Wednesday, February 29, 2012

French stamps planned to be issued in March

First of all I would like to start by an apology. On this last day of February I will not be able to show you actual scans of the stamps issued by French post in February as I did for the ones issued in January. Due to unexpected personal troubles my schedule is a bit disturbed these days and I could not yet find the time to purchase them. You can check here the issues that were planned: they have all been issued according to the plan.

Now let’s see the plan for March. Here is the March page of the calendar from French post.

As you can see there will be four issues this month. 
  • on the 8th of March will be the first day of issue of a booklet of twelve self-adhesive stamps dedicated to “portraits of women in paintings”
  • on the 23rd of March, a souvenir sheet with four stamps, part of the “European capitals” series, will be issued picturing Copenhagen. This is the eleventh issue in this series started in 2002 after Rome, Luxembourg, Athens, Berlin, Nicosia, Brussels, Prague, Lisbon, Paris and Budapest
  • on the same day will be issued a single stamp dedicated to Moulins, a city located in the center of France
  • during the last weekend of March will be the first day of issue of a souvenir sheet with four stamps dedicated to “the ways to Santiago de Compostela” celebrating the famous pilgrimage to the Spanish city. To be noted that the general availability of this souvenir sheet will be in fact in April
Looking at the picture I must admit I am not very excited by the design of the last souvenir sheet (but let’s wait to have the real item in hands). The booklet seems interesting and I like the two other items.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Se-tenant Xmas stamps from New Zealand

Last year I had the opportunity to buy some stamps from the website of the New Zealand postal administration. It was some stamps related to rugby that I really wanted and I thought the best way was to buy them from the source. What I did not know at this time (well I should say what I did not notice at this time) is that when you buy from this website, you accumulate “Kiwi Points”. Of course the number of Kiwi Points is directly related to the amount of money you spend. What are those points for, you may wonder?
Well, this is simple. I recently received a letter from the New Zealand post telling me it was time for me to use my Kiwi Points accumulated in 2011. The letter invited me to go on the website to know more. I was surprised and went to see on the site. Then I found out that these points could be used to get, for free, some philatelic items! 
As I did not accumulate so many points in 2011, I was limited to some of the very first choices. Here is what I got.

This is a se-tenant strip of 2011 Xmas stamps. A nice set of stamps I think, showing various views of the nativity. The only thing I regret is that none of these nativity stamps actually shows the traditional ox. You can see the donkey, but not the ox. So I can not put them in my “cow and ox” collection ;-)
But what is worth to be noticed is that this version of the stamps, in se-tenant strip, can not be purchased from the New Zealand post. You can buy the stamps separately, but not the se-tenant version. It seems that this version of the stamps is reserved only as a bonus to get from Kiwi points. I checked again, and it seems that this is the same for all the other items you can get from this way: they are philatelic items that you can not purchase directly from the post office and therefore they are somehow rare.

Nice idea, don’t you think so?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Edward Hopper stamp… and a word about face value

As I announced in a previous post, the French postal administration has issued recently a stamp picturing a painting from Edward Hopper. As he is one of my favorite painters I would like to show you (again) the stamp that I really like.

Edward Hopper was born in 1882 in Nyack, New York and died in 1967 in New York City. He showed talent in drawing very early. He seems to have inherited from his mother his artistic abilities and from his father the love of French and Russian culture. He painted his first signed oil painting at the age of 13. After graduation he decided to follow an art career. Between 1906 and 1910 he made several trip to Paris where he found his inspiration in the streets and cafés scenes. He was attracted by realistic art. In 1924 a rupture can be seen in his work as he focuses on more American subjects: 
- common features of American life
- seascapes and rural landscape

On the emotional aspect, his paintings often reflect solitude, loneliness, regret, boredom. The solitary figures in his work are often women as in the painting “Morning sun”, from 1952, and chosen to illustrate the stamp. In this respect the stamp is very representative of his work.

Other works of Edward Hopper has been illustrated several times on stamp, mainly from the USA, as the one I showed in a previous post.

So you see, I like this stamp. It is rather large and really pays tribute to the painting.

But there is something that disturbs me about it: its face value. 1.45 euro is huge. The normal rate of a letter below 20g in France is 0.60 euro. 1.45 is the rate for a letter between 50g and 100g, so useless to say that I won’t see this stamp very often on my mail!
Note that this is the same for all large stamps from the art series issued since a long time by French post.

This is a pity, because I really like it, but if I want to use it on a cover, I will necessarily over-frank the mail. So I will loose money, and my philatelic correspondents may be unhappy to receive over-franked cover. A lot of them like to get covers with the exact franking, which I understand.

I wonder what (and who) decides the face value of a stamp? With the recent issues from France, you can hardly frank a letter with more than one “nice” stamps without over-franking the mail. I wonder if this is the same in all countries. Any feedback?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Endemic frogs from Philippine

On the 15th of December 2011 Philippine Postal administration has issued a set of four stamps and one souvenir sheet picturing frogs. All stamps picture frogs or toads that are endemic to Philippine. 
The stamps have been issued in the form of mini sheet as shown below. On all stamps are inscribed the scientific and common names of the species.

The four species pictured on these stamps are:

- the Philippine Spiny Cinamon Frog (Nyctixatus spinosus)  also called Spiny Tree Frog
- the Philippine Pygmy Forest Frog (Platymantis pygmaeus ). 
On the internet I found two possible scientific names: pygmaeus or pygmaea. I don’t know which one is correct
- the Philippine Flat-headed Frog (Barbourula busuangensis)
- the Luzon Limestone Forest Frog (Platymantis biak)

The souvenir sheet contains four other stamps:
- the Gliding Tree Frog (Rhacophorus pardalis) also called Harlequin Tree Frog
- the Northern Luzon Tree-Hole Frog (Kaloula kalingensis)  also called the  Kalinga Narrow mouth Toad
- Taylor’s Igorot Frog (Sanguirana igorota) 
- Mary Inger’s Wart Frog (Ingerama mariae) 
The souvenir sheet also contains  a lable picturing the Luzon Fanged Frog (Limnonectes macrocephalus).

Here are the official FDCs of this issue.

These covers picture again different species: the Philippine Horned Toad (Megophrys stejnegeri)  and the Lumad Spadefoot Toad (Leptobrachium lumadorum)

I bought these stamps on Ebay and I was very happy when I got them because the seller used those stamps on the registered cover to send me the items. Here is the cover I received.  

Nice, isn’t it?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

In the scope of the Chinese New Year, a lot of postal administrations have issued stamp commemorating the “year of the dragon”. I already wrote in this blog that I’m not a big fan on these stamps but I must admit that the dragon gives a more graphical subject than the other animals of the Chinese zodiac and the results are sometimes very nice. I would like to share with you the stamp I prefer among the issues I have seen so far. This is the stamp issued by Liechtenstein. The stamp has been issued in the form of a small souvenir sheet containing four stamps. Here is a scan of the sheet (I must admit that the scan does not really pay tribute to the real item).

It is not so clear on the scan but the stamp design uses the art of paper cut. The drawing is actually cut into the paper. It gives a very nice result I think. The stamps are self-adhesive so that they are easier to stick on an envelop I guess. I really like drawings done using paper cut…
The first top half of the sheet contains a drawing in gold (even though it appears blackish on the scan) picturing all the animals of the Chinese zodiac.
I’m not sure these stamps will be used very often on mails and they are probably only items for collection. But still, I do like them.
What is your favorite “year of the dragon” stamp?
The fact that these stamps are cut for the design remind me about an article writen by Glen Stephens I recently read is Australasia Stamp News (well I’m back from Australia remember? ;-) ) about stamps that actually have holes in their design. The article points towards the following discussion page where you can see several examples of “stamps with holes”. I was really impressed by the number of stamps presenting this particularity. It could be a subject of collection by itself it seems!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Covers from Indonesia

What is nice when you leave for several weeks in holidays is that when you come back you find your mailbox full of mails. This is what happened to me last week when I came back after three weeks and a half in Australia. Well, technically speaking, I did not find my mail box full because I had asked the postal administration to keep the mail for me, fearing that my mail box would not be big enough! And I was right. I was thrilled when I came back from the post office with a large bag full of envelopes. I started sorting everything in four stacks:
  • one for the junk mails, the ones I would not even read
  • one for the administrative mails (invoices)
  • one for the philatelic mails
  • one for the mail art

I was very happy to see that the two biggest stacks were the two last ones. It also showed me that if I remove the junk mails, the mails I get from my philatelic contacts and the mail I get from mail artists, I do not receive so much mail! So this is not surprising that the usage of stamps becomes more and more an affair of philatelists.

Inside the stack dedicated to philatelic mails I was very happy to find this nice cover sent from Indonesia by Irene (add a link). Thank you very much Irene for this sending.

The cover is franked with a full souvenir sheet that I have already presented in my blog (add a link). The toad that is pictured on the left stamp is a Leptophryne cruentata, commonly called the Bleeding toad (or also Fire toad) probably because of the reddish color of its back. This species is endemic to Indonesia and is endangered. There was a drastic population decline caused by the eruption of Mount Galunggung in 1982.
The second stamp pictures an aquatic plant, the Nyphoides indica which is part of the environment in which the bleeding toad lives. 
This is definitely a very nice cover that I’m glad to add to my collection.

It reminded me of another cover that I got also from Irene last year and that I never showed here. Here it is.

This is an FDC (Hari Terbit Pertama, meaning First Day of Issue, if my knowledge of Indonesian is correct ;-) ). The set of stamps is part of a joint issue between Indonesia and South Africa to celebrate 300 years of relationship between both countries.
The stamp located on the top right corner of the cover pictures Syeh Yusuf (1616-1699) an Islamic teacher who is also a national hero of Indonesia. To be noted that the same stamp is part of the South African set and is the only one sharing the same design between both countries. I must admit that I did not find the relation between Syeh Yusuf and South Africa that explains that he appears of the South African stamp…
The stamp located just below pictures the Balla Lompoa museum located in Gowa region.
The three stamps on the left side pictures various aspects of the culture of both countries. The one on the bottom pictures the Pakarena dance which is part of the folk culture of Gowa region. The two other stamps are related to culture of  South Africa. 
To be complete let me share with you a picture (sorry it is small) of the South African stamps issued in the same set.