Wednesday, 13 December 2017

1139. πŸ‡»πŸ‡Ί Has Vanuatu Sold Its Philatelic Soul?

  πŸ‡»πŸ‡Ί Some collectors of new issues may be alarmed to read that the postal service of Vanuatu appears to have taken on the services of the USA-based philatelic agency Philatelic Collector Inc. which is rather poorly regarded by some collectors of modern stamps. Among the latest issues listed on Philatelic Collector's website is a pair of stamps and 1 miniature sheet issued by the Vanuatu postal service to commemorate Chinese New Year.
  As shown below Philatelic Collector does not describe its relationship with Vanuatu as being "Vanuatu Philatelic Bureau" as it does for Tonga and Cook Islands but merely lists it as "Vanuatu - Year of the Dog" so there is nothing to yet say that the Vanuatu postal service has taken Philatelic Collector on as its continuing Philatelic agent. Perhaps that announcement is yet to come.
  The date of issue is given as 1 November 2017 and the designer is Sophia Zhang. To date, Vanuatu Post has had an excellent record as an issuer of new stamps. Let us hope that it has not sold its philatelic soul. The new stamps are twee and garish and will not find their way into my collection of the stamps of Vanuatu. Rating:- 0.

  πŸ‡¨πŸ‡° Similar Chinese New Year stamps have also been issued by Cook Islands and its philatelic appendages. The date of issue is given as 1 November 2017. The issue is made up of 6 stamps and 3 miniature sheets (inscribed "Cook Islands", "Aitutaki Cook Islands" or "Penrhyn Cook Islands".

  πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡΄ We also have the same from Tonga and Tonga Niuafo'ou (a total of 4 stamps and 2 miniature sheets). Again the date of issue is stated to have been 1 November 2017. Though the stamps do not appeal to me I have no doubt that other people will find them to be appealing. Rating:- 0.

  πŸ‡²πŸ‡Έ In Blog 1047 I mentioned a sheetlet of 6 stamps which was released by the Montserrat postal service on 12 July 2017 on the subject of the Soufriere volcanic eruption. It appears that a second sheetlet of 6 stamps was also issued which depicts buildings in Plymouth, the destroyed former capital of Montserrat, and these make an interesting portrayal of the pitiful way the island was afffected by the volcano. Rating:- ****.

  πŸ‡°πŸ‡³ The Beijing and New York-based philatelic agency, IGPC, has released 1 sheetlet containing 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet with the name of Nevis printed on them to commemorate the Platinum Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh. Rating:- *.

  πŸ‡¬πŸ‡¬ Guernsey Post will issue 6 stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 1 February 2018 to commemorate a subject which has very little to do with the island - Chinese new year which will be the Year of the Dog. This is the fifth issue in this ongoing Lunar new year series which presumably means that we have another 7 years of such issues before the cycle is completed.
  Although I'm a great dog enthusiast I dislike this set and will not be adding it to my own collection of Guernsey stamps. The set was designed by Chrissy Lau and the designs feature stylised renderings of the Pekingese breed. Rating:- *.

  Guernsey Post then intends to release 1 miniature sheet on 14 February 2018 for issue at the Spring Stampex 2018 Philatelic Exhibition in London. To tie in with the exhibition's opening date, 14 February (St. Valentine's Day), the sheet which is inscribed "Alderney", contains 2 heart-shaped stamps and depicts "the view from The Lover's Chair", a clandestine meeting place for the 19th century local girl named Jacquine Le Mesurier and a Guernsey squire, which is an engraving by Paul Jacob Naftel, a Guernsey 19th century artist. An interesting enough issue, I suppose. Rating:- **.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

1138. πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ BBC Suggests Designs For Brexit Stamps.

  πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ Programmes about stamp collecting rarely make it on to television screens here in Britain in these modern times. Which is a pity as more exposure of the general public to stamps and stamp collecting in that medium may well give the hobby the boost it needs. 
  But today an item on stamps was shown for about 5 minutes or so on an important programme about British politics which is shown daily and is therefore titled, aptly, The Daily Politics. The item addressed the question as to whether Royal Mail should issue a stamp to commemorate British exit from The European Union (Brexit).
  Two politicians were interviewed by a BBC reporter outside the Palace of Westminster and squabbled for five minutes about the question. One of the politicians represented the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and was a firm Brexiteer while the other represented a group which wished The United Kingdom to remain a member of The European Union, a so-called 'Remoaner'.
  The UKIP politician was firmly convinced that 'Britain' should issue a stamp to celebrate the UK's departure from the EU while the Remoaner said that stamps should not be issued which related to issues which divided people but should be released to celebrate happy events 'such as the Royal Wedding'. The Brexiteer said that one particular reason to celebrate Brexit philatelically was that 'a stamp' was issued to commemorate Britain's entry into what was then known as 'The Common Market' and therefore another should be issued to mark the historic departure from the body which now calls itself The European Union. The Remoaner stated that 'tax-payers'' money should not be wasted on such a stamp issue.
  The BBC reporter then enticed the politicians to comment on suggested designs for 'Brexit' stamps having shown 'the stamp' which had been issued in 1973 to mark Britain's admission to the European Economic Community.

  In fact The British Post Office, as we then called it, actually issued 3 stamps and whilst being somewhat similar to the design shown in The Daily Politics the issued stamps shown below were still considerably different from that depicted by the BBC in its politics programme. Poor research, perhaps?

  The first suggested Brexit design reused the jigsaw theme. This was wholly unacceptable to the UKIP politician as it placed the EU flag over the UK flag. The Brexiteer tried to put things right by turning the 'stamp' upside down but the BBC reporter was then forced to point out that this rendered the Queen's head upside down. Most unsatisfactory.

  A second design was then shown which depicted a Union Jack balloon floating away from a large number of balloons with the design of the EU flag on them. The Brexiteer was not at all keen to see so many EU flags on a British stamp and so this second design proved to be as unsatisfactory as did the first design.

  A third proposed design was then offered for the politicians to consider. This showed a UK-shaped hole where material had been torn away from the EU flag. This impressed the UKIP politician no more than had the previous designs. He objected again to the presence of the European stars in the design and felt altogether that everything that had been shown was far too negative and any Brexit stamps should feature designs which portrayed a positive view of Brexit and the perceived benefits to Britain which would accrue from its political separation from Europe.

  The whole interview was marked by poor insight into Royal Mail's new issue policies. Though unstated, the first aim of any new stamp put out by Royal Mail is not to upset anybody. Hence it took Royal Mail a very long time for it to commemorate the extremely historically important but controversial and divisive first female British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, after her death and even then it chose to do so by including a stamp in a set of eight which featured politicians from all parts of the political spectrum.
  As the issue of a Brexit stamp is likely to upset almost 50% of the population of The United Kingdom the chances of such an issue making it to our post office counters seem minimal.
  The Remoaner politician also made the point that 'taxpayers' money should not be wasted on such an issue'. As far as I know no taxpayers' money is wasted on the production of new stamp issues. If anyone wastes their money on them it's definitely we stamp collectors who, I suppose, are also taxpayers when you think about it. Still, it was a meaningless statement on her part and misleading to viewers who are not stamp collectors. Don't these politicians know that Royal Mail has long been privatised?
  Still this was a little outing for stamp collecting on a notable BBC programme and even if the programme's researchers could not track down a true example of the 1973 stamp issue at least it represented exposure for the hobby on a mainstream programme on BBC television. That is, if you can accurately describe programmes about politics as "mainstream".

Monday, 11 December 2017

1137. πŸ‡²πŸ‡Ί Mauritius Stakes Claim To French And British Territories On New Stamps.

  πŸ‡²πŸ‡Ί The postal service of Mauritius issued a set of 3 stamps on 11 December 2017 which formed a philatelic claim to the British territory of British Indian Ocean Territory in the form of the Chagos Islands and to part of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories in the form of the island of Tromelin.

  The Chagos Islands were claimed by the French after their settlement in Reunion in 1665. The British claimed the islands in 1786 and they were ceded to the British finally in 1814 after the defeat of Bonaparte at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The British governed the islands from Mauritius and attached them to that British colony in 1903. In 1965 Britain purchased the Chagos Islands from its then colony of Mauritius for £3 million and incorporated them in the new colony of British Indian Ocean Territory along with islands which had previously been part of its then colony of Seychelles.
  The islands which included Aldabra and Cosmoledo were returned to Seychelles when it was granted its independence in 1976 but the Chagos, including Diego Garcia which had been transformed into a large US military base, remained as the rump territory of BIOT.
  Following resolutions passed by the United Nations which ruled against the dismemberment of dependent territories prior to their independence, Mauritius claimed sovereignty over the Chagos Islands. On 23 June 2017, the United Nations General Assembly voted to refer the dispute between Mauritius and the United Kingdom to the International Court of Justice to clarify the legal status of the Chagos Islands. Britain attempted to prevent the resolution being passed but was heavily defeated with 94 countries voting against Britain and only 14 supporting the country (Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Montenegro, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Maldives and United States). Many members of The European Union failed to support Britain (is there any wonder that the majority of British voters opted for Brexit?) Most surprising is the abstention of France which itself possesses territory which is claimed by Mauritius - the island of Tromelin (featured on the Rs25 stamp) which is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Territory though an agreement was made between the 2 countries for co-management of the island.
  So this is a very interesting issue which highlights how the issue of stamps is not made just as a source of revenue for the issuing postal administration but also its role as a means of making a political or diplomatic point. Rating:- *****.

1136. πŸ‡΅πŸ‡³ Pitcairn Commemorates Captain Bligh.

  πŸ‡΅πŸ‡³ Bounty Post, the postal service of Pitcairn Islands, issued a set of 4 stamps on 7 December 2017 to commemorate the Bicentenary of the death of William Bligh whose casting adrift by the mutinous crew of HMS Bounty proved to be a pivotal moment in the history of Pitcairn. The issue reminds us that Bligh should not just be remembered for the Bounty mutiny but that he served under the explorer, Captain James Cook, fought in the Battle of Copenhagen under Admiral Nelson and served as the Governor of New South Wales. Another excellent set from Pitcairn but it has been a busy philatelic year from this minuscule territory - 8 new issues - which might be considered to be more issues than we really want to see it releasing in a single year. Nevertheless, for this issue, Rating:- *****.
  The issue was designed by Denise Durkin and lithographed by Southern Colour Print and perforated 13.5.

  πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί Australia Post's new issue programme for the first 2 months of 2018 is reminiscent of Stamperija on steroids. And that isn't a compliment.

  πŸ‡¨πŸ‡½ 8 January 2018 - inscribed "Australia Christmas Island" - Chinese New Year, Year of the Dog - 2 gummed stamps (a total of $4),1 miniature sheet ($4), 1 pack of 3 'special' miniature sheets including a 'silk' version (sold for $25), a 'Zodiac' sheet (sold for $8), a $20.95c Prestige booklet, and a $12 'Snoopy sheet which contains 10 x $1 Year of The Dog stamps with attached labels featuring Snoopy in various styles and sold for $12. Total cost from Australia Post:- $85.95c (£50.62p).
  The issue was designed by Jo MurΓ© and lithographed by RA Print and perforated 14.5 x 14. Rating:- *.

  During January 2018 Australia Post will issue stamp packs containing various sheets which are linked to Australia's hosting of the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast. The first which is sold for $23 contains 2 panes each containing 10 Greetings stamps with attached labels depicting various sports. A second pack which is sold for $23 contains 2 panes of 10 Greetings stamps with attached labels depicting Borobi the Koala Games mascot. A third pack contains a single pane, sold for $12, which commemorates The Queen's Baton Relay and contains 10 x $1 stamps depicting The Queen with attached labels. Rating:- 0.

  On 16 January 2018 an issue will be released which refers to Australia's 'convict past'. The issue commemorates the 150th anniversary of the ending of convict transportation to Australia. This issue is made up of 3 gummed stamps ($5) and 3 self-adhesive stamps (the $1 values sold in booklets of 10) ($10) (the $3 value sold in sheetlets of 5) ($15). Rating:- **.

  Yet more "Collectors' packs, presumably also to be issued during January 2018. The emphasis of these 3 is on providing items for children. The first is titled 'Down on the Farm' and depicts appealing farm animals on labels attached to 10 Greetings stamps. The second is on the subject of 'Snow White'  and contains a pane of 10 x $1 'Snow White' labels attached to 10 'Heart of roses' Greetings stamps. The third pack contains a pane of 10 Greetings stamps with attached labels featuring Dinosaurs and commemorates the 25th anniversary of the American movie, 'Jurassic Park'. Each of these packs are sold for $12. Rating:- 0.

  The annual 'Australian Legends' issue will be released on 18 January 2018 and will be made up of 5 gummed stamps (total face value $5) and 5 self-adhesive stamps from 5 different booklets each containing 10 stamps and sold for a total of $50. Rating:- *.
  An issue titled 'With Love' will be released on 6 February 2018. It will be made up of 2 gummed stamps (total face value $3) and 2 self-adhesive stamps sold in booklets of 10 (cost $10) or sheetlet packs of 24 (2 sheetlets each of 12 stamps with each sheetlet featuring 'a different colour embellishment' (sold for $27). Ho hum. Rating:- 0.

  Due to be released on 28 November 2017 is a set of gummed stamps (total face value $4), 1 gummed miniature sheet ($4) and 4 self-adhesive stamps (sold in booklets of 20 at a price of $20) on the subject of the fascinating plants known as Banksias. An interesting and attractive set but put in the context of all the other philatelic items being flooded on to the market, hardly necessary. Rating:- **.
  The issue was designed by Celia Rosser and Jo MurΓ© and lithographed by RA Printing and perforated 14.4 x 14.

 πŸ‡³πŸ‡«  A $5 miniature sheet inscribed 'Norfolk Island' will be released by Australia Post on 27 February 2018 on the subject of Golf in Norfolk Island. This is an attractive item bound to be of interest to golf players and was designed by Neil Walker and lithographed by EGO and perforated 14.5 x 14. Rating:- ***.

   These then are Australia Post's stamp issues for January and February 2018 and if you want to buy one of each the total cost will be $337.95c (£189.88p). Happy new year!