Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Red cancels from Japan

My scanner is temporarily out of service so I feel frustrated because I can not share with you some of the items I received recently. But hopefully, this should not last long. While trying to sort of the mess on my PC, I found back the scan of two Japanese covers that I did not show to you up to now. Interestingly both covers have comment points: they come from the same sender (but this you can not guess when seeing them), they are both franked with stamps commemorating a congress or an event and they both bear a very nice red and large cancellation. This is the main reason why I wanted to show them to you.
Let’s have a look to the first one.

Three not-so-recent stamps are used on the cover. The left one is a stamp belonging to a set of two stamps issued on the 24th of October 1970 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the United Nation. The stamp has a very simple design, with just the silhouette of a tree and the UN emblem.
The stamp located in the middle was issued the same year, on the 17th of August. It commemorates the 4th United Nations congress on prevention of crime and treatment of the offenders. Such congress is held by the United Nations every 5 years. The first one was in 1955 and was held in Geneva. The following ones were held in London, Stockholm, Kyoto, Geneva again, Caracas, Milan, Havana, Cairo, Vienna, and the last one in 2005 was in Bangkok. Again the stamp has a very simple design, but I must admit that I hardly understand the symbolism behind…
The last stamp is a more recent one; it belongs to a set of three stamps issued on the 2nd of September 1994 tot celebrate the opening of Kansai International Airport. Kansai International Airport (KIX) is an international airport located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay. It was opened on the 4th of September 1994 and serves as a hub for several airlines such as ANA (All Nippon Airways) and Japan Airlines. The stamp pictures a map of the airport (as it was at the opening time, it has been extended since then) and the tail of a plane.

As you can see the stamps have been cancelled by a large circular red cancel which is rather nice. The second cover bears the same postmark. Here it is.

The stamp on the left has been issued on the 5th of September 1988 to celebrate the 16th world congress of Rehabilitation International. Rehabilitation International (RI) is a global network of experts, professionals and advocates working together to empower persons with disabilities and provide sustainable solutions for a more inclusive and accessible society. It was founded in 1922. The 16th congress was help in Tokyo and was the first congress of RI held in an Asian country.

The last stamp was issued on the 25th of May 1981 to celebrate the 12th convention of IAPH held in Nagoya. IAPH stands for International Association of Ports and Harbors. IAPH, created in 1955, is a non governmental organization headquartered in Tokyo, whose principal objective is to develop and foster good relations and cooperation among all ports and harbors in the world by proving a forum to exchange opinions and share experiences on the latest trends of port management and operations.

As you can see, the cover also has the same red cancellation. I’m really interested to get some information about these types of postmarks. Does anybody know anything about them?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do you like chocolate?

Today the French postal administration, La Poste, has issued a set of ten stamps dedicated to chocolate. The full set is in issued in the form of a souvenir sheet, looking like a chocolate bar. To strengthen the effect the stamps are scented and smell like chocolate (but I don’t think that the gum as the taste of chocolate ;-) !).

The stamps illustrate the origin of chocolate, the introduction of chocolate in France and its preparation. The set celebrates the 400th anniversary of the introduction of chocolate in France, which happened in 1609 in Bayonne, as pictured on the top right corner stamp.
Chocolate finds its origins in South and Central America. Mentions about chocolate can be found in documents dating from 1100 BC already. Cocoa beans were used as money and the drink that could be produced using them was used for medical and ritual purposes.
Chocolate was unknown in European countries until the 16th century. In France it was served during the wedding between Anne of Austria (daughter of Philippe III, the king of Spain) with Louis XIII, king of France, in 1615 (they are pictured on the bottom left corner stamp). But chocolate becomes even more famous during Louis XIV’s reign, when habit is taken to drink chocolate at Versailles castle.

In our modern days we know three types of chocolate:
- Dark chocolate, the real one, the one that I prefer. It must contain a minimum of 35% of cocoa
- Milk chocolate that is obtained by adding milk. This one contains usually 25% of cocoa
- White chocolate, which is a preparation based on cocoa butter mixed with sugar, milk and aroma

A lot of things are said about chocolate and its regular consumption. Eating chocolate regularly is good for the health, but not too much, otherwise effects can be negative. Some legends say that chocolate could be aphrodisiac, or even that one could become addict to chocolate! But this is not really proven.

This is not the first time that stamps are issued looking like pieces of chocolate. It was already done by Swiss post in 2001. Here is a picture of the souvenir sheet issued at this time, which has the same spirit that the French one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Away to Edinburg for few days

As announced I'm away for few days to Edinburg, for the H Cup rugby final (I'm not sure I'll have the time to visit Edinburg castle that is pictured on this stamp from the celebrating series). I will be back on line next monday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New frog stamp from Sweden

On the 14th of May 2009, Swedish post has issued a set of five stamps dedicated to Swedish nature in order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the first national park in Sweden.
Each stamp pictures a national park and a plant or an animal that can be found in this area. Why do I speak about those stamps, here on my blog? Because on of the stamps pictures a frog!
Unfortunately I could only find small pictures of the stamps (they are taken from the Swedish post website). As I do not have the stamps yet, I can not provide a bigger image.
Four of the five stamps have been issued in a block of four, the last one being issued separately.

Here is the block of four.
Clockwise, the parks and the plants/animals that are pictured are:
- Abisko National Park founded in 1909 and located in the north of the country. Plant pictured in the left bottom corner of the stamp is a Globe flower (Trollius europaeus).
- Stenshuvud National Park founded in 1986 and located on the coast. The animal pictured is a Tree frog (Hyla arborea)
- Garphyttan National Park, also founded in 1909. The associated animal is a hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) also known as common dormouse
- Store Mosse National Park founded in 1982. The stamp also pictures Cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccos)

The last stamp of the set is dedicated to Kosterhavet National Park and the animal is a sand star (Astropcten irregularis).

The five stamps are printed in Offset. I rather like them and I will be happy to buy them to add to by frog stamps collection.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Japanese FDC

A short week begins for me. Only three days at work, and then a four days weekend that I’m going to spend in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the H Cup final. I’m really thrilled, even if there is no French team involved in the final anymore.

To start this new week, I have selected a nice FDC that I received recently from Japan. As always I’m very impressed by the reddish first day cancel that you can find on FDC from Japan.

The FDC is for the stamp on the right side, the large stamp. It is a part of a set of two stamps issued on the 10th of April 2009 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko's wedding.
Akihito (born in 1933) is the 125th and current Emperor of Japan. He acceded to the throne in 1989. He married Michiko Shoda (born in 1934) on the 10th of April 1959 and she became Empress Michiko.
The stamp pictures a fan. The second stamp of the set pictures a silver bonbonnière (a French word for a candy box). Both stamps have been issued in a souvenir sheet. I could only find a very tiny picture of the souvenir sheet, sorry.

I tried to find more information about the design of these stamps but without much success.

The second stamp on the cover is a part of definitive series that
I already mentioned here in my blog.

The red cancel is really impressive. I do not really know what the meaning of the two birds is, but as far as I could find out, the circular design between the two birds is the Imperial seal of Japan.

The postmark from Osaka is also very clean. A really nice FDC to be added to my collection!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Celestial phenomena

It seems that I was wrong when I said, beginning of this week, that I would have more time to update my blog! Again, these days have been very busy and I was not able to deal with stamps. This is a pity because, for me, taking care of my stamps and updating my blog is a very good way to get out of the daily stress…

Today I would like to share with you a set of very colorful stamps that I got from Uwe, a friend in Germany, another frog stamps collector, even if these stamps have nothing to do with frogs.

The stamps have been issued on the 2nd of January 2009 and belong to the series “for the welfare”. The four stamps bear surtax for the benefit of the "Federal Association of Free Welfare Services” and the subject of the stamps is celestial phenomena.

The first stamp pictures Northern lights (or Arctic lights).

Triggered by solar wind (electrically charged radiation from the sun), the Northern lights appear when particles of solar wind meet the Earth's magnetic field and then are deflected to the poles. It creates an aurora that can take different forms. The resulting color is a greenish tone but red, blue and violet can also occur.

Sunset is the subject of the second stamp.

A beautiful rainbow is pictured on the third one.

And last stamp pictures lightning.

I think this set is really nice, but it reminds me a lot a set of stamps from Poland that I presented already some time ago.

Also to be noticed is that the sign “+” on all stamps indicating the surtax is in fact a cross of five points which is meant to symbolize the cohesion of our society, according to the information given on the German postal administration website!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A nice cover from India… spoiled by manual cancellation

Here am I, back from a three days weekend in Marseille where I celebrated my 43rd birthday. Time is running so quickly! I hope this week I will have a bit more time to spend on stamps and to update my blog than last week.

Today I would like to share with you a cover I received from India. A nice cover, which unfortunately was spoiled again by manual cancellation. I guess that for any reason the cover escaped from “normal” cancellation and that at one point a postal clerk thought that this was a good idea to cancel the stamps using a stroke of a pen. Look at the result.

This is really a pity. The sender had taken care to use large stamps to frank his letter. The result with a clean postmark would have been great, I think.
Anyway this should not prevent me from giving you some background information about the stamps.

The three large stamps located on the right side of the cover belong to a set issued on the 14th of November 2008 to celebrate the national Children Day. As already done in the past, for this purpose India post organized a Stamp Design Competition among school children, the winners being selected for the stamp designs. The theme of this year was “India of my dreams”. I guess the kids who have won must be very proud to see their drawings on stamps franking letters sent all over the world!
As far as I could see, India post has issued stamps for the Children’s day since 1957 and since 1973 Children’s drawings are used for the design of these stamps.

The 2008 set also contains, in addition to these three stamps, a souvenir sheet.

The last large stamp used on the cover is part of a set of four stamps issued on the 8th of October 2008 to celebrate the platinum jubilee (i.e. the 75th anniversary of the Indian Air Force). A souvenir sheet has also been issued picturing the four stamps.

I must admit that I’m not too much into military things and stamp designs…

The last stamp of the cover is a definitive stamp belonging to the Natural heritage series. It was issued on the 30th of April 2000 and pictures a leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Two FDC from China

I’m back from a few days of holidays in Reims, and since then I have been so busy that I could not find time for stamps and my blog. I hope that it will improve in the coming days.
Since now several days I want to share with you two nice FDC that I received from Charles, one of my philatelic friends in China. Here they are.

These covers are the official first day covers of a set of six stamps issued on the 22nd of March 2009 and picturing selected masterpieces of Shi Tao, a Chinese artist.
Shi Tao, born Zhu Ruoji (1642-1707) was a member of the Ming royal house. At the fall of Ming dynasty (in 1644) he escaped his fate and became a Buddhist monk in 1651. He later converted to Daoism in 1693.
Shi Tao is one of the most famous individualist painters of the early Qing dynasty. In some ways his art was revolutionary, transgressing the rigidly codified techniques and styles that predominated at this period.
The first FDC is franked with the three fist stamps of the set, picturing, from left to right:
- Chaohu Lake
(According to legend, the site of the lake was once a prosperous city named Chaozhou. Because of sins of its people, it was cursed by the heavens and ordered to be destroyed by flood. The task was to be carried out by a white dragon that was only able to find one good person, an old lady named Jiao. After the destruction of city, only the old lady and her daughter were saved. They became the two islands emerging from the lake)
- Enjoying the sound of a fountain
- Double Chrysanthemums       

The second FCD is franked with the three other stamps:
- Plum blossoms and bamboos
- Horse and Its Owner
- Lotuses             

A rather nice set of stamps, isn’t it ? I’m not a big specialist of Chinese painting but I like them.

To complement the franking of the letters, Charles used the stamp issued on the 5th of January to celebrate the year of the rooster (on the second FDC) and also stamps belonging to a set of six stamps issued on the 5th of November 2007 to celebrate Chinese calligraphy. Here is a picture of the full set, taken from the website of Chinese postal administration (hence the bar across the face value to make transform them into specimen).

I’m unfortunately not able to translate the text written on those stamps. I could not even find details about their origin. I find those stamps rather impressive with this black background!

There is one thing I could not identify on the covers: the red marking (S.A.L). What does it mea? Does anybody have any idea?