Friday, 17 November 2017

1123. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ญ Expedition To The Atlantic Islands.

  ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ญ The postal service of Ascension Island will issue a set of 6 stamps on 6 December 2017 on the subject of "Plankton". The set is made up of some very unusual photographs depicting a rarely featured subject and it's always good to have a set with a touch of originality to it. The stamps were designed from photographs taken by the Conservation Department of AIG and lithographed by Cartor and perforated 13.5. Rating:- *****.

  ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ญ The postal service of Ascension's distant neighbour, Tristan Da Cunha, will issue a set of 4 stamps on 7 December 2017 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Norwegian Tristan Expedition. 
  This expedition, led by the botanist Erling Christopherson, lasted for 4 months and had 13 participants from various disciplines. Among those on the expedition were a physician and a dentist as well as a sociologist who studied the 188 Tristanians living on the island at the time. The dentist, Sognnaes, who had arrived on the island with his dentist's chair and equipment and who was intrigued by the good dental health in the population, wanted some of the islanders' teeth to study so he bargained a tooth for a chocolate bar! This would probably not be considered to be ethical research in these modern times!
  I particularly like the £1 stamp which depicts some of the islanders lined up in front of the physician, Dick Henriksen, who is testing them for tuberculosis. Apparently their general health was as excellent as their teeth. The stamp gives us a good impression of the way people looked and dressed on the island at that time - it does look as though everyone put on their "Sunday Best" when they were off to see the Doctor".
  The biologists did field work on Tristan and Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands and, after returning home, were able to publish about 50 papers resulting from their researches.
  This fascinating issue was designed from photographs of the Museum of University History of the University of Oslo with production being co-ordinated by Creative Direction and printing in lithography by Cartor. The stamps are perforated 13.5. A truly interesting issue. Rating:- *****.

  Many thanks to Juliet Warner of Pobjoy Stamps for the information about the 2 above issues.

1122. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Manx Fashion Stamps In 2018.

   ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฒ The Isle Of Man Post Office will issue a set of 6 stamps on 1 February 2018 to commemorate "20 Years of Preen by Thornton-Bregazzi", a fashion company founded by 2 former students of the Isle Of Man College. The featured clothing includes a red dress worn by The Duchess Of Cambridge on her tour of Canada and a "Citrus Power" dress worn by the late singer, Amy Whitehouse, and the actress, Gwyneth Paltrow though presumably not both at the same time.
  The designer of this issue, which is unusual in its subject matter, is EJC Design from images by Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi and lithographed by Cartor and perforated 13. Rating:- ****.

  ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus Post will issue 6 Christmas stamps on 24 November 2017. The issue is made up of 3 stamps in a se-tenant strip which have a religious theme and 3 other stamps which depict children at Christmas-time including a se-tenant pair. With at least 3 different design styles in the set it's all a bit of a dog's dinner but the stamps are pleasant enough. Rating:- ***.

  ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ช Illustrated below are 2 of the 24 Post and Go stamps issued by Jersey Post from kiosk BOO2 (6 inscribed in Jฤ—rriais and 6 "Jersey Flag" stamps inscribed in English) and kiosk JE02, with added inscription "Broad Street", 6 again being inscribed in Jฤ—rriais with 6 "Jersey Flag" stamps inscribed in English and all with additional trite and trivial "Angel" motif that any primary school child could have come with. It seems to me that this little lot will cost the collector the preposterous sum of £ extras including value added tax. Of all the small postal services, it seems that Jersey's is the most shameless in finding ways to extract money from collectors with no philatelic stone left unturned over the past few years. And yet I find myself buying fewer and fewer of its products. Rating:- 0.

  ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Talking of preposterous sums. New Zealand Post's outrageous gold foil miniature sheets for the Chinese New Year, this time The Year of the Dog, have gone on sale on its website and have been sold or reduced to "low stocks". It seems that 25 of these "lucky" numbered sheets were produced with coloured stamps in them and purchasers seem to have paid NZ$1800 for each one. Yes really!
  But that's not all. There are 103 framed foiled miniature sheets being sold for NZ$560 (the stamps are entirely gold and have no colour in them), gold foiled unnumbered miniature sheets framed in perspex (NZ$188) and unnumbered gold foil miniature sheets with coloured designs sold for NZ$288.
  As a stamp issue, rating:- 0.
  The date of issue is 10 January 2017.

   ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Botswana Post issued a set of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 5 October 2017 on the original and interesting subject of "Crossing Rivers". The issue was designed by Andrew Jones. I like this Issue very much. Rating:- *****.

  ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ป WOPA, through which the new issues of a number of postal administrations and agencies can be ordered, upset a lot of collectors a couple of years when it began to include the numerous issues put out by Stamperija in the name of Maldives and which appeared to be sold by Maldives Post itself. In response to complaints, WOPA temporarily suspended its handling of Maldives stamps but very rapidly reverted to placing the new issues of Maldives, between 100 to 200 at one stage, on its website.
  Now, Maldives has disappeared from the list of territories being dealt with on WOPA's website. Whether or not it will reappear again remains to be seen.

  Although Maldives has left The Commonwealth I like to keep an eye on special issues from there though not of course the paraphilatelic pap put out by Stamperija, and I see that Maldives Post released a sheetlet of 8 stamps as part of a joint issue with Japan on 14 November 2017. The issue marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the 2 countries. The stamps are said to depict scenes from the visit of the Maldivian President, Abdulla Yammin, to Japan and photographs of some of the development projects carried out by Japan in Maldives.
  I do not yet have an illustration of the new stamps but below is a picture taken at the launch ceremony of the issue which was attended by the Japanese Ambassador to Maldives and Maldives Post officials. They are shown holding the new issue.
  The Japanese postal service also issued a sheetlet of 8 different stamps on the same date but the Japanese sheet is in vertical format and appears to feature different designs from those used in the Maldives issue.

  Joint issues commemorating anniversaries of the establishment of diplomatic relations between various countries are becoming increasingly common and are often reported in this Blog. Most commonly the People's Republic Of China likes to demonstrate that it has friendly relationships with other countries, particularly developing states where it is involving itself in various economic activities, through the philatelic medium and often donates issues to the postal services of such places. Japan likes to do the same and occasionally Taiwan will try to involve itself in such issues though, having very few countries which now have relations with it, its opportunities are now very few to do so.
  As I wrote in Blog 1119, the postal services of Western states, and in particular Royal Mail, are particularly inept at realising the usefulness of postage stamps in demonstrating their country's links with other parts of the world and trail miles behind China and Japan in using stamps for such a purpose. Pity.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

1121. ๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ผ Mugabe's Time Is Up.

  ๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ผ News from Zimbabwe, which withdrew from The Commonwealth in 2004, suggests that the man responsible for many years of tyrannical rule in the country and Zimbabwe's departure from The Commonwealth, the 93 year old Robert Mugabe, may be nearing the end of his time in power as the country's army moves against his various lackeys and henchmen and arrests what it has labelled "criminals".
  Several days ago, Mugabe removed from office the man seen as his likely successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to apparently make way for his wife, Grace Mugabe, whose love for luxury goods has led to her being named "The First Shopper", as his successor. This led to the head of the Zimbabwean army, General Constantino Chiwenga, leading what appears to be a military coup in all but name and reports suggest that the geriatric tyrant and his wife have been detained and some of his lackeys have been arrested. It will be interesting to see what happens next and what philatelic consequences arise.
  During the period of Mugabe's extreme misrule, one of the greatest problems to be faced by Zimbabwe was a period of severe inflation. The peak was reached in 2008 when a set of 6 stamps and 1 miniature sheet, fittingly on the subject of "Rodents of Zimbabwe", was issued in which the two highest values were priced at $10000000 (10 million Zimbabwe dollars) and $5000000 (5 million Zimbabwe dollars). That woeful situation was only put right when the country abandoned use of the Zimbabwean dollar and began to use the US dollar.
  The removal of Mugabe will hopefully set Zimbabwe on a new road. We will follow how events are reflected in the country's stamp issues.

  ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ Bangladesh Post issued a single stamp on 5 June 2017 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Dhaka. Not exactly the most exciting design, I fear. Rating:- *.

  ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฐ In Blog 1120 I mentioned the latest issue from the Cook Islands (inscribed "Penrhyn") which features Bennett's Butterflyfish and I realised that this issue followed quickly on the issue of a set of "Fish" stamps from the postal service of Niue (see Blog 1075). One little fellow appears in both issues - dear old Bennett's Butterflyfish. The closely timed issue of these stamps helps us to compare what is being produced on the new issue scene at present - both stamps feature photographs of the same fish swimming in the same direction but look how much more vibrant and attractive the stamp from Niue is (prepared by New Zealand Post) compared with that of Penrhyn (produced by Philatelic Collector Inc.). Today it's easy to design a stamp but it's not that easy to design a stamp that's worth collecting.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

1120. ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Christmas In Malta.

  ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta Post will issue a set of 4 stamps to celebrate Christmas on 17 November 2017. The designs by Mark Micallef Perconte depict charming figurines of the infant Jesus which are to be found in four different churches in the island. The issue was lithographed by Printex and is perforated 14. Rating:- *****.

  ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India Post issued 2 stamps and 2 miniature sheets on 14 November 2017 to commemorate Children's Day. The designs, based on children's art, depict birds and their nests and are pleasing, colourful and charming. Rating:- ****.

  ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Few philatelic entities issue, or have issued on their behalf, as many WWF, Worldwide Fund For Nature, stamps as the postal administration or its philatelic agents, Philatelic Collector Inc., of Cook Islands. In 2016 there were 2 sets - one with the name of Aitutaki printed on it and one inscribed with the name of Rarotonga. Now we have 2 more issues - inscribed Cook Islands or Penrhyn - which each appear to be made up of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet which contains 2 se-tenant strips of four. The Cook Islands-inscribed set is on the subject of the Bristle-thighed curlew and that inscribed Penrhyn portrays the Bennett's butterflyfish. These stamps are not terribly interesting especially the Penrhyn set - you can only depict a fish in so many ways - swimming to the right or swimming to the left or perhaps swimming towards the observer or away from him - the designer has missed the chance of using the last two of these postures so all we are left with is a fish swimming to the right or to the left. Ho hum. Rating:- **.

1119. ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง Towards 2018.

  ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ท The postal service, if there still is one, of the Republic Of Nauru, has not issued any stamps, as far as is known, since 12 April 2011. This I think is the second longest period that any Commonwealth philatelic entity has gone without releasing a stamp issue in recent times. Nauru is beaten to the record by Rwanda by several months - its most recent set which depicts gorillas was issued on 15 November 2010. The Rwanda postal service failed to issue a set of stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country's independence.
  So the question I raise is "Will Nauru issue it's first stamps in 7 years by releasing a set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its independence which falls on 31 January 2018?" The anniversary is only about two and a half months away so hopefully we will soon find out.
  2018 will also see the 50th anniversary of the granting of independence to Swaziland and Mauritius - I don't doubt that the postal services of both of these countries will issue stamps to 
celebrate these significant local anniversaries.

   ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง Meanwhile Royal Mail has revealed an outline of some of its 2018 issues which fit into the following programme:-
  23 January - to be announced
  23 January - Post and Go, to be announced 
  January - 150th anniversary of the Trades Union Conference (TUC) - "Commemorative sheet"

  14 February - Post and Go, Postal Heritage - Mail by Sea. Spring Stampex 2018 release
  15 February - Centenary of female suffrage in the United Kingdom

  20 March - Centenary of the Royal Air Force

  17 April - Reintroduced species
  11 May - Centenary of the Old Vic Theatre (another one of those tiresome London-centric issues, there are hundreds of excellent theatres in the U.K. which deserve philatelic recognition)
  5 June - 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts (which of course is situated in London)
  26 June - "Dad's Army" - 50th Anniversary of the classic and iconic television comedy. Presumably other classic British comedy television programmes will also be featured in the set, "Fawlty Towers" perhaps.
  31 July - Hampton Court Palace - yes, that's another London-centric issue - has Britain ceased to exist outside the M40 road system?

  16 August - 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook's first voyage 

  30 August - Owls

  12 September - Post and Go, Postal Heritage - Mail by Cycle, Autumn Stampex 2018 release
  13 September - Centenary of the end of the First World War (which surely would have been better issued in November)
  16 October - to be announced
  1 November - Christmas
  14 November - 70th birthday of The Prince Of Wales
  November - Lunar new year, Year of the Pig - "Generic sheet".

  The Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting, otherwise known as CHOGM, will be held in London and Windsor in April 2018. For most postal services this meeting of 52, or 53 countries if The Gambia is readmitted as a member of The Commonwealth at the meeting, would be important enough to warrant a stamp issue but clearly it is not a subject that is likely to sell well to non-collectors looking for a gift for a child for instance who would much rather have yet another set depicting owls (no doubt cashing in on their post-Harry Potter popularity) than a set which reflects Britain's position in the world (if it still has one worth mentioning) and its continuing relationship with countries which are Britain's traditional old friends. The United Kingdom is hopeless when it comes to advertising its friendly relations with foreign countries through the medium of postage stamps when one compares it with postal services such as those of China, Russia and India. In Britain postal collectables are used almost entirely as a means of making money out of the latest popular fad or by appealing to old people's nostalgic sentiments. When it comes to recognising the propaganda uses of the postage stamp Britain's Royal Mail trails miles behind many other postal administrations.
   Postage stamps are a very important way, even now, of getting a message across about a country and somewhere Royal Mail is missing a trick which it could be performing on the nation's behalf.