Thursday, May 31, 2012

Theme : Zodiac signs 10a

In 2011 Romanian postal services issued stamps on the Zodiac theme.
A sheet with 6 square stamps, depicting 6 zodiac signs : Aries, Thaurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Virgo.

First sheet with zodiac signs : Romania 2011

Al stamps on the sheet are preceeded by their symbol  :

At the bottom we see a part of the hemisphere with the other 6 symbols.
There are two zodiac signs that I want to put under your atttention.
First of all my own : Gemini :

Gemini symbol
And secondly : Virgo, because it is symbolised by an angels (or at least a figure with wings).

As you all can guess there's also another sheet, that I will post in my next article.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Odd stamps : 07 d Stamps (sheets) with special cuts

The number of odd shaped stampsheets was rather limited, until a couple of years ago.
Nowadays each country needs it's 'special one' in order to be up-to-date, or at least not to do less then other countries.
This 'odd stamp' thing is becoming expensive, as special cuts often means 'special price' as well.
However, seeing the beauty of the sheets, it's worth buying them over and over again.

Today, a Russian 'odd shaped sheet' ...

On 1 July, 2011 Russia issued a Souvenir Sheet which depicts the badge of the Order of St. Andrew on the Order's chain, star and ribbon of the Order.
It is the highest state awards of the Russian Federation. The decoration is conferred outstanding statesmen and public figures, as well as other citizens of the Russian Federation for the exceptional services, promoting prosperity, grandeur and glory of Russia.
The shape of the sheetlet is like the necklace 

The Order was established in 1698 by Tsar Peter the Great, in honour of Saint Andrew, the first apostle of Jesus and patron saint of Russia. It was bestowed in a single class and was only awarded for the most outstanding civilian or military merit.

Count Fyodor Golovin was the first recipient of the order. Until its abolition following the Russian Revolution of 1917, just over one thousand awards had been made. During the monarchy, recipients of the Order of St. Andrew also automatically received the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, the Order of the White Eagle, the Order of St. Anne first class, and the Order St. Stanislaus first class. Moreover, recipients of lower ranks were automatically promoted to the rank of lieutenant general or vice admiral.

The order was officially re-instated as the highest Russian civilian and military award by Presidential Decree 757 on June 1, 1998

Mikhail Gorbachev received the award as he was the last general secratary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Mikhail Gorbachev
The old style badge of the Order of St. Andrew on the Order's chain, star and ribbon of the Order:

the Order's chain - early design
The redesigned badge of the Order of St. Andrew on the Order's chain, star and ribbon of the Order:

the Order's chain - new design
Saint Andrew's cross and double eagle
to be continued ...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Odd stamps : 08 Stamps with special cuts - 06 b

Iran might not be the most popular country to collect stamps from, but I'm going to change that.
From the old Persia to modern Iran, a very interesting historic journey through stamp collecting can be made.
I 'll come back on the old persian stamps later on, but for my topic on 'odd stamps' we go to modern Iran.

Recently two commemorative sheets of Iran came under my attention.
Having my blog in mind, I bought them and today is the moment to share them with you all.
Of course the stamps are a bit special, and they are a fine acquisition to my collection.

First sheet was issued in October 2010 and is dedicated to the World Post Day.
In the middle of the sheet, a hexagonal stamp can be foundwith the logo of the UPU (Universal Postal Union).
Iran (at that time still Persia) joined UPU on September 1, 1877.
On each of the 7 stamps in the sheet, a postally related item is depicted.
Not only (snail) mail is present, also modern ways of telecommunication, such as e-mail, online shopping, ...
7 nicely designed hexagonal stamps united in one sheet.

World Post Day sheet 2010 - detail - UPU

World Post Day sheet 2010

The second sheet looks very similar, and was issued around March 2011.

On the sheet we see at the top : "The Global Celebration of Nowruz"

"Nowruz or Noruz" means "new day". It's a traditional feast that is celebrated on March 21 in Iran, Turkey, Azerbeidjan and Afghanistan. March 21 when the sun reaches it's highest point on the equator, is the start of spring. In Iran it can be seen as the beginning of the new year. People make nice food, give gifts... houses are decorated and friends and family are invited.

No(w)ruz however is not a typical islamic holiday, it's a public holiday in Uzbekistan, Tadzjikistan, Kirgizia, Kazachstan and even Pakistan and India.
Originally being a Zoroastrian festival, and the holiest of them all, Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, although there is no clear date of origin. Since the Achaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox. Nowruz is also a holy day for Sufis, Ismailis, Alawites, Alevis, Babis and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith

During these days, the number 7 is a most significant number.
7 is also a holy number for catholics, jews and other religions, but when No(w)ruz is celebrated it appears in many aspects of the festivities.

In the days before 'new year' the tradition demands to jump over 7 fires.
It's a symbol of courage, and renewing.
I remember a boy scout, we had to jump over a fire to start a new year as well.
To leave the old group/year behind and to jump over a barricade into the unkown 'new'.
The firejumping is also know in western culture, and is celebrated around june 24 (midsummer), and the birthdate of John the Baptist.

Back now to the '7' stamps.

When people are celebrating the persian new year, houses are decorated with 7 types of beans or grains to symbolise new life.In most houses you can find the seven S's. (Haft Sin/Haft Seen)
These are 7 object whose name starts with an S in Farsi (Irani language).

    sebzeh – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbol of rebirth
    semenu – a sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbol of abundance
    sinjed – the sweet fruits of the Oleaster Olive tree – symbol of love

    sir – garlic – symbol of healing

    sib – apples – symbol of beauty and health

    sumak – sumakbessen – symbol of the (colour of the) sunrise

    sirke – vinegar – symbol of age and patience

Further on, coins are put on the table, as a symbol of prosperity and wealth;

a basket with painted eggs, as a symbol of fertility

an orange (the earth) in a bowl of water (the heavens)

a goldfish, symbol of life

sometimes a mirror, reflecting the holy light and multiplying it
burning candles, one per child for their happiness.

And finally, in the middle of the sheet, a hyacinth and the Holy Qu'ran

To be continued ...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Collecting : my collection 03f

Yvert & Tellier is a catalogue that is used in France, Belgium.

The logo of the company is quite interesting too:

We see a snowflake on the left, and a sun on the right.
It's like winter and summer combined.
In French that becomes : "hiver, été liés" (winter, summer combined)
Phonetically pronouced as [yvert é télié] or Yvert & Tellier.

Now back to the catalogues ...
If you're a collector of all stamps, (or a theme collector with stamps from various counties in your collection), then you better have a well paid job.
The complete set of catalogues is not less then 20 (!) volumes!
Yvert isn't updating all catalogues very year (luckily I would dare to say), so some volumes might be a bit out of date, but they will be renewed in the near future.
An overview :

Catalogue of France by Yvert & Tellier

Part 1 : France (updated yearly)
Part 1bis : Monaco, Andorra, UN, french overseas territories (updated yearly)

Part 2.1 : French (former) colonies (2011)
Part 2.2 : Formerly french colonies in Africa : A - H (+ Laos and Cambodia) (2006)
Part 2.3 : Formerly french colonies in Africa : M -T (+ Vanuatu and Vietnam) (2008)

Part 3.1 : Western Europe : A - E (2006)*/**
Part 3.2 : Western Europe : E - L (2008)*/**
Part 3.3 : Western Europe : M - Y (2009)**

Part 4.1 : Eastern Europe : A - P (2010)**
Part 4.2 : Eastern Europe : R - U (2011)**

     * as it is a french catalogue : Germany is listed under A of Allemagne
        and Spain under E of Espagne.
     ** at the moment replaced by
          Part 3.1 (new) : Europe 1 : A - B (2011)
          Part 3.2 (new) : Europe 2 : C - H (2012)

Part 5.1 : Oversea : A - B (2011)
Part 5.2 : Oversea : C - D (2006)
Part 5.3 : Oversea : D - G (2006)
Part 5.4 : Oversea : G - L (2008)
Part 5.5 : Oversea : L - N (2008)
Part 5.6 : Oversea : O - S (2009)
Part 5.7 : Oversea : S - Z (2010)

There's an index catalogue (Tome de référence) (2007)
Example of Part 5.5 (Overseas)

And a very interesting catalogue "Classiques du monde 1840 - 1940" - with all stamps from the 'classic era' until 1940

Yvert : 'Classiques du Monde' 1840 - 1940

As you can see, some countries are updated till 2006.
Bad luck if you started to collect "Canada" from 2007 on ... as there's no catalogue for it.
Well, for those who are in need, Yvert & Tellier found a very good solution.

Each year, a small catalogue is issued, with all newly emitted stamps of that year.
Perfect to be used while waiting for a new complete catalogue.

Nevertheless, this 'small catalogue' has 690 pages ! (only for the year 2011)

Yvert : all new stamps of 2011

General impression :

+++ Nicely designed catalogue, especially usefull for France and colonies.
        Annual edition is a very good idea, especially for new collectors (young collectors)
        as the price for this catalogue is afordable, after several years the prices are a bit out of date,
        but by that time, you can buy a complete catalogue.
---    A bookshelf alone won't be sufficient to hold all catalogues.
        For collectors of a certain area (Scandinavia for example), you need to buy all european
        catalogues, as Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway, are in 3 different volumes.
        Information in the catalogues (except France / Monaco) is rather limited.

Please note, this information is 'as known' on May 2012.

to be continued ...

Collecting : my collection 03e

World catalogues, a blessing and a curse.
There are several 'world wide catalogues' and the most know are : Yvert & Tellier (FR); Michel (DE); Stanley Gibbons (UK) and Scott (US).
To have a paper version of those catalogues, you need a 'stamp catalogue' - catalogue!

Let's start with a catalogue that is mainly used in France.

the catalogue set

Yvert started a philatelistic magazine as early as 1887 already.
"L'Écho de la timbrologie" (The echo of stamp knowledge) still exists.
Nowadays it's issued by a private company, but it's still printed at the Yvert & Tellier press.

In 1896 the company emitted the first 'Catalogue prix-courant de timbres-poste par Yvert et Tellier' (first stamp quotation by Yvert and Tellier).

internet picture - not in my collection (1897)
At the same time, an album was issued with preprinted pages to insert the emitted stamps so far.
This idea is also used by other companies, and until today, it's an popular (but maybe conservative) way to organise stamps countrywise.
preprinted album
At that time, mint and used stamps were put together in those albums. One of the reasons why unused stamps are mainly hinged. In best cases, sometimes unused stamps were just attached with the gum to the albums.
hinged stamp

In Yvert & Tellier started to cooperate with the Parisian stampdealer Théodor Champion, 
Until his death in 1955 he made price listings for all stamps. Nowadays, a complete team of experts is doing this job.
Tellier left the company in 1913 and sold his shares to Louis Yvert. In remembrance of Théodule Tellier, both names are still used for the catalogues.
The family Yvert is still running the business, and two great-grandsons of Louis Yvert are managing the company : Christophe Yvert en Benoît Gervais.

Louis Yvert
Théodule Tellier

to be continued ...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Odd stamps : 08 Stamps with special cuts - 06 a

Although it was not mentionned to become a blog on 'odd stamps' alone, and I'm doing my best to post as many other subject as possible, but 'odd stamps' are very frequently googled and still very popular.

I wrote in previous articles about round, triangular, square and pentagonal stamps.
Another (new) shape is the hexagonal stamp (hexa = Greek for 6).
Hexagonal stamps have, as the name say, six sides.
A very easy shape, as hexagonal stamps fit together in a sheet perfectly, withou loss of space.

The bees knew that already long time ago.
If you ever visited a beekeeper, or enjoyed the tast of honey, you will have seen the honeycomb structure that can be found in a beehive and that is often depicted on the packing of honey.

Nature is smart and taught us how to use small spaces in the most economical way.
The special cuts at the 6 corners of the stamp, gives a special effect that can only bee seen when more stamps remain together.

Swiss honeybee stamp in sheet
A full sheet with 19 stamps was issued in 2011 by the Swiss Post.

Swiss honeybee full sheet (2011)
Because of this useful shape, many countries issued hexagonal stamps.
So...  to be continued ...

Collecting : my collection 03d

In my previous post, you will not have seen a German or a French catalogue.
Also not a Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish ... catalogue.
This has a reason.
For those catalogues can't be seen as 'local' catalogues alone.

Remember I talked about 4 types of collectors:

1. countrywise
2. regionwise
3. worldwide
4. theme collection

In the previous post, I showed some individual, local, country catalogues.
Now I put some 'region' catalogues under your attention.

Regions can be of various types:
- the scandinavian countries - very popular amongst European collectors - (Denmark, Norway, Sweden)
     (extended with Iceland, Finland and even Greenland, Faroer Islands, Åland, ...)
- Balcan area (Albania, Bosnia i Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro)
     (extended if wanted with Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and even Romania and Turkey)
- Islands of the Caribean
- The Middle East
- ...

For those collectors there isn't much choice.
As there is no catalogue that only deals with a certain region.
Except the FACIT catalogue, that combines all scandinavian countries.

Facit 1998-99
This splendit catalogue is an amazing treasure for collectors of this part of Europe.
Not easy to find second hand, but this copy is.

Besides a regional catalogue, it can also (of course) be used as a local catalogue for each individual country.

Some worldwide catalogues, have the same benefits as this Facit-catalogue,
but I will explain that in my next post(s).

to be continued...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Collecting : my collection 03c

When you are an absolute beginner in stamp collecting, an absolute 'pro', or, as most of us somewhere between a small collector and a collecting lunatic, in all cases, a catalogue is mandatory.

But then ... which one to choose ?

A lot depends on what kind of collector you are...

Are you a collector of your own country alone ? Then better look for a catalogue of your own country.
The numbering system is unique for your country, and it will tell you lots of details about your stamps, variations, printing errors, plate numbers, ....
Some countries used to have colonies in the 18th till 20th century and they might be included in the catalogue.
I call them 'local' catalogues, and I will come to that later on.

Maybe you don't collect only your own country, but also the neighbouring countries. Or specific regions, like the Scandinavian countries, Balkan area, Benelux, South America, the Middle East...
Then you're better of with a world wide catalogue, and some are perfect for this type of collectors.
But 3 or 4 'local' catalogues could help you out as well.

Or you're a idealist and you collect everything that comes your way... then a world wide catalogue is mandatory, as not all countries have their own catalogues, and with over 200 countries and many dissapeared countries it's impossible to buy each individual catalogue, unless you're a trillionaire.

And maybe you're not bound to countrywise collecting, but you have a weakness for theme collections.
Then you have several items from several countries, but buying a world wide catalogue is too much information for what you really need.

So let's start with some 'local' catalogues.

the Netherlands


some latin american ones :


some asian ones :

P R Lao (1st ed.)

These are 'country' catalogues, I call them the 'local ones' ...

to be continued

Odd stamps : 07 c Stamps (sheets) with special cuts

There is so much to post about 'odd' stamps...
And in one of the previous articles I wrote something about 'odd shaped sheets'.
The stamps on those sheets are regular, square or rectangle stamps, but the sheets have odd shapes.

Nowadays a stamp is more then before an item to impress collectors, or even to impress foreighn postal administrations.
Having an odd shaped stamp in your emission, is surely a guarantee to sell more, and to attract new collectors.
And I of course, see it as my duty to get those stamps and sheets for you, my dear followers.

I'm presenting 2 unique sheetlets with a special cuts, from Bosnia Herzegovina.
Both were emitted in 2011.

The first one doesn't look that special at first sight.
It looks rather 'spacial', well because it depicts Yuri Gagarin and we see the Vostok 1 who brought him in space on April 12, 1961.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this remarkable event, Bosnia i Herzegovina (the former Yugoslavian Republic) published this sheetlet.

Bosnia i Herzegovina (2011) - 1st man in space
We see a round shape in the left corner, that follows the shape of the earth, but when looking at the rocket, we see that the special cut is very nice.

detail of the rocket - special cut
Very impressive and beautiful.

But in the same year (2011), Bosnia i Herzegovina emitted another, even more impressive sheetlet.
This time on domestic birds.

The idea is similar to the previous sheet, at first you see a normal sheet, but at the left corner, there's a special cut. But this time, the cut follows the shape of the leafs and the bird.

Bosnia i Herzegovina (2011) - domestic birds
The choice of the colours of the sheet could have been better, as the main bird nearly dissapears between all the green-grey-brown shades, but the sheetlet itself is a collectors' item!

detail of the branch and bird - special cut
Impressive, stamp collecting is fun again.

to be continued...