Sunday, 18 April 2021

1866. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland’s Antarctic Explorers.


An Post, the postal service of The Republic of Ireland issued an interesting set of 4 self-adhesive stamps on 15 April 2021 titled Ice men, featuring Irishmen who have been involved in historic Antarctic exploration. This fine issue was designed by Zinc Design using illustrations produced by David Rooney and was lithographed by Enschedรฉ. Rating:- ****.

๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ The set of 4 stamps to be issued on 23 April 2021 by Singapore Post depicting tetra fish and described as ‘high values’ will be accompanied by an excellent ‘Collectors’ sheet’ containing the 4 stamps. It is pleasingly colourful and original and was designed by Leo Teck Chong. Rating:- *****.

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฐ On the subject of fish, I came across an article published in Linn’s Stamp News on 6 October 2020 which highlighted a mystery stamp of which 3 used specimens (postmarks all unreadable) had been found over a period of years always in kiloware. The stamp, a 15c value from the 1992 - 94 definitive series surcharged 10c, was otherwise unknown and Linn’s Stamp News was not able to find out any more information about it; none of the major catalogue editors had reported its existence, the postal authorities of Cook Islands were unable to give any information about it and the present agent for Cook Islands stamps, Philatelic Collector Inc., following some enquiries, was also unable to enlighten the writer of the article any more about the stamp. Does anyone else have any information about this item? 
On the surface of it, the very low face value of 10c makes it highly unlikely that this was an item worth forging and it’s hard to believe that the need for postage stamps  in Cook Islands was so great that a forgery intended for use on mail would have been worthwhile as very little money would have been saved by using it for postage rather than using a genuine stamp (besides, surcharging a 15c stamp 10c represents the loss of 5c which is hardly sensible). Surely it must represent a local response to an acute shortage of 10c values which were needed for some reason or another.

    A new definitive series depicting butterflies was introduced in 1997-98 so one might expect any shortages of a value after that date would result in one of those values being surcharged but of course there may have been a surplus of the fish stamps available for surcharging. However, we must remember that Linn’s Stamp News reports that the Cook Islands Post Office told it that has no record of these surcharges having been produced.
  Fascinating. Fake or unrecorded genuine surcharge produced to meet the needs of an acute 10c value shortage? With often unreported examples of surcharges and overprints emerging in the last few years from various territories I have the feeling that this is a real stamp and someone will know the answer to the questions of why and when it was issued.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

1865. ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช United Arab Emirates Branding Stamps, Philatelic Design History Repeating Itself?


๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช The postal service of the United Arab Emirates, which is made up of the seven emirates once part of the entity called The Trucial States and which gained independence from The United Kingdom on 2 December 1971 (on the anniversary of which a ‘National Day’ stamp issue is released every year) issued a miniature sheet containing 7 different stamps on 11 April 2021 titled ‘The national brand’ (how wearisome it is that governments feel they must now, doubtless in consultation with highly expensive branding specialists, formally adopt a national brand). The miniature sheet, judging by the publicity photograph displayed above, is extraordinarily unattractive and abstruse unless one knows a little about The Emirates before seeing this sheet. The sheet contains 7 stamps, of varying sizes, which are in the form of lines and the stamps are lined up in parallel against a background of sand. The sheet has two inscriptions (in Arabic and English) which strive to explain this obscure symbolism.

“Seven Emirates, Seven Beacons, One Future”

“A story rooted in the desert. Impossible is possible”.

I’m not sure I would have been very much the wiser having read those but the reader can be the judge of how successful this brand is to them.

The accompanying official first day cover has the 7 stamps each separately fixed to the cover. I make no further comment.

  I find this issue interesting for two reasons - firstly this is the year in which the UAE will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of its independence and secondly the symbolism used by the designer of this issue is fraught with danger. One assumes that each stamp represents an individual emirate, the length of the line (really a narrow rectangle) symbolising the relative size of each emirate, all rising in parallel from the sands of the desert (or the ‘Dunes’ which is the derogatory term used by some stamp collectors when referring to these emirates because of the vastly excessive number of stamp issues several of them allowed to be produced in their names during the 1960s and early seventies). 

  This difference in size reproduces the concept behind the designs of the lower values of the first definitive series of The Trucial States which was issued on 7 January 1961. The design depicted seven palm trees of varying heights again symbolic of the varying sizes of the different states. Unfortunately the varying sizes, particularly as the larger trees loomed over the smaller ones, were also interpreted as representing the various degrees of importance of the seven emirates thus making the set unpopular and controversial in some quarters. One assumes that it was a matter of offence being caused where none was intended but in this age where people generally work very hard to find offence in almost everything it isn’t hard to expect that the varying lengths of the 7 lines in the new branding design will be similarly interpreted as emphasising the greater importance of some of the emirates than others. Watch this space.

  The interpretation of national, and also regional, symbolism is something that stamp designers can take far too lightly. Incautious use of symbols to represent countries or nations can lead to embarrassing controversy and in this case we may find that the brand and stamp designers should have known of what has come before to avoid a problem which may arise now, similar to that of 60 years ago.

๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong Post will issue a set of 6 gummed stamps, 6 self-adhesive stamps sold on a ‘Collectors card’, 1 single-stamp miniature sheet and 1 ‘mini-pane’ containing 6  different stamps on the subject of Local snacks on 22 April 2021. The attractive set was designed by Colin Tillyer from illustrations by Roxy Lau and lithographed and embossed by Enschedรฉ and perforations are 13.5 (sheet stamps and mini-pane) and 14.5 x 14 (miniature sheet). A good set but one of an excessive number of issues which Hong Kong Post is planning to release this year. Rating:- **.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

1864. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฎ No Let Up From IGPC, Gibraltar To Issue Cryptocurrency ‘Stamp’’.

 ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ The United States-based company, IGPC, which dignifies its existence by using the term ‘philatelic agents’ continues to excrete philatelic products on to the new issue market. None of them are worth wasting time in illustrating here and I also now choose not to list them in detail which is in line with how I treat the philatelic products of the Lithuania-based company, Stamperija. The less publicity they receive the better.

  For the record, this time IGPC will be releasing products with the names of the following philatelic entities printed on them:- The Gambia (5 issues all dated 15 March 2021 totalling 10 miniature sheets), Grenada (5 issues also all dated 15 March 2021 totalling 10 miniature sheets including 2 miniature sheets each commemorating the 95th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II and the 100th Birthday of the late Duke of Edinburgh), Grenada Carriacou And Petite Martinique (1 issue again dated 15 March 2021 made up of 2 miniature sheets), Nevis (3 issues dated 20 January 2021 made up of 6 miniature sheets), Tuvalu (5 issues strangely also dated 15 March 2021 totalling 10 miniature sheets including 2 miniature sheets commemorating the 95th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II), Guyana (7 issues all dated 5 April 2021 totalling 11 miniature sheets including 2 miniature sheets commemorating the 95th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II even though Guyana chose to be a republic more than 50 years ago thus deposing her as Queen of Guyana), St Vincent And The Grenadines (7 issues all dated 28 February 2021 totalling 14 miniature sheets including 2 miniature sheets each commemorating the 95th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II and the 100th Birthday of the late Duke of Edinburgh). They should keep IGPC’s cash tills ringing.

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Sometimes I feel I am becoming increasingly detached from the way the world is progressing. Take cryptocurrency for instance. I have not felt any great need to take any interest in it and, having just perused Wikipedia and other information sources on the subject, I really don’t get it all. There are all sorts of terms and acronyms associated with it that I know I’m not going to be able to come terms with but, certainly at present, I don’t feel any anxiety that my life is any the poorer for ignoring the subject.

  But now I find that social media sites and other internet features are getting terribly excited about the announcement by a company called Coinsilium that it has co-operated with the Royal Gibraltar Post Office’s greedy little philatelic service to produce the first Bitcoin stamp which will be sold in a presentation pack that will offer the buyer the opportunity to buy 2 non-fungible tokens (nfts) which will be delivered online to them in a pack containing randomly inserted items of varying rarity (and logically they claim, of varying value which could even be nfts of ‘mythic’ rarity). Collectors will be able to preorder the ‘postage stamps’ from 19 April and they will go on sale on 17 May 2021 which is in the same week as the day known as Bitcoin Pizza Day (the anniversary of 22 May 2010 when the first ever purchase - of a pizza - was made using cryptocurrency). If this all sounds like a late April Fool’s Day stunt, it isn’t. Being too worn out by reading about IGPC’s latest nonsense as well the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau’s newest philatelic gimmick has lead me to supply the rest of the information by screenshots of internet information rather than writing it all myself:-

  It is all very bizarre. The purchase results in the possession of 2 virtual items which exist only in the digital world and have no substance. Apparently this extraordinary way of spending money is already a feature of the market in art and works of art which exist only digitally have been bought for hundreds of thousands of dollars by very rich people who want to have the cachet of owning such insubstantial items and have far too much money for which they can find any other use. 

  The Gibraltar ‘stamp’ which opens up the right to order these virtual items is to be sold in a presentation pack and the ‘stamp’ appears to actually be a miniature sheet containing two stamps judging by this poor quality photograph I have managed to take:-

The 24 nfts (including the 2 ‘mythic rare’ items) depict views around Gibraltar including the Moorish Castle:-

  Perhaps this is the future? Well just think about this, this ‘piece of art’, (an animation featuring a cartoon cat trailing a rainbow), sold for 300ETH (digital currency equivalent to US$600000) in 2021. We can all view it but the value comes from owning the original nft which acts as a digital certificate of ownership. Is someone being taken for a ride? As I say, is this the future?

1863. ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ช Jersey Post To Participate In Devoted To Your Service Omnibus.

 ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India post issued a single stamp on 12 April 2021 to commemorate the late Rajyogini Dadi Janki who died at the age of year of 104 in March 2020. She was the administrative head of Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Spiritual University, the world’s largest spiritual organisation run by women. Rating:- **.

 ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia Post has revealed its plethora of new stamp issues for the coming 2 months:-

10 May 2021 - ‘National heritage’ - 3 gummed stamps. Designed by Jason Watts and lithographed by Ego and perforated 14.5x14. Rating:- **.

18 May 2021 - Migratory shorebirds -  3 gummed and 3 self-adhesive stamps each sold in a booklet of 10 of each design and 1 gummed miniature sheet. Designed by Kevin Stead and Kevin Downes and lithographed by RA Printing and perforated 14 x 14.5. Rating:- **.

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡จ 18 May 2021 - issue inscribed ‘Cocos (Keeling) Islands’ - The Manta ray - 4 gummed stamps and 1 miniature sheet. Designed by Jo Murรฉ and lithographed by RA Printing and perforated 14 x 14.5. Rating:- ***.

1 June 2021 - Doves and pigeons - 4 gummed stamps and 4 self-adhesive stamps from coils and 1 miniature sheet. Designed by Sonia Young and lithographed by Ego and perforated 14 x 15.5. Rating:- **.

๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ซ 22 June 2021 - issue inscribed ‘Norfolk Island’ - Land snails - 2 gummed stamps and 1 miniature sheet containing the 2 stamps. Designed by Simone Sakinofsky and lithographed by Ego and perforated 14 x 14.5. Rating:- ***.

The following issues will also be released in the form of ‘stamp packs’. Rating of them all:- 0.

Spirit Untamed - 1 sheet containing 12 different stamps

Pokรฉmon - 2 gummed sheets each containing 10 identical ‘hearts  balloons’ stamps with attached labels.

Space Jam 2 - 12 different stamps

AFL and NRL ‘collections’ - 36 sheets (18 for individual teams of AFL each costing A$25.50 - 10 x 2 different stamps per sheet, 16 for individual teams of NRL each also costing A$25.50 - 10 x 2 different stamps per sheet plus 2 further sheets of 20, one for the AFL and the other for the NRL containing all the stamps of each issue and each sold for A$49.00. The ‘one of everything’ collector can therefore obtain the lot for the trifling sum of A$965. How can one say no?

AAWFL final 2021 - 1 gummed miniature sheet containing 8 x identical ‘map of Australia’ stamps, sold for $15.95.

This makes a total of 119 new stamps plus 6 miniature sheets/sheetlets - a total of 125 items in 2 months. Stamperija could take some lessons from Australia Post when it comes to having a cynical attitude towards its collector customers.

  ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ช Jersey Post will participate in the eleven territory mini-omnibus issue to commemorate the 95th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II by the release on 21 April 2021 of 6 stamps in the style of the issues from the other territories. Rating:- ***.