Printer is gumming: UK issues Game of Thrones stamps

Excellent post from Australia…The Punk Philatelist writes some good stuff.

The Punk Philatelist

UK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Iron Throne stampHappy New Year, readers! Hoping your year is as bloody awesome as the pun in my headline.

2018 has kicked off with the news that on January 23, the UK’s Royal Mail is releasing no less than 15 stamps commemorating “the significant British contribution” to the production of the TV series Game of Thrones.

Here’s the Royal Mail’s justification for jumping on the GoT band-dragon:

The Game of Thrones production involves a very significant British contribution. Principal filming of the series is at Titanic Studios in Belfast, at the Linen Hill Film Studio in Banbridge and on location elsewhere in Northern Ireland, with additional filming in Scotland and European locations including Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco and Spain.
Additionally, the acclaimed cast is predominantly British and Irish, and British expertise is to the fore in many areas of the production, including award-winning costume design and prosthetic special effects.

And here’s…

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Stamps: History or Memorabalia?

There are essentially three types of stamps…definitive, commemoratives and thematics (or “topicals” as they are known in North America. Unless, a collector specialises in a certain country, definitive stamps can be boring and confusing. This is especially true of the world’s oldest countries who were issuing stamps from the middle of the 19th century.

To some extent the stamps of some countries (eg Britain)  pre-date the hobby of Philately while the stamps of  other countries (eg Ireland) were first produced when Philately was already established as a hobby.

There is a cross-over between Commemoratives and Thematics. But certainly in the 1960s when I started to collect stamps, Thematics was regarded as something inferior to the classical approach of collecting world-wide or by country (simply from the first stamp to the current stamps of, in my case, Ireland).

Certainly the over-production of thematics by the old Soviet Bloc, Middle East nations de-valued the concept of collecting by “theme”. Space, Winter Olympics, English royal family are popular themes for collectors but not enhanced when issued respectively by Liberia, Nauru and Turkmenistan.

There is really no limit to collectable themes…Sport, Birds, Music, Fish, Flowers…and even for me, a specialist collector of Ireland and a general collector of very cheap world-wide stamps, I find I am drawn to certain themes…. Flags, Football and increasingly a vague desire to collect “20th Century People”.

I suppose back in the 1960s, important historical figures featured on stamps but there is a trend where movie stars, musicians and other entertainers now feature on stamps.

Of course there was a convention…a good one in my opinion…where “living people” did not feature on stamps. It is a good convention because there is no way of knowing that a highly respected living musical in 2018 does not turn out to be a serial killer in 2028. Of course reputations of dead historical figures are always subject to revision but putting living people on stamps has always struck me as a hostage to fortune.

I must say that I enjoy seeing Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Lucille Ball, Johnny Cash, Gregory Peck on American stamps. They are very much part of my life. Increasingly Nostalgia seems to be a theme …a legitimate theme in Collecting.


But we seem to be moving from Nostalgia towards Memorabalia…and that is a concern. In recent years, Britain has issued stamps….sets showing British comedians, including some that are still alive and Dr Whos….it is a debating point whether the characters or actors are depicted. But it is certainly true that First Day Covers are autographed by the actors. Likewise Star War charachters appeared on British stamps.

The year 2018 will be a vintage year in this regard. In June stamps will be issued to commemorate the classic BBC show “Dads Army” which first aired in 1968 and I am delighted. It seems to blend History with Nostalgia.

On a personal level as a fan of “Game of Thrones”, I welcome the set of stamps to be issued later this month. I will buy some sets because they will look good on my outgoing mail and delight some friends who are also fans.

As I live close to Belfast, where many “Game of Thrones” episodes are produced, I will hopefully be using these stamps on appropriate postcards. Whether the main Belfast post office facilitates First Day postmarks will be interesting.

The marketing of these “Game of Thrones” stamps seems more about stamps in the Memorabalia market rather than memorabilia in the Stamps market.

But anything that breathes life into the dying hobby of Stamp Collecting is to be welcomed.

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Postcard Review: 2017

I suppose it is inevitable that the progress I made with Stamps in 2017 is balanced by a fairly disappointing year with Postcards.


I have spent the last forty five years travelling thru-out Ireland. This means that I have been to most towns, villages and historic sites on at least three occasions. The problem with postcards is that they “date” quite quickly…buildings, fashions and transport shown on cards are often not representative of the reality.

This means that re-visiting places has often involved updating my postcard collection with newer versions of old scenes.

Unfortunately fewer people actually SEND postcards. At best, they are bought as good photographs , souvenirs of vacations and now in 2017, just about everybody has a cell-phone that takes photographs and this has made postcards obsolete.

It also seems that the market-leader in Irish postcards…John Hinde…has either gone out of business or been taken over by another firm or simply re-branded. I must look into this.

I have almost 2,000 UNUSED postcards of Ireland, collected over thirty years. But I have not been able to add many in 2017.

As I reached 65 years of age in May, I can travel for free on public transport thru-out Ireland but even on the very first day of this subsidised travel, in the towns of Portlaoise and Portarlington, it was obvious that outside cities like Dublin, new postcards would be hard to find. So my Ireland collection has remained fairly static.


I have around 1,000 UNUSED postcards from the United States of America. I have usually preferred American postcards to be unwritten and unposted, simply because this was how I started. I am still interested in USA cards, particularly those that reflect “Americana” (eg museums like Civil Rights, Halls of Fame, Birthplaces and Civil War etc). Interestingly as I resumed stamp collecting after a gap of more than ten years, I like to receive posted USA cards as well as unposted cards. In this regard, I have been helped by friends in California, Texas and Illinois. I also get a lot of help from a friend in Scotland in respect of other cards.

I do not consider postcards sent by family or friends to be part of my “collection”. I store them separately.


The aspiration to have at least one POSTED card from every nation (about 200) in the World will be almost impossible to achieve. The availability of posted postcards depends on population size, location, economics, literacy, tourism.

For me, posted cards links two separate interests…Stamps and Postcards.

As of the end of 2017, I have posted postcards from 83 countries.

Europe: Ireland, Britain, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Vatican, Monaco, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Turkey.

I have a postcard from Northern Cyprus sent by a member of my family.

Slovakia, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina remain elusive. But Andorra and San Marino are usually available via eBay. The ex-Soviet republics of Kazakstan, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan will be difficult.

Oceania: Australia, New Zealand. The rest will be difficult.

The Americas: Canada, USA, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Barbados.

I have a postcard sent by a friend from Venezuela. And a family member has sent me a card from United Nations.

Cards from some other countries are usually on eBay. But many will be difficult.

Asia: Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Israel, Republic of Korea, China.

I have a postcard from Vietnam which was sent to me by our friend and neighbour.

Surprising perhaps that I don’t have more from the Middle East but Jordan, Syria, Lebanon can be picked up.

Africa: Madagasgar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Gambia.

I have a card from Morocco sent by a friend.

Many African nations, especially French speaking will be difficult.

So this is how I start 2018. I suppose my limited ambition is to reach 100 nations during the course of the year. That would represent half the countries in the world. But I doubt if it is even possible to get beyond 150 nations.



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The number of “World Stamps” in my collection now stands at 22,578.

For a person who has been collecting since about 1961, it seems like a very low total. In part, it is so low because my main interest is in Ireland.

Since I returned to Stamp Collecting in March 2012, after a gap of more than twelve years, I have tried to develop my interest in World stamps. In part, collecting Ireland is an obsession and collecting the World is a pleasure…not much different from the fun that I had as a schoolboy more than fifty years ago.

So some statistics for 2017. The new total of 22,578 is a lot higher than the 20,047 (October 2016) and I have a reasonable chance of reaching 25,000 by the end of 2018.

Excluding Ireland, the top ten countries with 2017 figures are as follows. I have included the 2016 figures for comparison.

USA 1479 (up from 1332), Britain 1062 (821), New Zealand 799 (792), Canada 637 (631),  Denmark 510 (510), Australia 490 (399), Belgium 425 (419) France 359 (292), Japan 314 (220) and Norway 275 (273).

No progress with Denmark, in part because I had established contacts in that country in the 1990s and ha a fairly high starting number. Little progress with New Zealand, Canada, Belgium and Norway but significant progress with USA, Britain, Australia, France and Japan.

At the beginning of 2016, I set out a spread sheet with a target for each country in the world. It was a figure that I believed to be a “reasonable” total for each country….so the target for France (400) exceeded the target for El Salvador (25). These “targets” are long term “goals” rather than specifically a target for the end of 2017.

In Europe, I have now exceeded the goals for Britain, Austria, Finland, Slovakia, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey…and have made excellent progress with Sweden and Poland.

In Oceania, I have exceeded the goal for Fiji and made good progress with Australia.

The Americas, I have exceeded the goal for USA, Nicaragua and Guyana.

Asia….has been good in 2017 and I have exceeded the targets for Japan, Taiwan, Phillipines, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Republic of Korea and United Arab Emirates.

Africa…has been difficult. Exceeding goals with Seychelles, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana and almost with South Africa.

There are of course countries that are difficult to get in Ireland. Latin America, the former Soviet Republics and the former French colonies in Africa.

Although I have one mailed postcard from Kosovo, it is the only established country (the 193 UN members plus Kosovo,  Vatican, Taiwan, Northern Cyprus and Palestine) that is not in my stamp album.

So I am fairly happy with 2017.

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Post Offices & Stamps On A Roll

“Stamps On A Roll” (SOAR) were introduced as the new definitive series in 2010. These are printed by computer in all post offices. The first series featured Irish Mammals and Marine Life and eight designs appeared in each roll. New sets of eight designs were issued in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2016 the second series…a set of sixteen stamps to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising was issued. And in 2017, a third series, “100 Objects from Irish History” was introduced with an initial eight designs. There are also Christmas SOAR stamps (two designs each year).

These SOAR stamps can be printed in any value.

Earlier this year, I wrote that several Irish post offices are threatened with closure as a cost cutting. There were 1,424 post offices in 2008. Today there are about 1,100.

As I am now retired and can travel for free to any place in Ireland, I enjoy visiting post offices. The thing about post offices is that everyone has to use one. It is likely that Saoirse Ronan, the actress has posted a birthday card in the post office at Howth and if Bono of U2 intends to buy another shopping mall in Lithuania, he might well post off the cheque from his home in Killiney. Those computer guys who work at GOOGLE HQ in Dublin probably post their emails (or whatever they do with emails) from the post office across the street at Ringsend.

InniscronePO Earlier this year, I was in Inniscrone in County Sligo. I took this pic and the first two SOAR stamps on this album page were posted by me. They are from the “100 Objects series”. The third stamp is from the “Mammals and Marine Life” series and it was posted in 2015.

Each SOAR stamp has a unique 14-digit unique number and the first four digits “2032” indicates that the stamps were printed off a computer terminal in Inniscrone.

RanelaghPO Ranelagh is a district in South Dublin. The unique number is “3050”. The first SOAR stamp on this page was posted by me after my first visit. The other stamps were all located in kiloware.

I actually enjoy these visits. The staff in the post offices are usually very friendly. While some are indifferent to stamp collectors, some are really happy to meet someone who is taking an interest.


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Duplicates for Exchange

Dup2017Recently I obtained a lot of kiloware.

I can trade/exchange 25 Irish stamps to about ten people. See the scan below. These are booklet and coil stamps…fauna definitive, Easter Rising, historic objects and Christmas stamps.


If you would like them, please let me know.

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New Issues 2017: Part Twelve

The final stamps of 2017.

Centenary of Apparitions at Fatima. One stamp at international rate.

Christmas. A booklet featuring 26 “national rate” stamps selling at £25. These are available as a pair from the Philatelic Services at General Post Office in Dublin.

The SOAR (Stamps on A Roll) stamps are in two designs. They will be available at all post offices and printed out in the denomination required. Again available as a strip of two at the Philatelic Counter.Christmas2017

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