Sunday, 29 June 2014

430. The Commonwealth's Greediest Stamp Producers 2013.

  Clearly (Mozambique) is striving to maintain its position at the top of the Commonwealth Greediest postal administrations table for yet another year but it may find a fight on its hands from Royal Mail or Solomon Islands. (Blog 264, 29 June 2013 - "The Commonwealth's Greediest Post Offices 2012").

  And so it was to be. All three of the above proved to be the 3 greediest postal administrations in The Commonwealth in terms of number of stamps issued during 2013. Another year of pride for Royal Mail as it finds itself in the top three group with two of the countries which allow Stamperija to produce philatelic products in their name. 

 The table of number of stamps, miniature sheets and booklets issued during 2013 is as follows:-

  1. Mozambique - 675 stamps and 150 miniature sheets. Total 825 items;
  2. Solomon Islands - 541 stamps and 121 m.s.. Total 662 items;
  3. Royal Mail (British postal service) 277 stamps (includes definitive varieties and Post And Go stamps), 8 m.s. (does not include Smilers Generic sheets or Business sheets) and 11 booklets. Total 296 items;
  4. Grenada (includes Grenada Grenadines) - 245 stamps and 47 m.s. Total 292 items;
  5. Australia Post (includes issues inscribed for Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands) - 239 stamps and 21 m.s. (prestige booklets and souvenir sheets not included, self-adhesive varieties from booklets are included as stamps rather than as booklets). Total 260 items;
  6. Maldives - 164 stamps and 41 m.s. Total 205 items;
  7. Guyana - 140 stamps and 21 m.s. Total 161 items;
  8. Ghana - 120 stamps and 47 m.s. Total 147 items;
  9. Uganda - 120 stamps and 23 m.s. Total 143 items;
  10. The Gambia (issues until 3 October 2013 when The Gambia left The Commonwealth) - 118 stamps and 23 m.s. Total 141 items;
  11. Tanzania - 120 stamps and 14 m.s. Total 134 items;
  12. Cook Islands (includes Aitutaki, Penrhyn and Rarotonga) - 114 stamps and 15 m.s. Total 129 items;
  13. Canada Post - 102 stamps (self-adhesive stamps from booklets are included as stamps rather than in a separate category of booklets) and 18 m.s. Total 120 items;
  14. India - 109 stamps and 10 m.s. Total 119 items;
  15. (14=) New Zealand Post (includes Ross Dependency) - 100 stamps and 9 m.s. Total 119 items;
  16. Kenya - 102 stamps and 1 m.s. Total 102 items;
  17. Nevis - 95 stamps and 16 m.s. Total 111 items;
  18. South Africa - 102 stamps and 5 m.s. and 1 booklet. Total 108 items;
  19. Tonga (includes Niuafo'ou) - 85 stamps and 15 m.s. Total 100 items;
  20. Jersey - 85 stamps and 9 m.s. and 1 booklet. Total 95 items;
  21. Sierra Leone - 80 stamps and 14 m.s. Total 94 items;
  22. St. Vincent And The Grenadines (does not include items with the names of individual island printed on them) - 71 stamps and 22 m.s.. Total 93 items;
  23. Papua New Guinea - 70 stamps and 19 m.s. Total 89 items;
  24. (23=) Tuvalu - 76 stamps and 13 m.s. Total 89 items;
  25. Isle Of Man - 74 stamps and 5 m.s. Total 79 items.
  This is a fascinating list which shows that during 2013 the mad scramble by postal administrations and agencies to put products on the philatelic market to squeeze every last penny/cent out of collectors continued unabated. It has the air of desperation about it and for some postal administrations represents a national disgrace. It is deeply humiliating for the British and Australian postal administrations to find themselves adopting the same attitude towards collectors of new stamp issues as some of the more notorious philatelic agencies and represents a real contempt for their long-term customers who may not be long-term for very much longer.
  Not everything is bad. The list of the top ten of postal administrations with a modest approach to the issue of new stamps is as follows:-
  1. Cameroon - 0 items;
  2. (1=) Lesotho - 0 items;
  3. (1=) Nauru - 0 items;
  4. (1=) Rwanda - 0 items;
  5. (1=) Seychelles - 0 items;
  6. Nigeria - 2 stamps. Total 2 items;
  7. British Indian Ocean Territory - 4 stamps. Total 4 items;
  8. (7=) British Virgin Islands - 4 stamps Total 4 items;
  9. (7=) Swaziland - 4 stamps. Total 4 items;
  10. Malawi - 5 stamps and 1 m.s. Total 6 items.

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429. For King And Empire.

  New Zealand Post will issue an excellent se-tenant block of 6 stamps on 23 July 2014 titled "For King And Empire" to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. The set is very similar to the Royal Mail issue which was described in Blog 382. The stamps were designed by Strategy Design And Advertising, Wellington and lithographed by Southern Colour Print.
  The designs depict a poster calling men to prepare for war by participating in military training (shown above), Lord Kitchener, the proclamation of 5 August 2014 that as part of The British Empire, New Zealand was at war with Germany, Melville Mirfin who signed up to join the New Zealand Army on 5 August 2014, a pre-war family portrait of the Mirfin family which includes all the young men of the family who would go to war and the departure of The Limerick, one of the first troopships to leave New Zealand with the first troops aboard:-

  In addition to the se-tenant block of 6 x 80c values, four other values will be issued (2 x$2.00 and 2 x 2.50c) included in a miniature sheet of all of the 10 stamps. The remaining four stamps depict a troop training camp in Canterbury, "the home front" - Karaka Bay, letters from troops in Samoa which was captured from the Germans as New Zealand's first campaign of the war (Melville Mirfin was one of 1135 New Zealand troops who were sent to Samoa) and New Zealand troops in Egypt:-

  The stamps are also sold in 2 additional miniature sheets, one containing the 6 x 80c stamps and the other containing the higher values:-

  This is a wonderful issue which commemorates events of the greatest significance to New Zealand. Meanwhile the Royal Mail stamps will be sold in a prestige booklet which consists of 4 interesting panes. Pane 1 consists of 3 x 1st stamps, Pane 2 consists of 3 x £1.48p stamps, Pane 3 consists of a single £1 definitive stamp and Pane 4 consists of 4 x 1st regional definitives (one each for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) with 2 x 10p and 2 x 20p Machin Head definitives. All the stamps will be printed in lithography by Enschede:-


  I contrast these two excellent issues which commemorate the centenary of the beginning of this terrible war with the the products produced by the Stamperija philatelic agency which are also linked to the same anniversary. These products are those which bear the inscription "Mozambique" and consist of the usual sheetlet of 4 "stamps" and 1 miniature sheet. I mentioned these items in Blog 427 originally:-

  From 2007 to 2010 Ghana issued a number of surcharged stamps in a revised currency. Some of these are rarely to be found offered for sale but I noticed one on cover recently on one of the Internet auction sites - it is the C18 value of the set originally issued on 1 August 1985 to commemorate the Moslem festival of Id-El-Fitr with a GHc0.30 surcharge applied in black:-

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

428. Australian Stamp Frenzy Begins.

  Australia Post issued 4 interesting stamps on 24 June 2014 on the subject of maps of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The stamps were designed by Boschen Design and lithographed by RA Print. As described in Blog 421 this issue is part of a programme of weekly stamp issues which Australia Post will release over the coming months.

  Four stamps were released by Singapore Post on 28 May 2014 on the subject of past street scenes. They were designed by Lim An-ling and lithographed by Enschede using ink which changes colour in sunlight! I have not yet received my copies of these stamps but I look forward to seeing what happens to the stamps as a result of this bizarre printing gimmick - hopefully they won't spontaneously combust!:-

  Whereas Australia Post intends to issue 4 new sets of stamps in the short timeframe of 4 weeks, Mauritius Post is quite content to release 3 sets in the whole of 2014. The latest issue consists of 4 stamps on the subject of Events and Anniversaries (all ofcourse of great local relevance) which are:- 150th anniversary of Pere Laval, 10th anniversary of the creation of the Ombudsman for the Childrenn's Office, Bicentenary of the arrival of Rev. Jean Lebrun in Mauritius and the 25th anniversary of the introduction of mobile telephones in Mauritius:-

  Also from the CASCO Philatelic Agency is a pair of stamps and accompanying miniature sheet issued by The British Indian Ocean Territory on 9 June 2014 which depict the territory's Coat Of Arms:-

  A third CASCO issue has appeared from Cayman Islands on the subject of traditional housing in the Sister Islands. The date of issue was 10 June 2014:-

  The latest issues from Sri Lanka are:-
  29 April 2014 - Centenary of Ramanathan College:-

  5 May 2014 - Opening of the new Sri Lanka Army Hospital:-

  22 May 2014 - International Biodiversity Day:-

  29 May 2014 - Centenary of Carey College:-

  5 June 2014 - World Environment Day:-

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Saturday, 21 June 2014

427. Christmas In March.

  The latest publicity of the philatelic entity known as Stamperija has announced the issue of philatelic items in the name of 2 Commonwealth countries - Solomon Islands and Mozambique. For both countries we get the usual sheetlets of 4 "stamps" with an accompanying miniature sheet. The philatelic agency has surpassed its remarkable ability to display grotesque cynicism by issuing some 2013 Christmas stamps on 3 March 2014. If these items are ever sold over the counters of any post office in The Solomons one must conclude that they have appeared rather too late to be used on Christmas mail or, perhaps, many months too early to service the 2014 Christmas mail.

  Apart from this hilariously inappropriately-timed Christmas issue other subjects featured are:- Australian aviation; Australian scouts; Diana, Princess Of Wales; Nelson Mandela; Australian astronauts; Golf and Dogs. The tragedy of this outpouring of gummed paper in the name of this small Melanesian state is that 1 sheetlet of 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet are actually quite important and locally relevant - those on the subject of the Fight Against Malaria - unfortunately I shall not be obtaining these items on this vitally important subject because of all the accompanying irrelevant, er, "stamps":-

  Stamperija hopes to boost it profits from the following items issued with the approval of the Mozambique Postal Administration (release date alleged to be 25 February 2014):- Henri Matisse; Species on the IUCN Red List; Jean-Philipe Rameau; John Hanning Speke; Mikhail Lermontov; Lockheed-71 Blackbird aircraft; Louis Renault; Marie Curie; Jawarhalal Nehru; The Passenger pigeon; Nelson Mandela; Wassily Kandinsky; World War I; and Joe de Maggio (I guess that has all bases covered!). There is also an issue to appeal to the Chinese market which consists of a sheetlet of 4 identical stamps and 1 miniature sheet on the subject of the art of Fu Baoshi and Xu Shen:-

  For how much longer can this go on?
  Meanwhile new issues from Isle Of Man are appearing at increasingly rapid rates and where stamps were once the norm sheetlets now appear to be the necessity. On 24 June 2014 the island's postal administration will issue no less than 6 sheetlets (though I think I would call them miniature sheets) to commemorate the 2014 Tour De France Cycle Race, the opening stages of which will take place in England this year (but not, you'll note, in The Isle Of Man). I really can not think why this small island does not allow Stamperija to take over its stamp issues since excessive issuing appears to be the norm with both philatelic entities:-

  The total cost for the basic set of 6 sheetlets is £8.82p.
  Guernsey Post will issue 2 stamps inscribed "Alderney" on 22 July 2014 to commemorate the first birthday of Prince George of Cambridge. The designs depict the by now very familiar photographs taken at the child's christening earlier this year and appear to have nothing new to say on the subject. Pleasingly the total face value of the pair is only £1.10p:-

  Papua New Guinea issued 4 stamps, 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 31 March 2014 to commemorate the former South African leader, the late Nelson Mandela:-

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