Sunday 27 September 2015

642. How To Make Your Customers Happy.

  A couple of days ago, I received a cover from Isle Of Man Stamps And Coins which contained a brochure which publicised its "Longest Reigning Monarch" issue. I noted that, unusually, it had postage stamps attached to it - 2 values from the set issued to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - and, excitingly, a cancel which commemorated the achievement of Queen Elizabeth II in becoming the longest reigning British monarch in history. 
  Then I examined it in more detail and found that both the stamps and the postmark were actually preprinted on the cover. I was not at all disappointed. I appreciated greatly being sent this unusual item of postal stationary rather than th usual run-of-the-mill envelopes which are used to send out publicity and will be delighted to add it to my Isle Of Man collection. And for once it cost me nothing. I felt like a very happy customer of The Isle of Man Post Office and thought -"That's the way to do business".

  In the same post I received my latest shipment of stamps of the Commonwealth countries of southern Africa which I obtain from an excellent South African dealer who trades on internet auction sites as 15dsouth. As well as being a reliable and fair-priced seller he takes a lot of trouble in sending the items he sells to his customers in interesting covers with a range of up-to-date stamps on them. 
   My latest new issues were sent in a particularly interesting cover as shown below and I was interested to find that he had used 2 stamps from the former home land, Venda, on the cover together with a range of South Africa stamps thus producing a splendid combination cover. I did not realise that the stamps from the 4 "home land" territories were still valid for postage in South Africa.
  Needless to say 15dsouth had ensured that he had produced a very happy customer by taking the trouble to put this cover together. That's the way to do business.

  Finally, again in the same postal delivery, I received the most recently issued stamps of Nigeria from the British dealer Nigel Haworth. Nigel frequently is able to provide modern Commonwealth new issues that often other dealers fail to obtain. He retired a couple of years or so ago which was a terrible blow as I feared I would never be able to obtain again some of the rarely available new issues that he had provided me with in the past.
  But he did not stay away for long and I was pleased to start to receive his price lists again, most of which usually include a few almost-impossible-to-obtain new issue gems. My latest package contained the rarely offered Nigeria Centenary of Independence set and imperforate miniature sheet of 2014 (see Blog 499O) as well as the pair of stamps released as a joint issue with Phillipines (see Blog 368). Again, I was a very happy customer. Offering rare and hard-to-obtain stamps to your customers rather than rubbish churned out by exploitative agencies - that's the way to do business!

  Moving on, I now depict the set of 4 stamps issued by the Kiribati postal administration which commemorated the Singapore 2015 philatelic exhibition and which was mentioned in Blogs 602 and 641. Rating:- ***

  Isle Of Man Post Office will issue a set of 6 stamps on 28 September 2015 on a somewhat unusual subject - the 150th anniversary of the Isle Of Man Companies Act. It is not a subject that has broad appeal to stamp collectors but at least the subject has important local relevance although whether it was necessary to issue as many as 6 stamps on the subject is debateable. The stamp designs, by Emma Cooke, are probably a little over-busy but do at least tell a story of local interest. The issue was lithographed by BDT International Security Printers. Rating:- ***.

  Recently offered for sale on an Internet auction site was a set of 2 sheetlets (each of 4 different stamps) with 2 accompanying miniature sheets on the subject of "Owls of Central America and the Caribbean" originating from the philatelic agents for St. Kitts. A number of different species are depicted on these items though there is only one species of owl which is actually to be found on the island - the Burrowing owl.
  I find these sort of items to be very annoying - doubtless there a large number of collectors who specialise in stamps which depict owls but I cannot understand why people want to buy items which depict creatures which have no connection with the territory whose name appears on the "stamps" - don't they sense that they might be being exploited? Rating:- 0.

  And on the subject of irrelevance of subject matter to the country whose name appears on the philatelic item, IGPC has announced that it will soon release "new issues" on the subject of the visit of Pope Francis to The United States. It seems to me that this is a subject of relevance to the postal administrations of only 2 territories - The USA and The Holy See - and I can not imagine what possible reasons other countries would have for allowing philatelic products to be released in their names apart from perceived financial profit for their philatelic agency related to a popular subject. Despite the efforts of the Stanley Gibbons Catalogue editor (see Blog 640) and many others, the cynical release of numerous irrelevant issues appears to continue unabated.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

641. India Commemorates The War Of 1965.

  The latest new issue from India Post is a set of 3 stamps released on 15 September 2015 and titled "Valour And Sacrifice" - in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the war between India and Pakistan during August and September 1965. The stamps were lithographed by Security Printing Press, Hyderabad.
  It has certainly been a year of philatelic commemorations of war and conflict - The First World War including the Gallipoli Campaign, The Second World War including The Battle of Britain and the Napoleonic Wars with the Battle of Waterloo. It appears that there will be no commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt but next year, one expects, there should be an issue from Royal Mail to commemorate the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. It occurs to me that the War of 1965 between Pakistan and India is the only war ever fought between 2 current members of The Commonwealth although there have been a number of civil wars within Commonwealth countries during the period of The Commonwealth's existence. See also Blog 635.

  The Barbados Postal Service has announced that it will soon release a new definitive series titled "Builders of Barbados" which will depict "those who made the nation of Barbados into the country we have today". No illustrations of these new stamps are yet available.
  I have not yet seen the Kiribati set of 4 stamps issued on 17 July 2015 to commemorate the Singapore 2015 Stamp Exhibition (see Blog 602) but I see that the 40c on 90c surcharge value is being offered for sale on E Bay with the surcharge and overprint inverted:-

  The Zimbabwe postal administration, Zimpost, issued a set of 4 stamps on 30 July 2015 as the latest part of its annual "Heroes of Zimbabwe" series. Rating:- **.

  The Royal Gibraltar Post Office issued a single 80p stamp on 21 September 2015 to commemorate the inauguration of The University of Gibraltar. The issue was designed by Stephen Perera and lithographed by BDT International Security Printers. Rating:- ***.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

640. Australia's New Stamps Go Into Space; More Appendix Issues.

  Australia Post issued a set of 8 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 22 September 2015 to mark "Stamp Week" and the subject is "Our Solar System". The stamps were designed by Jo Mure and lithographed by EGO Print. The cost of these items will be $9.80 but, as often happens, the price is boosted by the release of a $7.00 booklet of 10 x 70c stamps (in just 2 designs) and a booklet of 20 x 70c self-adhesive stamps (in 2 more different designs) sold for $14.00.
  Additionally the two 35c values are sold as a gummed se-tenant pair and can be obtained by buying a sheetlet of 50 (25 of each design) at a cost of $17.50c.
 Anyone feeling unable to resist buying a "complete collection" of the above will therefore need to fork out $48.30c. Rating:- **.

  In the Catalogue column included in the latest edition of Gibbons Stamp Monthly (October 2015) the editor has relegated another 33 Commonwealth stamp issues to the Catalogue's appendix section hence not according full catalogue status to the items. All of the philatelic products to suffer this fate have been released by IGPC and are inscribed with the names of Dominica, Grenada or Grenada Carriacou And Petit St. Vincent and were released on to the philatelic market in 2013 or 2014.
  The philatelic products which have been banished to the Catalogue's appendix all appear to feature subjects which have little or no relevance to the territories whose names are inscribed on them. This is all excellent news for collectors as many slavishly try to collect everything that is included in the full listing of the catalogue and if such items are not accorded full catalogue status then collectors feel less compelled to buy such items.
  By adopting this policy, the Gibbons Catalogue editor appears to be leading the way in the fight back against excessive issuing of new stamps. It would be pleasing if he took the bold step of turning his attention to more popular philatelic entities such as the British offshore islands or Australia (the latest issue detailed above illustrates the problem) where the proliferation of new stamp issues in the past couple of years has been scandalous. A number of issues from The Channel Islands and Isle Of Man have little or no relevance to those territories so to be consistent throughout the catalogue logically the editor should really treat those territories in a similar way as the excessive products emanating from New York or Lithuania.

  Issues consigned to the Appendix include:- Dominica Cats 2013 - 

  Grenada Animals of China 2014 - 

  Grenada Grenadines Chinese Folk Art 2014:-

  More philatelic products which presumably will not find a place in the Gibbon's Catalogue main listing have been released by the Lithuania-based philatelic agency, Stamperija. These items are inscribed with the name of Solomon Islands. This issue is made up of the usual 10 sheetlets each of 4 different "stamps" plus 10 accompanying "miniature sheets". The subjects depicted on these products are:- Rugby, The Journeys of Pope Francis (not including a visit to Solomon Islands, one notes), The Red Cross in Solomon Islands, Tennis, Scouting, Paintings by Jean-Francois Millet, Paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Chess, Elvis Presley and Paintings by Camille Pissaro. The stated date of issue of these philatelic gems is 3 September 2015. Rating:- 0.

  Singapore Post issued 2 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 18 September 2015 as part of a joint issue with Thailand which featured designs on the subject of desserts. Rating:- ****.

  During August 2015 Singapore Post also introduced a new design for its automated teller machine stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Singapore's independence. The lowest pre-set value is the 1st Local (30c) with other values including the 2nd Local (37c), 50c, 60c, 70c, 80c, $1 and so on. rating:- ****.

Sunday 20 September 2015

639. Has Stamperija Gone Too Far? - Islamic Maldives New Stamps Depict Christian Saints And Prostitutes.

  The notorious Lithuanian philatelic agency, Stamperija, was given a contract by Maldives Post to produce philatelic products on its behalf in 2013 (see Blog 286) and in the past 2 years has released literally hundreds of "stamps" and "souvenir sheets" with the country's name printed on them with a total face value running into hundreds of pounds. Many of these philatelic products have depicted subjects with little or no relevance to Maldives and there is no real evidence that I have yet seen that suggests that they are receiving normal day-to-day usage on genuine mail in the country.
  Maldives is a proudly Islamic country and one would expect that "stamps" bearing the country's name, issued with its postal administration's permission, would adhere to the country's Islamic principles. 
   In its rush to add to the large number of items inscribed "Maldives" Stamperija has placed on sale in the philatelic market its latest emission which features western art through the ages. Given the devout Islamic nature of the Maldivian state, at least a couple of items in this new set are quite shocking.
  The set, as usual, consists of 10 sheetlets each of 4 different "stamps" and 10 accompanying "souvenir sheets"; the subjects of the individual subsets are:- Renaissance art, Post-Impressionism, Surrealism, Symbolism, Romanticism, Realism, Dutch golden age art, Impressionism, Baroque art and Cubism.
  The design of the "Post-Impressionism" "miniature sheet" depicts the painting completed by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec around 1894 which is titled "In the Salon of the Rue des Moulins" which features a number of women, one or two being scantily clad, waiting for clients under the gaze of their Madam. A favourite of Toulouse-Lautrec, a prostitute at the brothel in the Rue D'Amboise, Mirelle, is shown in the foreground, with her right hand around her drawn-up leg.
  The painting's title is incorrect as it depicts a scene in the brothel in the Rue D'Amboise where Mirelle plied her trade rather than that in the Rue des Moulins. Apparently Toulouse-Lautrec produced about 50 paintings and 100 drawings set in brothels between 1892 and 1895. He only began to frequent the salon in Rue des Moulins after Mirelle departed for Argentina. Toulouse-Lautrec died in 1901.
  The subject of this design is quite shocking given the context that it was prepared in the name of a devoutly Islamic country. One suspects that the Maldives authorities had little or no idea of what was being produced in the country's name. Surely someone responsible there must reconsider whether its contract with Stamperija is appropriate, no matter what the financial benefits to Maldives are derived from it, given this appallingly inappropriate issue.
  Inappropriate for another reason is the "Renaissance" sheetlet in which 1 "stamp" not only depicts a painting of the Madonna and Child by Antonello de Messina but also in which a second design depicts the Christian saint, Catherine of Alexandria, by Raphael. I can not believe that this depiction of Christian icons is in any way acceptable to the postal administration of a devoutly Moslem country. But apparently it is. The stated date of issue of these products is 25 August 2015.
  Has Stamperija gone too far this time in its attempts to squeeze money out of stamp collectors?

Wednesday 16 September 2015

638. Bicentenary Of Ascension.

  The postal administration of Ascension Island will issue a set of 4 stamps on 22 October 2015 to commemorate the Bicentenary of the establishment of British rule on the island. Again this is yet another excellent set of stamps from the stable of Pobjoy Stamps/Creative Direction and designed by Bee Design and lithographed by BDT. I like the choice of subjects used in the designs - thus we have the first king of Ascension - George III - and its present monarch - Queen Elizabeth II as well the coat of arms and flag of the territory. All very clear, colourful, attractive and interesting. Rating:- *****.

  Now I can count to 10 in Tokelauese. How many people can do that? The clever new issue from the Tokelau postal administration is in a form of a sheetlet of 10 stamps - each one dedicated to a number from one up to ten and each including the respective number in Tokelauese. The issue commemorates Tokelau Language Week and will be released on 13 October 2015 along with 2 accompanying miniature sheets. The issue was designed by New Zealand Post and lithographed by Collectables and Solutions Centre, Whanganui. Rating:- *****.
  So.....Tahi, Lua, Tolu, Fa, Lima, Ono, Fitu, Valu, Iva and Hefulu!

   Hongkong Post will issue a single miniature sheet on 30 September 2015 to commemorate the re-location of the Court of Final Appeal. Rating:- ***.

  In Blog 630 I mentioned a sheetlet and miniature sheet issued by IGPC in the name of Papua New Guinea to commemorate Singapore 2015 and it appears that a second miniature sheet was also released and it contained 2 stamps with the designs in gold ink. Rating:-**.

  Yet more stamps from Jersey Post - this time a set of 8 stamps on the subject of Jersey in the autumn season. The set, due to be issued on 15 October 2015, was designed by Andy Le Gresley and printed in lithography by Enschede. It's an attractive and well-designed issue but what is the point of it given how many other issues Jersey Post has already issued this year? Rating:- ***.

  Meanwhile, the Isle Of Man Post Office has announced that it will issue 5 self-adhesive Christmas stamps on 23 October 2015 to additionally commemorate the 250th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of The Manx Prayer Book by Bishop Phillips. The stamps were designed by Julia Ashby-Smyth and printed in lithography. Rating:- ****.