Saturday, January 31, 2009

Links list updated

Just a short post to tell you that I have added a relevant number of links to blogs in my links list. Don't hesitate to visit them to encourage their authors !

Friday, January 30, 2009

Commemorative postmark on a cover from Italy

I really like receiving covers that are interesting not only because of the stamps it bears, but also because of the cancellation of the stamps. Unfortunately it seems that commemorative postmarks are more and more difficult to get. In a lot of countries, the events that are commemorated with a specific cancel are becoming scarce, probably because of cost!

I recently received this cover from Italy which bears a nice and clean postmark, and I wanted to share it with you (I must say that in the last years Italy is the country from where I got the highest number of covers with such commemorative postmarks).

The cover is postmarked from Ponzone, a city located in the Piedmont region. The postmark commemorates the 50th anniversary of the creation of the voluntary firefighter’s brigade of Ponzone.
I really appreciate also the fact that both stamps are nicely cancelled. The stamp located on the left side has been issued on the 3rd of November 2008 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the earthquake in Messina. This earthquake happened on the 28th of December 1908 and reached a level of magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter’s scale, which means a major earthquake. Unfortunately it made a huge amount of victims and destroyed a big part of the city.
The stamp features an aerial view of the city of Messina, in stylized graphics. There are also some concentric rings on the stamp, which represent the seismic waves caused by the earthquake.

The second stamp belongs to the rather well know definitive series about women in art that I already mentioned in a
previous post.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Personalized stamps from Austria

More and more postal administrations propose a service to personalize postage stamps, not only a label attached to a stamp, but to personalize the picture of the stamp itself. It seems that this type of service meats quite some success because I receive more and more covers franked with such personalized stamps. I have already shown on my blog such personalized stamps from France and from Netherlands and picturing a frog. I recently received a new one from Austria (I think Austria is one of the first countries that have proposed the personalization of the stamp picture itself). Here it is.

Cute, isn’t it? When I received the stamp I also received a postal card bearing the same picture and giving a bit more clue of what is Schönbrunn (which is written on the stamp).

Schönbrunn is the name of a zoo located on the grounds of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. The zoo was constructed in 1752 at the order of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, to serve as an imperial menagerie. It is the oldest zoo in the world. Originally it was centered on a pavilion meant for imperial breakfasts. Thirteen animal enclosures in the form of cut cake pieces were established around this central pavilion. More recently the zoo was extended by a number of new buildings, including the rainforest house, the desert house, and the Tyrolean Farm. A number of rare and exotic specimens, such as giant pandas and koalas, contribute to its popularity. On 23 August 2007, for the first time in Europe, a panda baby not issued from artificial insemination was born in the zoo.

More or less at the same time, I also received this cover posted from Linz, Austria.

The cover is franked with a nice personalized stamp picturing a lamb. To have a better look at the stamp, here is a close up rotated into the right direction.

May be one word about the second stamp on the cover. It is part of the definitive series picturing flowers. This one has been issued on the 25th of August 2007 and pictures a Scotch Laburnum (Laburnum alpinum) a tree that produces nice yellow flowers.
It seems that the sender of this cover likes to keep margins attached to the stamps ;-). To be noticed also the very clean postmark!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rugby related cover from New Zealand

Just a short post today to show you a very nice cover that I got some times ago already and that I did not show yet on my blog. This cover was sent by Kapalna, as an echo to an article that I published on my blog. Thank you very much for this nice surprise.

The cover is franked with the five rugby related stamps that I presented in a previous post. As you can see, the cover is in fact coming from WIPA 2008, the international stamp exhibition held in Vienna in September 08. I guess that there was a booth from New Zealand post at this exhibition from where Kapalna was able to send me this cover.

A very nice cover to be added to my rugby stamps collection.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Frogs on coat of arms… on stamps

When you are a topical stamp collector you spend a lot of time browsing the new stamp issues section of philatelic publications or websites, looking for any stamp newly issued and picturing your topic. This is my case, of course. I can examine hundreds of stamps per month, looking for a frog or a toad. And each time I find one, I’m thrilled. The next step is to try to find a way to get the stamp, directly from the postal administration or from some other ways.

This is what happened today when I discovered that on the 10th of January 2009, Latvia has issued three new stamps in its definitive “coat of arms” series, and that among the three stamps there was this one:

The stamp pictures the coat of arms of Baloži, a town situated in the middle of Latvia, in the Riga district. Created as a village in the late 40’s for the local peat factory workers, Baloži has been classified as a city in 1991. As you can see, the coat of arms of this city pictures a frog (or may be a toad) and therefore gives a stamp that will fall into my collection. Now I have to get this stamp. If you have a mint copy of it to sell or to trade, don’t hesitate to contact me.
I tried to find some information to explain the presence of a frog on the coat of arms of Baloži, but I could not find any. If you know something, I would also be very happy to hear from you.

With this new issue, Latvia joins Dominica in the list of countries that have issued a stamp picturing a coat of arms containing a frog! Let’s have a look to the coat of arms of Dominica.
The central shield is divided into four quarters with a background of blue and gold representing the sun, sky and sea. Each quarter has an object representing some aspect of the island. The top left and bottom right quadrants have a coconut palm and banana plant respectively that represents the agriculture of the island. In the top right quadrant is a frog, representing the wildlife. In the lower left quadrant is a canoe representing the indigenous people. On the top or crest of the shield stands a lion representing the two centuries of British rule over the island.
The frog pictured on the arms is in fact a Leptodactylus fallax, a frog that lives in Domimica and which is commonly called Mountain chicken because of its large size and the fact that it is used as food.

The coat of arms of Dominica appears on a large number of stamps. Here is one example, a stamp belonging to a set of five and one souvenir sheet, issued on the 1st of November 1978 to celebrate the independence.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Good bye Sydney….

Yes, I’m back from my three weeks holidays in Sydney. I had a fabulous time there. Weather was great, and I just LOVE Sydney. To bad that I had to go back to France and to work! I travelled with Singapore Airlines and I was lucky enough to fly on the Airbus A380 between Sydney and Singapore. What an amazing plane! So silent, so smooth…

As you may have seen I did not update my blog so much during these holidays. I will try to go back on the tracks of a daily update from now on.

In my last post I explained that my first experience to get some stamps from a post office in Sydney was not so nice. Hopefully the second and the third have been much better and I could find people who took the time to explain me all what was available in term of stamps and philatelic products. This post is dedicated to one of the most recent stamp set issued by the Australian post: the Year of the Ox issue.

Before I come to this, let me share with you two pictures I took in Sydney. Two pictures of mail boxes. The first one shows the traditional mail box that you can see in Sydney. The mail boxes are red, as in a lot of countries! The yellow ones are dedicated to express mail.

I also found a different mail box in the area of the Rocks, which is the oldest part of the city. Here it is.

On the 8th of January, Australian post has issued a set of two stamps to celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Ox. As usual for such issue, the stamps are inscribed Christmas Island, but they are valid for postage in the whole country. One of the stamps pictures the calligraphic symbol for the Ox and the other pictures a pictorial derivation. Here are the two stamps.

As you can imagine, I used those stamps to send a cover to myself. Here is what I found in my mail box, once back home.

As you see, the cancel is unfortunately not very nice, but it still makes a good souvenir.

In the post office where I bought those stamps, you could also buy them in the form of gutter pairs. What is a gutter pair? The gutter is the band of paper that separates two blocks of stamps in a stamp sheet. Usually this band of paper is unprinted, but some postal administrations, such as Australian post, print some information, or design, on this margin. Then it makes sense to collect two stamps separated by a decorated gutter. Here is an example with the $1.65 stamp: here the gutter pictures the well known traffic light, used as a check that no color is missing from the printing.

For the 0.55c the gutter is a pictorial one, as you can see on those two examples.

It seems that gutter pairs are rather famous among stamp collectors in Australia. I don’t remember having seen such printed gutters from another country. Do you know any other countries where you can find such decorated gutters?

The two stamps have also been issued in the form of a souvenir sheet. Here is the presentation pack in which this souvenir sheet is sold.

The souvenir sheet contains both stamps. On the border of the sheet a text is written in Chinese and in English. Here is a transcription of the text:

The Ox is patient and loyal, tender and caring. Laozi, a prominent thinker in ancient China, discouraged with the political climate, journeyed to the wilderness on his faithful Ox. Before he left he was asked to write down his knowledge. In the company of his Ox, Laozi wrote Daode jing, the most important book in Taoism.

This presentation pack is in fact designed to be used as a greeting card to send you best wishes to your friends. A pre-stamped envelope has also been designed to send this card. Here is a picture of this envelope.

Here is also the FDC of the souvenir sheet. (If someone is interested I have one to give away for free. Just write to me).

Just to close the topic, I also found a pre-stamped postcard on the same subject. Here is a picture of the recto and verso of the card.

Add to these a prestige booklet and a silver ingot picturing the 0.55c stamp and you will have a pretty good idea of all the items available from Australia post for this Year of the Ox issue!
Happy Chinese new year !

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Favorite Australian films

I have safely arrived in Sydney. My holidays have started very well, the weather here being really nice. I have walked so much that my legs and feet start to hurt.

Since I’m in Sydney I have had the opportunity to visit a post office and I must admit that it was not such a nice experience. It made me think of post offices in London where they are pleased to sell you everything except stamps. The clerk at the post office I visited seemed reluctant to show me all the different stamps she had, so I did not dare insisting and bought the first stamps she showed me, to use them on the postcards I’m going to send to some friends and family. I will not give up ;-) I will try again and visit another post office where I hope I’ll be able to find someone who will be a bit more helpful. I will let you know!

I apologize if I haven’t updated my blog before, but I must confess that the internet connection that is available in my hotel room is rather expensive, so I use it as less as possible. Nevertheless today I have decided to share with you a cover I got recently from a cover exchange circuit and coming from… Australia. It seems appropriate ;-)

So here is the cover, franked with not less than seven stamps!

The band of five se-tenant stamps has been issued on the 3rd of November 2008 to celebrate the Australian films that are the favorite of the public. A competition has been organized between Australian post and the Australian Film Industry, asking people to vote for their favorite Australian movie. The set pictures the posters of the five first movies that were chosen by the public. The five movies are (from left to right):
- Gallipoli
- Lantana
- Muriel’s wedding
- The castle
- The adventure of Priscilla, queen of the desert
It is interesting to see the big diversity of style among the five movies that were selected. I must confess that I have only seen two of those five films, Muriel’s wedding and Priscilla.

This stamp set is a sort of premiere for Australia Post because this is the first time that it issues a set of stamps based on the vote of the public.
As I said, this set of stamp was issued early in November 2008 and early in December 2008 the final winner, the top number 1 movie has been reveled: it is “The castle”. A dedicated souvenir sheet has also been issued to celebrate this final result.

The two other stamps on the cover are part of the Christmas issue. The full set contains four stamps and has been issued on the 31st of October 2008 (rather early for a Christmas stamp se, isn’t it?). Three stamps of the set pictures a religious subject as the stamp located on the far left and that pictures an angel, the two other religious subjects being the wise man and the Madonna and child. To complete the set, the fourth stamp pictures a non religious subject, baubles that are commonly used to decorate Christmas tree.
I’m not so much into religious subjects, but I think that the design of this set is rather efficient for a Christmas issue.

The postmark on the cover is rather clean and is the cancel of the Sydney Philatelic Sales center, so not so surprising that it its clean!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sydney... here I come

Tomorrow is the D day for me : I'm flying to Sydney for three weeks of holidays ! I'm thrilled !
I will bring with me some material (this time ;-) ) but I'm not sure I will be able to update my blog on a daily basis. I will try to post some news from time to time. I will be back to Paris on the 23rd of January.
Today I haven't much time to write because I have a huge amount of things to settle before my departure.
I just wanted to show you some of the places I will see and that have been pictured on Australian stamps.
First of all, my favorite place, the opera house, which is well known all over the world and which is really a nice place to visit.

Then the harbour bridge, located near the opear house. No, I will not climb the bridge (this is possible to climb on top of the bridge, it seems the view is fantastic, but I suffer from vertigo so I will try it !).

Also near the opera, I will for sure take some time to seat on a bench and read a book in the Royal botanic garden (if I'm not attacked by a bat ;-) I remember that last time I walked in the botanic garden of Sydeny I saw a tree full of thousands of bats ! Very impressive).

I will also visit a bit the rocks, a very nice area of Sydney where you can find the oldest pub of the city. I will for sure take the time to have a VB there...

And finally I will go to the fish market. A place where you can buy fish (I think you guessed it) and you can have it cooked and eat it directly on site !

There are plenty of other things that I plan to do, such as visiting a post office and trying to buy stamps ;-).