Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Theme : Volkswagen Beetle - 18c

The last set of Volkswagen magnets I found so far, are those from the 1950's.

Volkswagen became more and more popular. The magnets in my collection however stop at 1952.
About the moment when the 'split window' dissapeared and was replaced by one, oval shaped window.

I don't know if there are more magnets in this series, if so, please let me know

The last so far, but hopefully, this article helps me to find the missing magnets.
After all, the (Volkswagen) story has to go on ...
Volkswagen magnets 1950/51 and 52

Theme : Volkswagen Beetle - 18b

When the second World War ended, the Volkswagen factory, who hadn't been producing any civilian VW at all, was doomed to dissapear.
It came  under British control in 1945 and was supposed to be dismantled and shipped to Britain.
Unfortunatly, or luckily, no British manufacturer was actually interested in the factory.
The factory survived by producing cars for the British Army instead.

Major Ivan Hirst

The re-opening of the factory is largely accredited to British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst (1916–2000).
Hirst was ordered to take control of the heavily bombed factory.
Hirst persuaded the British military to order 20,000 of the cars, and by March 1946 the factory was producing 1,000 cars a month, which Hirst said "was the limit set by the availability of materials". During this period, the car reverted to its original name of Volkswagen and the town was renamed Wolfsburg. The first 1,785 Type 1s were made in 1945.

From that time on, the success story of Volkswagens started for real.

magnets from 1944 to 1949

The first Volkswagens that were produced are called the 'split windows', as they have a 'split window' at the back.

Once more, a picture of the Czechoslovakian Tatra from 1934.
Where would the idea of a split window came from?

luxurious Tatra model  with split window
to be continued...

Theme : Volkswagen Beetle - 18a

I doubted to post this, as it's not a stamp, not a banknote, not a coin...
but since collectors go 'broad' in their collection, I decided to add these items to the blog anyhow.

It's in fact a set of magnets, on the topic of Volkswagen Beelte.

I know that many people collect door magnets too, and I get many requests to bring them along when I abroad.
I don't collect them myself, but in this specific case, I did buy them for myself.
Of course, you 'll understand why...

On of the first designs was Porche's type 12, a car he developed for the German motorcycle manufacturer Zundapp in 1931.

Type 12
This design, as being a prototype, was further on reshaped to get a better result.
At the same time, in former Czechoslovakia, the Tatra company developped a prototype of a new car too.
This prototype, known as the V570 had an air-cooled flat-twin engine engine mounted at the rear. The second version of that V570 had a more streamlined body, similar to that of the Porche Type 32 that was designed in 1933.

Question is, if Porche got his Columbus's egg from his own imagination or if the czech Tatra car helped him.
In fact the similarities are clear.

Tatra V570
Porche's Type 32

The magnet tells us : Volkswagen 1933.
The word 'Volkswagen' however was not yet in use at that time.
In fact the type 32 drew the attenion of Hitler and he instructed Porche to go on developping a car.
In his propaganda campain he wanted a car, affordable for each German family.
The idea of a 'volks' (people's) wagen (car) was born.

To promote the idea, a handful of German representatives of the Third Reich used a car to show the new design to the Germans, who could start to dream of having their own private car.

model 1936
convertible model 1937
The whole idea was to make a car that could be sold for less then 1000 Reichsmark.
In 1933, an average family income was about 32RM per week. The price of 990 RM was similar to the price of a small motorcycle at that time.

The Volkswagen was officially named the KdF-Wagen by Hitler when the project was officially announced in 1938. The name refers to Kraft durch Freude ('Strength Through Joy').
By saving 5 RM per week, this KdF-Wagen was within reach of each family now.
Little they knew that no one would ever see their KdF-Wagen.

model 1938 - KdF-Wagen
Meanwhile in Czechoslovakia, Tatra noticed that Porche became the developper of this new car and that it was clearly based on their original designs. Just before the start of the Second World War, Tatra had ten legal claims filed against VW for infringement of patents. Although Ferdinand Porsche was about to pay a settlement to Tatra, he was stopped by Hitler who said he would "solve his problem". When Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938, the problem was 'solved' in a rather unorthodox way.

Convertable KdF-Wagen, with Porche at the back

back side of all magnets

to be continued...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Microstates : 18c MMM (fake)

MMM : More of Mister Mavrodi

I never tought I could write that much about 'fake' banknotes. But since I got my first Mavrodi banknote-look-a-like, I searched for more.

In my previous post, I posted all notes belonging to the first series.
Now I show you the second series.

After the first success of the biletov-notes (the notes actually represented parts of MMM shares), and the huge profits that seemed to be paid out to the first share holders, a new set was printed.
Now, the Pravda newspaper didn't mention 'biletovs' anymore in their reports, but called the vouchers 'shares'.

Again 100 biletov represented one share of the elaborating MMM company.

The 'notes' in the second set are not as uniform as those in the first set.
There are 4 notes known, but there might be more.
The first 'note' in this series came in 2 versions.

two 1 bilet 'notes' with a blue and a grey face of Mavrodi
back of the 1 bilet 'note' second version slightly darker
The higher denominations :
100, 1000 and 10000 biletov - front
100, 1000 and 10000 biletov -back
The security marks in this second set are less complicated then the first series.
(Maybe there was no time to make a 'decent' note at that time).

1. embedded fluorescent fibres in all notes
2. the 1-, 100- and 1000 notes carry a halo of fluorescent ink around the serial number
    the 10,000 note has a serial number that fluoresces green when submitted to ultra-violet light.
3. micro text
4. fluorescent MMM logo
5. decoration on the sides can not be felt (on the first series, this border is rough)

to be continued

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Microstates : 18b MMM (fake)

The Mavrodi investment system was based on shares. Like there are billions of shares on the stockmarket.
Those shares represented a certain part of the company.

Shares were devided into 100 parts, and each part, one-hundredth of an MMM share was called a 'ticket'.
The russian word for 'ticket' is bilet, and two or more are called 'biletov'.
The price of the shares was published in the russian newspaper 'Pravda'
The last advertised price for the original issue of biletov in Pravda was on 28 July 1994, when Mavrodi was trying to sustain the value of his shares. The MMM advertisement stated the day’s price for the biletov as 1,340 rubles (sell) and 1,250 rubles (buy), while projecting the price for 2 August to be 1,500 rubles (sell) and 1,350 rubles (buy).

This were the values of the first round, first series of biletov 'notes' who were issued in july 1994.

The 1 set has 7 banknote-like ‘notes’ going from one bilet to 1000 biletov (one-hundredth of an MMM share to 10 MMM shares).

1st series (1994)
1, 10 and 20 bilet(ov)
back of a 10 biletov, similar to 1 and 20
50, 100 and 500 biletov
back of a 500 biletov (similar to 50, 100 and 1000)
1000 biletov (10 MMM shares)
Although they aren't banknotes, some security features can be found on the notes :

1. embedded fluorescent fibres (1 and 10, 50 and 100 biletov)
2. micro-printing is used on all notes, repeating ‘MMMBILETOV’ in Russian

3. a yellow MMM logo appears to the right on the front of the note when the note is submitted to ultra-violet light. (1 to 100 biletov)

4. MMM logo turns pink under a UV light (500 and 1000 biletov)
5. serial number turns green under UV light (50, 100, 500 and 1000) as well as the prefix (500 and 1000)

6. gold, bronze and silver (50 to 1000 biletov)

to be continued...

Microstates : 18a MMM (fake)

Banknote collectors have encountered some banknotes that they can't always localise.
This goes for the MMM-notes of Sergi Mavrodi.
MMM stands for : Sergei Mavrodi, his brother Vyacheslav Mavrodi, and Olga Melnikova.
Sergei Mavrodi
It all started around 1989, when the MMM's started a company that imported computers and office equipment. However, they were accused of tax evasion. He needed funds to finance his operations and switched to the financial sector. At first he was not successful at all.
Until  1994, when he created a 'succesful' Ponzi scheme.

A Ponzi scheme is a faudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation. It was named after Charles Ponzi a a jewish-Italian business man who used the technique for the first time on big scale in the 1920's in the United States.
Charles Ponzi after his arrestation
Ponzi however didn't invent it, since Charles Dickens's 1857 novel Little Dorrit already described such a scheme. Ponzi's operation took in so much money, that it became know throughout the States as the Ponzi's scheme.

In fact, it is quite similar to a pyramid game or pyramid scheme. Although there are differences.
In a pyramid scheme, one has to find a number of people who want to join the scheme.
Imagine you have to find 6 participants.
Each of them have to give you something, one Euro, one Dollar, one token ...
So in your first action, you will get 6 Euro. Now the 6 people who are new in the game, have to search each of them 6 new people. They will give each of them 1 token, so the second generation will receive each 6 tokens, although the only invested 1 token to the 1st generation.
The second generation now has to look each of them for 6 new people... this involves already 216 people.

So far, not much 'damage' is done...
Imagine now that you don't get paid by the 'generation' that you generate, but you only get paid after 5, 6, 7, ... generations. The new generation pays the top person in the pyramid and take him off the list, so everyone moves up one generation.
Briefly said, if the scheme holds on for 5 generation, you'll get 7,776 tokens; if you are paid after 6 generations, you'll receive 46,656 tokes. Not bad for a 1 token investment.
However .... this involes already 46656 + 7776 + 1296 + 216 + 36 + 6 = 55980 people!
By the time the 6th generation has reached level one ... (and start to receive the tokens), already 2 billion 'new' people are needed and over 2,6 billion people are involved.

Chain letters are also an example of piramid schemes.

A ponzi scheme is slightly different.
As in the pyramid scheme you have to look for 'successors' yourself, the revenue is depending on the succes of the newly added participants.
In a ponzi scheme, you get a fixed percentage of profit and the "owner" is adding investors to the system.
As a small investor, you get a high profit, without having to do anything yourself.

If a pyramid game becomes 'impossible', a ponzi scheme in fact is just a rip-off.
Investors get paid with the investments of new contributors. Or with their own invested money.

MMM created its successful Ponzi scheme in 1994

They promised hughe profits to all investors within a short period of time. Profit rates of 1000% per month.
This led to an enormous rush to the MMM-banks who accepted the russian rubles in exchange for the MMM-shares (notes). At a certain moment, the company was taking in over 100 billion rubles A DAY !
(50 million USD). The cashflow was that enormous that money was no longer counted as money, but in 'rooms': 1 room of money, 2 rooms of money, ...

1 room of money ...
On July 22, 1994, the police closed the offices of MMM for tax evasion. For a few days the company attempted to continue the scheme, but soon ceased operations. At that point, Invest-Consulting, one of the company's subsidiaries, owed more than 50 billion rubles in taxes (USD 26 million), and MMM itself owed between 100 billion and 3 trillion rubles to the investors (from USD 50 million to USD 1.5 billion). In the aftermath at least 50 investors, having lost all of their money, committed suicide.

In August 1994 Mavrodi was arrested for tax evasion. However, he was soon elected to the Russian State Duma, with the support of the "deceived investors". He argued that the government, not MMM, was responsible for people losing their money, and promised to initiate a pay-back program. The amount ultimately paid back was minuscule compared to the amount owed.
In October 1995, the Duma cancelled Mavrodi's right to immunity as a deputy. In 1996, he tried to run for Russia's presidency, but most of the signatures he received were rejected. MMM declared bankruptcy on September 22, 1997.

He was placed under police custody in 2003, then was convicted of holding a fake passport and sentenced to 13 months in prison. While in custody he was also investigated over tax evasion and fraud charges that came to light in 1994 and 1995. Mavrodi tried to delay sentencing announcement of his criminal case. Court hearings on the fraud charges began in March 2006. On April 28, 2007, the Moscow court sentenced Mavrodi to four and a half years in a penal colony. The court also fined Mavrodi 10,000 rubles ($390).On May 22, 2007, Mavrodi left prison, serving full sentence.

In 2008 a similar fraude by a ponzi scheme was used by Bernard Madoff in the United States.
B. Madoff
In 2011 Mavrodi is back in business, having ideas for new MMM-investments, in Russia and Ukraine.

to be continued...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Odd stamps : 09c hologram stamps

One of my favourite countries to collect is surely Thailand.
Fair priced face value, high quality stamps and beautiful designs.

No wonder Thai Post emitted also holograpic stamps.

If you consider the hologram as the "grand cru" of printing, then only the highest is good enough to be depicted on the stamps.
For some countries this means "spacial" items, but for Thai, it can only be H.R.H. King Bhumibol (Rama IX).

In several series dedicated to the life and work of the Thai king, a special holograpic stamp is included in each set.
Thailand, the life of King Bhumibol
Thailand 1991 - detail hologram stamp
So far, only the King has been depicted on hologram stamps. So also with the next beautiful issue:

Although this sheet isn't really depicting the Thai king for a royal event, the king appears again on all stamps.
The sheet was issued in 2008, to commemorate 125 years fo Thai Postal Services.
As it was founded under Rama V (King Chulalongkorn), he is depicted on old stamps.
In the middle of the sheet, a hologram of the king.

Thailand full sheet 2008
Thailand detail hologram
Third and last item today, is again a sheet in honour of the life and work of King Bhumibol.
It's the second sheet in a series of stamps issued to celebrate the king's 80th birthday.

This sheet is seen in many Thai shops, on walls in private houses, ... in order to pay respect to the Thai king.
Respect also for the Thai postal services for the beautiful sheet.

Thailand full sheet 2007

Thailand detail hologram stamp + gold print

And there are more hologram stamps...

Odd stamps : 09b hologram stamps

There aren't many countries that have issued holographic stamps or stamps with holograms.
But with a little bit of research, you can still find lots of great stamps for your collection.

In this second post, some more holograms:

First item is a sheet from Finland.
The sheet has 3 stamps and a hologram.
Infact the hologram itself isn't a stamp, but if the sheet was used completely on a letter, it can be found as an postally used philatelic item.

What's more special albout this sheet, is that it is cut like a "tangram" a game with 7 geometric shapes, put together as a square. Each of the single shapes can be formed by putting the other shapes in a certain order.
Also other forms can be made by putting each piece in another place.
A nice game and major brain-breaker.

Finland sheet with hologram

Finland - detail of the hologram
Another European country that has used holograms on stamps, is Germany.
In this set, dedicated to scientific discoveries, several stamps were decorated with holograms.

Two German semi-postal stamps on space science

Jupiter encountered by a comet
map of the sky, seen under gammalight

Science doesn't have to be boring as you see...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Odd stamps : 09a hologram stamps

Time for some new odd stamps.
You see it often in banknotes and certificates, holograms are used as a security mark
Official software is secured with holograms, but in stamps it's not that common.

Holograms used in euro money
There are not many holographic stamps or stamps with a hologram.

Such a security mark is not really necessary for stamps and mostly the value of a stamp is too low to invest in such a marks.
The only reason for holograms on stamps, is to "show off", to have a "special issue"...
Briefly, to make collectors pay extra.
But it's a given fact, holograms are attractive.

A hologram is a word with greek roots : holograph : hólos (the whole) and graphein (to write, to draw).
So it's a way to write print a whole image.

What is a hologram in fact?
It's not easy to describe it in an easy way, but let's try.

When looking through a window, all waves coming from the window to the retina in your eye. The combination of those waves make us see a 3D image.
Using certain optical (and physical) techniques, a 'photograph' can be made of a certain moment in this cyclus of waves. The image itself is not 3D, but with the use of light (or laserlight) the 'idea' of waves can be reconstructed.
When waves comes from different directions, the 3D image becomes more realistic and 'deeper';
In a hologram, the natural light is reconstructed and gives us the 3D view again.
The larger the holgram is, the bettter the 3D effect and the 'deeper' the view becomes.

The Hungarian scientist Dennis Gabor discovered the basic idea for holograms in 1948, but it lastet till 1960 until the first hologram was made, by the Americas Upatnieks and Leith. Gabor received the Nobelprice for his discovery, in 1971.

So far the theory, now the stamps ...

First sheet is from Poland, a sheet with 2 stamps, one with a hologram of a butterfly.
Poland holographic butterfly

Poland detail hologram

Secondly Bhutan, a lot can be said about Bhutani stamps, but they have been a pioneer in emitting special stamps. This is a sheet to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Man' first step on the Moon.

Bhutan 2 hologram in one sheet

Bhutan detail hologram

There are more holographic stamps to follow

Sunday, February 12, 2012

To be or not to be : CTO - The dangerous ones 05 c

The obvious way for stamps to become CTO, is a genuine stamp that gets cancelled by officials, companies or postal services, to prevent they get used, or sold.
That sounds very logic.
Some CTO stamps are printed with cancel at the same moment the stamp itself gets printed.

But can it be the other way around too?
Can a CTO cancelled stamp become a genuine, postally used stamp again?
"No" seems to be the only logic answer, unless you remove the cancellation of course.
I don't know if that is technically possible, maybe it is, but that's not my cup of tea.

So can a CTO stamp still become a postally used one....
Well to my surprise my Malaysian friend helped me to solve that mistery!

Let's show a picture of a sheet I posted earlier :

CTO cancelled sheet from Malaysia
Back of the sheet, showing it's CTO cancelled
The letter I got from my friend K.M.

detail of the cancel
Now let's have a closer look at this postally used cancel.
There are a awful lot of cancels for just one corner, don't you agree...

First I marked the real cancels (highlighted in red) with the cancellation date underlined  18.1.12

real cancels

 Secondly a large cancellation in the middle, showing a date somewhere in April

Original CTO cancel (older then the postally used one)
As far as I know, the 'used' sheet was clearly cancelled to mask the original cancellation.
My friend told me that was the only way to get me such a sheet, postally used.
But since this cancel was made on demand of my friend, it becomes again a CTO, or not?

Anyhow, I'm very lucky to have this special sheet now, and thankful for the effort he made to get me the sheet.