Thursday, September 29, 2011

Very nice cover from Iceland

Today I would like to share with you a very nice cover that I received from Iceland. Thank you Benedickt for this sending!

The cover is franked with a full souvenir sheet issued on the 4th of May 2011 to commemorate the opening of Harpa, the Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre. Harpa is the home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Icelandic Opera. The building was designed by Henning Larsen Architects and Batterid Architects with acoustics conceived by Artec Consultants Inc., the building is equipped with technologically advanced sound. The multi-faceted glass facade is the result of collaboration between the artist Olafur Eliasson and Henning Larsen Architects. The facades remind the crystallized basalt columns commonly found in Iceland.

This is this stunning façade which is pictured on the souvenir sheet, with the stamps embedded in the window design. The stamps can be visually isolated only thanks to their different colors. It gives a rather fascinating result and I really like the unusual aspect of this souvenir sheet

Monday, September 26, 2011

Philatelic documents

For almost each stamp issued in France, the French postal administration, La Poste, issues also a philatelic document. This is a limited edition item printed on a A4 paper that contains:

- a copy of the stamp, cancelled with the first day cancel
- a recess-printed monochrome version of the stamp
- a text about the stamp and a related illustration
- the dry stamp of the printers to authenticate the document

This is usually a nice item. I think that in the past, collecting such items was rather popular. This is less the case nowadays I think. You can buy these philatelic documents during the first day ceremony or from the website of the French postal administration.

Why do I write about it? Because I received recently from the French post an offer to subscribe to such items so that I receive all of them in 2012 directly in my mail box. And as an appetizer the French post sent me a gift: a sort of mini philatelic document that I wanted to share with you. Here it is:

The document is related to a stamp issued in November 2010 dedicated to Villeneuve-en-Lot a city located in the south west of France.

This mini document is half the size of a normal one but contains all the standard items: a copy of the stamp, stuck on the paper sheet, a copy of the first day cancel (“Timbre à date premier jour”), a engraved monochrome version of the stamp (“Empreinte du poinçon orginal”) . And the empty square is not empty; it contains something that the scanner could not reproduce: the dry stamp of the printer. It gives an embossed drawing that you can only see when moving the paper under the light. I had to play with the contrast setting in Photoshop to make it appear in order to share it with you.

A nice gift. Even if I’m not going to subscribe to such collection which is definitely too expensive for me.

All this documentation was contained in a pre-stamped cover re-using the same design than the Villeneuve-sur-lot stamp. 
As you can see on the picture the printed stamp is similar to the real stamp except that it does not contain any face value.
Again you can not see it but the left top corner of the cover also contains the dry stamp of the printer.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Allez les bleus

I'm writing this post from the Air-France lounge of Roissy airport as I'm flying to Shanghai tonight. I will spend four days in Shanghai and I'm not sure to be able to update my blog during this period.

As you probably know, the 2011 Rugby World Cup has started yesterday in New Zealand. This morning the French team has won its first match (with some difficulties) against Japan. Good start! But they have to improve! So let's support the French team : Allez les bleus (Go the blues! Blue being the color of the French team).

I could not illustrate this post with something else than the first animated stamp issued by New Zealand on the 7th of September to celebrate the world cup.
This 3D stamp is a first for New Zealand post. It pictures a rotating Web Ellis cup, which is the trohpy that the winner will get at the end of the competition.

The trophy was crafted in 1906 and was used in 1987 for the first time as a trophy for the rugby world cup.
The Cup is silver gilded in gold, 38 centimetres tall with two cast scroll handles. On one there perches the head of a satyr, on the other the head of a nymph, the nymph, beautiful spirit of nature, forever safe from the randy aspirations of the goat-man. The terminals are a bearded mask, a lion mask and a vine.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Nantaise cow

As part of my collection of stamps picturing cattle (cow, bull, ox...) I also try to find postmarks picturing these animals. I'm not searching for thems very actively, but I'm always happy when I find one, even by accident.

The item I have selected for today is the first example of a postmark picturing a cow that I could get. Here it is.

This commemorative postmark celebrates the 2010 session of the annual fair held in Le Dresny (a small town located near Nantes, in the west of France) around a specific species of cow: La Nantaise (the Nantaise cow, that takes its name from Nantes). I do not know exactly what happens during this fair, but at least last year it was possible to get such nice postmark. 

The Nantaise cow is a type of cow that is light brown, looking very similar to the Jersey cattle. The Nantaise cow alsmost disappeared (there were only 50 left in France in 1985!) and is now a preserved species. 

Just for the pleasure here is a picture of a Nantaise cow.

(This post is dedicated to Lady Clochette. She will understand why!)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A nice cover from India and more

For today I have selected a very nice cover that I received recently from India. The cover included some interesting items that I would also like to share with you.

Let’s start by the cover.

Very colorful, isn’t it?

The cover is franked with an interesting mixture of stamps. Also the stamps are nicely positioned on the cover which gives a nice result I think.

The two stamps on the left have been issued on the 25th of May 2011 to celebrate the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit that was held from the 20th until the 25th of May in Addis Ababa. This summit is the official platform to deal with India-Africa relations. The first summit has been held in 2008 in New Delhi. The stamps have also been issued in the form of a souvenir sheet that was included in the cover.

I really like this souvenir sheet. I think the design is really nice. I like the fact that the drawing extends out of the limits of the stamps, but still the design of the stamp remains nice when cut from the sheet. These days I think that a lot of postal administration issues souvenir sheet with continuous design, but once you separate one stamp from the sheet, the design of the stamp look weird.

The stamps pictures two types of elephants: the African elephant (on the left stamp) and the Asian elephant (on the right). The African elephant is bigger (and has bigger ears) than the Asian one.

In the left top corner, the sheet also contains the emblem of the Africa-India Forum Summit with a map of India in red and a map of Africa in green.

The four other stamps on the cover have been issued on the 12th of February 2011 to commemorate 100 years of airmail. The stamps have also been issued in a very nice souvenir sheet that illustrates quite well the subject!

As you can see the sheet has been issued for Indipex 2011, the world philatelic exhibition that was held from the 12th to the 18th of February in New Delhi. The design of the souvenir sheet is rather loaded, mixing maps of airmail routes, pictures of covers, postmarks, etc.

In addition to the souvenir sheet with the elephants, the cover also included one other souvenir sheet issued on the 10th of December 2009 and picturing traditional textiles from India.

Again, this is a nice item!

Finally inside the cover there was also a First Day Cover.

This FDC bears the stamps issued on the 7th of May 2011 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). He was a poet, philosopher, musician and writer from Bengali. He is the first non European Nobel Laureate that he got in 1913 (for Literature).

The stamps picture a portrait of Rabindranath Tagore at different ages. I did not find information about the flower that is pictured on the stamp on the right…

The stamps have also been issued in a souvenir sheet.

In the background of the sheet is pictured a poem written by his hand. On the right border of the sheet his Nobel Prize is mentioned.

Souvenir sheets seem to be more and more popular and a lot of postal administrations are issuing stamps only in this format. Even though this gives nice items I’m never completely satisfied by souvenir sheets. First for the reason I mentioned above, very often the design of the stamps, once they are removed from the sheet, looks a bit strange. Also when stamps are issued only in souvenir sheets they are less often used on mails. It is very rare to use a full sheet to frank a cover (and sometimes the sheets are anyway too big). And very few people like to tear a souvenir sheet to extract the stamps to put on their mail. I do it, but this does not seem very common. So I prefer single stamps than souvenir sheets, because they seem more “postal”.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

First day covers from Burma, Brunei and Lithuania

I have recently received a set of mint FDCs through a cover exchange club. As you know I am not a big fan of mint FDCs (what I call mint FDCs are FDCs that haven’t traveled through the postal service). But I wanted to share with you three of them anyway. Two comes from countries from where I rarely (or never) got mails. And the third one is somehow related to my cow stamps collection.

Lest start by the first one, coming from Burma, or more precisely the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

The stamp was issued in 1992 for the World Campaign against AIDS. The first day cancel reuses the same design that the stamp.

The second one is coming from Brunei Darussalam

The four se-tenant stamps have been issued on the 23rd of February 2004 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Day. The stamp on the left pictures Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at the United Nations. Hassanal Bolkiah is the 29th Sultan of Brunei since 1967 and since 1984 he is the first prime minister. His portrait is also present on the right top corner of each stamp.
The last stamp on the right pictures an emblem which is also pictured on the official first day cover. The red emblem included in this design is the national crest of Brunei.

The National Crest of Brunei Darussalam was developed from a Royal emblem. It was superimposed on the National flag after promulgation of the 1959 Brunei Constitution.
The crest consists of (from top to bottom):
- Bendera - the flag
- Payung Ubor-Ubor - the Royal Umbrella
- Sayap - the wing
- Tangan (Kimhap) - the hands
- Bulan - the crescent

The Bendera and Payung Ubor-Ubor have been Royal regalia's since the creation of the crest. The Sayap - the wing of four feathers - symbolizes the protection of justice, tranquility, prosperity and peace.
Tangan or Kimhap - the hands - signify the Government's duty to promote welfare, peace and prosperity.
Bulan - the crescent - is the symbol of Islam, the national religion of Brunei Darussalam.
On the crescent is written the National motto: "Always in service with God's guidance".
The scroll beneath the crest reads "Brunei Darussalam" which means "Brunei, the abode of peace".

Finally the third one is from Lithuania.  

The three stamps have been issued on the 18th of October 1997 and picture coat of arms of various cities. From left to right: Neringa, Vilkaviskis and Pasvalys.
As you can see the coat of arms of Pasvalys pictures the head of a bull with a ring in the nose, so the stamp will find its place in my cattle on stamps collection.

By the way this is interesting to notice that there are several examples of coat of arms through the world that include a cow, an ox or a bull in their design. This is an interesting subject for a future post. If you know some stamps picturing such symbols, please drop me a mail! Thanks

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Why do we bother ?

Yes, why do we bother? Why do we bother using valid postage stamps on our mail while item franked with fantasy stamps seem to go through the French postal service without problem?

I have already shared with you in a previous post that came to me with a laber from a famous cheese brand instead of a valid postage stamp. Today I’m sharing with you another one, this time bearing an ad for Milka, the chocolate brand, in place of a postage stamp. And it arrived in my mail box without issue, with even a proper mechanical cancellation!

This cover was sent by a friend. He has used on the cover what I think is called an artistamp, i.e. a creation from a mail artist. Artistamps are not intended to full the postal service, and they do not copy the design of an actual postage stamp (as fake stamps would do). Some artists nevertheless try to get their creation through the postal service as apart of the artistic process. Creating artistamps is a form of mail art as you can read in this interesting article available on Wikipedia

I think that the “stamp” on the cover is really nice, really a piece of art, and it looks as nice as many stamps issued by the French post ;-) It uses the lilac cow that is part in all ads of the chocolate brand.

What is funny is that, not only this is not a real stamp, but also it is not even inscribed “France” but “Switzerland”, the country from which the Milka brand is originating. And the cancelling machine did not detect anything!