Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New frog stamps to come

On 10th March 2009, Jersey Post will issue the first set in a new stamp series entitled 'Endangered Species' and this first stamp set will highlight the 50th Anniversary of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust which has its headquarters in Jersey. Here is a picture of the set.

As you can guess this set triggered my attention because it contains a frog stamp. The endangered species that are pictured on the stamps are:
35p - Blue Iguana
39p - Madagascan Giant Jumping Rat
43p - Mountain Chicken Frog
52p - Livingstone's Fruit Bat
58p - Andean Bear
76p - Western Lowland Gorilla

The Mountain Chicken Frog (Leptodactylus fallax) is a endemic frog of the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Montserrat (I have already mentioned this frog when writing about the
coat of arms of Dominica). The number of mountain chicken frogs is declining dramatically because this species is the national dish of the islands. It is hunted for its legs and as their name suggests, they taste like chicken. In order to protect the species, a breeding in captivity has been attempted and successfully achieved at Durell’s headquarter.

Another set of stamps to come will contain a frog stamp. This time this is a set of stamps to be issued by Denmark on 10th of June 2009 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the creation of Copenhagen zoological garden.

As you see one of the stamps pictures some pink flamingoes together with a red eyed frog which is a bit hard to identify for sure on such a small picture.

Some expenses to come for me!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Letter from Estonia

I’m always VERY happy when I receive feedback from the readers of my blog. Sometimes I get emails, sometimes I get a postcard and sometimes I get a cover. As is it the case today with the cover I received from Estonia, containing a postcard and a very nice message from a reader of my blog. Thank you very much!
So here is the cover.

It is franked with the left half of a souvenir sheet containing four stamps and issued on the 18th of February 1998. Here is a picture of the full souvenir sheet.

This sheet was issued to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Eduard Wiiralt (1898-1954) an Estonian artist. During his life Wiiralt has spent several years in Paris, he even definitely moved to Paris in 1946 until his death. He is now buried in Père Lachaise cemetery, one of the cemeteries located inside Paris. He had a specialty in imaginary portraits, and the work pictured on the souvenir sheet is a good example. It is entitled Pörgu (The Hell) and pictures a sort of inventory of all the evil aspects of human beings. This work has been realized in 1930-1932.

Just to complete the picture here is the official FDC of this stamp set picturing also the portrait of Eduard Wiiralt at the end of his life.

An interesting point to be noticed is that the souvenir sheet contains marginal inscriptions in French.

To come back on the cover, I’m also impressed by the quality of the cancel!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A cover from Germany

When I receive a cover as the one I want to show you today I always feel a little bit jealous. I think that whatever I do I would never be able to get such clean and nice cancel on a French cover, out of a special occasion such as a first day ceremony. And even if I succeed convincing a postal clerk to apply a neat cancel on the stamps, I can not exclude that the cover is automatically cancelled once again, ruining the nice look of the cover…
The cover I have selected comes from Germany and I’m really impressed by the way the stamps are cancelled.

The cover was posted from Remscheid, a city located in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and it bears two commemorative stamps and one semi-postal stamp.
The stamp on the left side has been issued on the 9th of October 2008 and commemorates the 500th anniversary of the creation of the market of Leer. Leer is a German city located on the border between Germany and Netherlands. In 1508, thanks to Count Edzard, the city received the right to hold a market. This was the beginning of the tradition of the “
Gallimarkt”, which is now an annual fair. The stamp pictures the market with its crowd and its animals: cocks, pigs, cows…

The stamp located in the middle is a semi-postal stamp. It bears surtax for the benefit of the preservation of the environment. The stamp pictures the now famous polar bear Knut, who was born in December 2006 in captivity, in a zoo of Berlin. He was the first polar bear cub to survive past infancy at the Berlin Zoo in more than thirty years, and he quickly became a popular tourist attraction and commercial success. The stamp was issued on the 10th of April 2008.

The last stamp was issued early this year, on the 2nd of January 2009. It commemorates the 1000th anniversary of the castle of Tangermünde.
Tangermünde is a German city located on the Elbe River. Its castle is mentioned in the literature for the first time in 1009. In 1373, Karl IV, Bohemian king and German emperor, made of this castle his second residence. He then acted to make of Tangermünde a key place within the Hanseatic League. Unfortunately this changed when Karl IV died, Tangermünde loosing then its political role. The city is surrounded by a red brick wall. The stamp pictures a view of the castle.

A nice cover isn’t it?

Friday, February 20, 2009

A new cover from Burma

For today I have selected a cover that I received recently from Burma, well I should better say from the Union of Myanmar, since this is the official name of the country since 1989, even though people in media often use the former name. This is the second time I receive a cover from this country. Here it is.

First thing to notice is that unfortunately the cover went through the postal system without being cancelled.
In a previous article about
the first cover I received from this country, I already mentioned the stamp which is located on the right side, so I will not comment it further.

The stamp located in the middle if a part of set of two stamps issued in 1998 (I did not find the exact date of issue). This set commemorates the Asian and Pacific decade of disabled people. This decade was from 1993 until 2002, a period during which a set of actions were made to help disabled people in this part of the world. The stamp pictures the emblem of the campaign.

The last stamp belongs to a set of three stamps issued on the 1st of March 1996 to celebrate the “Visit Myanmar Year”. The stamp pictures a couple in a boat on the Inlay Lake.
Located in the mountains of Shan State, more than 1300 meters above sea level, are the floating villages of Inlay Lake. This natural lake, rimmed by blue mountain silhouettes, is 22 km long and 10 km wide. A village of villas perched on stilts can be found on the border of this lake (such perched houses can be seen in the background of the stamp). The local fishermen can be seen standing at the stern of their slender boats, rowing with one leg, as the man on the stamp. Scott catalog indicates that the couple on the stamp carries food for Buddha and Buddhist monks. I could not really identify the small character that is in the top left corner and that can be seen also on all the stamps of the same set.

A nice cover! The only thing that is missing is a nice and clean postmark!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Five FDC from Indonesia

In 2008, Japan and Indonesia have commemorated the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. Since 1958, The Republic of Indonesia and Japan have been expanding their cooperation and friendship not only in economic, but also in culture, education and in other fields. This commemoration has been the opportunity for both countries to produce a joint stamp issue. This issue took the form of a souvenir sheet of ten stamps for each country. The stamps of the both souvenir sheets have the same design in both countries, only the background of the sheet differs. The ten stamps are in fact organized in five pair of stamps, ear pair being dedicated to a different theme: scenery, temples, flora, musical instruments and fauna. For each theme, each pair contains a stamp picturing a subject specific to each country.
Here is the souvenir sheet issue by Indonesia on the 15th of April 2008.

The souvenir sheet from Japan has been issued on the 23rd of June 2008 (the picture I show is a specimen version coming from Japan post website).

Why do I speak about this issue? Because last week I had the very great pleasure to receive five FDC (yes five!) from Indonesia, each of the FDC bearing one of the pair of stamps. On each cover the left stamp is the one picturing an Indonesian subject and the right one pictures a Japanese subject.

The first FDC is franked with the stamps picturing sceneries.

The left stamp pictures the Kelimutu mountain. In the local "keli' means mountain and "mutu" means boiling, the Kelimutu being a volcano crater. This volcano has three summit crater lakes of varying colors namely Wine Red, Green, and Dark Blue. The western most of the three lakes, Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of old People) is usually blue, whereas Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) is green and Tiwu Ata Polo (Enchanted Lake) is red.After an earthquake in 1992 the level of the lakes dropped and changed color overnight to their current configuration of green, chocolate and black. This special characteristic of the lake water gives its nickname "The Three Colored Lakes."

The right stamp pictures the very famous Fuji Mountain. At 3,766 m, Fuji Mountain is the highest mountain in Japan and also an active volcano whose last recorded eruption was in 1707-1708. Its symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan. On the foreground the stamp pictures another symbol of Japan: the cherry blossom.

The second FDC bears stamps picturing temples.

On the left, the stamp pictures the Borobudur temple, located in central Java. It is one of the largest Buddhist monuments in the world, and has been awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monument is decorated with 504 Buddha statues. Following the decline of Buddhist and Hindu kingdom in Java in the 14th century, the temple was abandoned and buried for centuries and was rediscovered in 1814 by Sir Thomas Raffles, The British ruler of Java. Borobudur temple has since been preserved through several restorations.
The other stamp shows the Tō-ji temple, a Buddhist temple. Its name means East Temple. The pagoda of Tō-ji temple is 54.8 m high, and is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. It dates from the Edo period. The pagoda has been, and continues to be, a symbol of Kyoto. Entrance into the pagoda itself is permitted only a few days a year.

As you can see the top of both temples are pictured on the nice first day cancel of all the FDC.

The third FDC pictures flowers.

The left stamp pictures the plant that produces the largest individual flower on earth: Raflesia arnoldii. This plant lives like a parasite and is, in this sense, quite similar to fungi. The particularity of this flower, beside its size, is that it stinks like rotten flesh!
The other stamp pictures the national flower of Japan, cherry blossom.

The fourth FDC pictures traditional musical instruments.

On the left side is pictured an instrument called Anklung. It is originated from West Java and is made of bamboos that are struck to produce the sound. On the left side you can see a biwa, a Japanese lute, a four strings instrument which came to Japan from Persia through China during the Nara period (710-759 AD).

The last FDC is franked with stamps picturing fishes

The left stamp pictures an Asian arowana, a fish sometimes called dragon fish because of its resemblance with a Chinese dragon. The second stamp pictures a Nishiki-goi, a popular fish also known as the swimming jewels of the Orient. They are kept in outdoor ponds all over the world.

I rather like this joint issue between Japan and Indonesia, I really like the idea of mixing landscapes, cultures and other aspect of both countries within a same souvenir sheet. I also like the fact that the Japanese souvenir sheet is issued with a background picturing an Indonesian temple and that the Indonesian sheet pictures on its background a Japanese shrine.

A last remark about the FDC. They are all cancelled from the date of issue of the Indonesian stamps, the 15th of April 2008, but I just received them last week. I don’t think that they have taken so much time to come from Indonesia to France. But it seems that the Indonesian postal administration allow the sending of such FDC, even far after the day of the cancellation. As I already said here on my blog, this is not possible in France. FDC can be posted only the day of their cancellation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Registered cover from Costa Rica

Last week I had the nice surprise to get a registered cover from Costa Rica, franked with a high number of stamps. This cover comes from an Ebay seller who took the time to put nice stamps on the cover he used to send me my purchase. This is really nice. As the envelop bears stamps on both side I have to show you the recto and the verso.

Before speaking about the stamps I would like to mention the nice rectangular cancel very similar to the ones on the cover I showed few years ago. It makes me wonder if all cancels in Costa Rica are rectangular or if this is only some specific ones.

On the recto side two different sets of stamps have been used. The first stamp, located in the right top corner, belongs to a set of four stamps issued on the 23rd of March 2004 and picturing local flora. As you can see the stamp bears the UPAEP logo. What is a bit surprising is that flora was the subject of the 2003 UPAEP issue and not the one of 2004. Does it mean that Costa Rica was late in issuing this set?
Anyway, the stamp on the cover pictures the Kapok (Ceiba pentadra), a native tree of Central America. This tree has the particularity to produce fibers that are commonly use to fill mattresses, pillows or teddy bears ;-) I did not succeed to find a picture of the whole set of four stamps.
The other stamps on the recto side belong to a set of five stamps issued on the 5th of July 2002 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the
Pan American Health Organization, part of the United Nations system and serving as the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization. PAHO is based in Washington, DC. All the 35 countries in the Americas are PAHO members.
The set of stamps has been issued in the form of a block of four stamps picturing people and one isolated stamp picturing the emblem of the PAHO. Again I would have liked showing you a picture of the full set (mainly to show you the design of the full block of four) but I could not find one on the internet.

Let’s have a look to the recto side.

On the right part, you can see a souvenir sheet of four stamps. It has been issued on the 18th of October 2007 and celebrates the children’s book “Stories of my aunt Panchita” (Cuentos de me Tia Panchita). This book has been written by Carmen Lyra in 1920.
Carmen Lyra (1888-1949) is the pseudonym of the first prominent female writer of Costa Rica, born Maria Isabela Carvajal. She started working as a nurse and then became a journalist. She was involved in the political life of the country and was forced to exile in Mexico in 1948 after the Costa Rican civil war. She died in exile. The Costa Rica Legislative Assembly awarded her the honor of “Benemérita de la Cultura Nacional” in 1976. As another tribute, her image appears in the 10.000 colones bill.
“Cuentos de me Tia Panchita” is here second book (the first one being “En una silla de ruedas” (In a Wheelchair) published in 1918) and is a collection of 23 folk tales. Four of these tales are illustrated on the stamps of the souvenir sheet (clockwise):
- Porqué Tío Conejo Tiene las Orejas Tan Largas (Why Uncle Rabbit’s ears are so long)
- La Mica
- Uvieta
- Tío Conejo y los Caites de su Abuela (Uncle Rabbit and his grandmother’s cat)
If you can read Spanish you can find the text of these stories at:

Just to be complete I will add that this set of stamps also includes a large isolated stamp that I show you below.
Finally, on the left side of the cover, you can see the bottom of a stamp sheet containing two times two stamps. Those stamps have been issued on the 10th of December 2007 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Peace Nobel Prize that was awarded to the Costa Rican president Oscar Arias in 1987 for his efforts to end civil wars that were raging at this time in Central American countries.
The stamps picture both sides of the Peace Nobel Prize medal. The front of the medal shows a portrait in relief of Alfred Nobel. His name and the years of his birth and death are engraved along the edge. The reverse shows three naked men embracing one another - a symbol of the international fraternization that Nobel wished to contribute to through the Peace Prize. The inscription is in Latin: Pro pace et fraternitate gentium (For peace and fraternity among peoples).
The stamps are inscribed Esquipulas II, which is the name of the peace treaty signed in August 1987 in the city of Esquipulas that marked the end of the civil war in the area.

As you see the covers contain a very interesting mixture of stamps. What I appreciate is that all stamps are closely linked to the country itself and teach us about the culture and the history of the country, which is not always the case of stamps issued these days…

Monday, February 16, 2009

Treasures in recess printing

The item I have selected for today is neither a stamp nor a cover. This is a gift that I received recently from the French postal administration. I think this gift was sent to all subscribers (or regular customers?) of La Poste (actually I got it twice, I don’t know why). This gift is an engraving and a very nice one by the way.

As the title suggests (Trésors en taille-douce), this is a tribute to recess printing. In France there is currently a debated between the philatelic community and the French postal administration about the number of stamps that are recess-printed, French philatelists considering that this number is too low. Situation should improved this year, the number of engraved stamps should increase compare to the previous years. I think that the same debate exists in several countries…

The engraving pictures the design of four air mail stamps. On the first line, on the right side, this is the design of a stamp issued in 1936 and entitled “Plane flying over Paris”. This stamp has been issued in several colors with various denominations. Here is the 85c (it has been issued also in 1f50, 2f25, 2f50, 3f, 3f50 and 50f.

The 50f stamp has also been issued with a specific pink frame, this is the design pictured on the left top corner of the engraving. This stamp is very famous and is called the "50f burelé". Here it is.

These stamps have been engraved by Achille Ouvré (1872-1951), a French illustrator and engraver. He is famous mainly for his work on illustrating books. In 1934, at the age of 62, he engraved his first stamp, that is the first small size recess-printed stamp. He has engraved around 40 stamps afterwards.

The second line of the engraving pictures stamps engraved by Pierre Gandon. Pierre Gandon (1899-1990) is a very well known French engraver who has engraved his first stamp in 1941. He has then realized a very high number of stamps for the French postal administration but also for foreign posts.
Here are the two stamps pictured on the engraving, the first one has been in 1947 (I already showed this stamp
here) and the second one in 1949.

These stamps are extremely beautiful, aren’t they?

(The pictures of stamps on this article come from Phila Exchange website).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Handmade FDC from China for the Year of the Ox

Today is again a day disturbed by the fall of a relevant amount of snow in Paris, so only a short post…

I would like to share with you a cover I received from a friend in China. My friend likes to prepare handmade FDC. He did one for me for the first day of the Year of the Ox stamp, which was issued on the 5th of January. Here is the cover I received.

The cover is franked with two other stamps. The one located on the far left is part of a set of two stamps, issued on the 5th of January 2000 to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. The stamp pictures the rising sun in the eastern sky. I could not find any information on the back symbol that can be seen on the stamp, I guess it has something to do with the dragon?

The other stamp is part of a set of four stamps issued on the 25th of January 2003. It pictures a New Year wood print coming from the city of Yangliuqing. This sort of new year wood print seems to be a rather famous tradition in China, and stamps picturing such artwork are regularly issued by the Chinese post. I could not find information on this specific wood print, if anybody has details about it, I would be happy to get some information.
The stamps have been issued also as a souvenir sheet of 2 times four stamps. Here is a picture of the souvenir sheet. Sorry the picture is rather small…

What is interesting on this cover is also the red cancel that you can see on the left side, also picturing an Ox. Personally this is the first time I see such red cancel from China.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Turkish covers

Our philatelic trip is bringing us today in Turkey. So far I have shown you only one cover coming from this country. Today I have two new ones to share with you, both sent by the same person. The sender has another hobby than philately: drawing. He likes to mix both activities and likes to send covers decorated with his own drawings. This is the case for the two covers I’m showing today.

Here is the first one.

The cover is franked with an interesting mixture of stamps. The square one, is the most recent one. It is a part of the 2008 Europa issue whose subject was “letter writing”. The full set contains two stamps. Here are both stamps. A simple but efficient design.

The small stamp located left to the Europa stamp is a part of the 2008 definitive series picturing Turkish cities and regions. The stamp is dedicated to Zonguldak, a city located on the black sea region of Turkey. The full set issued in 2008 contains eight stamps that you can see below.

I think this is a rather good idea to have a definitive stamps series picturing cities or regions of the associated country.
The three last stamps of the cover gave me a bit more difficulties, because I thought they were recent issues whereas this is not the case at all. The three stamps are semi-postal stamps issued on the 19th of May 1962. They picture flowers: a bird of paradise flower, a water lily and a poinsettia (I really like poinsettias). All stamps bear a surtax of 10 Kurus. I was not able to find the purpose of this surtax. I think it has something to do with agriculture, but I’m not completely sure.
To be noted that the three semi-postal stamps bear a denomination in Kurus, whereas the two others bear a denomination in Yeni Kurus, which means “new” Kurus. The Turkish money has changed at the beginning of 2005.

Here is the second cover. I show you the recto and the verso because both sides bear stamps.

On the recto you wan see a stamp issued on the 27th of September 2008 commemorating the 470th anniversary of the naval victory of Preveza. The naval Battle of Preveza took place on 28 September 1538 near Preveza in northwestern Greece between an Ottoman fleet and that of a Christian alliance assembled by Pope Paul III. The victorious Ottoman fleet was lead by Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha (1478-1546), who is pictured on the stamp. One funny thing about him is that his name sounds like “Barbe rousse” (Red beard in French) and he effectively had a read beard.

On the verso, both stamps are part to the definitive stamps issued in 2007. The stamp pictures Siit, a city located in the south east part of Turkey. Below you can see the full set issued in 2007.

I’m very glad to add these two nice covers to my worldwide covers collection!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FDC and stamps from France

I rarely show you cover coming from my own country, because I rarely get interesting ones ;-). Today I’m happy to show you a First Day Cover that I received from Eric, a fellow blogger (I know, I know… he has a very nice first name ;-))). Thank you very much Eric!

I’m not going to give you details about the stamp of this cover, because Eric did a very good job describing this stamp issue on his own blog, so I let you read the article he wrote.

I would like to take this opportunity to show you the stamps already issued by French post since the beginning of the year.

The first stamp, issued on the 5th of January, commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille.

Several postal administrations have already issued a stamp at this occasion, they have all followed more or less the same type of design: a portrait and a message in Braille.

On the 12th of January, two sets of stamps have been issued. The first is the Year of the Ox issue, a souvenir sheet of five stamps.

The design of this souvenir sheet is similar to the issue of last year for the year of the rat.

The second set is a booklet of twelve auto-adhesive stamps dedicated to art professions.

Each stamp pictures a different type of work: mosaic, glass, enamel, watch making, earthenware, jewels, weaving, wood, metal, marquetry, leaded-glass, crystal.

One week later, on the 19th of January was issued the now usual Saint-Valentine issue with heart shaped stamps. As usual two stamps have been issued (one for 20g standard letter and one for 50g letter) together with a souvenir sheet of five stamps.

Since 1999, French post issues heart shaped Saint-Valentine heart shaped stamps, and except in 1999 and 2002, the stamps are designed by famous dress designers. This year this is Emanuel Ungaro who has been selected, as you can see on the stamps.

An auto-adhesive version of both stamps has also been issued.

There is an interesting story in France linked to the auto-adhesive version of the heart shaped stamps. In 2004 there was a little scandal in the philatelic world, when stamp collectors discovered that the 2004 heart shaped stamps (the Chanel stamps) been issued also in a auto-adhesive format that was not available to the wide public. These stamps were issued only for the private usage of the Chanel company itself. They could not be bought in a post office or on the website of La Poste. The same happened the year after, with the Cacharel stamps. Philatelists complained that such restricted distribution was a trigger to speculation. Finally, the French postal administration decided to sell those stamps also to the public, but only in the form of sheets of 30 stamps!
It is the same for the 2008 stamps, they are sold by sheets of 30, but there is an innovation this year, one of the stamps is also available in a booklet of 12 stamps.

On the same day another stamp was issued, commemorating the 600th annivearsary of the birth of
René the 1st of Anjou.

The stamp pictures the
castle of Angers and a statue of the king René.

At the end of January, on the 31st a stamp has been issued celebrating the
Sables d’Olonne, a seaside town located by the Atlantic Ocean in the region called Vendée.

On the same day a souvenir sheet of five stamps has been issued to celebrate the World Ski Championship that is currently held in France.

Since the beginning of February, on top of the stamp pictured on the FDC at the beginning of this article, a very nice stamp has been issued dedicated to
Sainte Cecile Cathedral of Albi.

This is the situation today. Already a lot of stamps issued in only one month and a half, don’t you think?

Still to come in February is a stamp dedicated to the city of Menton (on the 21st of February). During the weekend of the 28th of February will be held the annual Fête du Timbre (Stamp feast). At this occasion a souvenir sheet and a booklet of 12 stamps will be issued picturing Looney Tunes characters. But I will show you all this once they are issued.

If you need any further information on stamps issued by France so far, don’t hesitate to drop me a mail.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Frog stamp from Bosnia Herzegovina!

Thanks to a comment put on my blog and several emails that I received, I recently discovered that Bosnia Herzegovina has issued a stamp last year picturing a frog. Here it is.

It is a part of set of two stamps issued on the 1st of July 2008 (I think). The second stamp pictures water lilies. Those stamps have been issued in the form of sheet of 9 stamps with a label. Here is a picture of both sheets.

The frog that is pictured on the stamp is a Rana esculanta commonly known as the edible frog! In fact Rana esculenta is the old scientific name that was given by Carl von Linné in 1758, but the new scientific name is Pelophylax kl. esculentus. (I have already shown a stamp from Netherlands picturing the same species of frog here).
This frog species takes its common name from the fact that it is used as food. It is in fact a hybrid between two other species: the Pool Frog (Pelophylax lessonae) and the Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus). When edible frogs mate with each other, their offspring are often malformed, so there are no “pure” populations of edible frogs. The hybrid populations are propagated by female edible frogs mating with males of one of the parental species.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Collected after the time limit…

For today I have selected a cover from Romania that I would like to share with you, not necessarily because of the stamps it bears but because of a postal mark.

But first, some words about the stamps.
The large stamp belongs to a set issued on the 21st of April 2008 and picturing various species of bears. The full set contains five stamps and one souvenir sheet containing on stamp). The stamp of the cover pictures an American black bear (Ursus americanus), a bear species that is native from North America (the reason why it is pictured on a stamp from Romania is questionable… as for the other species pictured on the full set).

The other stamp, issued in 2005, is part to the definitive series dedicated to traditional Romanian potteries, a series that I have already mentioned on the
previous article.

The reason why I wanted to show you the cover is the postal mark that you can see on the left border. The mark says: collectata dupa ora limita, which means, if my Romanian is correct, collected after the time limit. Of course I found this mark intriguing and I’m still trying to understand why it was put on the cover.
This mark makes me thing about the post marks that are put on mail to explain apparent delay of the delivery of the mail, when it has been posted after the time limit to allow to be processed by a daily service (e.g. mail sent by train, boats or whatever). I have seen such marks (in English or in French) on old letters. I don’t know if this is the case here. The date stamp indicates Constanta-Tranzit. Constanta is a region and a city located in the south east of Romania. The “Tranzit” does not seem to indicate a standard post office, and the presence of the postal mark seems to indicate a specific processing of the mail. But I could not find detailed information to explain the whole thing. If some readers are able to help me I would be happy to hear from them. Thanks a lot!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Covers from Bhutan

In the small philatelic world, Bhutan is a country that is famous for its stamp issues that are often innovative, not to say eccentric. Between 1960 and 1980, Bhutan has multiplied the philatelic “premieres” such as: the first three dimensional lenticular stamp, stamps printed on silk or on steel, scented stamps, “talking stamps” in the form of miniature record that can actually be plaid on a record player.
What is less known is that those stamps are the creation of an American entrepreneur, Burt Kerr Todd, who convinced Bhutan government that this was an effective way of earning money. Todd has died in 2006, and his daughter continues his work.

If you read the philatelic press, or if you browse the web, you have probably learned about the CD-Rom stamps issued by Bhutan last year. What are they? They are small CD-Rom (actual CD-Rom that can be read on a PC) that contain videos about the country, and included in a plastic envelope. The whole item can be put on a cover and is valid for postage.

When I read about those stamps I was very doubtful about the real postal need for such item. I said to myself: this is the sort of stamps that we will never see on cover. Therefore I was rather happy when I saw that the main French philatelic paper, Timbres Magazine, was proposing to get those stamps on a cover that would travel through the postal service. I did not hesitate and decided to go for it.

Here is the first (registered) cover postmarked from Thimphu GPO that I received end of last week

It bears the first CD-Rom stamp issued to commemorate 100 years of monarchy. Monarchy has been established in 1907 in Bhutan with Ugyen Wangchuck (1861-1926) the First King. Four kings have followed: Jigme Wangchuck (1902-1952), Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1929-1972), Jigme Singye Wangchuck (1955-) and finally Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (1980), officially crowned on 6 November 2008. The CD-Rom pictures a portrait of each king with his name and the dates of his reign. The CD-Rom contains a video that tells the story of monarchy in Bhutan. I did not watch it myself, because, unfortunately, to take out the CD-Rom you need to destroy the envelope.

On the same day I received the second cover, bearing the second CD-Rom stamp that commemorates the engagement of Bhutan in the fight for Nature preservation. Again the CD-Rom contains a video on this subject.

Both CD-Rom are smaller than a standard CD-Rom, this is why they bear the instruction: Do not use on slot entry computers.

I’m still not convinced by this philatelic “innovation”, but I really think that the only interest was to have those stamps on an actual postal cover, so I’m quite happy at the end.

To tell you the complete story, when I got these envelops I have very upset. On both of them, there was a registering label stuck on the stamp itself. This was a French registering label, so put by the French postal administration. I had to fight a lot to be able to remove the labels without spoiling the stamps (fortunately the envelope of the CD-Rom is somehow plasticized so it was easier than with a normal stamp). Don’t you think that there was enough room on the cover to put the label to avoid putting it on the stamp? On one cover I would have thought of an accident. But it was on both of them, so it was done on purpose.

Normally Bhutan has issued two more CD-Rom stamps, so I’m expecting to get two additional covers soon. I will show them to you when (if?) I get them!

Monday, February 02, 2009

First registered cover from Serbia

Today Paris has wakened up with 2 to 3 centimeters of snow in the street, triggering the usual mess, traffic jams and accidents. What a thermal shock for me after the 30°C that I experienced in Sydney two weeks ago!

I’m thrilled because today I will show you the first cover I received from Serbia! This is a nice registered cover that I did not get trough a cover exchange circuit but this is a cover that an Ebay seller used to send me an item I bought. It was really a nice surprise to get a cover from this country, and as you will see the stamps used on the cover are really nice.
The two identical stamps, located on the top right corner, belong to a set of two stamps issued on the 11th of November 2008 and dedicated to traditional children’s costumes. Here is a picture of both stamps of the set.

The stamp on the left, the one used on the cover, pictures a costume from the Kumodraz region, the region of Belgrade. The second stamp pictures a costume from the Sumadija region. These stamps have been issued in the form of sheetlets of nine stamps plus one illustrated label as show here.

This format is a bit surprising, why 9+1 and not 10 stamps directly? Note that the margin of the sheet is inscribed in various languages, among which the French language.

The other stamps of the cover belong to a very beautiful set of four stamps issued on the 25th of September 2008 and dedicated to the grapes and vineyards of Serbia. The four stamps have been issued in se-tenant band including a label. Five different labels exist as shown on the picture of the full sheet.

I think that this set of stamp is extremely well designed. The result is really beautiful. I must admit that I did not know that wine was produced in Serbia. The main varieties of wine produced in Serbia are: Belgrade Seedless, Prokupac, Sauvignon, "Italian Riesling", Cabernet, Chardonnay, White and Red Burgundy, Hamburg, Muscat, Afus Ali, Vranac, Tamjanka, Krstac, Smederevka, and Dinka.
The four stamps illustrate four different regions. I was not able to identify them all: only Zupa (located in the south esat of Belgrade) and Vrsac (located in the North east of Belgrade).
Once again the margin of the sheet is written is various languages including French.

Have you aver tasted a Serbian wine