Friday 31 January 2020

1593. 🇬🇧🇪🇺 Brexit. Signed, Sealed And Delivered.

🇬🇧 11PM Friday 31 January 2020. 

   Over the centuries England/Great Britain/United Kingdom has staged a number of Brexits as detailed in Blog 780 though this is the first one to have been actually referred to as ‘Brexit’.
  At the European witching hour of midnight, but at only 11PM in the British Isles, on 31 January 2020 The United Kingdom became the first country ever to leave The European Union. There had been a great deal of fuss over the previous 2 or 3 years about the need to issue a postage stamp to commemorate the event and many hilarious possible designs were suggested (see above and also Blog 1138) but Royal Mail stood fast and declined to release such an issue though the Royal Mint did produce a 50p commemorative coin to take note of the event at the British government’s bidding.

  In recent years the Royal Mint has proven itself rather more open to commemorating significant British historical anniversaries and events than has Royal Mail which prefers to feature modern cultural icons, not necessarily British, on its collectable products (The Gruffalo, Peppa Pig, Elton John, Chewbacca, Harry Potter, David Bowie and Jon Snow [No, not the Channel 4 newsreader]). Issuing coins is obviously just as precarious an action to take as issuing stamps when it comes to facing criticism if the new coin is anything to go by. The noted author, Sir Phillip Pullman, has demanded that all ‘literate’ members of the public boycott the new coin because there is a comma missing after the word ‘Prosperity’ (the so-called ‘Oxford comma’) on the reverse of the coin though it’s likely that his call to boycott the coin has more to do with his well-publicised anti-Brexit political views than his desire to see precise grammar on the back of our coinage. His (re-) moans have been termed the ‘Pedant’s revolt’.
  Perhaps it is fair that a Brexit coin should be issued as a Brentry 50p coin was released in 1973 as depicted below. The reverse shows 9 hands linked in a mutually reassuring way representing the then 9 members of what was called the ‘Common Market’ or the European Economic Community. This was to become the European Community and then the European Union and this ‘ever closer Union’ was too much for those in Britain who wanted easy trade with Europe but not to be a part of a European superstate, a sort of modern Holy Roman Empire. Which brings us to where we are today.
  On the subject of UK coins linked to membership of the European Union there were subsequently two further 50p coins released by Royal Mint. In 1992 and 1993 a coin commemorated the United Kingdom’s Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the completion of the Single European market. A further 50p coin was released in 1998 to once more commemorate the UK’s Presidency of the European Union and to also mark the 25th anniversary of The United Kingdom’s membership of the Common Market. 

  And of course there were also Brentry stamps. The various issues from the British postal service relating to the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Communities/Union are featured in Blog 780 but it is worth showing here again the 3 stamps which were issued on 3 January 1973 to commemorate Britain’s entry into the Communities. The stamps were designed by Peter Murdoch and printed in photogravure by Harrison. The Union Jack was depicted as one part of a 9 piece jigsaw (actually it was only an eight and half piece jigsaw but which country was the half piece was never revealed - as it turns out it was probably Britain).

  With the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, two member states of The Commonwealth remain members of the European organisation Malta and Cyprus (both joined in 2004) so anyone who collects Commonwealth stamps can still keep up with events in the EU as reflected by stamps. So that’s alright then.

1595. 🇻🇬 New Definitives From British Virgin Islands.

🇻🇬 Just when it looked like the postal service of British Virgin Islands had released no new stamps during 2019 Pobjoy Stamps announced that a new definitive series had been issued on 30 December 2019. The very attractive set of 7 Flowers stamps was designed by Bee Design and lithographed by Cartor and perforated 13.5 x 13. Production of the issue was coordinated by Creative Direction. I like the set very much. Rating:- *****.
   Thanks to Juliet Warner of Pobjoy Stamps for information about this issue.

  This means that the following Commonwealth postal administrations are not known to have issued any stamps during 2019:-

Gibraltar (Swiss Post)
Solomon Islands
Turks And Caicos Islands

Just 10 countries (excluding Gibraltar Swiss Post).

1594. 🇯🇪 Jersey Commemorates Beethoven.

🇯🇪 It may be apt or, conversely perverse, to mention today - Brexit Day - that Jersey Post will issue   a set of 6 stamps and 2 miniature sheets to commemorate the 250th Birth anniversary of the man who wrote the music of the European anthem - Ludwig van Beethoven. The anthem is taken from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony which is highlighted on the £1.18p value. There is no apparent connection between Jersey and Beethoven apart from the fact that, according to Jersey Post, “the Jersey Symphony Orchestra has performed a number of his works over the years”. A rather tentative connection, I think. The total face value of the set is £5.19 plus £7.19 for the 2 miniature sheets.
  The issue was designed by Hat-trick and lithographed by Cartor and will be released on 26 March 2020. Rating:- *.

🇫🇯 In a joint ceremony with the China Cultural Center in Fiji, Post Fiji revealed the designs of 4 stamps which I assume are being sponsored by the Chinese government, to commemorate the lunar new year, The Year of the Rat. The report of the launch of the stamps includes photographs but there is clearly more interest in giving prominence to the various officials who managed to get in on the ceremony rather than the stamps themselves though it is possible to get an impression of the new issue though not a clear one (see above). The stamps depict various colourful lifelike rat portraits with the rats looking about as appealing as it is possible to make that particular rodent appear. The designs are by Xueguo Yang who is Director of Animation at Yunnan Arts University. The launch took place on 17 January which was probably the first day of issue. Rating:- ***.

🇮🇳 India Post has issued a My Stamp in the usual format of sheetlets of 12 stamps with attached labels sold at a price above face value to commemorate Sukumar Sen who was the first Chief Election Commissioner of India from 1950 to 1958. The issue coincides with the first Sukumar Sen memorial lecture organised by the Election Commission of India which was delivered on 23 January 2020. I assume that the first day of issue of the stamp was also 23 January and that it was the Election Commission that sponsored this particular My Stamp.

  India Post then went on to issue 2 stamps in a se-tenant pair with a scroll-shaped miniature sheet on 26 January 2020, Republic Day, to commemorate the Constitution of The Republic Of India. The interesting issue was designed by Ms Gulistaan. Rating:- ***.

1592. 🇳🇦 Namibia’s Gandhi Issue.

🇳🇦 A report in a Namibian newspaper from last year described the joint launch of a stamp issue from Nam Post, the postal service of Namibia, by the Namibian government and the Indian High Commission in the country. The issue was a miniature sheet which is in the form of one of Nam Post’s Personalised stamp sheets of 5 Postcard rate stamps with attached labels and commemorates the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. I would expect this to be to popular with Gandhi stamp collectors. Rating:- ****. 

🇬🇮 The Royal Gibraltar Post Office will issue Post and Go stamps in a new Year of the Rat design on 5 February 2020. There seems to be no relevance whatsoever of the Chinese new year to Gibraltar.Rating:- 0. 

🇮🇪 An Post, the postal service of Ireland, issued a single self-adhesive stamp in a booklet of 10 x ‘N’ (value €1) on the subject of ‘Love and marriage’ on 3 February 2020 though from the date of issue until 14 February (St Valentine’s Day) the booklet will be sold for €8 rather than for the full cost of €10. The issue was designed by Design HQ and lithographed and perforated 11.5. Rating:- **.

🇮🇳 I think that this is the first time I have been aware of this 2019 addition to the current India Post definitive issue which was recently offered for sale on an internet auction site. The R15 value features  Dr APJ Abdul Kalamazoo who was a space scientist as well as being the eleventh President of India from 2002 to 2007. Rating:- ***.

🇿🇦 The South African Post Office is planning the following issues for early 2020:-

January - Stars and constellations of the southern skies
January - President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa (elected 2018)
January - ‘Poets of word and sound’
February - The Social grants system in South Africa (SASSA)
March - Woodpeckers.

🇵🇬 The newsletter of the Papua New Guinea Philatelic Bureau informs us that its next 2 stamp issues should be what it calls a ‘definitive’ issue featuring Breadfruit and a ‘commemorative’ issue which marks the 50th anniversary of the Post Courier, the oldest newspaper in Papua New Guinea. The Philatelic Bureau seems to use the term ‘Definitive’ as a substitute for ‘Thematic’  and commemoratives really are what they say they are - they commemorate events or anniversaries.

Monday 27 January 2020

1591. 🇹🇿 New Surcharges From Tanzania.

🇹🇿 The postal service of Tanzania has issued 5 new provisional surcharges in which previously issued stamps have been reissued with new values applied. I do not know the dates of issue of these new surcharges. Rating:- ****.

  In Blog 1590 I mentioned an issue of stamps released by the Tanzanian postal service on 18 January to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Pan-African Postal Union (PAPU) but additional information is now available in that a 2000/- value was also released (‘Barcode scanning for Track and Trace’). I also include below a better illustration of the 900/- value. The complete set of 3 stamps and 1 miniature sheet is depicted below:-

🇬🇧 The first new definitive variety of 2020 from Royal Mail was issued on 21 January in the form of the 1st Class rate with M20L MCIL security code. The stamp is included in the £4.20 Video Games self-adhesive booklet and there are four of them together with 2 different 1st Class stamps from the Tomb Raider miniature sheet (‘1996’ and ‘2013’).

As mentioned in Blog 1583 Royal Mail will release a Prestige booklet as part of its Visions of the Universe issue on 11 February 2020 and 2 of the 4 panes are devoted to Machin Head definitives with one of them also including ‘Regional’ stamps (1 x 1st Class for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). The Machin Head definitives are in 5 values - 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p and £1.35p. However the invaluable Norvic Philatelics Blog by Ian Billings has pointed out that the security codes on the Machin Head Stamps from these 2 panes will have the security code M19L MPIL and so  only the 1p, 10p and £1.35p values are new stamps because the 2p and 5p values have been issued previously with that code - the 5p in the 2019 Star Wars Prestige booklet and the 2p in the 20@9 Queen Victoria Prestige booklet.
  Ian Billings also notes slight differences in the regional stamps but particularly in the England stamp  which has a markedly different shade from previously.

Of course Royal Mail’s conviction that the only way to make money out of stamp issues is by issuing a vast number of products featuring present-day culture and not necessarily always British culture (Marvel Comics, Star Trek) must lead us to the conclusion that we are only 3 years away from an enormous issue to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the BBC’s Doctor Who, now an ultra-woke social commentary-science fiction television programme. That may be interesting because the 2013 issue which commemorated the programme’s 50th anniversary featured all of the previous Dr Who ‘incarnations’ - all men - but now the producer has arrived at the point in a storyline where all Dr Who’s previous incarnations never actually existed and in fact they were all women so I suppose the 2023 issue will feature all the previous Doctor Whos but not the ones depicted 10 years previously. (See also Blogs 23September 2012, 184, 232 and 1294).
  As a starter we have the previously unknown female Doctor Who played by Jo Martin who was introduced in the latest episode of the programme over the past weekend. The expected 60th anniversary issue is preempted here by this ‘stamp’ depicting this latest Doctor Who:-

Jo Martin as ‘The Doctor’

The only real problem that may prevent a 2023 Dr Who issue is the fact that the programme has lost so much of its popularity since it became more keen to show its social awareness than its interest in entertaining its audience - with the programme’s lowest viewing figures for decades - is that the programme may have been taken off television screens by then and consigned to television history.