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John Winchester  |  Dec 01, 2010  |  0 comments

The 10-mon red from Korea's first issue An encounter with the first series of postage stamps from Korea can be a puzzling one for collectors.

Although five values were planned for the 1884 issue, only the two lowest values are recognised in catalogues.

Why? The explanation for this strange anomaly lies in the turbulent history of the country, and a piece of very unfortunate timing.

Julia Lee  |  Dec 01, 2010  |  0 comments

Burma 1938 1r purple and blue, with the tail-feathers of a peacock embracing the head of King George VI The medium values had attractive pictorial designs Lower Burma had been progressively occupied by the British as part of India in 1826 and 1852, and in 1885 General Sir Harry Prendergast was dispatched with 10,000 troops to acquire Upper Burma and complete the conquest.

In what became known as the Third Anglo-Burmese War, the troublesome King Thibaw, who had hoped to reunify his country, was banished to serve out the rest of his days in exile.

At a stroke, Burma became the largest province in British India, and the use of Indian stamps was extended to the newly annexed territory.

James Mackay  |  Nov 30, 2010  |  0 comments

The exact date on which William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon is unknown, but tradition says it was on St George’s Day, April 23, 1564.

The Post Office’s long-standing refusal to countenance stamps in honour of famous people gave it a problem in 1964 when there was agitation for a special issue of stamps to mark the 400th anniversary.

But it found a way around its discomfort.

James Mackay  |  Nov 30, 2010  |  0 comments

Sir Winston Churchill was 90 years old when he died on January 24, 1965.

Remarkably, he had been a member of the House of Commons until as recently as the previous autumn.

As Britain’s greatest parliamentarian and war leader, not to mention a Nobel Prize-winning author, a journalist and an accomplished artist, he was an obvious subject for a set of stamps, but the Post Office established a new precedent in issuing them.

John Winchester  |  Nov 29, 2010  |  0 comments

St Vincent's first high value The Caribbean island of St Vincent thrived for many years as a simple plantation economy, but after the emancipation of slave labour in 1833 its development required an efficient postal system.

In 1852 a post office was opened at Kingstown, the capital, where British stamps were used initially, cancelled by the distinctive ‘A10’ oval postmark.

But on June 4, 1860, a Post Office Act paved the way for the colony to issue its own stamps.

Julia Lee  |  Nov 11, 2010  |  0 comments

Abraham Lincoln is considered one of the greatest ever Presidents of the United States.

His time in office was spent trying to abolish slavery, save the Union and reunite the country as the American Civil War raged, and his tragic fame was cemented by the fact that he was assassinated within days of the conflict being resolved.

His austere, bearded face remains instantly recognisable today, and the words of his Gettysburg Address are still quoted regularly.

Adrian Keppel  |  Nov 10, 2010  |  0 comments

When rumours arose of a joint stamp issue to mark the 60th anniversary of Indonesian independence, both the Dutch and Indonesian postal authorities were quick to deny them.

That was no great surprise, as the colonial period still touches a raw nerve in both countries.

The last Dutch royal visit, for example, in 1995, was fraught with politics, raising difficult questions about whether Queen Beatrix should apologise for imperialism in what was then the Netherlands Indies (or Dutch East Indies), or voice concern over present-day Indonesia’s poor human rights record.

Adrian Keppel  |  Nov 04, 2010  |  0 comments

The Germania 80pf black and red on rose from the 1899-2000 ‘Reichspost’ printing A group of stamp designers waited on tenterhooks in the hall, each displaying his artwork for a new definitive stamp.

Eventually the door was flung open, and in burst Kaiser Wilhelm II, looking extremely annoyed at having to attend to such a trivial matter.

He dashed past each of the hopefuls before storming back towards the door, only to turn around, point at one design and mutter: ‘This one’.

 |  Nov 04, 2010  |  0 comments

Rarity is always relative, but there are not many stamps of which only one example is believed to exist.

One such is the British Guiana 1c of 1856.

Such is its legendary status that the history of its ownership is as interesting as that of its design, printing and usage.

Julia Lee  |  Nov 03, 2010  |  0 comments

The 1924 three-halfpence for the British Empire Exhibition Until the mid-1920s, the British postal authorities had consistently shunned the idea of commemoratives, an opinion shared by the 'philatelist king' George V, who branded the notion of special event stamps ‘un-English’.

Before 1924 the British Post Office had issued a few items of commemorative postal stationery, but never a commemorative stamp.


 The birth of the stamps
 In the early planning for the British Empire Exhibition, a strong case was made that the only special issue should be postal stationery.

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