Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Royal Mail: The Madness Continues & Norfolk Island Diamond Jubilee Issue.

Royal Mail has outlined its programme of new stamps for 2013. The first issue is yet another set, miniature sheet and retail booklet centred around London. Does the stamp design selection committee of Royal Mail not think that Britain exists outside of London? Philatelically, I am tired of London and despite what Dr Johnston said, I am not tired of my philatelic life. On January 2013, six stamps and a miniature sheet consisting of 4 additional designs will commemorate the centenary of the Metropolitan railway which ran between Paddington Station and Farringdon Street and this was the forerunner of the London Underground system that makes so many people's lives a misery every day in these modern times. I can not deny that the designs are excellent, featuring as they do, scenes of the railway through the century of its existence.

Of the 6 designs in the ordinary set, there are 2 x 2nd values, 2 x 1st and 2 x £1.28 which means that Royal Mail is at least keeping its promise to issue more 2nd class values to help reduce the total cost to collectors. The benefit of doing so is that the general public may actually get to use some modern commemoratives on their mail again and, who knows, some may even find them interesting and attractive enough, to want to start collecting stamps. 

A little different from the crowded carriages experienced by
the 21st century commuter!

The miniature sheet is depicted below with one of the stamps from the sheet. Again, rather attractive, as each stamp included in the sheet features posters used in the past to publicise the Underground but the total face value is too high since the stamps are 1st (60p), 77p, 87p and £1.28p (total £3.52p) - no 2nd class stamp used in this production  - why not?

Pleasingly, Royal Mail appears to have also kept its promise to release fewer issues in 2013, the rest of the programme is:-
  1.  21 February         Jane Austin (writer) commemoration
  2.  26 March             Classic British television (50th anniversary of Dr.Who)
  3.  16 April               Great Britons
  4.  9 May                  150th anniversary of the Football League
  5.  30 May                60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
  6.  18 June                Classic locomotives of Northern Ireland
  7.  11 July                 Butterflies
  8.  13 August            British auto legends
  9.  19 September      The Merchant Navy
  10.  10 October           Dinosaurs
  11.  5 November         Christmas
This is clearly a lot better than what has happened in the last few years so let us hope that this is a true turning point away from the previous exploitative attitude towards stamp collectors and let us hope that other Commonwealth postal administrations and philatelic agencies follow Royal Mail's lead. Unfortunately, things do not look too good. As well as the above listed commemoratives Royal Mail will issue 3 Post and Go sets on the theme of "pond life' and it looks as though the now very popular Post and Go stamps are a new area that Royal Mail has identified for exploitation. After the deluge of such stamps produced at the recent Autumn Stampex stamp exhibition in London (detailed in the previous blog), there are now to be further such stamps produced, with extremely limited availability, from machines to be set up at the 94th Philatelic Congress in Perth, Scotlandwhich is being held between the 19th and 21st of October 2012. The machines will deliver the Union Jack and Machin head Post and Go stamps with overprints applied which reads in 2 lines "PERTH 2012 19-21 OCTOBER". Thus the new issue madness continues, it is always possible to make cosmetic changes to a stamp programme but continue to find new ways to extract money from collectors. A pity, the "Post and Go" stamps were a real area of interest for collectors but in recent days Royal Mail has completely ruined them as a special collecting area of items that really fulfilled a genuine postal need which made use of the latest technology. Once more, mad Greed has won out.

Norfolk Island released its issue to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II on 20 August 2012 in the form of a miniature sheet containing 3 stamps centred around the Jubilee celebrations on the island with a photograph of the Jubilee beacon in the large margin. An interesting issue particularly as the lighting of beacons right around The Commonwealth was one of the important events which linked the territories participating in celebration of the Queen's notable anniversary.

Below, I show the detailed designs of Singapore's "Giant pandas" set which was issued on 6 September 2012. There are 3 gummed stamps and 1 self-adhesive stamp which was sold in booklets of 10 x 50c. They were designed by Edward Chen Zhi Chi and Eric Kong and printed in lithography by Secura Singapore. Very attractive and very collectable.

On 16 September  2012, Ascension issued a set of of 6 stamps, including 2 very strange tiny stamps to commemorate the centenary of the Shackleton-Rowett expedition. These are also very interesting and attractive.

The Gambia issued a sheetlet of 3 stamps and a miniature sheet which depict "Wild cats of Africa". Some of the art does not look terribly good, especially the stamp at the right of the sheetlet, on the other hand the illustrations of the lion and the leopard in the margins of the sheets look altogether more convincing.

Continuing the animal theme, Ghana recently issued a sheetlet of 5 stamps depicting primates - another interesting issue but as the species illustrated are not all found in Ghana (the orang utan on the 2nd stamp from the right is not even found in Africa), I shall not be adding it to my collection. Surely the designer could have found 5 native Ghanaian species to illustrate and thus make the issue relevant to Ghana rather than just lazily showing a collection of randomly selected monkeys and apes.

Finally, a stamp issue of great local relevance was released on 8 August 2012 by Trinidad And Tobago to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the achievement of national independence from The United Kingdom. The set comprises 4 stamps and is rather more exuberant than the rather dull pair of stamps recently issued by Jamaica to commemorate its independence (see previous blog). All stamps have a $1.00 face value.

One of the designs is interesting in that it depicts the 1st Governor-General of Trinidad And Tobago, Sir Solomon Hochoy, and the first prime minister, Dr. Eric Williams:-
and another shows the colonial flag badge used from 1958 to 62 side-by-side with the post-Independence coat of arms:- 

1 comment:


    Defeat was mighty close in the second greatest war,
    Five thousand ships with cargos sent to the ocean floor,
    Merchant men were slaughtered sustaining our lifeline,
    The Country issued ration books so desperate was the time.

    A crisis at the Home Front, foodstuff very short,
    Rations and provisions scarcely making port,
    Convoys steaming steadfast under Red Ensigns,
    Faced demise from U-boats, the bombers and the mines.

    There were many heroes on land and sea and air,
    And thirty thousand Seamen gave their lives out there,
    Transporting reinforcements, resources and supplies,
    And fuel to fly the spitfires fighting in the skies.

    Perhaps we should commend them by illustrating stamps,
    With the freighters and the liners, the tankers and the tramps,
    It would be a special tribute, rather overdue,
    To mariners who manned them and a way to say thank you.

    J.S.Earl Nov. 2009


    Joe's poem of 2009 indicates how long we have been trying.