Sunday, 31 July 2016

797. New Zealand To Issue Stamps To Commemorate All Rio Medal Winners.

  During the 2012 London Olympic Games, Royal Mail, the principal British postal service, issued stamps in sheetlets of 6 to commemorate winners of gold medals and eventually collectors found that they had to buy a grand total of 29 miniature sheets. In addition, similar items but containing 4 stamps, were produced to commemorate gold medallists in the Paralympic Games and these totalled 34.
  Likewise, Australia Post also issued gold medallist stamps for the 2012 Games which resulted in the release of 8 sheetlets of 10 stamps (including a recent stamp which commemorated a belated gold medal award to Jared Tallent after the original gold medallist had been disqualified for cheating).
  Now New Zealand Post has announced that it will issue a miniature sheet containing 6 stamps for all of the country's medal winners - gold, silver and bronze - and, when the Games have finished, another sheet will be issued which will include all the medal winners stamps. Oh dear!

  But perhaps things are not so bad as they first sound. The good news is that New Zealand does not usually win all that many medals so that the opportunity to issue stamps featuring the medal winners is fairly limited. In recent Games, New Zealand won just 4 medals in 2000 and was placed number 46 in the overall medals table (1 gold and 3 bronze), 5 medals in 2004 (no. 24 - 3 gold and 2 silver), 9 medals in 2008 (no.25 - 3 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze) and 13 medals in 2012 (no. 15 - 5 gold, 3 silver and 5 bronze).  However, if the New Zealand team does as well as it did in 2012 or better (the absence of a lot of Russian Olympians will increase the medal haul of other countries) then collectors will be faced with buying at least 13 sheets at a cost of $6 each making $78 or £42.42p. 
  And then again, New Zealand Post has said nothing yet about issuing sheets for medal winners at the Paralympic Games but I'm betting that collectors will also be faced with such issues. We will see. 
  In Blog 781 I mentioned the British Indian Ocean Territory set of 4 stamps which were released on 28 July 2016 and I now include much better illustrations of the set. As can be seen, the stamps commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter, the centenary of the birth of Roald Dahl and the bicentenary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte. It's a pleasing set though the art isn't that great - Juliet, depicted on the Shakespeare set, is remarkably toothy (maybe she should be) - a little more like Squirrel Nutkin than Shakespeare's heroine - and the Fantastic Mr. Fox on the Roald Dahl stamp looks worryingly like Basil Brush. 
  It's a surprising set to emerge from a territory which is a large oceanic island without a permanent resident population and largely taken up by an enormous US military base and it has little to do with the unfortunate Chagossians who were expelled from their ancestral homes so that the base could be built - nevertheless I like it.

  India Post issued a lovely pair of stamps with an accompanying miniature sheet on 29 July 2016 on the subject of the Tadoba-Andhari National Park and depicting some wonderful photographs of tigers. At last - an interesting and attractive set from India Post after some dreadfully dull and boring issues. Rating:- *****.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

796. "Game Of Thrones Stamps" Shock.

  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. 
  What madness. 

  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:- ****.

795. Jersey And China Linked By Ducks.

  It would be lovely not to feel as though I constantly need to moan about the philatelic products that seem to issue forth constantly from Jersey Post especially when so many Jersey stamps are designed so beautifully but there is just so much of the stuff that collectors can not help but feel swamped by it. 
  It doesn't say a lot for Jersey-Chinese relations that the only subject that can be found to emphasise links between the 2 territories is .... ducks. But there we are, Jersey Post will issue a set of 6 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 22 September 2016 to celebrate links between Jersey and The Chinese People's Republic and depict various species of ducks on them. 
  The duck portraits are wonderful and any collector of birds on stamps will be delighted with the designs and if this set was one of, say, a total of six issued during the year it would be highly desirable but it is actually one of 14 special issues planned for 2016 (not including numerous Post And Go "Collectors strips" and extremely expensive "Commemorative sheets" and Prestige booklets and so on and so on) and adds another, admittedly reasonably modest, £3.44p (plus tax) to the total bill for 2016. Such a lovely issue lost in the deluge of gummed paper pouring out of Jersey. 
  The artists responsible for the designs are Martin Morch and Wang Huming. The issue was lithographed by Cartor. Rating:- **.

  But there's more (of course) - another release of "Post and Go" products. Jersey Philatelic Bureau will sell strips of 6 new Post and Go labels which feature the subject of "Beetles" on 14 September 2016. The accompanying publicity states that the stamps feature "a selection of beetles that can be seen during the summer months" - so why has Jersey Post waited until autumn to issue them? 
  The labels were printed digitally by Walsall Security Printers with the indicia and location thermally printed by an IAR kiosk. The labels were designed by Lizzie Harper. A strip of six is to be sold for £4.38p (plus tax). Rating:- ***.

  The South African Post Office plans to squeeze a lot of issues into the last few months of the year. Clearly the organisation has now found some spare cash to enable it to produce such stuff. Due soon are:- 

26 August 2016 - South Afirican geology (35th International Geological Conference, Capetown). The artwork for the stamps is by Rachel Mari-Ackermann and Peter Bosch. Rating:- ***.

31 August 2016 - Kingfishers - 5 "Standard Postage" stamps issued in 2 se-tenant strips of 5 different stamps in a sheetlet of 10 stamps. Designed by Andre Olwage. Rating:-*****.

14 September 2016 - "Telling stories with Light"
26 September 2016 - Cities COP 17
7 October 2016 - Puppetry in South Africa
21 October 2016 - South African biospheres
31 October 2016 - 40th IHF World Hospitals Congress
 9 November 2016 - National parks part 2
24 November 2016 "Smile South Africa"
2 December 2016- South African flight routes

  Namibia Post will issue a miniature sheet containing 3 different stamps on 11 August 2016 on the subject of Forestry in Namibia. As usual, it is an excellent issue designed by the wonderful artist, Helge Denker,

  This week's stuff from Stamperia takes the form of 10 "sheetlets", each containing 4 different "stamps", and 10 accompanying "miniature sheets" with the name of Sierra Leone printed on them and on the subject of National Parks of Africa including, remarkably, some which feature parks in Sierra Leone itself. The parks depicted are Ruaha in Tanzania, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, Serengeti in Tanzania, Western Area Peninsula Park in Sierra Leone, Gola Rain Forest Park in Sierra Leone, Kafue in Zambia, Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, Mudumu in Namibia and Outamba-Kilimbi in Sierra Leone. The "first day of issue" is stated to have been 27 May 2016.
  The sheetlets and miniature sheets are produced in the shape of the continent of Africa.
  Rating, as usual:- 0.