Friday, April 27, 2018

The baffling world of Official Issue Personalized Stamps....

Been a while since my last blog, and I do apologize for that. Been very busy as I am now one of the two coordinators for the Stamp Catalogue listings over at the Colnect website. Colnect has developed into a very well maintained wiki-style Stamp reference catalog online that continues to add new material every day.  It is also the only place you will find information all in one place cross-referencing published catalog numbers among the major stamp catalog numbers.  Want the know the Michel number for a certain Gibbons stamp, for many countries that information will be right there on Colnect's listing for that stamp (and more information is added each day). 

The only thing Colnect does NOT do is provide valuations, but in my opiniton that honestly that is something better left for collectors to use the internet for to comparison shop between different retailers. I know that another major online stamp catalog does provide valuations, but to be honest I have never been comfortable with how they are determining those values.

Anyways check out Colnect because it really is a great resource for collectors!

As someone who is a fan of new issues (and I hope to get my new issue listings back going again soon!) I have come across a question for which there seems to be no set agreement, which my position now at Colnect has reinforced.  How to handle Personalized Stamps that are issued by national Postal administrations with designs created by the Post office, not individual consumers.

Here is an example from February 2018 from Belgium :

The Smurfs turned 60 this year and while Belgium also produced a regular commemorative issue for this anniversary, it ALSO produced this sheet of 10 self-adhesive stamps using the frame of their Personalized Domestic Rate value.  The base frame is the same as for the personalized stamps one can order from BPost Belgium, but the designs were made in house by BPost, and you can purchase the sheetlet from the Philatelic Bureau (which you can NOT do with customer-submitted personalized stamps)

The stamps have complete postal validity in Belgium, and this is just the latest in a series of "National Personal Issues" that BPost has produced over the past few years.

Yet in spite of the fact that the stamps are available from the Post Office, and have complete postal validity, and are printed in quantities similar to commemorative issues (they are not just a limited run of say 500 stamps), none of the major stamp catalog publishers list stamps such as these, not even (to the best of my knowledge) the Belgian Catalogue Officiel Belges des Timbres-Postes, the catalog of reference for Belgium.

Rather odd, don't you think?  Personally, I would argue that given these are official stamps issued by the Belgian Post office and available to all consumers, and are going to turn up in collections and kiloware, it makes perfect sense to consider them fully valid issues as part of Belgium's yearly stamp production and should be treated as fully legitimate issues. 

Yet the big four catalog pubishers seem to choose not to give these any philatelic status whatsoever. I could understand if these were produced by a private consumer (as is the main reason for issuing personalized stamps in the first place) whch would make trying to keep track of the potentially millions of different "face design" stamps would become a cataloger's nightmare.  But when it is the Post Office itself that is designing and producing these stamps, that is something different entirely, and I do think the catalog producers are dropping the ball by simply ignoring these issues and simply grouping them all together as "personalized stamps".

And Belgium is not alone in producing these kinds of "Official Personalized Stamps" - the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Japan and Brazil also have produced similar issues this year (and I am sure there are others I am not aware of), and some of these nations have been producing these for several years now.  One of my new interests philatelically is to try and work out all the issues that have been produced in this manner, because I think this is an area of philately that has been under-researched (better to say ignored??) by most collectors.

Now keep in mind not all postal administrations issue personalized stamps in this way, even though many postal administrations do offer the ability to produce personalized stamps.  In some nations, the personalized element is a se-tenant tab that is attached to a stamp design. This is how Personalized stamps were first developed when Australia launched  them in 1999. And in general, the major catalog DO give catalog number status to the stamp designs which are printed with se-tenant labels that can be customzied. 

India had taken this method one step further with the creation of their "MyStamp" program which combines a special commemorative issue (often of local or regional relevance) with se-tenant labels that can be customized. Michel (rightly) lists all of these as part of the regular India listings.

Below are a couple of the Mystamp Issues so far from India for 2018 :

In 2017 India produced over 30 different "MyStamp" issues, and Michel gives each one full catalog status.  Yet Michel does not list the official personalized stamps from Belgium such as the Smurf issue above.  Inconsistency is nothing new in stamp catalogues, but it does seem odd to me?

As technology continues to move forward, the definition of what constitutes a legitimate stamp issue by a national postal administration continues to evolve.  Collectors of course can choose to collect whatever they want, but for Catalog publishers the question of what to include and what to exclude is one they have to deal with on a daily basis.  And as a catalog coordinator on Colnect, I now understand some of that frustration they must deal with with collectors saying X should be listed or Y should not be listed for whatever reason. For me though, if a personalized stamp frame is printed with a design commissioned by the Post Office and then made available to collectors nation-wide for use on mail, it really should I think be included as part of the official stamp program for that nation for that year.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Worldwide New Issues Week 05 2018 - Part VI

10 FEB 2018


(US$1 = € 0.809)

Italian Vocalists


(US$1 = U$ 28.368)

Year of the Dog

11 FEB 2018


(US$1 = BiHM 1.582)

World Day of the Sick

And that completes week 5 except for any late straggles that come into view in the next few months

Hope you are enjoying this recap of new issues. There are some amazing stamps being produced this year all over the world. 

Questions? Comments?  Fire away!

Worldwide New Issues Week 05 2018 - Part V

9 FEB 2018


(US$1 = BYN 1.950)

2018 Winter Olympics, Pyongchaeng S Korea


(US$1 = CO$ 2847.32)

The Carnaval of Barranquilla


(US$1 = ₩ 1080.47)

Opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Pyongchaeng S Korea


(US$1 = € 0.809)

Centenary of the Declaraion of Lithuanian Statehood


(US$1 = € 0.809)

Traditional Costumes


(US$1 = MX$ 18.498)

Day of Love and Friendship


(US$1 =  ₨ 115.255)

"Green Pakistan" Planting Campaign


(US$1 = S/. 3.996)

Year of the Rooster 2017


(US$1 = L 3.770)

2018 Winter Olympics, Pyongchaeng S Korea


(US$1 = РСД 95.783)

2018 Winter Olympics, Pyongchaeng S Korea


(US$1 = € 0.809)

250th Anniversary of the Circus in Spain


2018 Flag Definitives (Coil & Booklet, 2 Printers)


(US$1 =  22806)

50th Anniversary of the Tet Offensive

Worldwide New Issues Week 05 2018 - Part IV

8 FEB 2018


(US$1 = € 0.809)

Love/Valentine's Day 2018. Face value €1 on day of issue.


(US$1 = £ 0.707)

Year of the Dog


(US$1 = MKD 47.676)

Artifacts : Golden Funerary Mask of Trebenista


(US$1 = MDL 16.50)

Europa Issue 2018 : Bridges


(US$1 = € 0.809)

2018 Winter Olympics, Pyongchaeng S Korea

2018 International Dog Exposition

Rolex Masters Tennis Tournament, Monte Carlo April 2018


(US$1 = € 0.809)

Native Livestock Breeds of Portugal


(US$1 =  26.364)

Municipal Arms Definitive Reprints with 2018 Imprint Date