Thursday 30 April 2020

1653. 🇬🇮🇸🇬 Gibraltar Commemorates Its Schools; Singapore Postpones Its New Issues.

🇬🇮 The Royal Gibraltar Post Office issued a set of 4 stamps on 30 April 2020 on the subject of local schools in Gibraltar. The photographs by Karl Ullger used for the designs by Stephen Perera do not show us particularly beautiful buildings so perhaps they are more functional than decorative. It may be that these are architectural masterpieces but the stamps do not convey that that would be the case. The designs also miss the point that a school is very much more than the building itself and what goes on inside is much more important that what it looks like from the outside. Having said that the point of the issue appears to be that the Gibraltar government has built some new schools in recent years and these stamps are issued to highlight the new places of education. The set was lithographed by Cartor. The total face value of the stamps is a rather expensive £7.82p. Rating:- **.

🇸🇬 Singapore Post has announced that all of its stamp issues planned for release in April and May 2020 have been postponed to a later as yet undetermined date.

🇬🇧 Captain Thomas Moore - ‘Captain Tom’ - Britain’s new national treasure, whose 100th birthday is being commemorated by a special Royal Mail postmark during this present week (see Blogs 1649 and 1652), has been promoted to the rank of Honorary Colonel and so one wonders if Royal Mail might alter the postmark to take account of his new rank.
  Meanwhile, a lovely cover arrived in the post today with the Captain Tom postmark dated 29 April 2020 neatly placed on a 1st Class stamp of the 2019 Christmas issue showing the Madonna and child.  The choice of stamp may be fortuitous as it ties in with another piece of good news that cheered up Britain on the 29 April - the announcement of the birth of a boy to the British prime minister and his partner.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

1652. 🇯🇪 Jersey Post To Feature Dickens’ Novels

🇯🇪 The British offshore islands seem to compete with each other to issue stamps to commemorate various anniversaries of the writers of important British literature. Now Jersey Post, which issues far too many stamps, has announced that it will release a set of 8 stamps and 1 miniature sheet containing all 8 stamps to note the 150th anniversary of the death of perhaps the most important of then all, Charles Dickens. It’s a very attractive set based on lovely artwork depicting scenes from 8 of Dickens’ novels (sadly mostly the titles used have previously appeared on numerous stamps from various countries though Bleak House is less frequently featured than some). The stamps were designed very pleasingly by Mark and Julie Wilkinson  and the date of issue is planned for 9 June 2020.
  My main problem with this issue is that I cannot find any connection between Dickens and Jersey and in the pre-release publicity Jersey Post is only able to tell us that, “In Jersey, a production of a Christmas Carol was performed at the Jersey Arts Centre in December 2019, whilst secondary school, Les Quennevais, presented their version of Oliver Twist at the Jersey Opera House in January of the same year”. Not a very convincing link to me.
  As Dickens seems to have no links with Jersey and this issue is just one in an excessively large new issue programme the Rating is ** even though the stamps themselves are very pleasing.

🇲🇻 Recently for sale on an Internet auction site was a set of 4 stamps which do not appear in the Stanley Gibbons Indian Ocean Catalogue (I have the 2016 edition and I cannot say if they have been listed since) from the Maldives postal service which date back to 1995. The set commemorates the holding of the Fourth World Conference On Women in Beijing between 4 and 15 September 1995. A number of locally relevant stamps were released in this style by Maldives around this time and so it may be that this set has just been overlooked or was not actually released at post offices. Either way the set is of some interest.

  The conference was also commemorated by the postal service of Pakistan by a strip of 4 se-tenant stamps as depicted below:-

🇬🇧 Today, 29 April, an envelope popped through my letterbox with the Royal Mail postmark commemorating the 100th Birthday of Captain Tom (see Blo ) cancelling the stamp on it. His actual birthday is 30 April and so it would be very pleasing to have a cover with the postmark applied on that particular date. It may look like a slightly scruffy little used envelope but it is a real piece of history and as the story of the pandemic unfolds this is one little part of that story. Unfortunately the part of the cancellation which identifies where the postmark was applied is not legible. 

Addendum Reply to Gene’s comment (see below). Thank you, Gene, for that helpful information.

1651. 🇨🇾 Cyprus To Release Europa And Florence Nightingale Stamps.

🇨🇾 In the year that marks the Bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale Cyprus Post has chosen to feature this great historical figure, the founder of modern nursing, on a stamp to be released on 14 May 2020. The stamp also commemorates the International Year of The Nurse and Midwife. It is a fitting subject for a stamp at a time when the world is in the eye of the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic. The stamp will be issued in small sheetlets of 8 stamps.
  It is sad that Royal Mail has chosen in contrast not to commemorate philatelically the Nightingale anniversary, preferring instead to ignore this extraordinary woman and her achievements and to issue stamps commemorating an American television series, Star Trek, which has little relevance to the United Kingdom. Those who plan the Royal Mail new issue stamp programme seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing and as usual have got things badly wrong. A stamp commemorating Florence Nightingale at a time like this, when new hospitals named after her are being opened to cope with the Coronavirus crisis, would have been a small contribution from Royal Mail towards honouring the health workers who struggle against the virus and those who have died in that struggle. Those who plan new stamp issues for Royal Mail really need to completely rethink their new issue policies and to choose once more to honour the achievements of great Britons rather than to try to make a fast buck. I would go so far as to say that Royal Mail’s current new issue policy is despicable.
  But at least some postal services have maintained an integrity long lost by Royal Mail and Australia Post and others. Cyprus Post continues with a sensible, relatively conservative new issue policy in which its stamps tell the world about Cyprus, its people and the issues which are important to the country. Royal Mail could learn a lot from Cyprus Post and its approach to what should be featured on its stamp issues.Rating:- ****.

  Prior to the issue of the above stamp Cyprus Post will release a pair of stamps, both printed in sheetlets of eight, on 4 May 2020 as its contribution to this year’s EUROPA omnibus series. This year’s theme is ‘Ancient Postal routes’ and the designs depict admirably routes taken by postal services across the island. Rating:- ****.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

1650. 🇳🇷 More News From Nauru.

🇳🇷 Eric Chan has kindly sent me some photographs via Stampboards which were taken at the 2019 Philatelic exhibition in Singapore. Eric says that “Nauru Post made a rare appearance at last year’s stamp show in Singapore” and he has sent photographs of 3 stamps (one featured in Blog 1642) which he saw there. Up to now I was not aware that either of the other two stamps had been released. After receiving Eric’s information I have been able to identify further details about one of the issues.
  The first issue is a single stamp released on 5 March 2019 to commemorate the visit to Nauru by the Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), Bishar Abdirahman Hussein, which the distinguished visitor recorded in his Twitter messages. His visit seems to have taken place from 20 to 22 February 2019 and the stamp was issued subsequent to his departure from the island. While in Nauru, Mr Hussein managed to try out a Nauru Post delivery motor cycle and photographed a wonderful aerial view of the island as his airplane departed from Nauru. He was present at a ceremony which launched Nauru’s first postcode. 

  Mr Hussein also visited Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga though he does not report that any of the other countries have issued stamps to take note of his visit to the region but his photographs show one or two interesting moments of local postal history such as when he visited Vanuatu’s underwater post office, met the prime ministers of Tonga and Samoa as well as the Head of State of Samoa and handed over three postal vehicles to the Samoa Post Office financed by a UPU fund.

  I have to say that Mr Hussein looks as though he has a dream job. If I’d known such a job existed when I was very young I might have  taken a different road in my career plans (too late now alas!)

  The second previously unknown-to-me Nauru issue of 2019 is another single stamp issued according to the accompanying first day cover on 17 May to commemorate the country’s Constitution Day. The stamp depicts Nauru’s then President, Baron Waqa (see the head of this Blog) who was voted out of office shortly afterwards on 27 August 2019.

In summary to the best of my knowledge the new issues from Nauru Post since its inauguration are:- 

31 January 2018 - 50th anniversary of Independence, Port development project - 1 stamp (see Blog 1194)
17 May 2018 - Constitution Day, Nauru coat of arms - 1 stamp (see Blog 1237)
31 January 2019 - Independence Day, Nauru’s oldest citizen - 1 stamp (see Blog 1401)
5 March 2019 - Visit of the Director General of the UPU - stamp 
25 March 2019 - State visit of the President of Taiwan - 1 stamp (see Blog 1413)
17 May 2019 - Constitution Day, President Waqa - 1 stamp 
3 September 2019 - 49th Pacific Islands Forum, Nauru - 1 stamp (see Blog 1642)
Unknown date 2019 - Christmas - 1stamp (see Blog 1642).

I fear that this is not yet a full list and that there may well be more stamps that were issued during 2018. Doubtless all will become clear with the passage of time. I have not yet seen news of any new issues for 2020 - one suspects for instance that there will have been an issue on 31 January to commemorate Independence Day as has previously been the case.

VERY MANY THANKS TO ERIC CHAN for passing on the information about these previously unknown stamp issues.

Monday 27 April 2020

1649. 🇬🇧 COVID-19 - Royal Mail Postmark Commemorates Captain Tom .

🇬🇧 Royal Mail has announced that over the coming week it will apply a special postmark to all letters posted to commemorate the 100th Birthday of Captain Thomas Moore, popularly known as ‘Captain Tom’.
  Captain Tom has come to represent the British public’s spirit in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic after he decided to walk 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. He sought sponsorship for his walk with the aim of raising £1000 for the Health Service frontline staff and has so won the hearts of the British public that he actually raised £29 million by doing so. He completed his target 14 days ahead of schedule and increased his target to 200 laps.

  A spokesman for Royal Mail said, “As Royal Mail works to keep the country connected during these challenging times, we are honoured to issue a special postmark in honour of his 100th birthday”.
  Royal Mail has had to adapt its sorting machines in the South Midlands Mail Centre to re-route all post to Captain Tom into a dedicated collection post and has so far processed 100000 birthday cards which have been sent to him.

  Captain Tom has also become the oldest person to have a record placed in the number 1 spot in the UK music charts when his version of You’ll Never Walk Alone with singer Michael Ball sold 82000 copies last week.
  Can Royal Mail bring itself out from its philatelic petrifaction where it finds it impossible to issue a stamp with less than 2 years notice and release a stamp issue to commemorate the British people’s spirit in the fight against COVID-19? Such an issue could be a morale booster for the British public at this time.

Sunday 26 April 2020

1647. 🇮🇲 Isle Of Man Coronavirus Stamps Linked To Charitable Donation.

🇮🇲 The designs of the forthcoming 8 stamps to be issued by Isle Of Man Post Office to commemorate the ‘Front line’ workers in the current campaign to beat the COVID-19 pandemic have now been revealed (see Blog 1645). The planned date of issue is 4 May 2020. The issue titled ‘#Carry Us Through’ was designed by Ben Glazier of Glazier Design and lithographed by Lowe Martin and perforated 14. The 8 stamps will be issued in standard format with “a donation” to made by Isle Of Man Post Office to the Manx Solidarity Fund. The 8 stamps will also be sold in self-adhesive format from kiosks and from post offices in the ‘Variable Rate Definitives’ series. The total combined price of the gummed and self-adhesive stamps is £12.94p so I hope that the donation to the Manx Solidarity Fund will be a generous one.
  One design in the set is a cause for concern (see above) as it portrays two people who are doing anything but self-distancing themselves from each other. Hopefully they come from the same household otherwise the stamp is definitely sending out the wrong message.
  This is a set that has importance to current events in The Isle Of Man and everywhere else for that matter and it is good that the local postal service link it to a donation to a local charitable fund but the designs are disappointingly undistinguished though, admittedly, have an air of cheerfulness about them which is not a bad thing at a time like this. Rating:- ***.

  Figures released on 24 April showed that there had been 308 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island of which 230 had recovered with 18 people having died from the condition which was unchanged from the previous day.