Saturday, June 23, 2012

Philatelic tribute to Alan Turing

As a computer addict I could not miss, today, the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing. Alan Turing (23rd of June 1912 – 7th of June 1954) was an English mathematician, logician and computer scientist. He probably does not have the public notoriety he should have, as he can be considered as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. Said differently, without him, our world which is massively making use of computers, would be surely different.
He is also well known as the creator of the bombe, the machine that helped cracking the Enigma machine, playing a major role in the second world war.

Despite his contribution during the war and his contribution on all discoveries in his domain, he had a very sad death. Arrested in 1952 because of his homosexuality (homosexuality was a crime at this time in Great Britain) he committed suicide in 1954. The story says that he was found lying on his bed, with a half-eaten apple supposed to be full of cyanide.

David Leavitt, a British author who wrote a biography of Alan Turing, has suggested that Turing was re-enacting a scene from the 1937 film Snow White, his favorite tale. Urban legends also say that the logo of Apple would be inspired from Alan Turing’s death, but this has been denied by the creator of the logo.

I have always felt moved by the tragic fate of this man, this is why I decided to write this post today.

I searched for stamps picturing Alan Turing and I did not find so many finally.

He was first mentioned on the booklet page issued in 1999 by Great Britain in the Millennium series. As you can see the page tells the important dates of his life but he is not clearly pictured.


He appears on a stamp issued on the 13th of March 2000 by Saint Vincent in the Millennium series. Turing appears on a background picturing the binary system with 1 and 0.

On the 15th of July 2005 Saint Helena issued a series to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Turing is pictured on one of the stamps with the Enigma machine.
In 2008 he appears on questionable stamps from Guinea (I say questionable stamps as I wonder how many of these stamps have seen a cover…)

Finally early this year, on the 23rd of February 2012, Great Britain has issued a set of stamps commemorating Britons of distinction. Turing is part of this set with a stamp picturing the bombe.
But as you see, again his mother country chose not to represent a portrait of him on the stamp. I wonder why…

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My visit to Le Salon du Timbre (III)

Here is my last post on the subject to share with you the FDC that I sent to myself so that you can see the nice postmarks.
Here are the covers with the stamps.

And the cover with the LISA (ATM) with the cancel of the stamp fair, one for each LISA...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My visit to Le Salon du Timbre (II)

Let’s continue the exploration of what I saw and what I bought at “Le Salon du Timbre”.
Since several years now, the French postal administration sells what is called “collectors” which are in fact booklet containing four, eight or ten self adhesive pre-personalized stamps on the same topics. At the stamp fair I could buy two of the new “collectors”, one on European rockets and one about the planet Mars.

Because I bought those two items I got a gift, a small postal car!


Both collectors are in some way interactive. Indeed you can download an application on your Smartphone, and by scanning part of the collector you can get additional information.

These items are highly criticized in the French philatelic community. There are more and more of them issued by the French post, representing a high amount of money if you want them all. Some people also consider that they are not “real” stamps or that the subjects that are chosen are not really worth appearing on a stamp.
One series of such items is the most criticized one. It is the series about French regions. Indeed, in this series that started in 2009, 24 booklets have been issued per year, representing a total of 96 booklets! At the stamp air you could buy all of them as you can see in this picture.

On my side I’m a bit shared. I agree that this is too much, far too much. On the other hand, these items give you the possibility of franking your mail with small pictures of your region. I must admit that I used some of the “Paris” booklet on my mail and people were quite happy to receive them…
A part from the French post, several foreign postal administrations were present in the stamp fair. I have visited several of them, among which the booth of the Brazilian post where I bought this nice personalized stamp sheet issued at the occasion of the stamp fair.

I had a close look hoping to see a frog in one corner of the sheet but I did not find any… Anyway the sheet is rather nice I think.

They also offered me a gift, a pen.

Also in one corner of the stamlp fair I was pleased to see the booth of a charming artist, Laurence Delatte, who creates jewels using actual used stamps. Here is a card showing part of her work and a picture of the booth. You can also visit her website (in French) at

We had a nice chat about her work and why she selected the stamp as a part of her creation. She explained me that she has always been interested in stamps that she sees as a small piece of art. Also the stamp is a sort of link between people, because without the stamp, the mail never arrives to its destination (well normally…).

In the next final post I will share with you the covers that I sent to myself and that I started receiving already… Stay tuned..

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My visit to Le Salon du timbre (I)

You may already know it if you follow philatelic news in France, but the French Postal administration is holding a big stamp fair (Le Salon du Timbre 2012) since Saturday the 9th of June and until Sunday the 17th. The stamp fair is located in “Parc Floral” a urban park and botanic garden located in Paris, near the “Chateau de Vincennes”. I decided to take a day off today in order to visit this stamp fair (this is the problem when you don’t share the same interest for stamps with your partner in life… you can not take benefit of the weekends for such activity…). This post, and probably some others following, will tell you about my visit there and will show you the stamps and other items I could get there.

Globally I had a great time. It is a pity that the weather was not so good (sky is grey these days in Paris, and it is raining very often), I could therefore not really enjoy the garden itself. The stamp fair is located indoor in fact, not in the garden. There were not so many people (I was told that on Saturday, for the first day, the crowd was huge… I will explain you why later). A lot of kids were there, which is normal because the stamp fair includes a lot of interesting activities for kids.

It is quite easy to go to the “Parc floral”. You can go by Metro (the underground). In order to go from the Metro station to the park entry, there was a free shuttle put in place. As you can see below, the shuttle is in fact a small train. Funny. But when you know that almost all the roads around are paved, you can imagine that the trip, even if short, was very shaky. I almost fell from my seat several times ;-)
The shuttle

The wagon that I took

Inside the shuttle, before it got shaky
I arrived quite early. I think I was there at 9.00 AM while it was supposed to open at 10.00. I was not alone, so while waiting I could chat with other people that had been there already everyday since the opening of the fair! 
The poster of the stamp fair
In the first room, there were some printing machines exposed and you could see how stamps are printed.
This machine is used to print stamps in recess-printing. The guy who was demonstrating the machine was also distributing as free gift some engravings in different colors realized on this machine. 

The other machine was used to demonstrate how to print the golden design of one of the souvenir sheet issued for the stamp fair (I will show you the sheet later). 

The heidelberg machine
Personally I have read a lot about the printing of stamps but this was the first time I saw for real the machines. This was very interesting.

In the following rooms there were several booths mainly intended for kids, with a lot of activities around the Art through the ages (started at prehistoric time!). The pictures below show you some of the booths.

There was some animation around mail art and also an exhibition of painted mail box as this one that I really like.

Of course as part of all philatelic events there was also some philatelic exhibition as shown on this picture.

My first stop was for the booth of La Poste. On one booth you could by the new issues.

On one other booth, called the “collector corner” you could buy some more specific philatelic items. 

I personally bought a lot of stamps in order to send covers to some contacts all over the world, including myself.

As you can also see on the picture, I have sent quite a big number of covers (more than 30…). It starts to cost a lot of money, so I could not send covers to everybody I know. If you don’t get one from me, sorry for that. May be next time…

Here is the place where you could get your cover postmarked with the first day cancel.

As usual in this sort of occasion, the French postal administration has issued a big number of stamps. Probably too many. A lot of collectors are complaining about this always increasing number of stamps issued by La Poste. It costs a lot of money if you want to buy everything. Even more if you include what La Poste calls “collectors”, that are in fact booklets of pre-personalized stamps on a dedicated topic. I will show you some of them.

Here are the stamps that I could buy. 

First two booklets belonging to the series “La France que j’aime” (France that I like) and picturing castles and historical homes from the French regions. Each booklet contains ten self-adhesive stamps and information about the castles. I just show you here the cover of the booklets.

Then I also bought a small souvenir sheet belonging to the series “Jardins de France” (gardens of France) and picturing the National park of saint Cloud. The souvenir sheet contains two stamps with a very high face value (2.40 euros !).

The next item is a souvenir sheet of six stamps picturing tin soldiers.

I also bought the sport stamp evocating the London Olympic Games with Big Ben. A very nice stamp I think.

Also very nice is the joint issue between France and USA containing two stamps picturing legends: Edith Piaf and Miles Davis. Here are the French stamps.

You could also buy a presentation pack with both the French and American stamps. As you can see the stamps are similar, only difference is that on the American ones the names are written in color.

The next item is a booklet of twelve stamps picturing vegetable. The stamps are so called “green stamps” because they correspond to a new postal rate put in place recently corresponding to “green letters”. It means that when you frank a letter wih such stamp, it takes a bit longer to arrive, but it is transported in a “green way” (no plane for instance).

I was lucky that the creator of this booklet (Corinne Calvi) was present so I could get an autograph on the booklet.

Traditionally, for such event, the French postal administration issues a souvenir sheet picturing gardens and incorporating some golden design. This one is no exception, here is the souvenir sheet (as indicated above the golden design is printed by the machine that was exposed).

The stamp fair was also the occasion for La Poste to issue a new silver stamp. This time the stamp pictures handball. As usual I’m not sure that this sort of item is really useful, but well… (the picture is not very good, it seems my scanner has some difficulties to scan such item). 

In parallel of these stamps, three LISA (the French name of ATM) have been issued. Here they are.

(to be continued)