🇸🇱 I rarely mention the so-called ‘postage’ stamps produced and marketed by the Lithuania-based ‘philatelic agency’, Stamperija, though it still appears to have contracts to produce philatelic items with the postal services of Sierra Leone and Mozambique. However occasionally it is interesting to mention the more appalling items from this agency and one such item has appeared on an internet auction site this week. With the name of Sierra Leone inscribed on the 110 ‘stamps’ included in it, a large sheetlet with its inscriptions mainly in Chinese, is now available to buy for those who feel they must possess this reproduction of Chinese art. Oh, and if you can’t get enough of this stuff it’s also sold in imperforate format at a massive premium. This product is almost as awful as the Royal Mail ‘Marvel Comics’ set and miniature sheet. Rating:- 0.
Moving on from the depredations of Stamperija, of the 88 Commonwealth philatelic entities I have listed in Blog 1361, 32 have yet to issue stamps in 2019 though as 7 months of the year still remain there is plenty of time for these entities to release worthwhile philatelic items. The entities still to issue stamps are:-
Aitutaki (Cook Islands)
British Antarctic Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
British Virgin Islands
Gibraltar (Swiss Post)
Penrhyn (Cook Islands)
Rwanda (last known stamp issue was released on 15 November 2010, has released only 4 issues - 17 stamps - in past 20 years).
Trinidad And Tobago
Turks And Caicos Islands
United Kingdom Universal Mail
Things seem to be changing in the world of new issues. Many Commonwealth philatelic entities have reached the point where they either issue very few stamps or even none at all. I take it that it is, in most cases, a case of there being no profit (or perhaps even a loss) in producing and releasing new issues and unless there is a truly important national event or anniversary to commemorate then there really is no point in issuing stamps.
Contrarily, some philatelic entities continue to pursue policies of issuing very large numbers of philatelic items with high cost prices and in ‘limited editions’, some of which are aimed at uninformed non-collectors who see such items as having investment potential or who buy them merely because they have a nostalgic appeal or because they depict modern cultural icons whose fame will not live up to the test of time. These philatelic entities are usually now those of the larger, wealthier countries which have their own local but ever-shrinking collector base. As the number of their issues and products increases so the number of their loyal collectors decreases and fewer items are sold so more items must be produced to compensate. They miss the point that once an obsessional ‘one of everything’ collector finally comes around to not buying an item then it becomes psychologically easier for them not to buy something a second time or a third time and so on. Eventually, and hopefully we are starting to see the beginning of this trend, collectors reduce their buying to the point where philatelic entities have to reduce massively their excessive issuing or else make a great financial loss.
This year I have finally managed to prevent myself from buying selected Royal Mail commemorative issues and all prestige booklets to the immense benefit of my bank account. It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders. The prestige booklets are usually very attractive but I find I can live without them. Up to the Millennium I collected PHQs, presentation packs and first day covers but excess led me to give them up. Royal Mail introduced Smilers stamps but eventually produced them in excessive numbers so it lost my custom for those items. Then came Post and Go stamps which started off as being very collectible but then appeared in vast numbers so I restricted severely which of those would be entered in my collection.
From time to time Royal Mail comes up with a popular new product and then produces excessive numbers of issues of those products and so I and other collectors lose interest and stop collecting them and eventually Royal Mail stops producing them or at least has to cut back massively on such issues eg Post and Go stamps and Smilers sheets. Lessons never seem to be learned. Few young people are now beginning a life time of stamp collecting and at the other end of the scale life-long collectors are passing away. I do not know any members of the general public who have considered spending £50 on a ‘limited edition’ deluxe stamp booklet or even, for that matter, felt driven to buy an ordinary commemorative set even if it features a modern cultural icon in which they are interested. I do not know how long it will take but I expect that eventually the large philatelic entities which continue to release excessive numbers of items will be forced to cut back enormously on the number of issues and associated collectables they release just as the smaller philatelic entities have already had to do.
And let us be honest these stamps are not needed for use on mail. I do not recall receiving an item of mail in the past 12 months with a recently issued commemorative stamp fixed to the envelope. Even last year’s 2nd Class Christmas stamps failed to turn up on mail addressed to me. Postage stamps are rapidly becoming unnecessary and if they have no role on ordinary mail itself then they cease to be postage stamps. And that is where my collection will end. In the meantime, if you ask me what would be a reasonable Royal Mail new issue programme for me then I would say 8 commemorative issues per year plus 2 miniature sheets, 1 Prestige booklet and 2 counter booklets containing self-adhesive stamps. And every issue should be about a British subject and not something like American comic characters. But that’s just my opinion. Royal Mail - stop throttling the golden goose! Though the goose may actually have been throttled successfully a long time.
🇬🇧 Royal Mail seems to have fallen out with issuing new stamps which commemorate sporting events. Hence it has not announced a special stamp issue to mark the hosting by England of the Cricket World Cup which is soon to start. A number of events and anniversaries are often now commemorated by special postmarks not related to a new stamp issue. Another little gimmick which Royal Mail has become fond of recently to commemorate events is the painting of the traditionally red postboxes unusual colours or with special texts and pictures on them. I have illustrated some of these post boxes in previous Blogs (1390 - romantic writing by distinguished British writers [Anna Seward, John Keats, Thomas Hardy and Robert Burns] and 1210 (Anniversary of Shakespeare’s Birthday 2018). We have also had the gold postboxes located in the home cities/towns/villages of Olympics gold medal winners and red postboxes with special plaques depicting Royal Mail stamps fitted to them which are location relevant (Blog 587).
Now in various locations a number of postboxes have been painted blue to commemorate the holding of matches of the Cricket World Cup in the towns which are homes to the host cricket grounds. In all twelve postboxes have received this treatment situated in Bristol, Cardiff, Chester-le-Street, Leeds, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton and Taunton as well as my home city of Birmingham which is home to the Edgbaston Cricket Ground. The Birmingham postbox is situated in the city centre in New Street and not in the Edgbaston area. As well as the changed colour inscriptions on the box have been added - ‘Brian Lara hit the highest ever first-class score - 501 - at Edgbaston Birmingham’ and ‘England all-rounder Chris Woakes, born and bred in Birmingham, will be playing at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019’.
With the usual English (generally misplaced) optimism the English team has been described as favourites to win the competition which begs the question as to whether Royal Mail would issue stamps to commemorate such a victory. It might be difficult given that Royal Mail failed to qcommemorate the England team’s victory in the Women’s Cricket World Cup a couple of years ago (see Blog 1048).
The Birmingham postbox is depicted below:-