Thursday, January 31, 2008

Artistic booklet from French post

As I mentioned yesterday, last weekend was held the first day ceremony of a new booklet of ten auto-adhesive stamps picturing masterpieces of paintings. Here is the booklet.

From top to bottom and from left to right the stamps picture :
- The birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
- A detail of “A scene from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi by Giotto di Bondone
- Napoleon crossing through the St Bernard pass by Jacques Louis David
- Seaport at sunset by Claude Gellée (aka Le Lorrain) :
- Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist by Raphaël
- Girl with a pearl earring by Johannes Vermeer
- The summer by Guiseppe Arcimboldo
- The Joconde by Leonardo da Vinci
- The infant Marie-Marguerite by Diego Velasquez Moneylender and his wife by Quentin Metsys

The bottom of the booklet contains a very nice label picturing a detail of the wedding of Cana by Veronese.
A very nice booklet for people interesting in art on stamps !
Here is the first day cover that I sent to myself. Note the very original square postmark !

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

First day ceremony, year of the Rat

As announced yesterday I would like to tell you today about a first day ceremony that I have attended to, during the weekend. Saturday and Sunday the French post has held the first day ceremony of the souvenir sheet issued to celebrate the year of the Rat. But let’s start by the beginning.
Everything has started when I received this invitation.

When you are a regular customer of French post, you may receive such invitation for each first day ceremony. Well, invitation is a big word, since those events are free, you don’t need an invitation. But this sort of notice is rather useful because it informs you about the precise date, hour and program of the event. As you may see on the picture, two different issues were planned to be presented during the ceremony : the year of the rat souvenir sheet and the artistic booklet, that I will talk about tomorrow.
The event took place in an area of Paris called “Le Marais” which is one of the oldest area of Paris, and also my favourite. I decided to go on Saturday. The event was planned to start at 10h. As I know from experience that the first day of Chinese new year stamps are rather famous (I attended to the Year of the Dog ceremony two years ago) I arrived early, at 9h00. Yes I know, one hour in advance ! But guess what ? I was not the first one ! There were already 15 to 20 people queuing in front of the entrance. In order to spend the time, and to forget the cold, we more or less discussed all together, speaking about the (too) high number of stamps issued by French post, the (too) low quality of some of them, the (too) few young people interested by philately, etc. (I guess that if you put two stamp collectors together is almost any countries they will have this sort of exchange, no ?)At 10h the doors were opened, and we could rush inside, to enjoy the warmth and to queue again, but this time ti buy the stamps. I bought few souvenir sheets. Here is a picture of it.

French post has started to issue a souvenir sheet for the Chinese new year in 2005 for the year of the rooster. What I think a bit strange is that the blocs issued for the year of the rooster (in 2005), of the dog (in 2006) and of the pig (in 2007) were all containing ten stamps. This year, the block issued for the year of the rat contains only five stamps, even if the overall design of the block is similar to the previous ones.
After having bought my stamps, I could rush to the few tables installed at the opposite corner of the room to stick the stamps on the covers I had prepared for some of you, my readers. There were not enough tables if you want my opinion…
Then I could start queuing again, this time to get my covers cancelled with the first day cancel. Here is the one I sent to myself.

I rather like the pictorial cancel with the small rat !
I did not have the strength to queue again to get the autograph of the creator of the block. You should have seen the number of people waiting already ! I gave up.
Around this ceremony there was some other animations : Chinese music was played, there was some dancers also. You could taste various Chinese teas. There was also a stand where you could learn Origami and you could learn how to fold… a rat ! I was a bit surprised because for me Origami is more Japanese than Chinese.So I was rather pleased by this experience. As I said there was really a big number of people. I don’t know if this haw been the same all over the weekend. Tomorrow I will write about the second set of stamps that was issued at the same time, the artistic booklet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cover from Netherlands

I had prepared a post about a first day ceremony that I have attended to during the weekend, but as I could not find the time to scan the associated items I will postpone this post to tomorrow or the next days. So today I would like to show you a cover from Netherlands sent by a regular reader of my blog : Piet. Thank you Piet for this sending and also for the previous one which was also very nice.

(I must reveal a terrible truth : I do not speak Dutch ;-) So I had quite some hard time finding information about the stamps on the cover, since I only found website in Dutch. Hopefully the translation tools of Google were powerful enough to help me.)

The stamp located on the far right was issued on the 2nd of January 2008 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the NVPH : the Dutch association of stamp dealers. As you can see, behind the big heart, the stamp pictures an accumulation of other stamps. They are rather small, but some of them can anyway be identified if you know a bit the stamps from Netherlands.
The second stamp, located on the left of the previous one was also issued on the 2nd of January, but this time to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the NBFV, the Dutch association of stamp collectors. I must admit that the design of the stamp is quite a mystery for me : I do not really see the link with the event which is celebrated. As you see, Piet has also put the top margin of the sheet from where the stamp is extracted, and mentioning the 100th anniversary of the association (100 JAAR NBFV).
The last stamp, again on the left, belongs to a set of ten stamps issued on the 11th of December 2006. In January 2007 Netherlands has changed the postal rates. To follow this postal rate changes, TNT has issued this set of stamps, bearing the new internal postal rate (44 Eurocents). The ten stamps are illustrated by famous design from Netherlands. Here is the complete set of ten.

The stamp that Piet has put on the cover pictures a glass. This is a glass designed by Andries Copier (1901-1991) known as the “Gilde” glass. This very simple glass was designed in 1930. I did not find where the name “Gilde” comes from, if anybody has an idea ?
On the left bottom corner, Piet has illustrated the cover by sticking a picture of some recent stamps.
Look at the huge circle postmark. I’m always impressed by the size of the cancel from TNT. IT is also very clear and clean, which is rather nice.

On word about Piet. He has started, some years ago now, a fantastic collection of covers from all over the world. He has sent me the list of countries and places from where he has already received a cover, and I can tell you the list is really impressive. He has also sent me the list of places from where he still expect to get mails. I can not reproduce it here, but if you think you can help him to get mail from very specific places (such as one of the 12 Antarctic stations for instance) then drop me a mail and I’ll put you in contact with Piet.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Danish cover

I have already written here about my good experience with Danish post. But I realized that I hadn’t received so far a nice cover (at least worth sharing with you) from Denmark. Until I got this one, through a covers exchange circuit.

The stamp on the right side of the cover, is one of the two stamps issued by Denmark on the 6th of June 2007 for the Europa issue celebrating the centenary of scout movement. Here is the scan of both stamps. They are rather simple but nice I think.

What sounds strange to me is that none of the stamp bears a face value which corresponds to the rate of a standard letter from Denmark to other European countries. The rate for such a letter is 7.75, this is why the sender of the cover had to put an additional stamp. This is a pity for a stamp belonging to Europa issue, don’t you think ? I have sometimes difficulties to understand the choice of face value for stamps issued by French post but at list the Europa issue corresponds to the rate for a letter to Europe…

The second stamp on the cover is probably very well known by all of you. This is a definitive stamp, the oldest stamp design for a Danish stamp still in use. It is sometimes referred as the “wavy lines”. In 1902, the government decided to have a new definitive stamp design, that should be “simple in its composition, easily read and uncomplicated to print”. Among the numerous suggestions received by the postal service, this is the one submitted by Julius Therchilsen, an architect, that was chosen. I did not find a scan of the original design of this stamp, but it looked exactly as the one on the cover, as you will see below. The design was effectively simple, with the name of the country and the face value very easy to read. The lions, the hearts and the crown are borrowed from the Danish Coat of Arms. The wavy lines symbolize the three main waterways of the country : The Sound, the Great Belt and the Little Belt. The stamp was issued for the first time on the 22nd of July 1905. In 1932, due to the evolution of the printing techniques, the postal administration decided to simplify a bit the design of the stamp : the hearts were removed and a second circle was added around the denomination. In 1981 another problem occurred : the face value needed three digits and not any more two as originally foreseen in the design. The face value was then written with a smaller size. Here is an example of the stamp as it looked in 2002 with its modified design.

In 2005, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the wavy lines stamp, Danish post decided to go back to the original design. This is the one you see on the cover.This makes this stamp one of the oldest stamp still in use, and for sure the oldest Danish one !

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cover form Colombia

The list of countries from where I have received covers is increasing : now I can add Colombia in the list. Thank you Camilo for this sending. Here is the cover.

The square stamp, on the left, has been issued on the 6th of December 2007. This is a Christmas stamp, as written on it (NAVIDAD). Here is a zoom of the stamp (my scan being not so good, it’s hard to see the details of the stamps).

The stamp pictures a traditional crèche but adapted to the local standards. The members of the holy family are pictured as peasants dressed in traditional clothing, the Christmas tree is replaced by a coffee tree, the guitar and the fruits complete the Colombian “touch”.

The second stamp, located on the right, is a part of set of twelve stamps issued in 2006. This set is itself a part of a series of stamps, started in 2003, and dedicated to the departments of Colombia. The set which this stamp belongs to, is dedicated to the Boyaca. Boyaca is one of the 32 departments of Colombia. It is sometimes referred as the Land of freedom, because it was the scene of series of battles that led to the independence of Colombia from Spain in the 19th century. The stamp itself pictures the Temple of the Sun, located in Sogamoso. The ancient name of Sogamoso was Suamox, meaning the city of the Sun. In Sogamoso there was a temple dedicated to the Sun god, built by the Muiscas, the original inhabitants of Colombia. In this temple, human sacrifices were held once every 15 years in tribute to the Sun god. This temple has been burnt by the Spanish, and was rebuilt more recently to become a museum. This is this newly built temple that is pictured on the stamp.
The twelve stamps of this set (sorry I could not find a picture of the complete set) have been issued in a small sheet, with illustrated margins, as for all the stamps of the series. In this case the margins are illustrated with pre-Colombian art. In the margin of the stamp on the cover , you can see a golden statue. The postmark looks actually better in reality than on the scan. I don’t know what happened with my scanner. (I think it was disturbed by the high contrast between the dark blue Christmas stamp and the white of the envelope…)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Year of the Rat souvenir sheet from Canada

Today I am happy and I am not at the same time ! First I’m happy because I received from Glenn a wonderful cover franked with the year of the rat souvenir sheet from Canada. Thanks a lot Glenn. And I’m not happy because it came somehow un-cancelled, and some postal clerk thought it would be a good idea to cancel it with a Biro. What a waste !
Here is the cover anyway.

To illustrate the year of the rat, the Canadian post has decided to use an old Chinese tale about the wedding of a little mouse. In this tale a father mouse looks for the perfect husband for his daughter. He speaks with the sun, the wind, the clouds and even a wall, before discovering that the perfect husband is a mouse of his own community ! The souvenir sheet that you can see on the cover bears one stamp picturing the future husband, the daughter being pictured on the left border of the sheet. In the background of the stamp are illustrated the sun, the wind, the clouds and the wall that were discarded by the father mouse. All around them you can see the eleven other Chinese zodiacal animals; they all carry presents for the wedding of the mice.
The full set issued by Canada post on the 8th of January also includes a single stamp picturing the little daughter mouse as illustrated on the left part of the block.

People born in 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 and now 2008 are a Rat in the Chinese zodiacal system. According to Chinse astrology, the people born in the year of the Rat are smart, charming and generous with people they love, but they easily get angry and easily critic others. They made good writers, critics or journalists. They are good worker, and they usual attract people from opposite sex. Family is very important for people born during the year of the Rat.
If you are curious to know, I was born in the year of Horse…

Monday, January 21, 2008

My first cover from Kenya

On these troubled times you can imagine that I was surprised and happy to get a mail from Kenya. This is the first time that I get a mail from this country ! As for a lot of African countries, finding information about the stamps of this country is not always an easy task, as the Kenyan post office website does not help much. But first, let me show you the cover.

I could not find information about the stamp on the right, picturing a chimpanzee. I suspect that this is a recent issue, may be from 2007, but I could not confirm. The stamp on the left side belongs to a set of four stamps issued on the 4th of May 2006 and picturing fishes of lake Victoria. Here is the complete set.

With 68,800 square kilometres in size, lake Victoria is the largest lake of Africa and the second largest fresh water lake in the world in terms of surface area. It is located on the western part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley and is administrated by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The stamps picture four species of fish that can be found in this lake. Clockwise, the pictured species are :
- Elephant snout fish (Mormyrus kannumeis) : a fish that gets its name from the trunk like mouth that look like the one of an elephant. A particularity of this type of fish is that it emits electrical signals to communicate and to avoid obstacles
- Sudan cat fish (Bagrus docmak) : this is the stamp that you can see on the cover also
- Nile perch (Lates niloticus) : a species that has been introduced in lake Victoria in the 50’s for a scientific experience and which has now a negative impact : its proliferation has triggered the near extinction of several other species. This was the subject of a recent movie
Darwin’s nightmare.
- Redbreast tilapia (Tilapia rendalli)
Note also the very clean postmark from Nairobi !

Friday, January 18, 2008

A cover from Cambodia (2)

Following my call for help of yesterday, I got a feedback from Ha Tram (Thanks a lot) who confirmed that the stamp from Cambodia I showed had been issued to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between Vietnam and Cambodia. She also sent me a scan of the FDC of the complete set. Here it is.

This is not a joint issue, since only Cambodia issued stamps to commemorate this event. The set was issued on the 14th of June.
I’m still looking for information about the sculptures that are pictures on the set of stamps.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A cover from Cambodia and a call for help

Today I have a problem ! You know that when I show you a cover I like to give information about the stamps that are used on the cover, as much as I can. But with the cover of today I have a problem.
I recently got a letter from Cambodia. This is the first time I get a mail from this country! So here it is.

The stamp is a bit up side down, here is a zoom of the stamp.

I could not find any concrete information about the stamp and what it pictures. I found out that this stamp belongs to a set of five stamps issued in 2007 to commemorate the 40 years of diplomatic relations with Vietnam. But when was it issued exactly ? Is it a joint issue with Vietnam ? What does it picture ? No idea ! I searched on the web in all my usual source of information. The website of Cambodian post did not help, the one from Vietnam does not mention a joint issue with Cambodia… So if anybody has an information about the stamp I will be more than happy to get it. Thanks in advance.
Interestingly this cover was not sent by a philatelic contact or by a stamp collector.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cover from Brazil

In September last year I showed you a cover from Iran franked with stamps belonging to a 2002 joint issue between Iran and Brazil. Pedro made me the nice surprise to send me a cover from brazil, franked with the Brazilian stamps of the same issue. Thank you very much Pedro. Here it is.

I think this is the first cover from Brazil that I show on my blog, even though this is not the first one I get.
As you can see the stamps from Brazil are the same than the ones from Iran, and they have been issued at the same time, on the 5th of December 2002 : this issue is therefore a twin issue.
The stamps located on the left side of the cover are definitive stamps belonging to the musical instruments series issued in 2002. These stamps picture a trumpet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Himalayan lakes

(I’m sorry that I did not update my blog in the last days. My flight back from Shanghai was very difficult. I had a lot of difficulties to recover from the jet lag. Hopefully I just had a three days weekend, very relaxing, and now I’m back in good shape.)

During Christmas period I took the time to sort out all the covers I have received in 2007 and I found a few interesting ones that I did not show yet on my blog. This is the case for this one. It comes from India, I received it through one of the cover exchange club that I belong to.

The cover arrived in a rather bad shape. It was torn and creased. It took me some time to get it right. It is franked with a set of five stamps. This set was issued on the 5th of November 2006 and pictures Himalayan lakes. The lakes that are pictured on the stamps are : Roop Kund, Chandra Tal, Tsomo Riri, Sela and Tsangu. The five stamps have been printed se-tenant in block of five, and issued also in the form of a sheet.

I do not know much about this area of the world and about those lakes. I did not find so much information about them anyway, but I think the cover was worth sharing with you.

I would like to take benefit of this post to draw your attention on the fact that I recently added some new links in the list of weblogs listed on the left of this window. Do not hesitate to visit those interesting blogs. And don’t forget to send me the address of yours, if you have one.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New year greetings from Russia

This is my last evening in Shanghai, tomorrow I’ll fly back to Paris. Two days and a half is definitely too short for such a long trip… I could find the time to visit and discover the city. Well, on the other hand I’m here for professional reasons..
Anyway, today I wanted to show you a cover I received from Russia, sent by Alexander, the blogger of
Used Covers. Thank you very much for this cover Alexander.

The stamp located on the top right corner is a stamp issued on the 7th of December. This is a “happy new year” stamp. The stamp was also issued in a mini sheet. Here is a picture of it.

The stamp located on the top left corner is… not a stamp ;-) This is what I would call “a stamp holder” (porte timbre in French… If somebody knows the correct name I would be happy to know). This is a piece of paper, illustrated, with a free space when you can put a definitive stamp. My knowledge of the Russian language is so limited, I can not tell you what is written on the stamp holder. It seems to commemorate the 300th anniversary of something but I could not find what. Again if somebody can give me more information about it, I will be happy. I wil post this info in my blog, to share it with all the readers.
Just on the right of this stamp holder, you can see a small stamp picturing a ballerina that belongs to the definitive series issued on the 24th of January 2001. I like this definitive stamp series, it has a simple design, but is very nice.
On the left bottom corner you can see another definitive stamp that I already mentioned in a
previous post.Look also at the very nice postmark. A very festive one.

Additional information (20th of January 2008)

I got some additional information from Alexander regarding the stamp holder shown on the cover. It is in fact an advertisement stam, issued to commemorate the tricentannry of St Petersbourg. Here is the complete sheet from where it is extracted.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

People from Kazakhstan

I would like to give some additional information on the souvenir sheet I presented on the cover from Kazakhstan. It seems it is a part of a series. I found out that on the 29th of April 2003 another souvenir sheet was issued.

The three stamps pictures Kazakhs, Russians and Ukrainians in traditional costumes.
Then in 2004 was issued the souvenir sheet that I showed on the cover. I did not find any issue in 2005 and 2006 for this series, but on the 28th of December 2007 another sheet was issued.

This time the stamps picture the Uigurs and the Tatars.

I found all this information thanks to the excellent website that I visit quite often and presenting stamp issues from the former soviet union countries :

Monday, January 07, 2008

No update today

I'm currently in Shanghai for a professional trip of few days. I intended to post an article today but I think the jet lag is stronger than me ;-) So there will be no post today. Probably tomorrow. Sorry for this...

Friday, January 04, 2008

First Day Cover from Poland

I have received this very nice cover from Poland, sent by Andrzej, who is a reader of my blog (Thank you very much Andrzej).

This is a very nice official FDC from the Polish post for the stamp issued on the 3rd of December 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniwski, who changed his name to Joseph Conrad in 1886 was a Polish-born English novelist. He is considered as one of the greatest English novelist. Orphaned at the age of eleven, he begun a career as a seaman at the age of 16. He lived an adventurous life, sailing on various ships. He notably sailed the Otago, the ship that is pictured in the background of the stamp and also on the first day cancel (note the very nice first day cancel !). Conrad has used his experiences in the French and then later the British Merchant navy as a source of inspiration for his novels. One of his main novels, Heart of Darkness, written in 1899, is known to have inspired the movie “Apocalypse now” !
This is a really nice cover, it is a pity that the French mailman spoiled it a bit by sticking the green label that indicates the address of my post office.
There is an additional stamp on the cover. It belongs to a set of twelve stamps issued in 1995/1996 and picturing the signs of Zodiac. This specific stamp was issued on the 10th of July 1996 and pictures the Capricorn. I must admit that I did not really understand the symbolism used to picture the Capricorn…On top of this cover, Andrzej has sent me this very nice postcard, bearing the same stamp and the same cancel.

On the illustration of this card, there is again a portrait of Joseph Conrad, but there is also a picture of Alan Villiers. Alan John Villers (1903-1982) was an author, adventurer, photographer and Master Mariner. Why is he pictured on the card ? Because in 1934 he purchased a ship called Georg Stage, that he renamed to the Joseph Conrad, as a tribute to the novelist. The Joseph Conrad is now a museum ship at the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and also a static training vessel.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cover from Chile

After my first cover from Kazakhstan that I showed yesterday, here is my first cover from Chile, received through the CCCC.

Let’s start by the blue stamp, located on the right part. It’s rather easy to find out that this is a Christmas issue of 2000 (Navidad 2000). In fact, this stamp was issued on the 25th of November 2000. What was less obvious is that it belongs to a set of ten stamps, issued as a souvenir sheet that pictures quite well the spirit of Christmas. Here is the complete sheet.

The second stamp belongs to a set of two stamps, issued on the 29th of June 2007. This set celebrates (multi) centenary churches of Chile. The stamp on the cover pictures the church of Parinacota. This church which is now a national monument was built in the 17th century and was reconstructed in stone and whitened in 1789. What is interesting is that while looking for some information about this church, I found this website. If you look attentively you will see that the photography on this webpage looks exactly as the stamp ! As if the stamp was designed from this photography…
As I said the full set contains two stamps. The second stamp of the set pictures the church of San Pedro de Atacama. The stamps have been issued in a sheet with printed margins. Here is the full sheet.

Another interesting thing to notice about the cover is the postmark. It is hard to read on the scan but I tried to make a zoom on it and to enhance the contrast. You can see that the three letters DIC for “Diciembre” seem to be swapped compared to the rest of the cancel…

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cover from Kazakhstan

2008 is now here. I hope you all had a nice time celebrating the end of the year and the beginning of the new one. For this first post of 2008, I decided to show you the first cover I received recently from Kazakhstan !

As you see, the cover is franked with a souvenir sheet bearing two stamps. This sheet has been issued on the 12th of May 2004 and pictures various popular clothing. Kazakhstan is located in an area of the world where you can find a lot of ethnic communities. The two stamps of the souvenir sheet picture popular clothing of the Uzbeks (stamp on the left) and of the Germans (stamp on the right).
I did not find much information about the rest of the souvenir sheet, neither why it has been actually issued. So any information is welcome.Anyway, I’m very glad to add this new country in the list of countries from where I have received a cover !