Thursday, October 29, 2015

Star Wars Stamps by Royal Mail - The Force is Strong!

I finally got hold of a presentation pack of Star Wars stamps by Royal Mail, thanks to a friend who order multiple copies of the pack! Online ordering is possible since a while ago, but the official date of issue is 20th October 2015. Royal Mail issues this set of collectible Star Wars stamps to commemorate the coming Star Wars movie "The Force Awakens" slated for release in Dec 2015. 

Being a Star Wars fan, this issue is of course a must have. :) Here's two shots of the presentation pack, set on top my Lego Millennium Falcon (7965) set. The pack contains 12 stamps of the different characters spanning across the different episodes, and a miniature sheet with the different space ships (including of course the Millennium Falcon, and 1 non-space ship, i.e. the AT-AT Walker). The pack also has a short summary of the Light and Dark sides of the force. The 3rd photo below is the back of the pack with the Dark side information.

Royal Mail - Star Wars with 12 characters

Royal Mail - Star Wars miniature sheet with space ships

Royal Mail - Dark side on the back of the pack
Looking at the stamps does bring back memories, and it is amazing to see how Star Wars have captured the interest, attention, and some say devotion of so many fans, spanning across nearly 4 decades. Episode 4, which is the 1st Star Wars movie, was released in 1977. Over the years there were many Star Wars stamps issued by various post authorities, and I guess this would not be the last one either (2 more movies to come).

Interested to know the background and see the printing of these stamps? Royal Mail provided a clip with interviews describing the design of these stamps, as well as another clip on the actual printing.

Now back to the stamps proper - there are secret symbols on the 12 characters! If you shine a UV light on these stamps, each character will reveal their respective symbols (Rey & Finn just show the "Star Wars" wordings I think). The symbols are made using phosphor inks, i.e. the same security feature on many stamps, except it is used to present the symbols in this case. I don't have a UV light on hand and so can't show any of these symbols on this blog post.

For those interested to grab a copy of Royal Mail's Star Wars collection, act fast before the stocks are out! The pre-sale of movie tickets for the premiere are sold out in US I think... and I wouldn't be surprised if it is the same soon for the Star Wars stamps collection. Act fast, and may the Force be with you!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Your New Postman - Drone by SingPost

It is sometimes remarkable to see new technology being applied to old school services, and in this case, an UAV aka drone delivering our letters. I guess hard-copy snail mail could be considered an old tech of communication in this world of instant messaging. So it is interesting to read about how SingPost successfully done a test trial to use drone to deliver letters (and a packet containing T-shirt) from Lorong Halus to Pulau Ubin.

I guess it is inevitable that technology will be used to improve productivity, and in this case, shortening the time needed to deliver mails and packets from the main island to Pulau Ubin. Via conventional methods, i.e. the postman taking a ferry, the actuakl delivery would take much longer compared to a 5 mins trip by this drone over 2.3km.

As a stamp collector, I am interested to know if special post marks, i.e. cancellation, would be used for such means of delivery? In the past, mails delivered via special means, e.g. hot air balloons, would have their own unique marks. It will be quite cool to have a drone shape cancellation mark on my envelopes.

For those interested to see how the entire process happened, with a special interview from SingPost, you could catch their video below (SingPost posted on YouTube):

Yes this is currently just a trial that was successfully conducted in the beginning of October 2015, where SingPost tested the idea with IDA, as well as with special approvals from the various authorities. Maybe in the not too distance future, this way of delivering letters would be common. I look forward to the day when a drone delivers letters to my house but hmm it is unlikely I guess, since I stayed in a HDB with the cluster of locked letterboxes.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

SEA Games 2015 - Parade of Stamps

In 2 days time (16th June 2015) at the closing ceremony of SEA Games 2015, we will see life-sized 'stamps' on parade!

Based on the Channel NewsAsia report, Sir Stamford Raffles, Singa the Lion, Changi Airport and our athletes will be featured in a couple of stamps that are upsized into floats. I saw a few Singapore - Malaya stamps i.e. the Stamford Raffles and another 10 cents UPU stamp, but there will also be Singapore stamps from the SEA Games of 1993.

Changi Airport Stamp - Photo by SINGSOC
Look out for it during the closing ceremony parade!

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Definitives - Pond Life from SingPost

We have had sea creatures, birds etc as our stamp definitives, and now it is the turn of our pond plants! This time round the Yellow Burhead and Water Lettuce will be the 1st and 2nd Local of the series.
The definitives form part of the green environment theme (see news about it), and personally I think it is a fun way of telling our kids about these pond plants, which I bet they don't see that often anymore in our concrete jungle. No I don't think they are endangered in any ways. Water lettuce a.k.a Pistia is actually quite common around the world (see wiki). In fact these 2 pond plants are viewed by some as troublesome invasive species (see pdf)!

Yes the definitives stamps of Yellow Burhead and Water Lettuce are released by SingPost today - 12 March 2012, and it's a pity I haven't got a chance to grab hold of them yet.

Monday, August 22, 2011

3 June & 9 August - Singapore's National Days on Stamp

August is a month where patriotic sentiments run high for Singapore because of the various national day celebrations. These celebrations gel the nation together, and deepen the ties for the participants with this little island nation. The National Day Parade on 9th August is typically the highlight of all the events. Often, there would also be Singapore stamp issues commemorating the National Day.

Let me share a little tidbit of Singapore history via a stamp below. It was not always the 9th August that Singapore celebrates its National Day. In its early years between 1959 and 1963, the National Day was actually 3rd June for Singapore.

Thus when I saw the stamp (left) below, I was pleasantly surprise to see two of Singapore's "National Days" marked on a single stamp. During the early days, 9th August would be a normal working day, and thus there would be stamps with cancellation date marked as "9th August". On the same stamp, the "June 3 1962" is also stated clearly since it is the National Day issue.

The stamp issue was released in 1962 and both stamps formed the complete set of the National Day stamp (4 cents and 10 cents). The design was symbolic of labour's role in building the nation.

See related:
- State of Singapore Stamp

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SingPost - Our Profitable Postal Operator

Well, the recent financial turmoils around the world highlighted the difficult stages that many companies faced. So it was not surprising when I read about the financial difficulties of many postal companies. Postal companies are the important players in the development of the philately for the country. They are the parties who design and print stamps (including stamp errors which the collectors love), and operate / develop the postal system, which in turn created many interesting developments of philately worth (e.g. postal codes changes). Their "healthy" existence is necessary for the local philately scene. But 'healthy' is not a word to describe many of these companies.

In Canada, the ( info from - Canada's Unions "Mail Aggression": page 36 of The Economist 2nd July 2011 Edition." the Canadians post fewer letters than they once did (same for Singaporeans) and Canada Post has avoided obsolescence by encouraging the growth of "direct" (junk) mail, which now accounts for almost a quarter of its revenue. When the dispute in Canada began, their National Post newspaper ran the headline "Canada Post Strike: Will We Even Notice?" That is a sad headline for the postal operator.

Similarly for US, (info from Bloomberg Businessweek 30 May 2011 Edition), US Postal Service, i.e. USPS is losing money at the tune of -13.58%. The health of the postal operator would definitely cause worries for the 570+k employees of USPS.

So these examples drew my attention to our own Singapore operator, SingPost. Singapore's postal market has been liberalised for a couple of years now, i.e. Singapore has more than 1 postal operator. IDA (the postal regulator) listed 5 operators (incl SingPost) on its website, including DHL, Fuji Xerox and Swiss Post. An interesting point about the postal liberalisation is that it created more postmarks due to the entrance of new players. I've also received letters from other non-listed couriers. With competition, how's our SingPost doing?

Apparently very well! SingPost reported profit of S$34.8 millions for Q4 FY 2010 / 2011, and they have been giving out dividends for the shareholders. I believe that some of these growth come from direct mails, i.e. junk mails, that we received in our letterboxes. Earlier articles about the USPS and Canada Post revealed that direct mails are now important revenue growth for these companies, and I think it is likewise for SingPost.

This means in future I'll likely continue to receive more junk mails (or faced increasing cost for the stamps), and I wonder if one day junk mail will become a recognised element of the philately development for a country? Scary... nonetheless if that is necessary so that our local postal operator SingPost can survive in this new digital online world, I guess receiving junk mail is but a small price to pay. Don't you think so? :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stamp Exhibition on Dr Sun Yat Sen @ SPM

We went to the Singapore Philatelic Museum for the Stamp Exhibition on Dr Sun Yat Sen. It was a rare treat to see some of the uncommon stamps linked with Dr Sun Yat Sen. The visit was highly educational. For example, I didn't know that Dr Sun Yat Sen 孙中山's "中山" came from his Japanese name 中山樵, which he used when he was hiding in Japan. His actual name is 孙文. Another piece of philately tidbit was that Dr Sun Yat Sen was personally involved in the design of one of the early China stamps because he felt that these stamps were important to the modern day China.

Of course, the philately material provided much information about Dr Sun Yat Sen's life. It was also interesting to know that Dr Sun's Three Principles of the People (三民主义) had been depicted on a US stamp, together with Dr Sun and US President Lincoln's portraits. It seemed that the political ideas of both great men had often been compared for their similarities. While I do have stamps with Dr Sun's portrait (many Taiwan stamps have his picture), I think I might want to keep an eye to look out for that particular US stamp with both Dr Sun and President Lincoln.

The exhibition also contained materials about Dr Sun Yat Sen's relationship with the early Singapore Chinese, and the establishment of 晚晴园. Looking at the pictures of Dr Sun Yat Sen with some of the early Singapore Chinese (including famous folks like Teo Eng Hock, Tan Chor Nam and Lim Nee Soon), I would say that Singapore's relationship with China started really early. 

For those who are interested to visit the Singapore Philatelic Museum, you can find out more accessibility details at their website.

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