Monday, August 24, 2009

The charter of philately

In April of last year was held in France, for the first time, an important colloquium around philately called “Les Etats Généraux de la Philatélié”. This colloquium was initiated by the president of the republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also a philatelist!

During this colloquium, all the main actors of French philately could meet, discuss, and try to identify ways to develop further our hobby. The results of this meeting have been highly discussed in philatelic publications, some people being disappointed by the poor results that have been reached, and some others being already very satisfied that this meeting could exist in the first place. I must admit that I did not really follow closely the discussions on my side.
As a first follow up of this meeting, a charter, the 2009 charter of philately, has been co-signed by three main entities:
- the French postal administration, La Poste
- the French federation of philatelic associations (FFAP)
- the employers’ federation of stamp dealers and philatelic experts (CNEP)

These three entities are grouped inside one unique entity called ADPhile, the association for the development of philately.

Why do I mention this today? Because end of last week I received this charter, sent by La Poste to all its subscribers (I guess), in the form of a postal stationery. In fact this is a sheet on which is printed the charter. The sheet is folded to give it the size of an envelop. On it a copy of a stamp is printed. Here is a scan of what I got.

I’m not going to tell you all the details of what s inside the charter. I think that what is more important is the actual result we should see in the coming months and years. In summary the charter recalls the definition of a postage stamp and defines four categories:
- definitive stamps (our stamps picturing Marianne)
- commemorative stamps issued to celebrate and event or to pay tribute to a person
- personalized stamps
- stamps used for writing, a category where can be found auto-adhesive stamps used by the large public to write. I guess this category covers the message stamps that are so often criticized in France.

What seems surprising in this definition is that it seems to make a difference between stamps issued to be collected (the commemorative ones) and stamps issued to be used on mail! This sounds a bit strange, what would be the interest to collect commemorative postage stamps if they are not intended, in a first place, to be used on mail?

In France, as in a lot of other countries (if I believe what I read in various international philatelic publications) stamp collectors do complain about the high number of stamps issued by La Poste and by the poor relevance of some subjects illustrated on French stamps. The answer of La Poste seems to be this idea of issuing stamps for collectors and stamps to be used on mail. Not sure this is what all expected!

The charter also lists the commitment of the three signatories to help developing philately.
If you are interested I can provide you a more detailed translation of the charter.

Now let’s come back to the item I received. The printed stamp is a copy of a stamp issued on the 7th of April 2008 and picturing a view of the harbor of La Rochelle. Here is a picture of the original stamp.

La Rochelle is a city located in the southwestern France and a seaport on the Atlantic Ocean. This is a very nice city that I had the pleasure to visit some years ago.

So let’s see what will happen in the coming years to see if the stamp issuing policy of the French post improves in he direction which is expected by stamp collectors. In the mean time this charter makes an interesting collectable item ;-)

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