Stampa 2017 (National Stamp Exhibition)

Dublin 6th October-8th October 2017.

As I have free travel to Dublin, I decided to attend on Friday and Saturday. This is the highlight of the year for Stamp Collectors in Ireland. I only saw two schoolchildren and this was proof positive of the decline of a hobby. I am a sprightly 65 year old man and I felt very young.

And I don’t feel very young very often.

It was certainly a chance for collectors to meet up. But I have never been overly social with other collectors. I just don’t feel like I am “one of the boys”. Which reminds me…the attendance was about 98% male. As far as revival of Stamp Collecting is concerned, we must face facts that we are now beyond the point of No Return.

For people like myself, who are edging slowly towards Completion, there are fewer stamps left on Wants Lists and as the stamps we want are not small change and pocket money, we tend to think longer and harder about buying a stamp. I bought just three stamps on Saturday and (at best) I plan on only buying two stamps before Christmas. I am not sure if the cheap First Day Covers and “golden age” postcards which I DID buy are a distraction from “Completion”.

Another point worth noting…and it is NOT a good sign …is that I heard too many collector express indifference to New Issues. Many don’t collect stamps issued after 2000. The market for low value stamps just does not seem to exist.

Dealers? …maybe eight or nine. Same as last year. And I managed to antagonise one.

 

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New Issues 2017: Part Eleven

Thursday 5th October 2017.

PostCrossing. One stamp at “international rate). Ireland joins the list of nations that has issued a PostCrossing stamp. And indirectly, PostCrossing, the organised exchange of postcards has re-vitalised Stamp Collecting.

I was briefly involved in PostCrossing and while there is a facility for direct exchange, the problem for me was that a large percentage of members tend to come from just a few countries. Two postcards were also issued. One in the same design as the stamp.

PC1

The 50th Anniversary of the Death of Che Guevara. Many people around the world will be surprised by this issue but Che Guevara (thru his father) is “Irish” and he spent time in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s. The icomic image of Che Guevara is by Irish artist, Jim Fitzpatrick who met Che in 1961.

The image has been a poster on bedroom walls and a Tshirt. Indeed I am now wearing the fourth or possibly fifth Che Guevara Tshirt that I have bought in forty odd years.

Yes I am a socialist. Unashamedly left of centre. A democratic socialist. I am the type of person that FOX News and NASCAR rednecks hate. To be totally honest, I exaggerate my socialist credentials because it antagonises fascists and quasi-fascists.

A few years ago images of Che Guevara were removed from an exhibiton of Irish art at Miami Airport in Florida as it understandably upset many in Florida’s Cuban community. And more recently images of Che were removed from an exhibition in County Clare in Ireland. Seemingly some American redneck tourist objected.

So it is fitting that Ireland issues a stamp for Che. Actually 122,000 stamps so the potential to outrage the easily outraged like Shaun Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Bill O’Reilly is high….and if they and people like them are outraged, then I am happy.

As a historian of sorts, I don’t agree that in any conflict “one side is as bad as the other”. That analysis is NOT History. The Poles were “not as bad” as the Germans in the Second World War, the North was “not as bad” as the South in the American Civil War and the Cuban revolutionaries were “not as bad” as the Cuban government in the 1950s.

I suppose the commemoration of Che Guevara on an Irish stamp can be justified on more than one reason. He is “one of our own”, as Irish as President John F Kennedy. He is an image of 1960s/1970s “counter culture” like Carnaby Street in London and Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.

The publicity for the issue describes Che Guevara as a “revolutionary, physician, author and diplomat” and goes on to say that he wrote a “seminal manual on guerrilla warfare”. It pulls no punches. And the words of Che’s father (Ernesto Guevara Lynch) “in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels” underscores that Irish people identify with him.

Below is the First Day Cover and a photograph I recently  took of a mural in Derry City.

CheEx

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Closing 400 Post Offices in Ireland?

Take a look at this headline from the Irish Independent (a leading morning newspaper) from Friday 29th August, two days ago.

Independent

First of all some facts. At 2008, there were 1,424 post offices in the Republic of Ireland. According to the “Independent”, the current number of post offices is around 1,100. This means that around 300 post offices have closed in the last decade.

For some months, it has been an open secret that hundreds of post offices will close. But I suspect that the dramatic headline is part of a media war between the major players…An Post (the Irish Post Office) and the Postmasters who run the country’s network.

The article in the “Independent” references a letter it has seen from An Post to the Postmasters “Union” and it is unlikely that the letter was leaked to the media by An Post.

Another fact…around half of the post offices make a loss. But the case for the viability of a post office is not merely economic. There is a “community” aspect which cannot be quantified by accountants in the General Post Office in Dublin. And a political fall-out that will affect Government and Opposition AND crucially the cross-party local effect in towns and villages in rural Ireland. After all, an astute politician might well feel that the post office network is too large…BUT will fight to ensure that his/her local post office is saved and the post office in another village is closed.

The “Independent” seems anxious to show that this will impact rural Ireland more than the urban centres and there is an ongoing war between “Dublin” and the “Rural Ireland”. A lot of people beyond a radius of fifty miles from the General Post Office in Dublin, feel left behind. Issues like hospitals, schools, public transport seem to divide people on a fault line between Economics and Community.

Obviously the plans for a drastic reduction in the network are opposed by the Postmasters. As they point out, the Post Office is a vital part of community life. As I have visited over a hundred post offices since May (I am photographing as many as I can), I can confirm that the least likely reason to visit a post office is to buy a stamp. Recently I was in a post office in South Dublin…there was a line of eight customers and I was the first to buy a stamp.

People tend to go to post offices to pay bills, lodge or withdraw cash from accounts or access social welfare benefits such as “Family Allowance”, “State Pension” and “Unemployment Benefit”.

Earlier this year, the cost of posting a letter in Ireland rose from 72cents to one Euro. And certainly within Dublin, there are a lot of courier companies.

It is NOT just about Stamps and certainly not about Stamp Collecting. Many post offices do not sell commemorative stamps. It is already a losing battle but if post offices close…well it is another nail in the coffin of Stamp Collecting in Ireland.

As an unashamed socialist, I am more concerned about the effects on community life than the sensibilities of stamp collectors. In my experience most Irish stamp collectors are politically to the right of Attila the Hun. They would normally support the “market” over human beings.

I am also an old gentleman. I took “early retirement” from a public sector organisation when I was just 53 years old. I did of course reject the first retirement package that I was offered. And I even protested that I could never accept selling my job and dignity for any amount of cash. Of course I was bluffing. I grabbed the third offer before it was withdrawn. I sold a job that I hated all my working life. And I got more cash than I had hoped. And I went back to University and got myself another degree.

Seemingly it will take five years before the post offices close. And seemingly “island” post offices are safe. The target is post offices that have a catchment of less than 500 people. It is sad.

But the cat and mouse game will be played out in the media for some time.

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New Issues 2017: Part Ten

Thursday 21st September 2017.

Urban Street Art. Four stamps all at National Rate. I bought two sets yesterday. In a few days, I will post one set to myself.

There is also a premium booklet with four sets of the stamps and photographs of the four designs at their locations (three in Dublin and one in Limerick). The stamps in these booklets are rarely used for genuine mail. They are in essence a souvenir. But on at least one previous occasion, the printing of the stamp has been catalogued as a variety, so I always buy the booklet.

UrbanArt I am not a fan of the concept of “Urban Art”. It seems too close to “Graffiti” for my taste. Maybe I am a Philistine but every time I see a pretentious “Art Lover” praise Urban Street Art, I have an uncontrollable urge to go to his/her home and spray paint on their walls. Let’s see if they also become…Philistines.

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New Issues 2017: Part Nine

The latest New Issues.

Secondary Education Act 50th Anniversary (one stamp). National Ploughing Championships (two stamps and a miniature sheet).

Ploughing

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Stamp and Postcard Fairs

Two “collectables” Fairs in Belfast last weekend.  I obtained fifty used postcards. I now have used postcards from over eighty countries and on Saturday, I added Jamaica, Peru and Ethiopia. I also obtained Cook Islands.

Stamps…not such a good day. My target this year is to get a lot of cheap used stamps. Specialising in Ireland for over forty years is an obsession and not always “fun” but I think cheap used stamps are a lot of “fun”. It makes me feel like a 10 year old stamp collector. On Saturday, I got some stamps from Singapore, Cyprus and Sri Lanka but I think the highlight of the day was a single genuinely used stamp from Burkina Faso.

As a general rule, genuinely used stamps from the former French colonies in Africa are hard to get. Likewise genuinely used stamps from the former Soviet and Yugoslav republics.

A lot of Exhibitions and Fairs will be taking place over the next two months. I am hoping to buy a lot of cheap used stamps.

 

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Duplicates for Exchange

 

Some duplicates available for Exchange:

To be clear, I do not trade on basis of catalogue. These are duplicate stamps and without any real value. I will trade on the basis of 1:1 and a maximum of 40 stamps per person.

Duplicates101Duplicates102Duplicates103

Duplicates104Duplicates105 Duplicates106

Duplicates107 Duplicates108 Duplicates109

Duplicates110

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