Yesterday I got my fist letter fully franked with stamps issued in 2011. This is a letter from Germany that I got from a cover circuit club. It bears two stamps issued by the German postal administration on the 3rd of January. Here it is.
The stamp on the right side is entitled “gliding over the water peak” (Segelflug auf der Wasserkuppe).
The Wasserkuppe (water peak in German) is a high plateau, the highest peak in the Rhön mountains located in the state of Hesse in Germany. In 1911, students from a nearby university began flying gliders from the Wasserkuppe, marking the beginning of an increasing interest in flying gliders in Germany and specifically in this area. Started in 1920 an annual competition became in 1930 an international event drawing pilots from all over Europe and even USA. The world's first glider pilot school was founded in the area. In 1970 a museum was opened with Neil Armstrong as a guest of honour at the ceremony.
The stamp pays tribute to these pioneers that marked the beginning of the Golden Age of Aviation.
The other stamp is part of a series related to German painters. The stamp is dedicated to Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), a 19th century German Romantic landscape painter who is among the most important artists of his generation. The stamp pictures a painting from 1818 entitled "Wanderer above the sea of fog" that is very typical of his work.
I would like also to mention the very neat postmark. It is clear that the postal clerk took care to nicely cancel the stamps. The cancel is at the right place, and the orientation is good so that you can easily read it.
I recently wrote a post where I complained about the number and quality of new stamp issues, but I could also have written something about postmarks. In France this is more and more difficult to get a clean cancellation even on a (obviously) philatelic mail. If you drop the letter into a mail box, it will get an automatic cancellation that often gives an awful result. If you give your letter to a postal clerk, he/she will often refuse to cancel it manually and will ask you to put it in the mail box of the post office and it will get the same ugly automatic cancellation. Sometimes it may happen that the clerk will accept and put a manual cancel, but the letter will get a second ugly one when going through the system! This is even worse.
The only solution I found so far is to give my cover to a specific philatelic desk (there is one in the Louvre Post Office, located near the Louvre museum). This is the only way I found to make sure the cancellation will respect the stamps on the cover.
I’m interested to get some feedback from you, my readers, on this subject. How does it happen in your country? Can you get satisfying cancellation on your mail?