650 Years of the Corpus Christi procession of Valencia

In 2005 Valencia celebrated 650 years of the Corpus Christi procession.

This religious celebration dates back to 1355, when Valencia's bishop, Hugo de Fenollet invited the inhabitants to decorate the streets and squares, and to participate in a procession with the civilian and religious authorities.
This tradition has been followed year after year in the Corpus Christi festivity, and nowadays, thanks to the work of the Association Amics del Corpus de Valencia, it has become a magnificent example of Valencia's popular traditions.

On the occasion of this celebration, on Thursday May 26 th 2005 a thematic philatelic exhibition on the subject of the Corpus Christi was held in the Exhibition hall of the main Post office of Valencia.

At same time a commemorative postmark of the 650 years of the Valencia Corpus was produced.

Unexpectedly, the assistants at the inauguration could see that the franking balance installed in the Philatelic window (nr. 7567) had been prepared to issue labels with a commemorative legend.

Although the exhibition remained open for only one week, the use of the postmark and the issue of commemorative labels continued for a total of 45 days.

Also, for the first time, the balance was configured to print the commemorative text in 3 lines in the upper part of the adhesive label, on the design, and not replacing the name of the post office as in previous similar issues.

This arrangement allowed the printing of a longer text, had already been tried in April 2005 on the occasion of a similar issue in Manlleu, Barcelona, but after some tests and the issue of some labels, they rejected this option because the information is kept in the balance in a special type of memory (RAM) that is erased when the equipment is switched off.
In Valencia, because of the same problem, they decided to leave the franking balance switched on for the 45 days (!!!).

What happened over these 45 days it's a succession of blunders that perhaps will amuse some, but the reality is that the ATMs issued are far from anything that can be considered a serious ATM issue.

The technician in charge of setting up the balance made a mistake when entering the text for the ATMs, and on the first day (May 26th) the balance issued labels with the text:

VALENCIA 1355-2005

Realizing the error (the 3 SSS), on the next day, May 27th, the new (correct) text on the labels read:

VALENCIA 1355-2005

This text continued like this for some weeks, despite some balance breakdowns and repairs during June. However in the first days of July, a further breakdown took place and again the text was changed. The new legend on the ATMs now read:

VALENCIA 1355-2005
(In Valencia language, the correct word is PROCESSO, with 2 SS, not 1. And it's ANIVERSARI, not ANIVERSARIO).

This, however, is not the end, because after yet another breakdown some days after, the technician introduced yet a new error in the text:

VALENCIS 1355-2005

(Besides the previous errors, the correct word is VALENCIA, not VALENCIS).

The irregularities continued with the use of different designs of labels during all these days:

When the rolls of the first design used, (Postal architecture. Cadiz), were exhausted, a search was made for some other label designs with a clear background that allowed the commemorative overprint to be seen more clearly.

With this excuse, they used (at least) 6 different designs (!!): Arquitectura postal. Cadiz, J. Carrero. Carta desde mi tierra, Sammer Gallery. El Verano, Berliet 1926, Milord 1900 and Rolls Royce 1947.

It's surprising to see 6 different designs used in a month and a half and in a unique balance, considering that in most of the Spanish post offices the design of the label changes every 2 months, on average.
But maybe we still have to be congratulated (...) considering that in a Exfilna over a one week period, 16 different designs were used each overprinted with the commemorative legend, or that in some of the local overprints in which the balance was in service for 2 or 3 hours only, the organizers-collectors changed the paper on average each half an hour (...).
Commemorative sheet edited by the Valencia Philatelic Service
(Size: 21,00 x 29,70 cm)

And it's still more surprising when we discover how some of the designs have been issued with more than one overprint variety.
This was not a normal sequential use (where the postal employee changes the roll when it is finished), it's just a wish to create a maximum of options legend / paper, authentic philatelic creations for collectors and philatelic dealers.

We repeat again: It's possible that all this can amuse or even interest someone, but in no way can this be considered as a serious issue of a franking label.

If someone wanted to promote and to display this cultural event through the post, they could have requested a mechanical slogan postmark, and all the correspondence dispatched from Valencia could have carried with pride the advertisement of such a worthwhile commemoration !

If someone was interested in making a philatelic commemorative item, why not just issue just blank labels with the commemorative legend ?
They could have been distributed through postal counters and post offices, not only for philatelic collectors, but to be applied like an advertisement on all type of correspondence !
So, please, -- forget the ATMs !

The issue of a franking label or stamp, a variable value stamp or an ATM, is something both important and serious. It should not be possible to allow the issue, characteristics and all the varieties produced to be caused by a technician in the maintenance of balances, a exhibition organizer (ATM collector), or the postal employee (or the friend collector of the employee) that issue the ATMs.

ATEEME, as a study and collecting group specialising in ATM issues, deplores the attitude of Spanish Post - Correos to churn out ATMs just simply to make more money, and the wrong purpose that some private organizers (always ATM collectors) make of the ATMs with these overprints, to suit their own interest.

ATEEME members . See note in the Internal Bulletin

ATM Web - Spain and Latin American Postal Services: http://www.ateeme.net
© J. Jove - M. Sans. ATEEME. Variable value stamps study group. All rights reserved
This page was created in July 2005
and last updated:  28.08.05 . English edition rewrited by S. Goodman (27.08.05)