Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A cover from Norway

Last weekend I have made some clean up on the hard disk of my home PC and I realized that I had scanned some covers and philatelic items that I did not share with you yet. This is the case of the cover I selected for today, a cover from Norway, a country from where I do not get mails very often (I think this cover is my second one only in the last ten years…).

The cover was sent to me by the son of a friend who went to Norway for few days. Here is the cover.

Probably confused by the vertical text the sender has put the stamps vertically while I think it would have been better to have them put horizontally. Never mind. Two different stamps are used on the cover, they both belong to a set of six stamps issued on the 12th of April 2088. This set is a set of “tourist” stamps, i.e. stamps that are mainly targeting tourists who want to put nice stamps when sending news to their family or friends during their holidays in the country. This type of stamps always picture nice sceneries from the country as it is the case for this set. This is a good illustration of stamps being like a sort of little ambassadors of the issuing country.

But let’s have a look to the full set. The first stamp (also used on the cover) pictures a part of the Sunmore Alps (apologies to my Norwegian readers, my keyboard does not allow me using the right “o” which should be crossed with a bar in the middle to respect the correct orthography).

The sharp mountain is called purposely “the blade”.

The second stamp, also used on the cover, pictures a very impressive scene, two guys on a stone plugged between two rocks. This big stone is called the Kjerag boulder, Kjerag being the name of a Norwegian mountain. This place has become a popular BASE jumping destination.

The next stamp of the set pictures a view of Lyngor, a nice village that is accessible only by boat and where there are no cars. Must be a nice place to be ;-)

The next stamp pictures the Lyngor lighthouse. Well, this is what the information from the website of Norwegian post says, because the light house can hardly be seen on the stamp… It is hidden by the vertical writing.

The two last stamps of the set are dedicated to Oslo. One pictures Olso harbour, with the city hall in the background

The other one pictures a very impressive sculpture from Ola Enstad called “the divers”. Must be nice to see it in real!

I think this set is rather nice and could easily give the idea to visit the country to see it in real life. After all, this is what stamps should mainly do, no? I only regret that none of the stamps contains the name of the place it pictures!

These days Norway is in the news for very very sad reasons. This post is my philatelic tribute to mark my support to the people of Norway.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nice cover from Taiwan

It is hard to believe that we are in summer these days. The weather in Paris is ugly, cold and raining. My workload at work is as high as usual. Normally July and August are rather quiet, but this is not the case this year. So I haven’t much time to take care to my stamps or to update my blogs. This is a pity.

Today I would like to share with you a nice cover I received from Taiwan through a cover exchange club. It bears nice stamps and nice cancellations.

The two identical stamps on the left side are definitive stamps issued on the 14th of October 2009. The stamp pictures a pink powder puff (Calliandra emarginata). The flower takes its common name from the fact it looks like a powder puff! The stamp is part of set of four stamps (images are coming from Taiwain postal administration website, hence the “specimen” mark).

The three other stamps picture a cotton tree (Bombax ceiba), a royal Poinciana (Delonix regia) and a fountain tree (Spathodea campanulata). This set is the second one in a series that started in March 2009.

The two other stamps on the cover are part of a set of issued on the 28th f July 2010 and dedicated to lighthouses.

The NT$5 stamp pictures the Wenkan Tui lighthouse. Built in 1914, this skeletal steel frame light tower is located on Waisanding Sandbar off Kouhu Township, Yunlin County. In 1974, due to sandbar shift, the lighthouse was rebuilt and placed in a new location nearby. In 2006, because of another sandbar shift, the lighthouse was moved once again to present location, and a radar beacon pole was added.

The NT$10 stamp pictures the Paisha Chia lighthouse. Built in 1901, this round brick light tower is located in Guanyin Township, Taoyuan County. In 2002 the Taoyuan County Government designated the lighthouse as a county monument!

The full set contains two other stamps picturing the Chilung Tao lighthouse and the Liuchiu Yu lighthouse.

The cover bears an interesting cancellation picturing a owl. I wonder in which context this nice pictorial cancel was used. Does anybody have information on it? I also wonder the same about the red cancel on the far left of the cover.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rugby stamps from France

Earlier this week, the French postal administration has issued a set of stamps to celebrate the coming Rugby World Cup that is going to be held in November in New Zealand. Being a big fan of rugby I was rather impatient to get these stamps. Yesterday I could find the time to buy then, but I must admit I'm finally a bit disappointed.

Two items have been issued. First a souvenir sheet containing four stamps.

Two stamps picture scenes from a rugby game: a player extracting the ball from a scrum and a player making a pass. Two other stamps picture sceneries from New Zealand.

Why am I disappointed? For several reasons. First of all the stamps picturing the rugby players are not very nice. The design looks very artificial. Another thing I do not like is that nowhere (nor on the stamps nor on the sheet) it is explained what part of New Zealand are pictured on the two other stamps.

A quick search on the internet helped me to find out that the stamp on the left pictures Auckland (that was easy to guess). The stamp on the right pictures a view from Arthur's Pass National Park. This is a national park located on the south island that was founded in 1929. The place looks very nice. It is a real pity that none of the places are mentioned on the stamps or on the border of the sheet. Don't you think so?

The border of the sheet pictures the logo of the Rugby World Cup 2011. In fact this is the same logo for each world cups, only the year changes. Also the sheet pictures the flag of the twenty countries participating to the final part of the competition: South Africa, England, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Scotland, USA, Fiji, France, Wales, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Namibia, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Samoa and Tonga.

To be noted that, as far as I know, this is the first time that Russia is qualified for the final competition!

On the background of the sheet there is a design looking like Maori tattoos that are rather well known now (and are rather famous among rugby players).

Here are two FDC of this stamp issue with two nice different cancellations.

On the same day, French post has issued a stamp made of silver. This stamp is sold in a plastic protective capsule included in a cardboard card of the size of a credit card. Here is a view of both side of the card.

The stamp has a high face value (5 Euro) and I'm pretty sure nobody is going to use this stamp on mail... On the back side it is written that the stamp should be kept in the protective capsule because otherwise it may blackened because of oxidation. In know from experience that even if kept in this capsule, the stamp is going to blacken!

This is not the first time the French post issues a silver stamp (check here my blog post on the first one).

This silver stamp is for me more a curiosity than a real postal item...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Short period of usage…

On the 1st of July 2011, the postal rates in France have changed. For instance the rate for a standard letter (below 20g) has increased from 0.58€ to 0.60€. Interestingly, on the 27th of June, so only four days earlier, the French postal administration has issued the two following stamps, still with a face value of 0.58€.

The stamp on the left was issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the “Chemins de fer de provence” an old railway company located in the south of France which is now running a unique route between Nice and Digne-les-bains. This route, that opened in 1911, is locally referred as the “train des pignes” (the pine nuts train) as indicated on the stamp.

The stamp on the right pictures Varengeville-sur-Mer, a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.

The change of postal rates means that those two stamps could be used only during four days to frank, alone, a standard letter. This is the case of the cover I have received and that I share with you below.

The very short period during which these stamps could be used alone on a letter makes this cover a curiosity.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Place Jean Jaurès, Montrouge

Time has run so fast since last time I wrote in that blog… I did so many things, including another trip to China and some other stuff… My “frogs of the world” challenge starts pretty well, I will give you some news on this in a near future.

But for today I have chosen something different. I’m not going to speak about stamps. Well at least not at the beginning of this post. I’m going to speak about postcards. I do not collect postcards (except may be maximum cards when they fit into my topics). But I do have several friends who do. I recently had an interesting discussion with one of them. He was trying to convince me to start collecting postcards. But it did not really succeed. In order to show me how funny it could be, he told me that he could probably find postcards picturing the place where I was born or the place where I live. It triggered my curiosity. I was quite sure that no postcards exist picturing the place where I was born, but I was really surprised when he showed me postcards picturing where I actually live.
I live in Montrouge, a small city located in the suburb of Paris. It is in the south of Paris, at the border of the 14th arrondissement for those who know Paris. I live just near a nice place called Place Jean Jaures. This is a large place, with a large roundabout where a fountain is located. My friend found the following postcards that picture the place at different periods in time. I’m not sure I ordered the cards in the right chronological order, as they are not dated. Some are used so we can not the date form the cancel on the stamp, but some others are not used. What is sure is that the last one is the most recent one and pictures a view of the place which is very similar than the way it looks today.

The oldest card must date from the 30’s. It is interesting to see how much the pace has changed over the time. The central fountain seems to be a rather recent addition. It is also interesting to see how the people, the cars and all the rest have changed. This is like a sort of time travel.

Some information about the man who gave the name of the place. Jean Léon Jaurès was born in 1859 and he was a leader of the French socialist party from 1902. In 1905 his party merged with another one to become the SFIO (French Section of the Workers International). He was an antimilitarist and was assassinated in July 1914. He is very famous in France and his name has been given to a lot of places, streets and avenues in various cities.

As I am an incorrigible philatelist, I had a look to the stamps that were issued by French postal administration picturing Jaurès. Two stamps have been issued in 1936.

One was issued in 1959 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth.

One was issued in 1981 picturing the Panthéon that is located in Paris and that contains the remainings of distinguished French citizens, including Jaurès.

(all the stamp pictures of this post comes from the excellent website :
Phila Echange)