Saturday, 22 July 2017

Dürer in Czechoslovakia

I like all things Dürer, as you may have gathered, and I presume word has got around, for the other day one of our club members came up to me and said he had acquired a huge Dürer collection and would I be interested? It was mainly covers but I said I would have a look anyway. Luckily for my bank balance it was indeed mostly covers and postmarks and what have you, but I found three items which I loved and could happily add to my collection.

They were three first day covers from Czechoslovakia. Now as you know, Czechoslovakia made collecting FDCs cool again because the illustrations on the cover are usually hand-engraved as well, and are therefore additional artworks from our beloved stamp engravers! A quick email to my philatelic fountain of knowledge friend in the Czech Republic confirmed what I had already thought: the covers were indeed hand-engraved by the engravers of the stamps on those covers.

And so, first up we have an FDC from 1979, with a stamp from that year's Art series. The engraving of the stamp and on the cover is by Bedrich Housa. The illustration on the cover is that of the Bagpiper, an engraving by Dürer from 1514.

The stamp itself depicts Dürer's 'Dancing peasant couple', also from 1514. They both are stunning engravings.

My next two covers date from 1989, franked with more Dürer stamps from yet another Art series. This time, Milos Ondracek is the master who engraved both stamps and covers.

The illustration on the cover is that of Apollo and Diana, from around 1503. Although both covers are alike, the one is printed in black and the other in deep purple-brown. They each were franked with one of the stamps from the miniature sheetlet.

That sheetlet depicted Dürer's Festival of the Rose Garlands, from 1506. The two stamps show details of the oil painting, but the sheetlet itself has an engraving of the complete painting.

Whilst I haven't seen any FDC with the complete sheetlet on, at least we do have one of those beautiful Mlada Fronta souvenir sheetlets connected to this issue. It is a printing of the complete engraving of the painting, but in monochrome. I'm normally quite a fan of monochrome printings, but I must say in this case I can't really choose between the two. The original being a rather brightly coloured oil painting, I do think the multi-coloured engraving does the original work justice. See for yourself, and remember you can click on all images to see them blown up!

Anyways, all these new items make me rethink my dream of building an engravers collection of Dürer material once again, so maybe I should just give it a go someday...


Saturday, 15 July 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Claude Andreotto

Claude Andreotto was born in Paris, France, in 1949. He spent five years at the Ecole Estienne where he studied under the guidance of the famous stamp engraver René Cottet, while also taking lessons from Pierre Forget. He always admired the work of the old masters, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer.

Claude started engraving stamps in 1974. That same year he engraved his first stamp for France: a single stamp to mark the 500th birth anniversary (in 1973) of the astronomer Nicolas Copernicus.

In 1976, Claude won his first Grand Prix de l’Art Philatelique, for his French stamp issued for Juvarouen 76. In 1984, Claude won his second Grand Prix de l’Art Philatelique, for his French stamp promoting Philex-Jeunes 84-Dunkerque. Claude’s stamps have won ‘most beautiful stamp of the year’ three times; in 1997, 2005 and 2008.

Claude does not only engrave stamps, his private art includes many large engravings as well. In 2012, his private work was displayed at the 12th Salon International de la Gravure, in Morhange, France. As a member of Art du Timbre Gravé, Andréotto was present at the exhibition.

As an artist, Claude has always been keen to combine the classic with the modern, both in subject matter and in tools. From the early 1990s on he was very interested in the possibilities of computerised art and it has remained a feature in  his work ever since. In his work he likes to use classic images and superimpose scientific illustrations, calligraphy and other non-contemporary ideas. While being often restricted when creating stamps, his style very much shone through on the Monaco stamp of 2000 marking World Mathematics Year. Other good examples of Claude's signature style are his work on the 1982 French issue to mark the centenary of the discovery of the Tubercle Bacilllus (both stamp and philatelic document), and a 'dummy stamp' he created for the French printers in 2008 when they were present at a French philatelic exhibition. His engraving for the Art de Timbre Gravé, which he did in 2011, is also a perfect example of this cacophony of ideas and images.

In 2013, Andreotto submitted designs for the new Marianne definitive of France. In his design he incorporated the new technologies which find favour among the youth of today while also recreating the style of the popular Manga comics. His design made it to the initial shortlist of fifteen designs but wasn't chosen for the final three to be considered. 

You will find Claude Andreotto's database HERE.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

CHAT: Albuisson's Ideal Palace

In April 1879, postman Cheval stumbled over a funny shaped stone. It brought back memories of his fervent wish to build a fantastical palace. He got to work on it, at night, modelling his palace after the local landscape and the illustrated magazines and picture postcards he was delivering day by day. 33 years/10,000 days/93,000 hours later (at the age of 76) he finished his palace, which has now become a major regional tourist attraction.

Whilst the postal link might have been enough reason to visit the place, I had to go and see it because it was the subject of Pierre Albuisson's first French stamp engraving in 1984!

Looking at the stamp first, we find two images illustrating various parts of the palace. On the left we have a view of the complete palace, looking at the short northern facade and the longer western facade with its columns.

The illustration on the right depicts the Three Giants. They are Caesar, Archimedes and Vercingetorix. They can be found on the eastern facade.

But there is more. Albuisson has always been rather vocal about the importance of the philatelic documents which accompany most French stamp issues. They not only contain information regarding the issue, but also a printing of the stamp image in monochrome and usually some other engraved illustration as well.

For the Palais Idéal issue, Albuisson engraved a large illustration portraying the actual postman and yet another view of the palace, this time of the various turrets on the terrace of the building.

In all it was a great visit and interesting to see the building in real life. So if you're ever in the neighbourhood (south east of France), it's worth the detour.


Saturday, 1 July 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Gabriel Antoine Barlangue

Gabriel Antoine Barlangue was born in Villeneuve sur Lot, France, on 24 February 1874.

Gabriel studied at the Schools of Fine Art in Toulouse and from 1883 in Paris. His masters were Jean-Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant. At the same time he took engraving lessons, with Jean Patricot, Henri-Emile Lefort and especially with that other stamp engraver, Antonin Delzers.

His private art focused on many themes: landscapes, portraits, and scenes of everyday life or of a religious nature. He painted, designed and engraved.

Gabriel’s friend Antonin Delzers introduced him to the world of postal engravings and the various competitions held.

In 1928, Gabriel realised his first stamp, that of Joan of Arc, which would be engraved by Abel Mignon and printed in typo when issued in 1929.

From 1937 on, he would design and/or engrave around 150 stamps for both France and her territories.

Gabriel was a member of the Salon of French Artists and was made an Officer of the Legion of Honour.

Gabriel passed away in Charenton le Pont on 7 April 1956.

You will find Gabriel Antoine Barlangue's database HERE.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Naszarkowski's papal work

I couldn't tell you whether his interest is religious, patriotic, philatelic or merely artistic, but there is a bit of a papal theme running through Piotr Naszarkowski's more recent work. Having just acquired some wonderful proofs, I though I'd share some of those with you.

We're starting off with the Polish pope John Paul II. In 2014, a joint issue appeared in Poland and Vatican City, to mark the pope's canonisation. It is a fantastically engraved likeness of the pope, and therefore would rank highly among Naszarkowski's portrait work.

While the two sheets seem identical at first glance, they are anything but. Take a closer look at the 'halo' around the pope's head. It consists of a text which I presume to be some prayer of sorts. While the text on the Vatican City stamp is in  Latin, the words on the Polish stamp are in Polish. So it's really worth it to get both of them, if you're interested.

Naszarkowski has engraved this pope's portrait much more often, but not on stamps as far as I know. They are more private works, or maybe they've been commissioned. I haven't got any of these, however I do have an engraved 'label' of another pope, Benedict XVI. He was John Paul II's successor. This one dates from 2005, the year he became pope.

In 2008, Vatican City issued two stamps marking this pope's apostolic journeys in 2007. The 65c stamp shows him in Brazil and the 85c in Austria. These too were engraved by Naszarkowski but as they were printed in a combination of recess and litho, the end result is not very pleasing. They are darkish stamps which do not show up the engravings well at all.

The proofs, however, are of the engravings only, and as such show the quality of the work much better. So I'm rather glad I was able to lay my hands on them!


Saturday, 17 June 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Pierre Bequet

Pierre Béquet was born in Versailles, France, on 27 October 1932. He grew up in that beautiful place, close to the palace, where he, like all other local kids, used to play in the gardens, among the beautiful old buildings and fountains. From a very young age, he felt the urge to put down on paper the impressions he experienced from these relics from the past.

Béquet’s love of art was soon further developed through his visits to the studio of Paul Pierre Lemagny, teacher at the School of Fine Arts. At the time, he was only 12 years old. Lemagny taught Béquet how to evolve his drawing to the art of engraving. Béquet soon fell for it, enjoying the rigorous technique involved. In 1948, Béquet went to the Ecole Estienne, where René Cottet taught him the art of engraving. Four years later he received his diploma. After that, in 1953, he entered the National School of Fine Arts in Paris, where he joined the studio of Robert Cami.

While travelling to the Provence as part of his studies, Béquet immersed himself in the world of art, lapsing it all up, the beauty of the surroundings, the light, the other artists around him.

In 1955, he became an art teacher in Ville de Paris. He kept this post until 1958. From then on he would alternatively teach drawing and engraving at the School of Fine Arts in Mans.

A long interval being conscripted in the French army was like a sombre blot on the picture, but Béquet returned to the province more mature, to ripen even further as an artist. That’s when he decided to try and obtain that coveted Prix de Rome. In 1960, he succeeded and winning the Prix de Rome opened up the doors to a philatelic career. With the famous stamp engravers Cottet and Cami having been his teachers, as well as having had his competition work judged quite often by Albert Decaris, that was a very easy step to make. These masters introduced him to the French Post. After having engraved a test piece, a portrait of the characteristic Grand Condé, he was accepted and, as was usual in those days, started to work on stamps for the French territories.

In 1961, Béquet engraved his first stamps: four values for the postage due issue of Congo. Soon after, he would become the principal engraver of the stamps of the recently founded French Southern and Antarctic Territories (FSAT). His first stamp assignment, that of the combating elephant-seals, issued in 1962, was the start of a close relationships with the territory and its stamps. He was given complete artistic freedom for each and every stamp, which he, as an artist, naturally enjoyed very much. And his talent was recognised three times, with the Grand Prix de l’Art Philatélique, for his 1965 ‘Discovery of Adélie Land’ stamp, his 1972 ‘Discovery of Crozet Islands and Kerguelen’ issue, and his 1976 ‘Cook’s Passage to Kerguelen’ stamp.

Even in the latter days of his career, when stamp issues were decided on locally rather than in France, he could still go his own way. Looking at the portrait stamps issued since the late 1990s, it becomes clears how Béquet was able to shape them as a series, giving them a unity in composition, even though they were issued as single stamps, with each portrait having its own characteristics.

In 1965, Béquet engraved his first stamp for France, the Youth Clubs issue. France’s guidelines for stamp design were so much stricter than Béquet was used to for the FSAT. All corrections demanded by the French Post had to be implemented or else the job would go to someone else. It is therefore no wonder that his favourite French stamp was the 1972 issue to mark the bicentenary of the discovery of the Crozet Islands and Kerguelen. His essay was accepted and when he was asked how he would like to proceed, Béquet answered: by having my artwork accepted without any changes to the design and/or colours. This request was granted, and the stamp was eventually issued exactly how Béquet had envisaged it.

In 1973, Béquet’s close artistic links with Versailles spilled over in his philatelic work. The French Post had asked several stamp engravers to come up with ideas for the annual Art series. Béquet submitted a work by Charles le Brun, ‘Study of a kneeling woman’.  Charles le Brun was the famous 17th century painter who decorated many of the halls in the Palace of Versailles. Béquet’s essay was accepted and the stamp as duly issued in 1973.

Another remarkable stamp from that Art series is Béquet’s engraving of the painting Volta Faccia by François Rouan, issued in 1991. The rather busy design gave Béquet quite some headaches. In order to translate the painting into a tiny engraving, he felt he really had to creep into the skin of the artist, to experience how the artist originally perceived and constructed his work. Luckily for him, the artist was still alive and the two co-operated throughout the process of creating the stamp.

The Art series underwent a major change with the introduction of the six colour printing press in the 1970s. For engravers this meant having to work on two different dies, each one for printing with three colours. The idea is to engrave both dies in such a way that the colours used for each will complement each other and create the colour variety which was aimed for. It is so much harder than merely mixing inks to create a colour. It meant that while reducing an art work to stamp format is a process of compromise anyway, even more needs to be compromised when it comes to colour. While performing this what Béquet called circus balancing act for the 1976 stamp of De Vlaminck’s Still Life with Fruit, he got so caught up in that process that he never thought twice about where to put the lettering, which eventually ended up in such an awkward place that collectors and the general public alike constantly placed the stamp upside down on their mail.

While working on that other long-running series of French stamps, those promoting tourism, Béquet got again the chance to model a number of stamps after his own ideas, creating a little miniseries within the series. The stamps in question are those depicting the Saint-Jean in Lyon and the Notre Dame in Louviers (both 1981) and Ripaille Castle (1982). Béquet engraved those three buildings in exactly the way one would see them when standing in front of them. Printed in monochrome against a white background, they really are like classic engravings and work both in that way, showing off the engraving quality, and in the way that they stand out from more usual depictions of buildings. For the Ripaille Castle stamp, Béquet received his fourth Grand Prix de l'Art Philatélique.

In 1980, Béquet founded the French Designers & Engravers Association 'Del & Sc'. He was its President for the first two years.

Throughout his life, Béquet remained a working artist outwith the scope of his philatelic work. Not only an engraver, he also worked a lot with metal sheets. Sometimes the two overlapped and his very personal style is reflected in a French stamp issued in 1995, with Lorraine’s iron and steel industry as its subject. Although the face detracts somewhat from the angular design (it was only added afterwards, on the express wishes of the French Post), the style is unmistakably Béquet’s.

For all the hundreds of stamps Pierre Béquet designed and engraved, his name will remain forever synonymous with his Marianne stamp of 1971. Based on his wife Gisèle, the profile, which Béquet initially had wanted to leave blank, portrays Marianne as a woman sharing all our pain and pleasure. The extra-curricular engraving for the philatelic document shows that initial portrait design against the map of France. The iconic design would remain in use until 1977, when it was replaced by a design by Gandon.

But Béquet made more than just the one Marianne. In 1974, he submitted a design for his own successor, again loosely based on his wife’s portrait. An even more stylistic Marianne, rigid in shadow, yet subtle in light, as he himself explained. The design went all the way to the proof making stage, but was eventually not adopted. It would not be lost, however, for it featured on a French stamp of 1990 marking the 50th anniversary of De Gaulle’s Call to Resist. In the late 1980s, another Marianne essay was submitted by Béquet. It got shortlisted but did not evolve beyond that stage.

Béquet was honoured Knight of the National Order of Merit and Knight of the Art and Literature Order. He passed away on 21 December 2012.

You will find Pierre Béquet's database HERE.

Saturday, 10 June 2017


I've just come back from a few days in France, visiting my all-time favourite sister-in-law who lives there. She was so kind as to give me all the engraved French stamps issued in 2017 so far for my birthday. Cool, innit?!

The selection includes some great stamps. Most importantly it includes the first French stamp engraved by Sophie Beaujard, portraying Germaine Ribière. Sophie is a well-known figure in stamp designing and has been for some years, but this is her first outing as an engraver of French stamps. In fact, it could well be that this is her first engraved stamp, period. I don't know of any stamps she may have engraved for the French territories, so there you go. With a dad being a famous stamp engraver as well, yes, she is Yves Beaujard's daughter, it may be a bit confusing, though. Are all the Beaujard without initials signed stamps by the dad? It does look like more recent examples of the Beaujard clan do include either a Y or an S to make the distinction clear. But I must research that a bit more whenever I get the time.

What I'm certain of is that she engraved the most recent engraving for Art du Timbre Gravé, on a Dutch theme, so that one can now thankfully go into my collection as well.

On the other side of the spectrum we find a stamp engraved by Pierre Albuisson, portraying Maurice Faure. The one thing I noticed, and have noticed before, is that the new group of engravers rather fancy the outlined portrait. I've no idea whether that's the mark of a relative beginner, or whether it is a style choice, or what. But note the lines around the Ribière portrait above. Then look at Albuisson's work and see how the engraving seems to be more natural. The hair especially is wonderfully well done. I'm not always that keen on the dot engraving style, though. I quite like the more traditional lined engravings.

Anyways, by far the best one of this lot was a stamp engraved by Sarah Bougault, whom I've never featured before, and shame on me for that. I think this is a brilliantly engraved stamp on the theme of wrought-iron work, part of a series of various types of art. Just look at how she engraved the large object on the right. See how she has made it so that it looks as if it shines. Pure magic.

She has also engraved this sheetlet on the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which is another one engraved very well I think. This is a joint issue with Canada, but as far as I am aware, the Canadian issue is not engraved. But if any Canadian readers know differently, do let me know!


Friday, 9 June 2017

DATABASE: Harry L Peckmore


Liberia, Definitives


United States, National Parks engravings

Reproduction of the Penny Black (1)

Specimen label with Washington portrait (1)


1) Essay-Proof Journal

Saturday, 3 June 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Pierre Albuisson

Pierre Albuisson was born in Madagascar on 26 September 1952 as the son of a French officer. He is one of the few, if not the only one, self-taught engravers in France. When he was six, seven years old, he already started copying renaissance works of art of the likes of Dürer, saying to his mum that he felt the master was watching him work over his shoulder.

Soon he found out these were not just drawings but engravings, which prompted him to get his first engraving tools in. The idea to become an engraver himself had just taken shape. At around the age of 12 or 13, his first engraving saw the light of day. While at secondary school, Pierre follows evening courses at the School of Fine Arts in Mâcon, France. Thanks to his love for Dürer, he got the nickname Little Dürer. In 1973, he won his national engraving degree, with honours. This was followed by the prestigious Rank Xerox award for engraving.

At that time he met Roger Caillois, the great French intellectual, and one of the directors of the school, who guided him towards further lectures and collaborations. Pierre then became a teacher at the school but he only stayed for some five years, leaving because he could not identify himself with the pedagogic direction the school was taking. During that time he illustrated several of Caillois' books.

What followed was a period in which Pierre worked at various projects: from book illustrations to wine bottle labels. His work could be seen at various expositions in Paris and Geneva. Pierre was to be crowned ’Best Craftsman of France’ twice, in 1979 and 1986.

In 1980 he got in touch with BEPTOM, the design department for overseas post and telecommunications. For them, he created a stamp-size engraving of the portrait of Konrad Lorenz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Through them he managed to get a contract for his first ever stamp engraving: the 1981 issue for Mali, marking Pierre Curie’s discovery of radio activity. This was followed by stamps for Andorra in 1983 and 1984, on the theme of nature protection. Even at this early stage, his work was praised. Designer of the Andorran stamps, Pierrette Lambert, marvelled at how Pierre could translate the refinement and sensitivity of the design into an equally fine engraving. The two would become close friends and in 1991 their professional paths would cross again, once more for an Andorran stamp; this time to commemorate the death bicentenary of Mozart.

In fact, it was Pierette Lambert who recommended Pierre to the postal authorities of Monaco. He started working for them in 1986. Three times Pierre’s stamps engraved for Monaco would win the award ‘Most Beautiful Stamp in the World’: for his 1990 Claude Monet’s The Magpie stamp, his 1993 Edward Grieg stamp and his 1995 engraving of Botticelli’s Spring. The first one shows perfectly his love for winter landscapes. Pierre has been granted the title of Knight of the Order of St Charles by Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

In 1984, Pierre got to engrave his first French stamp: Cheval’s Ideal Palace, part of the annual Tourism series. It would be the start of a glorious career. For Pierre, working on stamps is like working on an encyclopaedia; all manner of subject matter and design choices need to be dealt with. He has to work with subjects he would never have chosen himself, leaving him to always try and portray what the essential of the matter at hand.

In 2000, Pierre would win the Grand Prix de l'Art Philatélique for the first time for a French stamp he engraved: the 'Nevers' stamp issued to mark the 73rd French Philatelic Federation Congress.

On 21 November 2012, the French Academy of Fine awarded Pierre the Frédéric et Jean de Vernon award for his work as an engraver, 

In 2014, Pierre engraved the sheetlet for the French Southern and Antarctic Territories, depicting the historical birds once illustrated by Compte de Buffon. It won him the Grand Prix de l'Art Philatélique in the overseas category.

Nature, so Pierre says, is his main source of inspiration, it is the ultimate reference point for art. In fact, he starts every morning walking for at least an hour through the woods near his home. His artistic philosophy is like a triptych: eyes capable of looking at nature, a heart capable of feelings and a mind daring to follow those feelings wherever they may lead.

Having been so lucky as to start off his philatelic career with those nature sets from Andorra, Pierre is always happiest when his beloved forests can feature on stamps. In 1989, he literally lived in Fontainebleau forest for two days, preparing for a stamp on the woods which was to be part of the annual Tourism series. He carefully sourced all the various elements which were to be part of the design: the rock, the sand paths and the various trees.

In 2000, Pierre got to engrave one of his heroes: Henry-Louis Duhamel de Monceau, the 18th century French botanist who had so enthralled Pierre with his treaties on trees. Through him, Pierre embarked on an extensive study of botanists living in forests. The French stamp, marking the 300th birth anniversary of the botanist, was a beautifully detailed engraving of the man's portrait with a forest in the background.

His stamp work is often accompanied by philatelic documents. These documents include more artwork to do with the main subject on the stamp. This artwork is often also engraved. It has always been a bone of contention to Pierre that not much is thought of these documents, and that they hardly get any attention in the philatelic press. To him, they are an important artistic addition to the stamp issue and as such deserve more praise.

Pierre's 1995 French art stamp was also used on various other media, among which this promotional postcard. Like the philatelic documents, this card provides an additional engraving, this time that of the lady who would end up in the lap of the man. In fact, her outlines can already be seen on the stamp, which depicts a study for the eventual painting. The stamp, like so many other modern French stamps, is printed with two dies: one for direct recess printing and one for indirect recess printing.

For recess-printed stamps which have overlapping colours, two dies are needed. One die for the main design, which is a fine engraving. The second die is also engraved but more in patches of colour and is used for the background colours.

The finely engraved die is used for printing in the way we know: master die, transfer roller, printing cylinder, stamp paper. Which means that the actual image evolves thusly: mirror, normal, mirror, normal. This is called direct recess or direct intaglio because the ink fills the engraved recesses in the printing plate and then gets printed directly onto the stamp paper.

The second die is used fairly similarly but there's an extra step: master die, transfer roller, printing cylinder, transfer cylinder, stamp paper. And so the actual image evolves slightly differently: normal, mirror, normal, mirror, normal. This is called indirect recess because the ink on the printing cylinder gets printed onto the stamp paper via the extra step of the transfer cylinder.

The two dies together form the complete image and are therefore ususally called twin dies. And because, as noticed before, the direct die is a mirror engraving and the indirect die a normal engraving, it follows that any die proofs will be normal and mirror as well.

In 2004, the French magazine Timbres started a campaign to save the engraved stamp. Subsequently, Pierre and Yves Beaujard got together to discuss the plight of the art of engraving. Pierre was so worried that he felt something needed to be done, or else the art would die out and with it the hand-engraved, recess-printed stamp. He proposed the founding of an association to promote and safeguard the production of hand-engraved stamps. Needless to say, Yves couldn't agree more.

And so, in 2005, the Art du Timbre Gravé (ATG) was born. Pierre Albuisson, its founder and ideological father, naturally became President, and Yves Beaujard became Vice-President. Pierre engraved the logo used on the ATG membership cards. As the photograph, made in 2016 at the printer's, shows, it is only the burin which is engraved. The globe part of the logo is 'merely' embossed.

The ATG have already proved to have quite some clout with French politicians for they have been able to make it statutory law that at least a third of all French stamps issued per year must be hand-engraved and recess-printed.

As a special treat for its members, the ATG issues special engravings which are handed out with the magazine. To date (2017) Pierre has engraved three of those. His first one dates from 2006. In those early days, there were still two free engravings per year, with one of those usually being a 'Season's Greetings' card. Pierre's second card dates from 2011 and is much more topical, depicting engraver's hands at work. His latest contribution was issued in 2015, comprising a Canadian maple leaf with all the provincial arms included.

In 2013, the French and Southern Antarctic Territories, whose director of the Philatelic Bureau is a member of the ATG, issued a special sheet to promote the organisation. The actual stamp in the sheet was engraved by Pierre. The sheet duly won the Grand Prix d’Art Philatélique.

In 2015, during the annual stamp show Phila-France organised by the French Association of Philatelic Societies, the ATG celebrated its tenth anniversary. For the occasion, Pierre got to engrave the annual stamp to promote the stamp show, with both stamp and attached label showing scenes of Mâcon, where the show was held. Pierre also initiated the general theme of the festivities marking the tenth anniversary: bringing together under one roof the many aspects of engraving: graphic art, weaponry, heraldry, medal engraving, goldsmiths, silversmiths, etc. After all, it was the Italian goldsmith Maso Finiguerra who, in the 1460s, came up with the idea to put paper on top of his inked engraving to create paper copies of his work.

In 2016, after a stint of ten years, the top of the committee of the ATG, including Pierre as president, stood down to be replaced with 'new blood'.


Timbres Magazine, Novembre 2004

You will find Pierre Albuisson's database HERE.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

CHAT: The Canadian Tire Coupons

When I was doing a bit of research on Yves Baril, I came across a reference to Canadian Tire Coupons. I remembered having seen those before and soon remembered it was Charles Gordon Yorke who is also linked to these coupons. So it was high time I looked into the matter and when I did I soon stumbled upon the collectors club and its very helpful members! A frantic email correspondence followed which eventually cleared things up no end!

So here we go: Canadian Tire is a Canadian retail company selling much more than just gas and tires. Ever since the 1950s, they have had this customer loyalty programme based on coupons. These coupons are given out for purchases paid for by cash or debit, based on the pre-tax total excluding labour and shop supplies costs, etc. It used to be at a rate of 5% of the eligible purchase price but that has since been lowered to 0.5%. The coupons could be used to buy anything in the stores and at the gas stations but nowadays they can only be used in the stores.

The first coupons were introduced in 1958. They were recess-printed by the British American Banknote Company (BABN), with some being printed by Canadian Tire themselves. 

I have no further details on who engraved them, which is a shame for there are at least two different engraved scenes on the back. Originally, they had a rural scene on the back, and the copies I have, have the Canadian map on the back. Oh well, maybe some day we'll find out more! 

It is the second type of coupon where it gets interesting for us. One of the members found a signed die proof of the portrait of Sandy McTire (love that name!) which proved without doubt that it was done by Yorke. In an old journal of the Canadian Paper Money Society it was even mentioned that Yorke was 'quite proud of it'! This second type was introduced in 1961, again printed by the BABN, although the Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN) took over at some stage.

Yorke's portrait was also used on so-called auxiliary or lubritorium coupons, but these are no longer recess-printed. I do quite like the fact that they include Sandy's 'signature', though, as well as the tartan frame.

Moving forward to 1992, we see a third type being introduced, which is still used today. It is printed by the CBN. Now, even though we found no hard evidence, it is highly likely that this third type was engraved by Yves Baril. After all, Baril worked for the CBN and not for the BABN, so if he has done anything on the coupons, it can't have been for the first type, so it has to be this third coupon which he engraved.

For those who feel a bit of a collecting bug coming on, I believe there are over 600 different types of coupons to be collected, all relatively affordable. So that's you all sorted for the next couple of years!



With thanks to the members of the Canadian Tire Coupon Collectors Club, and especially to Doug Adams who coordinated this search so skilfully and enthusiastically. Cheers!