Monday 28 October 2013

320. Dr. Who Down Under.

Front cover of Pack.

  Stamps featuring fantasy characters have come thick and fast from several Commonwealth postal administrations during 2013 - from Canada Post we have had Superman (Blog 305), from New Zealand Post we have had The Hobbit (Blog 316) and from Royal Mail we have had Dr Who; now we find that Dr. Who has materialised his TARDIS down under and that Australia Post has released a special pack consisting of 2 sheetlets, each of 10 x 60c "Australia" greeting stamps se-tenant with labels featuring different characters from the BBC programme, Dr. Who.:-

  The labels feature portraits of the 11 different actors who have so far played the role of "Dr. Who" as well as some of his monstrous enemies (I have described all the actors in a previous blog, no. 184, about the British issue which was released on 26 March 2013) but depict all the Australia Post labels which show the Doctors and some of those which depict some of the monsters below:-

William Hartnell (1)

Patrick Troughton (2)

  Australia Post produces a number of the these collectable packs on different subjects, often popular culture, which have a wide appeal to the Australian public but this product has appeal also to Dr Who enthusiasts in other countries, particularly Britain and The United States, so I expect that this particular item will be in heavy demand and collectors will want to add these items to their Royal Mail products.

Jon Pertwee (3)

Tom Baker (4) and Davros
  Australia Post did however miss a trick with these sheetlets as they could have established an Australian link with Dr. Who by including a portrait of the character Tegan Jovanka, played by the actress Janet Fielding, who was a companion of the 5th Dr. Who, Peter Davison,  the character being a rather outspoken Australian air stewardess whom Dr Who described as a "Mouth on legs". She was introduced in the story where the long-running 4th Doctor, Tom Baker, regenerated into the 5th Doctor Who and was around to appear in the 20th anniversary story, "The Five Doctors".
Peter Davison (5)
  In just a month's time, on 23 November, the 50th anniversary story will be shown simultaneously on the televisions of over 70 countries around the world, including Australia and New Zealand where enthusiasts will have "The Day Of The Doctor" broadcast to them during the night (so for them it will "the Night Of The Doctor" I suppose!)

Colin Baker (6)

Sylvester McCoy (7)
  This is clearly a big worldwide entertainment event so perhaps stamp collectors can not complain too much that postal administrations feel a need to commemorate a memorable television series which has been running for half a century.

Paul McGann (8)

Christopher Eccleston (9)

David Tennant (10) and Matt Smith (11)

Arch Enemy - Cyberman
See also Blogs 184, 187, 215, 221, 232 and 245.

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Sunday 27 October 2013

319. Recent "Footnote" Issues.

  From a number of Commonwealth countries a large number of "Footnote" issues to illustrate, none of which will be finding their way into my collection of Commonwealth stamps:-
  St. Kitts:-
  7 August 2013 - Election of Pope Francis (Catholicism is a minority religion on the island of St.Kitts where the various forms of Protestantism are in the majority) - Sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet:-

  8 August 2013 - 26 August 2013 - "Orchids" (not stated to be locally growing species) - Sheetlet of 5 stamps and 1 m.s.:-

  St. Vincent And The Grenadines:-
  30 September 2013 - "Chess" - Sheetlet of 6 stamps and 1 m.s.:-

  Sierra Leone:-
  9 September 2013 - "History Of Art" - 2 sheetlets, each of 3 different stamps:-

  9 September 2013 - "African Seashells"- Sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.:-

  9 September 2013 - "African Turtles (not stated to be local species of Sierra Leone) - Sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.:-

  2 September 2013 - "Wasps and Bees" (not stated to be local species) - Sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 m.s.:-

  The New York-based philatelic agents which have produced these items do not appear to have made any attempt to make these issues locally relevant to the countries whose names appear on the stamps or if they do feature locally relevant subjects, no attempt has been made to indicate that such is the case so I am very happy to ignore them all and to omit them from my collection. What a relief - to me the  "stamps" are wholly uninteresting with poor artwork and would not enhance my collection and of course I am delighted not to spend the money that obtaining these philatelic items would involve doing.

Saturday 26 October 2013

318. Zambian Surcharges.

  I have now obtained 11 different surcharged stamps in the new devalued currency from Zambia issued during 2013 although I do not know the date or dates of issue of these items. I have illustrated some of them in previous blogs but have added new stamps that I have obtained to those already illustrated so that all available items known to me are illustrated below:-

  Clearly these items represent what I view as "real philately" - they are stamps which were produced for use on local mails rather than agency-produced "collectables" as exemplified by the 60 stamps (issued in sheetlets of 4 different stamps) and 15 miniature sheets which were produced by an agency for Mozambique which may be postally valid but seem to have a poor prospect of actually being used on ordinary mail sent by the Mozambique general public. The themes featuring in the latest miscellany said to have been issued on 25 June 2013 are:- Winter Olympic Games, Sochi 2014; Scouting; Chess; Turtles, International Committee of The Red Cross; Volcanoes and minerals; 160th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh, painter; Prince William, Duke Of Cambridge:`

  Frogs and snails; Giant pandas; Ivan Aviazorsky; 530th anniversary of the painter, Raphael; Dinosaurs and the Cuisine of Mozambique:-

  These latest items from Mozambique mean that during 2013, up to 25 June, the country had had 358 stamps and 76 miniature sheets produced by its philatelic agents on its behalf making a grand total of 434 philatelic items.
From the ridiculous to the sublime - news of a couple more sets from The Pobjoy Stamps Agency on behalf of Bahamas and The Falkland Islands:-
  Bahamas will issue 6 stamps for use on Christmas post on 19 November 2013. The stamps were designed by Robin Carter and lithograhed by Lowe Martin:-

  Meanwhile, The Falkland Islands will issue 6 stamps in the airmail postcard rate which feature penguins, always a popular theme. A miniature sheet which combines all 6 designs will also be issued. The beautiful stamps were designed by the excellent Robin Carter and lithographed by BDT. The date of issue will be 21 November 2013:-

  It is agencies like Pobjoy Stamps (there are so few of them), the design producers (Creative Direction [Worldwide] Ltd) and their client countries which continue to make new issue collecting so rewarding and illustrate that there are still people out there who are interested in producing a quality product for a reasonable price to the stamp collector and regularly enough to keep the stamp collector interested without wearing him out with excessive issues.                     
  Not for the first time, I say "Three cheers for Pobjoy Stamps".

Monday 21 October 2013

316. Grandad's Photo Used For Canada Prince George Stamp.

  Canada issued a single self-adhesive stamp in booklets of 10 and an accompanying miniature sheet to commemorate the birth of Prince George Of Cambridge on 22 October 2013. The stamp features the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their baby son in a photograph actually taken by the child's grandfather, Michael Middleton. The choice of using a true family photograph for the stamp design is charming even if the quality of Mr. Middleton's photography has been criticised - Canada Post notes that the design needed "only a few touch-ups to correct the backlighting". The miniature sheet contains 2 gummed versions of the stamps with the margins featuring an image of the Peace Tower in Ottawa illuminated in blue lights to note the birth of a baby boy. I think this is the best "Royal Baby" issue to appear on the market so far.

  Fiji has also issued a set of 4 stamps to commemorate the royal birth although I do not yet know the precise date of issue:-

  Following on from the Christmas 2013 issue from Tristan Da Cunha which I mentioned in Blog 306 and which depicted local churches, a similar issue is to be released by Ascension Island on 18 November 2013. The designs depict the local Anglican and Catholic Churches as well as 2 stained glass windows,and were designed by Bee Design and Kerry Benjamin and lithograph printed by BDT International:-

  Another small island church will be featured on a set of 6 stamps to be issued by South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands on 24 December and will commemorate the centenary of the building of the Whalers' Church in Grytviken. Again, this set is designed by Bee Design and lithographed by BDT International:-

  A reprint of the 20c value of the Cayman Islands "EmergencyServices" set has been released with "2013" imprint in the lower margin:-

  The latest set from Mauritius is comprised of 3 stamps and is on the subject of local Flora and Fauna. For collectors of birds on stamps, the Rs18 value features a Mascarene swallow. The stamps were designed by a Mauritius Post and lithographed by BDT International and issued on 30 August 2013:-

  A recent issue from Uganda, said to have been released on 20 September 2013 but which was certainly not on sale at the Kampala Stamp Bureau when I visited it on 26 September 2013, is a set of 4 stamps which commemorates the 2012 Olympics medallist, Stephen Kripotitch , a Ugandan who was the winner of the men's marathon:-

  Another reprint with a 2013 imprint, this time the 30c value of the Saint Lucia "Fruit"definitive set, has been issued although I do not know the actual date of issue at present:-

  New Zealand Post has released the details of the latest instalment of Hobbit/Middle Earth stamps which will be released on 1 November 2013 and the extravagant issue will consist of 6 gummed stamps from ordinary sheets, a strip of 6 self-adhesive stamps, 6 gummed miniature sheets and a booklet of 10 self-adhesive stamps (2 each of 2 different designs and 1 each of the other 4 designs). 
  Once more New Zealand Post is using the rather fatuous gimmick of adding the name "Middle Earth" to the inscription of the country's name even though JRR Tolkien drew on the scenery in the English Midlands county of Warwickshire where he lived as a boy. His child's imagination even drew inspiration for the brooding dark towers of "The Two Towers" fame (the title of the third of the trilogy of the Lord Of The Rings" books) from the unlikely image of the tower of the Edgbaston Waterworks in Birmingham and a strange folly called Perrott's Tower located nearby with not a thought of New Zealand in his mind.