Friday 28 February 2014

372. The Commonwealth And Tibet.

  Tibet was incorporated in the Mongol Empire in the mid 13th century but was independent again for almost 4 centuries from the mid 14th century until a Chinese protectorate over the country was established in 1720 and a government was set up in Lhasa in 1721. In the late 1720's the Chinese established a presence at Lhasa in the form of the Ambans  but by the beginning of the 19th century Chinese imperial power in Lhasa was reduced to nothing more than symbolic. Chinese argue that the continuing presence of Ambans in Lhasa demonstrated ongoing Chinese sovereignty while Tibetans take the line that the Ambans were merely ambassadors for China.
 The first British contact with Tibet was the visit of George Bogle, a Scots aristocrat, to Shigatse to investigate the possibility of trade between Tibet and the British East India Company. In 1865 the British began mapping the country.

The meeting of George Bogle and the 3rd Dalai Lama at Tashilhunpo, 1775 by Tilly Kettle.

  By the beginning of the 20th century the British were fearful of a Russian invasion of India and amid rumours of growing Russian influence in Tibet whence such an assault could be launched, Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, requested negotiations with the Tibetans and the Chinese to establish trade agreements. A Frontier Commission was sent to Tibet in 1903 when the first Indian post office there was opened but as negotiations failed a British Invasion force left Gnatang in Sikkim, on 11 December 1903 and, under General Macdonald and Colonel Francis Younghusband, the Commissioner of the Tibet Frontier Commission, invaded Tibet fighting the Tibetans at Guru on 31 March 1904.
   The British marched on to and took Gyantze Dzong on 6 July 1904 and arrived at Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, on 3 August. Although the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan ruler, had fled from the city, the British signed a treaty with the Tibetans and then departed the capital in late September 1904. 
  The British expedition had operated a number of Field post offices and these were replaced by civil post offices at Gartok (from 26 September 1906), Pharijong (opened 1905) and Yatung (from 1905). All  Indian post offices closed on 1 April 1905 except Gartok which did not operate after 1943.
  I have a couple of stamps on piece in my collection which I presume are associated with the Younghusband Expedition. The first is an Indian 3p Queen Victoria definitive stamp, originally issued on 1 October 1900, cancelled by a small skeleton postmark of "LAHSSA" dated 29 August 1904 and the second is an Indian 1 anna Edward VII stamp, issued on 9 August 1902, with a similar cancellation dated 16 September 1904.

  A treaty was agreed between China and Great Britain in 1906 by which the British agreed "not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet". The Chinese agreed "not to permit any other foreign State to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet". In 1907 Britain and Russia agreed that they recognised the principle of Chinese suzerainty over Tibet and would not enter into negotiations with Tibet except via the intermediary of China. 
  With the overthrow of the Chinese emperor in 1910 Chinese power in Tibet fell away and Tibet entered a de facto state of independence. The exiled Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa in 1912 from India. After the establishment of the Chinese People's Republic in 1949, the People's Liberation Army entered Tibet in October 1950 and the Seventeen Point Agreement of 1951 formalised China's sovereignty over Tibet. Tibetan resistance to the Chinese grew during the 1950's culminating in the Lhasa Uprising in 1959 and the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama into exile in India.
  The Dalai Lama established the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) at Dharamsala in Hamachal Pradesh and this organisation stated it had goals of "rehabilitating Tibetan refugees and restoring freedom and happiness in Tibet". In 1972 four stamps were released which were said to be issued with the approval of the CTA and intended to be used from the Dalai Lama's compound at Dharamsala. It has been claimed that some of these stamps have been used on genuine mail although the more accepted opinion is that that is not the case. A "first day cover" is shown below which is dated 20 May 1972. The stamps themselves are attractive and colourful and depict illustrations of 4 Himalayan animals by Australians, Nelson Eustace and Ted Roberts. I view them as Indian local stamps and find them to be very interesting and attractive and have a page set aside in my collection for them and a second set which appeared in 1974. 
  The second set is said to have commemorated the centenary of the UPU but is clearly a propaganda issue in support of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence. This second issue again consists of 4 stamps which are as colourful and attractive as the stamps of the first issue but this time depict the Thekchen Choling Temple, a map of independent Tibet, the Potala monastery in Lhasa and the one time Tibetan national flag. All 4 stamps include a portrait of the 14th Dalai Lama:-


  One further philatelic tie-in between a Commonwealth country and Tibet is the issue on 21 September 2009 of 2 personalised stamps by New Zealand Post which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. The stamps were produced by the sponsorship of a New Zealand group called the Friends of Tibet which had been campaigning since 1986 in support of the exiled Dalai Lama and had been involved in pressing for visits to New Zealand by the Dalai Lama. A number of these stamps were used postally but when the New Zealand government became aware of them there was fear that they may damage relations between New Zealand and The Chinese People's Republic and New Zealand Post not only refused to print more but also omitted them from the 2009 year pack of personalised stamps ensuring that the 2 items were rare and sought after.

371. New $50 And $100 Definitives From Montserrat.

  Montserrat has issued 2 new definitive stamps of very high face value - $50 and $100 - which are said to be the first high face value stamps issued by the British Overseas Territory since 1983. The $100 value features the flag badge of the territory (the allegorical female figure, Erin, who is holding a cross and a harp) and the $50 depicts the island's original war memorial which was sadly destroyed by the volcanic eruption of 1998. This latter design seems very appropriate as this year marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Both stamps received official royal approval and were designed by the territory's New York-based philatelic agents and printed in lithography by Beijing Security Printers. Both stamps are inscribed "Postage and Revenue" and will presumably receive more fiscal usage than postal. The total face value of the pair is equal to £33.32p and I note that one British dealer is selling the pair for £73.90 which is a 220% of the face value so any collector wishing to buy these 2 stamps would be wise to shop around for them to limit expenditure.

  I have now seen some pictures of some of the 100 stamps issued in December 2013 by Kenya to commemorate the country's 50th anniversary of independence. I rather expected the issue to be similar to that issued in 2010 which depicted insects - 4 sheetlets each of 25 different stamps - but surprisingly this latest issue seems to consist of a number of themed miniature sheets; thus we have a sheetlet of 6 different stamps on the history of mail delivery in Kenya, a sheetlet of 4 stamps which has the subject of coins and Banknotes, 1910 to 1966 and a sheetlet of 4 stamps which is on the theme of the former and present Presidents of Kenya:-

  South Africa's new issue programme for 2014 starts with a dignified commemoration of the late Nelson Mandela, the first President of democratic South Africa. The single miniature sheet was issued on 11 February 2014 and designed by Thea Clemens who used a photograph supplied by the Nelson Mandela Foundation as the basis of her design. The sheet was lithographed by Enschede.

  On the 28 February 2014, a sheetlet of 5 stamps which were the winning designs in a national competition for young designers. The winning designs were by Tamryn Elliot and the stamps are self-adhesive:-

  Other issues to come are:-
  9 May - "The Big Five" animals (a theme featured a number of times on previous issues by South Africa - perhaps next time the South African Post Office could give us something different - what about  "The Little Five" for a change?
  30 May - "Ukuthunga (To Sew) I
  11 June - Critically endangered Douth African birds
  26 June - Hamilton Naki
  3 July - South African popular musicians I
  28 July - Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Two stamps commemorate the campaigns in which South Africans were heavily involved - those in what was then German South West Africa (now Namibia) and what was then German East Africa (now Tanganyyika):-

   20 August - South African lighthouses
   17 September - South African national parks I
   9 October - World Post Day - Post Office People
   13 November - South African ceramic vessels
   5 December UNI World Congress.
  I frequently complain about the excessive issues from Jersey Post but I must say that I like very much the set of 4 stamps which will be issued on 25 March 2014 which commemorate local music festivals. The 2 higher values of the set are Jersey's issue as part of the annual EUROPA omnibus series which has taken the theme of national musical instruments for 2014. The truly excellent designs are by Mark Wilkinson and printing is by Cartor using lithography. The set is completely locally relevant and is modestly priced and very attractive. For once, Well Done Jersey!

 The first issues of 2014 from Namibia are:-
  10 February - Traditional wooden vessels of Namibia - 5 stamps designed by Helga Denke;
  14 March - Nocturnal creatures of Namibia - 1 sheetlet of 6 different stamps designed by Anja Denker:-

   I particularly like the nocturnal animals sheetlet which reminds me of the first joint SAPOA issue of 2004 because of its format with octagonal stamps. The issue is beautifully designed and is interesting and attractive and it will be a pleasure to it add to my collection as is the case with the Jersey music issue.

Thursday 27 February 2014

370. Postal Administrations Who Live In Glass Houses.

"Countries that ignore frequency of issue guidelines and issue volumes of stamps that have little to no practical usage produce what many collectors refer to as wallpaper" - Gibraltar Stamps website under the description of the new definitive set of 2014.

  It is pleasing to read the above quote published on Gibraltar Stamps' website - it suggests that those who plan the territory's stamp issues at least understand the problem of greedy postal administrations which issue far too many stamps particularly, I might add, when the subjects of the stamp issues are wholly or largely irrelevant to the territory whose name is appearing on those stamps.

"People who live in glass houses should not throw stones"

  Unfortunately, Gibraltar is not wholly innocent in this matter since last year it released 14 new issues, totalling 57 stamps and 4 miniature sheets with a total face value of £63.89p. What possible connection is there between Chinese New Year and Gibraltar? Why is Gibraltar producing annually 6 stamps and a miniature sheet which depict endangered animals found in foreign countries? Why did Gibraltar issue 5 stamps to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic? May we not describe all these issues from Gibraltar as "Wallpaper"? Below are depicted some of these items:-

  True, these items are all very well produced and are attractive but really have nothing to do with Gibraltar and so I suppose might be described, to use Gibraltar Stamps' term, as "wallpaper". 
  Hopefully Gibraltar will start to clean up its act now and release smaller numbers of issues per year and ensure that all featured subjects are relevant to Gibraltar. No more "wallpaper" please.
  Pleasingly, it appears that the Gibraltar Post Office is not made of glass (apart from the front door) but of solid stone:-

369. More Local Aviator Stamps From Guyana.

  Despite the constant outpouring of philatelic products from Guyana's foreign philatelic agents, most of which have no relevance in subject matter to Guyana, some of the country's new issues remain rather interesting to collect as I suggested in the Blog 368. In Blog 290 I described an issue of strict local interest which depicted Guyanese women aviators. A second such issue has now appeared which features another Guyanese female aviator - Captain Debra Gouveia - which this time is produced in miniature sheet format (see above illustration). This is a wonderful local issue and it is certainly getting genuine local postal usage (I have seen the $80 value in the upper left corner of the sheet used on commercial cover). The 2 values ($80 and $150) represent the new domestic mail and Americas mail rates introduced in November 2013.
  Meanwhile the same agency which produces philatelic items with Guyana's name printed on them continues to flood the market with numerous issues on behalf of other territories and as usual, hardly any of them feature subjects which have any relevance to the philatelic entities which allow them to produce these items on their behalf. As usual, I feel no need to buy any of the following and call them "Footnote Issues". Hopefully the editor of Stanley Gibbons Catalogues will consign them to the Appendix section as he has done recently with a number of Tuvalu issues released from 2010 onwards:-

  Grenada - 

20 January 2014 - Animals of China - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet:-

  The depiction of the tiger is presumably a representation of the South China or Amoy Tiger but is rather unfortunate since the creature had been hunted to extinction in China although it is thought by some that a few individual tigers of this subspecies may still exist in the wild.

  Grenada Grenadines -

20 January 2014 - Chinese Fine Art - 1 sheetlet of 4 differents stamps and 1 m.s.:-

14 January 2014 - 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s. (this is the only issue in this entire list which can be considered to be directly relevant to this philatelic entity since it commemorates a significant anniversary of the Head of State of Grenada):-

14 January 2014 - Commemoration of the 100th Tour de France (cycling race held in France - a very long way from Grenada!) - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.-

20 January 2014 - 10th anniversary of the final flight of the Concorde - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.:-

20 January 2014 - Exotic purebreed cats - 2 sheetlets each of 4 different stamps (total of 8 stamps) and 2 m.s. (1 sheetlet and 1 m.s. have been illustrated in a previous Blog):-

20 January 2014 - Sea Turtles of the Caribbean Sea ( not necessarily species found in local waters) - 1 sheetlet of 3 different stamps and 1 m.s.:-

20 January 2014 - Art by Michelangelo (Italian artist) - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.:-

  Guyana - 

2014 - Commemoration of US President Obama - 1 sheetlet of 4 identical stamps and 2 m.s.:-

2 December 2013 - Commemoration of Elvis Presley (US music performer) - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps:-

  St. Vincent And The Grenadines - 

2014 - Christening of Prince George of Cambridge -1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps (the design takes the form of a mosaic of pictures of the christening):-

  2014 - Commemoration of US President Obama - 1 sheetlet of 4 identical stamps and 2 m.s.:-

2014 - "Elvis Presley in Canada"- 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps:-

  On the subject of Canada we return to real stamps and note 2 new definitives with a 63c face value which were issued presumably to replace stamps of the same design which were denominated in the "P" value and which were precipitously withdrawn in November 2013 because of impending postal rate increases. These new stamps are self-adhesive and the mammal design is a coil stamp while the design depicting Queen Elizabeth II is from booklets of 10. The period of their sale must have been extremely short since the standard letter rate in Canada rose to 65c on 13 January 2014 necessitating the release of 65c definitives:-

  A sheetlet of greetings stamps with attached labels was issued by Malaysia in late 2013 where the total face value of the stamps was RM4 but the sale price was RM10. The profits from the sale of the sheetlet were donated to the Typhoon Haiyan Disaster Fund to help the victims of the catastrophe:-

The fifth issue of "Heartwarming" stamps was released by Hong Kong China" on 23 January 2014. The set of 6 was designed by Jason Chum and lithographed by Cartor :-

  In Mauritius, where the country's new stamp issue programme is clearly taken a lot more seriously than in some countries, the country's cabinet has announced that there will be 3 new issues during 2014:-
   Fauna and Flora - 3 stamps (depicting a bat - La Rousette de Rodrigues, a dragon fly and the Pignon D'Inde);
  Anniversaries and Events - 4 stamps (Bicentenary of the arrival of Rev. Jean Lebrun in Mauritius; 25th anniversary of the first use of mobile phone in Mauritius; 10th anniversary of the creation of the Omsbudsman For Children's Office; 150th anniversary of the death of Pere Laval); 
  Emblematic animal of the Indian Ocean - the Green Turtle.
  As usual with Mauritius this is an interesting, conservative and locally relevant programme for 2014 so let us hope that the stamp designers and Mauritius Stamp Design Committee manage to provide us with some interesting and exciting designs which has not always been the case in previous years. I do not know any proposed dates of issue yet.