Monday, September 01, 2008

Bulls-eye cancellation

I have already complained several times, in this blog, about the low quality of modern cancellation. It seems that in more and more countries this is difficult to get a clean postmark on a postage stamp. You can read complains of stamp collectors in philatelic newspapers.

On the other hand, we have to agree on what is a clean postmark. It seems that the expectation in this domain are not really the same for everybody. For some people, a “good” postmark should be cancelling a stamp just a bit, in one corner, in order to show that the stamp is used, but preserving, as much as possible, the design of the stamp.
For some others, a good cancellation should be a circle hand stamp applied just in the middle of a stamp, making sure that the complete circle of the cancel is within the stamp surface. This is what we call a bulls-eye cancellation. The advantage of such cancellation is that even when the stamp is removed from the cover, you can still clearly read the cancel and see where and when the stamp was used.
I have read somewhere that such cancellations are quite famous in Germany. I have the feeling that this is also the case in some of the Nordic countries. Here is a cover I got from Sweden which shows a very nice illustration of this principle.

As you can see, both stamps are cancelled in the same way by a round hand stamp applied just in the middle. I must confess that I did not receive the cover exactly in this state : on the cover a small green note was stuck (a sort of “post it”) with some words in Swedish. This note was covering the top of the cover, where the stamps were put. I do not know if this note was asking for a clean postmark to the postal clerk (in this case the request was successfully granted) or if the purpose of the note was only to protect the stamps during the transport and to avoid that they get damaged or spoiled.

Let’s talk a bit about the stamps. The stamp on the left side is a part of a set of eight stamps issued on the 30th of September 2006 picturing children’s TV classics in Sweden. I must admit that I did not find any information about the program that is illustrated on this specific stamp.

The second stamp belongs to a set of six stamps issued on the 20th of August 1998 and picturing pastries. The stamp pictures a Gustav Adolf cake, named after Gustav II Adolf, who was king of Sweden from 1611 to 1632. There is a Swedish Holiday on November 6th in his honor. This special pastry, often covered
with a chocolate profile of the king, is eaten to celebrate the occasion as well as other pastries, cakes and cookies baked on that day.

As life is full of coincidence, I did not receive this cover from Sweden alone, but I got a second one, on the same day, but coming from another person. Again, the cover was partially covered with the green note I mentioned above. And again the cover shows very clean postmarks. Here it is.

The stamp located on the right is part of a set of stamps about Swedish fashion that I already mentioned in this blog. Just on the left of this stamp, you can see a coil stamp that belongs to a set of four stamps picturing regional houses. This stamp pictures a log cabin.
The other coil stamps are part of a set of four stamps picturing Swedish trees. Two species of trees are pictured : a birch (Betula pendula, on the two se-tenant stamps), sometimes called weeping birch, and a juniper (Junipera communis).

For people interested in bulls-eye cancellation I have found a club dedicated to this sort of collection :
The Bulls eye Cancel Collectors Club.


Benedikt said...

These are great. But what were the Swedish word on the Post-It notes? It would be nice to see if I could help you with that.

MBstamps said...

Shown cancellations are neat, but I think it would not be the same with all type of cancellations, in case of pictorial cancellations the cancellation may hide the picture on the stamp.