Friday, 19 September 2014

467. Majesty - Royal Mail To Commemorate Queen Elizabeth II As Britain's Longest Reigning Monarch.


  Royal Mail has outlined its commemorative new issue programme for 2015. There will be 13 special issues plus 3 "Post And Go" releases. The subjects of the stamps include the 150th anniversary of the bizarre and vaguely unpleasant "Alice In Wonderland" (date of issue 6 January), "Inventive Britons" (19 February), Bridges (5 March), "Comedy Greats" (issued, aptly, on 1 April), 175th anniversary of the Penny Black (issued also aptly on 6 May), Centenary of the First World War second issue (14 May), 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (7 June), Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo (17 June), 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain (16 July), Bees (18 August), The Rugby World Cup (18 September) and Christmas (3 November). 
  There is one more issue which is to be released on 6 October the details of which have been held back by Royal Mail but it is clear that it will be a special issue to commemorate the achievement by HM Queen Elizabeth II in becoming the longest reigning monarch in British history which actually occurs on 10 September 2015 when she will have reigned one day longer than Queen Victoria. Presumably, as there is still a year to go to what should be momentous national celebrations, Royal Mail is being discrete about announcing the issue since quite a lot could happen in the intervening time whereby the issue may not be appropriate. 
  Perhaps you can have too much history and commemorate too many important military anniversaries as far as Royal Mail is concerned - apparently there will be no stamps to commemorate the 750th anniversary of Simon de Montfort's parliament and no issue to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (unless that is the mysterious issue of 6 October - the English won one of their most famous victories against the French on 14 October) but surely there must be an issue to celebrate The Queen and her record reign. Notably, no issue is planned to commemorate the funeral of King Richard III in March 2015 (well, who wants to commemorate a vicious murderer anyway?) 
  So much history - other postal administrations must look on jealously when they see the wealth of potential subjects for inclusion in a new issue programme that exists in Britain. But it seems sad not to commemorate Agincourt and instead issue a set of comedians. Perhaps commemorating two victories over the French in one year was considered to be overdoing things.
  The twice yearly Stampex philatelic exhibition held in London has a lot to answer for. Royal Mail has used it as a reason to set up its Post And Go machines on a 6 monthly basis there and numerous varieties of exhibition souvenirs have been dispensed, usually not otherwise available to the general public and since the spring exhibition of 2014, Jersey Post has done the same thing. Collectors have been tempted with further Post And Go exhibition labels at the autumn 2014 Stampex exhibition.
  Jersey's product on this occasion is a Collectors' Strip of 6 labels which again uses the ubiquitous Jersey flag design but with the added inscription "First World War Centenary" but this particular inscription is not used on the stamps dispensed directly to the public by the Post And Go machine situated in Broad Street post office in Jersey itself. So, once more, we have Jersey stamps sold in a country where they are not valid for postage but not directly available to the public in the island where they would be valid for postage!


    Meanwhile, Royal Mail's Autumn Stampex souvenir is a strip of Poppy stamps also with the inscription "First World War Centenary". The poppy stamp, without the added inscription, is available to ordinary mail service users in normal post offices as part of the strip of the "Symbolic Flowers" issue as detailed in Blog 452 but the poppy issue with inscription is only available at the philatelic exhibition which is why I view it purely as an exhibition souvenir rather than a proper postage stamp and will not bother to spend £7.42p to acquire it for my collection:-


  One issue I overlooked from 2013 is the sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet issued by the philatelic agents of St. Kitts to commemorate the Thailand 2013 philatelic exhibition. I mention it merely for completeness since I have no intention of including it in my collection because the theme of "Textiles of Thailand" seems to be wholly irrelevant to St. Kitts itself:-



  I now depict the 4 coil stamps released by Hong Kong China on 24 July 2014 as part of its recently issued new definitive set (see Blog 452):-



  The latest products from the philatelic agency, Philatelic Collector Inc., for the territories in the Pacific area with which it has a contract are:-
Samoa:-
  23 July 2014 - "Official" overprints on definitive stamps - 24 stamps;
  28 August 2014 - Personalisable stamp - 1 stamp;
  29 August 2014 - SIDS (Small island developing states) - 18 se-tenant stamps and 3 miniature sheet;
  16 September 2014 - 40th anniversary of the Commonwealth Games - 4 stamps:-



Tonga:-
  17 September 2014 - 40th anniversary of the Commonwealth Games - 5 stamps and 1 label issued in sheetlet format:-


  15 September 2014 - High value definitives ($16.90, $20 and $11.30) - 3 se-tenant stamps:-


Cook Islands
  23 June 2014 - Tourism - 24 stamps (6 se-tenant blocks of 4 stamps):-




  12 September 2014 - High value definitives - 3 stamps ($13.60c, $4 and $11.50):-


  The total cost of 1 mint example of each of the above products from Philatelic Collector Inc. is US$209.71c (£128.22p).

  Sri Lanka issued a single stamp on 3 September 2014 to commemorate the writer Dr R L Spittel:-


  A set of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet was released on 15 September 2014 to commemorate the Asian-Pacific Postal Union Executive Council Meeting which was held in Sri Lanka:-






  The latest items from Stamperija produced in the name of Solomon Islands amount to a total of 40 "stamps" (issued as 10 sheetlets of 4 different "stamps", each sheetlet being devoted to a different subject) and 10 accompanying miniature sheets. The "date of issue" is stated to have been 3 July 2014 and the random selection of subjects featured are:- the French artist Toulouse Lautrec, Christophe Wiilibald Gluck, Jaharwalal Nehru, Alphonse Mucha, Ayrton Senna, Charlie Chaplin, "Diving", "Football Brazil 2014", Josephine de Beauhamais (wife of Napoleon Bonaparte) and Louis Renault. 
  These items are similar to almost everything else that has been produced by this philatelic agency with the name of Solomon Islands printed on them and there is little point in illustrating them here. The total face value of 1 mint example of each of the above items is $640 Solomon Is or £53.11p.
  It's remarkable, isn't it, how these tiny Pacific territories seem to need so many high face valued stamps?

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

466. Scotland Says No To Independence.



  The eventual philatelic implications of the vote by the majority of Scots to reject the establishment of Scotland as an independent state will become apparent as the months go by. The major British political parties have promised more internal self-rule for the Scots and it may be that Royal Mail will decide to follow suit and have a new issue stamp programme entirely for Scotland whereby not only are definitive stamps released but also a full programme of commemoratives.


  Presumably, if Scotland were to get its own individual philatelic new issue programme the other countries of The United Kingdom - England, Northern Ireland and Wales - would have to be treated equally and so collectors might well find themselves facing 4 new countries to collect and Royal Mail might have a massive new potential source of philatelic income.
   I am a little hesitant to to admit that I rather like the idea of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all having their own individual places in my Commonwealth collection and perhaps, with 4 times the potential new issues as now, Royal Mail could cut out some of the excess issues so that each country issued just 6 new sets per year per country - which actually amounts to a greater total of issues (and financial income) than Royal Mail has now but the issues that did appear would have more meaning and significance.
  I like the idea of a British Isles omnibus - say, 4 sets of stamps issued in one year each on the subject of wildlife for instance - so we would have a set of Scottish wildlife, wildlife of Wales, Northern Irish wildlife and an accompanying set of Englush wildlife. The other philatelic entities of The British and Channel Isles (and even Gibraltar) could also join in - the wildlife of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Isle Of Man. I could see that this new individualisation of stamp issues to the various British nations might actually attract much-needed new collectors.
 I expect that if Scotland is to have more home rule then there will doubtless be a call for more Scottish stamps as part of the establishment of a more independent Scottish image and so while the Scots have rejected full political independence I expect to see philatelic consequences which may restore interest in stamp collecting in the general public of The British Isles.


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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

465. Domestic Cats Featured On New Irish Issue.

  An Post, the Irish Post Office, issued a set of 4 stamps and a €12 prestige booklet on the subject of domestic cats on 4 September 2014. The set was designed by Red And Grey Design and lithographed by Irish Security Stamp Printers:-



  Bangladesh issued 4 stamps produced in a sheetlet of 16 (4 blocks of 4 different stamps) and 2 miniature sheets (1 perforate and 1 imperforate) on 4 August 2014 which depicted flowers of Bangladesh and which commemorated the "Philakorea 2014" International Philatelic Exhibition:-  




  Another recent issue from Tanzania is currently being offered for sale on an Internet auction site. This is one of the locally available issues with direct relevance to Tanzania rather than an item produced by a foreign philatelic agency which has little to do in subject matter with the country. The issue appears to consist of 2 sheetlets each of 6 different stamps, a miniature sheet which contains 4 different stamps and 1 single value miniature sheet. I wonder if there may also be 4 or so additional stamps issued in ordinary sheets. The designs are a little naive in their execution but the set is clearly of local relevance:-





  Jersey Post issued 6 new Post And Go stamps from the machine in its post office in Broad Street (actually in Jersey and not in some philatelic exhibition located in a foreign country) on 11 September 2014 on which the inscription is similar to the ordinary (and recently introduced) Broad Street inscription but actually reads "Broad Street Intl Air Display". It seems that Jersey Post is hoping for big things in terms of sales of these and future Post and Go stamps but I suspect Post And Go stamps are past their best in terms of popularity and if issues consist of nothing but a basic design with various inscriptions added to them then collectors will soon become terminally bored with the products and give up collecting them completely:-


International Air Display inscription
Broad Street inscription

  I have not yet illustrated two recent miniature sheets from Jersey - the item issued as part of the "Roman Connections" set (see Blog 449):-


  and the second miniature sheet issued as part of the Centenary of the First World War set (see Blog 455):-


  In Blog 464 I mentioned an issue from Guyana which commemorated the recent auction sale of the British Guiana 1c Magenta stamps and it appears that there is also a single 80c stamp in the set which has been issued in sheets of 12 as depicted below:-


Zambia released a set of 6 stamps on 28 August 2014 on the subject of Waterfalls of Zambia. These stamps are very attractive and have clearly not been produced by a foreign philatelic agency:-





  In Blog 405 I mentioned the Malawi issue of 25 April 2014 which is on the subject of Lake Malawi and I now depict better illustrations than previously. The set consists of 10 stamps and a miniature sheet which unites all 10 values:-









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