Tuesday 31 March 2020

1634. 🇬🇧 Coronavirus Slogan Message Lost In The Post.

  Coronavirus - Getting the message across or not as the case may be:-

🇬🇧 I received 3 items of mail this morning all with the slogan postmark applied by Royal Mail exhorting me and other recipients of similarly postmarked letters to, “STAY HOME/PROTECT THE NHS/SAVE LIVES/????? ?????”. This slogan postmark which comes from the Birmingham area is different from that featured in a post on Stamp Boards by Norvic (see Blog 1631) but unfortunately, on all three covers, it is barely legible. The bottom line of the slogan is indecipherable as are the parts of the slogan giving the location and date of posting.
  It’s all very well, even laudable, including an important public health message as part of a postmark but if the message is illegible then the value of doing so is negated somewhat. This is NOT getting the message across.
  It looks to me as though Royal Mail should use a little more ink in its cancelling machines if it wants people to understand what message it’s trying to deliver but perhaps someone has been hoarding printing ink along with lavatory paper and RM is having to ration its usage!

  🇵🇳 Even the philatelic service provided by Bounty Post, the postal service of Pitcairn Islands, has been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak though as its office is situated in Wellington in New Zealand where a ‘lock down’ is taking place perhaps that is not too surprising.

🇲🇾 Although no precise date of issue had been indicated it was expected that the next stamp issue to be released by Pos Malaysia would be one on the subject of ‘Visit Malaysia 2020’ though I suppose that would now be best changed to ‘Don’t Visit Malaysia 2020’!

  🇹🇹 I have now received examples of the stamps I highlighted in Blog 1630 which were released by TT Post, the postal service of Trinidad And Tobago, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of TT Post. In Blog 1630 I mentioned that there were 2 values - a $1 and a $10 but the latter appeared to only be available on first day cover. In fact there appears to be NO $10 value -  now I have received an example it is apparent that the $10 item is actually a pre-stamped envelope and NOT an individual postage stamp and that this issue is made up of just a single stamp - the $1.

Monday 30 March 2020

1633. 🇮🇲 Isle Of Man To Commemorate The Voyage Of The Mayflower.

  🇮🇲 Isle Of Man Post Office will issue an excellent set of 6 stamps on 22 April 2020 to commemorate the Quatercentenary of the voyage of the Mayflower which conveyed the Pilgrim Fathers to North America. It can be claimed that this set is a relevant subject for the island to commemorate as among the settlers was a Manxman, Myles Standish. The issue was designed by Glazier Design and lithographed by Lowe Martin and perforated 13. Rating:- *****.

  The Isle Of Man Post Office commemorated Captain Miles Standish in an issue released in 1986 which was tied to the Chicago International Philatelic Exhibition of that year. 

  It appears that Royal Mail is not intending to issue any stamps this year to commemorate this highly significant anniversary in British and American history, preferring instead to try to squeeze money out of collectors and Star Trek enthusiasts by issuing a set of stamps featuring the American television series. Perhaps Royal Mail believes that the two countries’ modern links are best illustrated by the ‘Starship Enterprise’ rather than the pioneer ship ‘The Mayflower’.
  It is fair to point out that the British postal service has commemorated the voyage of The Mayflower on 2 previous occasions - as one of a set General Anniversaries stamps issued in 1970 (350th anniversary) and in a set of 4 ‘Millenium - The Settlers’ Tale’ stamps issued in 1999.

 The Isle Of Man Post Office previously commemorated Captain Myles Standish with a set of 2 stamps and a miniature sheet containing 2 of the stamps which was tied to the Ameripex 1986 International Philatelic Exhibition held in Chicago that year. The 12p value featured his home in Isle Of Man, Ellanbane.

🇳🇿 The fifth issue of CAL (custom advertising labels) stamps produced to sell to benefit the ill fated NZ 2020 Stamp exhibition are now available from the exhibition website. The issue takes the form of a booklet of 10 self-adhesive stamps (1 each of 6 different stamps and 2 each of the other two) which have all been released previously in gummed format. An interesting souvenir, with postal validity, of the exhibition which was forced to close before its intended end because of the introduction of the New Zealand government’s measures to combat the spread of Coronavirus.

Sunday 29 March 2020

1632. 🇬🇧 Coronavirus Letter In The Mail.

🇬🇧 Collectors of postal history in The United Kingdom will have an interesting item to add to their collections in the next few days - Downing Street, the office of the British prime minister - has announced that every household in the country (30 million of them) will receive a letter from Boris Johnson on the subject of the Coronavirus epidemic which urges the population to follow the measures laid down by the government to cut down social contact and thereby help the workers and resources of the National Health Service (NHS) cope with the vast numbers of severely sick and dying people which are expected to need to be treated in the coming weeks. Thirty million copies of the letter delivered by the postal system, presumably Royal Mail, will be sent out in the coming days. Historians may be interested in the letter but postal historians will be particularly interested in the envelope in which it is delivered particularly the cancellation applied to the letter (if there is one).

  Ian Billings, who of course publishes Norvic Philatelic Blog, has already highlighted in Stamp Boards a slogan postmark being applied to ordinary mail and it would be exceptionally interesting if Mr Johnson’s letter is delivered with such a cancellation applied to it. The postmark reads, in 5 lines,  “STAY HOME,/ PROTECT THE NHS,/ SAVE LIVES,/ Royal Mail - keeping/communities connected”.

Slogan postmark posted on Stamp boards by Norvic.

  In recent years Royal Mail has tended to prefer to commemorate veteran popular musicians and science fiction characters rather than the achievements of the NHS and its doctors, nurses, its other staff and medical scientists but a set of 4 stamps was released on 23 June 1998 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Health Service. The designs were rather disappointing but featured a few facts about the service at that time.

  Much more exciting stamps from Royal Mail on the theme of medicine were released on 2 March 1999 in its’Patients’ Tale’ set from its Millenium series which was designed by notable British artists. The designs featured fittingly ‘Jenner’s vaccination’ by P Brookes (20p), ‘Nursing Care’ by P Macfarlane (26p), ‘Fleming’s penicillin’ by M Dempsey (43p) and ‘Test tube baby’ by Anthony Gormley’.

  It is true one that one of the earliest commemorative issues released by the British postal service since the beginning of the 1960s was that which commemorated the Centenary of Dr Joseph Lister’s work on antiseptic surgery. He championed the use of carbolic acid to sterilise surgical instruments and to clean wounds and this led to a reduction in post-operative infections and deaths and earned him the sobriquet of ‘Father of modern surgery’. The pair of stamps was issued on 1 September 1965.

  There have been a few other notable medicine/nursing/health/medical science-related stamp issues released by the British postal service since then. The commemoration of nursing has been particularly centred on stamps featuring British nursing pioneers - Florence Nightingale, of course, and Mary Seacole.
 2020 is the Bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and it says a lot about the values of the people who chose the subjects to be featured on Royal Mail Stamps that the organisation shamefully chose not to commemorate Nightingale this year but instead thought that there was more money to be made from issuing a stamp featuring the fictional Dr McCoy from the United States television programme Star Trek. Perhaps after all this is over the people responsible for choosing the subjects of British new Stamps will have a rethink and show that they do not, as Oscar Wilde wrote in Lady Windermere’s Fan, “know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

Florence Nightingale, issued 1 April 1970

Mary Seacole, issued 18 July 2006.
  British contributions to medical science and technology have also been commemorated on stamps in the past. In recent years such philatelic commemorations have not been numerous in comparison with the number of stamps devoted to portraying popular culture but we may note the following:-

From the Inventive Britain set of 19 February 2015 - DNA sequencing and I-limb bionic hand.

From the Remarkable Lives set of 25 March 2015 - Max Perutz, molecular biologist and Nobel Laureate.

From the set commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society of 25 February 2010 - Dorothy Hodgkin, Edward Jenner and Joseph Lister.

Medical Breakthroughs set of 16 September 2010 - Synthesis of Beta blockers by Sir James Black 1962,  Discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming, 1928, Total hip replacement surgery by Sir John Charnley 1962, Artificial lens implant surgery by Sir Harold Ridley 1949, Proof of mosquito transmission of malaria by Sir Ronald Ross 1897 and the CT scanner invented by Sir Geoffrey Hounsfield 1971.

  From the set commemorating Women of Distinction of 14 October 2008 - Marie Stopes Pioneer of family planning (50p) and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson physician - the first woman to qualify to practice in medicine Britain in 1865 (48p).

  From the set commemorating the National Portrait Gallery of 18 July 2006 - Dame Cicely Saunders, physician who pioneered the care of the dying.

  Set commemorating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA of 25 February 2003 - Genome end of the beginning (2nd), Cracking the code (E), Comparative genetics (1st), Genetic engineering (47p), Medical futures (68p).

  From the set 20th Century Women of achievement of 6 August 1996 - Dorothy Hodgkin.

  Set commemorating British medical discoveries of 27 September 1994 - Ultasonic imaging (25p), Scanning electron microscopy (30p), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (35p) and Computerised axial tomography (CT scanning)  (41p at head of this Blog).

  From the 150th anniversary of the Royal Microscopical Society ser of 5 September 1989 - Blood cells (32p).

    Set commemorating the Centenary of the Royal Institute of Chemistry of 2 March 1977 - Vitamin C synthesis by WN Haworth, Nobel Prize winner 1937 (10p), Conformational analysis of steroids by Sir Derek Barton, Nobel Prize winner 1969 (8.5p), Salt crystallography by WH and WL Bragg, Nobel Prize winners 1915 (13p) and Starch chromatography by Martin and Synge, Nobel Prize winners 1952 (11p).

From the British Discoveries set of 9 November 1967 - Penicillin, treatment discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming.

  I very much hope that Royal Mail will plan an issue to celebrate the work of all those whose efforts defeat this disaster that has hit not only Britain but the whole world. Perhaps stamps honouring the efforts and sacrifices of the people of Britain will be greatly appreciated by the country, more so, I think, than a set of Star Trek stamps which Royal Mail is currently planning to issue towards the enD of this tragic year which, I’m sure, will show the people of Britain at their best.

Addendum. 30 million letters. How did Boris Johnson manage to sign them all? No wonder he’s having to self-isolate for a week!

Addendum 2. And here’s another thought. Who were the poor people faced with stuffing 30 million letters in 30 million envelopes? Phew!