Thursday 30 October 2014

489. King Charles III.

  I have just been to Wyndham's Theatre in London to see the 2014 play "Charles III", described as a "future history", which was written by Mike Bartlett in a style which mimics the plays of William Shakespeare. The play centres on the events which ensue when Charles, the current Prince of Wales, finally succeeds to the British throne after the death of Queen Elizabeth II who has ruled for 70 years (so, we stamp collectors have an omnibus issue to look forward to which will celebrate The Queen's record-breaking reign). 
  In the plot, the new king decides that he is going to be his own man and follow his own conscience rather than bow to the wishes of politicians and he refuses to sign a Parliamentary Bill which threatens the freedom of the press and in so doing meets opposition from the Labour prime minister and Tory leader of the opposition to such an extent he eventually dissolves parliament. National mayhem results and finally the vaguely Lady MacBeth-like wife of The Duke Of Cambridge connives with the politicians to bring her husband, Prince William, despite his previous protestations of loyalty to his father, around to forcing the King to abdicate and she and he are crowned as the new King and Queen of Britain at what should have been Charles III's own coronation. 
  There is a subplot surrounding a Prince Hal-like Prince Harry who falls in love with a very common commoner and when he betrays her friendship, casting her off as Prince Hal got rid of Falstaff, the only person to emerge from it all with any sense of decency is Charles III himself. 
  We do not know what the reign of the future Charles III (though I believe he is expected to take the title of George VII) will really be like (not as dramatic as the play's plot predicts I suspect) but the play reminds the stamp collector that The Prince Of Wales has been featured on numerous stamps from various Commonwealth and foreign countries since childhood. The British Post Office issued a set of 5 stamps on 1 July 1969 to commemorate the investiture of The Queen's eldest son as Prince Of Wales at Caernarvon Castle. The 1/- value became the first British stamp to depict a portrait of the heir to the throne. The set of stamps was designed by David Gentleman and printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons:-

  New Zealand had depicted the young prince as early as 1950 (portrayed as a baby with his mother) on a pair of Health charity stamps and again in 1952 (the other value in the set depicted his younger sister, Princess Anne, now The Princess Royal):-

  The wedding of The Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer on 29 July 1981 resulted in vast numbers of Commonwealth and foreign postal administrations issuing stamps to cash in on the popularity of the occasion and collectors of Commonwealth stamps were faced with the largest Commonwealth omnibus issue ever before or since - many of the issues have very little value given how many of them were bought at the time. The British Post Office itself issued a modest pair of stamps which depicted the royal couple on 22 July 1981:-

  The story of the marriage and eventual divorce of the Prince and Princess Of Wales is known universally particularly as the Princess later died in a car accident in Paris and Diana, Princess Of Wales has become a timeless icon, the subject of numerous stamp issues put out, in particular, by less scrupulous philatelic agencies which still find that they can cash in on her celebrity status, almost 2 decades after her death. The play itself features appearances from "the Ghost of Diana" as she fulfills the role of a portent of Charles' downfall and obtains the final revenge on him in death which she could not achieve in life (all rather lurid you might think, but all in true Shakespeare style).
  The Prince himself married his former mistress,Camilla Parker Bowles, after the death of Diana, Princess Of Wales, on 9 April 2006 and Royal Mail released a 4 stamp miniature sheet (2 x 2 different stamps) on that date. Unfortunately the date of the wedding is given as 8 April 2006 because at a very late date, after the miniature sheets had been printed, the wedding was put back a day so as not to coincide with the installation of Pope Benedict XVI:-

  The Prince and Princess Of Wales had 2 sons - Prince William of Wales and Prince Henry of Wales (popularly known as Harry). Prince William married Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011 and they became known as the Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge. Jersey issued a single expensive stamp on the date of the wedding to commemorate the event:-

  Their first child, Prince George Of Cambridge, was born on 22 July 2013 and a number of Commonwealth territories commemorated the birth of the third in line to the throne including Gibraltar, as depicted below, but no issue was made by Royal Mail itself:-

  The modern day Prince Hal, Prince Harry, has been featured on a number of stamps. Fittingly, given that he had served with the British forces in Afganhistan, Bahamas depicted him in military uniform on the 15c stamp which commemorated his visit to the islands in 2012 and in more casual dress on the 50c value:-

  So, for the stamp collector, there is a long preamble to the reign of King Charles III with stamp issues which depict him going back to 1950. The tumultuous events which surrounded the Royal Family when Diana, Princess Of Wales died almost led to the end of the monarchy in Britain and we might never have seen any Charles III stamps and even now we may have to wait a long time. When that time does come I do hope that the predictions of Bartlett's play prove to be very wide of the mark if only to avoid all those definitives which would no doubt appear from Royal Mail as a result of having three monarchs in such a short space of time.  

Front cover of the play's programme.

  Post scriptum - After writing this piece and mentioning the eventual appearance of King Charles III's portrait on British stamps it did occur to me that there is no guarantee that that will ever happen since the British government only secured a guarantee from Royal Mail when it was fully privatised that it would include "Her Majesty's" portrait on its postage stamps for a limited period of years and King Charles will certainly not be known as "Her Majesty"!

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Monday 27 October 2014

488. Extreme Vanuatu And Numerous Australian Christmas Stamps.

  Vanuatu Post will issue a set of 4 stamps on 29 October 2014 on the subject of "Extreme in Vanuatu" - that is - 'extreme sports' in which tourists participate when vacationing in Vanuatu. The action-filled designs are by Denise Durkin and the stamps were lithographed by Southern Colour Print:-

  Australia Post will mark Christmas 2014 by issuing 2 "religious" gummed stamps (65c and $2.55) with a gummed miniature sheet ($3.20) as well as 2 "religious" self-adhesive stamps from a booklet (20 x 65c [$13] and a sheetlet (5 x $2.55 [$12.75]). In addition there will be 4 "secular" gummed designs (2 x 65c, 70c and $1.70) along with 3 self-adhesive stamps from booklet (2 from a booklet of 20 x 65c [$13] and 1 from a booklet of 5 x $1.70 [$8.50]). Two of the "secular" designs will also be issued in "enhanced" format and produced in 2 separate sheetlets (each sheetlet consisting of 10 x 65c [$6.50 each]). This seems to mean that Australia Post has produced 13 new stamps and 1 miniature sheet for collectors to track down in this issue. 
  Collectors will draw their own conclusions about this outpouring and give thought to the singularly uninspired "secular" designs as depicted below. The face value of the various gummed stamps and miniature sheet and sheetlets and booklets totals $70.35 (£38.48) which makes a nice Christmas present for Australia Post if a collector felt unable to resist buying one of each. The designers of these products are Andrew Hogg Design (religious) and Jo Mure (secular) and the issue was lithographed by McKellar Renown (religious) and EGO (secular):-

   Meanwhile a number of issues from Southern Africa are awaited but the dealer who supplies me with my sets, Richard Schutte who provides an excellent new issue service for the region's stamps, has been unable to despatch them to me because of an ongoing and long-running postal strike at the South African Post Office. He tells me that he himself is waiting to receive supplies of new issues from Malawi - 2 sets on the subjects of World Population Day and the 50th anniversary of Independence as well as a booklet of definitive stamps, from Botswana - on the subject of Forestry and an issue from Zimbabwe which also commemorates World Population Day.

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Saturday 25 October 2014

487. Brunei, IGPC and Stamperija New Issues.

  Brunei Darussalam has issued a set of 4 stamps (as a se-tenant strip of four) and 1 miniature sheet to commemorate the Centenary of formal education in the Sultanate. The date of issue was 9 October 2014:-

  I list below some more philatelic items recently released by the New York-based philatelic agency, IGPC, in the name of various client territories which are part of The Commonwealth:-


  2014 - Centenary of the American Stamp Dealers Association - 2 miniature sheets:-

   Grenada Grenadines

  2014 - Rocks and minerals (part 2) - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet. See also Blog 385:-

  Nevis - 14 October 2014 - "World Famous Paintings" (previously listed - see Blog 476 but now illustrated below) - 1 Sheetlet of 3 different stamps and 1 m.s.:-

 14 October 2014 - Visit of Pope Francis to Israel (previously mentioned in Blog 476 but now illustrated below) - 1 Sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.:-

  St. Kitts - 2014 - Centenary of the beginning of World War I (tanks) - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 m.s.:-

  Stamperija has announced that its latest products, with the name of Maldives printed on them, total 40 different "stamps" printed in sheetlets of 4 different designs, each sheetlet on a different subject and each accompanied by a miniature sheet. The products are said to have been "issued" on 7 October 2014. The subjects depicted on these items are:- King Felipe VI of Spain, "Football Brazil 2014", 85th anniversary of the round-the-world flight of the airship Graf Zeppeliv, 30th anniversary of the award of of the Nobel Prize for Peace to Martin Luther King, The Asian Games 2014 held in Korea, the Cassini space vehicle mission to Saturn, 450th birth anniversary of Galileo Galilei:-

  110th birth anniversary of Deng Xiaoping, Third International Conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and 250th anniversary of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Only the SIDS Conference items have any real direct relevance to Maldives but the designs of that set do not seem to feature illustrations which feature Maldives or Maldivians. See also Blogs 423, 432, 436, 446 and 457.

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Thursday 23 October 2014

486. Military, Christmas And Food Stamps.

  Gibraltar issued a single stamp on 25 October 2014 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines. The stamp, depicted above, was designed by Stephen Perera and lithographed by Cartor.
  Bahamas will issue a set of 4 stamps on 11 November 2014 as its Christmas issue. The designs depict the Christmas story and are by Andrew Robinson and were lithographed by BDT International:-

  Australia Post released 4 gummed stamps, 1 gummed miniature sheet and 4 self-adhesive stamps from booklets of 10 x 70c on 21 October 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the Australian Defence Force. The stamps were designed by Tim Hancock and lithographed by EGO:-

  Pos Malaysia issued a set of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 9 October 2014 as a joint issue with Hong Kong (see Blog 479). The stamps were designed by Reign Associates and Ms. Choi Ka-Ching and lithographed by Cartor:-

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Monday 20 October 2014

485. Another Bag Full Of Hobbits.

Bilbo Baggins, the eponymous Hobbit, played by Martin Freeman

  New Zealand Post will issue yet another set of stamps and various associated philatelic items on 12 November 2014 on the increasingly dull subject of The Hobbit movies. Although the English author, JRR Tolkein, wrote a relatively short novel for children which was based on old Germanic and Norse legends, a New Zealand-born film director has managed to make 3 movies based on Tolkein's little book and filmed it in New Zealand. In consequence New Zealand Post has felt that it has a valid reason to produce a large number of relatively expensive philatelic products including a "The Battle Of The Five Armies Ultimate Collection" priced $449.90c (£221.91p!) to commemorate the release of the latest film in this saga.
  Depicted below are 7 gummed stamps (previous Lord Of The Rings/The Hobbit sets have consisted of only 6 stamps), 7 gummed miniature sheets, a strip of 6 self-adhesive stamps and a booklet of 10 self-adhesive stamps (4 x 80c and 1 of each other value) sold at a total cost of  NZ$59.50 (currently £29.38). The stamps were designed by Stamps and Collectables Business, New Zealand Post and lithographed by Southern Colour Print:-

7 miniature sheets

self-adhesive strip of 6

se-tenant booklet of 10 stamps.

  From the excessive to the modest - Sri Lanka issued a single stamp on 9 October 2014 to commemorate World Post Day. The stamp was designed by P. Isiru Chaturanga and lithographed by the Dept. of Government Printing, Sri Lanka:-

  Pitcairn Islands will issue a set of 4 stamps on 3 November 2014 to commemorate the late Nelson Mandela, former South African statesman. The set was designed by Denise Durkin and lithographed by Southern Colour Print:-

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