Friday 31 August 2012

Nevis High values

For anyone keeping up with Commonwealth definitive stamps, a recent issue from Nevis will cause some concern - 2 postage and revenue stamps have been released with a total face value of £58.48p. The $100 value shows the old badge of Nevis which depicted women in classical dress at a medicinal spring while the $150 dollar shows the current coat of arms of St. Kitts and Nevis. Presumably these stamps will receive most usage serving revenue needs and one does not imagine that postal use will be more than minimal.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda have continued with the never-ending outpouring of stamps which depict the late Diana, Princess Of Wales. The excuse for such an issue on this occasion is to mark the 15th anniversary of the princess's death. I wonder how much longer the agencies which produce these items will continue to exploit Diana's name in the cause of making money from such "issues".

The territory has also had a sheetlet of 6 stamps plus a miniature sheet released for it to commemorate the birth bicentenary of Charles Dickens. As with the other territories which have issued stamps on the subject which have been mentioned in previous blogs, I find such an issue much more appropriate than continuing stamp releases to commemorate current celebrities or the unfortunate Princess Diana - as one of the greatest writers of English language literature, Dickens is a worthy subject for commemoration on such a notable anniversary in any country where English is the first language.

Two interesting new issues have appeared from Pakistan - a sheetlet of 8 stamps which depict children's art:-

and a single stamp issued on 15 June 2012 which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Ayub Bridge. I particularly like the design as it shows dolphins splashing in the water under the bridge and birds flying over it - a clever design feature which turns a picture of a rather dull construction into an illustration with a bit of life in it.

The menacing-looking mascot of the London Olympic Games makes another appearance on a set of stamps issued by Singapore recently to commemorate the Games. What can one say about the creature?  

Further philatelic exploitation in the form of yet another set of stamps which commemorates the Titanic disaster and seeks to cash in on the death of hundreds of people 100 years ago. This time Ascension has released a set of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet on 1 August 2012 although, once more, the tragic event occurred in a completely different part of the Atlantic Ocean from where Ascension Island is located. It seems that if you are to run a philatelic agency, the possession of bad taste is essential and the ability to shamelessly and cynically exploit anything, no matter how tragic, which may make a quick financial profit is the highest qualification required.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

"Local Issues" Of The Gambia, Barbados Historical Buildings And Turks And Caicos Dickens Bicentenary.

In the blog of 18 April 2012, I mentioned the set which was to be issued by The Gambia to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the 2nd Republic of The Gambia. I have now received the set and I find it so interesting that I thought a second view of it was well worth while. So many issues from The Gambia have no relevance to the country itself so it is good to find a set released which has local significance. This set of 1 stamp, 1 sheetlet of 4 and a miniature sheet comprising a single stamp depicts President Sheikh Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya AJJ Jammah (what a lot of titles he's got) and scenes relevant to the policies of the President's government and of the 2nd Republic as well of local culture.

The sheetlet's 4 designs include a "Cultural masquerade, "the Kumpo"" (D35 value) and the "Historic Monument Fort Bullen" (D35). The remaining 2 values are depicted below the illustration of the whole sheetlet:-

I have also just received 4 miniature sheets again of local interest in The Gambia which commemorate the 1st Gambian Methodist Bishop who was appointed on 5 February 2012 (the sheets are numbered 1225 to 1228 and have face values D15, D25, D35 and D50). The former Bishop, Rt. Rev. Prof. Peter Stephens, is depicted on one of the sheets as well as the present Bishop.

On the subject of churches, Barbados features one - St. Mary's Church - on the $2.00 value of the set of 4 stamps which it issued recently to depict historic buildings of the Garrison of the capital, Bridgetown. Other buildings featured are the Public Library ($2.75), the Main Guard Clock Tower (65c) and Gun Hill Signal Station (10c).

Finally, while still in the Caribbean, I now depict some of the stamps recently issued by Turks And Caicos to commemorate the birth bicentenary of Charles Dickens. The designs are all from the sheetlet of 6 which I have previously illustrated (blog of 14 August) but now that I have received it, I can illustrate in greater detail. The 6 stamps are all 30c in value and as well as those illustrated, the designs feature a portrait of the novelist dating from 1858, a scene from "A Tale of Two Cities" and the frequently used depiction of Oliver Twist "asking for more".

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Issue For Uganda Features Foreign "Celebrities".

Twenty stamps and 5 miniature sheets comprise the latest new issue from Uganda which is dedicated to the subject of "celebrities" (all foreign and unlikely to ever have visited Uganda) which was released on 25 July 2012.  Five subjects are depicted as part of the overall theme, each sub-set consisting of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet. The subjects are:- Yuri Gargarin, first man in space:-

Whitney Houston, American singer, who died this year:-

Elvis Presley, an American entertainer who died in 1977:-

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish artist, who died in 1640:-

and Russian chess player, Garry Kasparov, with the computer "Big Blue" which had a chess match with him in 1977:-

These items, as you can tell from the style of design, were prepared by the Stamperija stamp agency of Lithuania and follow a previous issue produced by them which was issued on 30 March 2012 which consisted of 40 stamps and 10 miniature sheets on the subject of "fauna of Africa". As a philatelic agency which operates from New York has also produced stamps for Uganda during 2012, I estimate that 108 stamps and 23 miniature sheets have been issued so far this year on Uganda's behalf.

Meanwhile, issues to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of The Titanic continue with the above miniature sheet and a set of 4 stamps from The Falkland Islands (why? - the ship sank in the north Atlantic Ocean, not the south where the Falkland Islands are located). Tuvalu, which is even further away - in the south Pacific area - has also had 3 stamps and a miniature sheet produced for it by the New York-based agency:-

One territory at least has issued a sea-linked set of stamps with relevance to itself - South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands - which released a set of 4 stamps on 31 August 2012 which depicts the Blue Whale:-

It seems to me that this final set is just about the only one that I shall be adding to my collection because its the only one which has any meaning to the country whose name appears on the stamps.

Monday 27 August 2012

Royal Mail Items, Malawi 1998 Christmas Stamps And African New Issues.

As a follow up to the previous blog, I publish further scans of various Royal Mail gold medallist stamps to illustrate the difference in shades between the items produced by 2 printers of the final stages of the stamps - the Preston printer, as yet unnamed (upper stamps of the pairs) and the still anonymous Solihull printer (lower stamps). The illustrated items are those which depict Ed McKeever, GMW 26 (which was the last stamp produced by the Preston printer), issued on 12 August 2012 along with GMW 27 and 28,

the canoe slalom men's double team, GMW 03, issued on 3 August with GMW 04 and 05,
Charlotte Dujardin, GMW 23, issued on 10 August with GMW 24 and 25,
and Victoria Pendleton, GMW 08, issued on 4 August with GMW 06 and 07,
Meanwhile, further to the blog of 20 August, another set of pairs of the 1998 Malawi Christmas stamps has been sold on E Bay by the same seller as before for an astonishing £132 (£7 more than the first occasion). The seller now has put another set of pairs for sale and the question is, how many more are there still to come? Is there a complete set of sheets of these items or has the Malawi Philatelic Bureau put some up for sale which would mean that they should become freely available at a fraction of the price? Caveat emptor.

Royal Mail has given collectors many new areas to study in recent years including the Horizon counter-printed stamps which despite not being included in stamps catalogues fully fulfill the definition of a postage stamp being "issued by a legitimate postal authority....adhesives valid for proper postal use in the class of service for which they are inscribed....available to the general public, at face value, in reasonable quantities without any artificial restrictions being imposed on their distribution" (Stanley Gibbons' catalogue editor's words, not mine). It is arguable that any collection of British stamps is not complete without examples of these adhesives to illustrate this particular aspect of Royal Mail's postal service. The most recent format is illustrated below, being a large gold self-adhesive item without simulated perforations and with the Machin portrait of Queen Elizabeth II forming the basis of the design with a counter-printed inscription over it detailing the date of sale, the type of service to be carried out for the price paid and an identification of the place where the stamp was applied to the item to be posted.

In the last week or so I have received a couple on postal items which have an altered inscription so that "Royal Mail" now has a lower case letter after it (below it is "Royal Mail.b"):-

or here it is "Royal Mail.d":-

I am not sure of the significance of this new inscription format but doubtless, all will become clear in th near future.

Finally, some interesting new issues from Commonwealth African countries. On 10 August 2012, South Africa issued a se-tenant strip of 5 attractive stamps featuring the "smallest sunbirds of South Africa" (above) while its neighbour, Namibia, depicted 4 far less appealing creatures on a set of "scorpions" stamps which was released on 11 June 2012. I find the white scorpion depicted on the postcard rate stamp to be particularly creepy. The stamps are designed by the excellent artist, Anje Denker, who has designed so many wonderful stamps for Namibia since the country's independence in 1990.

On 31 July 2012, Namibia also issued 2 circular miniature sheets to commemorate the 20th anniversary of NamPost and Namibia Telecom:-

From Kenya, 3 stamps have been issued (I do not yet know the date of issue) to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the environmental agency, UNEP, and the designs feature Nairobi, Rio De Janeiro (below) and Stockholm (90/- value) where conferences have been held. As the host city of the next  Olympic Games and with Brazil also hosting the next football World Cup, we should see Rio De Janeiro making an appearance on a lot of stamps over the next few years.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Printing Varieties In Royal Mail Gold Medallist Stamps.

Having visited post offices in 2 different parts of England - Birmingham and Sheffield - it is possible to say that there are discernible differences in the British gold medallist stamps printed overnight by at least 2 of the printers involved - Solihull which printed the Birmingham stamps and Preston from where all but the last 3 sold in Sheffield originated. In the illustrations below, the upper stamps are printed by Preston and the lower by Solihull and marked differences in the shade of all 4 stamps - the Preston-printed stamps are more strongly coloured with the Solihull stamps looking rather pale and anaemic in comparison. This poses a problem for completist stamp collectors who may feel more than ever that they need to buy all 6 different printings of all 29 miniature sheets (though Preston did not print the last 3 stamps, GMW 27 - 29). The cost of doing so would amount to more than £600.

Meanwhile news from Tuvalu that a new definitive set of 12 stamps featuring fish was issued on 15 July 2012.

Also released were 2 sheetlets featuring "dogs of the world", issued on 15 July 2012, and "cats of the world" which was issued on 7 August 2012. An issue featuring beetles is due for release in September along with a set dedicated to the artist, Raphael.

Five stamps and 2 miniature sheets to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II are to be issued by St. Kitts

and a sheetlet of 4 identical stamps and a miniature sheet are also to be issued by Turks and Caicos Islands to commemorate the event:-

A sheetlet of 4 stamps which depict various ferns of the Caribbean area is to be issued by Montserrat:-

Finally, Stamperija has produced another 10 sets of stamps with Mozambique's name inscribed on them, this time on the theme of "Extinct or near extinct fauna". The "date of issue" is given as 30 April 2012 and the stamps take the form of sheetlets of 4 to 8 different stamps plus a miniature sheet of 1 stamp. The subjects depicted are:- butterflies, extinct animals of Asia, parrots:-

monkeys, extinct animals of America, birds of "pray" (that is how it is spelt on the Stamperija website), birds (2 sets), cockroaches:-

and reptiles:-

In all, this issue adds another 58 stamps and 10 miniature sheets to Mozambique's total for 2012 which is now 238 stamps and 40 miniature sheets (and that is only up to 30 April).