Falkland Islands – Airmail Postcards

Members who collect penguins on stamps will be familiar no doubt with the website of the Falkland Post Service Limited (FPSL), which provides postal and philatelic services for the Falkland Islands:  http://falklandstamps.com/.  The FPSL online shop provides the opportunity for collectors to buy stamps of the Falkland Islands, as well as new issues for South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic Territory.

During the lock down, I though that it might be interesting to send to family and friends a selection of post cards from the Falklands, to create the illusion that I had somehow escaped the confines of my home and had escaped to the other side of the world. The FSPL offers an attractive range of illustrated post cards shown above, and I bought a selection of these.   Alongside, I bought a 2003 stamp booklet of 8 self-adhesive “Airmail Postcard” stamps (£5.44), featuring some impressive artwork of the Southern Rockhopper Penguins (see below).   I did have to check the postal rates on the FSPL website, as I could not quite believe that the cost of sending a postcard to Britain from the Falkland Islands would only be £0.68 pence, whereas when using Royal Mail, we have to pay £1.42 in the other direction.  The £0.68 rate was valid from 1 July 2019.

When my postcards and stamps arrived, I emailed the FSPL to ask if I could send stamped and addressed postcards back to them, to put into the postal system, so that my family and friends would receive the “Greetings from the Falklands” cards.  The FSPL kindly agreed to do this for me, and in due course I received myself some postcards with excellent circular date stamps on them, which made the exercise worthwhile as well as puzzling my relatives.

According to Falklands Conservation https://falklandsconservation.com/rockhopper the Southern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome chrysocome) has a height of 48cm and a length of 56cm.  The Rockhopper weighs between 3.5 and 4.o kg and migrates from the Falklands between April and September. The FSPL marked this migration in a set of four stamps issued on 18 October 2018, of which two showcased the Rockhopper; and two stamps the Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus).  The FDC for this issue gives prominence to the Rockhopper in illustration which sits alongside the stamps (as below).

Falklands Conservation goes on to say that “the Falkland Islands hold a significant proportion of the world population (320,000 pairs or 36% of the global population in 2010). Historically, the Falkland population has undergone serious declines from the 1930’s.”  Prior to the 1930s, the population was around a million, but in modern times, the Southern Rockhopper has suffered two starvation events: one in 2002-03; and one in 2015, which affected the population recovery.  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (www.iucn.org) classifies the Southern Rockhopper as “vulnerable” on its red list, with the worldwide population  of around 2.5 million (at 7 August 2018) in decline, notwithstanding that monitoring and recovery plans are in  place.

Beware the Watermark!

A not quite April fool’s joke from British Honduras

The 1962 definitives of British Honduras are an attractive set that most collectors of bird stamps will acquire at some point in time. Comprising twelve values from the 1cent Great Curassow to the wonderfully named $5 Montezuma Oropendola, they are an attractive full colour assemblage of exotic species.

1962 British Honduras Definitives – $5 Montezuma Oropendola (SG212)

They also tend to be relatively easy to find and a full set can be modestly priced. Chasing used examples can sometime be a wee bit more challenging, but otherwise it is grab the twelve, place in your album, job done, tick. Over time, I must have come across many if not all of the values in packets or approval books or at fairs and smugly thought, nah, already have them. And some duplicates. And some duplicates of duplicates. So now move on.

But then recently, I realised – actually, was already vaguely aware – that there was rather more to them. I knew for example from the Scharning listing that there were “some” with a different watermark, but to be honest did not give them much further thought. Silly me. And then I acquired from a friend in a small batch an example of the 5c Scarlet-rumped Tanager. And he made it clear that it was the “upright watermark” version (SG206), not the other ones. Oh?

British Watermark – Multiple St. Edward’s crown
And block CA (Stanley Gibbons Type w12)

I checked by just holding the stamp to a light source and sure enough found that it had the multiple St Edwards crown block CA (Stanley Gibbons type w12), and sure enough it was upright. But I then checked the rest of my collection and found that whilst they all looked the same, some had upright watermarks but others were at right angles, placed sideways on to the stamp. Ugh!

I now realised that I had perhaps the whole of one set but part of another. In 1967 some of the set – just seven values this time – were re-issued with exactly the same designs and ostensibly identical to the originals, but with the watermark placed sideways. The 1962 twelve are catalogued SG202-213. The 1967 set omits the 3c, 25c and all the dollar values and are numbered SG239-245. Oh, and the later set is considerably cheaper and I now belatedly realise why it had been so easy to acquire the ones I had.

To spice things a little further, some of the first issues can be found with the watermark completely inverted (1c, 5c, 10c, 15c, 25c and $2), but these ones can be somewhat on the pricey side. And a handful of values have major errors, but they are in the loan from your bank price range, so I will say no more about them.

The earlier set of twelve was issued on 2nd April 1962, so not quite an April fool’s joke. The only foolish one here was probably myself.

Random bird stamp research when in hibernation / Lockdown

So, what did you do in Lockdown? Attached is an article written by member Steve Ardron. Steve says “I enclose some ramblings that I have put together, based on a daft idea that I had which was to stimulate some “random based research” on bird stamps by using an assorted stamp pack (80 bird stamps) that I bought online from WH Smith.  

I guess that It is easy to be dismissive about these assorted stamp packets, but I did find some interesting stamps in there and I did get my £6.99’s worth of amusement value. 

I haven’t as yet completed my research on them: only just started! There are other interesting stamps in the pack, but I have confined my text to the four that interested me most, from Tanzania. 

Read Steve’s article here

The Elusive Belize Painted Bunting

Has anyone got, seen for sale, or know anything about the elusive Painted Bunting?

The 6 value Audubon bird set issued in 1985 (SG 820-25), included the stamp shown left… a 25c Painted Bunting. In 1988, this stamp was re-issued with a new face value of 60c … SG 822a. I have never seen it !!

It is valued in the SG catalogue of 2017 –  £27 mint and £9 used. Unfortunately, this is the latest SG catalogue I have. In the 2019 Scott catalogue, however, it is valued at $2000 mint and $750 used …. Yes, you did read that right !!

I have seen it on eBay (used) for $69.99 (right). Does anyone have any information on this elusive stamp, and why the huge differences in value between SG and Scott?

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