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?