🇲🇻 In Blog 947 I mentioned that World Online Philatelic Agency (WOPA) had added Maldives to the list of countries which were to use the services of WOPA for the direct sale of new stamps to collectors at face value. One hundred and fifty new issues covering 2015 and 2016 were placed on sale on the WOPA website under the section for Maldives. All of the items were those produced by Stamperija in contract with Maldives Post for sale to collectors.
Many informed collectors of new issues have long had reservations about buying the philatelic products emanating directly from Stamperija because of the very large numbers of issues produced in any given year and the frequent lack of relevance of subject matter to the country whose name appeared on the items - for instance although Maldives is a devout Muslim country Stamperija has released products with the country's name printed on them that have inappropriately included designs depicting a painting of a brothel and Christian saints (as mentioned in previous Blogs - one feels that if Maldives Post had been aware of the nature of these issues then such stamps would have been rejected).
It is true that some collectors, particularly thematic collectors, have been quite content to buy the products issued by Stamperija and that Stamperija's client postal administrations all acknowledge its products as being official issues.
Following the report of "Maldives" being added to WOPA's list of territories for which it provides a service there was notable criticism from various stamp collectors of WOPA's well meaning decision to do so and in a comment at the end of Blog 946 WOPA's co-founder and managing director, Glendon Martinez, kindly responded and stated that after the negative comments the Maldives listing would be removed temporarily "until the situation is assessed". He also revealed that WOPA had been asked by "Maldives philatelic office (Maldives Post)" to join WOPA" and that, quite reasonably, "we in principle had no problem with this believing it would be an opportunity for thematic collectors to purchase stamps from the source". I suspect, indeed feel certain, the "Maldives philatelic office" is Stamperija just as it is also "Sierra Leone philatelic office", "Solomon Islands philatelic office", "Mozambique philatelic office", "Guinea Bissau philatelic office" and so on and so on.
It is pleasing that WOPA has taken notice of collectors and their misgivings and is at least weighing up the situation regarding whether or not it should deal with questionable philatelic agencies whose activities may actually be damaging to the collecting of new stamp issues. I have no doubt that WOPA will act in good faith and with a determination to best serve modern stamp collecting and collectors. It has been a much appreciated help to collectors so far in helping them to obtain their new issue stamps from various respectable sources with ease and at face value. Collectors will be interested to see what WOPA's eventual conclusions about this present problem are.
As an aside, at the top of this piece is the illustration used by WOPA to introduce its Maldives service. As can be seen the illustration shows a group of tall craggy islands which I'm sorry to say is nothing at all like Maldives when viewed from the air - Maldives is an astonishingly beautiful sight when seen from an airplane - low lying coral Islands set in a gorgeous turquoise sea. If WOPA decides to reinstate the sale of "Maldives" stamps then it will certainly need an accurate photograph of an aerial view of the atolls to do the place justice.
🇳🇺 The postal service of Niue issued a pair of stamps on 21 March 2017 to commemorate the award of a knighthood to Sir Toke Talagi, the premier of Niue. The issue was designed by Jonathan Gray and lithographed by Collectables and Solutions Centre, Whanganui and perforated 13.5. Rating:- *****.
🇳🇿 New Zealand Post has given forward news of some stamp issues for later in the year. The information is published in "focus", the magazine sent out to collectors gratis.
A sheet of 7 stamps will be released to commemorate the tour of New Zealand by the British and Irish Lions rugby team; the date of issue will be 3 May and the sheet was designed by Dave Burke and lithographed by Southern Colour Print and perforated 14.5. This is a highly original and colourful approach to a sporting issue. Rating:- *****.
Postal rates will increase in New Zealand on 1 July 2017 so that new definitives will be required. FastPost postage will rise from $1.80c to $2.30c for medium letters, from $2.80c to $3.30 for large letters and from $3.80c to $4.30c for oversize letters. New $2.30c and $4.30c stamps will be issued whilst there is an existing $3.30c value already in existence which was released originally in 2016.
A set of stamps will be issued on 7 June 2017 which is titled "New Zealand Surf Breaks" and which will depict attractive surf spots in the North and South Islands.
There will be an issue released in July titled "The Great Kiwi Road Trip" - the publicity says that "Every Kiwi worth their salt has at some point been on a road trip, and plenty of tourists have too! ... there's a road trip to suit all tastes". The issue "will focus on some of the most travelled and iconic stretches of New Zealand's highways such as the Desert Road, '90' Mile Beach and Dunedin's famous Baldwin Street. Having just returned from a couple of weeks visit to the North Island this issue will no doubt show me some of the places I didn't get to visit:-
🇯🇪 In Blog 945 I mentioned the set to be released by Jersey Post on 12 May 2017 which is the latest part of its "Legacy of Queen Victoria" series and which features portraits of Victoria's great grandson, King George VI. The set of six stamps will be accompanied by a £2 miniature sheet which is now illustrated below:-