Sunday 30 June 2013

265. Commonwealth New Issues.

  Following on from Blog 264, another long list of Commonwealth new issues which originate from a large philatelic agency situated in New York. I do not yet know the dates of issue for these various items:-
  Antigua And Barbuda:- 
60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Antigua And Barbuda - sheetlet of 6 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet.

  The Gambia:- 
Flowers of Africa - 2 sheetlets of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.
History of art - 2 sheetlets each of 3 different stamps and 1 m.s.
Pope Benedict XVI - 2 sheetlets each of 4 different stamps and 2 m.s.
Aircraft carriers of foreign navies - sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 m.s.
Bees of Africa - sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.
75th anniversary of Howard Hughes' first round the world flight - 2 sheetlets each of 4 different stamps and 2 m.s.
Anniversaries of space-related events - 2  sheetlets each of 4 different stamps
60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Head of The Commonwealth - 2 sheetlets each of 4 different stamps and 2 m.s.:-

Pope Benedict XVI - 1 sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 m.s.
Election of Pope Francis - 1 sheetlet of 4 stamps:-

  It is worth noting that 53% of the population of Grenada are said to be Roman Catholics so philatelic commemorations of both the outgoing Pope and the election of his successor could be considered quite appropriate for Grenada unlike the above mentioned issue from The Gambia which commemorates Pope Benedict since 90% of the population of that country are Sunni Moslems and only 9% are Christians although the large proportion of that population is Catholic.

History of art - 3 sheetlets each of 3 different stamps
Ancient Rome - Sheetlet of 6 different stamps and I m.s.

Grenada Grenadines:-
Election of Pope Francis - 1 m.s.:-

History of art:- 2 sheetlets (1 of 3 stamps and 1 of 4 stamps) and 1 m.s.:-

  The new issue programme of The Isle Of Man flows on unassuaged:-
9 June 2013:- Centenary of the Tour De France cycling event - 8 stamps:-

4 July 2013:- 225th anniversary of TheTimes newspaper - 6 stamps:-

8 August 2013:- Death centenary of the artist John Miller Nicholson - murals of St. Thomas Church - 1 miniature sheet:-

Saturday 29 June 2013

264. The Commonwealth's Greediest Post Offices 2012.

With one or two exceptions, we can now be clear about how many stamps were issued by each Commonwealth postal administration during 2012 and which of them proved to be the greediest in terms of producing large amounts of stamps (or allowing a foreign agency to produce items which had the countries' names printed on them) and consequentially extracting huge amounts from any collector who wanted to buy these items. The country which occupies the number 1 spot will not surprise us:-
  1. Mozambique   664 stamps and 146 miniature sheets giving a total of 810 items.
  2. Shockingly, and disgracefully, Royal Mail, the British postal service is in silver medal place so that British stamps may well find themselves labelled with the derogatory term of being nothing more than "wallpaper", albeit very expensive wallpaper; the numbers being 210 stamps and 73 miniature sheets and 12 booklets (but I do not include the Smilers or Business sheets) giving a total of 295 items!
  3. Australia Post (including Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmas island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands)   238 stamps and 17 miniature sheets (here I do not include the numerous Prestige booklets) making a total of 255 items
  4. Uganda  190 stamps and 42 m.s. totalling 232 items
  5. Solomon Islands   122 stamps and 24 m.s.; total 146
  6. New Zealand Post   105 stamps and 26 m.s.; total 131
  7. Cook Islands Post Office (including Aitutaki, Penrhyn and Rarotonga)  107 stamps and 16 m.s. total 123 items
  8. Malta Post  113 stamps and 2 m.s. and 1 booklet; total 116
  9. Canada Post  93 stamps and 21 m.s.; total 114
  10. The Gambia  90 stamps and 22 m.s.; total 112
  11. Guyana 90 stamps and 23 m.s.; total 113
  12. Tonga (including Niuafo'ou)  94 stamps and 15 m.s.; total 109
  13. Malaysia 84 stamps and 15 m.s. and 1 booklet; total 100
  14. Sierra Leone 64 stamps and 27 m.s.; total 91
  15. Jersey 74 stamps and 7 m.s. and 1 booklet; total 83
  16. Papua New Guinea 61 stamps and 17 m.s.; total 78
  17. (16=) Sri Lanka 67 stamps and 11 m.s.; total 78
  18. Ghana 65 stamps and 10 m.s.; total 75
  19. Antigua And Barbuda 64 stamps and 8 m.s.; total 72
  20. (19=) Guernsey (including Alderney) 64 stamps and 6 m.s. and 2 booklets; total 72
  21. (19=) Isle Of Man 65 stamps and 7 m.s.; total 72
  22. (19=) Tuvalu 55 stamps and 17 m.s.; total 72.
The list is truly astonishing with so many previously respectable postal administrations allowing themselves to be sucked into the climate of greedy overissuing. No wonder so many collectors are abandoning the buying of new issues. But it seems that for some at least, the golden goose continues to lay its golden eggs.  The 2012 record for Great Britain and Australia is truly appalling but in 2013 the shameless production of vast amounts of stamps continues.
A couple of observations:
  - anyone wishing to buy all the stamps issued by Great Britain and its offshore islands for 2012 would have had to obtain a total of 524 stamps, miniature sheets and booklets.
  - in 2012 the Lithuanian agency, Stamperija, produced a total of 1126 stamps and miniature sheets for just 3 Commonwealth territories (Solomon Islands, Mozambique and Uganda).
  - While a big New York-based agency produced 113 stamps and miniature sheets with the name of Guyana printed on them in 2012, Guyana has had to resort to surcharging old stamps with a $20 value to produce items which can actually be used on mail! (according to Steven Zirinsky's newsletter, it has been necessary to produce about 60 different surcharges so far).

  - Another New York-based agency, Philatelic Collector Inc., produced 242 stamps and miniature sheets for the 3 postal administrations (Cook Islands, Tonga and Samoa) it represents (and one of them - Samoa - was only represented by the company from right at the end of the year). 
 Still the news is not all bad - there are still some territories which deserve praise for not exploiting collectors - the best 10 in 2012 were:-
  1. Lesotho  0 stamps issued
  2. (1=) Maldives 0 stamps issued
  3. (1=) Nauru 0 stamps issued
  4. (1=) Rwanda 0 stamps issued
  5. Seychelles 3 stamps issued (all definitive reprints)
  6. Nigeria 2 stamps and 1 m.s. issued; total of 3 items
  7. Swaziland 4 stamps issued
  8. Trinidad And Tobago 5 stamps issued
  9. Malawi 5 stamps and 1 m.s. issued; total of 6 items
  10. Jamaica (9=) 6 stamps issued.
So what's happening at the moment?
  The pleasingly conservative Bahamas quite reasonably will issue a set of 5 stamps to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the country's independence. The date of issue will be 8 July 2013 and the stamps are lithographed by BDT:-

  The equally conservative and praiseworthy Barbados issued a set of 4 stamps depicting local lighthouses on 13 June 2013 which were designed by Andrew Robinson and lithographed by BDT:-

  Numerous issues are about to appear with the name of Guyana printed on them. There is a sheetlet of 4 different stamps which commemorates the US boxer, Muhammed Ali:-

a sheetlet of 4 different stamps and an accompanying miniature sheet which depict (foreign) aircraft carriers:- 

a sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 m.s. which depicts Butterflies:-

a set of 8 stamps (2 sheetlets each containing 4 different designs) and 2 m.s. which commemorate Pope Benedict XVI:-

a miniature sheet which commemorate sthe 5oth anniversary of the assassination of US President Kennedy:-

three stamps in a sheetlet and 1 m.s. on the history of art:-

Eight stamps on the subject of the exploration of the planet Mars, 1 stamp produced in a small sheetlet of 4 to commemorate the Year of the Snake; a sheetlet of 6 different stamps and 1 m.s. to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic (unfortunately issued 1 year too late), a sheetlet of 3 different stamps and 1 m.s. on the subject of Environment Day and 4 different stamps in a sheetlet and a miniature sheet which depict South American Birds:-

Rather uselessly, none of the above stamps seem to be in the required $20 value which would have been so useful to the Guyana Post Office as judged by its need to produce 60 surcharges in that particular value. 
  Meanwhile, from Nevis a rather gaudy sheetlet of 4 different stamps and an accompanying miniature sheet to mark the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II who is the Queen of St. Kitts-Nevis:-

  And finally to St. Vincent And The Grenadines, from where a sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet have appeared which commemorate the late British prime minister, Baroness Thatcher:-

  a sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s. which commemorate Environment Day:-

  and yet another sheetlet and accompanying miniature sheet on the subject of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy:-

  From Stamperija, an enigmatically named issue - "Part 2" - which consists of another 60 "stamps" (issued as 15 sheetlets each containing 4 different "stamps") and 15 miniature sheets on 15 different subjects all of which seem to have no direct relevance to Mozambique which is the country whose name is printed on the items except 4 stamps and a miniature sheet which depict "minerals of Mozambique", a similar sub-set which commemorates the rather bizarre work of a local sculptor and another sub-set on the subject of the fight against malaria, depicted below:-

  Thus for 2013, Mozambique has had 124 stamps and 32 miniature sheets produced for it by the date of 25 March. Clearly it is striving to retain its position at the top of the Commonwealth's greediest postal administration table for yet another year but it might find a fight on its hands from Royal Mail or Solomon Islands.
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Wednesday 26 June 2013

263. New Emir In Qatar.

Emir Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani

  Although the small Gulf state of Qatar is not a member of The Commonwealth its history from the early 19th to late 20th centuries and its early philatelic history are closely tied up with Great Britain. The story of the first 13 years of its postal service up to 1963 is covered by the Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue and even after the end of the listing in the Commonwealth Catalogue Qatar remained a Protectorate of Great Britain until 1971 when Independence was granted to it. Commonwealth collectors should probably include the stamps of Qatar in their collection which were issued up to the date of full political independence to be fully logical about it. 
  Gibbons notes that there was no postal service from Qatar until 1950 when the British Political Officer there organised a postal service from Doha - from 18 May 1950, British residents in the state were able to send mail via his office. The first Doha postmark was introduced in July 1950 and the Post Office became a separate entity in August 1950 when its services became available for the general public to use. The British stamps with Bahrain and later Eastern Arabia surcharges were first used there and on 1 April 1957, contemporary British definitives overprinted "QATAR" and surcharged in the local currency were introduced. The World Scout Jubilee Jamboree set of three stamps with appropriate overprint and surcharge was issued in Qatar on 1 August 1957 as was another set of Wilding portrait defintives with altered watermark on 26 April 1960. A set of 11 stamps was issued on 2 September 1961 which depicted Shaikh Ahmed bin Ali Al Thani in the denominations of 5np, 15np, 20np, 30np (portrait of Shaikh Ahmed),  40np and 50np (a peregrine falcon), 75np (a dhow), 1r and 2r (an oil derrick) and 5r and 10r (a mosque). Some of the values are depicted below:-

Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali al Thani

  The Qatar Post department took over the running of postal services from the British authorities on 23 May 1963 and it is at this point that Stanley Gibbons Catalogue rather arbitrarily ceases to list Qatar stamps in its Commonwealth section.
   Sheikh Ahmad became the ruler of Qatar on 24 October 1960; his family, the Al Thani, having been leaders in Qatar since 1825. Prior to that the area had been ruled by the Al Khalifa family of Bahrain but after the British had bombarded and destroyed Doha in 1821 (see Blog no. 241) in response to alleged piracy by the Gulf rulers, the Qataris had begun a resistance to Bahraini rule. The maritime war fought between the Bahrainis and the Qataris from 1867 to 1868 ended in a British intervention which gave tacit recognition to Qatar as a separate territory and the founding of the State of Qatar is usually dated from 18 December 1878, now observed as National Day. The territory was under Ottoman suzerainty from 1871 to 1916 when it became a British Protectorate during the First World War.
  The first 2 commemorative sets issued by the Qatar Post Department both comprised 5 stamps and were overprints on stamps of the contemporary definitive series. The first issue commemorated the Olympic Games in Tokyo and was issued on 25 October 1964 and the second commemorated the late President Kennedy of The United States and was released on 22 November 1964.

Olympic Games 1964

Kennedy commemoration 1964.

  Subsequently, between the beginning of 1965 and the date of the granting of Independence on 3 September 1971, the Qatar Post Office issued a rather large total of 667 stamps and miniature sheets which meant that Gibbons' arbitrary cutting out of Qatar from the Commonwealth Catalogue from 1963 onwards ensured that collectors of Commonwealth stamps did not have to buy such a large number of items. However it is fair to say that the number of Qatari stamps issued was relatively modest compared with many of the other Gulf states and the designs and printing of Qatar's stamps were usually of high quality. A set of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet were issued on 17 January 1972 to commemorate the achievement of Independence:-

  Just 5 days after that stamp issue, Shaikh Ahmed was deposed by his cousin, Shiekh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, and he ruled Qatar until 27 June 1995 when he was deposed by his son, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, while out of the country on a visit to Switzerland. Sheikh Hamad took action to introduce many reforms in Qatar as well as significantly raising the small country's international profile and his final surprising action was to abdicate on 25 June 2013 in favour of his second son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who becomes the youngest ruler in the Gulf states.   Shaikh Tamim is depicted at the head of this blog and below is a stamp from 1994 which commemorates the 23rd anniversary of Independence, the design of which includes a portrait of Shakh Khalifa:-

Shaikh Khalifa.

  Until the last few days I have been entirely unaware of a set of 4 surcharged stamps which was actually issued by The Gambia 30 years ago. I saw them for sale on an internet auction site and scurried to my copy of Gibbons' West Africa Catalogue to see what it had to say about this issue to which it has not allocated any catalogue numbers.There is a note after the entry for the bicentenary of manned flight issue which was released on 12 December 1983 (SG nos 522 - 526) which states that "On 14 December 1983 four provisional surcharges, 1d50 on1d25 (No. 439), 1d50 in 1d25 (No.473), 2d on 1d25 (No. 456) and 2d on 1d25 (No. 478), were issued in very limited quantities; there being, it is believed, no more than 600 complete sets". Presumably Gibbons does not include this set in its numbered list because of the small number of sets produced although there are examples of many other stamps which were produced in even smaller numbers which have found their way into the main catalogue listing. I guess that this is just another example of the multiple inconsistencies of the catalogue and why collectors should not allow themselves to be ruled by what the catalogue says is in and what it says is out. Nevertheless, they seem quite interesting to me and I depict them below:-

  Offered on Steven Zirinsky's internet shop website are more of the current Guyana provisional surcharges, again all 20c values hand-stamped in blue or black on various stamps. I wonder what the status of these items will be given that they are surcharged by hand rather than the new value being applied by a machine. They remind me of the first items produced in Bangladesh when a huge array of Pakistani stamps were overprinted in various towns and cities by handstamps but so numerous that they never received formal catalogue listing. It will be interesting to see what develops:-

  The bird definitive stamps were originally issued on 8 May 1995 and the flower stamps below were first issued on 16 October 1990. The stamp on the left is the $17.80 value (it does not have an individual SG number but falls between nos. 2912 and 2913) and that on the right is the $15.30 (SG number also between 2912 and 2913):-

   Below is the 30c value (SG 483) from the set of Easter stamps which was originally issued on 10 March 1969:-

  Four further flower stamps have also been surcharged and these are taken from the set of stamps which was issued on 20 June 1994. The values which have been used are the $7.65 (SG3879), $6.40 (SG3878), $12.80 (SG3880) and $15.30 (SG3881); these represent the four lowest values of what originally was a set of 32 stamps:-

  The 2 stamps below are the 3c value from the 1968 definitive set (SG 450) and the 5c value from the 1971 definitive series (SG545):-

  The $100 value of the set of 3 stamps which commemorated the visit of US President Clinton to Guyana and which was originally issued on 10 November 1997 has also been surcharged as shown below:-

  Finally, I do not recognise the stamp below which appears to be valued 30c and to have the features of a stamp which would have had local usage in recent years. The design appears to show a local car ferry as well as the national flag of Guyana and I wonder if it is a previously unissued stamp:-

  I have also just obtained from Steven Zirinsky a cover from St. Kitts which was one of several he had on his website in which revenue stamps had been used for postage. This cover was cancelled at Basseterre and is dated 20 March 2005 and 3 x 10c revenue stamps were used to pay the local rate:-

  Finally, I have just obtained another set of stamps for which I have been searching for a long time and which is rarely offered for sale on the internet and which I have not yet seen being sold by any of the large new issue dealers - this is the set of animals from Tanzania which consists of 4 stamps and 2 miniature sheets which was issued on 30 January 2008. I eventually managed to obtain the set from a dealer in China who was selling it on an internet auction site. So many new issues are difficult to find in these modern times - one just has to keep looking everywhere to track some of them down and patience is eventually usually rewarded.

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