1946: Birth Centenaries of Davitt & Parnell

I really enjoy getting comments on this Blog and a comment I received a couple of days ago is the reason behind this Blog. I was asked for more information on the “red stamp” in this set (see my album page below)


First off I started to specialise in the stamps of Ireland and prepared a page for every issue. It was October 1970, almost fifty years ago and I was just 18 years old. The information I used here was from a book on Irish stamp issues, produced by the Irish Post Office. As you will see, I have these stamps in both mint and used condition. You will note that there are “SG” numbers under the stamps. These are the numbers in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue.

Gibbons and other major stamp dealers like Scott in United States of America produce a catalogue, often regarded as a Bible by stamp collectors. The interesting thing is that the numbers are 138 and 139, which means that just 137 stamps had been issued from 1922 (independence) until this set which was issued in 1946. Many of the previous stamps were British stamps (overprinted) and printing varieties of those stamps.

The first set of Irish commemorative stamps was issued in 1929 and there were just fifteen commemorative sets issued before this one.

What is the commemoration? Well, it is the centenary of the birth of two prominent figures in Irish History in the late 19th century. Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell were politicians, who were Irish nationalists and campaigners for land reform and rights of tenants over (often English) landlords.

You will note the design features cottages, a tenant and the inscription “Tír agus Teaghlach” (Country and Homestead).

It is almost fifty years since I wrote that page. And looking back to that very first album, I was 18 years old and trying to make the transition from schoolboy collector to adult collector (or in hindsight “novice adult collector”).

Stamp Collecting is all about making mistakes. Back in 1970, I had no idea that I could design” and print my own pages on a home computer.

The traditional way to collect stamps is mint and used.

Thru an almost accidental purchase of a lot of slogan postmarks on envelopes, bought from the same dealer over several months at a local stamp fair, I discovered that these covers brought a texture and context to a collection.

Take this page from my album.


These are two envelopes sent from Dublin to the same address in Newry, County Down. They were sent at the same time. As the “red” stamp was enough to ensure delivery it follows that the recipient was a stamp collector who needed both stamps for his/her collection. There is a pencil note on each envelope to check the date. Presumably the original collector had passed these at a later date (selling up perhaps?) to a second collector who was wondering if these were posted on the first day of issue. Actually they were posted a week later.

You will also note the slogan postmark “Save Bread and Flour”. This is just a year after the end of “The Emergency” (as the Second World War was known in Ireland) and the country still endured shortages.


The three envelopes above are not in my album. They were part of the purchases I made over several months. So I have five showing these Davitt-Parnell stamps on commercial mail and I daresay I have about 150 envelopes showing stamps from 1929 to about 1960. There are maybe only four or five issues that I dont have. I keep a lot of these covers so I can change the album “display”.

As you will see, the three “spares” were all were posted in Dublin and all have the same slogan postmark. Two were sent to London and one to Dublin.

I could speculate that in offices in London and Dublin, there were staff who collected stamps themselves or brought home stamps to their children.


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CoronaVirus, Stamps & Travel

Just an update on how things are here and how it is impacting our hobby and travel.

First of all, here in Norn Iron, we are a divided society and many look to London for leadership and many look to Dublin. We are very much a “No Mans Land” but whatever the constitutional reality of being a part of the “United Kingdom” or the geographic reality of being part of the island of Ireland, there are times such as Weather or (now) Pandemic when Geography trumps Politics.

Britain has been hit badly by CoronaVirus. It is still pretty bad. The government is led by a mam, who many regard as a dangerous buffoon. Others regard him as a dangerous charlatan. For the record, I regard him as a dangerous buffoon AND a dangerous charlatan.

Happily in Norn Iron, we are mitigated by Boris Johnson being out of sight and out of mind. We seem to have got over the worst. And the same can be said for the Republic of Ireland, who already in Phase One of Recovery move into Phase Two next Monday and have actually brought forward (to Monday) elements originally planned for Phase Three, later in June.

Stamps…well the Irish Post Office delivered two pre-paid postcards to every house in the Republic which can be sent anywhere on the island. A nice gesture.

The second quarterly “Collector” bulletin for 2020 from the Philatelic Bureau was not issued at the beginning of April and as far as I know, the last new stamps issued were the Pioneering Women in early March. So there will be some catching up to do.

Travel...I am usure how things are in the Republic of Ireland. There is essential travel only and social distancing on public transport and an instruction to not drive, walk or cycle more than 5 kilometres (on Monday this will be extended to 20 kilometres). Although day trippers from Norn Iron are exempt, it would be wrong, selfish …unpatriotic of me to travel to the Republic until conditions are even better.

As some readers of this blog will know, my other great interest is travelling around Ireland and I am really missing this freedom.

Travel in North…we (wife and self) are in LockDown and we cannot leave our homes except for groceries, doctors, daily exercise. We have a son (with a serious health issue), daughter-in-law and three children live 3 kilometres from us. And another son, daughter-in-law (an essential health worker) and a child who live 5 kilometres from us. Frankly we have broken lock down for child care reasons when one daughter-in-law lost her mother to cancer last month.

Actually the worst part of lockdown has been missing two funerals. Our son has also lost his beloved dog and we have lost Keano, our wonderful 18 year old cat who passed away last month.

Earlier this week my wife and I went for a drive to three villages. The official advice is that people CAN travel but the police have further stated “you can travel …but please dont travel”. And they could do nothing wihen hundreds of teens turned up on northern beaches in last weeks sunshine!

I spoke to a bus driver. The rules in the north are that bus (and train?) timetables are more or less as normal but very few people actually travel. There is social distancing and if a bus is half-full, the driver can refuse to let new passengers on board (the driver I spoke to has not carried more than five passengers in weeks) but passengers wont be stranded as a relief bus will be sent.

All of this is encouraging. My wife and I will drive to some rather bland local destinations which will in some way satisfy my desire to travel and maybe from the middle of June, I will actually get on board a local bus or train.

Please everyone…stay safe!


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The Punk Philatelist on You Tube

One of the really good Bloggers on Stamp Collecting is “The Punk Philatelist”. Based, in Australia, “Punk” takes a sideways look at philately. So take a look at this American Philatelic Society video featuring his views on “Collecting Commercial Covers”.


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Update on LockDown

In terms of Stamps, Postcards, Coins etc…there is very little that I can say.

A World in LockDown is actually a World that is “on hold”.

First of all, my wife and I are doing ok. Nobody has entered our house since 12th March. In terms of finance, my State pension and my “work” pension are safe. And my wife who is still too young to have a State pension is ok with her “work” (actually National Health Service) pension.

We are probably even saving some money.

Our two adult sons (and our daughters-in-law!) ordered us into lockdown on 12th March and it was almost amusing that they decided they would look after us. Alas my older son has a health issue and he received a letter telling him not to leave the house for 12 weeks.

In the other house, our baby grandson has a health issue and my second son is in similar lockdown but his wife, who is on the front line in our local hospital is still needed at work but for social distancing is on constant night shift.

In the midst of all this Life…and Death…goes on.

The first family had their dog (Smokey) die last month and our beloved elderly cat (Keano was 18 years old) died last week.

So in the first family house, they cant do much shopping…we do it for them…and my daughter-in-law will lose her own mother to another illness very shortly.

In the second family house, our daughter-in-law can still do the shopping.

And just yesterday, I learned that a beloved cousin (87) is receiving pallative care as she had a stroke earlier in the week.

Perhaps the most cruel aspect of CoronaVirus is the de-humanising protocols around funerals. It is probable that in the next month, two people close to me will die and I wont be able to attend a funeral.

Our travel is now limited to travelling about three kilometres to Family Number One. And five kilometres in the other direction to Family Number Two. We dont get to hug our grandchildren.

We are “allowed” daily exercise so we walk about a mile around 8pm. And we tend to use the local village shop on a daily basis. And my wife does a “big shop” maybe twice a week.

I find the protocols difficult or….I find them easy. There is no real pattern.

On Thursday we went into town. I went into a local “pound shop” and bought ten face masks (£10) and my wife went to the pharmacy next door.

“Pound Shops” sell cheap stationary, pet food, household items and piled high in narrow aisles. Yet I found it a cheerful experience. They operated a maximum of six customers in the store and I had no waiting. Yet when I came out, my wife was still waiting to get into the pharmacy. And it still took a while. The phramacy, much more spacious than the “pound shop” had a three customer policy.

All the way back to the car park, my wife complained about the pharmacy. She will not go there again. They had two different counters for cash and card transactions and a strict “self scan” policy, not necessarily convenient to a generation used to cash.

Our only other shopping that day was a lovely “fruit and veg” shop and butchers. I will use them again. The shopkeepers served us with a smile. And I think that is one of the takeaways from this crisis. People…such as the folks I encounter during my evening walk can do it all with a smile on their faces and others seem to have a scowl on their faces.

I have started to wear a mask. I dont think it will stop me getting a virus but it may stop me unwittingly passing a virus on. And I think the real benefit of a mask is that I am demonstrating that I am taking this CoronaVirus seriously.

A minority of people do not take this as seriously as they should but there is also an extreme fearful position that I dont like to see.

AS always, living in Norn Iron is the best and worst of both worlds. Constitutionally linked to Britain and geographically linked to the Republic of Ireland and as London and Dublin are operating different health systems, a lot of people look to London while others look to Dublin.

In recent weeks, it seems that our local government in Belfast has sensibly fallen in line with Dublin.

Short term, we seem in no danger. But I cannot see western governments keeping up the stimulus packages forever. We have a British conservative (booooo!) government which last year turned down reasonable pay rises for nurses, now hailing them as heroes. The most likely outcome is that NHS senior folks who held the line against pay rises will get knighthoods and damehoods and those on the front line will get some token minor MBEs, OBEs etc.

But a conservative (booooooooooooo!) government, seemingly recent converts to a “living wage” will soon resort back to bashing the Poor.

Stay safe!

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185 Countries

In the mail today, some “commercial mail that I had bought via ebay.



New countries…Angola, Sao Tomé & Principe, Liberia and Yemen.

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The Name Is Brosnan…Pierce Brosnan

A big thank you to my friend, Charlotte for facilitating this fun postcard and stamp.

I bought the postcard (Pierce Brosnan as “James Bond” )in a “movie memorabalia” shop in London, England about twenty years ago and I have held it in one of my albums of unposted cards.

Last month, Britain issued a set of stamps commemorating “James Bond”. Unfortunately I could not get any of them locally. So I sent the card in an envelope to Charlotte in England and she kindly sent this back to me.

Pierce Brosnan was born in Ireland in 1953 and holds joint Irish and American citizenship.

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CoronaVirus New Issues Postponed

As Ireland is in lockdown, it is inevitable that the issue of new stamps has been postponed “until further notice”.

The Government has announced that social distancing restrictions will remain in force until (at least) 5th May.

Bí Sábháilte gach duine! Be Safe everyone!

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181 Countries

From ebay today.

Latest country is Samoa.


Three covers. Very reasonable.

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180 Countries

Another ebay purchase arrived today.

Postcard from Comoros.

Hopefully, there will be more mail this week and my “wants list” will be reduced to the nations that are really difficult.

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179 Countries

The current lockdown means that I have turned once again to ebay.

Regular readers will know that last year, I became interested (do I mean “obsessed”?) in acquiring used postcards and commercial mail from every recognised country in the world.

To recap…there are 193 members of the United nations plus de-facto nations such as Taiwan, Vatican, Palestine, Kosovo and Northern Cyprus and the United Nations itself which issues stamps….so 199 in all.

Obviously some postcards and commercial mail is easier to obtain than others. The factors are population size, economics, connexion to other nations, literacy and whether the nation is a “closed” or “open” society.

So last Sunday I still had 21 nations on a “wants list”.

It has been hard to find Kazakhstan. The “colonial” connexion is to Russia and the population of 20 million is literate.  It has a very authoritarian government.



So surprisingly this postcard sent to England only cost £1.75

Before Easter I should receive more purchases from ebay.


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