Saturday, November 21, 2009

My first cover from Uruguay

(I'm currently writing this post from Ottawa airport. I'm waiting for my flight to Montreal and then to Paris. This is a pitty that during last week spent in Chicago and Ottawa I could not find any time to visit a post office in order to buy some stamps ! May be next time...)

As an echo to my yesterday post showing stamps from Uruguay, I'm glad today to share with you my first cover received from this country ! This cover was used by an Ebay seller to send me some stamps that I purchased and it is franked with three full souvenir sheets.

The souvenir sheet used on the cover was issued on the 10th of July 2008 to commemorate the International Polar Year. A lot of countries have issued stamps or souvenir sheets at this occasion. Uruguay has chosen to illustrate the issue with fauna and flora from the Antarctic region.
The stamp located in the top right corner of the sheet pictures a pair of Brown sjuas (Catharacta lonnbergii) while the other stamp pictured a pair of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella). This seal takes its scientific name from the German vessel SMS Gazelle which collected the first specimen from Kerguelen island. This species of seal is also knwon as Kerguelen Fur Seals and is a protected species.
The rest of the souvenir shete pictures local fauna and an iceberg.
The sheets are cancelled with a black rectangular cancel, a shape which seems rather common for South American postal administrations!

My collection of covers from the world is increasing with one additional country !

Frog on margin of stamps from Uruguay

(I know, I haven’t written in my blog since ages… several weeks in fact. The reason is that three weeks ago I have starting a new job, within the same company, that kept me very busy. A lot of new things to learn, a lot of new people to meet. This new job is going to give me the chance to travel even more than before: this week I have been two days in Chicago, I’m currently writing this (short) post from Ottawa and in three weeks I will be traveling to Shanghai and Beijing. I should also go to Bangalore… This is exciting but it keeps me away from stamps and from you, the readers of my blog, which is a pity. I missed you and I hope that you missed me a bit ;-) ).

This year we have seen the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. I think there is no need to introduce Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), he is very famous. His book “Origin of Species” published in 1859 is also very famous. This anniversary has been the occasion for a lot of postal administration to issue stamps to celebrate this event. Today I would like to show you two stamps issued by Uruguay on the 31st of August 2009.
I guess you understand why I’m interested by these stamps: they are printed in sheet with a margin that is illustrated with a frog! Even if the frog is not pictured on the stamps themselves, I will keep this set for my frog collection!
The stamp on the left pictures a very famous portrait of Darwin, at the end of his life, and a not less famous drawing illustrating the evolution theory from the ape to the human being.
The stamp on the right pictures the HMS beagle, the ship of which Darwin made a five years trip during which he made a lot of observation leading to his theory of the natural selection.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Update of my website

Just a short note to tell you that I just published an update of my website about frogs and toads.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Frog on a red cancel from Japan

I have already shown here on my blog several items from Japan bearing nice picturial red cancel. I am very happy to share with you the latest one that I got : a red cancel picturing a frog !

The red cancel is from Matsuo Post Office, Iwate prefecture. The date of the cancel 57.11.10 represents the 10th of November 1982, the 57th year of the Emperor's reign!
The frof pictured on the cancel is a living national treasure of Japan, meaning a protected animal.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A new cover from Indonesia birds on a souvenir sheet

From the 11th of May 2009 to the 15th of May was held the World Ocean Conference (WOC) and the Coral Triangle Summit (CTS) in Manodo, Indonesia. The purpose of this conference is, as you could guess, to discuss about preservation of the oceans. At this occasion, the Indonesian postal administration has issued four stamps picturing marine animals and the emblems of the conference. I recently got a cover from Jakarta, franked with these stamps in a se-tenant block of four. Here is the cover.

The stamps do not give the name of the animals they picture, I think this is a pitty. Anyway I found out for you. Clockwise you can see:
- a bluering angelfish (Pomacanthus annularis)
- a shrimp in front of a sea anemone
- a fish nammes Anthias
- a green marine turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Inside the cover I found a souvenir sheet issued also this year (I did not find the exact date of issue) and picturing endangered birds from Indonesia.

The souvenir sheet pictures six different species of birds: wrinkled hornbill (Aceros corrugatus), Red naped trogon (Harpactus kasumba), Rufus-collored kingfisher (Actenoides concretus), white winged wood duck (Carina scutulata), great argus (Argusianus argus) and storm's stork (Ciconia stormi). This time each stamp clearly indicates the scientific name of the bird that is pictured.
The sheet (and each stamp) pictures the logo of Birdlife, an international organisation whose purpose is to protect endangered birds, and the logo of Burung, a similar Indonesian association.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My first cover from Macedonia

As announced in my last post, I’m glad to share with you my first cover coming from the Republic of Macedonia. This is a registered cover that was used by the seller of the stamps I showed you in my previous post. The cover was sent from Skopje, the capital of the country. The seller used not less than twelve stamps on this cover. Here it is.

From left to right and top to bottom, let me give you some information on the stamps.
1-This stamp is a part of a definitive series started in 1998 and dedicated to architecture. This specific stamp is from 1999 and pictures a house in Bogomila
2- This stamp was issued on the 15th of May 2002 to celebrate the Soccer World Cup help in Japan and Korea. A very bad souvenir for French people… since the French team could not qualify for the second round.
3- This stamp, issued on the 10th of September 2008, is part of a set of five stamps dedicated to flowers. It pictures a Helichrysum zivojinii.
4- This stamp is a part of a set of two stamps issued on the 15th of July 1996 and illustrated with children’s paintings
5- Jewelry is the subject of the set issues on the 1st of March 2003 from which this stamp is extracted. It pictures a pin with an icon
6- On the 1st of March 2001 a set of four stamps and one souvenir sheet were issued picturing native costumes. This stamp is part of it.
7- Issued on the 10th of December 1992 this Christmas stamp picturing a nativity scene from the 16th century is only the third stamp issued by Macedonia! Indeed, the Republic of Macedonia is independent only since 1991, so this stamp bears number 3 in my Scott catalog…
8- In 2002 the subject of Europa issues was Circus as shown on this Europa stamp issued on the 9th of May 2002
9- This stamp issued on the 5th of June 2001 pictures boats on lake Dojran
10- The 10th anniversary of the independence was commemorated with this stamp issued on the 8th of September 2001
11- After the Soccer World Cup here come the Olympic games of Salt Lake City with this stamp issued on the 16th of January 2002 and part of a set of two
12- And finally this stamp issued on the 15th of April 2002 pictures the very famous Mona Lisa (aka La Joconde) and his creator Leonardo Da Vinci. The stamp also pictures the Vitruvian man, another widely known drawing from Da Vinci which is, for instance, mentioned at the beginning of Da Vinci Code, the best seller from Dan Brown.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A new toad stamp from Macedonia

I’m always pleased to see how many stamps picturing frogs and toads are issued every year (well my bank account is may be little less pleased ;-) ). One of the most recent issues is coming from the Republic of Macedonia. The stamp is a part of a set of three stamps and one souvenir sheet dedicated to Fauna of Macedonia and issued on 9th of September 2009 (FDC of this set would make interesting 09/09/09 covers…). This is the first time that the Republic of Macedonia issues a stamp picturing a frog or a toad (on the other hand Macedonia issues its own stamps since 1993 only…).
Let’s have a look to the set that I could get from an auctions website.
The first stamp is the one picturing a toad, an Eastern Spade foot toad (Pelobates syriacus balcanius, Karaman 1928).
This type of toad gets its common name from the fact that it has one spur on each of its back feet for burrowing..
The second stamp pictures an Orhid trout (Salmo letnica, Karaman 1924).

The Ohrid trout is a type of trout found in the Republic of Macedonia and Albania, especially in Lake Ohrid. They have also been found in the Black Drin River, that flows out of Lake Ohrid at Struga, in Macedonia. The Ohrid trout is a specialty in Macedonian gastronomy; it is used for soups and other dishes. The Ohrid trout is depicted on the reverse of the Macedonian 2 denars coin, issued in 1993.

The third stamp pictures Macedonian Stone crayfishes (Austropotamobius torrentium macedonicus, Karaman ,1929).

The last stamp pictures a Macedonian Crested Newt (Triturus macedonicus, Karaman 1922)

The stamps of the set are available individually but also in the form of mini sheets, as shown here with the toad stamp.

As you may have noticed, all the animals pictured on the stamp got they scientific name from Stanko Karaman who is the subject of the souvenir sheet.

Stanko Karaman (1889-1959) was a researcher on amphipods and isopods. In 1926 he founded the Macedonian Museum of Natural History in Skopje.
In the next post I will shiw you the cover used by the seller to send me these stamps : my first cover from Macedonia with not less than twelve stamps on it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My first cover from KSA

As you noticed last week was again a very busy week with low number of posts in this blog… But today I am very proud to share with you my first cover from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Thank you Ganesh for this very nice cover. I owe you a cover on my side, thanks a lot for your patience.
Here is the cover.

The large stamp is part of a set of two issued on the 26th of May 2002 and picturing the King Fahd Industrial Port located in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Here is a picture of the full set.

Both stamps picture the same view of the Industrial port. In the right top corner, the stamps picture the coat of arms of Saudi Arabia, adopted in 1950, which consists in two crossed swords under of palm tree.

The other stamp of the cover is part of a definitive series. This specific stamp was issued on the 21st of September 1996. All stamps of the series have the same design and picture the Holy Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam.
The Kaaba is a cubical building located in Mecca. It is made of granite and covered with a black silk and gold curtain. All Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. One of the five pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform a pilgrimage (called the Hajj) at least once in their lifetime. One part of the Hajj consists in walking several times around the Kaaba in a counter clockwise direction.

There is something about those stamps that triggered a question in my mind: I thought that according to the UPU rules, postage stamps should bear the name of the issuing country in Latin alphabet (except Great Britain that is the only counrty that is allowed to issue stamps without indication of the country name). This is not the case for these stamps from KSA. So was I wrong about this rule? Anyone knows?

Another thing to be noticed on the cover if the very very nice postmark. It is clear and bicolor! The date is in red while the rest of the cancel is blue. You may also notice that this cover is cancelled on the 9th of September 2009, making it my second 09/09/09 cover! I wonder if this is because of this exceptional event that the cancel has two colors, or if this is always the case.

Thank you again Ganesh. I’m very happy to add this wonderful item to my collection!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Covers and souvenir sheet from Czech Republic

On the 1st of September I published a post related to a souvenir sheet to be issued by Czech Republic the day after and picturing a frog. At this time I had only a small picture of the sheet. Now that I have purchased the sheet on an auction website I can share with you a bigger picture. The sheet is really nice and deserves it.

As you can see a lot of animals and plants are pictured. For each of them the scientific name is indicated and the name in Czech also. Here are the animals that are pictured on the stamps or on the labels:

Caprimulgus europaeus - European Nightjar
Myotis myotis - Greater mouse-eared bat
Tyto alba - Barn Owl
Smerinthus ocellatus - Eyed Hawk-Moth
Bubo bubo - Eurasian Eagle Owl
Ciconia nigra - Black Stork
Cervus elaphus - Red Deer
Aglia tau - Tau Emperor
Rana dalmatina - Agile frog
Eudia pavonia - Small Emperor Moth
Muscardinus avellanarius - Hazel Dormouse
Carabus irregularis - (I did not find any common name)
Eresus sandaliatus - Ladybird spider
Libelloides coccajus- (I did not find any common name)
Trichius fasciatus - Bee beetle

The plants are pictured on the margin of the sheet:
Taxus baccata - Common yew
Fagus sylvatica - European Beech
Sorbus aria - Common Whitebeam
Dentaria enneaphyllos - Drooping Bittercress
Dictamnus albus - Burning-bush
This is a sheet that can satisfy a lot of topical collectors!
I would like also to share with you the registered cover used by the seller to send me my purchase. Here is the recto side, nothing exceptional except a big number of labels!

The stamp located in the top right corner is part of the definitive series “Beauty of flowers”. This stamp was issued on the 9th of May 2007 and pictures a flower that I like: Cyclamen.
As you can imagine this low face value stamp is not enough to frank a registered letter from Czech Republic to France. The rest of the franking is on the other side of the cover: the sender used another copy of the souvenir sheet to frank the cover! Nice idea, isn’t it?

Like that I have a used and unused version of the souvenir sheet!

Early in September I also received two other covers from Czech Republic, from a reader of my blog. Thank you so much for these covers!
These covers seem to have been sent from a philatelic exhibition, SBERATEL, which was held in Prague beginning of September.
The first cover is franked with a part of the souvenir sheet that I just got, the part with the label picturing a frog.

The other stamp is the Europa issue of 2005. The theme of the Europa stamps in 2005 was gastronomy.
I was not really able to decipher the postmark but I guess it has something to do with United Nations, since it pictures the logo of UN.
The second cover is cancelled with the postmark of the exhibition.

The French post was represented at this exhibition; hence the French cancel in the left bottom corner of the cover.
The large stamp is part of the Art series, a very beautiful series! This stamp was issued on the 12th of November 1997 and pictures painting from Antonin Chitussi (1847-1891), a Czech Impressionist painter. The painting pictured on the stamp is entitled “Landscape with Chateau in Chantilly”.
The other stamp is a more r
ecent one. It was issued on the 22nd of April 2009 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the building of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. This building started in 1928 was supposed to be completed in three years but six years were needed to finish it. The whole building is decorated with 120 statues picturing allegories of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering but also Enterprise, Invention, Perseverance, Truthfulness, Trade and Industry.

These two covers are really fantastic and they confirm all the good things I think about philately of Czech Republic!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cover and souvenir sheets from Thailand

I initialy thought that this week would be a bit quieter than the previous ones but I was wrong... Anyway I decided tonight to make a break and to spend some time on stamps and my blog.
For today I have selected a cover that I got from Thailand. This is the second one I get from this country.

As you can see, the cover is franked with a mini sheet of ten stamps, quite impressive! This stamp has been issued on the 17th of March 2008. This is a message stamp, symbolizing love with this big red heart through which a man and a woman hold hands. But the second part of the franking is also interesting: this is an ATM picturing a very nice elephant family (click on the picture to see better the cover and the ATM). Very cute I think. I know that some of my reders are big fan of ATM and I'm sure that they will appreciate this cover.
Inside the cover, I found a set of very nice souvenir sheets. I selected two to share with you.
The first one is a souvenir sheet issued on the 10th of January 2009 to celebrate the National Children's Day.
The National Children's Day is a celebration that has been initiated in 1955 to celebrate youth and to encorage young people to respect the values of their nation. Since 1963 the National Children's day is celebrated the second Saturday of January. The postal administration of Thailand issues stamps at this occasion since 1960. This year, the set contains eight stamps and pictures the story of Phra Abhai Manee.

Phra Abhai Manee is a major work composed by Phra Sunthorn Voharn (1786-1855), also known as Sunthorn Phu, a famous Thai poet. His main work is this long narrative poem containing 24500 lines. Phra Abhai Manee is a young man who is banished by his father because he prefers to learn how to play flute than receiving the education of a prince. The poem tells about the adventures he lives after leaving home with Sri Suvan his brother.
The souvenir sheet pictures seeveral characters of the poem (from left to right and top to bottom):
- Sri Suvan the young brother who learns about fighting
- Phra Abhai Manee himself, playing flute
- a mermaid who at one point in time becomes Phra Abhai Manee's wife and gets a son, Sud Sakhon
- Pisua Samudr, the sea giantess who gets enchanted by the flute of the hero and emprisons him in her cave. He finally gets married with her and gets a son, Sin Samudr, from her
- Sud Sakhon, the son of the hero and the mermaid
- Phra Chao Ta, an old hermit who takes care of Sud Sakhon
- Chee Pleuay the naked fakir
- Nang Laveng a princess who also becomes one of Phra Abhai Manee's wife

It gives a rather nice sheet, I think.
The second one I have selected has been issued on the 5th of June 2009 and is dedicated to one of my favourite flowers: orchids.

I will not give you the name of all those orchids, because they are quite complex,but some of them, have been named after members of the royal family.
This cover and these sheets gave me an interesting glimpse of Thai philately!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

First cover from Vatican City

It is almost two weeks since last time I have written in my blog! Two weeks of silence... this is almost a record since I have started this blog I think. And I feel sorry about that, but last week I have followed a very intensive training in a very nice castle but with an Internet connection so slow that I did not dare trying to access to my blog. I wonder how they could call that a high speed Internet connection! And this week was full of one word: work, work, WORK… No time to think about stamps. I hope this will improve in the coming days and weeks. I missed writing to you and reading other philatelic blogs…

Today I’m happy to share with you the first cover that I received from Vatican City. I have already published a post about a postcard stamped with Vatican stamp, but this is the first time that I get a cover posted from the holly City and that has traveled through the postal system. Here it is.

The nice postmark is a commemorative cancel celebrating the 80th anniversary of the convention for the enforcement action of the postal service. Vatican City has been officially created as an independent state on the 11th of February 1929. It is recognized by UPU since the 1st of June 1929. This 80th anniversary of the creation of the state has been a subject for various stamps issued this year by Vatican post.
The postmark pictures the coat of arms of Vatican City (the two crossing keys). But I could not identify the second emblem which is pictured below the coat of arms.
The stamp located on the right corner is a part of a set of four stamps issued on the 16th of September 2004 and dedicated to the Contemporary Religious Art Collection of the Vatican Museum. The stamp on the cover pictures “Still life with bottles” by Girogio Morandi.
The second stamp is a part of a wider set issued on the same year. The full set contains fifteen stamps and was issued on the 3rd of June 2004. The set is dedicated to Euro. Here if a picture of the full set.

Each stamp of the set pictures the flag and the national face of a one Euro coin. As you may know, the one Euro coin has a common face which is the same in all countries and one face which bears a national emblem. In 2004 fifteen countries were part of the Euro zone, as illustrated with this set: the initial eleven nations (Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal), three micro-states that have economical link with one of these nations (Monaco, Vatican City and San Marino); the last country included in this set is Greece that has joined the Euro zone in 2001.
Since then more countries have joined the Euro zone: Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia,.
As you noticed the sender of this cover had the good idea to use the stamp picturing the French flag and Euro coin.
In this cover I had the pleasure to find a nice postcard that I would like to share with you also.
The photo side pictures a detail of the last judgment, the very famous fresco painted by Michelangelo on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.

This very impressive work was realized by Michelangelo in four years between 1537 and 1541. It pictures the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse. At the time of its creation the painting triggered a scandal because of so many naked people displayed in a religious place! Genitalia of the characters have been later covered by the artist Daniele da Volterra.
To be noted that Michelangelo has included a self-portrait: he has painted himself as Saint Bartholomew.

Here is the other side of the cover.

It bears a stamp belonging to a set of three, issued on the 17th of September 2008 and dedicated to Saint Paul. Here is a picture of the full set.

Paul of Tarsus also called Paul the Apostle was together with Saint Peter and James the Just the most notable of early Christian missionaries. He never met Christ alive, but it is said he had a vision of resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus, leading to his conversion. The three stamp of the set pictures three main step in Saint Paul’s life: the conversion, the predication and the sending to jail.
Again, a nice postmark has been used on the card. This postmark pictures a portrait of Saint Paul and commemorates the closure of the year of Saint Paul that spread from mid 2008 to mid 2009.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My first 090909 cancel

(I have been REALLY busy this week so I had no time to write in my blog. I do regret it. I hope next week will be better).

I missed the previous interesting dates such as the 07/08/09 so I decided that this time I would not miss the chance to get a cancel dated on the 9th of September 2009 (09/09/09). The best way was to send a cover to myself: here it is.

You can click on the picture to see better the cancel which is clearly 090909! I'm happy!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

WWF Pre-paird posctards from Czech republic

I just received a set of four WWF pre-paid postcard that I bought on an aunctions website for mt frog collection and I would like to share it with you. The set contains four postcard issued in 2005 by Czech republic to celebrate the "day of WWF". Each postcard is illustrated with a nice drawing of an endagered animal.
The first one picture a butterfly, the Apollo (Parnassius apollo), also called sometimes "big eyes" because of the coulor of its wings.

The second one is the one that fits into my collection.

It pictures an Edible frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus, the name Rana esculenta is the former scientific name) also called European frog. It is a rather common one. When you hear that French people eat frogs legs you have to know that these are frogs from this specis (hence its name by teh way).

The European crayfish (Astacus fluviatis or Astacus astacus) is pictured on the thire one.

And finally the fourt one pictures a Roslaia longcorn (Roslaia alpina).

Except the Edible frog, all the species pictured on these cards have a conservation status of "Vulnerable" meaning that they are endangered. This is not really the case of the Edible frog, which has a status of lower criticity.

Anyway this gives a very nice item to be put in my collection !

Thursday, September 03, 2009

To be or not to be… pictured on a stamp, that is the question.

The debate around what should be and what should not be pictured on stamps seems to run is several countries, not to say in all countries. As a member of the American Philatelic Society, I receive, once a month, the American Philatelist, the very good philatelic publication of the APS. I like reading the letters of readers to the editor. In one of the last issues, a reader was complaining about the policy of USPS (the postal administration of the USA) to choose the subject pictured on stamps. This reader was particularly focusing on one of the latest issue, the one dedicated to the Simpson family. As a coincidence, I received recently from my friend Gael a FDC with one of this stamp. Here it is.

The stamp pictures Bart Simpson and the pictorial postmark picture Homer, his father. The full set, issued on the 7th of May 2009 contains six stamps picturing Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Here is a picture coming from USPS website.

I guess you all know the Simpson family, so no real need to introduce them. May be I can just say they appeared on TV for the first time in 1987 and they are now famous all over the world.
I must admit that I like the Simpson family (I have a mug at home with Bart’s head on it and a key ring picturing Bart!). And I must say that for me they represent a part of the American culture. Therefore I’m not shocked to see them pictured on USA stamps, even though I agree with the author the letter that there are probably a lot of famous American people who deserve a philatelic tribute, or even a lot of events that could be commemorated on stamps. I also think that USPS wants to issue stamps that appeal to a large public and in this sense the Simpsons stamps are a good idea. There are a lot of other subjects pictured on American stamps that are more questionable…
One word about the cover sent by Gael. As you can see it mentions the National Postal Museum. In fact, on the 18th of July, the NPM has devoted a complete day to the Simpsons. The first 1000 visitors could receive a free FDC with one of the Simpson stamp cancel with a first day postmark.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Frog on a new souvenir sheet from Czech Republic

Some postal administrations do have the very good idea to publish on their website pictures and information about future stamp issues and not only about past issues. This is the case of the postal administration of Czech Republic. I visited its website yesterday, a bit by accident, and I discovered that tomorrow is going to be issued a souvenir sheet that will fit into my frog stamp collection.
Here is the picture of the souvenir sheet to be issued on the 2nd of September 2009. A rather nice sheet, isn’t it?

The souvenir sheet celebrates the bio diversity of the Krivoklátsko region. This area was proclaimed a UNESCO biosphere reserve on the 1st of March 1977. Two thirds of the area are covered with forests. The formation and the preserved character of the whole area have been highly affected by the Berounka River.
The souvenir sheet contains four stamps and four labels that picture various endangered species. As the picture of the souvenir sheet is rather small it’s hard to identify clearly all the species that are pictured. The only thing of which I’m quite sure is that the frog pictured on the label in the bottom right corner is an Agile frog (Rana dalmatina). This is a type of frog that rather long legs, which allow it to jump further than other similar frogs - they have been known to jump up to two meters in distance!

Now I have to find a way to get this new issue for my collection!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Even more mail art

Today I would like to share with you two new covers that I got from Philippe a creator of Mail art that I already mentioned in my blog.
The first item is a rather funny one.

On the cover an animated cover is climbing up on to a ladder to put itself into a very high mail box. A frog is following on to the ladder. For those who do not read French the translation of what the frog says is: “Hey, this is not your job to climb on to ladders”. In France at least, frogs are known to have the capability to help predicting the weather by their position on a ladder. (In fact frogs are very sensible to the atmospheric pressure and therefore change their position on a ladder according to the change of pressure.).
It is a funny usage of the stamp image, isn’t it?
The stamp which is used on the cover is part of a set of six stamps issued in 1997 that depict the various stages of sending a letter: from writing a letter to receiving and reading it. Here is a picture of the full set.

The second cover is a sort of tribute to Marcel Duchamp and his ready-made art.

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was a French artist who, among other things, has created the notion of ready made art, which is the usage of manufactured objects as pieces of art. With this “ready made mailing art” Philippe wanted to show me that you don’t need to have drawing capabilities to create mailing art. For this cover he used ready made frog stickers and I think it gives and interesting result.
Two different stamps are used on this cover. The one that is repeated four times was issued in 1973 for nature protection and pictures storks from Alsace, an area located on the East side of France. I think that nowadays this is harder and harder to see storks on chimneys.
The stamp in the middle was issued in 1981 to commemorate the costal protection agency (
Conservatoire de l’éspace littoral) a public organization created in 1975 to ensure protection of natural areas on the coast. The bird pictured on the stamp is not a stork but a heron.

Thank you again Philippe for these two new covers.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The fairy tales of Charles Perrault

Today I would like to share with you not a cover but a set of stamps. This is a set I just acquired through an auctions website because, as you will see, one of the stamps fits to my topic for collection. This is a set which I’m looking for since quite some time, even though it is not rare, so I’m quite happy to get it.
The full set contains nine stamps issued on the 8th of November 1978 by Monaco and picturing various fairy tales from Charles Perrault.

Charles Perrault was a French author who laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tales. Charles Perrault was born in 1628. After his studies he began a career in government service. Under Jean Baptist Colbert, the finance minister of King Louis XIV, he served as secretary of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres. He was a major element in what is called in French “La querelle des Anciens et des Modernes “ (the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns) opposing tow types of literature: the Ancients supporting the literature of Antiquity and the Moderns supporting the literature from the century of Louis XIV. Of course Perrault was on the side of the Moderns.
When he lost he job as secretary in 1695 he decided to dedicate himself to his family. In 1697 he published a book, Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals (Hisoires et Contes du temps passé) , which is sometimes better known by its subtitle: Tales of Mother Goose (Les contes de ma Mère l’Oie). This book, published under the name of his younger son Pierre Darmancourt met a very big success. It is in fact a compilation of fairy tales, some of them being derived from pre-existing folk tales. The particularity of the fairy tales from Perrault compared to other authors is that they all contain a moral. Charles Perrault died in 1703 at the age of 75.
Unfortunately Charles Perrault is not pictured on a stamp as far as I know, but his tales are often pictured on stamps, as on this set of Monaco.

Let’s have a look to the nine stamps of the set. The first is dedicated to Cinderrela (Cendrillon).

I don’t think I need to give details on this tale that is widely known all over the world. One of the most famous adaptation of this tale is probably the 1950 animated movie form Disney studios.

The second stamp pictures a tale which is probably less widely known: Puss in boots (Le chat botté).

The tale tells about a cat who, with the help of magic boots, helps his poor master to marry the daughter of a king by making the king believe that his master is rich and wealthy.

The third stamp pictures another very well known tale, Sleeping beauty (La belle au bois dormant).

This tale has also been adapted by Disney studios in 1959, but Sleeping beauty is also a ballet from Tchaikovsky. It is to be noted that there is a difference between the version of Perrault and the tale related in Disney’s movie: in Perrault’s tale the sleeping beauty wakes up by herself whereas in Disney’s movie this is the kiss from the prince that wakes her up.

The fourth stamp pictures the tale entitled Donkeyskin (Peau d’âne). The tale tells the story of a king who is desperate after the death of his very beautiful wife that he loved more than anything else. Before dying his wife made him promise that he would not marry with another woman who is less beautiful than herself. Pushed by his people he tries to find another woman that he could marry but he hardly finds any as pretty as his former wife. Except his daughter! To escape from this unnatural marriage she flees from her home hiding herself under a donkey skin. She then takes shelter in a farm where she lives, always wearing the skin to hide her beauty.
Sometimes later a prince of the area starts searching for a wife. In order to decide who will marry him, he triggers a competition, asking all the young girls of the area to cook him a cake: he would marry the girl who has made the better cake. In the cake he selects he find a nice ring, which has been lost by the girl who has cooked it. The prince starts searching for the girl who has the fingers delicate enough to wear this ring. And as you can guess, he finally finds out that the ring fits perfectly on the fingers of Donkey skin. She then reveals here beauty and they get married!
The fifth stamp is also for a tale that is widely known I think: Little Red Riding Hood (Le petit chaperon rouge).

In Perrault’s version the little girl is eaten by the wolf whereas in the version which is usually known (and told to kids before they go to sleep ;-) ) she is saved by the woodcutters.
This is this tale that has inspired to Tex Avery the character of Red, the sexy girl pursued by a very excited wolf!

“Blue beard” (Barble bleue) is the tale pictured on the sixth stamp.

This tale tells the horrible story of this wife who discovers that her husband, Blue beard, has killed all his previous spouses and keeps their bodies in a closet. Hopefully there is a happy ending for the wife!
Because of the way he has treated some of his wives, the King Henry VIII is sometimes referred as the English blue beard!

The seventh stamp shows “Little thumb” (Le petit poucet).

This is the story of a couple of faggot-makers who has seven children, al boys, but they are so poor that they can not feed them anymore. They decide to bring them into the forest and to abandon them, hoping they would be rescued in one way or another. The tale then tells the story of the youngest boy called Little thumb because of his small size, who rescues his brothers from the fate of being eaten by an Ogre.

“Riquet with the tuft” (Riquet à la houpe) is the subject of the eighth stamp.

Riquet is a young prince who is very ugly. At his birth a fairy offered him a gift to compensate his ugliness: he would be very intelligent and he would be able to give wit to the person he would love the best. The story also tells bout a princess who is very beautiful but very stupid. And she also got a gift from a fairy: she would make the man she loves very beautiful. You guess what happens. Riquet meets the princess, he falls in love so she becomes intelligent and she falls in love so Riquet becomes beautiful!

Finally, the last stamp is the reason why I bought this set. It pictures a tale called “The fairy” (Les fées) or sometimes Diamonds and Toads.

This is probably the tale which is the less known in the set. At least I did not know it before.

The story is about two sisters: one is a nice girl and once is a nasty one. The nasty one is, as often in fairy tales, the preferred daughter of her mother and the nice is obliged to do all the dirty tasks in the house. One day the nice daughter goes to the well to take some water. There she meets a fairy who asks here for some water. The nice girl is… nice so she gives some water to the fairy. In exchange the fairy offers to the young girl a gift: each time she would say a word, diamonds and precious jewels would come out of her mouth. When her mother sees what happened to her daughter, she sends her other one to the well so that she gets the same gift! But as the other daughter is a nasty one, she says to the fairy that she can take her water herself. Then the fairy also gives to the second girl a gift, but a different one: each time she would say a word, a toad or a serpent would come out of her mouth! Seeing that the mother gets furious and asks the nice girl to leave their own, putting responsibility of what happened to her sister on her shoulders. Then fleeing from home, the young girl meets a prince who is seduced by her gift and he takes her to his castle to marry her.

You understand why I wanted this stamp, for the toads pictured on it ;-)

But I am also very pleased by the full set because I think these are very beautiful stamps. Much nicer than a lot of stamps that are issued these days…

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two covers from Brazil

I don’t know if I have already said it in my blog but I like cooking (hey this is quite normal since I’m a French man ;-) ). I don’t know if I’m a very good cook, but I’m always interested to learn about gastronomy in other countries. As a consequence I like when I see stamps related to gastronomy as the ones put on this cover I received from Brazil.

The two se-tenant stamps on the cover have been issued on the 24th of March 2000 and picture a regional meal: the Moqueca. The Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian seafood stew consisting mainly of fish, onion, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro and chili pepper cooked slowly with no water added.
There are two regional variants of this stew: the Moqueca Capixaba (pictured on the left stamp) from Espírito Santo state in the Southeast, and the Moqueca Baiana (pictured on the right stamp) from Bahia state in the Northeast.

In the Moqueca Capixaba olive and soy oil are used instead of palm oil, while coconut milk is not used. The stew is cooked in a traditional clay pot made with black clay and mangrove tree sap.
The Moqueca Baiana is more influence by African cuisine and contains palm oil, coconut milk, shrimps and crab.

If your country has issued stamps picturing traditional meals I would be happy to hear from you, I’m gathering material for a future article on the subject.

The third stamp on the cover deals with a completely different subject. It is not obvious at first glance, but this is a Christmas stamp issued on the 19th of November 1998. The stamp pictures the church of Our Lady of Fatima located in Brasilia; more precisely the right part of the stamp pictures an outline of the sanctuary. It has a very uncommon triangle roof that looks like a nun’s hat.
The right part of the stamp pictures tiles that cover the walls of the church. These tiles have been created by Athos Bulcao (1918-2008) a Brazilian painter and sculptor. I have had the opportunity to see some pictures of his work for this church and I must admit it is very nice.

I have a second cover coming from Brazil to share with you today. I selected this one no really for the stamp but for a postal marking on which I would like to get some feedback from the readers of my blog. Here is the cover.

The stamp has been issued on the 7th of February 2009 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Helder Pessoa Câmara (1909-1999) the archbishop of Olinda and Recife. On the stamp he is pictured in front of the church of the Frontiers in Recife (which is now a memorial for him) and with a peace dove symbolizing his fight for peace.
But what triggered my interest on this cover is the marking DH that you can see in the right bottom corner. I could not find what it means and why it was put on the cover. Does anyone have any explanation for this? If yes, please let a comment or send me an email.