New Issues 2017: Part Five

On Thursday 4th May, two Europa stamps were issued. The theme was Castles and the stamps featured Dublin Castle and King John’s Castle, Limerick.

I bought a mint set on Friday. And a second set which I sent to myself was delivered today.


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I Joined Irish Philatelic Circle

Last week on this Blog, I stated that I could not join a Stamp Club/Society. And on Sunday…I joined the Irish Philatelic Circle.

What made me change my mind ? Well on Saturday, I attended a Stamp Postcard/Fair in Belfast and was invited by the President of IPC annual meeting on Sunday.

I attended the afternoon session…an auction. I bought a few items. And everyone was very friendly. But we are mostly old men. Indeed next week, I will be 65 years old.

I was a member of IPC for about three years in the 1980s. I never really enjoyed being a member. I always felt comparatively young and inexperienced.

Membership always seemed to be a luxury. Now I think it is a luxury for collectors NOT to be a member of a Club/Society. The hobby is dying. And we  MUST do something. I am not sure how we can fight back but doing nothing is not an option.

To borrow a phrase from another context. “Now is the time for every good Stamp Collector to come to the aid of his/her hobby”.

In his excellent Blog, Romanian reader, “Timbrefil” has some suggestions for getting new blood into the hobby.

We have lost an entire generation. There are few collectors in their 30s and 40s and connecting with even younger folks will be very difficult.

Old Men…like me…might call ourselves “philatelists” but we all started off as “stamp collectors”. Essentially these are two different hobbies. But I think the first priority is to connect these two hobbies.

Non-collectors cannot be expected to understand or share the urge to collect….whether stamps, postcards, coins, autographs. But other collectors understand kindred spirits in other hobbies. So in the context of Stamp Collecting, we must build bridges to the Postcard Collectors. A different but related hobby of course but it seems to be enjoying some good years thru the Internet and initiatives such as PostCrossing.

It is not just about “collecting”. Nor is it just about the dubious concept of “investment”. I am a nerd but I am not a speculator. Our image is a stereotype.

Much of what we do is about preservation and conservation. Stamps need to be preserved as much as much as ancient works of art.

Perhaps we should stop seeing ourselves as nerds and start seeing ourselves as “action heroes”. Perhaps I am not like Dr Sheldon Cooper. Perhaps I am like….Indiana Jones.

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The Groucho Marx Guide To Stamp Collecting

Groucho Marx famously said that he would not join a club which would have him as a member. I feel much the same way about Stamp Collecting clubs.

I am saddened that “collectors fairs” promoted by clubs in Sligo, Limerick and Dundalk are no longer part of the Irish scene. I suppose that older collectors are dying and there are no new collectors. Yet I was never seriously tempted to join a local club.

To be clear for about four years in the 1980s, I was a member of the Irish Philatelic Circle. It was not a “local” club. It was a club for people with an interest in Irish stamps, so it had members in Ireland, Britain, United States and several other countries. As I recall, there were about 400 members.

I was at three annual meetings, two in England and one in Ireland. There were also regular regional meetings in London and Dublin but I never attended any. There was a Newsletter sent out four times a year.

Even back in the 1980s, when I was in my mid-thirties, the other members seemed like men (I only ever saw a few wives) in late middle age and indeed old age. When I go to stamp fairs now, I still appear at 64 years of age to be one of the younger folks.

Of course in the 1980s, I was a young and inexperienced collector. I felt a little intimidated by the older and more knowledgable collectors. While some were quite friendly, I never really felt at ease in their company.

I am not easily intimidated in 2017. And yet I feel uncomfortable with other collectors. I feel different. I think there is a “group think” within organised Philately. A core group can dictate a narrative. I am politically left of centre, a socialist and while it would be unfair of me to categorise ALL stamp collectors as being to the right of Attila the Hun, it is too often the case that a stamp fair is the wrong place to wear a Tshirt endorsing Che Guevara and Nelson Mandela.

While there are many familiar faces at Irish stamp collecting gatherings, I dont think that (excluding dealers) I could put a name to more than five or six faces. I just dont really want to know other stamp collectors, even if it can be beneficial to me as a collector.

There are two “societies” which promote collecting Irish stamps. One, the Éire Philatelic Assciation is based in USA. The other, the Irish Philatelic Circle is Irish based. The IPC has an annual meeting and it is rotated. Next Sunday, it meets in Belfast, which is 25 miles from me. I am tempted to join but I keep hearing the voice of Groucho Marx. I like Groucho but I really like his brother…..Karl Marx. So I dont think I will be joining an “association”, a “circle” which are really upmarket “clubs”.

On Saturday, many members of IPC are likely to attend the Stamp Fair, about half a mile from their hotel. I hope they and their wives and husbands have a good weekend.


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New Issues 2017: Part Four

A new issue yesterday, so I was in Dublin.

Four stamps depicting Royal Sites of Ireland. All are at National Rate. The four sites shown are Hill of Tara (County Meath), Eamhain Mhacha (County Armagh), Rathcroghan (County Roscommon) and Rock of Cashel (County Tipperary).

These sites are the royal sites of the High King of Ireland (Tara) and Kings of Ulster, Connacht and Munster respectively.

There are actually two other Royal Sites. Dún Ailinee (County Kildare) is the site of the Leinster king and the Hill of Uisneach (County Westmeath) is the ceremonial centre of Ireland. I think they should have been included in the set.

As Eamhain Mhacha is just fifteen miles from my home and just  five miles from my mother’s birthplace, I sent myself a postcard  which will have a “first day” cancellation.


In modern terms, there are four provinces in Ireland but the Gaelic word for “province” is “cúige” which means “one fifth”. The fifth province is “An Mhí” meaning “The Middle” and the area ruled by the High King. It is mostly the area of modern County Meath.

The wisdom of the ancients never ceases to amaze me. Modern technology and satelites identify the actual centre of Ireland as Carnagh, which is just nine miles from the Hill of Uisneach.


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Postmarks: County Cork

A selection of postmarks from County Cork. I have eighty-two from the “Rebel County”.  The fourteen shown on this page are from Kealkill, Lislevane, Ballydehob, Toormore, Blarney, Macroom, Riverstick, Goleen, Newmarket, Buttevant, Durrus, Rathcormac, Kilbehany and Inishannon.

I have several hundred postmarks. It all started accidently from Irish kiloware. The envelopes contain duplicates sorted by county.

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Stamp Fair: 8th April 2017

I was at a Stamp Fair on Saturday.

Apart from “new issues”, I have not bought any Ireland stamps from my Wants List since last October. I will return to the Wants List in about six weeks.

I have two very different hobbies. One…Philately….is about Ireland. The other …Stamp Collecting… is about the World. Philately is expensive. Stamp Collecting is cheap.

Really for too many years, I have been neglecting Stamp Collecting. The consequence is that the number of stamps I have for some countries is much lower than might be expected.

To some extent, some countries are not on the Radar. For example, the African countries, formerly in the French Empire are more collectable in Paris than in London…Trinidad and Tobago attracts more interest in London than Miami….and stamps from Mexico are more more familiar in Miami than in London.

So…Republic of Korea (South Korea) is one of those that has little impact in London, Dublin or Belfast. I have just FIVE stamps from this literate, well-populated and rich country. Of course, it would be very different in the United States as many homes would have seen mail delivered from military personnel in Korea (and likewise Philippines and Taiwan).

Recently, I set up a spreadsheet. It shows the number of stamps I have from each country and the target number for the end of this year.

So on Saturday, I was looking out for cheap stamps from some of those under-represented countries. So I was able to pick up fifteen Korean stamps and that takes me past my “target”. Likewise I have exceeded my “target” for Thailand, Austria and Japan. And I have now identified a source who will help me with other under-represented countries.

Philately and Stamp Collecting are very different hobbies. I intend to enjoy both.

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World Albums Update

I have now printed 200 cover sheets for 200 countries and attached  196 self-adhesive flags.

The flags are for the 193 UN member states plus Palestine, Vatican and Kosovo. I will need to make my own for Northern Cyprus, Taiwan and entities such as United Nations and the ridiculous Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

There are now six complete albums ….three for the so-called European Union, one for Africa, one for Asia and one for Oceania.

Over the weekend, I hope to add four albums ….one for NOrth America, one for Central/South America, one for non-EU Europe  and one for “former countries”.


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