Tuesday, 30 December 2014

499P. New Issues From PNG, India, Tanzania And Bangladesh.

  The latest new issue is a set of 4 stamps and 2 miniature sheets (one containing 4 different stamps and the other a single stamp) on the subject of local artifacts. I do not yet know the precise date of issue:-

  The two newest issues from India Post are:-
 15 December 2014 - Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan 1 stamp:-

 24 December 2014 - The Kuka Movement - 1 stamp:-

  Tanzania has issued a set of 4 stamps, 1 miniature sheet containing 6 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet containing a single stamp on the subject of Heritage sites in Tanzania. I do not yet know the precise date of issue:-

  In Blog 499O I mentioned the "perfumed" philatelic items which have been produced in the names of Mozambique and Maldives by Stamperija but overlooked similar products released in the name of Solomon Islands which also bear the inscription "PERFUMED STAMPS" in the border. These items are also being promoted on the basis of their irregular shapes. As mentioned in Blog 484 these particular items were given a "date of issue" of 25 August 2014:-

  The 2 latest issues from Bangladesh are:-
  1 December 2014 - Asian Art Biennale held in Bangladesh - 1 stamp:-

  16 December 2014 - Victory Day - 1 stamp:-

  Pakistan - The set of 8 stamps depicting Minerals (see Blog 499L) which was issued on 11 December 2014 was designed by Adil Salahuddin and lithographed by Pakistan Security Printing Corporation of Karachi.


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Sunday, 28 December 2014

499O. Civilian Presidents Commemorated on Nigeria Issue.

  Nipost, the Post Office of Nigeria, issued a set of 7 circular stamps from ordinary sheets and a miniature sheet containing imperforate versions of all 7 stamps on 27 November 2014. The issue depicts the seven civilian Heads of Government who have ruled Nigeria since Independence to commemorate the Centenary of formation of Nigeria as a single state. Each stamp includes a small hologram but the miniature sheet stamps do not have that feature. The Centenary logo in the right hand margin of the miniature sheet includes the wrongly spelt word "Centinary". 
  Pos Malaysia is also commemorating one of its rulers in one of two new issues. The first issue, released on 23 December 2014, commemorates the 40th anniversary of the succession of the fifth Sultan of Pahang, Haji Ahmad Shah. The single stamp was designed by Pos Malaysia and lithographed by Percetakan Keselamatan Nasional:-

  This is followed by an issue on 31 December 2014 to commemorate the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'Adzam Shah Bridge in Penang. The pair of stamps was designed by Reign Associates and again lithographed by Percetakan Keselamatan Nasional:-

    Royal Mail has released the design of one of the stamps from the set which is due to be issued on 1 April 2015 which will depict British comedians. The stamp, a 1st Class domestic rate value, depicts the comedians Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker known as The Two Ronnies with a portrait of each performer flanking an image of them in roles which they played in their television programmes. The design consists of straightforward photograph images and as such seems to be rather lazily produced especially when compared with the excellent 1998 set of Comedians which used art by the great British cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe:-

  Stamperija is branching out into producing philatelic items with gimmicky features presumably in the expectation that such features which are hardly novel any more, will increase the dubious appeal of their products to collectors. Thus two previously mentioned sheetlets and accompanying miniature sheets are perfumed and the inscription "PERFUMED STAMPS" or "SELOS PERFUMADOS" is included in the border of the sheets to make sure that collectors are aware of the peculiar characteristics of these items. The items have been produced in the name of Maldives (see Blog 493) and Mozambique (see Blog 499):-

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Friday, 26 December 2014

499N. City Link Goes Into Administration.

City Link logo.

  In The United Kingdom, apart from Royal Mail which was privatised in 2013, there are a number of private postal services whose services are available to the the British mail sending public or to commercial companies. Only one, along with Royal Mail, has an international mail service - Universal Mail United Kingdom - the stamps of which have been detailed in a number of previous blogs (the stamps are used for a tourism-based international airmail postcard service) (see Blog of 19 June 2012, and Blogs 295, 314, 426 and 461) but adhesive postpaid labels from some of the other companies can also be found fixed to packages and mail arriving at British addresses. 
  Such labels are, in my opinion at least, of interest to stamp collectors who see their collection as an illustration of the development of postal services in Britain. Not all of the postal services use adhesive labels which indicate the payment of postage (which is an unrefined definition of a postage stamp) and so it is interesting to discover which of the private companies do produce such labels - "stamps".
  One such company whose labels have turned up fairly frequently on my mail has been City Link which was placed in administration on 24 December 2014. The mail had been collected and sorted by City Link and then passed on to Royal Mail for delivery. The company had been founded in 1969 as a cross-town transfer service for Red Star Parcels which was operated by British Rail. A national network of agents was established to collect parcels from railway stations and to deliver on to consignees. The hub of City Link's commercial activities was situated in Coventry and the service operated throughout The United Kingdom plus The Isle Of Man.
  Most mail arrived with white adhesive labels applied to them with the company's logo in black and with the inscription "Delivered by Royal Mail" contained in a rectangle and a number at the lower edge. Both of the examples in my collection have the number C9 10012:-

City Link adhesive label or "stamp"

  I have an appendix at the end of my British definitive collection for inclusion of such items as the City Link stamp and I think the labels are an important part of the philatelic story of the British postal services because they represent the private mail services which provide competition for Royal Mail, itself now a privatised company. The City Link label will no longer turn up on mail with the end of the company and may prove to be an interesting item of British postal history in the future.

City Link transport van.

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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

499M. The Christmas Truce.

  World War I - Christmas 1914: on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day British and German soldiers left their trenches and entered no man's land and exchanged Christmas greetings, food and souvenirs. They joined in carol singing and took the opportunity of the truce to bury their dead. For a few hours, one hundred years ago, war was paused and men shared a short peace. Famously, men from the opposing armies played football with each other as war was paused. The centenary of the Christmas Truce has been commemorated philatelically by The Isle Of Man as the subject of the £1.41p value of the set of 6 stamps issued on 19 Febrary 2014 which noted the centenary of the beginning of he First World War. Now Isle Of Man Stamps And Coins has issued 2 covers to commemorate the actual anniversary of the Truce which of course are purely philatelic in nature but nevertheless are interesting and commemorate marvellously those few brief hours of peace. The first of the two covers is depicted above and includes the Christmas Truce stamp cancelled on Christmas Eve by a red postmark in the style of the old Manx Christmas postmarks. I like the item very much and in an era when Christmas philatelic items are ten a penny it brings something special and meaningful to a collection of 2015 Commonwealth Christmas philatelic products:-

  A second cover - a philatelic/numismatic cover - has also been produced by Isle Of Man Stamps And Coins in a limited edition which combines the Manx Christmas Truce stamps, cancelled on Christmas Day itself, with 2 Deutsche Post Christmas Truce stamps cancelled at Berlin also on 25 December 2014. The coin mounted in the cover is an Isle Of Man 1 crown which also commemorates the Christmas Truce. I do not collect philatelic/numismatic covers (particularly limited editions sold for £35) but if I were an enthusiast for such items I would rush to make sure that I was one of the lucky 500 people to get my hands on one of these items:-

    Royal Mail issued a commemorative sheet on 11 November 2014 which noted the Christmas Truce and consisted of 10 poppy stamps and 10 attached labels showing scenes from the Truce. Sadly, although the face value of the stamps in the sheet is only £6.20p, the price of the item from Royal Mail is £14.95 - a mark up above face value of 240% -this seems more like exploitation of the memories of those men who were in the frozen trenches of Flanders at Christmas 1914 rather than a commemoration of their spirit.:-

  It is worth mentioning the Christmas Truce Memorial which was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on 12 December 2014. The memorial was designed by a 10 year old boy, Spencer Turner, and consists of two hands together in a handshake surrounded by the outline of a football:-

  I think that the Royal Mail Christmas stamps for 2014 are very lacklustre particularly when they are compared with the very beautiful set which was released in 2013. My favourite stamp of the 2013 set is the 88p value, depicted below, which is a detail of a painting by Jacques Louis David which is titled St. Roch Praying to The Virgin for an End to the Plague and which David painted in 1780. The detail depicted on the stamp is only a fraction of the whole painting as shown below though I suppose the whole painting really is not very Christmassy depicting, as it does, several plague victims with St. Roch, the Patron Saint of plague-sufferers kneeling before The Virgin and Child.

  I have something of a soft spot for St. Roch as he is also the Patron Saint of dogs and as a devoted dog owner the story of St. Roch is of great interest to me. Apparently St. Roch who was born in Montpeliar c.1348 was caring for plague victims in Piacenza in Italy when he contracted the illness himself. He was expelled from the town and found refuge in a forest where a dog came and supplied him with bread and licked his sores and healed them. The dog's owner, Count Gothard, discovered Roch's refuge and became a follower of Roch. Hence, after his canonisation, Roch was recognised not only as the Patron Saint of plague victims but also of dogs. The painting depicted below is by Guy Francois (c.1578 to 1650) and shows Roch with an angel, the sore on his thigh bandaged and the faithful dog at his feet.

  Even though St. Roch's dog does not appear on the Royal Mail 2013 Christmas stamp, at least one dog has been featured on British Christmas stamps - Gromit, the fictional friend of Wallace, who both appear in the Aardman films which recount their adventures. Both Gromit and Wallace were depicted on the 7 stamp set of the 2010 Royal Mail Christmas issue and the colourful and cheerful subject made for an excellent issue and put a smile on the face of anyone who received a Christmas card with one of the stamps stuck to the envelope (so much more cheerful than the 2014 issue):-

  Only in a stamp album could one's Christmas journey begin in the trenches of Flanders, travel via the story of St. Roch and his faithful dog and end up in the world of a cartoon dog and his master. Merry Christmas.

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

499L. New Issues From Hong Kong, Pakistan And Norfolk Island.

  Hong Kong Post issued 1 miniature sheet on 4 December 2014 as the third part of its Mainland China World Heritage series. The issue featured  Danxia and was designed by Gideon Lai and lithographed by Enschede.
  On 11 December 2014  Pakistan Post issued 8 different stamps as a sheetlet of 16 (2 blocks of 8 different stamps) on the subject of Gems and Minerals of Pakistan. The set was lithographed by Pakistan Security Printing Corporation of Karachi:-

  The two latest issues from Norfolk Island are colourful and interesting - the first, a set of five, was released on 17 October 2014 and was titled "Quilting":- 

  A set of 5 Christmas stamps was issued on 1 November 2014:-

  The indispensable Norvic Philatelics Blog (dated Tuesday 16 December 2014) has revealed that there have been no less than 36 new Royal Mail Machin Head definitive stamp varieties released during 2014. These are all detailed in the Norvic Blog and so I will not relist them here but it is an important list of which to be aware. 

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