I visited the Stafford Stamp Show on 19 June 2010. Unfortunately I found it a most inconvenient and expensive venue to visit given that the exhibition was several miles from Stafford in the countryside and for anyone traveling there by public transport a costly taxi ride was necessary since buses appeared to pass there only every two hours from Stafford Railway Station. However, when I arrived there I found a pleasantly laid out collection of dealers stalls and very few customers so that I generally had the dealers to myself and they had time to chat and help me look for the items I was hoping to buy. I visited Nigel Haworth's stall and with his usual unrivalled offering of Commonwealth stamps and new issues I began to feel that my visit to Stafford was proving to be more useful than I had feared it would be. We chatted about the latest South African Post Office Administrations (SAPOA) joint issue which this time comes from nine of the member states (South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho and Malawi) and which of the issues he so far had in stock (Namibia and Botswana which I had already obtained on my visit to Stamp World 2010 in May) and he reminded me that Malawi has not yet released its previous SAPOA issue, the wild animals set of 2007. This set had long been puzzling me. An illustration of the miniature sheet has been depicted on a birds on stamps website for a long time but I have never seen the item offered by any dealer so I was not sure if it had actually been issued or whether it was so scarce that no one had been able to obtain it to put on sale. It appears that the former is the case; Nigel suggested that the South African printers had not released the set to the Malawi Post Office because of the latter's inability to pay for it. For the present at least I have scrubbed it from my "to get" list of stamps. The illustration of this miniature sheet is illustrated in this blog.
Another mysterious issue from Malawi is the Rotary miniature sheet released on 25 July 2005. Stanley Gibbons and other catalogues only list the four stamps as being produced in miniature sheet form but purchases of Malawi kiloware I have made in the last few months confirm that each value was also available for use from ordinary sheets of stamps. I have found all four values printed in much lighter shades than those in the miniature sheet and I have seen at least two of the values in se-tenant pairs (clearly not originating from the miniature sheet). All four values of the sheet stamps are illustrated here as well as the miniature sheet for comparison. Again I have not seen any dealer offering the individual stamps for sale in mint or used condition.
New headaches from Malawi are looming. The SAPOA World Cup set may pose a problem in availability or possibly not since a publicity item from ZimPost announced that all the participating nations had put up 50000 euros to pay for the issue so one supposes that Malawi must have paid its share up front and will therefore have received its supply of its own stamps. Perhaps this will open the way for the 2007 issue to become available to them as well. Additionally a new set of butterfly definitives has been issued in new values and all with "Protect Nature" inscribed on them. I have only seen them offered for sale once so far and that was on E Bay with ludicrously high prices being bid for them. I suspect they will become available from a proper dealer in the foreseeable future at sensible new issue prices. I hope so!