Friday, 21 October 2016

847. New Definitive Appears Amid Mr. Men Stamps Buying Rush.

  Royal Mail has issued a new definitive as part of its "Mr Men" issue which was let loose on the stamp collecting fraternity on 20 October 2016. Four red 1st class stamps were included in the £3.84p booklet of self-adhesive stamps which also included 2 "Mr. Men" stamps. The Machin definitive was the first release of the 1st class self-adjesive red stamp with security backing paper and code "M16L MCIL".
  The 2 "Mr. Men" featured in the booklet are "Mr Happy" and "Mr Tickle". 
  I was in Stratford-upon-Avon on the day of issue and even though I had decided to resist buying the set of 10 as I find it to be excessive and banal in equal measure, I trotted along to the main post office in Henley Street to see if I could get my hands on one of the booklets in order to obtain the new definitive. Collectors won't be too surprised to read that the very pleasant and helpful counter staff there had to inform me that the booklet was not one of those products which they were stocking locally and I would have to contact the Philatelic Bureau in Edinburgh to obtain the booklet. 
  What surprised me was the apparent high level of public interest and demand for these stamps which had been mentioned on the BBC television news that morning - in the short time I was at the counter - about 9.30 AM - 3 other people - all quite elderly - came up to the counter and enquired about the stamps and bought some. It has been a long time since I've witnessed such enthusiasm among what seemed to be non-collectors for a new stamp issue and at least 2 of them mentioned that they were buying them to send to their grandchildren.
  A lesson here. Stamp collectors, like myself, can be snooty about the dumbing-down of subjects featured on new stamp issues but items featuring various aspects of modern popular culture do seem to appeal to the (older) public who will buy such items not so much, perhaps, for themselves but because they think that the stamps will be enjoyed by their grandchildren. For any stamp-issuing entity a sale is a sale and a source of income. I may not think that these are worthy of issue but the stamp-buying public seem to be keen to obtain them especially if they think that they will be suitable gifts for younger members of their family.
   The public's keeness for them is also heightened if the philatelic items have been featured on the television, even if only in a short news bulletin which begs the question of why we don't have any television programmes here about stamps and stamp collecting even though we have numerous programmes on general antique collecting, geneology, house buying, gardening, cooking, eating, sport and numerous other pastimes. 

  The 6 gummed Christmas stamps issued by the Isle Of Man Post Office which are described in Blog 829 were accompanied by a 45p self-adhesive stamps issued in sheetlets of 25 as depicted below:-

  Guernsey Post will issue 6 stamps on 11 November 2016 as its third issue which commemorates the Centenary of the First World War. Each stamp depicts a Guernseyman who served in the Royal Navy during the war. Whilst I appreciate the point that is intended to be made with these stamps I find the designs cluttered and anaemic. Rating:- **.

  Pos Malaysia reissued the 2015 Trains in Sabah miniature sheet with an additional inscription, "Thailand 2016 32nd Asian International Stamp Exhibition" presumably on the first day of the exhibition which was 10 August 2016. Rating:- ***.

  The Iraq postal service has issued a single stamp to commemorate the liberation of the governate of Anbar, including the city of Ramadi, by Iraqi government forces in the ongoing war against the vicious so-called "Islamic State". The Islamists had captured Ramadi on 17 March 2015 by launching multiple waves of suicide attacks during a sandstorm which caused Iraqi forces to withdraw from the city.
  The Iraqi army, supported by Sunni and Shi'ite militia, began its campaign to liberate Anbar on 15 July 2015 but it was not until January 2016 that the Iraqi government could claim to have freed about 80% of Ramadi and on 20 January the city was said to have been cleared of ISIS fighters.
  I do not yet know the date of issue of the stamp. See also Blogs 424, 601 and 718.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

846. Christmas Stamps From Bahamas And Endemic Plants From Falklands.

  The Bahamas Post Office will issue a set of 4 Christmas stamps on 14 November 2016 depicting scenes from The Nativity. The issue was designed by Andrew Robinson and lithographed by Cartor and perforated 13.5. Production co-ordination was by Creative Direction. Rating:- ****.

  Creative Direction was also responsible for the production coordination of the excellent 6 stamps and accompanying miniature sheet which will be released by the Falkland Islands postal service on 21 November 2016 which will be on the subject of Endemic plants of the islands. The issue was designed by Leigh-Anne Woolfhardt (she has produced some beautiful illustrations) and lithographed by BDT International Security Printers and perforated 14. Rating:- *****. 

  From the sublime to the ridiculous:- 

  According to publicity, Maldives Post issued a single stamp miniature sheet in a limited edition of 1,200 on 1 October 2016, 12 days before the country's president, the near tyrannical Abdulla Yameen,  withdrew the island-state from The Commonwealth. The issue commemorated Maharaja Agrasen, a legendary king of Agroha in India which was a city of traders. It was intended that 1000 of the items would be reserved for sale to Indian businessmen and businesswomen and one was presented to the Indian government "in a symbolic gesture of appreciation of the close ties between India and Maldives - and to further develop the ties - especially in business". Yes, I'm sure that the gift of a Stamperija-produced "miniature sheet" is going to do wonders for Indian-Maldives relations! The Stamperija website indicates that the item is sold out - presumably hoards of Indian businessman have been fighting to obtain an example of this item. Or perhaps not. Rating:- 0.

  Meanwhile, although Maldives has left The Commonwealth there are still philatelic products to mention which Stamperija claims to have "issued" before 13 October 2016 which is when the country left the organisation and its stamps quitted The Commonwealth Catalogue. Thus we have another 10 "sheetlets", each containing 4 "stamps" and 10 accompanying " miniature sheets" which are said to have been "issued" on 8 September 2016. The featured subjects are the 40th anniversary of Concorde's commercial service, 125th birth anniversary of Sergei Prokoviev, 75th anniversary of the Battle of Moscow, Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign, International Year of Pulses, 30th anniversary of the Musee D'Orsay, 60th anniversary of the Wedding of Prince Ranier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, 1st Birthday of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and a "Tribute to Prince", deceased US performer of popular music. These are all similar in design style and it is not worthwhile depicting the stuff here. Rating:- 0.
  However there is a tenth issue in the same style which is worth depicting since its subject matter has a great irony to it. This "set" commemorates the 50th anniversary of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the current Maldives government is abusing notoriously at present - members of opposition parties have been arrested and jailed and the former President has been forced to flee from the country and is currently exiled in Britain. It was for the very reason that it wished to avoid the country being censured by and suspended from The Commonwealth that the current oppressive government announced Maldives' withdrawal from the organisation - so an issue celebrating a document which promotes civil and political rights has the smell of cynicism and hypocrisy about it. 
  The "miniature sheet" is also interesting in that it depicts prominently the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan religious leader detested by the leaders of The People's Republic Of China, with which the current Maldives government is trying to strengthen ties - I doubt that the Chinese government will be   pleased to see the face of the Dalai Lama feature so prominently on a "stamp" with the name of Maldives inscribed on it. Stamperija strikes again! Rating:- 0.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

845. Pitcairn Depicts Local Ferns On Latest Issue.

  Bounty Post, the postal service of Pitcairn, released an attractive issue made up of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on the subject of Ferns of Pitcairn on 19 October 2016. The issue was designed by Sue Wickison and lithographed by Southern Colour Print and lithographed by 14.5 x 14. Rating:- *****.

  Pakistan Post issued a pair of stamps on 18 October 2016 which represents its contribution to a joint issue with Singapore Post depicting the national flowers of the 2 countries (see Blogs 808 and 837). The issue was designed by Naveed Awan and lithographed by Pakistan Security Printing Corporation and perforated 13. Rating:- ****.

  Botswana Post has reissued its "Vervet monkey" miniature sheet of 2015 with an additional inscription in the lower border - "Thailand 2016" - and the logo of the Thailand 2016 32nd Asian International Stamp Exhibition to commemorate the exhibition which took place from 10 to 15 August 2016 in Bangkok. Rating:- ***.

  The Myanma Postal Service issued a set of 3 stamps on 31 August 2016 to commemorate the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference. The important conference was attended by 18 ethnic insurgent groups and the Myanmar government and its aims included the building of a democratic federal union in accordance with results of the recent democratic elections. Rating:- ***.

  Below are illustrated the 8 "stamps" issued by the New York-based philatelic agency, IGPC - the self-proclaimed World's Most Respected Philatelic Agency - on 16 September 2016 in the name of Grenada on the subject of  the 80th anniversary of "The Long March" (see Blog 799) which doesn't really seem to have much to do with a small Caribbean island even if it did once have a short-lived Marxist government which came to an abrupt end when US troops invaded the island. Rating:- 0.

Monday, 17 October 2016

844. Isle Of Man Commemorates Its Olympians; More Ebola Stamps From Sierra Leone.

  The Isle Of Man Post Office has issued (or is about to issue) a miniature sheet on the subject of the Team GB Rio Olympic Games medal winners with a particular emphasis on the successful Manx competitors. The sheet is made up of the 8 different stamps issued previously to commemorate the Games itself but with 2 additional labels depicting 2 Manx Members of Team GB - Mark Cavendish who won a silver medal in the men's cycling omnium event and Tim Kneale who took 4th place in the mens double trap shooting event. This issue at least commemorates the Manx role in the Games and costs £5.08p. Rating:- ***.

  Australia Post, though issuing 8 stamps to commemorate the gold medal winners of the Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games, has chosen to celebrate its paralympians' achievements with just a single stamp which depicts Australia's "Paralympian of the Year", Dylan Alcott. The stamp was printed (and sold) in sheets of 10 stamps and designed by Simone Sarkinofsky and lithographed and perforated 14.5. The date of issue was 18 October 2016. Rating:- ***.

  Australia Post also issued a set of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 18 October 2016. The items are inscribed "Cocos (Keeling) Islands Australia" and illustrate the subject of art in the islands. The attractive set was designed by Lisa Chritensen, Three Branches Design and lithographed by RA Print and perforated 14 x 14.5. Rating:- ***.

   Stamperia has put on sale more sheetlets of stamps which depict local heroes of the fight against the Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014 to 2015. A single sheetlet of 8 was said to have been issued on 21 August 2015 (see Blog 671) and it is possible that the other 3 sheetlets were released on the same date. I suspect that these items were actually put on sale at post offices in Sierra Leone though I haven't yet seen any evidence to support my theory. I have not bothered with any of the stuff that Stamperija has released up to now with Sierra Leone's name printed on it but I think that these sheets may well be worthy of a place in my collection. Rating:- ****.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

843. Five Decades Of Botswana Stamps.

  Botswana Post issued a set of 5 stamps on 9 October 2016 to commemorate World Post Day and also the 50th anniversary of postage stamps inscribed "Botswana". As usual, it is another excellent issue from Botswana Post, each stamp portraying a different issue representative of the decade in which they were released. Rating:- ****.

  Malawi Post issued a sheetlet containing 7 different stamps and 5 single-stamp miniature sheets on the subject of "Herbs of Malawi" on 7 October 2016. This is another interesting and colourful issue of local relevance from Malawi Post. Rating:- ***.

  MaltaPost will release 2 new issues to commemorate its participation in 2 upcoming philatelic exhibitions - Maltex 2016 from 21 to 23 October 2016 held in Floriana and the International Stamp Fair Sindelfingen 2016 from 27 to 29 October 2016. The issues are the usual personalisable stamps with attached labels which have the exhibitions' logos printed on them. The Maltex 2016 exhibition is taking place on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Malta Philatelic Society. Rating:- ***.

  India Post issued a miniature sheet on 17 October 2016 which contains 4 stamps each depicting a species of near-threatened Indian bird - the birds depicted are the Nicobar pigeon, the Nilgiri flycatcher, the Andaman woodpecker and the Black and orange flycatcher. This ia a very attractive and interesting issue. Rating:- *****.