Thursday, 28 May 2015

577. Stamperija Takes Over Sierra Leone.

  The Lithuania-based philatelic agency, Stamperija, has taken on the role of official philatelic agent of SALPOST, Sierra Leone Postal Services Ltd. The philatelic agency has announced that "This is the 10th country to which we produce official postage stamps in 2015".

  In fact many of the postal administrations of West Africa have now put their philatelic reputations in the hands of Stamperija - Benin, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cote D'Ivoire, Niger, St. Thomas And Prince and Togo but this is the first Commonwealth territory in the region to fall into its hands. ISIS-like, Stamperija is gradually enlarging its (philatelic) territory and now The Commonwealth has five territories whose philatelic programmes have come under its influence (Mozambique, Maldives, Solomon Islands and Uganda being the other four). Stamperija also acts for Namibia but pleasingly has not so far had any effect on the stamps and number of stamps issued by the former South West Africa. 
  This is all bad news for the New York-based agency, IGPC, which has now lost 3 of its Commonwealth client territories - Maldives, Uganda and Mozambique - to the highly invasive Stamperija. Given that many of the stamps which IGPC produced in the name of Sierra Leone were considered by many to be excessive in nature and frequently were on subjects which had no relevance to Sierra Leone, the change of Sierra Leone's agent may have little impression on collectors who may feel that Sierra Leone is merely exchanging one philatelic agency for another of a similar type. 
  The big question, I suppose, is which impoverished postal administration will be the next to allow Stamperija to print its name on Stamperija's philatelic products?
  Fiji Post has issued a very attractive and interesting set of 4 stamps (date of issue not yet known) on the subject of conservation of the endangered Fiji Flying Fox on Taveuni Island. All 4 stamps bear the logo of Nature Fiji:-

  In Blog 576 I mentioned some items issued by Stamperija with the name of Solomon Islands printed on them which commemorated the Taipei 2015 philatelic exhibiton held from 24 to 28 April 2015. Further such items exist, said to have been released in May 2015, which also commemorate the Taipei 2015 exhibition and with the name of Mozambique inscribed on them. The items as usual take the form of a sheetlet of 4 different "stamps" and an accompanying miniature sheet. Each design depicts a Taiwan blue magpie:-

  Intelligent AR has announced that "Post And Go" kiosk M002 which has been sited in Crewe and gave rise to the short-lived site-identifying inscription will be moved from Crewe on 27 May 2015 and, after an upgrade, will be moved to Mount Pleasant in London:-

Short-lived Crewe "Post And Go" inscription.

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Monday, 25 May 2015

576. Maltese Stamp Spelling Error.

  I have noticed an error in the design of one of the stamps issued by Malta Post on 21 April 2015 which I have not seen reported previously though I suspect it must have been recognised locally in Malta itself. The error appears in the inscription of the €1.55 value of the Aqueducts set which commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Wignacourt Water Tower in Floriana but the stamp inscription incorrectly names the building to be the Wingacourt Water Tower. Since I have not seen any reports of this spelling mistake I have naturally not seen any report that Malta Post intends to issue a corrected version:-

  Hong Kong Post issued a set of 6 stamps, a $50 3 pane prestige booklet, a $55.80c "mini-pane" containing 3 sets of stamps in se-tenant blocks of 6 and 1 miniature sheet on 21 May 2015 on the subject of government local vessels. The issue was designed by Chun-hong Wong and lithographed by Enschede:-

Miniature sheet.


  As mentioned in Blog 567the US-based philatelic agency, IGPC, released a sheetlet and accompanying miniature sheet inscribed "Tuvalu" with a stated date of issue of 13 April 2015 on the subject of Europhilex Stamp Exhibition 2015. The theme of the philatelic product was "Sites and Scenes of London" and the sheetlet is now depicted below (the miniature sheet was shown in Blog 567):-

  Another much-loved philatelic agency, Stamperija, has released a sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet to commemorate another philatelic exhibition, this time the one held in Taiwan from 24 to 28 April 2015, Taipei 2015. The circular designs depict Taiwanese wildlife. For the record, the name of Solomon Islands is inscribed on these items:-

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Friday, 22 May 2015

575. Attractive British Postal Museum Souvenirs From Europhilex.

 My favourite souvenirs of Europhilex Stamp Exhibition 2015 are the 2 covers sold at the stand of the  British Postal  Museum and Archive (BPMA) with their souvenir "Post And Go" labels applied to them which had been released at the museum on 6 May 2015 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the  world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black. Although I do not usually buy the "Post And Go" souvenir labels produced at an increasing number of museums I thought that these 2 covers made attractive and interesting souvenirs of a visit to Europhilex and provided an apt way of including examples of the museum's labels in my collection.
  I particularly liked the cover postmarked 13 May 2015 which commemorated Europhilex and which depicted a cover addressed to Malta with 5 Twopenny Blues attached to it. The two European rate labels were used appropriately on this cover and the cover demonstrated what a better use of one's cash it would be to save up to obtain some glorious old classic item for one's own collection than to constantly squander it on items churned out by certain notorious modern philatelic agencies or from machines situated at foreign philatelic exhibitions in countries where those items have no postal validity.

  The second of the covers commemorates the Penny Black's 175th anniversary and is illustrated with a portrait of Rowland Hill. The cover has an example of the museum's 1st class rate Penny Black Post And Go label and an example of the second class rate label with a 6 May 2015 cancellation. Again it is an interesting cover and a pleasing souvenir:-

  As mentioned in Blog 531, some Intelligent A R "Post And Go" kiosks (A006 and GG01) turned up at the Essen Stamp Fair  in Germany from 7 to 9 May 2015 prior to their appearance at the Europhilex Stamp Exhibition 2015 in London. Long suffering completist collectors of these exhibition souvenir labels (they of course had no postal validity in Germany) found themselves faced with the need to buy 3 Collectors' strips - 2 produced in the name of Royal Mail (the Machin Head labels with code MA13 and the Union Jack labels) and the third produced in the name of Guernsey Post (the Guernsey Flag labels). Ho hum:-

  Botswana Post issued a set of stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 24 February 2015 to commemorate the Okavanga's status as a World Heritage Site:-

  Australia Post's next issue will be released on 26 May 2015 on the subject of "Colours of the Australian Antarctic Territory". The issue of 4 gummed stamps and 1 miniature sheet is inscribed "Australian Antarctic Territory" and was designed by Jo Mure and lithographed by RA Printing:-

  Bhutan Post released an interesting issue on 29 April 2015 which was made up of 1 sheetlet of 8 different stamps and 1 accompanying miniature sheet on the subject of the remarkable polymath, Drubthop Thangtong Gyalpo, who, among other achievements, was a builder of iron chain bridges in Tibet and Bhutan as well as being a notable physician. Bhutan Post co-operated with the German Bhutan Himalaya Society and Permemed Switzerland:-

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

574. Gibraltar Post And Go Error And Kiosk Goes To New Home.

  Now notorious is the error which occurred on the Gibraltar Post And Go "Worldwide up to 20g" label which was sold from the Gibraltar IAR kiosk at Europhilex Stamp Exhibition 2015 on 13 May 2015, the opening day of the show. I bought mine about 4.30 PM when many of the visitors to the show appeared to have departed but the kiosk was still dispensing the error shown below which is inscribed Wordwide rather than Worldwide. The text was subsequently corrected thus producing 2 versions of the label and consequently 2 Collectors' strips to be purchased by those who feel that they must buy everything that these machines churn out. Post And Go devotees appear to be rather disgruntled about all this but dealers keep buying them and offering them on the internet auction sites so I presume that there are still collectors out there who are collecting these things:-

Wordwide error

Corrected Worldwide

  Disgruntled or not, such collectors now have a third version of the labels to buy now that kiosk GI01 has been moved to Gibraltar House in The Strand because the labels dispensed at this location have an additional inscription, "Gibraltar House". Interestingly these items are not yet being offered for sale by the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau and of course there is no kiosk located in Gibraltar itself. As I have written before, all of the above labels have no postal validity in the country in which they have been dispensed so, I would have thought, are unlikely to receive full catalogue status as postage stamps from any decent stamp catalogue:-

Gibraltar House Worldwide

Gibraltar House collectors' strip.

Kiosk GG01 at Europhilex.

  The catalogue supplement in the latest edition of Stanley Gibbons Stamp Monthly includes a listing for recent issues of Ghana (2012 - 14) which again includes a number of issues on subjects irrelevant to Ghana which the editor has banished to the appendix section see Blogs 538 and 571).
   I like this policy but there sometimes seems to be a degree of inconsistency as to which issues receive full listing and which receive appendix status. An example of this is that an issue of 2013 which commemorates the former US President, JF Kennedy, receives full listing but issues which commemorate other foreign leaders such as Deng Xiaoping, Margaret Thatcher and Pope Francis are placed in the appendix. I cannot see that Kennedy has any more relevance to Ghana than does the former Chinese leader or the present Pope.
   Another example is a miniature sheet which includes stamps which feature World Heritage sites in Norway and Iceland and receives a catalogue number but an issue about the Sistine Chapel is relegated to the Appendix. I wish that there were a little more consistency and predictability in this policy to enable collectors to decide what might be useful additions to their collections as some listings do not appear until 2 or 3 years after stamps have been offered for sale on the philatelic market. 

Kennedy makes it into the Catalogue...

...but Thatcher does not...

...nor does Deng Xiaoping.

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Monday, 18 May 2015

573. Royal Mail's New Horizon Label; Heraldic Beasts, New Norfolk Island Booklet.

  I have received the cover with the new Royal Mail Horizon label fixed to it which I sent to myself from the post office situated in the Design Centre in Islington in London where the Europhilex Stamp Exhibition 2015 was held. The new label was illustrated in Blog 571 but this illustration shows the label with the 2nd class large value inscribed on it. It was postmarked at the exhibition and has an additional "Mount Pleasant Mail Centre" machine cancellation and makes a nice example of the new label which will be a workhorse stamp of the UK postal system used on cover.

Entire cover

  I visited the post office in Pinfold Street in Birmingham a couple of days ago to obtain my set of NMR kiosk-printed "Heraldic Beasts" Post And Go stamps which were being sold from 2 of the machines there. Of course these are genuine postage stamps since the dispensed items are freely available to the general public for use on their mail unlike the items dispensed from the IAR kiosks situated in a single site only in the recent Europhilex Stamp Exhibition for a limited period of 4 days. The latter are merely exhibition souvenirs but I was still pleased to buy a Collectors' strip of them as a souvenir of my visit to the exhibition. Below I depict the stamps obtained from the NMR kiosk at the left and the IAR labels at the right to contrast the difference between the styles of the inscriptions on the items from the two different sources. Below the NMR/IAR pairs I depict the 6 items from the pack sold by the Philatelic Bureau with the inscriptions printed in lithography by International Security Printers along with the rest of the stamp:-

NMR at left, IAR at right.

Inscription lithographed by ISP.

  Norfolk Island Post issued an excellent booklet of 10 different self-adhesive stamps on 19 March 2015 on the subject of the wreck of HMS Sirius on 19 March 1790 and the recovery of artefacts from the wreck:-

  Malta Post issued a single stamp with an attached label on 7 May 2015 to mark its attendance at the Essen Philatelic Exhibition 2015:-

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