Monday 28 April 2014

403. Tonga's Forgotten Royal Baby And Maldives' Mysterious Stamp Issue.

  I have to confess that I do not always keep up to date with what is happening in the Tongan royal family and so I have only just learned that a son was born to the heir of the throne of Tonga, Crown Prince Topouto'a, and his wife, Princess Sinaitakala, on 10 May 2013 in Auckland. The baby was named Prince Tafa'ahau Manumataonga and the picture below shows him at the age of 6 months with his mother. Prince Tafa'ahau is therefore the second in line to the Tongan throne. A cause for local philatelic celebration you might think. Well no. The "Boutique Philatelic Agency" which produces stamps on behalf of the Tongan Post Office has indeed issued stamps to commemorate the "Royal Baby" but sadly not the Tongan royal baby. Instead 8 stamps and 2 miniature sheets (depicted below) were issued to commemorate the birth of the third in line to the British throne, Prince George Of Cambridge, who came into the world a couple of months after Prince Tafa'ahau. So far the poor little Prince of Tonga has received no philatelic commemoration by his own country's post office and to rub salt into the wounds, a second issue to commemorate Prince George was made by Tonga - this time to celebrate his christening but there has been no such issue for the Tongan Prince.
  I have to say that if I were the Tongan Crown Prince I would be pretty annoyed if my local postal administration chose to issue stamps which commemorated the birth of some foreign prince's son and ignored my own. But that's modern philatelic agencies for you - featuring international celebrities seems to be a good way to make sure you will get reasonable sales from a stamp issue - clearly William and Kate are celebrities worth featuring while Topouto'a and Sinaitakala are not.

Princess Sinaitakala and Prince Tafa'ahau Manumatoanga.

Christening of Prince George miniature sheet.

  Another country which has long sold its international philatelic reputation to foreign agencies is Maldives. In Blog 360 I reported a 15 MVR stamp depicting a turtle which I had not previously seen and which I speculated may have been part of a previously unreported definitive series on sale locally but not offered for sale through philatelic channels. Now another similar stamp, again a 15 MVR value but depicting a dolphin and with a different style of lettering, has been reported on Stampboards by JonEboy
  In the Blog of 30 December 2011 I mentioned that Maldives Post was seeking tenders for the printing of a new definitive set but it did not include a 15Rf value though the need for a 15Rf value may have arisen subsequently. Hopefully, if Maldives Post does not release details of these stamps in the foreseeable future, someone who is on a luxury holiday in the islands will visit the post office in Male and discover the truth about this mysterious issue as well as whatever happened to the 2010 "350" sheetlet which I mentioned in Blog of 29 April 2012.

newly discovered dolphin stamp.

previously reported turtle stamp.

Sunday 27 April 2014

402. New Issues From The Commonwealth In Europe And Pitcairn.

  Isle Of Man has announced that yet another set of stamps will be issued in the near future - 6 stamps which commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day which will be released on 8 May 2014. The issue links itself to the experiences of Hector Duff, a Manxman who landed on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944 and subsequently was involved in the advance into Germany all the way to Berlin. The stamps were designed by EJC Design and printed in lithography.

  There will also be another one of those enormous sheetlets which are too big to display in most stamp albums which the people responsible for producing Isle Of Man's philatelic programme seem to think is a good idea (issued just a few days after 2 other similar items - see Blog 399) and which contains 15 stamps (including previously issued designs) and costs £8.78p. Since I can't work out what to do with these huge sheetlets I shall not be buying this one and will find myself £8.78p better off.

  Meanwhile, Guernsey Post has announced that on 28 May 2014 it will issue a stamp denominated in the International Letter 20g rate which commemorates the fairly new hobby of postcrossing in which participants in different countries exchange postcards with each other. The stamp was designed by Bridget Yabsley and lithographed by BDT International:-

   Guernsey will also issue a set of 6 stamps on 28 May 2014 which commemorates the 50th anniversary of "Britain In Bloom" and is Guensey's contribution to the 2014 SEPAC omnibus issue. The stamps were designed by Andrew Robinson and lithographed by BDT International:-

  On 28 April 2014, Pitcairn will release a set of 4 stamps to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the mutiny aboard HMAV Bounty. 28 April 1789 was the actual date when mutineers, led by Fletcher Christian, broke into the cabin of Captain William Bligh and put him into the ship's open boat along with 18 loyal crew members and set them adrift. The mutineers sailed the Bounty on to Tahiti and from there sailed in search of Pitcairn which they knew to have been misplaced on Royal Navy charts. They landed there in January 1790 and burned and sank the ship in Bounty Bay. The stamps were designed by Lucas Kukler and lithographed by Southern Colour Print:-

  Vexillological philatelists will like MaltaPost's new stamp issue due to be released on 30 April 2014 which commemorates the tenth anniversary of Malta's accession to the European Union. The stamp was designed by MaltaPost plc and depicts the Maltese national flag beside the flag of the European Union.
  The EU's flag is rather nonsensical since the meaning of the design is that the blue field represents the sky (though why Europe needs to symbolise the sky which presumably is a feature of all the continents is a mystery) and that the 12 yellow stars represent "unity" though the number of stars is also meaningless since there are actually 28 members of the EU currently and there were 6 founder members. It is true that when the EU adopted the flag whose design was purloined from that of The Council Of Europe on 29 May 1986 there were then 12 member states but with subsequent accessions the number has long ceased to have any meaning. In Britain, and presumably elsewhere, the EU flag has been given the status of a national flag.
   The stamp was printed in lithography by Printex of Malta:-

  The latest issue of The Turkish Republic Of Northern Cyprus which was released on 12 March 2014 is on the subject of "The only witness was the Cumbez". The Cumbez is a sycamore fig and there is a large specimen of the tree in Famagusta on Cyprus beside the Lala Mustafa Camii Mosque; the tree is said to be 700 years old and to be the oldest tree on the island. The set is comprised of 4 stamps:-

Saturday 26 April 2014

401. Pass Me The Vegetables.

  Tuvalu issued a set of stamps on 23 April 2014 on the subject of root vegetables. The issue consists of 2 sheetlets each of 4 different stamps and 2 miniature sheets each of 2 different stamps. They are very well designed with pleasing illustrations of the vegetables and each sheetlet has a recipe for a different dish in the margin of the sheet. I have not seen the name of the designer of this issue but it looks to me to have all the originality of approach to an otherwise rather mundane subject that we have previously seen in the work of Siobhan McDevitt (see Blog 388).
  But.....while the designs are excellent, why don't they show vegetables that are grown in Tuvalu? The depicted vegetables and featured menus are all relevant to what is served from western kitchens not what is available to the average Tuvaluan. Apparently there is quite a lot of effort being put into growing more vegetables in Tuvalu but from what I can glean from my reading, many of the depicted vegetables just can't be grown there. The major vegetable crops grown there are taro (for leaves) and bele with some other tropical and temperate species being cultured there to a limited extent (tomato, eggplant, chilli, potato, capsicum, cucumber, squash, cabbages, melons, lettuces and beans).Vegetable production is limited because most varieties grown there are not well adapted to tropical temperatures and are very sensitive to bacterial and viral diseases as well as local pests.
  It's very disappointing that such a well illustrated set has very little local relevance and tells the stamp collector very little about Tuvalu.

  It would also have been pleasing to have local recipes printed on the sheets rather than those that appear there. In 1989 a miniature sheet was released by Seychelles for Zil Elwannyen Sesel on the subject of Seychellois cuisine and local recipes were featured in the margins of the sheet which made it a very interesting issue. If only the agency which produces these issues could put some effort into injecting some local relevance into them as happened with the ZES issue then it would be much more worthwhile to obtain such stamps:-

  The vegetable crop continues with a sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet which contains 2 different stamps which have been issued by a Montserrat:-

  There is also a sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet which has been issued by Montserrat to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the birth of Galileo Galilei, the Italian astronomer. I do not yet know the dates of issue of these 2 Montserrat sets:-

  Turning our attention to real stamps which are likely to actually be used on ordinary mail, Ireland issued a set of 2 stamps on the subject of the country's Viking heritage on 24 April 2014. This issue coincides with the millennial anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf (see Blog 373) and was designed by Ger Garland and lithographed by Irish Stamp Security Printers:-

  On 26 April 2014 Malaysia issued a special cover to commemorate the visit of the US president, Barack Obama, to Malaysia :-

  On 25 November 2013, another 15 sheetlets, each containing 4 different "stamps", with 15 accompanying miniature sheets were "issued" by Stamperija in the name of Mozambique thus ensuring that Mozambique beats Solomon Islands in the race to have released the most stamps produced by or for a Commonwealth country during 2013 (see Blog 398). The subjects of this new outpouring are:- Albert Schweitzer, The Taj Mahal, Airports, American impressionists, Big cats, Coral and fishes, Dogs, Eagles, Endangered species, Extinct species, Frank Sinatra, Garry Kasparov, Global warming, Gorillas and Tennis. Thus, Mozambique's stamp total for 2013 is now 598 stamps and 136 miniature sheets giving a grand total of 734 philatelic items.

Thursday 24 April 2014

399. British Virgin Islands 2009 Scouting Stamp.

  I have recently obtained from Nigel Haworth an example of the 40c stamp (illustrated above) which was issued in 2009 by The British Virgin Islands to commemorate the 75th anniversary of scouting in the territory. It is reported in the January 2014 Catalogue supplement in Gibbons' Stamp Monthly that a set of 4 stamps on this subject was to have been released in 2007 but did not appear because, it is said, there were inconsistencies in the designs and delays in the printing. Eventually in 2009, due to local pressure, the above single stamp was released for local use in limited quantities but not offered to wholesale dealers so the issue went largely unnoticed until recently when Virgin Islands expert Dr. Giorgio Mighliavacca drew Gibbons' attention to the item. The 40c face value did not actually represent a local postal rate so the stamp received little usage.
  Hong Kong China will issue a $20 miniature sheet on 29 April 2014 on the subject of Hong Kong's postal history from 1911 to 1976 centred on the story of the old Post Office building in the former British colony. The issue coincides with an exhibition being held in Hong Kong on the subject. The miniature sheet was designed by Arde Lam and printed in lithography with hot foil stamping by Cartor. The issue also includes a $60 prestige booklet which contains the miniature sheet:-

  On 20 April 2014, The Isle Of Man issued 2 identical sheetlets save that one is perforated while the other is imperforate (and sells for £7.50 instead of £3 which is the total face value of the stamps in the sheetlet) to commemorate the centenary of the Schneider Cup aviation prize won by Howard Pixton, an Isle of Man resident who had been born in Manchester. The sheetlet contains 4 x 75p stamps which were designed by Robin Carter and lithographed by BDT. The imperforate sheet is sold in a limited edition of 1500 and is said to hark "back to the early years when all stamps were imperforated and had to be cut from the sheet with scissors or a knife" (the first perforated stamps were actually issued in 1850 - 64 years before Pixton won the Schneider Cup so there's no real connection between the subject of this issue and imperforate stamps making the imperforate sheet an irrelevant and expensive nonsense:-

  The same postal administration has also issued (on 16 April 2014) what it calls a "Smilers sheet" to commemorate "the first 20 TT wins of John McGuiness", known as the "Morecambe Missile", on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of his first win. The sheet includes 2 previously issued stamps (5 of one and 3 of the other) and sells for £10.11p. I find it hard to work up any enthusiasm to spend over £10 to include this particular item in my Isle of Man collection. One can not help but feel that the first dreaded Manx "Post And Go" items must be on their way in the near future to add to the rest of this stuff.

   Malta will issue a miniature sheet on 26 April 2014 to commemorate the canonisation of the late Popes John XIII and John Paul II. The sheet which contains 2 different stamps was designed by Malta Post and lithographed by Printex:-

Monday 21 April 2014

398. Ireland Releases New Version Of Unissued I.C.A. Stamp.

  The year is full of historically important anniversaries in The Republic Of Ireland as the countdown towards the centenary of the 1916 Easter Uprising against British rule moves on. We have already had a number of stamp issues which have been released in the past few months marking anniversaries of events which signposted the way to the uprising and another single stamp was issued on 17 April  2014 to commemorate the centenary of the founding of the Irish Citizen Army. The Irish Citizen Army was a trained group of trade union volunteers which was raised in Dublin in 1913 during The Lockout, a strike of the Irish Transport And General Workers Union which was characterised by vicious rioting against the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Stamps were issued in 2013 to commemorate The Lockout - see Blog 295.
  Jack White (who appeared on the ICA commemorative stamp which was to have been issued earlier this year but which was not issued because the design included a possibly incorrect portrait of White - see Blog 366) was the co-founder of the ICA with James Larkin, founding the organisation to fight against the police. Eventually members of the ICA played prominent roles in the Uprising and subsequent Irish civil war.
  The stamp was designed by Ger Garland and lithographed by Irish Security Stamp Printers. The redesigned stamp uses the same photograph as the original design but now no longer has the portrait of Jack White incorporated in it - presumably experts can not agree about whether or not the portrait of White is the correct one. How interesting; as I've observed before stamp design is fraught with dangers particularly when the subject strays into the area of politics even if it's politics that is 100 years old.

Original unissued ICA stamp with portrait of Jack White.

The Lockout stamps issued 22 August 2013:-

  See also Blog 392 which refers to the issue which commemorates the centenary of the founding of Cumann na mBan and there is also the issue marking the centenary of the Irish Volunteer Force which was issued on 3 October 2013. This is growing into an interesting series:-

  Another 36 "stamps" and 9 miniature sheets are said to have been issued by Solomon Islands, this time on 29 November 2013. The stamps are produced as usual in sheetlets of 4 different stamps which with an accompanying miniature sheet illustrate one of 9 different subjects, many of which have no relevance at all to The Solomon Islands.
   I have not seen yet any evidence that these issues produced in Lithuania are being sold for usage on ordinary mail in Solomon Islands. The diverse subjects featured on these items are:- Henri Matisse (French painter), Cricket, Eugene Boudin (French artist), Fishing, The late Pope John Paul II, Georges Braque (French painter), Hector Berlioz (French music composer), Australian art and Foreign trains. 
  This brings the total of stamps "issued" by Solomon Islands during 2013 to 541 stamps and 121 miniature sheets making a grand total of 662 items which is 3 ahead of Mozambique with its total of 538 stamps and 121 miniature sheets (grand total of 659 items). So, unless there are even more highly desirable philatelic items yet to be announced as having been issued by Mozambique during 2013, Solomon Islands is set to depose Mozambique as the greediest philatelic territory in The Commonwealth for 2013.
  The Lithuanian philatelic agency which produces stamps for the above 2 Commonwealth countries as well as Uganda and Maldive Islands seems to have unloaded on to the philatelic market during 2013, for these 4 countries, a total of 1315 "stamps" and 301 miniature sheets totalling 1616 items but not including any imperforates or special variations. I'm sure Commonwealth collectors all over the world will be grateful for their contribution to philately during 2013 (or not as the case may be).

Friday 18 April 2014

397. The Commonwealth Games.

  Royal Mail will issue a set of 6 stamps on 17July 2014 to commemorate the holding of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in Scotland.  The stamps were designed by Nanette Hoogslag who is Dutch (why not choose a designer who is a citizen of one of The Commonwealth countries since the issue celebrates the Commonwealth Games?) and the illustrations are from photographs taken by a British newspaper photographer, Andy Hooper. The design of only one stamp has so far been released and further details are awaited.
  The Commonwealth Games began their life as The British Empire Games in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada when 11 Empire teams participated in events in 6 different sports. England won most events as it also did in the Games held in London in 1934. The third British Empire Games were held in Sydney in 1938 but, because of the Second World War, the 4th Games were delayed until 1950 when they took place in Auckland, New Zealand.
  The 5th Games held in 1954 in Vancouver, Canada were known as The British Empire And Commonwealth Games. The 6th Games were held in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and stamps to commemorate the Games were issued for the first time by the British Post Office. The 3 stamps depicted below were issued on 18 July 1958 and were designed by Reynolds Stone (3d), WH Brown (6d) and Pat Keely and all printed in photogravure by Harrison And Sons (1/3d):-

  The seventh Games were held in Perth, Australia and 2 stamps were issued to commemorate the event on 1 November 1962. They were designed by RM Warner (5d) and G. Hamori (2/3d) and printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons :-

  Jamaica was the host country of the 8th Games in 1966 and 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet were issued on 4 August 1966 to commemorate the event. The issue was designed by Victor Whiteley and printed in photogravure by Harrison:-

  Subsequently, with the 9th Games which were held in Edinburgh in Scotland, the event was known as The British Commonwealth Games (the British Empire part of the title having been removed from the name). Three stamps were issued to commemorate the Edinburgh Games and they were issued on 15 July 1970 having been designed by Andrew Restall and delacryl lithograph printed by De La Rue:-

  Subsequent games were held in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974. These were the last Games to be known as the British Commonwealth Games - subsequently "British" was dropped from the name and the Games were called simply "The Commonwealth Games":-

  Edmonton, Canada in 1978. Two stamps were issued on 31 March 1978 which were designed by Mrs. S. Ash and lithographed by Ashton-Potter. Four further stamps were released on 3 August 1978 and they had the same designer and printer:-

  Brisbane, Australia in 1982. Four stamps (3 x 27c and one 75c values) were issued with the three 27c values being combined in a miniature sheet as shown below. The designer was R. Carnielye and the stamps were printed in lithography by Leigh-Mardon:-

  Edinburgh, Scotland in 1986. The thirteenth Games were commemorated by 5 colourful stamps which were designed by N. Cudworth:-

  Auckland, New Zealand in 1990. Eight stamps were issued on 8 November 1989 followed by 2 miniature sheets on 24 January 1990. The issues were designed by Heather Arnold and lithographed by Leigh Mardon:-


  Victoria, Canada in 1994. In all 6 stamps were issued -a se-tenant pair as depicted below on 20 May 1994 and 4 further values (another pair of 43c and a 50c and 88c value) were issued on 5 August 1994. They were all designed by D. Coates and B. Roodenburg and lithographed with additional die-stamping by Leigh-Mardon:-

  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1998. A souvenir sheet was issued on 23 February 1998 which depicted Games venues followed by sixteen stamps which were issued on 11 September 1998:-

  Manchester, England in 2002. Five stamps were issued on 16 July 2002 and were designed by Madeleine Bennett and printed in photogravure by Enschede:-

  Melbourne, Australia in 2006. A number of issues were made including sheetlets which commemorated Australian gold medalists:-

   Delhi in India in 2010. Two stamps and 1 miniature sheet were issued on 25 June 2010 which depicted the Games mascot, and a further 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet were released on 3 October 2010 which depicted some of the sports:-

   Apart from issues made by the host nations various Commonwealth countries at various times produced stamps to commemorate particular Games. An interesting Commonwealth Games collection can be built up at relatively low cost which will embrace stamps of almost the entire Commonwealth. The upcoming Glasgow Games issue is of particular interest since the Games take place a very short time before the referendum on Scottish independence will be held and if Scottish sportsmen are particularly successful in the Games the wave of nationalist pride which would result may well tip the balance in favour of a vote for independence. These may well be historically important games  which may result in stamp collectors having to collect a new Commonwealth country's stamps from 2016.
  In Blog 366 I mentioned a $10 miniature sheet which has been issued by Grenada to commemorate the country's first post-independence prime minister, Sir Eric Gairey, and it appears that the sheet accompanied 4 stamps which depict Sir Eric's portrait (shown below).The low face value of the stamps and their locally relevant subject matter suggest that this set is actually meant to be used on mail in Grenada rather than aimed purely at the philatelic market:-

  Sierra Leone has issued a sheetlet of 16 stamps (4 se-tenant blocks of 4 different designs) in the Worldwide Fund For Nature (WWF) series. This issue depicts a local antelope, the Western Bongo. I do not yet know the date of issue:-

  Although it is difficult to think of any good reason why the West African country of Sierra Leone needs to commemorate philatelically the Chinese New Year, its postal administration has indeed allowed its philatelic agents to issue stamps in its name to commemorate the event. There is a miniature sheet containing 3 different stamps which are shaped so that they make up a circle and this is accompanied by a Le 34000 (£4.68p) imperforate embroidered stamp which I'm sure will receive wide usage on mail in Sierra Leone (or not as the case may be).