Friday, 29 June 2012

Extraordinary Items Produced For Mozambique.

While the serious collector of modern Commonwealth stamps might wish to immerse him or herself in any number of fascinating collecting areas such as surcharged stamps of the last few years from Fiji or Tonga or Ghana or even the immensely difficult surcharged issues of Mozambique from 1998 onwards, there really are some astonishing distractions being produced by philatelic agencies. The agency Stamperija has just announced its latest productions for Mozambique which are really quite bizarre. With an issue date given as 28 February 2012 "Anniversaries in 2012 - I" a set has appeared which consists of 10 sheetlets each of 6 stamps and 10 miniature sheets centred around 10 different themes none of which, quite remarkably, have any relevance whatsoever to the country whose name appears on these items.  The most extraordinary item of them all is that pictured above which commemorates the "explosion of the Blimp LZ 129 Hindenburg May 6. 1937".  The illustration is of the Hindenburg with flames pouring out of it and ghost-like figures illuminated by the horrific fire running away from the crashing aircraft.  The "design" is utterly gruesome and horrific. Other sub-sets include a commemoration of the discovery of the bust of Queen Nefertiti  of Egypt:-         

There is also a commemoration of the late Whitney Houston, a US popular singer who died on 11 February 2012 which means that if the issue date is correct then these stamps were "issued" just 17 days later. An extraordinary feat, you might think, to design the stamps, print them, fly them out to Mozambique and organise their sale over Mozambique postal counters for use on mail in such a short time. Or not, as the case may be.

There is a commemoration of the film director, Milos Forman whose work included the Oscar-winning "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest":-

and commemorations of the actress Elizabeth Taylor, US President JF Kennedy, Leonardo Da Vinci, the 280th birth anniversary of the composer Joseph Haydn, 180th death anniversary of the composer Ludwig Van Beethoven and the bombardment of the Spanish town of Guernica in 1937.

The cost of these items is very high and it is difficult to imagine any collector of modern Mozambique stamps (are there any?) wanting to add them to their collection even if they are the most obsessional completeist but are even thematic/topical collectors prepared to spend their money on such products? Apparently yes, because Stamperija keeps churning them out. Somebody must be buying them. Fascinating, isn't it?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

British Dickens Issue, Edward XIII & Julia Gillard.


I have now received my set of 6 stamps and accompanying miniature sheet issued by Royal Mail to commemorate the birth bicentenary of the novelist Charles Dickens. Although I have previously written on this subject in the blog of 15 April 2012 I could not resist illustrating all the various stamps with their brilliant depictions of some of Dickens' splendid characters which appear in his various novels.  I really think that this could turn out to be the best Commonwealth stamp issue of 2012.  Admittedly, the art work used on the stamps is not original but the illustrations so fully capture the characters that they make perfect stamp designs. The art is by Joseph Clayton Clarke, known as Kyd, who prepared the pictures for the book Character Sketches From Charles Dickens which was first published c. 1890. Mr Bumble, the beadle in Oliver Twist, is shown on the 2nd class domestic rate stamp and surely no-one has ever so perfectly depicted the character before or since. In my previous blog I discussed Pickwick who appears on the 1st class domestic rate stamp.

Captain Cuttle, from Dombey And Son, Dicken's 7th novel, written while he was living in Switzerland and Paris and published serially from 1846 to 1848, makes his first ever philatelic appearance on the £1.28 value and Mr. Micawber, from David Copperfield, is shown on the £1.90 value, looking for all his worth like the character played by WC Fields in the movie version of the novel some decades later. I think that with Micawber, Royal Mail missed a trick as the character would have made an excellent subject for a joint Dickens issue with Australia since at the end of the novel, Micawber and his family set off to emigrate to Australia and start a new life there. Perhaps the Australians would not have been too keen to include another Dickens character in the set - Magwich from Great Expectations - whom Pip, the selfish "hero" of the book meets at the start of the novel when Magwich is being transported to the penal colony in New South Wales only to return illegally some years later to see how Pip is doing with the "great expectations" that Magwich has conferred on him. 

The dreadful midwife, Sairey Gamp, from Martin Chuzzlewit, is shown on the 87p and The Marchioness, from The Old Curiosity Shop, appears on the 77p value. Interestingly, both of these characters, along with Micawber and Barnaby Rudge, appeared on 1970 issue of The Cayman Islands which was  designed by the wonderful artist and designer, Jennifer Toombs (see blog of 15 April 2012). The 2012 British miniature sheet contains four 1st class (60p) stamps. One, depicting Nicolas Nickleby, is shown in the 15 April blog and another design features a scene from A Tale Of Two Cities,  Dickens' twelth novel. The two stamps illustrated above show a scene from Bleak House, the 9th novel published from 1852 to 1853, and depicts the philanthropist, Mrs. Jellyby, who neglects her own family while entirely devoting herself to foreign charities. The second illustration depicts a scene from Little Dorrit, the 11th novel published from 1855 to 1857. All the miniature sheet illustrations are taken from the work of Hablot Knight Browne, known as Phiz. The margin of the miniature sheet carries a facsimile of Dickens' signature and a quotation from his last completed novel, Our Mutual Friend, "No one who can read a book, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot". I hope that by the end of the year that other Commonwealth territories will have produced Dickens commemorative stamps and that they are as interesting and attractive as the Royal Mail issue is. Meanwhile I also include a much bigger and clearer illustration than I have previously shown of the Guyana miniature sheet which was prepared to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the accession of King Edward XIII (see blog of 23 March 2012). Although a correction has been made, I wonder if any examples of this hilarious design error will turn up.

Finally I include an item I found on the internet after I had mentioned the stamps which were issued last year by Tuvalu which depict the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, with the US President. The illustration is that of a spoof stamp mocked up and posted with the accompanying, rather rude text: "Details on why the Julia Gillard stamp was almost recalled by Australia Post....Australia Post have created and marketed a new stamp displaying a picture of the current Prime Minister, Ms Gillard. The prime minister had requested an immediate recall of the stamps following concerns that they were not sticking.  Australia Post have recently suspended the recall of the stamps after the findings of a special senate committee were released. The prime minister was told that the stamps were not sticking to the envelopes and the enraged prime minister demanded a full investigation. After a month of testing at a cost of $1.85 million, a special senate committee lead by the leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, presented the following findings:- 1. The stamp is in perfect order. 2. There is nothing wrong with the adhesive. 3. People are spitting on the wrong side of the stamp". Who said stamp collecting was boring?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Tonga, Cook Islands, Universal Mail, Julia Gillard, The Duke Of Edinburgh & Samoa.

The Cook Islands has announced its continuing new issue spree will include a set of 3 stamps issued in a sheetlet of six along with a miniature sheet which contains all three values (see below). The designs make no attempt to link the islands with the event. The designs look typical of those produced by Derek Miller and it looks as though Philatelic Collector Inc. is using him  to design many of the stamp issues it is producing for Tonga and The Cook Islands and their subordinate philatelic entities. I'm sorry to say that most of the designs are very uninspired.

Philatelic Collector Inc. has also produced a barrage of issues for Tonga and Niuafo'ou. Thus we have a set of 3 stamps and a miniature sheet to commemorate the London Olympics, again designed by Derek Miller.

There is a sheetlet of 6 stamps to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the introduction of democracy to Tonga which resulted from the work of the late King George Tupou V. This is an interesting issue and features the prime minister, Lord Tu'puakano, in the middle of the sheetlet but the 6 stamps themselves seem to include some unnecessarily high values including $5, $8 and $10.

In addition to the above Tonga is also to issue a set of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet to commemorate ANZAC Day and 4 stamps in a sheetlet plus a miniature sheet of 2 stamps to commemorate the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the north Atlantic Ocean, a long way from the south Pacific (1 issue each for Tonga and Nuiafo'ou). Meanwhile, back in The Cook Islands, there is an issue of 12 definitive stamps for the island of Aitutaki, which features whales and dolphins. Needless to say, these stamps are also being produced in a sheetlet which includes all the values which means that completist collectors will have to buy double the number of stamps at, of course, double the cost.

Sports and London is a big theme at the moment with the upcoming Olympic Games. Universal Mail United Kingdom has got in on the act by issuing a booklet of 5 different stamps on the subject of "Celebration of Sport". The imprint at the base of the booklet gives the date 11/11 but I think the item became available in early 2012, possibly January. The designs feature 5 Olympic sports (though there is no reference to the Olympic Games) with depictions of London landmarks used as backgrounds. The set has been added to the Universal Mail United Kingdom Checklist in the blog dated 19 June 2012.

In a previous blog (29 May 2012) I mentioned the depiction of the current British prime minister, David Cameron, on some stamps issued by The Gambia on 25 July 2011 to note the visit of the President of The United States to Britain. Mr. Cameron was not the only Commonwealth head of government to achieve philatelic depiction as a result of the US presidential travels - Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, has also appeared on a sheetlet of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet which was issued by Tuvalu on 15 June 2011 to commemorate the president's visit to Australia.


It was a pity that the The Duke of Edinburgh was taken ill during the diamond jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II but in some ways not surprising given his age, 91 years, and the terrible ordeal that he and The Queen were put through during a long, wet, bitterly cold English weekend. In an act of gross cruelty, the organisers of a pageant of boats sailing up the river Thames made the elderly couple sit out in the cold, strong wind and driving rain for several hours. At least by being ill, The Duke escaped from having to sit through a long and tiresome concert, given largely by poorly-preserved aged musical performers who were well passed their sell-by dates as well as young musicians whose sort of music could not possibly be expected to appeal to an elderly lady. I mention all this merely to draw attention to a sheetlet issued by Royal Mail to commemorate the 90th birthday last year of The Duke Of Edinburgh. It fits in very nicely with the Diamond Jubilee theme.

Finally, having recently drawn attention to Samoa's independence 50th anniversary set which is being issued this year, one worthwhile set which did escape mentioning at the end of 2011  was the pair which Samoa released to commemorate the alteration in the positioning of the International Dateline whereby Samoa became the first country in the world to experience a new day rather than the last to do so. By this alteration the citizens of Samoa lost a whole day. A momentous event for the island state and worthy of a stamp issue which was released on 1 December 2011.


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Stamperija Gains The Solomon Islands.

Hot on the tail of the news that Stamperija has begun issuing stamps with the name of Uganda inscribed on them comes the news that the company has started to issue stamps for another Commonwealth country:- The Solomon Islands.  It appears that a large number of stamps were released on 5 June 2012 including 2 sheetlets of 4 and 5 stamps and a miniature sheet to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (she is, of course, Queen of The Solomon Islands as the sheetlet points out). The sheetlets in fact appear to be the sheetlet of 4 and the miniature sheet printed se-tenant with rouletting between them - possibly the first case of se-tenant miniature sheets.

 Such an issue is not therefore inappropriate but one may hesitate to say something similar about some of the other issues that have been produced among which are 2 sheetlets of 4 and 5 stamps and a miniature sheet which commemorate the US actress, Marilyn Monroe, and similar items released to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the north Atlantic (a long way from the south Pacific). Two sheetlets of 4 and 5 stamps and a miniature sheet are issued to commemorate Archbishop Desmond Tutu who helped set up the Solomon Islands Truth & Reconciliation. Commission in 2005. 

A few other of the sets which have been publicised do have a direct subject relevance to the islands such as Solomon Islands volcanoes, Solomons cathedrals (really just an excuse to depict the philatelically popular Pope John Paul II) and bats of The Solomons but I feel sure I will not buy any of them given the excessive nature of the number of stamps issued (24 sheetlets (108 stamps)and 12 miniature sheets) and the typically exploitative nature of the stamps. I shall be very interested to know if any of them actually get used on ordinary mail in the islands. O dear, things keep getting worse.

Universal Mail United Kingdom Stamps Check List, 2008 - 2012.

Apart from Royal Mail, there is a second postal service in Great Britain which produces postage stamps for use on international mail - particularly aimed at the tourist market - Universal Mail United Kingdom. These stamps are "adhesives valid for proper postal use in the class of service for which they are inscribed" and are "available to the general public, at face value, in reasonable quantities without any artificial restrictions being imposed on their distribution". I place the description in quotation marks as I have taken it from the criteria for full catalogue listing which are to be found in Stanley Gibbons Stamp catalogue. The Universal Mail stamps appear to fully comply with these criteria and it seems illogical to ignore them when making a collection of stamps which tell the history of British stamps or in a catalogue which attempts to list all valid British postage stamps from 1840 onwards. Any suggestion that they are "local stamps" is refuted by their validity for use on international mail. They are modern-day British postage stamps produced for genuine use on a class of mail although not produced by the traditional British Post Office, now called Royal Mail, which itself will be privatised in the foreseeable future.
I am not aware of any listing of these stamps at present; Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue continues to ignore them while deciding to include Royal Mail prestige booklets, sold above face value contrary to its catalogue inclusion criteria, in its main catalogue listing. I feel sure that there are a number of serious collectors of modern British stamps who find the Universal Mail stamps to be interesting and collectable and for this reason, I have prepared a check list with identification numbers of all these stamps issued so far and will list future issue in Commonwealth Stamps Opinion. The stamps come in 2 "values" - International Postcard rate (IP) and International Letter rate (IL), although only one example of the IL rate has so far been issued. The stamps are sold in booklets of five, each having a code number, e.g. UKOOO1, and at the top right hand corner the title of the booklet's theme is printed. At the bottom right, next to the booklet code number, the date of issue or intended issue, is printed. I am not aware of exact dates of issue and pleasingly the company does not produce "first day covers". The stamps are not valid for use on domestic mail.

All stamps are self-adhesive with die-cut perforations.

October 2008 - May 2009
1. IP Big Ben
  1a. Booklet "London Day 1st Edition" Nos. 1-5 UK 0001
1a. "London Day"   UK 0001
  1b. Booklet "Big Ben 1st Edition" 5x No.1 UK 0008
  1c. Booklet "London Day Souvenir Stamps" Nos. 1, 16, 3, 4 ; 5 UK 0001 05/09 (May 2009)
 2. IP London Eye
  2a. Booklet "London Eye 1st Edition 5x No.2 UK 0007
  2b. Booklet "London Eye Souvenir Stamps 5x No. 2 UK 0007 (May 2009)
 3. IP St. Paul's Cathedral
 4. IP Tower Of London
  4a. Booklet "Palaces & Castles" 1 each of Nos. 4, 16, 17, 18 & 19 UK0005 (October 2008)
 5. IP Westminster Abbey
 6. IP Big Ben at night
  6a. Booklet "London Night 1st Edition" Nos 6-10 UK 0002
  6b. Booklet "London Night Souvenir stamps" Nos. 6-9 ; 85 UK 0002 05/09 (May 2009)
 7. IP St. Paul's Cathedral at night
 8. IP Trafalgar Square at night
 9. IP Tower bridge at night
  9a. Booklet "Tower Bridge 1st Edition" 5x No.9 UK 0004
  9b. Booklet "Tower Bridge Souvenir Stamps" 5x No.9 UK 0004 05/09 (May 2009)
10. IP Westminster Abbey at night
11. IP Double decker bus
  11a. Booklet "London Icons 1st Edition" Nos. 11-15 UK 0003
  11b. Booklet "London Icons Souvenir Stamps" Nos 11-15 UK 0003 05/09 (May 2009)
12. IP Black cab
13. IP Telephone Box
14. IP Metropolitan Police
15. IP Queen's Guard
16. IP Buckingham Palace
 16a Booklet "Buckingham Palace 1st Edition" 5x No. 16 UK 0009
17. IP Kensington Palace
18. IP Windsor Castle
19. IP Hampton Court Palace
20. IP Piccadilly Circus
 20a. Booklet "Piccadilly Circus & Trafalgar 1st Edition" Nos. 19, 20, 21, 8 & 22 UK 0006
21. IP Trafalgar Square
22. IP Piccadilly Circus by night
23. IP Piccadilly Circus & "Eros"
24. IL Union Jack
 24a. Booklet "Union Jack 1st Edition" 5x No. 24 UKL 0001
 24b. Booklet "Union Jack Souvenir Stamps" 5x No. 24 UKL 0001 05/09 (May 2009)

September 2009
25. IP Stonehenge
 25a. Booklet "South West England" Nos. 25-29 UK 0011
26. IP Roman Baths, Bath
27. IP Eden Project
28. IP Glastonbury Festival
29. IP The Cotswalds
30. IP White Cliffs of Dover
 30a. Booklet "South East England" Nos. 30-34 UK 0012
31. IP All Souls College, Oxford
32. IP Windsor Castle
33. IP Canterbury Cathedral
34. IP Brighton Pier
35. IP Silverstone motor racing track
 35a. Booklet "East Midlands" Nos. 35-39 UK 0013
36. IP Robin Hood statue, Nottingham
37. IP Great Central Railway
38. IP Lincoln Cathedral
39. IP Peak District, Derbyshire
40. IP Kings College, Cambridge
 40a. Booklet "East England" Nos. 40-44 UK 0014
41. IP Colchester Castle
42. IP Woburn Safari Park, Bedfordshire
43. IP St. Alban's Cathedral
44. IP Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre, Suffolk
45. IP York Minster
 45a. Booklet "Yorkshire & The Humber" Nos. 45-49 UK 0015
46. IP Humber Bridge
47. IP Yorkshire Dales
48. IP Winter Gardens, Sheffield
49. IP Cayton Bay
50. IP Severn Valley Railway
 50a. Booklet "West Midlands" Nos. 50-54 UK 0016
51. IP Stratford-Upon-Avon
52. IP Ironbridge
53. IP The Rugby Museum
54. IP The Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
55. IP The Royal Liver Building, Liverpool
 55a. Booklet "North West England" Nos. 55-59 UK 0017
56. IP Pleasure Beach, Blackpool
57. IP Lake Windermere
58. IP Chester
59. IP The Lowry Gallery, Salford
60. IP The Angel Of The North sculpture
 60a. Booklet "North East England" Nos. 60-64 UK0018
61. IP Hadrian's Wall
62. IP Bamburgh Castle
63. IP Durham Cathedral
64. IP National Railway Museum, York

All the above stamps have a panel at the right side which illustrates part of the Union Jack flag.

65. IP The Scottish Parliament
 65a. Booklet "Edinburgh" Nos. 65-69 UK 0019
66. IP Edinburgh Castle
 66a. Booklet "International Newsagents" Nos. 66,  67, 69, 73 & 100 UK 0025 (May 2010)
67. IP Royal Yacht Britannia
68. IP Holyrood Palace
69. IP The Royal Mile
70. IP The Heavy Horse sculpture

 70a. Booklet "Scotland" Nos. 70-74 UK 0020
71. IP Stirling Castle
72. IP Loch Ness
73. IP Bagpipes
74. IP St. Andrews

All the above have a panel at the right side which illustrates part of the Scottish saltire flag.

75. IP Mount Snowden
 75a. Booklet "Wales" Nos. 75-79 UK 0021
76. IP Pembrokeshire Coast
77. IP Millenium Centre, Cardiff
78. IP Cardiff Castle
79. IP National Coal Museum

All the above have a panel at the right side which illustrates part of the Welsh dragon flag.

80. IP Giant's Causeway
 80a. Booklet "Northern Ireland" Nos. 80-84 UK0022
81. IP Belfast City Hall
82. IP Lifebuoy of the RMS Titanic
83. IP Walled City of Derry
84. IP statue of St. Patrick
85. IP Piccadilly Circus by night (from booklet no. 6b)

All the above have a panel at the right side which illustrates part of the Union Jack.

November 2009
86. IP Giant's Causeway
 86a. Booklet "Northern Ireland" Nos. 86-90 UK 0023
87. IP Belfast City Hall
88. IP Lifebuoy of the RMS Titanic
89. IP Walled City of Derry
90. IP statue of St. Patrick

All of the above have a panel at the right side which depicts countryside fields.

May 2010
91. IP British Museum
 91a. Booklet "London Landmarks" Nos. 91-95 UK 0010
 91b. Booklet "London 2010 Philatelic Exhibition" Nos. 91 & 96-99 UK 0024
92. IP Wimbledon Stadium
93. IP The National Gallery
94. IP Somerset House
95. IP Royal Observatory, Greenwich
96. IP statue of King George V
97. IP British Library
98. IP Guildhall Art Gallery
99. IP doorway of Royal Philatelic Society

All of the above have a panel at the right side which illustrates part of the Union Jack.

100. IP International Newsagents shop (see booklet no. 66a)
101. IP Edinburgh Castle (variant of picture on no. 66)
 101a. Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos. 101-105 UK 0026
 101b. Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos 101 & 116-119 UK 0029
102. IP Iona Abbey Cloisters
103. IP interior of Glasgow Cathedral
104. IP Dirleton Castle & Gardens
105. IP Skara Brae, Orkney
106. IP Urquhart Castle
 106a. Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos. 106-110 UK 0027
107. IP Melrose Abbey
108. IP Dryburgh Abbey
109. IP Linlithgow Palace
110. IP Dallas Dhu Distillery
111. IP Stirling Castle (variant of picture on no. 71)
 111a. Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos. 111-115 UK 0028
112. IP St. Andrew's Cathedral
113. IP stained glass at Dunfermaline Abbey Palace
114. IP Caerlaverock Castle
115. IP Fort George

July 2011
116. IP Edinburgh Castle Cannons (116-119 from booklet 101b - UK 0029)
117. Lion Rampant from Scottish Standard
118. IP fireworks over Edinburgh Castle
119. IP Honours of Scotland (Scottish crown jewels)
120. IP statue of Robert The Bruce at Stirling Castle (120-123 from booklet 111a - UK0030)
121. IP Unicorn in Captivity Tapestry
122. IP plaque of  the head of King James V
123. IP Stirling Castle Great Hall
124. IP Skara Brae Village (variant of picture on no. 105)
 124a Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos. 120-124 UK 0031
125. IP Maes Howe
126. IP Orkney Venus
127. IP Ring of Brodgar
128. IP Broch Of Gurness

All of the above have a panel at the right side which illustrates part of the Scottish saltire flag.

129. IP Beefeater, Tower Of London
 129a. Booklet "Historic Royal Palaces" Nos. 122-133 UK 0032
130. IP Raven, Tower Of London
131. IP Crown, Tower Of London
132. IP aerial view of Tower Of London
133. IP Tower Of London viewed from River Thames
 133a. Booklet "Historic Royal Palaces" Nos. 133-137 UK 0033
134. IP Hampton Court Palace
135. IP Banqueting House
136. IP Kensington Palace
137. IP Kew Palace
138 IP Abbey Road road sign
 138a. Booklet "London Signs" Nos 138-142 UK0034
139. IP Oxford Street road sign
140. IP Piccadilly Circus road sign
141. IP Trafalgar Square road sign
142. IP Baker Street road sign

November 2011
143. IP Rowing & Houses of Parliament
 143a. Booklet "Celebration of Sport" Nos. 143-147 UK0035
144. IP Gymnastics & telephone box
145. IP Cycling & London Wheel
146. IP Hurdling & the "Gherkin" building
147. IP Swimming & Tower bridge

All the above stamps have a panel at the right side which illustrates part of the Union Jack.

148. IP Linlithgow Palace
 148a. Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos. 148-152 UK 0036 24/11
149. IP Doune Castle
150. IP Dumbarton Castle
151. IP Blackness Castle
152. IP Meigle Stone
153. IP Iona Abbey (variant of picture on no. 102)
 153a. Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos. 153-157 UK 0037 24/11
154. IP Inchmahome Priory
155. IP Inchcolme Abbey
156. IP Arnol Blackhouse
157. IP Jarlshof Settlement
158. IP Urquhart Castle
 158a. Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos. 158-162 UK 0038 24/11
159. IP Fort George (variant of picture on no. 115)
160. IP Dallas Dhu Distillery
161. IP Huntly Castle
162. IP Balvenie Castle
163. IP Caerlaverock Castle (variant of picture on no. 114)
 163a. Booklet "Historic Scotland" Nos. 163-167 UK 0039 24/11
164. IP Melrose Abbey (variant of picture on no. 107)
165. IP Jedburgh Abbey
166. IP Dryburgh Abbey (variant of picture on no. 108)
167. IP Threave Castle

All of the above have a panel at the right side which depicts part of the Scottish saltire.

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Monday, 18 June 2012

New Zealand & Samoa Anniversaries.

Samoa had been an independent state from 1860 but came under German, American and British rule and although the Powers confirmed Samoan independence in 1889 an administration by the Joint Powers remained in place until 1899 when Great Britain ceded its interests in the islands and in 1900 the Germans and Americans carved the territory up between them. Western Samoa was made a German protectorate on 1 March 1900 and this status was retained until 30 August 1914 when troops from New Zealand occupied the island at the start of the First World War. In 1920, the territory became a League Of Nations Mandated Territory under New Zealand administration and the territory was named Western Samoa from 1935. Western Samoa remained a New Zealand territory until 1 January 1962 when independence was granted as The State Of Western Samoa. It was later renamed Samoa. The Samoa Post Office has released very few stamps in recent years but it seems wholly reasonable for it to commemorate the 50th anniversary of independence which it has done with the issue of a set of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet (depicted above on first day cover). Meanwhile, I see that some interesting stamps have emanated from New Zealand, the news appearing on the blog of the US ambassador in New Zealand. Although the Ambassador says "This week New Zealand Post issued a set of stamps commemorating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of American servicemen and women to defend Aotearoa and the South Pacific during World War II", the illustrated items appear to actually be personalised stamps produced privately by New Zealand Post on behalf of the US Embassy in New Zealand (or Aotearoa as the US Ambassador prefers to call the country). There appears to be 2 booklets - one containing 2 circular designs, as depicted here. The designs depict two US-produced "commemorative coins" produced with the intention of giving them to guests at the US Independence Day celebrations in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. The ambassador writes "Of course, the coins are not legal tender, but they do look great". In his blog of 13 June 2012, he writes about the circular stamps:- "In addition to the coins...we also designed two commemorative stamps as part of our celebration of this year's significant United States/New Zealand 70th anniversaries. We've been using the stamps on our outgoing mail at the Embassy and Consulate general for the last couple of weeks" (thus producing some interesting covers for philatelists to track down). In addition to the circular stamps a second personalised booklet for the US Embassy seems to have been produced by New Zealand Post. The second booklet contains 10 different stamps and the ambassador comments "By using vintage photographs drawn from the national archives, the stamps convey a sense of the charm and spirit of local interactions during the 1940's, even as war raged just to the north and west". The Ambassador's blog describes each picture featured on the stamps including the 4 shown above which depict:- Sergeant Nathan E. Cook of the 37th Infantry Division disembarking in Auckland as the first US soldier to step on to New Zealand soil (13 June 1942); the US camp in Central Park, Brooklyn in Wellington; US Marines playing rugby at Athletic Park in Wellington (the New Zealanders won 22-13) (28 August 1943) and Frank Zalot, survivor of a landing craft capsize disaster which occurred on 20 June 1943). The large number of personalised stamps produced by New Zealand Post for their clients are very interesting and well worth collecting. This US-centred issue balances out the rather embarrassing Viet Cong personalised stamp which I have previously reported about.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

14 June 1982: The End Of The Falklands War.

On 14 June 2012, the 30th anniversary of the end of the war between Great Britain and Argentina fought over the sovereignty of The Falkland Islands is celebrated by an issue of 6 stamps by the Falkland Islands Post Office. The first issue to commemorate the end of the war was released on 13 September 1982 and was a large stamp depicting West and East Falkland and on top of the £1 face value there was an added surcharge, also of £1, which contributed to the islands' rebuilding fund. The stamp was designed by PAD Studio and lithographed by Format International. The set of six stamps produced to commemorate the 30th anniversary is a beautifully designed set which emphasises the progress the islands have made since the Argentine forces were defeated and expelled from the islands. The designs are positive and peaceful and show no hint of recrimination towards their neighbours. In previous blogs we have followed the progress of the conflict as it has been illustrated on stamps. The Falkland Islanders' freedom was won at a price which the islands have not been slow to acknowledge philatelically. In 2 remarkable sheetlets issued on 14 June 2007 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the British victory, The Falklands Islands Post Office named every British military and merchant ship personnel who had been killed in the course of the war. The names, printed alphabetically on 8x 25p and 8x 60p (shown below) appeared against a background of typical Falklands scenery where the conflict itself took place. The border of each sheetlet featured the words "Lest We Forget". After the Battle of Goose Green (see blog of 28 May), on 30 May 1982, the British 42 Commando advanced on Mount Kent and Mount Challenger, taking them both the following day. On 2 June, 2 Para arrived at Bluff Cove and occupied it, and Fitzroy, on 4 June. Landings continued at San Carlos and a disaster struck the British forces on 8 June when the landing craft, Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, were bombed at Fitzroy whilst disembarking The Welsh Guards. Fifty one people were killed, including 38 Welsh Guards, and 55 were seriously injured. On 11 June the battle for the capital, Port Stanley, began on Mount Longden, Mount Harriet and Two Sisters where 23 British Paratroopers and 50 Argentine soldiers were killed. Sergeant Ian McKay of 3 Para was killed on Mount Longden (see blog of 28 May) and awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. On the same day 3 Falklanders were killed during a British naval bombardment of Stanley. Mount Longden was taken on 12 June, sadly 6 more Paras and 50 Argentine troops were killed, and Mount Harriet and Two Sisters were also taken. HMS Glamorgan was badly damaged by an Argentine exocet missile. More British and Argentine troops were lost in the battle for Mount Tumbledown, Wireless Ridge and Mount William on 13 June but by the following day the Argentine forces were in disarray and by midday of 14 June British forces had entered the outskirts of Port Stanley. AT 9PM local time, the Argentine commander, General Menendez, surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore, the British commander, and 9800 Argentine troops put down their arms. In the following days the British removed the Argentine forces from the islands and on 17 June 1982, the Argentine dictator, General Galtieri, resigned from office. On 20 June, British forces landed on South Thule in The South Sandwich Islands and the Argentines there surrendered without a fight. A Forces Post Office was established at Port Stanley Post Office and used the cancellation used below. On 14 June 1992, The Falkland Islands Post office issued 4 stamps (14p + 6p, 29p + 11p, 34p + 16p and 68p + 32p) and a miniature sheet which united them all, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the end of the war. The stamps were designed by Leslie Curtis and lithographed by House Of Questa. The surcharges represented a contribution to SSAFA, the Soldiers', Sailors' and Air Force Association. Two of the designs featured the cemetery at San Carlos, where those who died in the conflict were buried, and Port Stanley Government House. The 29p value depicted the 1982 War Memorial which was built in Port Stanley. The 34p value depicted the South Atlantic Medal which was awarded to all the members of the armed forces who served in the campaign. It is good that Falkland Island stamps have paid tribute over the years to those who gave so much so that the islanders would once more have the right to choose their own futures and it is also pleasing that the latest stamp issue looks to the islands' bright future and the advances of recent years. Let us hope that the islands never again see a conflict such as that which has been marked by so many stamps in the past 30 years. The sentiment which was expressed on a label attached to a stamp issued by the islands on 6 December 1999 to commemorate the new millennium seems very appropriate on this 30th anniversary.