Monday, 28 September 2020

1744. ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Bye-ways Of Empire - Canton Island.

๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฎ In Blog 523 I reported that I had discovered lying buried deep in the swamp of my ignorance as well as the the obscure pages of Wikipedia, a former British territory of rather uncertain political status which sat off the coast of Yemen and which was eventually incorporated in the newly independent South Yemen and which went by the name of Kamaran. It definitely qualified to be considered to have been situated down one of the “Bye-ways of Commonwealth stamp collecting”.
  Kamaran eventually qualified to be called a British Protectorate from January 1954 until 30 November 1967. The status of various former British colonies, protectorates and protected states is not just of academic interest but has practical implications for inhabitants and their descendants who lived there because they may or may not be entitled to British passports of one type or another. While doing a little more research about Kamaran I came across the official list of Protectorates which is shown below. The names of these places ought to be fully familiar to me but one stood out - a place I’ve heard of and seen featured once or twice on Kiribati stamps but never really took much notice of. But here it was - a Protected State in its own right - Canton Island, to which the British had initially laid claim as long ago as the 1850s.

  Canton Island, now Kanton Island, is the largest, most northerly and only populated island in the Phoenix Island Group which is part of The Republic of Kiribati. The only village on Kanton is Tebaranga and the island’s population in May 2010 was just 24. The island is surrounded by the vast area of sea named in 2006 as the Phoenix Islands Protected area, a large marine reserve containing 8 atolls. The Kiribati postal service commemorated the establishment of the marine park by issuing a set of 6 stamps and 1 miniature sheet containing all 6 stamps on 12 July 2008 and one of them depicted a map of Kanton Island (shown above) and another a map of the whole reserve (below).

  The first recorded European visit to Canton Island was by two British whaling ships, the Phoenix and the Mary, on 5 August 1824 under the command of Captains John Palmer and Edward Reed. The island was initially named Mary Ballcout’s Island after the shipowner’s wife but then given the name Canton in 1854 when the New Bedford whaling ship of the same name ran aground on the atoll.
  The British paid several visits to Canton Island subsequently and claimed sovereignty over the island in the 1850s and the British claim was reasserted on 6 August 1936. The British established a radio station there but prior to that American and New Zealand scientists landed on the island to observe a total eclipse of the sun. The American party claimed the island for The United States and erected a monument with two USA flags. It is said that a Royal Nay vessel HMS Wellington fired a shot across the bows of USS Avocet because the Americans had grabbed the best anchoring point and the Americans returned the shot. The two captains then held back until they received their governments’ instructions and the result was restraint to allow the scientific teams to carry out the observation of the eclipse together although  relations were somewhat cool.
  More Americans landed on Canton in March 1938 and US President Roosevelt placed the island under the control of the US Interior Department on 3 March 1938. The competing claims were resolved when both governments agreed to establish a Condominion over Canton on 6 April 1939. This was known as Canton and Enderbury Islands Condominion. The British were used to Condominions - they already shared joint rule in Sudan with Egypt and in the New Hebrides with France.
  Anglo-Egyptian Sudan had a single post office but New Hebrides had both a British and French post office and local inhabitants could choose to use whichever of the two postal services they preferred but The Condominion of Canton did not have its own its own postal service and it was not until 1939 that a post office was opened there. 
  I found a letter on the internet, though I can not see whom to credit for its posting there, of a letter from the British High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, whose area of responsibility included the Gilbert And Ellice Islands from where The Phoenix Islands were administered, written to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London asking for his approval for the establishment of a British post office on Canton. He reports that the government administrator on Canton had been receiving requests from stamp collectors for supplies of Gilbert and Ellice Islands stamps from the island as well as requests for the acceptance of ready stamped envelopes and packages for postage but he was unable to oblige as there was no post office on the island. The Western Pacific Commissioner described two means by which the opening of a post office would benefit the British administration by the opening of a post office - a gain from the revenues flowing from stamp sales and the assertion of Britain’s sovereignty in the face of the American claims on the island.A fascinating letter. Perhaps the Western Pacific Commissioner missed a potential additional source of financial gain - the production of individual stamps for the Canton Island Protectorate.
  The US administration opened a post office on Canton in 1941.

The geographical position of Canton proved to be of the utmost importance in the island’s development. Pan American Airways built facilities for a planned New Zealand flying boat service and the service began on 12 July 1940. When the Americans finally joined the United Kingdom in participating in the Second World War the US Navy built an airstrip on Canton Island as a stopover for flights to Australia and New Zealand and as a staging post for attacks on the Japanese forces occupying the Gilbert Islands. Canton was defended by 1200 troops but was not attacked by the Japanese. After the end of the war several airlines began services which flew across the Pacific Ocean stopping at Canton Island. A community was established on the island to service these flights and to support the airport workers - the island was thus home to an electrical power station, a school for workers’ children, a hotel for aircraft passengers stopping over and other necessary facilities. Eventually the introduction of long range aircraft reduced the need for a refuelling station on Canton Island and by the late 1950s flights by all airlines but PanAm had ceased to use the island’s facilities. A large numbers of flight covers exist from this era in Canton Island’s history. Covers from the British post office dating to the 1950s are not hard to find but much less common than those associated with flights and from the US post office. It is clear that a number of the covers for sale with Gilbert and Ellice Islands stamps fixed to them are philatelic in nature but they are generally interesting and visually attractive.
 The Condominion continued in a generally cooperative fashion and the British and American post offices on the island were housed in the same building. With the loss of aircraft traffic the Canton Island community continued to be able exist with the establishment of a tracking station for the US Mercury space programme from 1960 to 1965. The US Airforce and the US Space and Missile Systems Organisation used the island as a base for missile tracking operations until 1976 when all American personnel were withdrawn from the island. The British post office was also closed in February 1968 but the US post office stayed open until 1979  when the Condominion ended and Canton Island and the other Phoenix islands were included in the Republic of Kiribati when it was granted independence in 1979.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

1743. ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Water In Botswana.

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Botswana Post issued 2 stamps and 1 miniature sheet containing both stamps on 27 August 2020 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Water Utilities Corporation. The issue was designed by Shathani Basupi and lithographed by Southern Colour Print. Rating:- ***.

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Isle Of Man Post Office will Issue a set of 8 stamps on 30 September 2020 to commemorate the Centenary of the 37 and three quarters Isle Of Man TT races course. The stamps depict as one might expect photographs of various motorbikes and show them at various stages on the course with each value being issued in se-tenant pairs, one showing a vintage scene and the other a modern picture. Although the stamps identify the place where the photographs were taken they provide no more information than that about the riders and when the photographs were taken. The issue was designed by Isle Of Man Advertising and lithographed by Cartor and is perforated 13. Rating:- ***.


1742. ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Fingerprints Feature On Ross Dependency Stamps.


๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand Post will issue a set of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on behalf of Ross Dependency on 7 October 2020 on the subject of the Seasons of Scott Base which has the very irritating gimmick of depicting a thumbprint and the word touch along with the face value and the territory’s name and nothing else. The stamps were lithographed using heat sensitive ink by Southern Colour Print and are perforated 13.5. Once one has undergone the tiresome business of applying one’s finger to the stamps the attractive designs appear but if the stamps are sitting in a album the set looks more like a police department’s fingerprint collection. The designer was Cam Price of New Zealand Post and if this was his silly idea we might hope that he has been furloughed subsequent to producing these gimmick stamps. Rating:- 0.


๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ฒ In addition to the 4 stamps issued by Jamaica Post on 7 September 2020 (see Blog 1739) a miniature sheet containing all 4 stamps was also released. Much better illustrations than in Blog 1739 of the 4 stamps are shown here (they were originally posted on Stamp Boards by Gene who kindly sent them to me also so I could use them here (thanks to Gene). 

 ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง Norvic Philatelic Blog has drawn attention to the resulting effects on Royal Mail Post and Go stamps of changes in postal rates from the beginning of September 2020. Here in Birmingham there are 11 NCR kiosks situated in Pinfold Street post office which is the main post office in the centre of Britain’s second largest city. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis only 2 of those kiosks have actually been in use. One of them currently dispenses the classic Machin Head Post and Go stamps (MA16) and the other the 50th anniversary of the Machin Head Stamps set of six.
  The three new values are:- Euro 100g World 20g, World 100g Zone 1-3 and World 100g Zone 2. These three new values for each design are depicted below :-

  Other designs and codes have been reported and are listed in the Norvic Blog. The Blog also draws attention to the same changes being applied to stamps dispensed by IAR kiosks. It appears that the various museums involved are the Postal Museum (A001), Royal Navy Museum (A002), Fleet Air Arm Museum (A003), Royal Navy Submarine Museum (A004),HMS Trincomalee (A006), Museum of Firepower (A007) and the Shakespeare Birthplace Gift shop in Stratford upon Avon (A009). The Shakespeare shop kiosk, on my several visits since just before Christmas 2019, was always out of use but it appears to have been reactivated on 17 September 2020 to dispense the new postage rates on strips of Machin Head stamps (added inscription Shakespeare 1616)  (my example has a MA14 code) and the Heraldic flowers set of 6 stamps (added inscription Shakespeare 1564) (code MA17 as before). The 5th value of each design initially had the inscription World 100g Euro 1-3 but this was rapidly changed to World 100g Euro 1 & 3. This revised inscription has also been introduced on stamps dispensed by kiosks situated elsewhere. I hope to be able to illustrate the second version next week.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

1741. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช The Anglo-Irish War, Part 2.


๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช An Post, the postal service of The Republic Of Ireland, issued 2 more stamps in its ongoing series about the Anglo-Irish War of 1919 to 1921 on 24 September 2020. The issue is titled ‘Civil Society’.

  In Blog 1608 the opening months of the war between the IRA and the British forces resisting it were detailed and the stamp issued earlier this year by An Post showing the painting of an IRA column by Seรกn Keating was depicted. Although the general population initially disapproved of the IRA’s violence the heavy handed response of the British government led the people in Southern Ireland to start to resist the government by holding strikes and other measures. The new stamps feature this reaction. One of the stamps designed by Ger Garland depicts newspaper headlines about the dock workers’ strike whereby they refused to handle war materials. The munitions strike lasted from May to December 1920 and greatly hampered the government’s ability to support its troops in Ireland.

  The second stamp alludes to the Dรกil setting up of courts which were intended to dispense an Irish law system as British authority collapsed across Ireland and a replacement was required. The Dรกil established 900 parish courts and 77 district courts which dealt with rowdeyism, larceny, breaches of the licensing  laws, damage to property, ‘abusive language to women’, bank and post office robberies and assaults.Treason was dealt summarily by court martial. The design also by Ger Garland depicts the IRA court in Westport Town Hall in summer with Conor Maguire presiding alongside Edward Moane and John O’Boyle.

  The issue was lithographed by Enschedรฉ and is perforated 13.5 x 14.

  As 1920 moved on the British tax system in Ireland collapsed and people were encouraged to donate to Michael Collins’ ‘National loan’ scheme to raise funds for the rebel Irish government. By the end of 1920 £358000 had been raised by that scheme but this was dwarfed by the sum raised by Irish Americans in the United States which amounted to over $5 million. By August 1920 the Westminster Parliament had passed the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act which replaced trial by jury by courts martial in areas where the IRA was dominant and by the beginning of 1921 martial law was in place across much of Southern Ireland. Courts martial were extended to cover the whole population and were empowered to use the death penalty and interment without trial. As a result violence escalated further and on 21 November 1920 Michael Collins’ death squads murdered 16 British agents and later in the day Royal Irish Constabulary men drove to the Crowe Park sporting ground and shot into the crowd watching a football match resulting in the deaths of 14 civilians including one of the football players. Later the same day two IRA prisoners and an associate were shot dead trying to escape from Dublin Castle prison. These events combined to lead to 21 November becoming known as Bloody Sunday.

  On 11 December the centre of Cork was set ablaze by Black and Tans as a reprisal against an IRA ambush in the city that day which resulted in the murder of one auxiliary and the wounding of 11 others. As 1920 drew to a close Ireland was at a tipping point and no doubt there will be further stamp issues next year from An Post to take the story further.



Wednesday, 23 September 2020

1740. ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡บ Mauritius Commemorates 50 Years Of Relations With Australia.

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡บ Mauritius Post will issue its first stamp of the year on 29 September 2020 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mauritius and Australia. Rating:- ****.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Many more new issue products have been announced by the USA-based agency IGPC which is allowed to produce philatelic products on behalf of several Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth ‘client’ postal administrations. Foremost among these territories is The Gambia:-

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฒ The Gambia

30 September 2020 - The Sitatunga antelope - 1 miniature sheet containing a single stamp. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - Big cats of The Gambia (including the tiger which definitely is not a big cat of The Gambia)  - 1 miniature sheet containing 4 different stamps. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - Chinese art of Dr Wang, a Chinese-American - 2 miniature sheets, 1 containing 3 different stamps and the other containing a single stamp. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - Chinese New Year - 2 miniature sheets, 1 containing 4 different stamps and the other containing a single stamp and featuring maneko neki, the cats with waving arms said to bring good fortune. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - Sloths (no species of sloth are found in Africa) - 1 miniature sheet containing 4 different stamps. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - Snakes - 2 miniature sheets, 1 containing 4 different stamps and the other containing 2 different stamps. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - The Turaco - 1miniature sheet containing 3 different stamps. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - The Tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog, as the name suggests it is a not a species to be found in Africa) - 1 miniature sheet. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - 75th anniversary of the Allies’ victory in Europe at the end of the Second World War- 1 miniature sheet containing 4 different stamps. Rating:- 0.

30 September 2020 - Woodpeckers - 1 miniature sheet containing 4 different stamps. Rating:- 0.