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Valira Torrent:   Contents | Subject index

Perforation image from Serif Art Gallery. © Serif Inc, 1996

Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 22, pp10-12 (Nov 1985).

Copyright notice

Collecting Mamimum Cards

by Carlos Romo

Now that "maxiphila" has begun to become popular amongst collectors worldwide, it is time to look at the specifics of this interesting sideline of philately. Although it has been known in Europe since the 1920s, interest in Britain and the USA has never been as strong than as at the present time.

The aim of the maximum card is to achieve the maximum relationship between the subject of an illustration on a postcard, the stamp affixed to it, and the cancellation tying the one to the other. The primary "ingredient" for the formula is always the postcard, not the stamp; but all three are necessary for producing a true "maximum card".

Certain criteria must be met in order for a card to qualify as a maximum card, and these are as follows:-

  1. The card must be older than the stamp; that is, its appearance must antedate that of the stamp (even if only by a few hours, as often seems the case these days).
  2. The subject on the stamp must have maximum relationship to the card's illustration.
  3. The cancellation must be from the post office nearest to the subject of postcard and stamp.
  4. The type of cancellation used must be concurrent with the postal validity of the stamp.
  5. The subject on the stamp must have a direct relationship to the country of issue.

Therefore we see that not all stamps can be joined to a postcard to produce a maximum card in accordance with criterion 5). Many stamp designs have no relationship tying them directly to the country of issue; for example - omnibus issues, international sports events issues, many topicals,etc.

There are degrees of being "maximum", and some maximum cards are more maximum than others, depending on the strength of the criteria applied in creating them. Some could be considered "minimum" if, say, all the criteria are not met.

Some examples illustrate these principals. I've chosen maximum cards from Andorra, because the stamp issues from that country lend themselves excellently to maxiphila, and many of the designs have been based on postcard illustrations originally. However, I don't wish to mislead anyone into believing that a postcard illustration must be identical to a stamp's design - only maximum relationship is required.

St Jean de Caselles, old   St Jean de Caselles, recent

Figures 1 and 2 depict differing views of the same subject, at least sixty years span of Andorra's architectural jewel, the Church of Sant Joan de Caselles (San Juan de Casellas, St. Jean de Caselles), located near the village of Canillo. The location is within the jurisdiction of the parish of Canillo. This monument has been a popular subject for stamp designs from both the Spanish and French post Offices in Andorra, and it has appeared quite regularly since 1929.

Figure 1 shows a perfect maximum card fully meeting all the criteria: older postcard depicting Sant Joan de Caselles in 1916: a 5c stamp of the 1929/43 definitive issue of the Spanish post Office in Andorra: and a cancellation from Canillo, to which parish the church belongs.

Of Figure 2, one might be tempted to say "another perfect maximum", but alas no! If care is paid to detail on both designs of stamp and postcard, one can see that the 1979 French Europa stamp shows the old Sant Joan, with its two stages of windows in the belfry; but the card has a modern view of the same site with the third stage of windows that were not built until the 1930s! All the criteria are met, but it's still slightly less than "maximum". An older postcard with the appropiate view would have been necessary to make it fully maximum.

St Joan de Caselles (Espana 75) Whilst on the subject of Sant Joan, a curious anachronism appears on yet another stamp with a similar design - that of the Spanish Andorra issue marking the España '75 International philatelic Exhibition. The design shows a "XIX century postman", and yet the belfry of Sant Joan shows the three stages of windows of modern days - see Figure 3. It appears that stamp designers for Andorra need to apply themselves more fully to their homework!

Figures 4 and 5 show a "fool's gold" maximum and a "maximum maximum". It would be easy to assume that Figure 4 represents a perfect product, but in maxiphila close attention must be given to a stamps design before deciding whether or not it has the ingredients to make up a true maximum card.

cupboard first day card   cupboard - true maximum

Figure 4 meets most of the criteria; however, the cancellation is a first day of issue postmark of Andorra la Vella. Unfortunately, the particular cupboard shown on the stamp was not situated in that city. This item might be considered a "first day card" rather than a maximum. Figure 5. on the other hand, presents the old cupboard at its original location, the home of Guillem d'Areny Plandolit in the village of Ordino (shown on an issue of French Andorra in 1983). The stamp is tied by an appropiate Ordino Spanish agency postmark. But that's not all! - the gentleman in the picture, Ramon d'Areny plandolit, is a grandson of Sr en Guillem!

(The above article was first published in the Feb.25th, 1985 issue of the American magazine "Stamp Collector", Box 10, Albany, OR 97321, USA)

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