Sunday, October 07, 2012

Errors on stamps… even on the country name!

Errors on stamps are more frequent than we can imagine. This is always surprising for me as I guess a stamp goes through a big numbers of controls before being issued. But still, from time to time a stamp is issued by a postal administration with an error on it. Sometimes the mistake is in the legend of the stamp, a wrong date, a wrong name or something wrong in the design. 
I recently received a stamp that contains a more spectacular mistake: the error is in the spelling of the country itself!

The stamp is part of a set of two picturing commercial jets. It was issued recently by Macedonia. Here is the stamp.

And here is the second stamp of the set which bears the right spelling of the country.

As you can see, on the first stamp, the Cyrillic equivalent for E is missing. The result is something like Macdonia instead of Macedonia. 

I think the stamp was withdrawn by the postal administration. I don’t know if they re-issued a correct one or not. I check on Ebay and the price for the wrong stamp is not so high so I guess this stamp must not be so scarce. 

Saturday, October 06, 2012

A nice set of stamps from Monaco issued in 1966

If you follow my blog regularly you have probably noticed that, recently, I haven’t updated it very frequently. I’m quite busy these last days, not to say these last weeks. Busy at work, with very few free time to allocate to philately. And this very little time I have decided to dedicate it to putting some order into my stamps collection.  Indeed my stamps collections are becoming a mess. I have for instance decided to scan all items of my collection of stamps issued in 1966 in order to display them on a dedicated website (I will communicate you the URL when it starts to be good enough). This exercise gives me the opportunity to go through some very nice stamps issued 46 years ago (Damned! I’m 46 already…), much nicer than a lot of stamps issued recently. There are some beauties that I would have loved to see on my incoming mails.

I would like to share with you the last set that I scanned. This is a set of five stamps issued by Monaco on the 1st of February 1966 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the birth of Dante. I guess, I don’t need to say who was Dante degli Aligheri (often referred as Dante). He was the major Italian poet of the Middle Ages who write the Divine Comedy, a masterpiece of Italian literature. 
Dante’s exact date of birth is not really known but the best assumption is that he was born in 1265, so this set of stamps should normally have been issued in 1965. Moreover each stamp is inscribed 1965 but in fact the set was really issued only in 1966. I did not find any explanation of this delay so far. If a specialist of Monaco stamps has the information I would be happy to ear from him/her.

The stamps are rather large and recess printed. The first one pictures a portrait of Dante himself. 

On the left part I guess this is Beatrice, the woman he loved, even though he married another one and on right side this is the evocation of evil or Hell.

The other stamps picture various scenes of the Divine Comedy, the master work of Dante.  The Divine Comedy (“Divina comedia” originally simply called “Comedia”) describes Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Paradise (Paradiso). The Divine Comedy is a poem composed of 14233 lines divided into three canticas: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. The poem is written in the first person. 

Inferno, is the first part. Hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth. If we add the introduction this gives a structure of 9+1 that can be found also in the two other parts of the poem.

At the beginning of his journey Dante enters a dark wood in front of a mountain and is assailed by three beast: a lion, a leopard and a she-wolf. The second stamp of the set pictures Dante in front of the leopard, symbolizing lust.

Right after, Dante is rescued by the poet Virgil who will guide him through Hell and Purgatory. The third stamp pictures Dante and Virgil boating across the muddy swanp of the 5th Circle. 

Purgatorio is the second part of the work. The structure 9+1 is again seen in the structure of this part. The fourth stamp pictures a scene taking place in the purgatory with Dante watching the arrogants.

Finally Paradisio closes the Divine Comedy and reusus the 9+1 structure with 9 spheres and one last part called the Empyrean. The last stamp of the set evokes Paradise. Dante is pictured on this stamp with Saint Bernard and Beatrice his first and only true love.

Nice set of stamps, don’t you think? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Back from London

I'm just back from London where I spent a very nice week of holidays. Actually, I arrived in London at the last day of the Paralympic games and I could attend to the Marathon. A very impressive experience.

I did not intend to give any philatelic twist to this trip to London as I was travelling with someone not interested in stamps at all. But nevertheless, you can not really escape from stamps, can you?

When I visited the London 2012 shop in COven Garden, I found that you could buy presentation pack containing one Pin's and one stamp from the 30 stamps series issued by Royal Mail in order to announce the Olympic games. Here is the exemple of the Athletics stamp, the number 1 in the series.

And here is the Aquatics one. The number 17 in teh series.

As you can see, the pin's is on the top and reproduce exaclty the stamp design. The stamp is included in a platsic cap. I found this way of presenting the stamp very strange. I could not find a way to take out the stamp without tearing everything apart (which I did not do). So I guess these items are made to be collected like that... A bit weird I think. 
I also saw on Royal Mail website that they also sell the same pack with a commemorative coin instead of the pin's.

Speaking about coins, at the London 2012 shop you could also buy "coin covers" including a stamp with an associated cancellation and a commemorative coin. Here is the exemple of the Athletics one.

In fact they are not covers. They are pieces of cardbord on which the stamp is stuck and the coin is affixed. The cancellation is not an actual postal mark if I understood well. So again a strange item I think.

Anyway the London Olympic and Paralympic games were a very great event and I'm glad to have participated to at least a small part of it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cute frog on prepaid evelope from Canada

On the 16th of July the Canadian post issued a pre-paid envelope bearing a printed stamp picturing a cute frog. The enevlope is sold with a card bearing the same picture.

Here is the envelope and a zoom on the "stamp".

Here is the card.

This envelope is part of a series called "write me back". The idea is that you send a note to your friends, putting the card and the enevelope in your letter so thatthey can write you bakc. Several designs exist in this series.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Edith Piaf and Miles Davis on a FDC from USA

I recently received this nice FDC from USA and decided to share it with you as it gives me the opportunity to come back on a stamp set that I really like.

As you can see this is a First Day Cover for the two stamps issued jointly between France and USA to celebrate the shared cultural history between both countries. The stamp pictures two legends that I don’t need to present: Miles Davis and Edith Piaf. The choice of both artists is not an accident. Edith Piaf is one of the very few (very very few) French singers who became famous in the USA.  Miles Davis is beloved in France where he performed frequently. He was even made a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor, a very important distinction in France.
I really like those stamps. You may have a better view on this scan coming from the USPS website.

I already wrote about this issue in a previous post where I showed the stamps issued also by France and a FDC that I sent to myself.

Both countries have adopted exactly the same design for the stamps, nevertheless there are some differences. The names of the artists are written in color on the stamps from the USA while it is in black & white on the French stamps. I must say that I prefer the choice of French postal administration as it goes very well with the rest of the stamp.
Two other differences to be noted: the USA stamps are “forever” stamps, meaning they don’t have a specific face value but they are valid “forever” for postage at the standard rate within the USA. The French stamps bear face values: the standard letter rate within France for the stamp picturing Miles Davis and the standard rate for a letter to the USA for the stamp picturing Edith Piaf. Also the French stamps are gummed stamps while the stamps from USA are self-adhesive.
Another difference: the American stamps are sold in the form of a sheet of twenty stamps (ten of each). On the back of the sheet there is a QR code, that once scanned with your smart phone, leads you to a website full of information about both artists. See below the back of the sheet.

As you can see also on the FDC, the two postal administrations have made very different choices for the first day cancel. I like the one from USA but I think it gives disappointing results with the black silhouettes on the black background of the stamps.

I read an interview from Greg Breeding, the creator of the stamps,  that was very interesting. He explained that he started going though a lot of pictures from Miles Davis first and he was struck by the way Miles Davis often leaned back while playing the trumpet. Then going through pictures of Edith Piaf he realized how she used her body and hands to express her voice. He finally selected the two pictures of the stamps on which Edith Piaf and Miles Davis share a diagonal position that gives a very attractive symmetry to the stamps.

This is not the first time that Edith Piaf appears on a French stamp. She was already the subject of a stamp issued in 1990.

No French stamp so far had been issued picturing Miles Davis, and this is the first time, I think, that both artists appear on the stamp from the USA.

This joint issue between France and USA is the fourth one. The first one was in 1983 with a common issue to celebrate the US bicentennial (each postal administration issued one stamp with a different design). The second one was in 1986 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty (each countries issued a stamp with the same design). And the last one was in 1989 to celebrate the bicentenary of the French Revolution (USA issues one stamp and France issued a se-tenant set of three stamps).

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A simple but nice cover from Italy

The Olympic Games of London are not the only story filling the news these days, there is also the landing of Curiosity rover on Mars, the red planet. On this last event I’m shared between being impressed by what human being can do and being sad that we can spend such a huge amount of money for this sort of activity instead of solving the problems we have on Earth. Anyway… 

As a funny coincidence I have received this week a cover from Italy bearing a space related stamp so I decided to share it with you. Also the cover has a very clean cancel, despite the fact that this is not a “philatelic” cancel: this is more and more difficult to get such clean postmark. 

So here is the cover. 

And here is a closer look at the stamp.

The stamp was issued on the 12th of April 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first man in Space, Yuri Gagarin. Indeed on the 12th of April 1961, the spacecraft Vostok I completed an orbit of the Earth with Yuri Gagarin on board. Gagarin is very famous, so no need to introduce him I guess. He was born in 1934 so he was 27th when he accomplished his mission. I’m quite impressed by the risk these guys were taking at this time.

The Italian stamp pictures Gagarin at the time of his flight, and the Vostok I spacecraft in the background. For information the first day cancel of this stamp issue re-used exactly the same design than the stamp (here is a picture coming from Italian post website).

Gagarin has been pictured on a huge number of stamps. Only one from France, as far as I know. A stamp issued in 2001 to celebrate the century and commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first man in space.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

New frog stamps from Montenegro !

Today I’m happy to add one country to the list of countries that have issued stamps picturing frogs: Montenegro. On the 21st of May 2012, Montenegro has issued a set of two stamps illustrating the protection of the environment.  Both stamps picture an endangered animal wearing a life buoy to illustrate the “protection”.
One stamp pictures a duck and the other one pictures a frog!

Monday, August 06, 2012

London 2012

If I tell you 4, 14 and 30 ? Do you see the link? These are the ranks of the Olympic Games organized in London: the 4th ones in 1908, the 14th ones in 1948 and the 30th ones that are on going.

I don't know for you, but I really enjoy watching the Games on TV. The opening ceremony was great, the performance of the French team is really not bad with, so far, eight gold medals, nine silver ones and nine bronze ones! Twenty six medals, and more to come!

Why do I speak about London 2012? Because today I want to share with you the nice cover that I received from Alegeria, sent by Ouari. Thank you very much for this cover.

As you can see the cover is decorated with various symbols of London and with the logo of the games. The cover is franked with one of the two stamps issued by Algeria at the end of June to celebrate the Olympic Games. Here is a close up of the stamp, picturing rowing, with the famous Tower Bridge in the background.

The second stamp of the set pictures judo with the London Eye in the background.

Algeria is present at Lodon 2012 with 39 athlets competing in twelve sports: Taekwando, Fencing, Athletics, Boxing, Volleyball, Rowing, Wrestling, Shooting, Judo, Weightlifting, Swimming and Cycling.

At the time I write these lines, Algeria hasn't won any medals yet, but I'm sure this will come!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Franchise post office in Canada

I’m always very happy when I get feedback from visitors of my blog and when they help me to get more information on the subject I’m writing about. This happened again recently: I received a nice letter from a visitor from Canada, as an echo to my post that you can read here.

In his letter, he explained me that the place where I went, a drug store,  is a franchise post office. He told me that there are a few “traditional post offices” left but many are these franchises now. If you mail a letter from there, you pay the same price than from a traditional post office, but sending parcels will cost more.

To illustrate this he sent me his letter from such drug store. Here it is.

As you can see the cover has been postmarked with a large rectangle cancel indicating the origin:  Shopper’s Drug Mart.
In the top right corner, the fuzzy printing is the official postmark from the Canadian post that seems to have been applied several times.

Thank you very much for this cover and for the detailed information!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Topical vs Thematic: choose your side

I am a member of the ATA, the American Topical Association.  As such I receive, every two months, the very good publication “Topical Time” that I always read with a lot of pleasure.  In the last May-June issue there is a big debate about Topical Philately vs Thematic Philately.

As first glance I thought it was a rather rhetoric debate. The main reason is that in French we don’t really make a difference between Topical and Thematic: we use the same word “Thématique”.  But reading further the articles and letters to the editor I realized that there is a real difference that I wanted to share with you.

A topical philatelist (well I would prefer to say a topical stamp collector if you don’t mind), so a topical stamp collector is interested in a TOPIC and collects all stamps that picture his/her TOPIC.

A thematic stamp collector is also interested in a TOPIC but he/her will choose a thematic approach for this topic and will collect all stamps that help him/her to illustrate the theme.

For instance: I am a topical stamp collector, because I do collect all stamps picturing frogs.

But I could have chosen a thematic approach such as “frogs in their natural environment” and I would have added to my collection stamps picturing water-lilies (where you often find frogs) or dragonflies (that are part of the diet of frogs).

Also in this case I would not search for each and every stamp picturing frogs, but just enough stamps to illustrate the story I would like to tell.
Another example of a thematic approach would be to tell about frogs in fairy tales and my collection could include stamps picturing famous authors of those tales.

As you can see, both ways of collecting are not really in opposition. They are more complementary. And in fact the thematic collection is more a collection built for exhibition. I never saw a philatelist exhibiting his/her topical collection by showing all the stamps he/she had gathered on the topic. But each time they choose a “story to tell” and they use stamps to illustrate it as in the thematic approach.

The reading was really interesting. And now I know that I’m a topical collector and not a thematic one ;-)

What about you? 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Frog on coins

I already took the opportunity of this blog to share with you some coins picturing frogs. I am not a coin collector, but this is always interesting to see what type of coins exist for my topic.
When I browsed the website of the Australian post to buy the stamps I shared with you in my previous post, I came across a nice coin, picturing a frog in color. So I decided to get it, just of the pleasure. This coin is of course only an object for collection and is not intended to be used in daily life, contrarily to the one I already showed in my blog.

Here is the coin, sold in a protective pack.

Here is the other side of the pack.

The frog that is pictures on the coin is a Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroborree)

This species of frog was also pictured on several stamps, including a definitive Australian stamp from 1982.

This frog is very colorful and you understand easily why it was chosen to be pictured on stamps.
'Corroboree' is an Indigenous Australian word for a gathering or meeting where traditionally the attendees paint themselves with yellow markings similar to those of this frog.
Corroboree frogs are the first vertebrates discovered that are able to produce their own poisonous alkaloids. The alkaloid is secreted from the skin as a defense against predation, and potentially against skin infections by microbes. Corroboree frogs are quite unusual in their nature. Not only do they not start breeding until four years of age, they also hibernate during winter under whatever shelter they can find. Males stay with the egg nests and may breed with many females over the course of one season.
The species is highly endangered by man activities.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Farming in Australia (II)

Few months ago I have shown you a set of stamps issued by Australia related to farming and that I was happy to add to by cow stamp collection. On the 26th of June 2012, Australian postal administration has issued a second set of four stamps in the same series. I am not really sure that this subject deserved a second set on the same year… but I’m still very happy to add it to my collection. Australia is really on a trend of emitting a huge amount of stamps and as you will see here again, a huge amount of philatelic products related to theses issues. 

Let’s first have a look to the new set of four stamps. 

They are sold in the form of a block of four. The four stamps have the same face value. Clockwise the stamps picture the following farming activities: 

Beef cattle: with over 23 million animals, Beef cattle are one of the major farming industries across much of Australia. Hereford, Aberdeen Angus, Beef Shorthorn, Limousin, Charolais and Simmental are breads that you can find through the country. The stamp picture some Droughtmaster, a Brahman cattle cross developed in Australia for dry, harsh conditions, particularly in the north of the country. 

Oranges: Most of the citrus fruit produced every year in Australia is oranges. Mandarins, lemons, limes and grapefruit account for the remaining citrus production (around 27 per cent). The main orange varieties are Navels and Valencias. Citrus production regions are in the Riverland, South Australia; the Murray Valley in Victoria and New South Wales; the Riverina in New South Wales and the Central Burnett region in Queensland. There are also additional plantings throughout Western Australia, inland and coastal New South Wales, regions in Queensland, as well as smaller plantings in the Northern Territory. 

Sugar : Australia is the third largest raw sugar producer in the world. Eighty per cent of the country's sugar is exported, making the industry the seventh largest agricultural exporter in Australia. Australia's sugarcane is grown in high-rainfall and irrigated areas along coastal plains and river valleys on 2,100 km of Australia's eastern coast, between Mossman in far north Queensland and Grafton in New South Wales. Queensland accounts for about 95 per cent of Australia's raw sugar production, and New South Wales around 5 per cent. 

Wool : Australia is the world's leading producer of wool, accounting for around 24 per cent of global wool production. Australia is also the world's leading wool exporter. The vast majority of Australian wool is suited to the manufacture of high-quality fashion apparel. 

A nice set of stamps, and a nice stamp for my cow collection! As it was not enough the four stamps are also issued in auto-adhesive format. 

The block of four can be bought in a presentation pack, as the previous set. This time the cover is picturing sheep and not cows anymore. 

Both types of stamps can be found on official first day covers with similar first day cancels than the previous set.

Also maximum cards have been issued, reusing the same illustration that the stamps. 

Then you can also buy the stamps in the form of booklet of ten stamps. 

Or booklet of twenty stamps.

 I stop here but you can also buy a booklet of booklets ! You must really be wealthy if you want to collect all types of philatelic products produced by Australian post for each stamp issue!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My first cover from Honduras

Today I’m thrilled to share with you the first cover I have received from Honduras. Thank you Sonia for this letter and what it contained.
Sonia maintains a very nice philatelic blog (in Spanish and English)/ I invite you to visit it :

Here is the cover.

I must admit that I had a hard time finding details on the stamps used on the cover and also on the stamp sheet that Sonia sent me. I could not find any good resource on the internet to get data on stamps issued by Honduras. If you know any…

The stamp on the left on the cover is from this year and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Honduras and Korea. The stamp pictures current presidents of both countries. I do not know if it is part of a joint issue with Korea?
The second one celebrates the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship with Japan. The stamp pictures princess Sayako, the third child and only girl of Akihito, the current Emperor of Japan. The building pictured on the stamp is the National Congress Palace of Honduras, located in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

The postmark is not very readable but it seems interesting by the design of the border of the circle.

Sonia also sent me a stamp sheet issued in 2008 and picturing paintings from the artist Gaye-Darlene Bidart de Satulsky.

I did not find information about this artist…

Thank you again Sonia. I will son send you something from France in return.

Monday, July 16, 2012

In a mixture of old stamps

I have been very active on my blog these last days (not to say weeks). I have been so busy at work, including a short business trip to Shanghai for which I still feel very jetlagged… But today I decided to keep some time to write a post in my blog, to share some stamps with you.

There is one thing I really like to do when I need to relax. I like to have an unsorted mixture of stamps in front of me, and I like taking the time to examine the stamp one by one, selecting those that will go into some of my collections, putting aside those for which I want to find more information, later. I did this recently with a mixture of mint stamps that I have since ages now and that I never took the time to sort. I was so happy to find three stamps for my cow stamp collection that I decided to share them with you. I really like them.

The first one is from Colombia.

As you can see this is a surcharged and overprinted stamp. The original stamp is from 1932 and pictures cattle heads. The stamp was overprinted and surcharged on the 5th if January 1934 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Cartagena. Cartagena, Colombia is a city located on the northern coast of Colombia and was founded on June 1st 1533 and named after Cartagena, Spain. 

The second stamp I found is from Australia and pictures a boy, a girl and a calf.

It was issued on the 3rd of September 1953 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of the young farmers’ clubs.

The last one is my preferred one. It is part of a set of three stamps issued by New Zealand in January 1956 to celebrate the centennial of Southland region. Southland, the southernmost region of the South Island, was part of Otago province until the abolition of the provincial system in 1876. For a period from 1860 to 1870, Southland had its own government located in the city of Invercargill. 1956 marked in fact the centennial of the founding of the city of Invercargill. After some reluctance, the New Zealand postal administration agreed to issues a set of stamps. A design competition was launched. The chosen designs were then highly amended by the selection committee. Printed by De la Rue, the full set contains three stamps with one that fits to my cow stamps collection.
The lowest face value stamp was designed by E.R. Leeming and shows a scene of whaling activity in Foveaux Strait located between the South Island and Stewart Island.

The scene is quite impressive, and you realize the danger of this activity when you see the small boat on the stamp! (This stamp somehow reminds me of Moby Dick from Herman Melville…)

The second stamp designed by L.C.Mitchell shows an allegorical farming scene with a very nice cow!

The scene is quite surprising I think. The way the woman and the cow look at the same direction is interesting. A very nice stamp for my collection.

The last stamp of the set was designed by M.R.Smith and shows a native flightless bird, the Takahe.

The Takahe, also known as Notornis, was thought extinct for some time, until it was rediscovered in 1948.

I spent a nice time sorting out my mixture of stamps and at the end I was really happy to get three more stamps for my collection!