted to share with you this sending. There are two items. The first one is a engraving showing a portrait of Mozart by Jean-Baptiste Greuze designed in 1763.

It looks actually better than on the scan. I could not find a good way to get a better result with my scanner. Jean-Baptiste Greuze is a French painter born in 1725 who died in 1805. If you collect French stamps then you may know that three paintings from JB.Greuze have been pictured on stamps. In 1971 in a set issued with a surcharge in favour of the Red Cross, two stamps picture works from Greuze : "Young girl with a puppy" and "The dead bird". In 2005 another stamp was issued picturing The guitarist, a painting from Greuze.





Now back to the gift. As I said there was two items. The second one is this souvenir sheet.



This sheet contains five stamps that re-use the design of the best wishes stamps issued end of last year. The stamps are printed se-tenant with a label. It is to be noticed that this souvenir sheet can not be purchased from the French post. It is only available as a gift to the subscribers.
The souvenir sheet re-uses the same design than another block of stamps that was offered by French post to the Post Office workers, but this one was using self-adhesive stamps, whereas the one I got is with "normal" gummed stamps.
This types of specific stamp issues used as gifts create a big debate in France among stamp collectors because they encourage speculation. Collectors who want these stamps and who are not employes from the French post or who are not subscribers to the philatelic service will have to buy them from auction websites, paying probably a relevant price... (I just saw the one offered to Post Office Workers being offered on Ebay for 230 euros!)