New Issues 2018: May

Few issues in May 2018.


The annual Europa issue features Bridges (two stamps). A single stamp showing Piobairí Uileann (Uileann Pipes) and a single stamp showing the 1400th Death Anniversary of St Kevin were also issued.

There are no issues planned for June.

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New Issues 2018: April

Another quiet month with just one issue. The much anticipated “International Statesmen” stamps feature two great heroes of the 20th century, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

This year 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination (let’s call it…murder!) of Dr King and it is the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

It is also the Bicentenary of the Birth of Frederick Douglass, the former slave who did so much to advance the cause of Emancipation in the United States of America. Frederick Douglass actually has a stronger connexion to Ireland than Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. He escaped from USA and spent  some time in Ireland and was a supporter of the Irish cause. I feel an opportunity to honour him was missed.


I have obtained the mint set and several used stamps. This is a little surprising as the stamps were issued for the international mail.

I have had some postcards of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko (the South African freedom activist) and I used them for an appropriate first day cancellation. I also made a “postcard” of Frederick Douglass based on a photograph I took at a mural on Falls Road in Belfast.



I wonder if these stamps will be as popular as the recent Che Guevara issue.


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The Problem With Stamp Collecting…Part 426

The problem with Stamp Collecting is …the People.

Postal Administrations. Dealers….but mostly Stamp Collectors. Although there are clearly collectors that I like….I just don’t like them as a group.

According to my wife…who is usually right about these things…intelligent people have fewer friends than stupid people. This is probably true. I am so intelligent that it is a surprise that I have any friends at all.

Apparently intelligent people are more selective and have higher standards. Who am I to argue with my wife over something she read on Facebook.

I will be 66 years old and most stamp collectors are older than me. We are a dying breed.

The unfortunate thing is that many have attitudes to life and politics that were already out-of-date by the 1960s. Most are very conservative, some to the point of being to the right of Attila the Hun. This is of course a generalisation but the group-think is one where conservative values are the norm.

I rarely feel comfortable with other collectors. My politics is in the mainstream of western European democratic socialism. The United States is of course to the political right of western Europe. So for someone who watches a lot of Fux (sic) News, I must appear like their worst nightmare…a pinko commie liberal.

I would certainly like to be the worst nightmare for anyone who watches Fux News.

Why are stamp collectors so “conservative”? Well it is tempting to say that people get more conservative as they get older but I am actually getting more socialist as I get older. I think the main problem is that all “collecting” hobbies value some form of Nostalgia. This means that any gathering of stamp collectors, particularly those who collect stamps from British, French or Portuguese colonies are celebrating a world that has not existed for several decades.

And the postal administrations and dealers feed into that. That is why stamps featuring the English Royal Family, their births, marriages and deaths are so popular.

And it is also true that stamp collectors tend to come from secure professional backgrounds, the sons (it is hardly ever daughters) of lawyers, doctors, businessmen etc. I am proudly from a working class background.

Another gross over-simplification on my part but I have difficulty in being social with people who prefer the 19th century to 21st century.  Actually I prefer the 20th century…1966-1974 was pretty good.

So… stamps?

The bottom line is that I have fifty duplicate stamps that I don’t need. And I can exchange them. There is no real need to know that the guy in Arkansas voted for Donald Trump or that the guy in Connecticut voted for Hillary Clinton.

In many ways it is irrelevant.

But is it relevant if the guy in Arkansas or the guy in Connecticut make it relevant?

If I look at a profile on social media and see a man with a “Make America Great Again” baseball hat, posing with an assault rifle, “liking” the National Rifle Association and pledging allegiance to the racist Confederacy and re-posting crap about migrants and refugees…well that’s not really the kinda person that I want to trade stamps with.

You might say that it is irrelevant.

I think that it is perfectly possible to trade stamps or postcards or whatever all around the world, without having to agonise that the other trader in Chile supported Pinochet. Or that the guy in Israel voted Netanyahu. Or that the guy in Russia supports Putin.

They are just wanting to trade stamps…… big deal. We are all probably (socialist, liberal or conservative) in a bi-partisan mainstream of mutual respect.

We are not intending to see each others vision of the world.

But when someone steps outside the mainstream and reveals their vision of the world to be a narrow, hate-driven world, then I reserve my right to have nothing to do with such a person.


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Never Join A Club That You Can’t Leave

The problem with online Stamp Clubs is that it is almost impossible to leave.

I have joined four such clubs and they are more trouble than they are worth. Leaving is a problem. From the perspective of the clubs themselves, a person who joins and leaves destroys the continuity of their threads.

I fully understand this but it is something that a person should consider before joining. Maybe it is buried in Terms and Conditions but it is not really spelt out.

The Administrator of the Australian-based Stamp Boards might well be a very nice guy. But I find him boorish and annoying. I cannot leave and I have resolved the temptation of looking at the site by changing my password to something that I could not possibly remember.

Stamporama looks a good site. I joined briefly but probably around the time of the 2016 American Presidential Election, it was clear that the “group think” of the site was pro-Donald Trump. The problem with many sites claiming to be apolitical is that they really mean that they don’t like political discussion that is somewhat different from their own. So really in a Stamp Collecting site, I don’t want to hear sniggering about Hillary Clinton and the Hollywood elite. Stamp Collecting is certain to die (and deserves to die) if it is just about old men wearing “Make America Great Again” baseball hats who watch Fux (sic) News.  To his immense credit, the Administrator arranged for me to leave.

Stamp Exchange …the problem here is that only a very small number of members contribute. I have contributed more than my share but it is a pretty dead forum. I wrote to the Admin asking that my account be deleted but I got no reply.

Nor did I get a reply from Stamp Community Forum. It is actually a  very lively forum. Of course most threads are related to collecting in USA but I have often contributed to a long-running thread on (general) stamp collecting. Very few acknowledge my existence by replying to any post I make. I feel invisible.

In part, this is why I blog here.

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Aussie Rules!

Stamp Fair in Belfast on Saturday. Much more successful than the previous week in Dublin.

All the Dealers were part-time. And I was able to pick up maybe 300 stamps at an average of just 5p each.

As you can see 27 of the stamps are Australia.

I like Australia. Australia is the “Ireland of the Southern Hemisphere”. They seem to have the secret of life. And…sunshine. Whether it is Australian cricketers in their baggy green caps, the Melbourne Cup, the wildlife, or the “Ocker” culture of throwing another shrimp or Pom on the Barbie while drinking the amber nectar of Fosters, there is a lot to like about Australia and Australians.

To some extent, there are two Australias. The forward-looking future Republic of (say) Paul Keating which is at ease with its geographical location and the nostalgic backward-looking monarchy of (say) Robert Menzies and its delusional link to a mother country.

Advance Australia Fair as their anthem says.

And its a more inclusive Australia that embraces the English settlors including the exiled convicts from England, Scotland and Ireland, the Aboriginal peoples and later migrants from Greece and Italy and more recently migrants from Asia.

It is called the Lucky Country.

And I like Australian stamps. As I always say, a Stamp Album is a Greatest Hits album and Australia proudly shows its history, wildlife, sport and all the rest on its stamps. So I was happy on Saturday when I picked up these stamps. Many show “Australian Legends” and while many legends will only be known to people in Australia, many such as Olivia Newton-John, Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, Germaine Greer (feminist author) and the Seekers (one of my favourite pop groups from the 1960s) are known internationally.

There should always be a “feel good” factor about stamps. And these and other “Legends” stamps can make Australians feel proud.



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Return to Sender

This is a fairly typical page from my stamp album. The set is the Bicentenary of the Guinness Brewery in 1959. As was often the case with Irish stamp issues, two stamps were issued. One stamp was meant for posting mail to Ireland and Britain. The second stamp was intended for airmail postage around the world. These “higher value” stamps were often used on parcels.

I like setting out an album page in this format. A mint set, a used set and an example of the stamp authentically used, in this case on a letter sent from Galway to London, England.

Examples like this cover are commonly found at collectors fairs, flea markets etc in Ireland and Britain. But it is harder to find examples of the higher value stamp because usually the mail to which it was attached would go off to Canada, Australia. wherever.

So while they might be found in Canada, Australia, wherever, they rarely show up in Ireland itself.

I have occasionally tried to deal with this problem with the help of fellow collectors abroad and long suffering family members who don’t understand stamp collecting. Sometimes I send off a letter or postcard to someone and request that it be returned to me.

It is nice to add authentic mail in an album. It gives it a texture to see mail that has gone from Ireland to Germany, Norway, Brazil wherever. And it personalises an album with reminders of family and friends.



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New Issues 2018: March

March was a quiet month.

The Centenary of the Death of John Redmond and the 150th Anniversary of the Irish National Teachers Organisation.

The Coil Stamps delayed since January were also issued.




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