Friday 30 March 2012
The diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II has been philatelically commemorated by the Barbados Post Office with an excellent set of four stamps and one miniature sheet which are much more successful than the stamps issued by some other Commonwealth countries since two or three of them depict scenes of the Queen in her realm of Barbados including visits to the Barbadian parliament in Bridgetown although perhaps one of the designs might have depicted her meeting the ordinary Barbadian people rather than politicians and members of the armed forces.
Thursday 29 March 2012
On 6 March 2012 Tonga released one stamp and one miniature sheet to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The stamp is a $3.40c value and the miniature sheet has a face value of $6.00. The stamps feature a very dignified portrait of The Queen and pay a very pleasing tribute to the monarch.
Monday 26 March 2012
In an article added to Wikipedia on 23 March 2012 which is titled "Postage stamps and postal history of South Sudan" a contributor, Leo Van Der Velden, an ex-patriate Dutchman who records that he has lived in Sudan and South Sudan intermittently from 1986 and most recently from 2009 to 2011, has written that the 2.5 SSP value of the first stamp issue which had been produced in China and donated to the government of South Sudan as a gift from The People's Republic, was not actually issued in South Sudan because the stamp featured the coat of arms of (north) Sudan rather than those of the new republic. This would certainly explain why no-one has been able to obtain the three values of the announced set although the other two values featuring the new national flag and the former leader, John Garang, seem to be freely available now on the internet although prices are terribly high at about £20 - £25 for the pair. I have seen only two complete sets for sale on E Bay, and the latter was being sold from China itself and, as previously reported made over £200 in the auction; the buyer seems to have acquired an unissued stamp for that high price and that may be quite reasonable for someone interested in obtaining what is clearly a rare item even if it was never sold at a South Sudanese post office. However I do not think that the Wikipedia explanation for the non-release of the stamp is quite correct since the design does not depict the emblem of (north) Sudan. The illustration below depicts the design of the stamp as prepared in China and it features an African fish eagle looking to its left placed behind an African shield and spears.
In recent years the two postal services which actually issue stamps in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Universal Mail United Kingdom and Royal Mail, have issued a number of interesting stamps which depict features of Britain's earliest history, or, pre-history. A species of man is thought to have been present in Britain as long ago as 800,000 BC as judged by the discovery of bones and flint tools in Norfolk and Suffolk. At that time Britain was linked by land to continental Europe with The English Channel existing only as a large river flowing westwards and fed by tributaries which were to later become the rivers Thames and Seine. Remains of Homo Heidelbergensis have been found at Boxgrove in Sussex and using hand axes these people hunted elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotami, herding them over cliffs and into bogs to more easily trap them. The onset of the Ice Age rendered Britain uninhabitable but humans reappeared in Britain during a warmer phase from about 300,000 to 200,000 years ago. The earliest remains of neanderthal man in Britain date from around 230,000 BC but subsequently sea levels rose and separated Britain from Europe and human activity in Britain gradually diminished and there is no evidence for any human activity in the islands during the period from 180,000 to 60,000BC. Subsequently, from 60,000 to 40,000 BC Britain was grassland populated by mammoths, giant deer and horses, rhinoceroses and wolves, bears and cats such as the sabre-toothed tiger. On 21 March 2006 Royal Mail issued a set of 5 stamps depicting prehistoric mammals from that period and as well as the stamps illustrated below the designs depicted a rhinoceros and a cave bear.
Sunday 25 March 2012
Friday 23 March 2012
Time Travel: Guyana To Commemorate The 75th Anniversary Of The Succession Of King Edward XIII - Yes Really!
There's usually something interesting to see on the monthly list of new issues produced by a New York based philatelic agency which among its outpourings of stamps issues there is usually some poorly researched design or item of such ridiculous irrelevance to the country whose name is placed on the stamps - for instance - a hot Caribbean island depicting Antarctic wildlife or an Indian Ocean coral island which barely rises above sea water issuing stamps to commemorate the Year Of Mountains (both of these have happened). Sometimes the design errors are funny but this month's is hilarious. The agency website is currently advertising a sheetlet of 3 stamps and 1 miniature sheet to be issued by Guyana which commemorate the 75th anniversary of the succession to the British throne of King Edward XIII - that's right, King Edward the Thirteenth (!). Presumably then this is either a set which is to be issued hundreds of years in the future and has travelled through time to be with us today or the designer can not tell the difference between the Roman numerals for five and ten. I suspect the latter since the picture of the monarch on the stamps looks remarkably like King Edward VIII, uncle of the present queen, who reigned for less than twelve months before abdicating to marry his mistress, the divorced Mrs. Simpson, who could never have been accepted as Queen of The United Kingdom. I wonder if these stamps will actually be issued with the current design error. I do hope so since it is a perfect illustration of how much cynicism is involved in the production of modern stamp issues so that those who do bring them to the market can not even be bothered to correctly incorporate something as basic as the correct Roman numerals on a stamp. As long as collectors are paying good money, why bother to give them a quality product? Actually, I might even be tempted to buy these items myself since they must represent one of the worst design errors in the history of philately. Sadly, they do not do much for the national reputation of Guyana which will forever be be known as the country that can't tell the difference between the numbers 8 and 13.
Saturday 17 March 2012
Wednesday 14 March 2012
Monday 5 March 2012
In 2010 Nigeria issued nine stamps, including redrawn definitive values, with small holograms applied to them, presumably as security devices. I am not aware of any publicity put out by The Nigerian Post Office regarding this issue nor have I seen any dealers yet offering them for sale. The addition of a hologram is rather surprising since it would seem to be quite a sophisticated device to be included on Nigerian stamps as their appearance is usually rather primitive in nature and the printing by Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Limited who have printed most Nigerian stamps since 1968, often results in a poor quality finished product. Most of the nine stamps bear the inscription "2000 YEARS OF NIGERIAN (some say "NIG") ART". The nine values are:- N20, N30, 4xN50, N90, N100 and N120. The holograms appear to be in two formats - either round or rectangular. It is perhaps not too surprising that these stamps have not come on to the market yet since it often takes many months for new Nigerian issues to be available to dealers - I have not yet seen a stamp dealer's advertisement offering the 2009 "road safety" single stamp issue for sale. I have no doubt that these stamps will come along eventually and those who wish to buy them need only to be patient.
Sunday 4 March 2012
I was very pleased to discover that Tonga was about to start issuing stamps again after a break of several years (see blog of 3 February 2012) but I am now less happy to discover that the firm which has masterminded this relaunch is Philatelic Incorporated which has produced huge numbers of stamps for The Cook Islands and its subsidiary philatelic entities (Aitutaki, Penrhyn and, now, Rarotonga) over the last couple of years. Not only have a large number been issued but many of them have had very high face values. The latest exploits by this agency on behalf of The Cook Islands postal service include the issuing of 8 stamps and 2 miniature sheets to commemorate the 22nd World Scout Jamboree in ..... Sweden (so not very close to The Cook Islands then) and this has presented the opportunity to use up old unsold stock by overprinting a set of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet issued a couple of years ago in two versions - a gold overprint and a silver overprint (why?). The total face value of that little lot was $20 and all produced at minimal cost by Philatelic Incorporated. Then in January, 2 stamps were issued in sheetlets of four (in that form enticing collectors to buy 2 sets instead of one) by The Cook Islands to commemorate the beatification of Pope John Paul II (a generous tribute since only 16.8% of the country's population is Catholic or perhaps it's just that papal issues are usually big sellers). Oh, and by the way, stamps of a similar nature were also issued for Penrhyn and Aitutaki making 6 different stamps in all or you could buy 12 if you bought the sheetlets. Remarkable restraint was shown by them not issuing a set for Rarotonga, or maybe that is to follow. The stamps show portraits of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and appear to be by the stamp artist Derek Miller whose portraits of the popes are much better than the ones he produced last year of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to commemorate their wedding.
Apart from the Vietnam-related stamp mentioned in the previous blog a wide range of subjects make up the 2010 and 2011 "personalised" stamps collections from New Zealand. No explanation of the designs is supplied by New Zealand Post and, as previously mentioned, the collections are made up of sheetlets of gummed or self-adhesive stamps as well as two or three booklets of self-adhesive stamps. The 2010 collection comprises 2 self-adhesive sheetlets, each of 20 different stamps, one sheetlet of 20 gummed stamps and a se-tenant pair of two additional self-adhesive stamps. Additionally there are 2 booklets; one commemorates the 170th anniversary of the New Zealand Customs Service (10 stamps - 9 different designs) and the other celebrates Te Papa Museum in Wellington (10 self-adhesive stamps, 2 each of 5 different designs). The latter booklet is still on sale in the museum gift shop as I witnessed myself on a visit there a week ago. All the stamps of the 2010 collection are either 50c or 60c values. The 2011 collection comprises one sheetlet of 20 self-adhesive stamps and a partial sheet of 21 gummed stamps (4 rows of 5 stamps and one additional attached stamp. Additionally there are 2 self-adhesive booklets; one commemorates the 75th anniversary of Mercy Hospital in Dunedin (2 each of 5 different designs) and the other commemorates The Heart Foundation (10 stamps, 5 of 2 different values). All the stamps of the 2011 collection are 60c values. Presumably if you make the values up to the correct amount, these stamps are usable on international mail and by making them all available this way New Zealand Post has made these stamps fully eligible for full catalogue status and highly collectable. Interesting.