New Issues 2018: October

Not many issues.


A single stamp to mark the centenary of the sinking of RMS Leinster which was sunk by a German UBoat in the closing weeks of the First World War. A total of 567 people were killed. This included 21 (of 22) postal workers who were sorting mail on the ship on the journey from Kingstown, County Dublin to Britain.

Two stamps themed “Popular Democracy” were also issued. A stamp to mark the centenary of Sinn Féins landslide victory in Irish constituencies in the 1918 British General Election and a stamp to honour the centenary of (some) women being allowed to vote.

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The Joy of Kiloware

“Kiloware” is the buying and selling of stamps by weight. It is a long established practice in Stamp Collecting.

I first became involved as a school child, collecting used stamps from local businesses and passing them on to a local co-ordinator who passed the used stamps on to a convent where the nuns then sold the stamps by weight to  dealers and collectors.

For about twenty years of my working life, the folks in our mail room passed several thousands of stamps on to me and the convent.

So buying by weight is more about Quantity than Quality. Some people who are experts can look on Kiloware as a form of “prospecting” sifting thru several thousand stamps to find a variety or colour difference or whatever.

But for most people, buying kiloware is an efficent and cost effective means of obtaining a lot of stamps. There is also the “feel good” factor of supporting a charity. My chosen charity is a nursing order of sisters who work in the Third World.

So about five weeks ago, I bought two large amounts of stamps….an Ireland mixture and a “world” mixture.

I have not yet got round to sifting thru Ireland but essentially, it falls into three sections and seemingly collected in late 2017 and early 2018. Too many coil and booklet stamps which will go straight back to the charity, a reasonable number of commemorative stamps, including at least three Che Guevara stamps which are supposedly rare. Increasingly I like to use several copies of commemorative stamps as I feel that they add a certain depth or texture to my collection.

About half of the Irish stamps are SOAR (Stamps on a Roll), effectively the new form of definitive, on sale at every post office. As readers will know, I am trying to find a SOAR stamp from every post office. Indeed I like to have several copies.

So in terms of Ireland, I am very happy.

The “world” mixture? To date I have added 1,868 different stamps from about 118 countries and territories. I should finish the sorting by the weekend. I am left with Australia, France, Spain and United States of America.

I expect that the final tally of stamps will be about 2,100 which is excellent value.

As these stamps were for the most part donated from Ireland, it is interesting to note that the diversity of the Irish nation is reflected in the mail delivered to Ireland. As expected, there are a lot of stamps from USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand but in modern Ireland, there are a lot of stamps from the European Union and many parts of Africa and Asia

Next time, I will probably get a “British” mixture.

Of course, there is a lot of duplication in kiloware. But even after cherry-picking, there are a lot of good stamps that I can hold on to for a while.

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Stampa 2018 (National Stamp Exhibition)

The Irish National Stamp Exhibition took place from Friday 5th October to Sunday 7th October. I attended on two days (Friday and Sunday).


This is my seventh successive “Stampa” since I returned to Stamp Collecting in March 2012. Maybe five of those years were taken up with obtaining the issues (mint and used) that I had missed out on from 2001 when I gave up collecting.

The past eighteen months, I have really found myself in the same position I was in 2001. Several trips a year to the Philatelic Counter at the General Post Office in Dublin , where I buy two sets of new issues. One set is retained as “mint” and the other set, I send to myself so that I have a used version. And of course there is my “Wants List”…those stamps issued from 1922 to 2001 which I never owned.

Of course “Completion” is the El Dorado of Stamp Collecting. Part of me believes that we are never really meant to be “complete”. It is always an ongoing process.

As I have said before, Stamp Collecting (with secondary interests in Postcards, Irish Coins etc) is my only vice. I have never smoked or drank alcohol in my life. So it never seemed wrong to buy a stamp which was the price of a packet of cigarettes or a bottle of beer.

As a married man, priorities change. Children need shoes, clothes, toys. A mortgage has to be paid. As a retired couple, priorities change. Yes we have grandchildren who are pampered but our outgoings are less. Its a new life.

So where am I? Well I just edited my “Wants List”. There are just 26 stamps on the list.

To paint an optimistic picture just three of these stamps are fully “Irish” in the sense that they are of Irish design. This is one stamp (a used variety)  from the 1990s Definitive series. Theoretically it is not expensive but no dealer seems to have it. The other two stamps are obtainable but one is very expensive.

The other 23 stamps (8 mint and 15 used) are “Seahorse” stamps…ie British design high values 2s6d, 5s and 10s featuring “King” George V but overprinted in Irish as “Irish Free State” or “Provisional Government of Ireland”.

At the beginning of this year, there were 34 stamps on my “Wants List”. I obtained one earlier in the year and seven at this weekend’s “Stampa” so I am happy at this progress.

So this is the first task, listing them and setting out a target. Realistically I must shop around. Discounted “good used” or even “badly used” stamps are a better option than higher priced “fine used” especially as I also collect mint versions. These are high end stamps so only sold by the better dealers and are more likely to be seen at “Spring Stampa” (April) and “National Stampa” (October) rather than mainstream collectors fairs and flea markets. There is also the question of trusting a reputable dealer more than a casual dealer.

So I like that I can focus again. New issues are of course a drain on finances but that’s the nature of striving for “completion”. There is no real END.  And of course I enjoy collecting cheap “world” stamps at fairs and flea markets. But also a drain on finances.

Target Dates? Well I started to specialise in Ireland on 31st October 1970 so in just over two years, I will be collecting Ireland for fifty years. This two years seems too optimistic. More realistic perhaps is my 70th birthday (10th May 2022).

It would be nice to be “complete” and finally sit in an armchair and enjoy my stamps rather than be distracted by empty spaces in albums.

In many ways “Stampa 2018” was like “Stampa 2017” and “Stampa 2016”, the third in the new venue of Griffith College. Same dealers at the same tables. Admission was surprisingly Free. I am not sure if  this welcome development made for larger crowds but a lot of dealers seemed to think they were doing well.

For me, the worst moment of the weekend was overhearing some casual racism. Whether this says something about just one asshole or says something deeper about Stamp Collecting, I don’t know. But I am never comfortable with the group think of men of my generation.

Surprise of the Weekend? Well on Friday night, I was reading the quarterly bulletin issued by the Irish Post Office and it referenced some SOAR (Stamps on a Roll) issued in August. This was news to me. The website also references these new stamps.

On Sunday, my second day at Stampa, I bought them.


Eight “new” stamps (seemingly the most popular commemoratives of 2017/18)  sold in two strips of four and a third strip featuring the two of these eight designs and two (the most popular)  designs from the definitive “100 Objects in Irish History”.

Some observations.

The stamps all bear the date imprint “18214” which is 2nd August 2018 but were not made available to Philatelic staff (and the public) until the first day of Stampa. I do not know if and when they will be available in the post office network but if it is the case that they will only sold to stamp collectors, then it means that these stamps will be relatively rare.

Secondly the issue of these stamps undermines the status of the “100 Objects in Irish History” as definitive.

Thirdly the eight commemorative designs are indeed popular  and more so attractive. But the most popular commemorative of 2017 was Che Guevara. It was of course unpopular with conservative Americans (I cant say I care about them) but the stamps sold out …twice!

As I wrote earlier in this post, making plans about “Wants Lists” is undermined by (unexpected) new issues.

As for my other purchases at Stampa, I bought some cheap Irish First Day Covers and maybe ten cheap used “world” stamps. Perhaps I am most pleased with this commercial cover which cost just 60 cents. My first mail from Mozambique.


So Stampa 2018…yes I enjoyed it.

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New Issues 2018: September

A quiet month. Just one issue…four stamps on 6th September. to mark Irish Scientific Discoveries. A Prestige Booklet due to be issued at the same time was actually issued a few days late.



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Portadown Stamp Show 2018

A short journey (4 miles) to Portadown. The annual stamp show was as much about Postcards as Stamps.

I did not buy much. About ten album pages of stamps from Belgium, Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan and some other countries. I spent £15.

And I spent just £2 on five commercially used  covers showing older commemoratives. As I have often said here, I only started collecting these about five years ago and have most of the “domestic” rate stamps from 1929 to 1960 on cover.

Three of the five covers I bought yesterday were from the 1940s and 1950s but the two below are from the 1960s.


These covers cost 20pence and 30pence respectively.
Are they worth it?
Well I think they can transform a stamp album.



They don’t really increase the value of a stamp collection but I think that they enhance the appearance of a stamp collection.

The big event in the Irish Stamp Collecting calendar takes place next weekend in Dublin. I hope to attend on two of the three days.

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149 Post Offices Will Close

On 1st October 2017, I blogged a newspaper headline indicating that 400 post offices in the Republic of Ireland. As I indicated at the time this was a scare tactic or negotiating position between an Post and its local postmasters/mistresses.

A few weeks ago, An Post announced that 149 would definitely close over the next few months. Agreement had been reached on compensation/retirement packages.

This is of course much lower than the 400 closures threatened last year. But significantly none of the closures are in the city or county of Dublin.

For some years now, there has been a narrative that rural Ireland, particularly the west of Ireland is “under attack” from faceless officials in Dublin. This might be school closures, “rationalised” bus services or “re-organisation” of health services.

The closure of post offices is seen as part of the war on rural Ireland. I take the point that not everyone, especially elderly folk can drive a car or has access to public transport. As well as postal services, the local post offices provide opportunities to lodge or withdraw money from bank accounts, pay utility bills, collect pensions and other state entitlements.

The Post Office has plans which will mitigate the inconvenience and in their list of 149 closures, have indicated the nearest alternative post office.

While it is alarming in a social sense that post offices are closing, there is also a dimension for Stamp Collecting.

Every post office issues stamps thru a computer terminal. These are SOAR (Stamps on a Roll). Every stamp has a unique 14-digit number. The first four digits identify the post office. The scan below shows a page from my album. The pic of Pettigo post office was taken by my neighbour,  Dan as he drove thru the small village in County Donegal last weekend. The stamps were issued in 2017 and 2013 and were issued in Pettigo (3005).


I have a list of 1,425 post offices (and individual numbers) from around 2008. The online “find your local post office” on An Post’s website shows that there are just 1,114 at todays date. When the 149 close (in the next few months), there will be just 965 post offices.

I am not unduly worried about the additional difficulty in obtaining “SOAR” stamps and pics of post offices that will close. It is largely a fun thing to do. A quick look at my spreadsheet tells me that I have SOAR stamps from just eighteen of the closing post offices which indicates that there is not much footfall in these post offices. Nor do I have any realistic hope of climbing every mountain in Ireland to take a photograph of the local post office.

I prefer to think in terms that I already have SOAR stamps from 90% of the post offices that will still be open in a few months …and photographs from about 20% of them.

It is not all about closures. The 1,114 post offices that are open today includes about ten which have opened since the 2008 list was issued. Clearly this accounts for some SOAR stamps that I have but could not identify. Unfortunately the “find your local post office” list does not give a 4-digit code but hopefully the Philatelic Section can help me out.

I have already identified two…City West which is in a Dublin shopping mall and Fair Hill in Killarney, County Kerry.





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Two Good Stamp Blogs

For those of you who like reading Stamp Blogs, I recommend:

The Punk Philatelist

This is an Australian blog. It is quirky and not reverential (which perfectly describes Australians….Irish people with a  suntan and a criminal record). Almost a counter culture as suggested by the word “punk”.

The hardest part of blogging is finding a good title. I really should have called this blog “The Hippy Philatelist”.

A Boy And His Stamps

Another good blog. Based in Canada, Anthony the author is a relatively new collector and his well-titled blog is a good insight into his journey.

If you get a chance, check them out.

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