Wednesday, 27 July 2016

794. Isle Of Man Features Animated Characters In New Set.

  It isn't obvious to me what exactly is the link between Aardman, the makers of Wallace and Gromit, and The Isle Of Man but it must be something important enough to make it necessary for the Isle Of Man postal administration to issue a set of 8 stamps, cost £6.82p, to commemorate the company's 40th anniversary. The set depicts various Aardman characters including 2 stamps which place Morph in Laxey and it is cheerful enough and one can say little more about it than that.
 The issue will be released on 12 August 2016. Rating:- **.

  The 30p value of the current Falkland Islands Post Office definitive series will be reissued on 1 August 2016 as a revised value of 31p to cover revised postal rates. The design features a Southern right whale being part of a series which features local whales and dolphins. Rating:- *****.

  Hong Kong Post will issue 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 5 August 2016 to commemorate the territory's participation in the Rio Olympic Games. The set was designed by Jason Chum and lithographed with hot foil stamping by Enschede and perforated 14. Rating:- ***.

  Pos Malaysia issued 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 27 July 2016 on the subject of tourist destinations in Kedah and Kelantan as 2 se-tenant pairs. Rating:- ***.

Monday, 25 July 2016

793. Singapore's 50 Years Of National Parades; A Surprise From St. Vincent.

  Singapore Post will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country's first National Day Parade on 8 August 2016 by releasing 6 stamps and 1 miniature sheet. This is a colourful and cheerful issue and makes one feel that it would be an exciting spectacle to see. The issue was designed by Wong Wui Kong and lithographed by Secura and perforated 13. Rating:- *****.

  A surprise issue from the postal administration of St. Vincent And The Grenadines which appears to date back to 2015 - 5 stamps issued in a vertically se-tenant strip printed as part of a sheet of 2 vertical strips. Importantly this looks like a real issue from St. Vincent rather than from its prolific US-based agent - IGPC (the self-proclaimed "World's most trusted stamp agents") - featuring, as it does, local subjects in useful face values. The issue commemorates the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and I suspect very strongly that it is on sale over local post office counters so that the stamps in the set  can be used on real mail. Rating:- *****.

  The Post Office of Jamaica has issued 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet to commemorate the country's participation in the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro. Inevitably the man who is currently the world's most famous athlete, Usain Bolt, is featured in the set along with Shelley-Anne Fraser-Pryce. I have no other details of the issue yet. 
  Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Jamaica Post Office's philatelic agents, CASCO, could bring itself to getting around to releasing news of new stamps to collectors who might like to buy them? It's all a far cry from the long distant days of the splendid Crown Agents Bulletin. 
  Rating:- ****.

  Sri Lanka Post issued a single stamp on 24 July 2016 to commemorate the late Dharmasiri Senanayake who was a politician of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and served as a government minister. The stamp was designed by Ms. Wathmi de Zoysa and printed in lithography. Rating of design:- *.
  Namibia Post issued a set of 5 stamps on 7 July 2016 on the subject of Herons and egrets. The beautiful set was designed by Helge Denker and lithographed. Rating:- *****.

792. Women In Parliament.

  On Wednesday 13 July 2016 the Conservative former Home Secretary, Theresa May, became the 13th British prime minister of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the second woman to hold that post in Britain. 
  Mrs. May has succeeded to the post almost 100 years after the first woman was elected to a seat in Parliament. It is interesting that the first British female Member of Parliament has been depicted twice on the stamps of Ireland but never on a British stamp.
  Countess Constance Markievicz was in fact an Irish nationalist politician and a member of Sinn Fein and Inghinidhe na h'Eireann (Daughters of Ireland) and joined Connolly's socialist Irish Citizen Army after the Lockout of 1913.
  Markiewicz participated actively in the Easter Rising of 1916 (see Blog 731) and is said to have shot and killed a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police at St. Stephen's Green. After the failure of the rebellion she was court martialed on 4 May 1916 and was sentenced to death but this was commuted to life imprisonment and she was freed in 1917 as part of a general amnesty.
  In the 1918 general election she stood for Sinn Fein in the constituency of Dublin St. Patrick's which she won with 66% of the vote and thus became the first woman to be elected to sit in the British Parliament. However, together with the other 72 Sinn Fein M.P.s, she did not take her seat. In 1919, Sinn Fein met in Dublin at the first Dail, or revolutionary Irish Republican parliament, but at the time, Markievicz was a prisoner in Holloway Prison but she later served as Minister of Labour and then fought in the Irish Civil War of 1922. She died in 1927.
  The Irish Post Office issued 2 stamps in 1968 - a 3p and a 1/5p - which commemorated the Centenary of Markievicz's birth (depicted above and below) and in 2013, Constance Markievicz was depicted on a 60c stamp which commemorated the Centenary of the Lockout (depicted below). 
  It is therefore only 2 years away from the centenary of her election to the British Parliament, a fact which provides Royal Mail with something of a dilemma. In this era of the quite reasonable need to commemorate the achievements of women it is really a "no-brainer" that Markievicz' achievement in becoming the first Woman British MP should receive philatelic recognition but Royal Mail will no doubt balk at that the thought of depicting a woman who supported Sinn Fein and may have shot dead a policeman. Get out of that one then! 
  I suppose the solution will be to say that as she did not actually take her seat at Westminster the woman who was the first to actually sit in Parliament is the person who should be commemorated but we will have to wait until 2019 to commemorate that centenary (see below).

  It is arguable that the most important woman in modern British political history is Emmeline Pankhurst who led the Suffragette movement. She founded the Women's Franchise League but when that fell apart, as a friend of the socialist Keir Hardy, she tried to join Independent Labour Party but was rejected because of her gender. In 1903 she founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) which campaigned, sometimes violently, for female suffrage. 
  During the First World War her campaign was suspended and in 1918 the Representation of the People Act gave votes to women over 30 years of age (but to men over 21). Pankhurst developed the Women's Party out of the WSPU - this was dedicated to promoting women's equality in public life. Eventually, fearing the rise of Bolshevism, Pankhurst joined the Conservative Party and was selected to be the Conservative candidate for Stepney in the 1927 election but her attempt to stand for Parliament was ended by a public scandal surrounding her daughter. Emmeline Pankhurst died on 14 June 1928 just a couple of weeks before a new Representation of the People Act extended suffrage to women over 21 years of age.
  Mrs. Pankhurst has been commemorated by 2 British stamp issues - one released in 1968 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of female suffrage and depicting the statue of her by Arthur George Walker erected in 1930 and which stands in Victoria Tower Gardens in London and the second issued on 18 July 2006 as part of a set of 10 stamps which commemorated the 150th anniversary of the National Portrait Gallery which depicted a painting of Mrs. Pankhurst by Georgina Agnes Brackenbury.
  As the centenary of the granting of suffrage to at least some, if not all, women is only 2 years away, we may expect Royal Mail to issue a set of stamps to commemorate this immensely important anniversary. Perhaps the issue could fit in a stamp commemorating Countess Markiewvicz as part of it. One expects that Mrs. Pankhurst should make another philatelic appearance at the very least.

The 1/5p value of the 1968 Irish Markievicz issue:-

The Irish 1913 Lockout issue depicting Constance Markievicz:-

  Police photographs of Constance Markievicz do not provide suitable portraits for a commemorative stamp!:-

  And so to the woman who must surely be featured on a British stamp in 2018 or 2019 - Nancy Astor Viscountess Astor, the first woman to actually take her seat in the British parliament:-

  US-born Nancy Witcher Langhorne married Waldorf Astor who later succeeded to a peerage having been the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton. With his elevation to The House of Lords, Astor had to relinquish his seat in the Commons and his wife campaigned as a Conservative to take over the seat. She was elected on 28 November 1919 and unlike Constance Markievicz took her seat in Parliament thus becoming the first woman to do so. She remained Conservative M.P. for Plymouth Sutton until she stood down in 1945. 
  It will be impossible, surely, for Royal Mail to ignore Lady Astor as a candidate to be featured on a stamp either in 2018 as part of a commemoration of the centenary of female suffrage or in 2019 to mark the centenary of her election.
  Margaret Wintringham, the second woman to take a seat in the Commons, was elected on 22 September 1921as M.P. for Louth, succeeding her husband as Nancy Astor had done though in this case, Mrs. Wintringham's husband had died and left the seat vacant. She was a member of the Liberal Party. Whether or not Mrs. Wintringham will ever feature on a Royal Mail stamp is dubious since there are usually no prizes for coming second.

  The first female parliamentarian to actually appear on a British stamp was Barbara Castle, a senior minister in Harold Wilson's 1964 - 70 and 1974 - 76 Labour governments. She was a fiery, red-haired socialist, her hair matching her politics, and had been elected as Member of Parliament for Blackburn in 1945 holding the seat until 1979 making her the longest-serving MP until her record was finally broken in 2007.
  When Wilson gave up power in 1976, Castle was quickly removed from government by his successor, James Callaghan - she claimed he told her that he wanted "somebody younger in the cabinet" even though she was 4 young years than himself. Castle became a Member of the European Parliament in 1979.
  The stamp featuring Mrs. Castle was issued in 2008 as part of a set titled "Women of Distinction" and some saw it as being released to achieve political balance and preempt any complaints that might arise when a stamp was issued to commemorate the life of The United Kingdom's first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, after she died.

  Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative M.P. for Finchley, became the first woman British prime minister after defeating Callaghan's Labour Party in the general election of 1979 after what is now known as "the winter of discontent". She was responsible for bringing about enormous social and economic changes including the bringing down of trade union power which had gripped Britain in the 1970s, and leading the country's armed forces in the liberation of The Falkland Islands after their occupation by Argentine forces. Britain split down the middle with half of the country admiring her devotedly and half loathing her. She was a leading international stateswoman, adored by the US President, Ronald Reagan, and named "The Iron Lady" by the leader of The Soviet Union. The French President, Francois Mitterand said of her, "She has the lips of Marilyn Monroe and the eyes of Caligula". 
  Eventually her unpopularity became too great and despite winning 3 previous general elections, she was brought down by a coup of her own party and replaced by John Major in November 1990.
  She died on 8 April 2013 and was given a state funeral. Royal Mail was too nervous of upsetting a lot of people by rushing out a stamp issue to commemorate her as it had done in 1965 after the death of Winston Churchill but eventually found a way of commemorating the first woman British prime minister by including a stamp featuring her in a set of 8 which depicted former prime ministers going back to William Pitt The Younger. The issue was released on 14 October 2014, about 18 months after Lafy Thatcher's death.

  And so, to the second woman British prime minister - another Conservative - Theresa May. It seems unlikely that Mrs. May will appear on a Royal Mail stamp in the foreseeable future but it may not be too long before some country or the other finds an excuse to include her in a stamp design. After all Mrs. May's predecessor, David Cameron, was depicted on part of a miniature sheet from The Gambia (see Blog of 29 May 2012) so there seems little reason to doubt that agencies such as IGPC will find a reason to depict Britain's second woman prime minister on some of their philatelic products in the not-too-distant future.

  Mrs. May:- 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

791. Attack Of The Surcharges.

  In a comment at the end of Blog 790, Stewie1911 mentioned the difficulties in obtaining modern surcharged issues and notably the 2014 - 15 provisional issues of Papua New Guinea. I had previously mentioned that Steven Zirinsky had a number for sale on his website and that I had obtained three of them from the British dealer, Nigel Haworth. His newsletter had stated that there were a total of 35 new stamps in the issue. 

  I have now found an article which fully details these Papua New Guinea stamps ( i-enorg/background-information/papua-new-guinea-postage-stamps/ueberdrucke-2014-2015/) which has been published by Interssengemeinschaft Neuguinea, an international study group for collectors of the stamps of PNG. The article illustrates all 35 of the new stamps using scans supplied by Steven Zirinsky.

The issues are broken up into 4 groups - 

1. 2014 - 8 stamps - all K1.30 surcharges on previous K1.25 stamps thus providing stamps in the new postal rate by using up stamps with face values of the previous postal rate (see Blog 750).

2. 2015 - 11 stamps - previous commemoratives surcharged with high face values for use on heavier overseas mail :- 3 x K15, 3 x K25 (see Blog 788), 2 x K40 and 3 x K90.

3. 2015 - 6 stamps - new stamps in 5t denomination used to make up values of unsurcharged K1.25 stamps to K1.30 value. Printed in sheets of  50. 

4. 2015 - new stamps printed in sheets of 20 and 20 attached labels - 2 x 5t.

5. 2015 - new stamps without attached labels printed in sheets of 40 - 6 x 5t and 2 x 20t.

  These stamps are said to have not been distributed to philatelic dealers. Although I suppose that the surcharged stamps will be necessarily very difficult to find at an affordable price, I can not help but suspect that the new stamps must eventually turn up somewhere or the other.

  I strongly recommend visiting the I-NG site to see the various stamps that make up this important issue.

  Quite recently a seller on one of the Internet auction sites was offering 6 recent Fiji surcharges for sale. At the time I was distracted and thought no more about these stamps but now realise that 3 of them at least are new to me and presumably have been issued in early 2016. They are the 1c on 44c Purple Swamphen definitive, a 1c on 81c Kadavu fantail definitive and the 20c on 63c Goshawk stamp which I have not otherwise seen being offered for sale elsewhere but have mentioned in previous Blog 743. No doubt they will pop up again. Will this series of surcharges never end (it has been going on for 10 years now)?

  Nigel Haworth has been selling another interesting new item recently - the British Indian Ocean Territory miniature sheet released on 12 February 2016 on the subject of the BIOT Pelagic Expedition of 2012 and depicting 6 different sharks but with reversed watermark. In the normal sheet the tops of the multiple crowns point to the right of the sheet when viewed from the obverse but in the error they point to the left. Watermark errors are rare nowadays. Rating:- *****.

  On 21 July 2016 An Post, the Post office of Ireland increased its National and International Airmail postal rates and this has resulted in the need for definitives in the new postal rates, the result being a 72c Easter Rising self-adhesive from booklets of 10 (previous rate being 70c), a €1.10 Easter Rising self-adhesive stamp from booklets of 10 (previous rate being €1.05c) and 2 x 72c Easter Rising self-adhesive stamps from coils. Rating:- *****.

  I depicted the 6 stamps of Jersey Post's new First World War set in Blog 787 and I now depict below the accompanying £2 miniature sheet. The theme of the set is "Battles of the Great War" and the battle depicted on the miniature sheet is the Battle of Cambrai. The issue will be released on 4 August 2016. Rating:- *****.

  In Blog 418 (5 June 2014) I mentioned a $100 Parrot definitive stamp from Grenada which was on sale on an Internet auction site but since then nothing has really been heard about this item. I have not seen it being sold on the IGPC website and I can't recall any dealers offering it for sale. Currently, however, a number of the stamps are being sold by another Internet auction site dealer - in Russia - so it seems as though this particular stamp is out there if you look for it. I wonder why it has not been offered for sale by some of the big western dealers.

Post scriptum:- the helpful comment by Birdstamper below tells me that the parrot stamp has indeed appeared on the IGPC website - I have certainly overlooked it up to now and had wondered if the stamp had actually been issued. Clearly, as I wrote above, it's out there.