Monday, 24 April 2017

955. Kingfishers Featured On New Singapore Issue.

  🇸🇬 Singapore Post will issue a set of 4 stamps on 26 April 2016 on the subject of Kingfishers. This highly attractive set was designed by Leo Teck Chong and lithographed by Secura Singapore Pte Ltd. and perforated 13. Rating:- *****.

  🇹🇷 The postal administration of the Turkish Republic Of Northern Cyprus issued a set of 3 stamps on 23 March 2017 on the subject of Cittaslow member towns in Northern Cyprus. The stamps were designed by GK Sonmezer and lithographed by the State Printers. Rating:- ****. 

  🇮🇳 India Post issued a miniature sheet on 22 April 2017 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Ambedkar Telecommunications Institute in Jabalpur. The design depicts an interesting Art Deco style building and this is a rather more interesting item than India Post's usual very dull stamps which feature buildings. Rating:- ***.

  🇬🇧 More Royal Mail Post and Go stamps. Issued on 21 April 2017 and on sale for just 2 days, various labels were dispensed by kiosks A012 and A014 at the 88th Scottish Congress held in Perth. Various labels were dispensed with the added inscription "88th Scottish/Congress". Kiosk A012 dispensed Machin Head labels and Thistle labels from the "Symbolic flowers" set while kiosk A014 dispensed Thistle labels and Heraldic Lion labels. Extra varieties were created by using Machin Head stamps with 2 different codes (MA13 and MA15) and Thistles stamps with the code MA17 and the Lion label with code MA15. Hence Post and Go enthusiasts appear to have had 4 different strips to buy at a cost of £32.16p as the price of a full Collectors strip was £8.04p. Rating:- 0.


955. Malta George Cross, Guernsey Cruise Ships And Namibia Rabbits.

  🇲🇹 Malta Post issued one of its greeting stamps depicting a map of Malta with an attached label which commemorated the 75th anniversary of the award of the George Cross to the island on 15 April 2017. Rating:- ***.

  A similar such item will be issued on 11 May 2017 to commemorate Malta Post's participation in the Essen 2017 stamp fair.

  🇳🇦 Nam Post, the postal service of Namibia, issued a pair of stamps on the subject of local hares and rabbits on 15 April 2017. The delightful designs are by Helge Denker. Rating:- *****.

  🇬🇬 The first of the Guernsey Post visiting cruise ship Post and Go stamps have now been issued and are being offered for sale on an internet auction site. Some of these ships are enormous and the thought of what would happen if the passengers from some of these behemoths all suddenly descended on Smith Street post office wanting to dispense their souvenirs from kiosk GG01 is truly mind-boggling. The first 2 ships are:-

   21 April 2017 - Caribbean Princess (Princess Cruises):-

   22 April 2017 - Azura (P & O Cruises):-

  The next cruise ship to visit Guernsey will be Le Soleal on 26 April and after that will be Caribbean Princess again on 2 May. That will give us chance to see for the first time how Guernsey Post deals with a ship's return visit.

  🇼🇸 A commentator on Stamp Boards has indicated that an informed source has revealed that Samoa Post has suspended the issue of any more stamps on its behalf by Philatelic Collector Inc. Princestamps states that the Samoan postal service took the action because PCI was not "issuing many suitable supplies, a lack of supplies locally and a high number of expensive and irrelevant issues that were drawing the Samoa name into disrepute".
  Interestingly, if one visits the Samoa Post website and enters the Philately Services section a list of pre-Philatelic Collector issues is shown and some of them are shown on a stock list - no PCI issues are mentioned on the site.
  Meanwhile, in the same thread on the subject of the need or otherwise for very high face value stamps, the expert Steven Zirinsky delivered what sounded like less positive news. He wrote, "I think you will soon see values from various countries that make this $90 value (from the previously reported issue by British Virgin Islands) pale in comparison. In fact, I know it. And they will be real. And they will be used primarily on large Parcel Mail because the meter machine broke down and no one bothers to fix them any more. But maybe I have said too much" 
  He then goes on to advise readers to "watch my newsletter or Linn's or Stanley Gibbons for an article by me in about a month's time".
  This seems like a very gloomy prophesy by Steven Zirinsky and we await the bombshell when it is dropped. It is interesting that the Stanley Gibbons Catalogue editor has recently been commenting on his approach to very high face value stamps and I guess we must now put it in the context of the article which Steven Zirinsky tells us is soon to be published in Stanley Gibbons Monthly. Presumably when he wrote about his ideas about listing very high face value stamps the editor was aware of what Steven Zirinsky had written in his article which he has foreshadowed in Stamp Boards and the editor is clearly thinking of how to deal with, as Zirinsky has written, "values ... that make this $90 pale in comparison".

Friday, 21 April 2017

954. An Post Depicts Royal Sites Of Ireland.

  🇮🇪 An Post, the postal service of the Irish Republic, issued a block of 4 stamps on 20 April 2017 which depicted ancient royal sites of Ireland. The interesting designs depict views of The Hill of Tara,
Eamain Mahacha, Rathcrogan and the Rock of Cashel. The set was designed by Source Design, lithographed by Cartor and perforated 13.5. Rating:- *****.

  Upcoming issues of Ireland are:-
  4 May 2017 - Europa, Castles of Ireland - 2 stamps - Dublin Castle and King John's Castle, Limerick. Designed by Kelvin Gillmor and lithographed by Cartor and perforated 13.5. Rating:- *****.

  1 June 2017 - Centenary of the founding of Lions International - 1 stamp
  8 June 2017 - Centenary of the Battle of Messines Ridge - 1 stamp
  29 June 2017 - Centenary of the death of Thomas Meagher - 1 stamp
  🇲🇾 Pos Malaysia issued a sheetlet of 8 stamps (2 x 4) with attached labels on 21 April 2017 as special greetings stamps to celebrate Mother's Day (or should that be Mothers' Day). The cost of the sheet is Rm21.20 (£3.36p). This is an attractive item. Rating:- ***.

  🇲🇾 It has been suggested that  Royal Gibraltar Post Office may follow Guernsey Post's lead in dispensing Post and Go labels with the names of individual visiting cruise ships. This is a daunting thought since during 2017 a total of 255 cruise ship visits are scheduled to occur and although some have already taken place there are still 229 due to take place for the rest of this year. This makes Guernsey's total number of cruise ship visits of less than 70 look trifling in comparison. Even if collectors only bought the labels for cruise ship first visits (and I haven't added them up lacking the morale to do so) the total cost looks as though it would be very daunting and the cost of a Collectors strip for each visit would be astronomical. Such a project would also probably keep a post office employee occupied full time. So, I say to the Gibraltar Post Office, "Don't even think about it".

  🇬🇧 I visited the gift shop of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon this morning (21 April) and can confirm that Post and Go kiosk A009 is no longer dispensing stamps with the added "Shakespeare Week" inscription but has reverted to dispensing Machin Head stamps and Union Jack stamps with the original added inscription, "Shakespeare birthplace trust". The Machin Head design has the code MA13.
  This is a little disappointing as one might have expected a new added inscription to take note of the celebrations of Shakespeare's 453rd birthday in Stratford this weekend. There are many tourists in the town at present though there's no evidence that many of them use kiosk A009 to dispense stamps for their usage as I have not ever yet seen anyone other than a stamp collector obtain stamps from the kiosk and at about 11am this morning I was the first person to have bought stamps from the machine today.

953. Gibbons Editor Draws The Line At £10.

  The May 2017 edition of Gibbons Stamp Monthly includes a very important discussion by Hugh Jefferies, the editor of the Stanley Gibbons Catalogue, in his Catalogue Column about the problem he faces in dealing with "ultra-high-value stamps" such as we have seen recently from British Virgin Islands, The Gambia and Liberia.
  After a review of the history of extremely high face value stamps from the Queen Victoria £5 orange value onwards he draws attention to the appearance of £3, £5 or even £10 stamps which is occurring with "alarming frequency". He expresses the view that "we appear to be entering a new age of super expensive stamps, whose purpose is not explained, presumably in the hope that collectors will buy them".
  The editor acknowledges that the recently published Stanley Gibbons Western Pacific Catalogue included sets of 6 "Express" stamps from Tonga and Niuafo'ou with "new issue" set prices of £275 and £250 but leaves it to his readers to decide why the stamps also had to be issued in miniature 
sheets with differences between those and the sheet stamps.
  The editor writes about the British Virgin Islands high values recently issued and confirms that these were being treated as Revenue stamps on the islands. The editor draws attention to the fact that there is no indication that these items are intended to be used as Revenue stamps on the stamps themselves. He also mentions a set of 4 stamps released by St. Kitts in 2014 on UNESCO disability projects which includes a ECC$50 stamp - about £17 - and that he intends to list the 3 lower values but to only mention the high value in a footnote listing it, if at all, as a postal fiscal stamp.
  He concludes that he will be keeping an eye open for stamps with unreasonably high face values and seriously considering whether or not they should be listed. He states that he is taking the view that a face value of much over £10 or it's equivalent will be considered "potentially unreasonable" but he seeks collectors' views on the matter.
  This sounds like an excellent position for such an authorative figure to hold and collectors will be relieved to read his comment in Gibbons Stamp Monthly as a sign that extremely high face valued stamps will not find a place in the Gibbons Catalogue lists and therefore the pressure on them to buy such stuff is considerably reduced.
  However the term "potentially unreasonable" is a little weak and may imply that different standards may be applied in various cases - for instance some popular countries may be allowed more leeway than those which have negligible followings for their new issues so that Royal Mail may get a very high face value stamp into the catalogue listing but Grenada would be far less likely to do so. In my opinion equal standards should be applied to all excessively face valued new issues no matter where they originate.
  Still this comment by the Gibbons Catalogue editor is very welcome though whether or not it will deter the less scrupulous entities which produce and market new stamps remains to be seen.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

952. Sri Lanka Commemorates 160th Anniversary Of Its First Stamp.

  🇱🇰 While Royal Mail is making much of the 50th anniversary of the first issue of Machin Head Stamps Sri Lanka Post is also commemorating its previous postage stamps by releasing a set of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 1 April 2017 marking the 160th anniversary of the issue of its very first postage stamp.
  The issue was designed by P. Isuru Chaturanga and lithographed by the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka. The issue is perforated 14 x 13.5. Rating:- *****.

  🇬🇧 Following on from Blog 952 where I said how indispensable Norvic Philatelics Blog is to collectors of modern British stamps Ian Billings has now published some more valuable and fascinating information about this year's Machin Head stamps. Norvic has now identified that so far in 2017 there have been no less than 29 new varieties of Machin Head definitive stamps put out by Royal Mail including some with M16L codes. His latest Blog makes essential reading to keep up with what is happening in British definitives at present.

  🇬🇬 Guernsey Post is to sell its Post and Go lighthouse stamps with added inscriptions for each cruise ship visiting the island during the 2017 summer season directly to collectors and collectors can have the choice of buying a Collectors strip for every visit of a cruise ship, even a repeat visit, during the season or for every first visit during the season. Each time a ship visits Guernsey the labels will have an additional inscription with a welcome message and the ship's name in it and that day's date will be shown on the receipt dispensed with the stamps. When the ship visits another time the stamps will again be dispensed with the new date indicated on the receipt. It seems therefore that collectors interested in the stamps rather than the receipts need only choose the option of buying the stamps released on each ship's first visit.
  In Blog 950 I listed all the cruise ships visiting Guernsey during this summer season and the Guernsey philatelic bureau states that there will be more than 65 strips released for all visits or approximately 29 for first visits. Each strip will cost £3.70p until 1 May and then £4.06p due to an increase in postage rates. Each strip will also have a 50p administrative charge. The collection of strips will be dispatched to collectors in September. The first issue should be dispensed tomorrow (21 April) when the Caribbean Princess visits the island.

  🇧🇲 The Bermuda Post Office plans to issue the following stamps during 2017:-

  March - 50th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards
  March - 25th anniversary of the Bermuda National Gallery
  June - Tall ships Bermuda 2017
  August - Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning British monarch
  October - Bermuda National Trust, historical buildings.

  Despite the date of the above planned issues I have not yet seen news that the first two sets have been released. They may have been delayed because of the problems with BDT International Security Printers.

  🇸🇱 Stamperija's latest items with the name of a Commonwealth country printed on them are 10 sheetlets, each of 4 different stamps, and 10 accompanying miniature sheets on various subjects issued in the name of Sierra Leone. This is a collection of grotesquely gaudy items which are reproduced below in their entirety so that collectors can appreciate the full hideousness of them. The stated date of issue was 30 March 2017. The featured subjects are:- Tigers, Dogs, Seabirds, Crocodiles, Owls, Orchids, Global warming, Minerals, Mushrooms and Turtles. Rating:- 0.