Tuesday, 1 September 2015

627. Botswana's Wall Of Horns.

   With 2 foreign philatelic agencies currently producing large numbers of expensive, poor quality, irrelevant philatelic products on behalf of, and with the permission of, the postal administrations of a large number of African Commonwealth territories, it is very pleasing that one or two Commonwealth territories in that continent continue to produce some fabulous new issues. 
  My favourites from this latter group are Nampost (Namibia) and Botswana Post which has just released (exact date of issue not yet known) a wonderful set of 4 stamps and accompanying miniature sheet on the subject of African buffaloes. 
  The wonderful art by Ditahupo Mogapi portrays beautifully these spectacular beasts and the P7.80 value, pictured above, is a marvellous portrayal of a group of buffaloes forming a wall with their horns as protection from a prowling lioness. These are excellent stamps and remind me just what a great pleasure it can still be to collect new stamp issues which even in these times can still be wonderful works of miniature art. Well done, Botswana Post! Rating:- *****.

  Pos Malaysia, too, often issues some excellent, interesting and attractive new stamps - its latest set is made up of 3 stamps on the subject of Mosques of Malaysia and was issued on 27 August 2015. Rating:- ****.

   Fiji Post is another Commonwealth postal administration which issues consistently excellent new stamp issues and the latest - issued on 16 June 2015 - is no exception. The subject of the issue is Levuka, Fiji's first capital and now, first UNESCO Heritage Site, and the stamps depict some interesting old sepia photographs of the town. Rating:- *****.
  With the production and merchandising of the stamps of so many Commonwealth Pacific territories having fallen into the hands of foreign philatelic agents which churn out poor quality stamps Fiji is a breath of fresh air to stamp collectors of the area.

   Meanwhile Philatelic Collector Inc. has announced a long list of new philatelic products which it has produced in the names of the postal administrations of Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga. A set of 4 stamps, nicely designed by Derek Miller, has been produced for each of the 3 countries to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta - although the designs mainly concentrate on depicting King John and medieval English figures, the coat of arms of each country appears on at least one of the designs and I can see the relevance of the subject matter to these countries.
  A sheetlet of 9 stamps has been produced to commemorate Samoa's hosting of the Commonwealth Youth Games as predicted in Blog 624 but the designs are excruciatingly underwhelming.

   Samoa - 21 July 2015 - 800th anniversary of Magna Carta - 4 stamps. Rating:- ****.

  2 September 2015 - Commonwealth Youth Games, Apia - 1 sheetlet of 9 different stamps. Rating:- *

  4 September 2015 - 40th anniversary of Samoan diplomatic relations with The People's Republic of China - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps. Rating:- **.

  Cook Islands - 15 July 2015 - 800th anniversary of Magna Carta - 4 stamps. Rating:- ****.

  Tonga - 20 July 2015 - 800th anniversary of Magna Carta - 4 stamps. Rating:- *****.

  1 April 2015 - WWF stamps with surcharges applied to revalue each stamp - 4 stamps. Rating:- *.

  1September 2015 - EMS rates (high values - $15 and $50) - 2 stamps and 2 "deluxe" miniature sheets - total face value T$130. Rating:- 0.

  Niuafo'ou Tonga - 1 April 2015 - WWF stamps with surcharges applied to revalue each stamp - 4 stamps. Rating:- *.

  1 September 2015 - EMS rates (high values $15 and $50 - Tonga does need a lot of high valued stamps doesn't it?) - 2 stamps and 2 "deluxe" miniature sheets - total face value T$130. Rating:- 0.

Monday, 31 August 2015

626. Longest Reigning Monarch Ever.

  No one can now be unaware that Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest reigning monarch in English and British history on 9 September 2015 when she passes the record set by her great great grandmother, Victoria, who ruled The United Kingdom and its Empire for 63 years and 216 days (1840 - 1901).
  In recent blogs (see Blog 622) I have detailed stamps which have been issued or are about to be issued to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's achievement. But where does that achievement place her in the all-time list of world monarchs? 
  Wikipedia places another Commonwealth monarch, King Sobhuza II of Swaziland, in the all-time number 1 position - a total of 82 years and 254 days (1899 - 1982) which means that Queen Elizabeth will have to reign for another 19 years to achieve the title of longest reigning monarch in history by which time she will be 108 years old - a not impossible feat given that her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon lived to be 101 years old. 
   King Sobhuza may have ruled Swaziland for a very long time but for much of the period - up to 1968 - the country was not a fully independent state since it was a British Protectorate and then a British Protected State.
  Places 2 to 21 in the "Longest Reigning Monarch" list are mostly taken up by rulers of various German and Indian petty states with a ruler of one of the states of Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia (Tampin), Tunku Besar Idris ibni Muhammed al-Qadri, in the number 5 position with a reign of 76 years and 209 days (1929 - 2005) - he was not featured on any stamps despite the extraordinary  length of his reign.
  By far the most significant monarch to appear in the "Top 20" list is Louis XIV, The Sun King, who ironically ruled the country which was to end its centuries of monarchy with a bloody and violent revolution - France. Louis ruled France for 72 years and 110 days (1643 - 1715) which places him at number 12 in the longest reign list.

  Of other European countries which are sovereign states today, Liechtenstein also has a monarch in the list - Prince John II - who ruled for 70 years and 91 days (1858 - 1929). He is the 17th longest ruling monarch.

  In the number 22 place is the world's current longest ruling monarch - King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) who has ruled Thailand since 9 June 1946 - more than 69 years. This is a reign of a little under 6 years longer than that of Queen Elizabeth II.

  In position 32 is Emperor Franz Joseph I who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire for 67 years and 355 days (1848 - 1916). 

  As regards monarchs of Commonwealth territories, the next highly placed ruler to appear on a stamp is Sultan Ibrahim of Johor who ruled for 63 years and 338 days (1895 - 1959) putting him at number 45 in the longest ruling list with Queen Elizabeth II rapidly catching him up. With the soon to be passed Queen Victoria at number 48, Queen Elizabeth has only to outrule 2 rulers of former German states to place her within touching distance of passing Sultan Ibrahim's lengthy reign.

  There is one important name which is missing from the Wikipedia list - that of Pharoah Pepi II of the 6th dynasty of ancient Egypt who is said by some experts, though disputed by others, to have reigned for 94 years (c. 2294 B.C. to c. 2200 B.C.), having succeeded to the throne at the age of 6. This would make him by far the longest reigning monarch in history and mean that for her to achieve that title, Queen Elizabeth II would need to reign for another 31 years by which time she would be aged 120 - well, given what's happening in medicine - who knows, she just may do it! 

   Finally, what of non-royal rulers? Wikipedia identifies Fidel Castro as the longest ruling non-royal head of government since 1900 having completed 52 years and 62 days in power from 1959 to 2010. He is followed by Chiang Kai-shek (46 years and 82 days) and Kim Il-sung (45 years and 302 days).

  In The Commonwealth, President Paul Biya has ruled Cameroun for over 40 years in the roles of prime minister and president (no. 8) with the leaders of 2 former Commonwealth countries at no. 16 (Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, (35 years +) and Dauda Jawara of The Gambia (32 years and 40 days, 1962 - 1994) respectively.
  President Biya is the current longest ruling non-royal leader in the world with Mugabe at number 5.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

622. Longest Reigning Monarch Checklist.

  It seems likely that the biggest Commonwealth omnibus issue during 2015 will be that which commemorates the achievement of Queen Elizabeth II on 9 September in becoming the longest reigning monarch in British history. Below is a checklist of those postal administrations and philatelic agencies which have so far issued or announced the forthcoming release of stamps and philatelic products which commemorate the Queen's record reign. Any further issues will be added to the checklist when they are announced or actually issued:-

  Australia - 9 September 2015 - "Long May She Reign" issue - 5 stamps, 1 miniature sheet, 2 self-adhesive stamps from a pane of 5 and a Prestige booklet.

  Ascension Island - 9 September 2015 - see Blog 616

  Bahamas -9 September 2015 - see Blog 616

  British Antarctic Territory - 9 September 2015 - see Blog 616

  Falkland Islands - 9 September 2015 - see Blog 616

  Guernsey Post - Alderney - 9 September 2015 - see Blog 617

    IGPC - Antigua And Barbuda - 8 July 2015 - see Blog 585

            - Papua New Guinea - 13 July 2015 - see Blog 585

            - St. Vincent And The Grenadines - 25 May 2015 - see Blog 572

            - Tuvalu - 25 May 2015 - see Blog 585

  Isle Of Man Post Office - 18 June 2015 - see Blog 579

  Jersey Post - 9 September 2015 - see Blog 607

  Royal Gibraltar Post Office - 30 May 2015 - see Blog 566

  Royal Mail - 9 September 2015 - new Machin Head definitive in "amethyst purple" colour with security code inscription "LONG TO REIGN OVER US". A miniature sheet will be issued on the same date (this is revealed in an advertisement for Galleon Stores and Post Office located in Galmpton, Devon which was posted online on 7 August 2015).

  Stamperija products inscribed - Sierra Leone - 26 June 2015 - see Blog 613

  South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands - 9 September 2015 - see Blog 616

  Tristan Da Cunha - 9 September 2015 - see Blog 616