Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Just a short post on this last day of 2008 to wish you all a very very happy new year.
I hope that 2009 will bring us a lot of philatelic surprises
The picture illustrating this post is the booklet of stamps issued on the 10th of November 2008 by the French post for the "season greetings". The stamps have been designed by students of an art school located in Epinal.
To be noticed that the booklet contains an unusual number of stamps : 14 instead of the usual 10. This is because six stamps have a smaller size (the size of a definitive Marianne stamps) to be used on smaller greeting cards and envelopes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Preserve the Polar Regions and Glaciers

2008 is slowly reaching an end, so this is time to speak about one of the important philatelic events that will take place in the first quarter of 2009.
As a closing action of the 2007-2009 International Polar Year, not less than 40 countries will issue a stamp or souvenir sheet with a common theme: Preserver the Polar Regions and Glaciers. Each country will be free to decide the design of the stamps, the only rule is that it must include the logo of the campaign, a protected ice crystal that must be put on the left part of the design.
Most of the Nordic Countries (Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway …) who issued a common block of stamps in March 2007 for the IPY’s opening are involved in this issue, as well as the countries pretending claims in Antarctica (like Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand …) or having stations on the White Continent (Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Rep., Ecuador, India, Japan, South Africa, Uruguay).
Some other countries having temporary research programs in the Polar Regions are also joining the stamp issue (like Estonia, Hungary or Switzerland for example). The program is still open to other goodwill countries involved in polar matters.

As an appetizer ;-), here is a picture of the souvenir sheet that will be issued by Aland on the 22nd of January 2009.


The souvenir sheet commemorates the 100th anniversary of the introduction of electricity in Mariehamn, Aland. Due to the very high prices for the electric current produced, this is not before the end of the 70s that the most remote parts of Aland have been connected to the main electrical network. The souvenir sheet pictures a more ecologic way to produce electricity: wind turbines. 22 wind turbines are installed in Aland.
The symbol of this joint issue, an ice crystal, can be seen in the upper left corner. The wind turbine is embossed and the rest of the sheet is supplied with Metal FX effect.

If you are interested to see more of the design of the stamps that are planned to be issued, you can check
this page on the Finnish post website.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Island

I know that the frenzy of Christmas is now over, but I would like to share with you an item I received end of last week: a very nice Fist Day Cover of the Christmas issue from Christmas Island!
Here it is.
First of all, let me give you some information about the island itself. Christmas Island is a small dot located in the Indian Ocean, 2600 km north-west of Perth, Australia and not very far (360 km) from Java.
The island was named “Christmas Island” by Captain William Mynors of the East India Ship Company vessel, the Royal Mary, on the day of his arrival, the 25th of December 1643. He was not able to land, and actually the first recorded landing on the island will only occur in 1688.
Nowadays Christmas Island is a territory of Australia. There are around 1600 residents on the island, and 63% of its surface is a national park, making it famous for its flora and fauna. You can find a lot of useful information about this island
on this website.

On the philatelic side, Christmas Island has started to issue its own postage stamp in 1958. It was an adaptation of Australia's 1 shilling 7 pence stamp of March 1955, using a bas-relief profile of Queen Elizabeth II with floral ornament. The design was reshaped to include a black "CHRISTMAS ISLAND" and encircled value in Malayan dollars overprint.
Since 1992 the stamps from Christmas Islands are produced by the Australian post, with three issues per year. One of these issues is a traditional Christmas set of stamps. The one on the cover have been issued on the 31st of October 2008.

The stamp on the right pictures a Robber crab (Birgus latro), the largest species of crab worldwide, so called because of its habit to steal shiny objects. The Robber crab is also called elsewhere the Coconut crab because of its ability to break coconuts with its claws. The stamp pictures a Robber crab disguised as a reindeer that tries to steal the Christmas gifts of a group of Red crabs. Red crabs are another species that can be found on the island. They are very numerous there and their annual mass migration to the sea has been described by ecologists as one of the wonders of the natural world.

The second stamp pictures a Christmas tree decorated with seashells, Red crabs and a smiling starfish. A bird is wrapping its long tail around the tree like a strand of tinsel. This bird is a Golden bosun (Phaetho letirus fulvus), a bird that is endemic to Christmas Island and that is also pictured on the flag of the island.



The pictorial postmark is very nice and clear, making this FDC a very nice item for my collection!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pantomime

Even if the Christmas eve and day are over, I would like to keep the Christmas spirit for today, before entering the last run for the end of the year. I would like to share with you an item I received recently from Scott, a reader of my blog who also maintains the website Postively Postal that I invite you to visit. Thank you very much Scott.
Scott sent me this souvenir sheet.

If you are interested in British philately you know that this is the 2008 Christmas issue from Royal mail. A set of six stamps and a souvenir sheet picturing characters from the Pantomime : the ugly sisters from "Cinderella", Aladdin's genie, Peter Pan's Captain Hook and the wicked queen from "Snow White". Even if I think that the design of these stamps is rather... interesting, I'm still surprised by the choice of Royal Mail to celebrate Christmas! Can somebody tell me the link between Christmas and Pantomime ?
Anyway this is not the first time that Royal Mail selects a surprising subject for its Christmas issue.


Scott also sent me the postal card issued by Royal Mail and picturing this souvenir sheet.


If you are familiar with the stamp issues from Royal Mail you know that, for almost every commemorative stamps that are issued, a postal card is also issued, picturing the stamp. For this issue, Royal Mail has issued seven cards, one for each stamp and one for the souvenir sheet. I guess that collecting these postal card is a collection in itself !
What is interesting in this card is that if you look closely to the stamps, you will see that the perforation pictured on card is different from the actual perforation of the souvenir sheet. On the card the stamps seem to have these now-well-known elliptical security perforation, whereas in reality they have not ! What is also interesting is that if you check on the website of Royal Mail, the picture of the souvenir sheet used on the online shop also pictures the same elliptical perforation. Does it mean that the stamps were intended to be issued with such perforation and finnally were not ? Anybody has any information about that ?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to all

First of all I would like to wish to all of you a Merry Christmas !

Today I have selected the Christmas gifts that I just received from three postal administrations : Sweden, Finland and of course France.
The Swedish post has sent me a very nice item : an engraving proof of the Sailing ships issue, a set of stamps issued on the 15th of May 2008 and picturing saling ships. Here is the proof and a picture of the set of stamps. Nice set and nice gift, isn't it ?

I would also like to show you the cover that was used by the Swedish post to send me this gift, because it is simple, but nice (very clean postmark !)


Surprisingly this cover is franked with a rather old stamp, since this is a stamp issued in 1989 and picturing an Eurasian Eagle Owl (Buob buo).
Finish post sent me a large illustrated postcard bearing on the recto and on the verso both Chritsmas stamps issued on the 6th of November 2008, together with nice pictorial cancels.


And finally the French post sent be three bands picturing the various priting steps of three stamps belonging to the artistic series.
First the stamp dedicated to Van Dick and issued on the 11th of November 1999 (I show you also the final stamp) :
The second stamp is the one dedicated to Jean Baptiste Gueuze and issued on the 26th of September 2005 :



And the last one is the stamp celebrating Serusier and issued on the 15th of October 2007.



What about you ? Did you get any gift from your postal administration ?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

400th anniversary of the foundation of Quebec City

Earlier this year, Canada has commemorated the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Quebec. On the 3rd of July 1608, Samuel de Champlain (1575-1635), a French navigator, geographer, cartographer, explorer, also referred as The Father of New France, founded the city of Quebec, one of the major cities of the French Canada.

This anniversary was of course the occasion for the Canadian post to issue a stamp. More than that, a joint issue between Canada and France was issued. For Canada, the stamp is the fifth and last in a series dedicated to French settlement in North America that began in 2004. The stamp pictures Champlain on his ship greeting natives approaching in a canoe. Here is a picture of the Canadian and French stamps.




I personally think this is a really beautiful stamp!
At this occasion, a French philatelic newspaper (Timbre Magazine) has proposed to its readers to get up to six commemorative covers franked with this stamp and postmarked from different locations of the Quebec area. I decided to go for it, so I sent six self addressed envelopes (together with the requested amount of money) and here are the covers I got back in return.

One of the cover was postmarked from Montréal. The cancel is a bit light, this is a pity, and therefore hard to read.



The second cover was postmarked from Trois-Rivières, with a cancel announcing the 375th anniversary of the founding of the city that will be commemorated in 2009.

The third cover was coming from L’isle-verte.


The fourth one from Quebec itself, with a commemorative cancel.


The fifth one postmarked from Saint-Valentin bears a lovely cancel ;-)

The last one is the most disappointing one, with a dirty cancel from Belle Cote (Nova Scotia).



To be honest with you I was expecting a better result, but at the end I’m still rather happy with these commemorative covers.

Let me add some words about the other stamps that you can see on the covers.

On all of them you can see a stamp belonging to a set issued on the 12th of October 2007 and picturing beneficial insects. The stamp pictures a Northern Bumblebee (Bombus polaris). This is a very nice set that has also been issued in the form of a souvenir sheet.


Four of the covers are franked with a stamp belonging to a set issued on the 1st of October 2008 and picturing endangered species. This set of four is the third and last part of a series started in 2006 with creature of the land and continued in 2007 with creature of the water. This last set pictures flying creatures: the Taylor’s checker spot (Ephydras editha taylori, on the cover from Montréal), the roseate tern (Sterna gougalii, on the cover from Saint-Valentin), the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia, on the cover from L’isle-verte) and the prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea) on the cover from Quebec).

The cover from Belle Cote bears a stamp issued on the 8th of September 2008 and picturing Sam McLaughlin (1872-1976) the founder of the first major automobile manufacture in Canada. Here is a better picture of the stamp that is hard to see on the cover because of the heavy cancel.




Just to be complete the other stamps that can be found on the covers are flag definitive stamps or a flower definitive one, all issued in 2007.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Commonwealth games

I’m finally back on line! I must apology for the lack of update of my blog since several weeks. As you may have seen I was travelling for professional reason without much time to write about stamps, and last week, once I came back from all my trips, I got sick. Nothing very severe, but annoying enough to disturb my daily life. I feel much better even though I haven’t recovered completely. But I feel strong enough to write few lines on my blog.
I would like also to apology to all the readers who are expecting something from me. I’m awfully late in sending mails, so if you are still waiting something from me, please be patient. Thanks a lot!


For today I have selected a nice cover that I have received some times from India. Thank you very much, Mansoor, for this nice sending.



The cover is franked with two different sets of stamps. The first one, a band of four se-tenant stamps, has been issued on the 12th of October 2008 to commemorate the 3rd Commonwealth Youth Games that have been held from the 12th to the 18th of October 2008 in Pune. This is the first time that the Commonwealth youth Games were held in Asia, since the first edition was held in 2000 in Edinburg (Scotland) and the second one in Bendigo (Australia).
In the 2008 edition, India made a very good result winning 33 gold medals, 26 silver medals and 17 bronze ones, putting it at the first place of the competition!
The first stamp of the set, the one located on the left part of the band, pictures the mascot of this 3rd Youth Games, Jigrr. Jigrr is the younger brother of Shera that I will present below. Jigrr is an amalgam of the Hindi word Jigar (meaning courage) and the sounds of the roar of a tiger.
The other stamps of the set picture various sports that are part of the competition: wrestling, badminton and hurdles.
This se-tenant band of four stamp has also been issued in the form of a souvenir sheet.





The border of the sheet pictures again Jigrr, and the logo of the Games, that mixes tradition and modernity with an ancient seal bearing the name of Pune (the host city) and a modern pictogram. At the bottom of the sheet you can also see the pictograms of the nine sports that were part of the competition: athletics, badminton, boxing, shooting, swimming, tennis, table tennis, weight lifting and wrestling.

The isolated stamp on the cover has been issued on the 18th of October 2008 to celebrate the 19th Commonwealth Games that will be held in 2010 in Delhi.
The stamp pictures Shera, the mascot of the competition. Shera is a Royal Bengla Tiger, the national animal of India, and is the sister of Jigrr.

The stamp was issued also in the form of a souvenir sheet.


Interestingly this souvenir sheet pictures the mascot of the last eight editions of the Commonwealth games:
- Kegano for the 1978 Games held in Edmonton (Canada)
- Matilda for the 1982 Games held in Brisbane (Australia)
- Mac for the 1986 games held in Edinburg (Scitland)
- Goldie for the 1990 Games held in Auckland (New Zealand)
- Kleewych for the 1994 Games held in Victoria (Canada)
- Wina for the 1998 Games held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
- Kit for the 2002 Games held in Manchester (Great Britain)
- Karah for the 2006 Games held in Melbourne (Australia)

The first Commonwealth Games were held in 1930, since then they are held every four years.

Just to be complete, I already wrote about a similar postmark than the one of the cover. You read about it
here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Stuttgart... this time

I'm currently in Stuttgart, the last stop of my professional trip. I'm still very busy with no time to write about stamps.
I wanted to share with you a link with a new blog, the one maintained by Maksym a collector of stamps, FDC and maximum cards picturing bridges.
Just have a look to : http://mg-philately.blogspot.com/
Great job Maksym !

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Still no update

I'm back from Shanghai but in the mean time I have left for Timisoara and I still don't have the material with me to update my blog. So no update this week, sorry...