Thursday 22 September 2016

827. New Zealand Post Cashes In On Middle Earth Again.

  New Zealand Post will issue a miniature sheet on 19 October 2016 in its never-ending series of attempts to cash in on the fact that the film versions of JRR Tolkein's novels, The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, were shot in New Zealand. 
  The miniature sheet contains a circular $10 stamp which has 22 carat gold embossing on it along with the irritatingly fatuous inscription "Middle Earth New Zealand". Admittedly the item is indeed quite attractive but isn't it time to give Tolkein a rest and move on to some other subject from someone else's culture which just happens to have been filmed in New Zealand. Why not film A Midsummer Night's Dream there and then New Zealand Post could start inscribing its stamps "Shakespeare Country New Zealand"?

  Along with the basic miniature sheet comes a very attractive book which contains one each of the 37 Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings miniature sheets which New Zealand Post has previously issued along with the new sheet (yes, 37). Naturally this is sold in one of those increasingly frequent "limited editions" ("only 2000 worldwide and won't last long so place your order now").
  "This beautifully crafted book has been inspired by the journal written by Hobbit Bilbo Baggins and his heir Frodo Baggins in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings"
  "It comes complete with an embossed leatherette cover, fastened with a button modelled fom the waistcoat of Bilbo Baggins. Inside the pages, which have been printed on premium textured paper, you can re-live this great adventure with the film synopses, quotes from your favourite characters, conceptual illustrations and stunning photography. Each of the miniature sheets within are individually numbered making them uniqely collectable. Each book also comes with a certificate of authenticity".
  The illustrations show that this a genuinely impressive product and with all those miniature sheets inside and the additional beautiful illustrations it seems to represent pretty good value at a price of NZ$149.90c. But I'm a simple stamp collector so it's not really for me. But I can see the Tolkein enthusiasts rushing to buy the item. 
  If nothing else it's a brilliant way for New Zealand Post to unload 74,000 previously unsold miniature sheets for a total of NZ$299,800. Good for New Zealand Post. Rating:- ****.

  We may have thought that we'd seen the end of this year's excrutiatingly tedious Europa issues but we forgot that the Isle Of Man Post Office was yet to inflict a set upon us. And now here we are - 5 stamps with a total face value of £6.15p - on the subject of "Isle Of Man Biosphere" which celebrates "the Isle of Man's UNESCO Biosphere status". 
  The lowest value is the Europa stamp, with which we are all very bored, designed by Doxia Sergidou, and the other values feature various environmental subjects. This is probably the best 2016 Europa-related set I've seen though probably one of the more expensive.
  Isle Of Man was awarded "Biosphere" status by UNESCO in March 2016 and is the only entire jurisdiction in the world to be given this status and this is said to recognise the island's achievements in natural, historic and environmental conservation, environmentally sensitive economic development and its continuing commitment to education.
  This issue seems warranted therefore with or without the Europa omnibus stamp. Rating:- ****.
  The four higher values were designed by Isle Of Man Advertising and all the stamps were lithographed by Cartor and perforated 14. The set will be issued on 7 October 2016.

  Royal Mail's next Post And Go stamps will be issued on 14 November 2016 and will feature 4 charming designs on the subject of "Hibernating animals" - 2 x 2nd Class values designs and 2 x 1st Class values designs. The creatures featured are the Hedgehog, cosily wrapped up in its nest of leaves, the Grass snake (less appealing than the hedgehog but a beautiful creature), a sweet little Dormouse (inevitably) and a Brown long-eared bat. This is a lovely set available from NCR kiosks situated in many post offices around the country, from IAR kiosks in 6 post office enquiry offices and also sold in the usual packs. Rating:- *****.

  Among the philatelic abominations to be announced by the notorious Stamperija philatelic agency this week are 2 disgraceful "issues" which seek to exploit the human misery and horror of the Mediterranean migrant crisis. Various products are being released with the names of Sierra Leone and Mozambique printed on them along with some appallingly awful art especially the portaiture depicted on the items.

  As well as egesting these tasteless items, the philatelic agency is also releasing a further 9 "sheetlets", each containing 4 different "stamps" and 9 accompanying "miniature sheets" inscribed "Sierra Leone" and another 14 different "sheetlets", each containing 4 different "stamps", and 14 "sheetlets" which are inscribed with the name of Mozambique.
  The subjects featured on the items inscribed "Sierra Leone" are the 1st Birthday of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, 125th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Prokofiev, Commemoration of the late Nancy Reagan, Roman Catholic Year of Mercy, "Football Russia 2018", 50th anniversary of the death of Sergei Korolev, 50th anniversary of the death of Walt Disney, 150th anniversary of the birth of Wassily Kandinsky and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Moscow. Rating:- 0.

  The items issued in the name of Mozambique commemorate the 85th Birth anniversary of James Dean, the 60th anniversary of Prince Ranier III of Monaco to Grace Kelly, the 70th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, 90th Birth anniversary of Marilyn Monroe, Centenary of the death of Max Immelmann, 80th Birthday of Pope Francis, 160th anniversary of the death of Nikola Tesla, 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Centenary of the Battle of Verdun, 130th Birth anniversary of Robert Schuman, 90th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, 125th Birth anniversary of Sergei Prokofiev, 260th Birth anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the 500th anniversary of Royal Mail. Rating:- 0.

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