Tuesday 29 May 2012

Tokelau Definitives & Jubilee, The British Prime Minister, Hard-To-Find Mozambique & New Cameroun.

On 11 April 2012, the Tokelau Islands whose philatelic new issue programme is now safely in the hands of New Zealand Post, issued a delightful set of 9 new definitive stamps which depict various idyllic views of the islands. The 45c value depicts a local sailing boat which is the main feature of the national flag of Tokelau which was adopted in 2009 (see above and below).
The other values of the set are 10c, 20c, 25c, 40c, 50c, $1, $1.40 and $2. The stamps were designed by New Zealand Post and give collectors a wonderful impression of these tiny islands which have been territories of New Zealand since 1925, having been detached from the British colony of Gilbert And Ellice Islands.
A pair of stamps and a miniature sheet were issued on 23 May 2012 to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, who, of course, is Queen of Tokelau. Again these stamps were designed by New Zealand Post and printed by Southern Colour Print.
Recently I wrote about stamps which depict Margaret Thatcher who was British prime minister at the time of the Falklands War. I pointed out how surprisingly few philatelic items she had been depicted on given her international stature. The latest British prime minister, David Cameron, who has been in power for only two years leading a coalition government, an unusual entity in modern British history, has in contrast got off to a flying start in terms of depiction on postage stamps. On 25 July 2011, The Gambia released a sheetlet of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet of 2 stamps which commemorated the visit of the US President to The United Kingdom (quite why this was of such significance to The Gambia that it required the issue of a set of stamps by the tiny African country, is a question that probably can only be answered by its prolific philatelic agents in New York). Nevertheless, the subject is of interest and depicted below is the miniature sheet with Mr Cameron depicted on the left hand stamp.
The sheetlet of 4 stamps also includes one design which depicts Mr. Cameron with his wife, Samantha, standing on the doorstep of No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence, with the United States leader and his wife. The President also appears with Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh on another stamp from the sheetlet.
One recent British prime minister who rather surprisingly has not been singled out by the New York stamp agents who represent The Gambia and numerous other impoverished territories for philatelic commemoration is Anthony Blair who was elected in 1997 who, despite enormous initial popularity, is now generally despised in Britain although he is still much admired abroad. I am not aware of any stamps which depict him but a good cause could be made for an issue by Sierra Leone (whom the New York agency also represent) because he allowed British troops to enter the country in May 2000 to evacuate foreign nationals and reestablish order there when the Sierra Leone government found itself unable to hold back a growing tide of violence from rebel forces. It is surprising that Sierra Leone has never issued a set of stamps to commemorate the return of peace to the country after the extended terrible period of civil war although it has found it quite necessary, apparently, to issue stamps to commemorate such subjects of significance to the country as the movies of Elvis Presley, the 150th anniversary of the US civil war, the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the centenary of the accession of King George VI, the birth centenary of Ronald Reagan (all issues from 2011) etc etc. On a different subject, I have finally tracked down a mint set of the most difficult stamps to find which were issued by Mozambique in the period 1998 to 2000. This is the set of 4 stamps which feature fruit and flowers in the usual style of locally produced Mozambique stamps. This is the first time I have seen a mint set (or even a complete used set) for sale for several years although the accompanying miniature sheet appears to turn up more often.
I have also managed to obtain another example of a local surcharge from the same period as depicted below.
This is different from the "local fountains" surcharge mentioned in the latest Stanley Gibbons Central and South Africa Catalogue which is 17000 m surcharged on the 125m value of the fountains set. Presumably the stamp depicted is another previously unknown surcharge. Finally, Cameroun seems to have issued a single stamp and one miniature sheet to mark the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the HM Virus and of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS or SIDA in French). The stamp mentions the national Committee to Fight AIDS and is inscribed with the printer's name, Cartor, and the apparent date of issue, 3 June 2011.

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