I have never seen the Sky television programme Game Of Thrones and really know nothing about it except that it is some sort of fantastical saga which features more than its fair share of violence and nudity, which I suppose is why it is so very popular. Listening to commentators talking about it in the media it is obviously considered to be "cool", if people still use that word.
Therefore any philatelic items featuring the subject would be completely lost on me. And, it appears, lost to all philatelists. For without any philatelic publicity that I have come across, the Ireland Tourist Board has been selling, one each week, what it calls "stamps" on the subject of Game of Thrones. There is a set of 10 and each one was issued to coincide with the screening of a new episode of the series.
There is a Game Of Thrones Facebook page which states that these items are "Limited edition stamps created in collaboration between Tourism Ireland and the Royal Mail, released with each episode of the 6th season of Game of Thrones. Each week, a new design is unveiled connecting to the latest episode."
Excruciatingly, Northern Ireland seems to have gone the way of New Zealand which termed itself on some of its stamps as "Middle Earth", after the filming of the Hobbit movies there, by calling itself "the Game of Thrones Territory" and emphasises that "Northern Ireland has served as the home base for the series for six seasons".
An American asked a question on the Facebook page, "I need these! Is there any way to buy them if you're in the U.S?....
He received the unhelpful reply, " They're only available in Northern Ireland's post offices at this point. I would expect there'll be people collecting them together and trying to resell them in the future though".
I looked at the E Bay and Delcampe auction sites and could find no evidence of any of these items being offered for sale on either of the sites.
Oh dear. What we appear to have then are 10 Northern Ireland 1st class regional stamps with attached labels suggesting that they were produced in a "Commemorative sheet" or possibly a "Generic sheet", sold one per week apparently in Northern Ireland post offices only and nowhere else. There is no mention of an intact sheet of all 10 being offered for sale. Royal Mail does not mention these items on their philatelic website and I have seen no mention of them on philatelic websites or in philatelic journals. The items, sold from a "limited edition", on a potentially extremely popular theme, are available in an extremely limited way to people who are able to visit post offices in Northern Ireland and the promoter of the items is advising that anyone else interested in obtaining them might in the future be able to buy them from profiteers who will no doubt sell them at highly inflated prices.
The labels depict, apparently (I have no idea of the significance of any of the items listed):-
Week 1 - Stark Dire Wolf
Week 2 - Flayed Man
Week 3 - Greyjoy Kraken
Week 4 - House Arryn Lords of the Vale
Week 5 - Night's King
Week 6 - Three Headed Dragon of Targaryn
Week 7 - Three Eyed Raven
Week 8 - The Faceless Man
Week 9 - the Lannister Sigil
Week 10 - Brooch of the Hand
Post scriptum 1 August 2016 - Smilers News on the Ridgewood Stamp Sheets website has tracked down details about the "Game Of Thrones stamps" and has identified that the items were handed out, one design per week, to visitors to the Belfast Visitors Centre of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. The items were produced by the Tourist Board in conjunction with Royal Mail in sheets of 20 all of the same design. There is no mention that they were ever sold at post offices contrary to previous reports. All stocks have now been exhausted.
There are further details and a mock-up of what one of the sheets must have looked like on the Ridgewood Stamp Sheets website which I strongly recommend visiting. I look forward to some enterprising soul putting together a complete set of these items and seeing how much is asked for them or how much they make if offered for sale on an Internet auction site.
Presumably all complete sheets were broken up into single stamps and none exist any more. If such an item had be held back and still exists it would surely be a Holy Grail for Smilers sheets collectors.
Malta Post will issue a single stamp on 5 August 2016 to commemorate the Birth Centenary of its former prime minister, Dom Mintoff. The stamp was designed by Malta Post and lithographed by Printex and perforated 14. Rating:- **. I was going to head this Blog with a piece on Mintoff, a very interesting character, but he was pushed aside by the Game Of Thrones farrago.
Malta Post will also issue a set of 4 diamond-shaped stamps on 6 August 2016 to commemorate the country's participation in the Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games. The issue was designed by Sean Cini and lithographed by Printex and perforated 14. Rating 0:- ***.
An Post, the postal service of Ireland, issued 4 stamps (2 x 2 se-tenat pairs) and a €15 prestige booklet on 28 July 2016 on the subject of the Wild Atlantic Way which is said to be the longest defined coastline touring route in the world. The issue was designed by Red and Grey Design and lithographed by Cartor and perforated 13.5. Rating:- *****.
An Post will then issue another 2 se-tenant pairs of colourful stamps on the subject of Irish shop fronts on 18 August 2016. This set, designed by Ger Garland, really is excellent and highly original - An Post really is producing many marvellous stamps at the moment - if only this relative philatelic conservativeness coupled with the ability to come up with interesting subjects together with attractive designs could be repeated by the various territories that make up the British Isles. The stamps were lithographed by Cartor and perforated 12 x 12.5. Rating:- ******.
The next set will be made up of a block of 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet on the subject of Cycling in Ireland. Another attractive issue this time designed by Zinc Design and again lithographed by Cartor and perforated 13.5. Rating:- ****.