Sunday, January 29, 2012

French stamps issued in January 2012 and planned for February

I just received from the French post the calendar presenting all stamp issues to come in 2012. I then decided to share it with you, and to take this opportunity to show you the stamps already issued so far. I will also give you a glimpse of the issues to come in February. I will try to do the same at each beginning of a month.

Let start by the calendar itself. Here is the font and back covers giving a quick summary of the stamp issues for the year to come.

Inside the calendar there are some information about the various websites and products from La Poste. And also, for each month, there is one page giving the planned issues.

Here is the page for January.

As shown on the picture, since the beginning of the year, three different stamp issues have been emitted.

First the souvenir sheet for the year of the dragon has been issued on the 9th of January.

I already wrote in this blog that I am not a big fan of these series about Chinese lunar year, but I must admit this one is rather nice (even though this is not my preferred one, but I will come back on this in a later post). It is true also that a dragon is by itself more graphic than other animals...

Then on the 16th of January was issued the now usual heart shaped stamps.

This year the stamps have been designed by Adeline Andre, a fashion designer that I must admit I did not know. As usual the set contains one single stamp and a sheet of five.

The particularity of the stamps on the sheet is that they are transparent, so that they act as a sort of love tattoo on the cover.

To conclude January issues, here is the “art” booklet issued on the 23th of January. The booklet contains twelve self-adhesive stamps. The stamps go by pari: one of the stamp pictures a piece of art printed in offset, and the other one pictures the same piece of art printed in recess-printing.

Then here is a quick look on the stamps planned for February.

Four issues are planned:
  • On the 6th of February a very nice stamp picturing a painting from Edward Hopper. This is my favorite painter and I really look forward this stamp
  • On the 13th of February: a stamp dedicated to the Paris Mosque and a booklet entitled “say it with flowers”.
  • On the 20th of February a stamp dedicated to Henri Queville

But I will come back on those stamps when they are issued.

As usual, if you are interested in one the new issue and you need some help to get it, don't hesitate to contact me.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Buying the 2012 Australian legends stamps in Melbourne

 This is my last day in Australia. I am currently in Melbourne, and tomorrow I will fly back to Paris via Singapore. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about my new experience in an Australian post office, trying to buy stamps. But first let me give you the context.

On the 20th of January, Australian post has issued a set of eight stamps in the series “Australian legends” started in 1997. Each year since 1997, the Australian Legends Award has recognized outstanding individuals for their part in shaping the social and cultural life of Australia.

In 2012, the Australia Post Australian Legends award celebrates eight doyens of football, champions past and present. The four categories are:
-        Australian rules football, with Ron Barassi and Gary Ablett
-        Rugby league, with John Raper and Billy Slater
-        Rugby union, with David Campese and David Pocock
-        Soccer, with Joe Marston and Mark Schwarzer

Here are the eight stamps.

As usual, the Australian post has issued a huge number of philatelic products around this issue, such as the stamp pack, the maximum cards, the fdc, the gutter pairs.

And I don’t show you the booklets (one for each stamp), the booklet of booklets (yes!), the deluxe presentation pack and I don’t know what else. Gosh, you must be rich if you want to collect all items related to new stamp issues in Australia!

As you can imagine, I am interested in this stamp issue because two of the stamps are related to Rugby Union, my favorite sport and topic for collection. I therefore decided to try to buy the stamps from a post office in Melbourne. Just near the GPO, an old building that must have been a General Post Office in the past but which is now a shopping center, I found a large post shop from Australia shop. I decided to try this place. First thing that surprised me when entering is that you could find there a lot of things not at all related to postal service. For instance you could buy some plastic things to protect your toothbrush!
Then in a corner of the shop there was a large window display with all the recent stamps and philatelic issues. I was delighted as this is exactly what I was looking for! It was written that all these items are sold at the postal desk, you just needed to ask the clerk. So I queued at the postal desk. Then I was welcomed by a very nice lady. When I asked her the stamp pack from the 2012 Australian legend then I felt she did not really understand what I wanted. I thought that my (bad) accent was the cause of the trouble, so I pointed to the poster just behind her, advertizing the product I was looking for. She looked at the poster and looked back at me and then said “I’m not sure we have it”. Then I thought “come on, why do you have posters advertizing the items and why do you have this big display if you don’t have them!” but I did not say that, of course, and simply asked: could you check? She then disappeared for five minutes, and then came back with a large smile: she had found it! I was relieved. At this stage I did not dare asking her about the FDC and the maximum cards that I would have liked to purchase also. I can get them from another source (internet for instance).

As a conclusion I would say that it seems the situation in Australia is very comparable, as far as stamps are concerned. The number of issues (and related items) is big, probably bigger than in France. And it seems less and less common to buy stamps from a post office. It seems everything is done to encourage you to buy stamps from the internet. We can be a bit worried about our hobby!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Twenty... and counting

Twenty! This is the number of countries from where I already received a frog cover for my mail art project “the frogs of the world challenge” (on top of which I can add two from regional area). And there are more, travelling to my mail box at the time I’m writing these lines.

For this post I wanted to share with you the three last ones I got, because, as you will see, there are the results of an experiment. I recently had the idea to try a trick to get such frog covers from countries where I have low chance to go. I decided to get some stamps from the desired country, to prepare my cover and sent it to the philatelic service of the country, asking them that they simply send it back to me. The cover is already franked so I did not see any reason why they would refuse. I selected three “friendly” philatelic services to start my experimentation: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. And as you will see below, it worked from the three of them.
All three covers below are “over franked” as I could not decide myself to break the stamp set I had bought and decided to use the whole set on the cover. And I really like the result.

The first one I tried was Iceland. I used the set of four stamps issued on the 27h of January 2011 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Here the cover I got back.

Nice one isn’t it? They nicely added the “air mail” blue label and the postmark from Reykjavik is really clean.
The four stamps picture endangered birds: from left to right and top to bottom: the Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis), the White-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), the Common scoter (Melanitta nigra) and the Gadwall (Anas strepera). All stamps also contain the WWF logo in the top left corner.

Encouraged by this success, I tried Liechtenstein. For this one I used a set of four stamps issued on the 14th of November 2011 and dedicated to castles in Liechtenstein. Here is the cover.

The four stamps picture four different castles as they looked by at the end of the 19th century (so sometimes they are in ruins). The stamps are based on paintings from the artist Moriz Menzinger (1832-1914). Clockwise, the stamps picture the following castles:
- the Schalun ruin in the Vaduz Forest
- the Vaduz Castle viewed from the north
- the Gutenberg Castle in Balzers
- the Schellenberg ruins

Again the stamps have been cleanly cancelled. What seems strange for me is the date on the cancel: 23.14.11 ? Is it a mistake ?
This cover is by the way the first cover I get from Liechtenstein and bearing stamps!

Finally, before leaving for Australia for my vacation, I tried a third country: Luxembourg. I used a set of four stamps issued on the 6th of November 2011. This set is the second in a series about “trades of yesterdays”.

 The nice stamps picture old trades: the potter, the joiner, the printer, the stonemason. It is not very visible on the scan, but all small symbols pictured in the left bottom corner of the stamps are printed in gold.
Again a nice and clean cancel on the stamps.

I may try again this experimentation with different countries. I will let you know the results. Once again, if you want to help me in my project, just drop me a mail and I will tell you how you can help!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Year of the Dragon stamps from Australia

I am writing this post from my hotel room in Sydney where I spend very nice holidays.  The weather is warm and nice, even if a little bit cloudy.

Yesterday, Tuesday the 10th of January was the first day of issue of the stamps celebrating the Chinese New year, the Year of the Dragon, issued by Australian post. Of course, as you can imagine, I could not miss the opportunity to visit a post office to try to buy some of the stamps are related products.
As during my last stay in Sydney in 2009, buying stamps (well more exactly buying the stamps you want) in a post office is almost as impossible as in France! I finally found what I was looking for, at the Sydney Philatelic Center, located not very far from my hotel.
I’m not really a big fan of the stamps issued for the Chinese New Year. Very often this is only the occasion for postal administrations to draw money away from collectors. And as usual, Australian post did not hesitate: the number of philatelic items issued for the occasion is really huge! Let’s have a look to what I have seen.

First the stamp set itself.

The stamps show the development of the Chinese character for the Dragon, shown fully in the $1.80 stamp, and the way it is derived from its pictorial representation, shown in the 60c stamp. Paper cut motifs are used to represent the Dragon in the 60c stamp. The Dragon occupies a special place in the Chinese zodiac, being the only mythical creature among them. 

The stamps can also be purchased with decorated gutter.

Then there is the miniature sheet.

The miniature sheet tells the story (in Chinese and English) about the helpful, soft-hearted Dragon who, although expected to win the race because he could fly, only came fifth because he stopped during the race to create rain to break a severe drought and then aided the rabbit, a fellow competitor, by gently blowing him across the river on a raft.

Followed by the now usual zodiac sheetlet.

There is a special gold foil overprinting on the stamps, minisheet and zodiac sheetlet.

You can add on top a stamp pack that can be used as a greeting card.
 On the postal stationeries side you can find a postal card and two pre-paid envelopes.

And I don’t show you the FDCs, the prestige booklet and other miscellaneous items! Ouf!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A commemorative cover from Germany

Here is a very nice cover that I received from Germany.

The cover has been designed by its sender to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the New Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in German) located in Berlin.

The “old” church was consecrated in 1895. It was named in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm by his grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II. The church was widely destroyed in 1943 during a bombing raid.

The “new” church, designed by Egon Eiermann, consists on four buildings grouped around the remaining ruins of the old church. Among those four building there is an impressive tower that is 54m high. The new church was consecrated in 1961.

The stamp used on the cover was issued to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the new church. It pictures the tower of the new church and the reaming part of the old one. Another view has been used by the sender of this letter to illustrate the cover on the left side. I think the mixture between the old and the new buildings gives a very stunning result!
The stamp is cancelled with the commemorative postmark which is very nice also.

Also as an illustration, you can see a picture of a 1953 stamp that pictures the old church as it was before its destruction. Here is a copy of the original stamp.

The old and new churches have appeared several times on stamps.

In 1956 a stamp was issued picturing the remaining ruins of the old church after the bombing.

The top of the old church also appears on a 1961 stamps.

The old and new churches appear together on a 1965 stamp illustrating the “New Berlin”.

And again they appear on a 1987 stamp commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin.

The 100th anniversary of the consecration of the old church was also celebrated by a stamp in 1995.

Just to close this philatelic illustration, a stamp issued in 2004 pictures part of the old and new churches in the background of a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Egon Eiermann, its designer.

To complete the franking, the cover also bears a label picturing the top of the Brandenburg Gate that I don’t need to introduce as it is probably the most famous landmark of Berlin!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

A cover from Dubai

I have received and scanned the cover that illustrates this post since a while now, but I never found the time to share it with you. This is a pity because I think this is the first cover I receive from UAE (United Arab Emirates). This one is coming from Dubai (Thank you very much Ganesh for this nice cover).

So here is the cover bearing five large and nice stamps.

The stamp located in the top right corner was issued on the 2nd of December 2009 to celebrate the 38th National Day. The National Day is celebrated on the 2nd of December each year in the United Arab Emirates. It marks the UAE's formal independence from the United Kingdom and the eventual unification of the seven emirates in 1971 which combined to form the modern-day country. The stamp pictures the official emblem of the 38th National Day that reuses the four colors of the national flag: green, red, black and white.

The stamp located on the left of the preceding was issued on the 4th of April 2011 to commemorate the 17th GCC Stamp Exhibition that was held in Abu Dhabi. The stamp reuses the same color code and picture the head of the Peregrine Falcon, the national bird and symbol of UEA. I think the result is really nice.

You can see this Peregrine Falcon on the two other stamps that are part of the definitive series issued on the 2nd of April 2009. The full set contains seven stamps where the design mixes the falcon with the Arabic symbol of the country.

The last stamp was issued on the 31st of May 2011 to celebrate the 5th Gulf federation for cancer control conference that was held from the 5th to the 7th of May in Sharjah. The stamp pictures the logo of the conference.

I must admit that I did not now so much about the modern stamps of UEA and this cover is really a nice addition to my covers collection!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Frogs in space! A commemorative cover

Do you know what an OFO is? (No I did not make a typo, I did not mean an UFO (unidentified flying object). I really meant an OFO. It stands for Orbiting Frog Otolith.
This is the name of a NASA space program that resulted in the launch in 1970 of a spacecraft, sending two bullfrogs into orbit for the study of the effect of weightlessness.

The name “Otolith” refers to the part of the inner ear that is associated with the equilibrium control. The purpose of the mission was to investigate the effect of microgravity on the otolith. Bullfrogs have been chosen because they have an inner ear labyrinth that is very similar to the ones of human.

Initially planned in 1966 (what a great year ;-) ) the OFO was orbited on the 9th of November 1970. It staid in orbit for seven days, no recover was planned (which means that the fate of the two poor frogs was fixed since the beginning…)

As almost all space programs this event has been commemorated via postal covers. Here is one.

The left side of the cover pictures the details of the OFO spacecraft.

The cover is cancelled on the day of the launch with a mechanical cancel from Wallops Island, Virginia. Wallops Island is a small island located off the east coast of Virginia. It hosts Wallops Flight Facility operated by NASA since 1945 to launch all sort of rockets, including the one that orbited the OFO.

The cover is franked with a nice stamp issued by USA on the 9th of July 1970 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the statehood of state of Main. Main became a state on the 15th of March 1820. The stamp pictures a painting from my one of my favorite painters, Edward Hopper. The painting is called “Lighthouse at two lights” and is currently displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

On my way to Australia

I am currently travelling to Australia for a bit more than three weeks vacation. I'm not sure I will be able to update my blog during this time. So if not, see you end of January when I'm back!