Tuesday, 2 June 2020

1680. 🇯🇪 🇧🇹 Jersey Commemorates Great Golfer, Bhutan Commemorates Father Figure Of Bangladesh.

 🇯🇪 Jersey Post will issue a set of 6 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 9 July 2020 to commemorate the 150th Birth anniversary of the great Jersey golfer Harry Vardon. The issue was lithographed with additional special litho silver metallic ink. Vardon (1870-1937) won the Open Championship a record 6 times as well as the US Open in 1900. Rating:- ****.

🇧🇹 Bhutan Post issued a miniature sheet containing a single stamp on 17 March 2020 to commemorate the Birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangabandhu, the father figure of Bangladesh. This issue is entirely appropriate as Bhutan is a neighbour of Bangladesh and because of the importance of Sheikh Mujibur as an international statesman and founding figure of his country. Rating:- ****.

Monday, 1 June 2020

1679. 🇬🇧 A Visit To Roman Britain.

🇬🇧 As mentioned in Blog 1677 Royal Mail will release a set of 8 stamps on 18 June 2020 on the subject of Roman Britain. For once there will be no accompanying miniature sheets nor booklets and 2 of the stamps are 2nd Class domestic rate values. The designs depict art and constructions from Britain at the time of the prolonged Roman occupation.
  The subjects depicted are:- the Roman lighthouse at Dover (the UK’s tallest standing Roman Building), a detail from the Bignor mosaic depicting the goddess Venus, the amphitheatre at the Isca fortress in Caerleon, the ‘Ribchester helmet’, the Bridgeness Distance Slab which records the building of the Antonine wall, a Romano-British copper alloy warrior god found in Cambridgeshire, a view of Hadrian’s wall and a plaque of a Gorgon’s Head at the spring of Sulis Minerva in Bath.
  Both Roman Bath and Hadrian’s Wall have previously been featured on British stamps. 
  I like the set. Rating:- ****.

  I am pleased that Royal Mail is taking another journey through British history having dealt with British prehistory a couple of years ago. Recorded British history really begins with Gaius Julius Caesar’s invasions of the south of England in 55 and 54 BC. He did not stay long and Britannia truly began its era of Roman occupation and growing Romanisation when the forces of Emperor Claudius, accompanied by an elephant, landed in 43AD. Claudius, but not the elephant, makes an appearance on the Royal Mail stamp issued as a set of four on 15 June 1993 with the set’s title being ‘Roman Britain’. The Emperor’s portrait is taken from a gold coin found at Bredgar.
  Claudius’ forces under Aulus Plautius are thought to have landed at Richborough under the pretext that they were supporting the restoration of Verica,  the deposed king of the British tribe, the Atrebates. The Romans met heavy resistance from the sons of Cunobelinus of the Catuvellauni - Shakespeare’s Cymbeline - Caratacus and Togodumnus and as Claudius’ forces made their way northwards from the south coast they were forced to fight several battles with the Britons including a fight which lasted two days as they sought to cross the river Medway. The British were forced back to the Thames where another battle was fought leading to the death of Togodumnus and then further into Essex. At this point Aulus Plautius called on Claudius to join him so that he could receive the submission of the Britons and the Romans claimed that the kings of 11 tribes submitted to the emperor. With the Catuvellauni defeated, the Romans seized their capital at Camulodunum (Colchester) and made it the capital of their new colony of Britannia. Caratacus fought on but was eventually betrayed by the Quisling Queen Cartimandua of the northern tribe of the Brigantes and was sent as a prisoner to Rome.
  Thus began almost 400 years of Roman rule in Britannia as the Romans extended their occupation of England and the gradual Romanisation of the conquered Britons. The British feared for their future when the last troops were withdrawn from the island in 410 as heathen forces increasingly threatened Rome itself. As it turned out Britannia’s enforced separation from the Roman Empire was the first known Brexit in history.
  The first British stamp to depict the Roman occupation comes from a set of 3 issued on 25 August 1971 which marked general anniversaries of that year, the particular stamp commemorating the 1900th anniversary of the founding of the city of York, Eboracum, by the Romans.

  The three other values of the 1983 ‘Roman Britain’ set depict a bronze head of the Emperor Hadrian (76-138, ruled from 117) who was in Britannia in 122 after a major rebellion had taken place there and who began the construction of a wall from coast to coast to “separate Romans from barbarians”, by which he meant the inhabitants of Scotland, (the wall as it is today was depicted on one of a set of stamps titled ‘World Heritage sites’ which was issued on 21 April 2005), a detail from a gemstone depicting the goddess Roma found at Caerleon and a detail of a mosaic found at Ninton St Mary.
  Apart from these the only other stamp to have had a Roman theme up until 2020 April was that issued on 10 April 2012 depicting the Roman Baths at Bath as part of a set of 14 titled ‘ The ABC of Britain’.

  Royal Mail’s next issue after ‘Roman Britain’ will be on the subject of the veteran popular music group Queen and will be released on 9 July. The issue will be made up of 8 stamps (4 x 1st Class and 4 x £1.63) and there will also be a 4 stamp miniature sheet containing 3 x1st Class rate and 2 x £1.63 values as well as a 4 pane Prestige booklet, a 6 stamp booklet, a ‘Queen Album Cover Collector’s sheet’ and a ‘Queen Live Collector's sheet’.

As May ends and we move into June the postal services/philatelic agents of the following Commonwealth philatelic entities have still not issued any postage stamps as fas as is known:-

Anguilla #
British Antarctic Territory
British Virgin Islands
Brunei Darussalam
Cameroon #
Cayman Islands
Dominica #
ESwatini #
Lesotho #
Ross Dependency
Rwanda #
St Kitts
Saint Lucia
St Vincent And The Grenadines
Samoa #
Solomon Islands #
South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands
Trinidad And Tobago
Turks And Caicos Islands #
Zambia #

# denotes that the territory issued no new stamps during 2019.

Therefore 35 Commonwealth philatelic entities are not yet known to have issued any new stamps during 2020. Doubtless this is partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic though some postal administrations now release very few, if any, new issues out of choice. We shall see as the year goes on and depending what happens with the pandemic just what happens to the new issue scene of 2020.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

1678. 🇳🇿 🇲🇺 New Definitives From New Zealand; Agaléga Island.

🇳🇿 New Zealand Post will issue 2 new definitives in 3 June 2020 which are part of its ongoing Scenic series. The designs feature Island Bay at Wellington ($4) in the North Island and Mount Cook in the South Island ($10). The $4 will be issued to take notice of the rise in the ‘domestic oversized letter’ rate. The stamps were designed by New Zealand Post and lithographed by Southern Colour Print. Rating:- ***.

🇲🇺 Who doesn’t like nice covers from small obscure islands? I recently obtained a cover dating back to 2011 from the dealer Steven Zirinsky originating from the pair of small and remote islands, which together are described by the Encyclopaedia Britannica as a ‘dependency’ of Mauritius, the Agaléga Islands, 1000km from Mauritius and populated by just 300 people. 
  Agaléga has two main settlements - Vingt Cinq on North Island, which rather unnervingly is named after the number of whip strokes the island’s French copra industry overseer would administer to slaves working on the island before the British seized the islands during the Napoleonic Wars - and Sainte Rite on South Island (in the Catholic faith Saint Rita is the patron saint of impossible causes which again may reflect the dire life the islands’ unfortunate slaves experienced).
  Agaléga passed into the sovereignty of Mauritius when the latter was granted independence by The United Kingdom in 1968. The distant islands were largely neglected by Mauritius until recent years but now are a source of controversy because, without consulting the local inhabitants, the government in Port Louis has agreed with the Indian government that a large Indian naval base be built at Agaléga as part of India’s programme of extending itself into the small Indian Ocean states to counter Chinese expansion in the same area. Whereas, quite justifiably, the Mauritian government has constantly protested about British treatment of the Chagosians at Diego Garcia from where the British expelled the local people so that a large American naval base could be built there, the Mauritians now find themselves in the dock about the treatment of the Agalégans. 
  Recently groups of Mauritians have joined with Agalégans and Rodriguans to form the Koalision Zilwa Pou Lape (Islanders Coalition For Peace) to demonstrate their solidarity with the islanders of Agaléga as well as the inhabitants of Assumption in Seychelles (the government there too having reached agreement with India for the building of an Indian naval base on the remote island) and with Ilois, the former inhabitants of Diego Garcia. 
  In Blog 1492 and 1132 I mentioned stamps issued by Mauritius Post which staked claims by philatelic means to Diego Garcia and the other islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory as well as the island of Tromelin (an island of the French Southern And Antarctic Territories) and a map depicted on one of the designs also included Agaléga.

  A similar map on a stamp released by the Post Office of Seychelles was almost the cause of a nasty diplomatic incident between Seychelles and Mauritius. The stamp inscribed Zil Eloigne Sesel Seychelles (Seychelles Outer Islands) was to have been part of a set of 3 honouring the travelling post office issued in 1980 and was intended to depict the extent of the Seychelles Outer Islands. An error unfortunately resulted in Agaléga being included in the area claimed by Seychelles on the depicted map which which would not have gone down well with the Mauritians but fortunately the error was noticed before the stamp could be issued and it was replaced by a similar stamp with a corrected map.

Incorrect map
Corrected version of the map.

  Stamp designers who depict maps on stamps, as with the depiction of national flags, always run the great risk of obloquy being piled upon them if an error is made given national sensitivities about a country having its flag incorrectly depicted or part of its territory being omitted from a map, or worse still, being shown as belonging to someone else.
  Agaléga has hardly been featured at all on stamps from Mauritius - apart from the above mentioned map stamps there have been a set featuring the copra trade and two others - both from sets of four. One stamp from a set titled ‘Islands of the State of Mauritius’ was clearly an early philatelic attempt to lay down Mauritius’ claims to Tromelin and Chagos since each are featured in the set. Agaléga is represented in this set, issued on 13 December 1991 and designed by the great Gyula Vasarhelyi, by a single stamp depicting a Glossy Ibis.

  A single stamp from a set issued on 12 September 2001, designed by Nick Shewring, commemorating Mauritius’ economic achievements in the 20th century depicted a solar energy plant in North Island of Agaléga which had been opened in April 1998 to provide energy to 10 houses.

  The Copra industry on Agaléga was featured on a set of 4 stamps issued on 5 December 2001, designed by Ross Watton. The Stanley Gibbons Catalogue merely titles the set “Coconut Industry” and so one would not really know that the issue was about Agaléga in particular from the Gibbons listing. Sadly also the first day cover was cancelled by a standard philatelic bureau postmark rather than one applied at Agaléga or even with the islands’ name included in the postmark.

  My cover from Agaléga has contemporary Mauritius stamps fixed to it with a circular cancellation applied twice, one to the stamps and the other to the envelope, residing ‘AGALEGA POST OFFICE’ and ‘15 SE/11’ at the centre. It is a delightful item and from a tiny speck in The Commonwealth of which we may hear more in the future if trouble bubbles up in relation to the building of an Indian naval base there.

  A cover illustrated on the internet suggests that the same postmark was in use on the island 4 years later in 2015:-

  Mauritius Post opened the islands’ post office on 10 July 2002 but found that the local population was not monetised and paid for goods by exchange bartering using items such as coconuts. The island’s economy was therefore monetised to coincide with the post office’s opening. It might have been an occasion for a stamp issue featuring the island but sadly Mauritius Post missed the boat with that one.

Agaléga post Office

  However the Mauritius Philatelic Society published a report in its 3rd Bulletin of 2002 about the opening of the post office which was attended by the then President of Mauritius Hon Karl Offman and the then Postmaster General of Mauritius, Hafiz Amir. The Outer Islands Development Corporation which ran the copra industry on Agaléga prepared a special commemorative cover to note the monetisation on Agaléga and the post office’s opening and this depicted the post office and a map of Agaléga. The Rs1, Rs5 and Rs6 values of the 1991 ‘Agaléga Copra Trade’ issue were fixed to the cover and cancelled with the above postmarked dated ‘10 JL 02’. Sadly I do not have an illustration of this interesting cover.

Friday, 29 May 2020

1677. 🇳🇿 New Zealand 2020 Matariki Issue And Royal Mail Remembers Roman Britain.

🇳🇿 New Zealand Post will release a set of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 3 June 2020 as this year’s Matariki issue on the subject of Ngu Hau e Wha, the Four Winds. The four winds are:- Te Hau Rāwhiti  (the East Wind), Te-Hau-ā -uru (West wind), Te Hau Tonga (South wind) and Te Hau Raki (North Wind). This interesting and colourful set was designed by Dave Burke and lithographed by Southern Colour Print and perforated 15. Rating:- ****.
  A ‘Limited edition’ pack containing the miniature sheet in gold foil format along with colour separations of the $4 stamp from the set, a basic set, a first day cover and a booklet will also be on sale for NZ$135.

 🇬🇧  Buckingham First Day Covers has given its customers sight of the next Royal Mail issue due on 18 June 2020 as they will be seen on its covers. The subject will be Roman Britain and the issue is made up of 8 stamps issued in 4 se-tenant pairs. Pleasingly 2 of the stamps will be in the 2nd Class postal rate and there will also be 2 x 1st, 2 x £1.63 and 2 x £1.69p. This is a worthy subject and follows on from the Prehistoric Britain issue of a couple of years ago. I do hope that this is to be a continuing series and that next year even, we might see a Dark Age Britain issue to take the series further. Rating:- ****.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

1676. 🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea Commemorates Local Newspaper.

🇵🇬 Designs of some of the stamps to be released by Post PNG, the postal service of Papua New Guinea, which were detailed in Blog 1672, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the local newspaper, the Post Courier, can now been seen on the PostPNG Philatelic internet site. It is an interesting set. I can not yet see an illustration of the sheetlet of 4 stamps. Rating:- ****.

🇱🇰 Included below now are better quality illustrations of the Sri Lanka Post set of 3 stamps and 1 miniature sheet celebrating Vesak which was mentioned in Blog 1675:-

🇺🇸 The US-based philatelic agency which seems to have been hibernating over the last 3 months, no doubt due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has released a very short list of additional new items with the names of client territories printed on them which it claims to have issued. The information is generally without any accompanying illustrations.

Items with the names of Commonwealth countries printed on them are:-

🇲🇸 Montserrat - 31 December 2019 - Orchids - I sheetlet containing 3 different stamps.

🇰🇳 Nevis - 20 May 2020 - Quatercentenary of the Pilgrim Fathers’ arrival in Plymouth - 2 miniature sheets, 1 containing 6 different stamps and the other containing a single stamp.

🇸🇱 Sierra Leone - 1 March 2020 - Commemoration of HH Dorje Buddha III - an item sold by the agency for US$8 but description of it not given.

This list covers the period up until May 2020 since the previous update.