Sunday 4 March 2012
Are Tonga's Philatelic Floodgates About To Open?
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.