Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Just a short post to wish you all a very happy new year. Let 2011 bring you all what you may desire for you, your family and your friends.
And happy collecting in 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

100 years of scouting in Poland

Yesterday I was cleaning the mess on the hard disk of my PC and I found back a scan of a nice cover that I never shared with you so far. So let’s correct this mistake. And thank you Andrzej for this nice sending.
This is a cover from Poland, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the creation of the scouting movement in Poland.

The cover is franked with the EUROPA stamp issued by Poland on the 5th of May 2007. As you can see the commemorative postmark is very nice and seems to indicate that the cover has been transported by balloon.
The Scouting movement was created in Great Britain in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell. Three years later, the movement was pioneered in Poland by Andrzej Malkowski (1888-1919). Andrzej Malkowski first came into contact with the idea of scouting the year before, while translating Scouting for Boys by Baden-Powell into Polish. The first teams of scouts were established in Lviv in 1910.
Andrzej Malkowski has been honored on a polish stamp in 1991.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cows on mail art

I already had the opportunity to show you some pieces of mail art that I received from my friend Philippe (see here). Here are some new ones adapted to my new topic of collections, the cows.

The first one is rather simple. It simply shows a cow.

The basis of the drawing is a stamp issued by the French postal administration on the 26th of April 2004 in the nature series. The full set contains four stamps and was issued also in the form of a souvenir sheet as shown below.

There is a joke on the cover that you can understand only if you speak French. The text above the cow (“Vache ment bien”) means literally “The cow lies well” (i.e. the cow is a good liar).
But if you write it “Vachement bien” it means “Really nice”. And to illustrate that the cow is a good liar, the bubble indicates “Miaou” the meow of a cat instead of the moo of a cow.

The second item is more sophisticated.

It uses the EUROPA stamp issued by France on the 12th of May 2003. The theme of the EUROPA series in 2003 was the art of poster.

The stamp is a tribute to Raymond Savignac a French graphic artist famous for his commercial posters who often used a pink cow in his posters.

If you look closer to the left top corner you will see another stamp integrated in the design. This is a stamp from 1983, from the touristic series, and picturing Jarnac, a city located in the south west of France.

Now let me explain you the overall design of the cover which is full of humor but easier to understand if you speak French. You can see cows of various colors (red, purple, green, yellow) looking at the poster (the stamp) and looking very surprised (not to say shocked) to see a pink cow.

The last item I wanted to show you is also sophisticated. It gives a sort of explanation of what is the “milky way” (“la voie lactée” in French) as if it was made of milk just coming out of a cow pie.

The cover re-uses the cow stamp from the first cover and also the two stamps belonging to the EUROPA set issued on the 4th of May 2009 and dedicated to astronomy. The stamps, which have also been issued in a souvenir sheet that you can see below, picture Saturn and an exoplanet (i.e. a planet out of the solar system).

I know that these items are a bit out of the pure philatelic world, but I really like them. I like the way Philippe integrates the design of the stamps in the drawing. His creations have always a twist of humor and poesy. I would be proud to be able to do the same; unfortunately I lack the artistic skills for that!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Something different

Yes something different for today. Not a stamp, not a cover, nothing philatelic. But a coin! I recently had the opportunity to meet with a coin collector and we discussed the similarities and the differences between collecting stamps and collecting coins. I must admit that I know nothing about collecting coins or banknotes. During the discussion a question popped into my mind: are there any topical coin collectors? It seems that yes, some numismatists do specialize their collections around one topic. But it seems that the number of topics pictured on coins is much more reduced than on stamps. As you can imagine I immediately wanted to check if there was any coin picturing a frog or a toad (I’m speaking about circulation coins, the ones that are actually used in a country, not the commemorative one that are only issued for collectors). And I found at least one.

This is a coin of one Lats issued on the 7th of June 2010. The obverse pictures the large coat of arms of Republic of Latvia.

The reverse pictures a toad.

The toad occupies an important place in Latvia's natural environment and the popular mentality alike, it is considered to help farmers and bring blessing to households.

The common toad (Bufo bufo) is one of the most common amphibians in Latvia occupying an important place in the ecosystem. For millennia it has also been a farmer's helper because it protects the harvest from bugs and snails. In the popular lore the toad is associated with luck and good fortune. The toad is also associated with fertility: in the ancient Latvian folksongs it carries the water for the beer brewing ritual; its presence helps the harvest. Like the grass snake, the toad was considered to bring blessing to cattle; therefore he who killed a toad risked to have cows go dry and the skin on his hands turn toadlike. By contrast, to circle around a toad three times guarantees good fortune.

Have you ever seen any other coins picturing frogs or toads? And what about banknotes?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The art of engraving

I have always thought that stamps issued by Sweden are very attractive. This is not very surprising since Swedish post is still issuing a high number of engraved stamps (I think that 50% of the stamps are engraved ones) and still uses a lot the recess-printing process. This is rare enough among the community of postal administrations to be mentioned.
The art of engraving has been celebrated on the 286th of August 2010 by a joint issue between Sweden and Ireland. The Swedish part of this issue is a mini-sheet that I would like to share with you for three reasons.

The first reason is that it is beautiful! Look at it.

The second reason is that it relates to one of my collection, as you will see below.
The first stamp on the left side of the mini-sheet pictures a silver bowl from the Viking era. This bowl was found in Rute, Gotland, in 1863 by a farmer plowing his field. Together with the bowl there were several pieces of silver jewelry and coints dating back to 1050’s. The bowl is not displayed at the museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm.
The stamp was engraved by
Martin Mörck.

The second stamp pictures the very impressive armor of King Eric XIV. And because of that, this issue falls into my collection of “famous Eric on stamps”! This is not the first time that Sweden issues a stamp related to this king. You can read here an older post about another stamp issue.
The armor is highly decorated and pictures the Vasa family weapons, shackled prisoners, battle scene and mythological creatures.
This part of the mini-sheet has been engraved by Lars Sjööblom.

The third stamp is a re-print of a stamp from 1975 engraved by the very famous Czeslaw Slania, who has engraved some of the most beautiful stamps of the world. This stamp features the principal dancer Per-Arthur Segerström and leading ballerina Anneli Alhanko in a scene from the ballet Romeo and Juliet from Prokofiev.

This last stamp is the part chosen by Ireland for its own issue that consists in only one single stamp.

The third reason why I wanted to show you the Swedish mini-sheet is because it relates to a very nice Christmas gift that I received from the Swedish postal administration. This is a printing of the engraving of the armor. Look at this beauty!

When I see these stamps I start to have a dream. A dream where all postal administrations decide to reduce the number of stamps they issue each year and to issue only engraved recess-printed stamps! Of course this is only a dream…

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I would like to dedicate the post of today to the spirit of Christmas and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a merry Christmas if this celebration means anything for you.
For this I have selected a gift that I have received from the postal administration of Finland. This is a large card picturing a very jovial Santa Claus!
Two stamps are present on the picture side of the card. These are the two stamps issued on the 5th of November bu the Finish post and picturing the same Santa Claus and a reindeer, two very popular symbols of Chritsmas.
The other side of the card contains another stamp issued at the same time.

The stamp, designed by the same designer than the two other ones, Tommi Vallisto, pictures the lanscape of Lapland a region of Finland loctaed within the Arctic circle. The stamp pictures the place during Kaamos, the polar night, the night that lasts more than 24 hours!
A very nice gift I think.
Merry Chistmas to all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cover from Uruguay

In 1810, on the 1st of March, was born Frédéric François Chopin, the very famous polish composer and virtuoso pianist. I don't think I need to detail who he was. Two hundred years later, on the 21st of July 2010, the postal administration of Uruguay has issued a svouvenir sheet to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. This is this souvenir sheet that one of my philatelic contacts in Uruguay has used to frank a cover he sent to me.

As you see the souvenir sheet is rather colorful and contains two stamps: one picturing a portrait of Chopin (a rather unusual one I must say) and one picturing a piano. The margin of the sheet recalls the date of the birth of the pianist. I must admit that I'm not sure I understand the illustration with the dancers, I'm not so sure that Chopin has written so much music for ballets...

The other stamp on the cover is a very different one. It was issued on the 10th of October 2000 in a set of two stamps that are part of the UPAEP set. Here is the full set.

UPAEP stands for "Unión Postal de las Américas, España y Portugal" in Spanish, a postal union between states from Americas together with Spain and Portugal. The UPAEP contains 27 members: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, USA, Guatemala, Haïti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Salvador, Surinam, Uruguay, Venezuela, Netherland Antilles, Aruba, Spain and Portugal.

Since 1989 some of the members of this union issue a stamp with a common theme (very similar to the EUROPA stamp issue). In 2000 the theme was Campaign against AIDS as you can see on the stamps of Uruguay. In 2000 seventeen members of the organization have participated to this issue.

For the record the theme for 2010 was "National symbols" and in 2011 it will be "mailboxes".

I think that the stamp picturing the "tic tac toe" game against death is rather striking!

To be noticed also on the cover the large rectangular postmark.

Monday, December 20, 2010

When two worlds meet

When I decided to start collection of stamps picturing cows, I quickly thought about how my two main collections would overlap. Said differently: would I find a stamp picturing a frog and a cow at the same time? Without going so far, would I find a stamp picturing a cow and a stamp picturing a frog belonging to the same set? I’m happy to tell you that I already found an example of each case!
I have already shown on my blog a stamp picturing both a frog and a cow (well to be accurate this is an ox). It is a stamp issued by French post in 1995 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of Jean De La Fontaine.

The stamp pictures a tale from Jean De La Fontaine entitled “The frog that wished to be as big as an ox”. You can read more about it on my
previous post.
I think this is, so far, the only stamp picturing my two favorite topics at the same time!
I recently found a set of stamps that falls into the second category. A set of four stamps has been issued by Australia in 1996 and picturing illustration from children’s book. All stamps have been issued in gummed and auto-adhesive version.

One of the stamp pictures the cover from the book Animalia, by
Graeme Base.
This book is an alliterative alphabet book. It contains twenty six illustrations, one for each letter of the alphabet. As you can see the cover pictures mainly a lion and there is a small frog in the right bottom corner.
A second stamp in the set pictures an illustration of a book entitled “Who sank the boat” by Pamela Allen. In the boat you can see a donkey and a cow (pretty obvious this is a cow, isn’t it ? ;-) ). I don’t know much about this book. I just know this is the story of a cow, a donkey, a sheep, a pig and a little mouse that decide to go on a boat. If you have read it I would be happy to get some information.
Just to give you a complete view, the other stamps of the set illustrate the following books: “John Brown and the midnight cat” by Jenny Wagner and “Greetings from Sandy Beach” by Bob Graham.
These two examples are the only ones I know where my two philatelic worlds meet. If you ever see other cases then drop me a mail!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cover from Honk Kong with lenticular stamp on a souvenir sheet

(I’m back from a one week trip to Shanghai from where I could not update from there because of the internet access control. It seems that I still suffer from the effects of the jetlag… Sleepy in the evening and waking up much too early in the morning…)

I recently purchased from an Ebay seller who lives in Hong Kong a souvenir sheet for my frog stamp collection and I got the nice surprise to see that he used various stamps and a souvenir sheet to frank the cover. I decided to share it with you.
I don’t show you he front of the cover because it does not contain anything interesting except my address, but here is the back side.

The two small stamps are part of a set of sixteen definitive stamps issued in December 2006, a very nice set for bird stamps collector. One of the stamp pictures a Collared scops owl (Otus lettia).

The second one pictures the White bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), a bird that is the emblem of the state of Selangor, one of the thirteen states of Malaysia.

The larger stamp belongs to a set of four issued on the 21st of October 2010 entitled “Hong Kong in my eyes” and illustrated with drawings from children. I unfortunately could not find a clear scan of the full set.

But the reason why I wanted to share with you the cover was the souvenir sheet. First because this is pretty rare to have a full souvenir sheet used to frank a cover. But also because this sheet contains a lenticular stamp, a stamp with a “moving effect”. This does not give a very nice result on the scan, but the stamp picture a locomotive which is moving from back to front when you move the sheet.

The souvenir sheet is part of a wide set of six stamps and two souvenir sheets issued on the 28th of September 2010 to commemorate the centenary of the railway service in Hong Kong. I could not find a good image of the stamps, but each of the six stamps picture a different type of train used in the railway service in Hong Kong over the age. One of the souvenir sheets contains the six stamps and the second one is this sheetlet containing only one stamp with the lenticular effect. The result is really nice, much nicer than on the scan where you can only see a blurry image.

The train pictured on the stamp is the steam train that began to run upon the commencement of railway services in Hong Kong along the track of the section within Hong Kong of the Kowloon-Canton Railway, from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lo Wu, on 1 October 1910. The steam engines from the early days were gradually replaced by diesel locomotives from the 1950s onward until they were all retired from service in 1962. The building at the upper part of the stamp is the Hong Kong Railway Museum. The six background colours of the sheetlet represent the six train models used in different periods, setting off the silhouette of the changing cityscape of Hong Kong over the past century - a rural community evolving into a metropolis filled with skyscrapers.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Stamp sheet from Mexico

(I’m writing this blog post from the air-france lounge in Paris airport because I’m leaving in few hours to Shanghai for one week.)

I have been quiet on this blog these last days because I’m rather busy preparing an update of my frog stamps website. I’m spending hours scanning, looking for information about the stamps and the frogs and putting this into web pages. While doing this I came through an impressive stamp sheet that I decided to share with you.

This is a sheet of twenty four (yes, 24!) stamps issued on the 2nd of October 1996 by Mexico and dedicated to the protection of endangered species. The stamps picture a huge number of animals, too many to list them all. I did not even try to count them. Have a look to this.

Pretty impressive, no? Any topical stamp collector specialized in any type of fauna on stamps would find satisfaction with this sheet, don’t you think so?

You will ask me: where is the frog? Not obvious at first glance. Look closer to the stamp located on the bottom left corner, the stamp picturing a tapir, and you will see a frog in the background. This is the very photogenic red-eyed tree frog.

I have a funny anecdote about this stamp sheet. When I started collecting stamps picturing frogs, I retrieved from the ATA (American Topical Association) a checklist, a list of all stamps picturing a frog (well after some times I realized the list was not complete but it was a very good starting point). In the list there was a reference of stamp from Mexico issued in 1996, without much additional information.

Several years later I came across the stamp sheet on an auction website and found it quite striking, even though the scan was not so clear. I decide to bet on it because I always love stamps picturing animals and wanted to get a copy of this sheet. I won it for a reasonable price. When I received it at home, I looked at it more closely and discover the frog that I hadn’t noticed on the scan! So the stamp that the ATA list was mentioning was in fact part of this stamp sheet!

I know what some you will think (and you are right): how many of those stamps have actually been used on a cover? This is the sort of issue that is targeted for philatelists and that your hardly find on actual mail. But still, I think this is an interesting item for my collection.