Saturday, 28 November 2015

675. New Year Greetings From Monkey Island.


  New Zealand Post will issue 4 colourful stamps and 1 miniature sheet on 13 January 2015 to commemorate the lunar new year, the Year of The Monkey. The issue was designed by Asiaworks of Auckland and lithographed by Southern Colour Print. I particularly like the $2.50c with its image of New Zealand's dramatic scenery as a background to a sign pointing to "Monkey Island" with a bird rising from the ground into the air.
   Monkey island is a small island with a mini lagoon off the beach (as depicted on the stamp) near the town of Orepuki in Southland at the tip of New Zealand's South Island. The island can be reached at low tide via a small walking track and was used by local Maori as a traditional lookout post for whales and named it "Te Puka o Takitimu" or "Anchorstone of Takitimu" canoe/waka. It is said that the island's name has nothing to do with the primate mammal featured on the $1.40c and $2 values of the set but actually derives from the "monkey winch" which was used to haul boats ashore. This is a new island to appear on a Commonwealth stamp as far as I know. A highly original design from New Zealand Post. 
  The Bird website identifies the bird rising from the shore on the stamp as being the Parasitic Jaegar (Stercorarius Parasiticus) but the identification was based on a very small illustration of the gold foil miniature sheet and the larger illustration reveals that the depicted bird is another species - the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa Lipponica), a migrant which flies annually from New Zealand to north-eastern China - an apt and well thought out subject to appear on a "Chinese New Year" stamp (see also Blog 656). Rating:- *****.



  India Post's new issues seem be increasingly uninteresting and unappealing to international collectors in particular. A single stamp was issued on 24 November 2015 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of "EEPC India" (the Engineering Export Promotion Council of India". I suppose the promotion of national industries is a suitable role for postage stamps but this is pretty dull stuff for collectors. Rating:- *.


  The US-based philatelic agency, IGPC, has issued a sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet on the subject of "Waterfalls". The items are inscribed "Tuvalu" though none of the featured waterfalls are to be found in that country - in fact I wonder if any such geographical feature is to be found in Tuvalu given that the islands that make up the territory barely rise above sea level and are under severe threat from rising seas due to global warming. I do not yet know the date of issue. Rating:- 0.


  News of 2 more issues of 2015 from Bhutan Post although I do not yet know the precise dates of issue. The first commemorates the 70th anniversary of The United Nations and consists of 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 miniature sheet. Although the subject of the issue is an international one, the designs all have a local relevance - excellent.  Rating:- *****.



  The second issue commemorates the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth Drukpa Gyalpo (King of Bhutan), Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who set up democratic government in Bhutan hence the sheetlet is inscribed "Democracy - A Royal Gift".  Rating:- *****.



Thursday, 26 November 2015

674. Malawi Flag Error On New Malta CHOGM Miniature Sheet.

  From 27 to 29 November 2015, Malta will play host to the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting, usually called CHOGM. MaltaPost plans to issue a single miniature sheet on 27 November 2015 to commemorate the important event, the second time the island has played host to this meeting having done so previously in 2005. 
  No doubt The Maltese government will also be preparing to apologise to the President of Malawi on behalf of MaltaPost for the serious diplomatic offence that will be caused by the depiction of the Malawi flag on the miniature sheet - the flag included in the design is the short-lived flag used between 2010 and 2012 when it was abandoned by the then Malawian President, Mrs. Joyce Banda (see Blog of 2 June 2012).
  Stamp designers are often tempted into incorporating flags into their designs and time and time again they perpetrate errors which are likely to cause offence to other countries. Suggestion to stamp designers and postal administrations:- consult a vexillologist before passing a stamp fit to issue.
  By the way, the sheet depicts the flags of Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Zambia, Bangladesh, Tonga, India, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Pakistan, Singapore, Bahamas, Antigua And Barbuda, Belize, Tanzania, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts-Nevis, Nauru, Sri Lanka, Trinidad And Tobago, Samoa, Cyprus, United Kingdom, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Botswana, Fiji, Kiribati, Saint Lucia, Malta, Seychelles, Maldives, Lesotho, Ghana, Cameroon, New Zealand, Maldives (again), Brunei Darussalam, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Zambia (again), Canada, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Malawi (2010 - 2012), Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia. The designer, Sean Cini, seems to have forgotten to include St. Vincent And The Grenadines and Barbados. What a mess!

  India Post issued a single stamp on 16 November 2015 on the subject of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. Rating:- ***.

  The postal service of Brunei Darussalam has released 2 new issues. The first issue commemorates the Golden Jubilee of the Royal Brunei Navy and is made up of 3 stamps released in a se-tenant strip. The designs feature prominently the Sultan of Brunei. Rating:- ***.





 The second set is made up of 3 stamps and 1 miniature sheet and commemorates the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. I do not yet know the date of issue of either of these sets. Rating:- *.





  The Post And Go labels produced by Royal Mail in kiosks situated at the 31st Asian International Stamp Show held in Hong Kong from 20 to 23 November 2015 are now also being sold from the Royal Mail Philatelic Bureau. The labels come in 2 forms - Collectors' strips of 6 labels with the Union Jack design and with the View of Hong Kong design both with the added inscription "Hong Kong November 2015". The price from the Bureau is £7.68p per strip or £15.76p for both sets. 
   These are actually quite interesting and important sets because, according to the Bureau, "This stamp was produced using a four colour digital press instead of the original gravure printing. Royal Mail is trialling this production method to assess its viability from a quality viewpoint and the potential of shorter production runs of specific designs".
  Hence these Collectors' strips represent a new development in the printing of "British" stamps and as such I feel I should add them to my collection especially as they are freely available to the stamp buying public (even if only from the Philatelic Bureau) and they are being sold in the country where they are postally valid (unlike those dispensed from the kiosk in Hong Kong where they clearly are not postally valid and were sold only for a limited time period to a restricted number of customers i.e. those actually attending the exhibition although, of course, these items provided them with pleasing souvenirs of their visit to the exhibition. Rating:- *****.



  Montserrat Philatelic Bureau Ltd. has issued 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps and 1 accompanying single stamp miniature sheet on the subject of "Beetles". This follows a recent issue on "Bees" so it looks as though there's an avid entomologist involved in choosing subjects for Montserrat's new issue programme. Whether or not the featured beetles are actually found in Montserrat I can not say and presently I do not know the date of issue. Rating:- **.



Monday, 23 November 2015

673. Alice In Tristan; The Queen In Dismaland.


  The Tristan Da Cunha postal administration has issued 6 stamps and 1 miniature sheet to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland". I have not seen any details about this issue yet but the art used in the designs is clearly that of the artist, Victor Ambrus, who also designed the other recent issue from the island titled The Great Lifeboat Disaster (see Blog 657). 
  My immediate reaction to seeing this issue was "why on earth is Tristan Da Cunha issuing stamps on the subject of Alice In Wonderland?" until I realised that the connection between the book and the island lay in the author's name which of course was actually Charles Dodgson. Dodgson's younger brother, the Rev. Edwin Dodgson, served as the island's pastor from 1881 to 1884 and 1886 to 1889. So Tristan Da Cunha has a very satisfactory reason to issue these particular commemoratives. Rating:- *****.
  Post scriptum:- The issue was released on 1 December 2015 and lithographed by BDT International.


  Meanwhile, my attention was drawn to an interesting philatelic item/work of art by the Machin Mania Blog which mentioned an item produced and sold by the artist Darren Cullen at the temporary anti-theme park which was set up during the autumn by the famous artist Banksy in the English West Country sea-side resort of Weston-super-Mare. 
  The inspiration for the exhibition could easily be deduced from its name - Dismaland. I visit Weston quite frequently mainly for my dog to have highly enjoyable swims in the sea but the holding of Dismaland unfortunately did not coincide with one of my visits and the exhibition had closed by the time of my most recent trip there - though on a bitterly cold, dark, wet, very windy autumn weekend day one could easily believe that the whole resort had turned into Dismaland.
  I have managed to obtain an example of Cullen's pseudo-Machin Head stamp which seems to be printed on thick, glossy photograph paper and is crudely perforated with ellipses at the lower vertical edges. The design incorporates "1st" in the place where the value is found on a real Royal Mail definitive stamp and the overall effect is very grim and unpleasant since the base of the Queen's neck has a red ring so that the design of this item has been called the "Beheaded Queen". 
  This may be considered to have more relevance to the world of art than the world of philately but it is an interesting illustration of the iconic nature of the Machin Head design and how it has become a normal and immediately recognisable part of British life so much so that subversive artists make use of it to make their political points.
  Another example of an artist's adaptation of the Machin Head is that by James Cauty who produced designs of the stamp with a gas mask fixed to The Queen's face in response to news stories of a possible chemical attack on London by the then Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.
  As well other designs, Cauty produced 3 "values" (1st, 2nd and 3rd) in different colours and these became the subject of legal action by Royal Mail against him in 2003 where copyright infringement was alleged. After the court action a "new postal service" was started - "The CNPD" (Cortese National Postal Disservice) and over the following 2 years 134 stamp designs were produced many of which were printed as stamps and first day covers. Not surprisingly, none of these are to be found in the Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogues - not even in the Appendix!



  Anyone wanting to buy one mint example of all the stamps and miniature sheets released by Philatelic Collector Inc. in its latest grouping of emissions will be charged US $313.48c (£206.35p) by the agency for the pleasure of doing so. So, what do you get for your money? :-

  Cook Islands - (see also Blog 668) - 20 November 2015 - Achievement of Queen Elizabeth II in becoming the longest reigning British monarch - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps. Rating:- **.


  - 9 December 2015 - Christmas- 1 miniature sheet of 3 different stamps. Rating:-  0.


  Cook Islands Aitutaki - 20 November 2015 - Achievement of Queen Elizabeth II in becoming the longest reigning monarch of Britain - 1 sheetlet of 4 different stamps. Rating:- 0.


  9 December 2015 - Christmas - 1 miniature sheet of 3 different stamps. rating:- 0.


  Cook Islands Penrhyn - 20 November 2015 - Achievement of Queen Elizabeth Ii in becoming Britain's longest reigning monarch - 1 miniature sheet of 4 different stamps. Rating:- 0.


  9 December 2015 - Christmas - 1 miniature sheet of 3 different stamps. Rating:- 0.


  Samoa - 5 November 2015 - Oceania 21 Cilmate Change Conference and United Nations Climate Change Conference, Paris - 4 stamps (2 se-tenant pairs) and 1 miniature sheet of 4 different stamps. Rating:- ***.


  15 September 2015 - Express Mail Rate stamps ($10, $12.50, $56.25 and $75) - sold as single values, se-tenant strips of 4 (1 of each value) and 1 miniature sheet containing 1 of each value - the completist collector will therefore have 3 versions of all values to buy!. Rating:- 0.




  16 November 2015 - Achievement of Queen Elizabeth II in becoming the longest reigning British monarch - 1 miniature sheet of 4 different stamp. Rating:- 0.


  4 December 2015 - Christmas 1 miniature sheet of 3 different stamps. Rating:- 0.


  Tonga - (see also Blog 668) - 23 November 2015 - Achievement of Queen Elizabeth II in becoming the longest reigning British monarch - 1 miniature sheet of 4 different stamps. Rating:- ***.


  7 December 2015 - Christmas - 1 miniature sheet of 4 different stamps. Rating:- 0.

  Tonga Niuafo'ou - 25 September 2015 - Chinese New Year - Year of The Monkey (not depicted in Blog 668) - 2 stamps (with security markings visible under ultraviolet light) and 1 miniature sheet). Rating:- 0.




  23 November 2015 - Achievement of Queen Elizabeth Ii in becoming the longest reigning British monarch. Rating:- 0.


  7 December 2015 - Christmas - 1 miniature sheet of 4 different stamps. Rating:- 0.