Royal Mail has announced that its second new commemorative set of 2014, after the inconsequential "Children's television characters" set to be released in January, will be a set of 6 stamps which pays tribute to Britain's working horses. Superficially there does not appear to be any particular reason to issue such a set particularly on the date chosen, 4 February 2014, but if one thinks about it, this set will be released only 4 days after the Chinese New Year - 31 January 2014 - which just happens to be the Year of the Horse. Perhaps this is an attempt to attract the burgeoning Far Eastern philatelic market and appeal to collectors in that region of the world as Royal Mail finds a need to replace its traditional local collector-buyers in Britain who are giving up collecting British stamps in their droves because of excessive issuing and the expense associated with purchasing new issues.
The set is quite pleasant although the designers appear to have done little more than select 6 photographs and add some lettering to them along with a representation of the Queen's head. Notably, there are no second class postage values included in the set despite Royal Mail's promise to collectors in 2012 that they would help their philatelic customers by producing more such values thus reducing the cost of a set to for the collectors. I think that collectors have long given up expecting that Royal Mail would keep any promise that they made to them.
For the record the stamps were "designed" by Micael Denny and Harold Batten - a far cry from the days of David Gentleman (see Blog 326). Printing was carried out in lithography by ISP.
30 September 2013 - Churches of Barbados - 4 stamps - lithograph printed by BDT International -
This Barbados set is the only issue to be featured on the CASCO website for September 2013 which was published in the last few days even though it is now mid-November. The agency really does seem to be losing a grip with little effort seeming to be put in to promoting the stamps to collectors of their 12 client territories. Perhaps they are more active in promoting new issues to dealers but if the collectors do not know that something is on the market then they will not seek them out and buy them. There seems no point in having a website if you don't keep it up to date.
Date of issue awaited - The Pallottine Sisters, a branch of the Roman Catholic Church - 3 stamps :-
Fiji:- date awaited - Mangroves - 4 stamps:-
Jamaica:- date awaited - definitive reprints presumably with "2013" imprints - 4 stamps:-
Pitcairn Islands:- 22 November 2013 - 50th anniversary of the assassination of former US President Kennedy - 4 stamps. Designed by Denise Durkin and lithographed by Southern Colour Print. I have no idea what the connection between Pitcairn and Kennedy is - perhaps someone could tell me what the justification for this issue is. This is the 7th issue of stamps from the island during 2013, admittedly only amounting to a total of 18 stamps and 3 miniature sheets: nevertheless that means that each resident of Pitcairn has had half a stamp each designed for them during this past year.
Grenada:- 10 October 2013 - 60th anniversary of the Coronation of the Queen of Grenada, Elizabeth II - a further sheetlet of 4 stamps and an additional miniature sheet:-
St. Helena:- date of issue awaited - Birth of Prince George of Cambridge - 4 stamps:-
Bhutan:- 18 June 2013 - The Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava - sheetlet of 8 stamps and 1 miniature sheet:-
Footnote Issues:- these are issues of philatelic items which are produced usually by foreign philatelic agents on behalf of various countries which have little or no relevance of subject matter to the country whose name appears on the philatelic item. They have postal validity in theory but probably receive minimal true postal usage in the territories whose names are printed on the items. I do not include such items in my collection of Commonwealth stamps:-
Antigua And Barbuda:-
28 October 2013 - Dogs - Sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet:-
28 October 2013 - China International Collection Expo - "Sites and Scenes of China" - Sheetlet of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet which contains 2 different stamps:-
10 October 2013 - Constellations - Sheetlet of 3 stamps and 1 m.s.:-
16 October 2013 - Domestic cats - Sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s. (depicted in a previous Blog):-
16 October 2013 - Commemoration of the late Baroness Thatcher, former British prime minister - sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 m.s.. I do not not believe that, like Kennedy and Pitcairn, there was any particular connection between Grenada and Margaret Thatcher except that she angrily berated the US President Reagan when he ordered American troops to invade and occupy the island, a Commonwealth Realm, without informing the British government beforehand.
10 October 2013 - World Radio Day - Sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.-
16 October 2013 - Bats - Sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s. There is no indication that the feature species are local in the Grenadines.
10 October 2013 - Marine life - Sheelet of 4 different designs and 1 m.s. There is no indication that any of the featured species are found in the local waters of The Grenadines.
10 October 2013 - Chinese New Year - Year of the Horse - Sheetlet of 6 different stamps and 1 m.s. Bizarrely released 3 and a half months before Chinese New Year (perhaps the Guyanese like to "Post Early for Chinese New Year") and a subject of dubious relevance to Guyana. Apparently, the Guyanese (or their philatelic agents) - like the British - see exploitation of Chinese stamp collectors as the way ahead now that western collectors have all but given up. Where will it all end?