Sunday, 30 April 2017

United States of America - Kansas

In my World envelope collection I do not just want to have envelopes from stamp-issuing countries and territories, but also from other regions. This includes the 50 states of the United States of America. This envelope comes from the state of Kansas, lying in the midwestern region of the United States. It was the 34th state, admitted in 1861.

The stamps were affixed by me and come from the Flags of our nations and Greetings series, with a stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of statehood. I sent the envelope to the central post office in the capital Topeka to be postmarked. The envelope arrived back in a plastic bag that is used for damaged mail. I could not find any damages, so I assume the Postmaster put my envelope in the bag to protect it. Seeing the smudged ink on the stamps, I guess the ink was not yet completely dry when the envelope was put in the bag. Nevertheless, the postmark is from the Postmaster himself and that is fairly unique.

Date sent: 14 April 2017
Date postmark: 20 April 2017
Date received: 26 April 2017
Number of days: 12
Envelope in collection: 17




Netherlands

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy in the northwestern part of Europe. The first postage stamps were issued in 1852. Since a few years stamps have a number that signifies the value: 1 for national letters up to 20 gr, 2 for national letters up to 50 gr and INTERNATIONAAL 1 for foreign letters up to 20 gr. Stamps in guilder values are no longer valid, but stamps in euros can still be used.

On 1 January 2017 PostNL abolished all datestamps in the country. The only way to get a stamp postmarked is just put your envelope in the letter box and send it through the normal mail. The philatelic service, now called Collect Club, sells cancelled stamps. These are stamped with a normal datestamp, so I sent an envelope to the Collect Club with a letter asking for a date stamp. Almost two weeks later I received my envelope and my letter back, not from Collect Club but from the Dutch Association of Stamp Dealers (NVPH) with a card saying they received my envelope from Collect Club and had no idea what to do with it. So I just put the envelope in the letter box and it came back the next day with a The Hague postmark.

Website of Collect Club (in Dutch only): shop.postnl.nl.

Date sent: 25 April 2017
Date postmark: 25 April 2017
Date received: 26 April 2017
Number of days: 1
Envelope in collection: 16




Saturday, 29 April 2017

United States of America - Arizona

In my World envelope collection I do not just want to have envelopes from stamp-issuing countries and territories, but also from other regions. This includes the 50 states of the United States of America. This envelope comes from the state of Arizona, lying in the southwestern region of the United States. It was the 48th state, admitted in 1912.

The stamps were affixed by me and come from the Flags of our nations and Greetings series, with a stamp commemorating the statehood centenary. I sent the envelope to a post office in the capital Phoenix to be postmarked. This was the first envelope from outside Europe I received back.

Date sent: 14 April 2017
Date postmark: 20 April 2017
Date received: 25 April 2017
Number of days: 11
Envelope in collection: 15



France

The republic of France in Western Europe started to issue postage stamps in 1849. Almost all French stamps are still valid for postage. Stamps in French francs can be used at 15 eurocents per franc.
The stamp on the envelope I affixed myself is for letters to European countries. It shows Marianne, the personification of the French republic. Through the years a number of different series with Marianne have been issued.

The postmark is from the central philatelic sales point in Paris. Normally that is housed in the 'poste centrale du Louvre' at 52 rue du Louvre in the first arrondissement of Paris. In 2015 a renovation project started and the post office moved temporarily to 16 rue Étienne Marcel, 400 metres to the east. In 2018 the post office will return to its normal place and the postmark will change back to the rue du Louvre.

Website of La Poste (sells stamps of France, Andorra (French Post Office), French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories): boutique.laposte.fr/collectionneur.

Date sent: 5 April 2017
Date postmark: 21 April 2017
Date received: 25 April 2017
Number of days: 20
Envelope in collection: 14



United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Apart from the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242.500 km² were home to an estimated 66 million inhabitants in 2017.

The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world's longest-serving current head of state. The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million.

The United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and political systems of many of its former colonies.

The United Kingdom was the first country that issued postage stamps, back in 1840. Being the first, they do not have to put their country name on the stamps like the rest of the world. All stamps have either the portrait or the monogram of the ruling monarch.

The stamp I put on the envelope, international tariff, is part of a series of definitives that started on 5 June 1967. After being cancelled at the Trafalgar Square Post Offce the envelope was put through the normal channels and thus received a second cancellation from the machine in the Mount Pleasant mail centre.


Date sent: 14 April 2017
Date postmark: 21 April 2017
Date received: 25 April 2017
Number of days: 11
Envelope in collection: 13



Friday, 28 April 2017

England

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

The area now called England takes its name from the Angles, a Germanic tribe deriving its name from the Anglia peninsula, who settled during the 5th and 6th centuries. England became a unified state in the 10th century, and since the 15th century, has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world. The English language, the Anglican Church, and English law - the basis for the common law legal systems of many other countries around the world - developed in England, and the country's parliamentary system of government has been widely adopted by other nations. The Industrial Revolution began in 18th-century England, transforming its society into the world's first industrialised nation.

The capital is London, which has the largest metropolitan area in both the United Kingdom and the European Union. England's population of over 55 million comprises 84% of the population of the United Kingdom.

The Kingdom of England - which after 1535 included Wales - ceased being a separate sovereign state on 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union put into effect the terms agreed in the Treaty of Union the previous year, resulting in a political union with the Kingdom of Scotland to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801, Great Britain was united with the Kingdom of Ireland to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922 the Irish Free State seceded from the United Kingdom, leading to the latter being renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Royal Mail issues country definitives (originally: regional definitives) for the four countries in the United Kingdom showing local motives. The first definitives for England were issued in 2001. The stamp for the international tariff was affixed by myself. After being cancelled at the City of London Post Office the envelope was put through the normal channels and thus received a second cancellation from the machine in the Mount Pleasant sorting centre.

Website of Royal Mail, definitives page: shop.royalmail.com/definitives.

Date sent: 14 April 2017
Date postmark: 20 April 2017
Date received: 25 April 2017
Number of days: 11
Envelope in collection: 12



Netherlands - Stamp code

In 2014 PostNL introduced the Stamp code, a stamp in the form of a 9-digit code which you can buy direct with your mobile phone or on the website. At the start the stamp code was more expensive than a normal stamp and only available for letters up to 20 gr. Now stamp codes are available for all national and international parcels and even for registered letters at the price of a normal stamp. After buying the stamp code you have five days to post your letter or parcel.

I ordered and paid for the stamp code with my mobile phone and posted my letter the next day. The stamp code does not get a cancellation at the sorting centre, but the machine code on the envelope shows that it was put through the normal post system.

Information on the Stamp code on the website of PostNL (in Dutch only): www.postnl.nl/postzegelcode.

Date sent: 24 April 2017
Date postmark: no postmark
Date received: 25 April 2017
Number of days: 1
Envelope in collection: 11




Netherlands - Post & Go 2017 - Bussum, Collect Club

The Netherlands did not have ATM stamps for years. In January 2017 they were re-introduced at the stamp show in Hilversum (I missed that). PostNL is experimenting with selling single stamps instead of sheets of ten stamps. Selling single stamps stopped when PostNL closed the post offices and put postal desks in bookstores, supermarkets and other shops.

In January 2017, four machines were in use. Machine NL01 is used for special events, NL02 is placed in the Collect Club stamp shop in Bussum and NL03 can be found in the PostNL shop in The Hague. There is also a machine NL00. The stamps from this machine are sold through the PostNL Collect Club website and in two shops in Amersfoort.

In October 2017 the NL02 machine in Bussum was relocated to The Hague and place in The Read Shop Apon in the Theresiastraat. Half a year later it was removed from there and whas then stored at the PostNL headquarters in The Hague without being used.

Each machine contains two rolls of 1500 stamps that are printed on demand. The stamp 'butterfly' has the value 1 (letter national up to 20 gr), the stamp 'tulip' has a value of INTERNATIONAAL 1 (letter international up to 20 gr) with a printed priority label.

I bought the stamps in Bussum on 21 April 2017. Since PostNL had withdrawn all datestamps at that time, the only possibility was to put my envelopes in a letter box. The envelopes were cancelled at the sorting centre in Amsterdam.

Date sent: 21 April 2017
Date postmark: 21 April 2017
Date received: 22 April 2017
Number of days: 1
Envelope in collection: 9




Date sent: 21 April 2017
Date postmark: 21 April 2017
Date received: 22 April 2017
Number of days: 1
Envelope in collection: 10





Thursday, 27 April 2017

Netherlands - Post & Go 2017 - Den Haag, PostNL

The Netherlands did not have ATM stamps for years. In January 2017 they were re-introduced at the stamp show in Hilversum (I missed that). PostNL is experimenting with selling single stamps instead of sheets of ten stamps. Selling single stamps stopped when PostNL closed the post offices and put postal desks in bookstores, supermarkets and other shops.

In January 2017, four machines were in use. Machine NL01 is used for special events, NL02 is placed in the Collect Club stamp shop in Bussum and NL03 can be found in the PostNL shop in The Hague. There is also a machine NL00. The stamps from this machine are sold through the PostNL Collect Club website and in two shops in Amersfoort.

In October 2017 the NL02 machine in Bussum was relocated to The Hague and place in The Read Shop Apon in the Theresiastraat. Half a year later it was removed from there and whas then stored at the PostNL headquarters in The Hague without being used.

Each machine contains two rolls of 1500 stamps that are printed on demand. The stamp 'butterfly' has the value 1 (letter national up to 20 gr), the stamp 'tulip' has a value of INTERNATIONAAL 1 (letter international up to 20 gr) with a printed priority label.

I bought the stamps in The Hague on 20 April 2017. Since PostNL had withdrawn all datestamps at that time, the only possibility was to put my envelopes in a letter box.The envelopes were cancelled at the sorting centre in The Hague ('s-Gravenhage).

Date sent: 20 April 2017
Date postmark: 20 April 2017
Date received: 21 April 2017
Number of days: 1
Envelope in collection: 7




Date sent: 20 April 2017
Date postmark: 20 April 2017
Date received: 21 April 2017
Number of days: 1
Envelope in collection: 8






Belgium

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a sovereign state in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30.688 km² and has a population of more than 11,4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels.

Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organization is complex and is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or communities: the Dutch-speaking, mostly Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, and the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual (French and Dutch), although French is the dominant language.

Historically, Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that also included parts of northern France and western Germany. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan center of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars. The country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution when it seceded from the Netherlands.

Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed colonies in Africa. The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia.

Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and its capital, Brussels, hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Council, as well as one of two seats of the European Parliament (the other being Strasbourg). Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO, and a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels also hosts NATO.

The stamp for the European tariff was affixed by myself. The postmark is from the Philatelic Bureau in Mechelen and shows tweezers and a magnigying glass, essential attributes for a stamp collector. The envelope was sent back to me from Mechelen in a registered envelope. Quite a service considering the stamp only costs € 1,13.

Website of the Belgian Philatelic Service (only in Dutch and French): eshop.bpost.be/verzamelaar.

Date sent: 5 April 2017
Date postmark: 11 April 2017
Date received: 20 April 2017
Number of days: 15
Envelope in collection: 6





Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Scotland

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

The Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801, Great Britain itself entered into a political union with the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (in 1922, the Irish Free State seceded from the United Kingdom, leading to the latter being renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

Within Scotland, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has continued to use a variety of styles, titles and other royal symbols of statehood specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland. The legal system within Scotland has also remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland; Scotland constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in both public and private law. The continued existence of legal, educational, religious and other institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with England.

The Royal Mail issues country definitives (originally: regional definitives) for the four countries in the United Kingdom showing local motives. The first definitives for Scotland were issued in 1958.

The stamp for the international tariff was affixed by myself. After being cancelled at the Edinburgh Post Offce the envelope was put through the normal channels and thus received a second cancellation from the machine in the Edinburgh mail centre.

Website of Royal Mail, definitives page: shop.royalmail.com/definitives.

Date sent: 14 April 2017
Date postmark: 18 April 2017
Date received: 20 April 2017
Number of days: 6
Envelope in collection: 5



Wales

Wales (Welsh: Cymru) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3.063.456 and has a total area of 20.779 km².

Welsh national identity emerged among the Britons after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of England's conquest of Wales. The whole of Wales was annexed by England and incorporated within the English legal system under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century.

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, development of the mining and metallurgical industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial nation. Now that the country's traditional extractive and heavy industries have gone or are in decline, Wales' economy depends on the public sector, light and service industries and tourism.

Although Wales closely shares its political and social history with the rest of Great Britain, and a majority of the population in most areas speaks English as a first language, the country has retained a distinct cultural identity and is officially bilingual. Over 560,000 Welsh language speakers live in Wales, and the language is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west. At many international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Wales has its own national teams, though at the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete as part of a Great Britain team. Rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness.

The Royal Mail issues country definitives (originally: regional definitives) for the four countries in the United Kingdom showing local motives. The first definitives for Wales were issued in 1958.

The stamp for the international tariff was affixed by myself. After being cancelled at the Cardiff Post Offce the envelope was put through the normal channels and thus received a second cancellation from the machine in the Welsh sorting centre.

Website of Royal Mail, definitives page: shop.royalmail.com/definitives.

Date sent: 14 April 2017
Date postmark: 18 April 2017
Date received: 20 April 2017
Number of days: 6
Envelope in collection: 4



Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland, variously described as a country, province or region. Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1.810.863.

Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland by the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Unlike Southern Ireland, which would become the Irish Free State in 1922, the majority of Northern Ireland's population were unionists, who wanted to remain within the United Kingdom. Most of these were the Protestant descendants of colonists from Great Britain. However, a significant minority, mostly Catholics, were nationalists who wanted a united Ireland independent of British rule.

For most of the 20th century, when it came into existence, Northern Ireland was marked by discrimination and hostility between these two sides. In the late 1960s, conflict between state forces and chiefly Protestant unionists on the one hand, and chiefly Catholic nationalists on the other, erupted into three decades of violence known as the Troubles, which claimed over 3.500 lives and caused over 50.000 casualties. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement was a major step in the peace process, including the decommissioning of weapons and security normalisation, although sectarianism and religious segregation still remain major social problems, and sporadic violence has continued.

Northern Ireland has historically been the most industrialised region of Ireland. In many sports, the island of Ireland fields a single team, a notable exception being association football. Northern Ireland competes separately at the Commonwealth Games, and people from Northern Ireland may compete for either Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympic Games.

The Royal Mail issues country definitives (originally: regional definitives) for the four countries in the United Kingdom showing local motives. The first definitives for Northern Ireland were issued in 1958. The stamp for the international tariff was affixed by myself. For some reason the stamp has also been cancelled with pen strokes.

Inside the envelope the Belfast Post Office sent me back my letter and the envelope I used to send the request. On the back of the envelope there are two more datestamps of Belfast.

Website of Royal Mail, definitives page: shop.royalmail.com/definitives.

Date sent: 14 April 2017
Date postmark: 18 April 2017
Date received: 20 April 2017
Number of days: 6
Envelope in collection: 3




Monaco

Monaco, officially the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state, country, and microstate on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco is about 15 km from the state border with Italy.

Monaco has an area of 2,020 km², making it the second-smallest country in the world after the Vatican. Its population was about 38.400 (2016). Monaco's most populous Quartier is Monte Carlo. Through land reclamation, Monaco's land mass has expanded by 20 percent. Monaco is known to be the most expensive and the wealthiest place on Earth, Vatican City excluded, due to its tax laws. In 2014, it was noted that about 30% of the population was made up of millionaires.

Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297. The official language is French, but Monégasque, Italian, and English are widely spoken and understood. The state's sovereignty was officially recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861, with Monaco becoming a full United Nations voting member in 1993. Despite Monaco's independence and separate foreign policy, its defense is the responsibility of France. However, Monaco does maintain two small military units.

Economic development was spurred in the late 19th century with the opening of the country's first casino, Monte Carlo, and a railway connection to Paris. Since then, Monaco's mild climate, scenery, and gambling facilities have contributed to the principality's status as a tourist destination and recreation centre for the rich. In more recent years, Monaco has become a major banking centre and has sought to diversify its economy into the services sector and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries. The state has no income tax, low business taxes, and is well known for being a tax haven. It is also the host of the annual street circuit motor race Monaco Grand Prix, one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One. The principality has a club football team, AS Monaco, who have become French champions on multiple occasions.

Monaco is not formally a part of the European Union (EU), but it participates in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls. Through its relationship with France, Monaco uses the euro as its sole currency (prior to this it used the Monégasque franc). Monaco joined the Council of Europe in 2004. It is a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).

The stamp for the European tariff was affixed by myself. The postmark is of the Monaco Philatelic Bureau (Office des Emissions de Timbres-Poste), on the back of the envelope is a datestamp of Monte Carlo.

Website of the Monaco Philatelic Service: www.oetp-monaco.com.

Date sent: 4 April 2017
Date postmark: 15 April 2017
Date received: 19 April 2017
Number of days: 15
Envelope in collection: 2




Germany - Berlin - Sonderstempelstelle

Germany has two special centres where postmark collectors can send their request for special postmarks to: Berlin and Weiden. Each centre carries its own permanent postmark. For Berlin it shows the bear from the city coat of arms stamping a letter. The Sonderstempelstelle also has a special datestamp.

There is also a Sonderstempelstelle in Bonn, but that only deals with first day cancellations on the day of issue. Bonn has two permanent postmarks and a datestamp.

For this postmark I used the normal 90 definitive from the flower series.

Date sent: 5 April 2017
Date postmark: 10 April 2017
Date received: 13 April 2017
Number of days: 8
Envelope in collection: 1