Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Jubilee Joy

As February makes its appearance, it is time to start sorting the pennies and tokens I have at my disposal. A busy and expensive time for the GB collector! In the next few days there is the House of Windsor issue - set of stamps and miniature sheet at a mere £6.90p. This is followed next week by the Diamond Jubilee sheet which by comparison is a snip at £2.76p, but sure to be a popular souvenir to be tucked away for the grandchildren. One would think that in celebrating 60 years on the throne, the stamps on the sheet might just show a hint of a smile from Her Majesty.
Although it is free admission to the exhibition, I still have to find my train fare to London (ticket prices just increased by an average 8%) for "Stampex". The second day of the event sees the release of more stamps in the Great Briton's series which comprises ten first class stamps, grand total £4.60p. The third day will see endless queues for the "post & go" machines dispensing the set of six sheep breeds labels - collectors strip of each value being £5.40p. I must be baaaa..rmy

One note of joy as we enter the Jubilee season. I recently bought a small collection of about 15 covers very cheaply on ebay (£1.70p including postage). I bid because the collection contained some early German covers and stationery cards which are one of my little passions at the moment. Amongst the covers was a registered item from New Zealand with some nice 1953 Coronation stamps cancelled with a commemorative postmark.  Very attractive, even with the 2d stamp having a smudged postmark.

The reverse even had a London arrival postmark with a slogan "Long Live the Queen" (and to be true to the oath she has lived long!). The cover had been opened along the top and did not appear to have any letter or stiffener inside... but just to make sure... Surprise, surprise! tucked away in the corner of the envelope was an unmounted mint set of the GB 1953 Coronation issue - valued by Messrs Stanley Gibbons Ltd., at £16 sterling!
The lessons to be learnt from this tale are: (i) stamp collectors are strange and often forgetful folk and (ii) never judge a cover by what is placed on the outside.

Thank you, your majesty!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Here be Dragons!

A few mythical creatures have been flying through my letterbox over the past couple of weeks, signifying the start of Chinese New Year - The Year of the Dragon! Following on from the Australian stationery envelope recorded below, the most recent addition to my collection was an illustrated cover from Canada.

Canada 2012 Year of the Dragon stamp

Nothing in the way of a special stamp from the UK, though an over - priced "smiler" sheet has been produced with a variety of stylised dragon design labels and street scenes of celebrations. Shame the Royal Mail couldn't have used some Welsh dragon definitives instead of the fireworks greetings stamp. How come Wales have taken up a mythical creature for it's national symbol? ....and a red one at that.

The UK's contribution to the Year of the Dragon

This would have been an ideal opportunity to reissue the dragon stamp from the mythical creatures set issued a couple of years ago - a more worthy contribution to the vast array of dragon stamps that will be flooding the market.

I undertook a little research into the celebration of this event and found that the Chinese take nine days holiday to see the new year in. UK government take note! I discovered that I am a "Rooster" (though sometimes referred to as the "Cockerel" or maybe the less flattering "Chicken") and this gave me some very positive personality traits, such as 'hardworking', 'strong willed' and confident. The article then went on to offer such adjectives as 'well organised' and 'good time keeper'...how so wrong!!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Are the Olympics becoming a soap opera?

As we hit 2012, the Royal Mail have begun their bombardment of the unsuspecting public with a wide range of collectibles with which to decorate their loft space for many years to come. The Olympic and Paralympic "definitives" hit the post offices on 5th January, to be followed by commemorative "coin covers", pin badges, key rings etc. etc. etc...
The dilemma they now face is how they will manage the marketing of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee stamps in Olympic year? The resolution has been to send out an edict to postmasters that they should withdraw the Olympic and Paralympic "definitives" from sale at the end of January - prior to the issue of the Diamond Jubilee issue - to be reissued at some point in the summer!  

A recent press release from Royal Mail announces that they have created a new E20 postcode district to cover the Olympic Park. Key venues will have their own postcode, and the Olympic Stadium will be E20 2ST. The aim of the new district will be to help the Docklands delivery office sort the mail for delivery at the site during and after the games. A new pictorial postmark featuring the Olympic Stadium, available for the whole year is inscribed with the new E20 postcode district. When I entered the E20 postcode in the Post Office branch finder on their website, I was directed to an area north west of Lancaster, about 250 miles from the Olympic Park. Oh well... still six months to get it right! 
Why E20 when there is no E19? The highest eastern postcode district prior to the introduction was E18. Maybe they are planning a "Ghost Town". Another interesting point about the E20 postcode district is that it was allocated to the fictitious " London Borough of Walford" which features in the long running (far too long in my opinion) BBC TV soap opera Eastenders. I wonder if the Olympics will follow the script?  


Following the Australian stationery envelope I received the other day, today's post brought me an attractive aerogramme from Malaysia featuring cultural dances. Sent by my friend Adeline, a native of Singapore, who has been "on tour" around Penang. What a nicer way to send a message!

2003 issue aerogramme Malaysian Cultural Dances


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

New Year, New Start!

"...He that thinks he can afford to be negligent is not far from being poor..." (Samuel Johnson)
I started this blog six months ago with the best of intentions - in fact I made three pledges, which to be fair I think I have continued to uphold. Sadly I have been distracted,(I will not dwell upon this) but now I return with greater determination to broadcast and entertain the world!
Today I received an Australian airmail envelope celebrating the lunar New Year, the year of the Dragon. A New Year > New Year resolutions > "I will maintain a blog!"

Australia 2012 Year of the Dragon post paid international envelope

I must admit to having an admiration for postal stationery - a real 'no - nonsense' approach to correspondence. No fiddling about looking for stamps, researching the postal rates and licking stamps. Write your message, seal the envelope and put it in the postbox. Bish..bash..bosh!

Also in today's post was a nice first day cover from my friend Douglas in Taiwan. Chungwa Post (the Taiwan equivalent to Royal Mail) have celebrated the New Year with the first in a series of definitive stamps featuring indigenous berry plants. The first issue comprises Kiwi fruit (Kiwi: a bird native to New Zealand?), Miracle berry (surely a somewhat extravagant claim), American black nightshade (a recent immigrant?) and the Potato Tree (surely "spuds" grow underground). Who comes up with these names?

Taiwan Berries part 1 FDC uprated with ATM

I'm hoping that the Royal Mail have made a New Year resolution not to apply their "signature required" handstamps and labels across the stamps. A little care and effort can make a world of difference.