Thursday 14 February 2019

1390. 🇬🇧 England's Earliest Letters And Royal Mail's Valentine Postboxes.

    🇬🇧 I have been in London for a couple of days so that I could go to the exhibition of Anglo-Saxon treasures currently on display at the British Library. The 180 exhibits are made up of staggeringly rare items which tell the story of Anglo-Saxon England from the arrival of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the 5th centrury up to the Norman Conquest. There are some stupendous works of art in the exhibition and it makes me think that this exhibition would have been worthy of a stamp issue every bit as much as the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition and indeed more so as the fabulous items on display have everything to do with the heritage of the English unlike the Da Vinci exhibition.

  In the exhibition are several letters written and sent during the Anglo-Saxon period and there are two spectacular items to be viewed which must be the most important items of English postal history - the first being the oldest surviving original letter written on parchment from the Christian West, known as Wealdhere's letter. The letter was written by Bishop Wealdhere of London to Archbishop Berhtwald of Canterbury in the years 704 or 705. The letter is shown below as depicted in the exhibition catalogue being spread across two pages:-

 The second letter is the Fonthill letter which is the earliest surviving letter in the English language being written by Ealderman Ordlaf of Wiltshire to King Edward The Elder in 920. Again, the depiction below is from the catalogue where the illustration is spread across 2 pages.

  The items in the exhibition have never been seen together in over a thousand years of history and a set of stamps devoted to showing some of these fabulous items would have been very exciting.

  I have also used the time in London to visit Spring Stampex 2019. The main point of interest for me was the Guernsey/Jersey/Ireland/Isle Of Man/Faroe Islands stand where there was much to view especially the new GG03 and JE03 Post And Go desktop stamp dispensers and to see what Post and Go stamps were obtainable. While the desktop dispensers were situated at the philatelic bureaux joint stand, kiosks JE01 and GG01 were banished to the outer regions of the upper floor of the exhibition and could easily have been overlooked.

  🇯🇪 Jersey Post

  From JE03 - Nautical Knots with Spring/Stampex 2019 plus daffodils icon - 6 different stamps.

  From JE01 - Jersey Flag with Spring/Stampex 2019 plus daffodils icon.

  From JE01 - New Durrell primates issue - 6 different stamps, with clear backing paper.

  🇬🇬 Guernsey Post 

  From GG01 - New Guernsey Car Club 50th anniversary issue - 6 different stamps with clear backing paper.

  From GG01 - Guernsey flag with Spring/Stampex 2018 and daffodils icon - 1 stamp.

  From GG03 - Guernsey Flowers set with Spring/Stampex 2019 and daffodils icon - 6 different stamps.

  I was also able to buy across the counter the Guernsey flowers set of 6 different stamps from kiosk GG03 with the added inscription 'Guernsey/Information Centre' which I had not previously obtained for my collection.

  I visited the Royal Mail stand at about 3.30PM on the opening afternoon and obtained one of the 'Stamp classics' miniature sheets with additional inscription and numbered in a limited edition up to 6000. My impression was that the items were not selling very well as the exhibition was mildly busy but as my sheet was numbered 51 it appeared that only 50 other people had bought the item up till then (or less if some had bought multiple sheets). These miniature sheets do not seem to have gained in popularity despite not appearing for a couple or so of Stampexes.

  A couple of days ago I was in the beautiful West Midlands city of Lichfield, which dates from Anglo-Saxon times when it was the site of a cathedral dating back to the year 600, and was able to take a look at one of 4 post boxes adorned by Royal Mail with additional decorations commemorating 'romantic' work by British writers to coincide with St Valentine's Day (the others being in Hampstead Heath [John Keats], Higher Bockhampton in Dorset [Thomas Hardy] and Ayr in Scotland [Robert Burns]). The Lichfield box has quotes from the work of Anna Seward (1749-1809) who lived in the city for much of her life and wrote poetry from her early years onwards. She also contributed to Boswell's 'Life of Samuel Johnson', of dictionary fame, (there are 2 statues near the postbox - one of Johnson and the other of a very perky Boswell), and was keenly interested in botany.
  The cathedral is the only medieval one of its kind in England to have three spires and its front is adorned with statues of the Kings of Mercia and England as well as bishops and saints. The tomb of Anna Seward is located in Lichfield Cathedral.

  🇧🇩 The postal service of Bangladesh appears to have released its first issue of 2019 in the form of a single stamp which commemorates the distinguished Bengali writer, the late Shaukat Osman (1917-1998). I do not know that the date of issue at present. Rating:- **.

  🇮🇪 An Post, the postal service of the Republic Of Ireland will issue 2 stamps on 11 April 2019 as its contribution to this year's Europa omnibus series which is on the subject of 'National birds'. The depicted species are the beautiful Roseate tern and the equally attractive Golden plover. It is notable that the Northern lapwing - not featured in this issue - was declared to be the national bird of The Republic of Ireland by a committee of the Irish Wildlife Conservancy in 1990. Rating:- *****.

  🇬🇬 Guernsey Post will issue its Europa stamps on 1 April 2019 in the form of a set of 6 stamps, 2 of which bear the 'Europa' inscription, and 2 miniature sheets, 1 containing the 2 Europa stamps and the other containing all 6 stamps. The Europa stamps depict a Linnet and a Goldfinch. An attractive issue released against a background of an excessive number of new issues released by this small postal service. Rating:- **.


  1. Found this article on the Bangladesh stamp...issue date apparently 2 Jan 2019

  2. Thank you Gene, That's very helpful. WK.

  3. Re the Special Limited Edition Stamp Classics overprint MS; these were sold out by mid-day on Friday, so apparently they were more popular this time around.

    I got mine on Thursday, numbered 2735.

  4. Thank you, Richard. Yes, it's interesting how slowly the sheets first seemed to sell and then were quickly swallowed up with more than 3000 selling between Thursday when you were there and Mid-day Friday. I wonder if the rapid sales were attributable to dealers mopping them up and if we will see them appearing on the market now the exhibition is over.