Monday, 30 April 2012

Secessionist States

My recent blog about the secession of Azawad of course had no relevance to collectors of Commonwealth stamps but the story of the new country's secession from Mali brings to mind the thought that a number of Commonwealth members or non-Commonwealth countries which were once part of the British Empire started off as secessionist states - some were successful in surviving and others are mere footnotes in the pages of history. The earliest territory to break away from being part of a larger state actually comprised 13 territories and these were of course the British settlements in North America which combined together to declare themselves to be independent of Great Britain and called themselves The United States Of America. They famously proclaimed their independence on 4 July 1776 and it would take a war with Britain which would last until 1783 and, more importantly, the military intervention of Britain's arch-enemy, France, for the Americans to finally succeed with their secession. The stamp below shows the first flag of The United States, the Continental Colours or the Grand Union Flag, which curiously initially retained the Union Jack in the canton and was first raised by the rebel Americans at Prospect Hill in Somerville on 1 January 1776 but ceased to be used after the declaration of independence.
Ireland had been under at least partial English rule from the reign of King Henry II (see blog of 4 July 2010) when he declared himself to be Lord Of Ireland in 1171. On 1 January 1801 an Act Of Union established the single state of The United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Ireland. Resistance to the Union grew gradually among the Irish and this culminated in an armed uprising in 1916 and the establishment of The Provisional Government in Ireland on 16 January 1922. The new state used British stamps overprinted in Gaelic text in various formats which said, in translation, "Provisional Government of Ireland 1922". The Irish Free State was established on 6 December 1922 although the British king, George V, remained Head of State. The stamps depicted below are the single commemorative issued on 27 October 1941 to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1916 uprising (with Dublin Post Office depicted in the background) and 4 values of one of the sets of surcharged definitives issued in 1922.
The British first acquired Singapore from the Sultan of Johore in 1819 and after various forms of administration and a period of occupation by the Japanese during World War 2, Singapore was granted independence from Britain on 31 August 1963 when it became part of The Federation Of Malaysia. However Singapore seceded from Malaysia on 9 August 1965.
The above stamps depict the national flag of Singapore and had been issued on 3 June 1960 to commemorate Singapore's national day. One of the most surprising secessions in The Commonwealth in the 1960's was that of the small Caribbean island of Anguilla which was part of the British Associated State of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. The Anguillans felt themselves to be the neglected part of this state and agitated for separation from St. Kitts-Nevis and the administration withdrew from the island on 30 May 1967. The Anguillans flew their own "Three Dolphins" flag (shown on one of a set of four stamps issued on 5 November 1990) and issued St.Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla definitive stamps overprinted "Independent Anguilla" on 4 September 1967, the high values of that set, in particular, being rare and valuable. Anguilla was returned to direct British rule on 27 July 1971.
On 30 March 1967, the oil-rich former eastern region of Nigeria seceded from Nigeria and proclaimed its independence as The Republic Of Biafra. The central Nigerian government resisted the secession by military means and a terrible period of civil war ensued. Unlike more recent secessionist states, Biafra received some amount of international recognition, some of it opportunist like that of France which supported the Biafrans against the Nigerians. Terrible suffering ensued in the local population and thousands, especially small children, died of starvation. Biafra became a bye-word for hunger. It is ironic that the Biafra Post Office commemorated independence with the three stamps shown below, one of which depicted a mother and child who probably would have been starving to death before the Biafran state collapsed and Federal troops overran the country leading to its surrender on 15 January 1970.
More human suffering resulted from the secession of the eastern province of Pakistan when the territory declared itself independent of the western province as The Republic Of Bangladesh on 26 March 1971. A civil war followed as Pakistan resisted the secession but India intervened on Bangladesh's behalf and the new country successfully established itself. The illustrated stamp below is one of a set of 8 stamps designed in Britain by B. Mullick which saw use as the country's first definitive set being issued on 29 July 1971. This particular value shows the first national flag which was used until 25 January 1972 when the map was removed from the red disc to simplify the design. Prior to the issue of these stamps, numerous Pakistani stamps had been used on mail with overprints applied by various means.
On 15 July 1974, part of the Cyprus national Guard led by Greek officers overthrew the President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, and installed Nikos Sampsom in his place. Sampson was fanatically anti-Turkish and in response to the potential danger to the Turkish Cypriot community, Turkish armed forces were ordered to invade Cyprus on 20 July 1974. From that date, Turkish Cypriot post offices in the north-eastern portion of the island used stamps on mail which had only previously been used on local mail between Turkish Cypriot areas. An Autonomous Turkish Cypriot Administration was established and on 13 February 1975 The Turkish Federated State Of Cyprus was proclaimed although it has only been recognised as an independent state by Turkey itself. The stamp shown below is one of a pair issued on 20 July 1984 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and depicts the national flag of Turkish Cyprus.
Another notable but short-lived secession in a Commonwealth country was that which occurred on 13 March 1959 when three of the southernmost atolls of The Maldive Islands (see the map to the left of the stamp shown below) proclaimed their independence as The United Suvadive Islands. The Maldivian government rapidly put down the rebellion and the state had ceased to exist by September 1963. No special postage stamps were issued by the government of The Suvadives during its period of existence.
Finally we may mention one more secession in The Commonwealth which again appears to have had no postal consequences and thus no stamps for collectors to chase after. Firstly in 1975 and then in May 1990 there was a rebellion in the North Solomons province of Papua New Guinea which resulted in the proclamation of the independent Republic Of Bourgainville. Peace talks brokered by New Zealand were held in 1997 and Bourgainville was recognised as an Autonomous Province of Papua New Guinea.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

What Has Happened To Maldives 2010 Environmental Miniature Sheet?

On 23 June 2010, Maldives issued a miniature sheet which commemorated the rather enigmatic "350". The sheet contained five stamps and commemorated the first ever meeting by a national government's cabinet under water. The attending ministers wore scuba diving equipment and are depicted on four of the values.
The meeting was held to draw attention to the organisation which had been formed to raise awareness about climate change; the figure 350 refers to the number of parts per million that carbon dioxide concentration must be reduced to to ensure that irreversible damage to the world environment does not occur. At the time of the Maldivian sub-marine cabinet meeting, the figure stood at 388 parts per million. The meeting was led by the energetic, young Maldivian President, Mohamed Nasheed, who was forced to resign from office on 7 February 2012. The issue is of great importance to The Maldives since the islands barely rise above sea-level and any elevation of the sea due to global warming would seriously threaten the islands. Unfortunately, the miniature sheet is extremely difficult to track down and I have not yet seen any dealer or internet seller who is offering or who has offered this item for sale. In fact, since then Maldives appears not to have issued any stamps at all which is perplexing given its record of excessive issuing of stamps prior to that date. I have previously reported that The Maldives Post Office had placed an advertisement for a printer for its new definitive series which will feature marine life so perhaps the post office there has broken with the New York-based philatelic agents who produced its stamps from the 1960's although I would be surprised if that were the case. The deposition of President Nasheed also complicates matters since one supposes that the new regime is unlikely to allow the post office to sell the "350" sheet due to its featuring the overthrown leader. Perhaps the new government, which is really the old guard returned to power, will revert to excessive stamp issues of little relevance to the islands as a means of increasing income.
Another territory which seems to have suddenly reduced its number of stamp issues from previously high levels is Dominica, which has also been controlled by the New York-based philatelic agency for many years. In 2011, only three issues were released:- on 1 June 2011 two stamps and 1 miniature sheet were issued to commemorate the Cricket World Cup, three Christmas stamps were issued on 1 November and a new definitive set of 13 stamps was released on an as yet unspecified date (which may even have been in early 2012). The new definitives, unusually, all depict species of lizard found in Dominica. A number of the designs are shown above and below:-
The complete set is comprised of the following values:- 5c, 10c, 15c, 20c, 25c, 50c, 65c, 90c, $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20.
The two highest values are interesting because they depict old drawings, made in 1921, rather than photographs of the lizards in question - clearly photographs of the creatures were not available to the designer. I suppose its rather difficult to track down some of the tinier of these animals to photograph them satisfactorily.
In all, an attractive and interesting set and rather easier to find than the Maldives sheet.

Friday, 27 April 2012

High Face Value For Diana Beach Stamps.

The date of issue of Antigua-Barbuda's "Princess Diana's Visit to Barbuda" set and miniature sheet which I have previously mentioned, was 12 July 2011. This is about the only set of stamps issued by the pair of islands in 2011 whose subject matter had any direct relevance to them and therefore the only stamps produced during that year which I have bought from there for my collection. Unfortunately the "Princess Diana Beach" issue is really rather expensive since there are 2 stamps in the set each with a value of EC$10 (£2.28) but made more expensive since they are generally being sold in (admittedly very attractive) sheetlets of five along with a EC$50 miniature sheet. The total cost is therefore EC$150 or about £34.24p. The two EC$10 stamps show pictures of a very relaxed and informal princess during her visit to Barbuda in April 1997.
She is portrayed with her two young sons on one of the values.
The stamp in the miniature sheet portrays the princess against a background of an idyllic-looking beach on the island, presumably this is the beach which has since been named after her.
Certainly the territory kept collectors (and their bank accounts) busy during 2011. Here is a complete list of issues from Antigua-Barbuda which were released in 2011 (where stamps were issued in sheetlets which contained multiples of the same stamp I have counted them as single stamps):- 3 January:- Year of the Rabbit (1 miniature sheet); "Beijing 2010", pandas (4 stamps & 1 m.s.); 17 January:- Christmas 2010 (4 stamps); 14 February:- Engagement of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton (3 stamps & 2 m.s.); 4 April:- 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War (12 stamps); "Indipex 2011", Mahatma Gandhi (8 stamps); Beatification of Pope John Paul II (2 stamps & 1 m.s.); 12 July:- 1997 Visit of The Princess of Wales (2 stamps & 1 m.s.); 3 August:- Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Germany (6 stamps); 15 August:- Shells of the Caribbean (10 stamps & 2 m.s.); Wedding of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge (6 stamps & 1 m.s.; 9 September:- Elvis Presley (8 stamps & 1 m.s.); 50th anniversary of the Inauguration of John Kennedy as President of The USA (7 stamps & 1 m.s.); 50th Birthday of US President Obama (4 stamps & 1 m.s.); Space anniversaries (8 stamps & 2 m.s.); 50th anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales (4 stamps & 1 m.s.); 30 September:- Tropical fish (8 stamps & 2 m.s.); 24 October:- Leaders of China (1 stamp & 1 m.s.); 15 November:- Christmas (4 stamps); 19 December:- Abraham Lincoln & the US Civil War (4 stamps & 1 m.s.); Lunar New Year Calendar (12 stamps). That appears to add up to 133 stamps and 20 miniature sheets. Certainly I expect Antigua-Barbuda to be highly placed in the Greediest Stamp Issuers list for 2011. Issues from the territory so far this year are:- 25 January 2012:- Centenary of the sinking of The Titanic (4 stamps & 1 m.s.) and 26 March:- Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (who of course is Queen of Antigua-Barbuda)(4 stamps & 1 m.s.). I shall buy the latter but not the former since the loss of The Titanic seems to have no relevance at all to Antigua-Barbuda.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Australia, Canada and Cook Islands Diamond Jubilee Issues...And Tuvalu Fish!

Australia issued its Diamond Jubilee stamps on 3 April 2012, just two valued at 60c and $2.35. They are gummed and printed in lithography by McKellar Renown , the usual printer for modern Australian stamps. The stamps were designed by Jo Muir. Unfortunately Australia also produced a number of accompanying expensive, gimicky collectibles including two covers, one of which has a "silver" version of the 60c stamp attached to it (price $29.95) and the other with a gold "stamp" attached to it (price - keep calm - $199.95!). These "stamps" are not available in a mint state and are therefore not true postage stamps available for use on mail, merely collectibles and therefore stamp collectors need not worry about having to get them unless they want to have an expensive souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee with not much prospect of any investment potential.
Below I illustrate the dignified Canadian stamp issued on 16 January 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee which I have previously mentioned but not shown on this site. I also include an illustration of Canada's third Jubilee miniature sheet and a close up of one of the stamps from it.
Below is one of the six stamps and the sheetlet of six issued by The Cook Islands on 6 February 2012 to commemorate the Jubilee in the same style as the omnibus issue produced by some of the CASCO territories. A single stamp miniature sheet accompanies these items.
Finally, just for a change of subject, I illustrate the sheetlet and miniature sheet (and a couple of stamps from the miniature sheet) which were issued probably towards the end of 2011 by Tuvalu which depict local fish and marine mammals. I think that they are quite interesting if only because for once they depict a subject of strict national relevance and therefore are worth adding to one's collection. Whether or not they actually get sold at a Tuvaluan post office for use on ordinary mail is another question altogether.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

South Georgia Recaptured

Thirty years ago today, 25 April 1982, British forces recaptured the island of South Georgia from occupying troops of Argentina. The island, which had been seized on 26 March 1982, had been renamed Isla San Pedro by the Argentines. In response to the occupation of South Georgia, before the invasion of The Falkland Islands, the British government had sent the submarines HMS Splendid and HMS Spartan to the south Atlantic area on 29 March along with the RFA Fort Austin to support HMS Endurance (pictured below along with a stamp featuring a view of King Edward Point, both stamps being issued by South Georgia on 20 June 1992 to commemorate the recapture of the island along with two other stamps - one is shown at the head of this piece - and a miniature sheet. All 4 stamps carried a surcharge which made a contribution to SSAFA, the Soldiers', Sailors' and Airforce Association).
The force that Britain sent to attack the Argentines in South Georgia consisted of Royal Marines from 42 Commando, a troop of the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) and they were all embarked on RFA Tidespring, shown above on a South Georgia stamp designed by Anthony Theobald which was issued on 28 May 2001 as part of a set of 4 stamps which depicted ships of the Royal Fleet Auxilliary. The first ship to arrive at the island was the submarine HMS Conqueror on 19 April. The SAS landed on South Georgia on 21 April but the weather was too bad for further landings. On 24 April the British forces regrouped and headed in to attack. The following day a Westland Wessex helicopter from HMS Antrim attacked the Argentine submarine, Santa Fe, with depth charges and a Westland Wasp helicopter was launched from HMS Plymouth and HMS Brilliant launched a torpedo at the Santa Fe. The Wasp from HMS Plymouth and others from HMS Endurance fired anti-ship missiles at the submarine and scored hits damaging it so that it could not dive so that the crew abandoned the ship at the jetty at King Edward Point which is depicted above. The helicopters and HMS Plymouth are depicted on stamps shown below, a Wasp is featured on the 65p stamp of a set of 4 issued on 7 May 2009 to commemorate the centenary of Royal Navy aviation; the Wessex is shown on the 50p value of a set of 4 and a miniature sheet released on 25 April to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the recapture of South Georgia and HMS Plymouth was shown on the £1 value of a set of 6 designed by Anthony Theobald and issued on 26 April 2004 which depicted ships of the Royal Navy.
The British force, 76 men under the command of Major Guy Sheridan RM, made a direct assault on the Argentines. The attack was accompanied by a naval bombardment demonstration from the Antrim and Plymouth and the Argentines surrendered without giving any resistance. The British force sent a message to London:- "Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the White Ensign (the flag of the Royal Navy) flies alongside the Union Jack in South Georgia. God Save The Queen" On the steps of 10 Downing Street, her residence, the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, called on people to "Rejoice! Rejoice". The miniature sheet issued in 2007 is shown below. Silhouettes of the ships involved in the operation are depicted in the right-hand and lower borders, clockwise:- HMS Conqueror, HMS Endurance, HMS Plymouth, HMS Brilliant, HMS Antrim, RFA Tidespring, RFA Brambleleaf and RFA Fort Austin. The 60p value depicts 42 Commando Royal Marines at Sheridan Peak and the £1.05 value depicts a Royal Marines Detachment with Mills Peak in the background.
I also include in the illustrations a post card from my collection which was produced in 1982 to celebrate the recapture of South Georgia which was produced by KCP Limited of Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. This was one of a pair, I have already shown the other card in the blog of 3 April 2012 ("The Empire Strikes Back").
The miniature sheet of 1992 is depicted below. The 29p value depicts the passenger liner, the Queen Elizabeth II, which was used as a troop carrier to The Falkland Islands which sheltered in Cumberland Bay, away from the action in The Falklands, where it would have been an irresistible prestige target for attack by the Argentine Air Force.
Finally I illustrate one of a set of 6 stamps issued on the 31 December 1999 to commemorate the new millennium which depicts the church at Grytviken and was issued with a label attached, "Peace Be With You". A sentiment which seems very relevant for this tiny, usually uninhabited island which experienced its own war.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Azawad, A New African Country But Commonwealth Collectors Can Relax.

This posting does not do what it says on the can and is not about the stamps of a Commonwealth country but the subject still interests me although it will not affect my stamp collecting habits.
For some time there has been a rebellion taking place by the nomadic Tuaregs in the north of the west African state of Mali, including involvement of the area around the legendary city of Timbuktu. On 21 March 2012 a military coup overthrew the Malian president in the atmosphere of growing frustration within the armed forces over the government's ineffective responses to the Tuareg rebellion. With the confusion following the coup, the Tuareg rebels of the MNLA and Islamist group, Ansar Dine, captured Kidal and Gao from the Malian armed forces and then Timbuktu on 1 April 2012 and, two days afterwards, introduced sharia law in Timbuktu and this resulted in most of the Christian population of Timbuktu fleeing from the city. On 6 April 2012, the MNLA declared the whole of the north of Mali to be the independent republic of Azawad and so a new country was born. Like the republic of Somaliland, Azawad has not received any international recognition. The flag depicted above was adopted as the new national flag on 6 April 2012. Quite what the implications for the new country's postal services and stamp issues will be is not yet known. I was fortunate to visit Timbuktu in 2007 and sent a postcard from the post office in Timbuktu. I was with a small party and the post office was rather stretched by the entire group's wishes to send postcards home from the legendary city since it did not appear to have adequate numbers of correct value stamps available for use on international postcards. A large number of low value stamps were recruited to make up the correct rate and some of the postcards ended up covered in stamps to the detriment of the receiver being able to read the message from the sender. My postcard escaped with having just three stamps applied to it:-
The stamps are cancelled by a double ring postmark in dark blue with the inscription around the circle of "POSTES MALI" and "TOMBOCTOU" with the date, "19.03.07" at the centre. Presumably, if the new government of Azawad wishes to keep the postal service going in the immediate future, any stamps in the post office in Timbuktu and any other post offices in the territory, could be overprinted with the new country's name as has happened in so many other new states over the years. As Azawad is not a member of the UPU, and is not likely to be in the future, there will be no overseas postal services from there. Anyone interested in obtaining stamps from Azawad is clearly faced with a problem even if any are produced and so, for once, the collector of Commonwealth stamps can sit back and relax and observe what happens with interest but not with the anxiety of needing to obtain any such stamps themselves.
The above photograph, taken at Timbuktu in 2007, shows a Tuareg, suitably decked out for the tourists in splendid blue costume, standing by the monument, the Flamme de la Paix, which was built on the spot where 3000 weapons were burnt after a previous Tuareg rebellion. The monument would seem to be rather meaningless now and one wonders if this new country will last rather a long time given the political problems in Mali. Stamp collectors will no doubt be at the forefront of seekers of information about what is happening there.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

"Las Malvinas Son Argentinas"

On this day thirty years ago, 22nd April 1982, Argentina philatelically staked its claim to The Falkland Islands, having militarily occupied them twenty days earlier, by issuing a single stamp which had the design of a rosette in Argentinian colours with the inscription "Las Malvinas Son Argentinas" ("The Falklands Are Argentinian") printed in blue across it in four lines.
While the British Task Force continued to sail south towards the islands, on 19 April the Argentinian junta had rejected a peace plan brought to it by the US Secretary Of State, Alexander Haig, unless Britain would agree to transfer sovereignty of The Falklands to Argentina by 31 December 1982 and allow Argentine nationals to settle on the islands. On 20 April, the British War Cabinet had ordered that the islands should be repossessed. On the very day that the Argentinian stamp was issued the British Task Force arrived in Falklands waters and the Argentinian leader, General Galtieri, visited the islands. Thus the stamp was issued amid historic events and is of considerable historical interest itself despite being a small-sized stamp of low face value.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Sultans Of Bengal.

On 21 July 2011 Bangladesh issued a miniature sheet containing four stamps which featured coins issued during the reigns of the four Sultans of Bengal who reigned during the period 1334 to 1432. They were only issued in miniature sheet format and the stamps appear to be the first in a series on this theme since the upper border of the sheet bears the inscription "Coins of The Independent Sultans of Bengal".
But who were these rulers of Bengal? It is not easy to find information about these men but Wikipedia at least provides a list of the rulers of Bengal. The first coin depicted is one produced during the reign of Sultan Fakhr al-Din Mubarak Shah (1334-49). The Wikipedia list calls him Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah and dates his rule as 1338-49. He was an independent Sultan during the Delhi Sultanate of Tughlaqs in the Sonargaon region from where he extended his rule to the southeastern part of Bengal. He helped to spread Islam through the area and the city of Chittagong was brought under Muslim rule for the first time in 1340. He ordered a road to be constructed from Chandpur to Chittagong.
The next stamp in the sheet depicts a coin of the reign of Sultan Sharma al-Din Ilyas Shah (1342-57). He founded the Ilyas Shahi Dynasty which first held power through the reigns of five sultans from 1352 to 1414. He was the first sole ruler of the whole of Bengal which comprised Sonargaon, Satgaon and Lakhnauti. He was succeeded by Sikander Shah who is not represented by a coin in this set and he, in turn, was assassinated by his son and successor, Ghiyath al-Din A'Zam Shah in 1389 (1390 in the Wikipedia listing).
The reign of Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah lasted until 1410 (1411 according to Wikipedia). He was succeeded by 2 further rulers of the dynasty:- Saifuddin Hamza Shah (1411-2) and Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah (1412-14) but neither of these sultans are represented on the stamps.
A new house - that of Raja Ganesha - was founded when Raja Ganesha seized control of Bengal when Sultan Bayazid died in 1414. Qutb al Alam, a powerful Muslim holy man, called for an invasion of Bengal and when Raja Ganesha pleaded with him to withdraw his demand he agreed to do so providing Raja's son, Jadu, converted to Islam and ruled in place of Raja Ganesha. Thus Sultan Jalal al-Din Muhammed came to power in 1415 (the year of the Battle of Agincourt) and the final stamp in the set depicts a coin of his reign.
In 1416 Rana Ganesha deposed his son and seized the throne himself taking the title Danujarmarddana and converted back to Hinduism. However Raja Ganesha died in 1418 and Jalaluddin returned to the throne for a second reign over Bengal. He maintained peace in the country and extended his territories to the south and east of Bengal. A Chinese explorer, Cheng Ho, visited the capital city of Pandua from 1421 to 22 and 1431 to 33. Later the capital was moved to Gaur. He helped the king of Arakan to recover his kingdom which had been seized by Burma and thus became overlord of Arakan as well later also ruling over parts of Tripura and southern Bihar. He was also on good terms with the emperor ofChina and rulers of Herat and Egypt. He was a devout Muslim and this strengthened the legitimacy of his rule. He died in 1433 and was buried in the Eklakhi Mausoleum at Pandua. This miniature sheet is extremely attractive and interesting and well worth collecting especially as it seems to be the first part of an ongoing series. It will be of great interest to numismatists as well as those interested in the history of that part of the world. Bangladesh issued several interesting sets last year covering a number of subjects of relevance to the country and is currently in the top rank of Commonwealth countries for its stamp new issue programme,

Thursday, 19 April 2012

New Zealand And Canada Diamond Jubilee Issues.

New Zealand has revealed the designs of its six Diamond Jubilee stamps. They are everything one would want in the design of a stamp which is marking a royal occasion, being dignified and linking the subject depicted directly to the country issuing the stamp. The 70c value depicts the official Diamond Jubilee portrait of the Queen:-
A second 70c value suitably depicts The Queen and The Duke Of Edinburgh in the official New Zealand Diamond Jubilee portrait:-
The $1.40 value depicts the royal couple at a Maori reception held at Hastings, on the east coast of the North Island, during a visit in 1986:-
The Royal Visit of 1981 is depicted on the $1.90 when the royal couple were in Wellington after The Queen's attendance at The Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting which had been held in Melbourne, in neighbouring Australia:-
The $2.40 value depicts The Queen and Prince Phillip in Wellington in 1977 during the Silver Jubilee tour of New Zealand:-
The $2.90 value harks back to the year of the coronation, 1953, when The Queen made her first visit to New Zealand and the stamp shows her delivering her Christmas message to The Commonwealth by radio from Government House, Auckland:-
The six stamps are combined in a very attractive miniature sheet:-
Meanwhile I have now obtained the first two of the six miniature sheets which are to be issued by Canada to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee. Again, these are very attractive and interesting items each centring on a different portrait of The Queen used on stamps dating from different stages of her reign:-
Sadly not all new releases have the integrity of these excellent issues from New Zealand and Canada. Another big philatelic "event" of the year has been the attempt by a surprisingly large number of territories, including a number from The Commonwealth, to exploit the loss of RMS Titanic, 100 years ago. Most of the territories which have released such stamps have very little, if any, connection with the events surrounding the loss of the great ship and the hundreds of deaths that resulted. Personally, I think the loss of so many people hardly seems like a subject which should be commemorated. CASCO has managed to convince the postal authorities of Tristan Da Cunha to issue a sheetlet of 10 stamps to mark the disaster and with the Harry Allen stamp dealership has put out an advertisement for the stamps which says "Celebrate the 100th anniversary of RMS Titanic". With so many deaths, it hardly seems an event that should be "celebrated", perhaps they mean that they want to celebrate all the money that they foresee that they will extract from collectors who buy these stamps. There is still much cynicism in the issue of stamps and sometimes tasteless exploitation.