Friday, April 3, 2015


A very nice cover  was sent to me through "Cover Collectors Circuit Club" by Marcel G. Bourguignon who had the kindness to send me some beautiful Belgian stamps for my collection.

Thanks a lot Marcel


The cover bears a very clear stamp of the Mechelen post office in Belgium as well as well as an air-mail sticker and three beautiful stamps.

On  the cover there is a personalized  stamp* issued by the Belgian P.O. for the K.V.B.P. which is a Flamandic PhilatelicClub. The second and the third stamp are coming from the Belgian sheet  issued on 15 April 2010 under the title "Mode c'est du Belge" (This is the Belgian mode) . The first stamp is  dedicated to A.F Vandevorst MODE FIRM and the other one to Cathy Pill, a Belgian fashion designer

* Personalised stamp

A personalised (or personalized) stamp is a postage stamp, with an adjoining label on the left, on which, for a fee, an image of the purchaser's choosing may be placed. The stamps vary from country to country and while some are normal stamps with a personalised label on the left attached by perforations, elsewhere the stamps are more properly regarded as one-piece personalised meter stamps with a colourful design next to the indicia. Stamps produced by for the United States, for instance, are one-piece, self-adhesive with simulated perforations and visually very similar to normal United States postage stamps except for the addition of a barcode along one edge.
Examples given by postal authorities who offer this service usually depict family members, pets or other uncontroversial  subjects but users quickly realised that they could place almost any image in the space. For instance, there have been attempts to publicise missing persons, promote political causes such as Tamil independence, or to place the image of criminals or other controversial individuals on the stamps. The rules of most countries generally prohibit such things, however, stamp producers may not spot every attempt to circumvent their rules, particularly when it is not obvious who or what is being depicted, or that the image has some political or other significance.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)



Local: Zaal "Batavia" - Pittemsteenweg,28 - 8700 Tielt
Mr BOLLEIRE Frans - Gross Geraulaan,4 - 8700 Tielt
On December 11, 1937 signed by 24 brave Antwerp Flemish stamp collectors the founding act of the 'Flemish Association for stamp collectors.

The deed was officially registered in Antwerp on 21 January 1938. That same month, was issued also the first issue of the monthly magazine of the VBP which called 'The Stamp.

The creation of the VBP undoubtedly responded to an urgent need, not only for linguistic reasons, but also for social reasons. In the first issue of the magazine, these are indicated as follows: "The lack of philatelic circles outside the major centers, with a corresponding to fragmentation of associations in these centers, and the fact that the ordinary Flemish collector too little to be draw could come into the existing circuits usually had as french language and are often also targeted only to the select bourgeoisie. "

VBP therefore was given the task: "All philatelists, over the Flemish region spread, unite in a single union to expand this into a powerful force that also philatelic field, our people would be entitled undervalued."

(Google translation from Flamish to English)

The original text has as follow :

Op 11 december 1937 ondertekenden 24 moedige Vlaamse postzegelverzamelaars te Antwerpen de stichtingsakte van de 'Vlaamse Bond voor Postzegelverzamelaars'.
De akte werd officieel geregistreerd te Antwerpen op 21 januari 1938. Nog diezelfde maand verscheen het eerste nummer van het maandblad van de VBP dat toen nog de naam 'Het Postzegel' droeg.
De oprichting van de VBP kwam ongetwijfeld tegemoet aan een dringend behoefte, niet alleen om taalredenen, maar evenzeer om sociale redenen. In het eerste nummer van het maandblad werden deze als volgt aangegeven: " Het ontbreken van filatelistische kringen buiten de grote centra, met daartegenover een te grote versnippering van het verenigingsleven in deze centra, en het feit dat de gewone Vlaamse verzamelaar al te weinig aan zijn trekken kon komen in de bestaande kringen die meestal het frans als voertaal hadden en zich dikwijls ook enkel richtten tot de selecte burgerij."
De VBP kreeg dan ook als opdracht: "Alle filatelisten, over heel het Vlaamse landsgedeelte verspreid, in één enkele bond verenigen om deze uit te bouwen tot een sterke macht die ook op filatelistisch gebied, ons volk zijn recht zou laten wedervaren."

A.F. Vandevorst (1997)

Belgian husband-wife team An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx launched their first collection in Paris in 1998 after graduating from the Fashion School of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. They launched a shoe collection in 2003 and naturally segued into a lingerie line three years later. The pair is known for their deft contrasts in fabrics, textures, and colors, often layering silky lingerie-inspired pieces with tailored jackets, reworked white cotton button-downs, or dramatic capes.

The Belgian label was launched by married couple, An Vandevorst and Filip Arikcx in 1997, linked by a mutual penchant for collecting hospital memorabilia. This occupation inspires their fashion designs that evoke functional uniforms. Their style has this conceptual feel dear to the Belgian school yet, it remains accessible, sexy and feminine.

Cathy Pill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cathy Pill (born in Antwerp in 1981) is a Belgian fashion designer,  formerly Creator and Director of Cathy Pill label,  and presently co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of MuseStyle. Cathy Pill graduated from the fashion school E.N.S.A.V. of La Cambre in Brussels. She interned at brands such as A.F. Vandevorst and Vivienne Westwood before winning a numerous prizes.

After graduating, Cathy quickly became a multi award-winning designer. She started her career at A.F. Vandevorst and Vivienne Westwood. The brand was featured in more than 70 stockists over the world (Galleries Lafayette, Browns, Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Stijl, Irina Kha  and was worn by a number of celebrities (Lou Doillon, Beth Ditto,  Eva Green).  Cathy Pill also worked on a lot of collaborations


Thursday, April 2, 2015


Many thanks to Zoran Cubela for his nice cover from Bosna Hercegovina. Zoran is administrator of a philatelic blog which you can find it here :

Now about the cover.. 

There are  five stamps on the cover. Two issued in 2007 and two issued on 2008 by  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian Administration (Mostar Post Office)

The first post stamp is coming from a five stamp set   Medjugorje 2008 issued on 1st June 2008

The second stamp is dedicated to 2007 International Cultural Heritage Day - Boljuni (issued 23 September 2007)

The third stamp (in pair) is dedicated to 10th Anniversary of the "Matica Hrvatska" Days (issued 25 March 2008)

"Matica hrvatska" Days
The branch of Matica Hrvatska in Osijek organizes every year a rich cultural program on the occasion of celebrating the Matica Hrvatska Days.
Besides the literary arts this event includes also other types of artistic expression. Each year the event is organized in co-operation with an international branch of Matica Hrvatska, this mainly includes cities from neighbouring countries and many of them are Sister Cities of the City of Osijek, like: Pécs, Subotica and Tuzla. The event usually includes literary readings, discussions and round tables, presentations of literary publications, literary discussions, poetry evenings, but also concerts and exhibitions.

The fourth stamp is dedicated to St. Valentine's day (issued 14 February 2007)

St. Valentine's day

Valentine's Day, also known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is a celebration observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it is not a public holiday in most of them.

St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies. A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine's Day, albeit on July 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni). In Brazil, the Dia de São Valentim is recognized on June 12.

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to successfully soak and clean OLD and NEW stamps!

How to successfully soak and clean OLD and NEW stamps!

Published by pltolomy

Cleaning stamps is perhaps one of the most critical parts of stamp collecting. Unless you buy or swap for only "off paper" stamps, there will come a time when you will have to clean an amount of stamps. There are lots of different ways to approach this task, and hopefully this guide (and a few years of my trial and error) will enable you to carry out this task with great efficiency.
Stamps generally break down into three age categories: Pre-1966 stamps, 1966 to 1990, and 1990 to now.
The pre 1966 stamps include all the pre-decimal definitives, as well as the state stamps, postage dues, etc. Obviously, these stamps being older, they require much more care and attention. I have found that in some cases, these stamps may not need to be cleaned, especially if they have a really clear and interesting postmark.
If you feel they DO need to be removed off paper, then you will need a small container of cold to luke warm water, some kitchen paper towel and some desk space. I have found that when the water temperature is too hot, some stamps can become damaged, lose colour, fray or just fall apart, so cold water is okay for these stamps.
Some stamps from prior to 1966, especially state stamps, postage dues, and several British stamps, will have dyes that will run in water. If you suspect you have a stamp like this, or if you want to check to make sure, wet the end of your finger in the water, pat dry most of the water, and then lightly touch the front of the stamp in one of the corners, or some other non-obvious place. You can tell immediately if the colour will run, simply by looking at the stamp condition, or at the end of your finger. BE CAREFUL! Small water damage may affect the value of your stamp!
Some stamps that have caught me out in the past are the NSW 1d 1897-1910 definitive (Red), the QLD 1d 1890-1911 Sideface (Red), and also the WA 1d 1902-1912 Swan and Queen definitive stamps. All of these stamps are prone to have some ink run. Nothing serious... no damage to the stamp, but if you are soaking a nice light stamp, you will see some of the red colour transfer... leaving you with one red stamp, and one slightly PINK stamp!
Put ONE singe layer of SIMILAR COLOUR stamps in the container (ice-cream, or chinese takeaway containers work best) and leave for about 1/2 hour. After this time, tear off 2 sheets of kitchen paper and lay of flat surface, then using tweezers, gently remove the PAPER FROM THE STAMP (not the other way around as the stamp will be quite delicate once saturated) and then with a spoon, scoop the stamp from the water and lay it face up on the paper. In some cases, post mark ink may run when wet, so it may be safer (although more time consuming) to do one stamp at a time, particularly if the post mark is heavy, or of a strong colour. Once all the stamps have been removed, wait 10 minutes and turn all the stamps over. This will stop them from curling. Wait for them to dry completely, and they should be ready to put in your album or stockbook.
The stamps from 1966 to 1990 have the benefit of improved print techniques, improved paints and dyes, and also better quality paper. Most of the stamps from this era won't run or fade in water, and are mostly the lick and stick types. Because they are a little bit hardier, the process for removing them from paper is a little less complicated.
I have found that the best way to remove these stamps is to place them in an ice-cream container filled with warm water. Leave them for about 15 minutes (or until they have all separated from the paper) and then using tweezers, just pick them out and lay them on the kitchen paper.
Once dry, i have found that these stamps generally do not curl, but if curling occurs, simply place another 2 lays of kitchen paper on top of the semi-dry stamps, and then place a stockbook on top.
The last category is the 1990 to now stamps. Basically, there are 2 main types of stamps: Peel and Stick, and and the Lick and stick stamps. As the stamps in this age category are also quite hardy, the process is again much simpler.
I have found it possible to soak up to 100 stamps at a time in a large ice-cream container filled with hot water. Just place all the stamps in, wait for 15 minutes, and then remove all the stamps and place them on the kitchen paper. The peel and stick stamps i have found curl the most, and the best way i have discovered to stop this from happening is to place 2 layers of Reflex paper on a table, lay out the semi-dry stamps, place 2 more layers of Reflex paper, (more stamps, more paper, more stamps more paper, etc) and then once the last 2 sheets of Reflex have been put on top, place all the phone books you have, and all your stockbooks on top and leave them for a day. This will ensure that your stamps will be both dry, flat, they wont stick to the reflex, and they will be nice and white.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Many thanks to Sylvia Sanchez Oller for the nice cover and the stamps that were offered to our blog

The cover has on it a stamp from the eight stamps Country definitives - England stamp set referred to  England National symbols. The stamp set was issued on March 3, 2011. The stamp on the cover is dedicated to "The Royal Oak"

National symbols of England

The national symbols of England are flags, icons or cultural expressions that are emblematic, representative or otherwise characteristic of England or English culture. As a rule, these national symbols are cultural icons that have emerged from English folklore and tradition, meaning few have any official status. However, most if not all maintain recognition at a national or international level, and some, such as the Royal Arms of England, have been codified in heraldry, and are established, official and recognised symbols of England.

The Royal Oak is the English oak tree within which King Charles II of England hid to escape the Roundheads following the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The tree was in Boscobel Wood, which was part of the park of Boscobel House. Charles told Samuel Pepys in 1680 that while he was hiding in the tree, a Parliamentarian soldier passed directly below it. The story was popular after the Restoration, and is remembered every year in the English traditions of Royal Oak Day. Numerous large dishes painted in slip with the Boscobel Oak, supported by the Lion and Unicorn, with the king's face peeping from the branches were made by the Staffordshire potter Thomas Toft


Thanks a lot Sylvia



So You Think You Know the Basics ?

Stamp Collecting

So why shouldn't you chop up stamps, stick them together with sellotape, and store them in a partially cleaned jam jar ?  Existing collectors will tell you all sorts of reasons; all their own opinions. I don't expect you'd find any collector who'd agree with the method mentioned, but you've always got to remember that each collector's opinion will differ in some way from the next collector's.

To collect stamps you  need three things;
          a storage system
          a reason for doing it !

What is Stamp Collecting and why do it ?

Stamp collecting is an illogical activity that gives pleasure, but then, run through some other hobbies and pastimes (many of which might be thought of as sensible or "normal") and you'll find a distinct lack of logical reasons for doing them. It sometimes gets a bit of a reputation for being a slightly "nerdy" hobby. Maybe it's because it's a pastime pursued mostly by lone participants, indoors, with their curtains closed. Stamp collectors should have self-confidence in their pursuit - it is no less sensible than most other indoor pursuits, and much more sensible than many. (Remind me, just what is the point in watching a soap on the television ?)

Humans have always had an instinct to collect. Apparently there are examples of primeval man having gathered stones and pebbles from different sources, and arranging them at the side of their dwelling. Done for no other reason but that this "caveman" was a collector !  When adhesive postage stamps first appeared in 1840, people started collecting them, even though there was such a tiny variety available. As other countries started issuing stamps, and the range of varieties increased, stamp collecting emerged as we might recognise it. People exchanged information as well as stamps. Collectors aimed at completion. The rest is history.

What are The Rules ?

There are no rules. Anybody stating that there are rules doesn't understand the rules, or is ignorant, or arrogant. However, it is irresponsible to make your own decisions without first getting informed on all the choices, all the pros and cons. A serious beginner should take their time and take on as much information as possible before embarking on a path they might later regret. Speak to other collectors - if you can manage to find ten to ask, you'll find ten different sets of recommendations.

However, you could keep waiting and waiting, until you know everything, before starting. Clearly there has to be a balance - yes, get active, get started, but don't jump in too fast.

And when you start, it will be your collection, taking the form and direction you have chosen.
Stamp collecting is therefore a hobby well-suited to self-confident individuals, as well as being accessible to people who would rather follow popular trends.

There are as many different styles of collecting as there are types of people – nobody can say their way is right. Different people might be attracted by;

technical aspects of printing and stamp production
          the aesthetic quality of designs
ticking boxes/filling lists
          the attractive pictures of their favourite animals
          the stamps' h
istorical background
nterest in market prices
leasure of arranging collection
          social aspects of the hobby
          the openings for carrying out research
          the fact that stamps can be an “add-on” to other existing interest
          showing off !     -     and there's more reasons.

What to Collect ?
There are so many choices – you should look at as much as possible, use your imagination, talk to people. If possible, visit a stamp shop, a philatelic society meeting, a postal museum, an ordinary museum (many have stamps), a stamp fair or exhibition, or a stamp auction. Find something that you are drawn to. Do a bit of research to see if it is going to be possible to find enough material to fit into your collection - and that you can afford it.

How Should it be Stored ?

In the most basic forms, the choices are as follows;

Shoebox A surprising number of collections never make it past the shoebox stage ! (Other kinds of box do almost as well, of course . . . )
Cheap, easy, quick, and actually quite good for the stamps.
Difficult to organise in such a way as to see what is in the collection.
Albums with strips across the page where the stamps slip in and out.
Quick and easy to use, and easy to change the stamps' positions as the collection grows. Loose leaf versions are even more flexible.
A certain amount of the layout is not variable. Difficult to write-up or annotate. You miss out on the pleasures of page arrangement.
Traditional album
Loose leaf album with pages normally printed with a faint squared pattern.
Stamps mounted using either stamp hinges or plastic mounts.
Can be the most satisfying method available, creating a very personal collection, and with the widest options for layout (on each page, and of the collection as a whole). Fairly inexpensive.
Reasonably time-consuming, especially if pages are laid out to their best advantage and research done for background information. Unless using proper stamp albums, you must be wary of the chemical properties of the paper you use.
Printed album
Normally an album with pages already marked out with spaces for all the stamps of a particular country. Some come with plastic mounts already in place.
Unless you make a mess of it, your collection will look good. OK, the same as other people's, but you will easily attain a certain standard.
Little room for individuality. One of the most expensive storage methods available, particularly if the "hingeless" type of album (with mounts) is chosen.

How to Mount Stamps

          Stamp Hinges; These have been used commonly by stamp collectors almost since the earliest days of collecting. Cheap and practical, they are specially gummed slips of paper, part of which is stuck to the stamp, with the larger part being stuck to the page. Note that there are no stamp hinges available anywhere in the world which approach the peelable qualities of the hinges available some decades ago. 

          Plastic Mounts; Brands such as Hawid and Showgard are popular as a method of mounting a stamp on a page without the stamp being stuck to anything. The "gard" types are sealed top and bottom, and split along the centre of the back - make sure when wetting the back of the mount that no moisture can get near the stamp. The other types are sealed at the bottom only.

          Photo Corners; These should not be used for stamps or for miniature sheets as they will probably, given time, dent or bend or crease the corner of the item mounted. They are fine for thicker items such as cards and covers.

          Packets on Pages; Some collectors mount larger items (e.g. blocks or miniature sheets) using a clear-fronted packet which they then stick on the page. That's ok but for two reservations; firstly that some packets are made of materials that are only intended for short-term use and may discolour with time, and secondly that if sticky tape or glue are used to stick the packet to the page it will probably deteriorate with age and this might damage the stamps.

What Use are Stamp Catalogues ?
Strangely, the reason many people use a catalogue (to check prices) is the one area where most stamp catalogues fall down. 

They are very useful, and generally accurate, at giving you information like dates of issue, descriptions of the stamps' designs, background technical data such as printing methods and perforation measurements, details of artists and designers, and providing a complete list of all the stamps available so that you can get your collection in order and see where you have gaps. 

On prices they fail. They are so misleading, so inaccurate, that many people would be better off never seeing one !

Tools of the Trade

There are various accessories available to stamp collectors. One is a necessity (I think !) and that is proper stamp tweezers.

My advice on other accessories is to get what you need when you need it - that is to get the correct tools to do the job, once you have identified what the job is.
The various things you might find useful include;

          Watermark detector
          Floating tray and drying book
          Magnifying glass
          Ultraviolet lamp
          Colour chart
          Perforation gauge

Sources of Stamps
Here's some ideas about where you can get stamps from, and what good or bad about each one;

          The Post; Of course this is the cheapest method, but it rather limits the amount and variety of stamps you are likely to obtain.
          Friends; Great if you have a contact who works in an organisation that gets lots of foreign mail, but still limiting, and you might also feel that you are due your friend something back.
          Post Offices; The prime source. Most people feel that they can't do better, as you get everything at issue price, not realising that sometimes you can get things a few years later for less than issue price. Some post offices are very helpful towards collectors, others just can't be bothered.
          Stamp Dealers (shops, fairs, or mail order); Generally tend to be a bit more expensive that other sources, but a good dealer can be a very worthwhile contact as they often provide a wide range of permanent stock, and can be the source of good advice.
          Auctions; Very popular with many collectors, although any individual auction sale will have a limited range of material on offer, and will not be able for commercial reasons to sell things in very small "bites". Usually considered as being the indication of the mid-market for buying and selling.
          Internet; An excellent source of material, with millions of items available worldwide every day, sometimes at very reasonable prices (at times even bargains). However, it is good to be wary, as there are lots of "pups" on offer, where there are problems such as forgeries, reprints, misidentifications, and poor quality. There are very few people selling through internet auctions who are deliberately trying to cheat others, but many are selling things in innocent ignorance - and some of these things end up being bought by someone who is also innocently ignorant !