400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death marked by Royal Mail

UK Shakesspeare 2016 stampsRoyal Mail is issuing a set of Special Stamps to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, one of the most published authors and most performed dramatists of all time. Available beginning April 5, 2016, the ten First Class stamps pay tribute to the genius of Shakespeare through his immortal words and poetry.

From Tuesday April 5 until Saturday April 9, a special postmark will be applied to UK stamped mail commemorating 400 years since the Bard’s death. It will say “William Shakespeare 1564-1616”.

Having previously issued stamps that depict performances of his plays, a painting of the bard himself and the world famous Globe Theatre, this set focuses on the power of Shakespeare’s words, and selected poignant lines from his plays and poems.

Shakespeare’s plays have been constantly re-interpreted and performed and he is arguably the most influential writer of all time: even those who have never read or seen one of his plays will be familiar with a host of the 1,700 words and phrases he introduced into the English language, including ‘assassination’ first used in Macbeth and ‘all’s well that ends well’ from the play of the same name.

Over 50 years, William Shakespeare and his work have appeared on 25 stamps making him the most featured individual on Special Stamps outside of the Royal Family.

Shakespeare’s life and death

Born in April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare was an actor, poet and playwright, as well as a canny businessman. He died on April 23, 1616, leaving what is accepted as 37 plays (18 were published during his lifetime), some 154 sonnets and at least three long poetic works, all of which have inspired the world for four centuries.

After Shakespeare’s death, two of his actor friends, John Heminges and Henry Condell, collected 36 of his plays – Pericles, Prince of Tyre was not included due to doubts as to its authorship. The plays were published in what is now known as the ‘First Folio’. Without the efforts of Heminges and Condell, some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays would have been lost forever.

Philip Parker, Stamp Strategy Manager, Royal Mail, said: “It is fitting that Shakespeare is being honoured with a set of stamps to mark the 400th anniversary of his death. The stamps celebrate the power of his language, which continues to influence us every day.”

Previously issued Royal Mail stamps on the theme of Shakespeare:
1964: Shakespeare Tercentenary
1982: Theatre
1988 Australia bicentenary
1995: Greetings stamps 1996: Globe Theatre (buildings)
2006: National Portrait Gallery (painting of Shakespeare)
2011: Royal Shakespeare Company (performances)

Sources of quotations on stamp images:

  • Hamlet (1600), Act 1, Scene 3
  • Julius Caesar (1599), Act 2, Scene 2
  • Romeo and Juliet (1595–96), Act 1, Scene 1
  • As You Like It (1599), Act 5, Scene 1
  • Much Ado about Nothing (1598), Act 2, Scene 1
  • Sonnet 30, published in 1609
  • Venus and Adonis (1593), line 799
  • The Tempest (1611), Act 4, Scene 1
  • Macbeth (1606), Act 5, Scene 5
  • Richard II (1595–96), Act 5, Scene 5

Japan honors rugby star Goromaru with stamp series

To cap off a landmark year for Japanese rugby, Japan is offering its stamp of approval to World Cup hero Ayumu Goromaru for his landmark 1,000th point in the Top League, a national rugby league in Japan. Goromaru, a Yamaha Jubilo fullback, led Japan’s successful campaign in this year’s Rugby World Cup, including a 34-32 upset of two-time champion South Africa.

Japan 2015 rugby stamp

The set will include ten 52-yen stamps with pictures of Goromaru in action and his trademark hands-clasped pose from his routine before taking a penalty kick.

The collection, which includes 24 postcards, seven gold-foil postcards and a lenticular postcard that displays the sequence from his pre-kick routine to the kick, will be presented in a special gold foil concertina folder. It will be priced at 5,300 yen ($47), including postage and tax.

Orders for the collection will be accepted from Dec. 16 at post offices around Japan as well as on the online shop.

The commemorative stamps series will mark the first time ever the postal service has issued a postage stamp featuring a rugby player. Japan Post has been selling commemorative stamps of athletes in other sports to mark their record-breaking achievements, including figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and baseball player Motonobu Tanishige.

UK issues set of Star Wars stamps and covers

UK StarWars character set

On October 20, 2015, UK’s Royal Mail issued a set of 18 special postage stamps to celebrate the Star Wars™ series of films and mark the release of the forthcoming episode, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The stamps, illustrated by British artist Malcolm Tween, depict nine iconic characters from the first six films and three from the forthcoming film: Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren. Incorporated onto each stamp is a secondary scene or character including new droid BB-8, illustrated by Tween especially for the stamps. In addition, the font used in the ‘1ST’ value of the stamps will replicate that of the iconic typeface used for the films.

Also issued was a Miniature Sheet of six stamps featuring intricately detailed illustrations of six notable Star Wars vehicles, brought together against a backdrop of the dreaded Death Star.

The Star Wars series began in 1977. So far, there have been two trilogies of movies that have included major British involvement at UK studios. The latest installment in the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was filmed at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire, using British expertise in cast and crew. The two further episodes in this trilogy will also be filmed in the UK.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will reunite the three principal actors from the original trilogy as well as the robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. New characters Rey and Finn will be played by British actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega respectively.


UK Darth Vader StarWars postage stamp DARTH VADER (played by David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones) – Darth Vader was once a Jedi Knight but was seduced to the dark side of the Force and became a Sith Lord. Vader served the Emperor for many years until, just moments before his death, he realized the terrible tragedy of his life.

UK Yoda StarWars postage stampYODA (voiced by Frank Oz) – Small in size but supremely powerful in the Force, Jedi Master Yoda trained many Jedi Knights, including Luke Skywalker. In addition, he served as a member of the Jedi Council, using his vast wisdom to fight the Empire.

UK Obi-Wan Kenobi StarWars postage stampOBI-WAN KENOBI (played by Alec Guinness) – A Jedi Master of great skill and bravery, Obi-Wan Kenobi trained Anakin Skywalker and was one of the few to escape Anakin’s purge of the Jedi Order. He initiated Luke Skywalker into the ways of the Force.

UK Stormtrooper StarWars postage stampSTORMTROOPER – The white-armoured soldiers and shock troops of the Empire, stormtroopers were originally clones of the legendary warrior named Jango Fett. Non-clone recruits swelled their numbers during the days of the Empire.

UK Han Solo StarWars postage stampHAN SOLO (played by Harrison Ford) – A smuggler by trade, Han Solo lived on his wits until he met Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa and was persuaded to join the Rebel Alliance, taking part in some of its finest battles against the Empire.

UK Princess Leia StarWars postage stampPRINCESS LEIA (played by Carrie Fisher) – Adopted as a baby, Princess Leia became a senator for Alderaan and leader of the Rebel Alliance. She was fiercely devoted to the Rebel cause, and her resolve became even stronger when the Empire destroyed her home planet.

UK Emperor Palpatine StarWars postage stampTHE EMPEROR (played by Ian McDiarmid) – At first, Palpatine appeared to be a kindly politician, but his secret identity as a deadly Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, was finally revealed when he took control of the galaxy and began to rule it as the Emperor.

UK Luke Skywalker StarWars postage stampLUKE SKYWALKER (played by Mark Hamill) – The son of Anakin Skywalker, Luke was hidden from his father on Tatooine until he met Obi-Wan Kenobi and learned the ways of the Jedi, joining the Rebellion and playing a key part in the fight against the Empire.

UK Boba Fett StarWars postage stampBOBA FETT (played by Jeremy Bulloch) – A genetic clone of his father, Jango Fett, and one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy, the legendary Boba Fett worked for many paymasters, including the Empire and various clients in the criminal underworld.

The three new characters from Star Wars: The Force Awakens are:

UK Rey StarWars postage stampREY (played by Daisy Ridley) – Three decades after the Battle of Endor, Rey makes a living by scavenging on the desert planet Jakku. However, she soon finds herself catapulted into the heart of a new crisis in the galaxy.

UK Finn StarWars postage stampFINN (played by John Boyega) – Finn was a stormtrooper in the forces of the First Order until he got stranded on the planet Jakku. There, an unlikely alliance with local scavenger Rey starts a chain of events that will affect the fate of the entire galaxy.

UK Kylo Ren StarWars postage stampKYLO REN (played by Adam Driver) – As the First Order emerges from the remnants of the defeated Empire, Kylo Ren becomes a new symbol of terror, with his dark hood and cloak and his mastery of a new kind of lightsaber with three red blades.


UK StarWars minisheet of space vehicles

RESISTANCE X-WING STARFIGHTERS – The modern incarnation of a classic design, the Incom T-70 X-wing fighter is the signature combat craft of the Resistance forces in their fight against the First Order.

MILLENNIUM FALCON – An extensively-modified Corellian light freighter, the Millennium Falcon is a legend in smuggler circles and is coveted by many for being the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.

TIE FIGHTERS – Carried aboard Imperial Star Destroyers and battle stations, TIE fighters are single-pilot vehicles perfect for fast-paced dogfights with Rebel X-wings and other starfighters.

X-WING STARFIGHTER – This versatile and nimble Incom T-65 X-wing starfighter was used by the Rebel Alliance in their fight against the Empire. It was co-piloted by an astromech droid and armed with laser cannons and proton torpedo launchers, balancing speed with firepower.

FIRST ORDER SPECIAL FORCES TIE FIGHTERS – The elite of the First Order starfighter pilots have access to specialized craft, such as these two-seater TIE fighters outfitted with enhanced weapons and sensor systems.

AT-AT WALKERS – The massive All Terrain Armored Transport, or AT-AT walker, is an armor-plated, four-legged transport and combat vehicle used by the Imperial ground forces.

View the video see the story behind the issue of the Star Wars stamps:

Photo credits: Royal Mail

Thailand and Sri Lanka jointly issue stamps celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations

Sir Lanka - Thailand joint stamp 2015

Sri Lanka Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts issued two new postage stamps in the denominations of Rs. 10.00, and Rs. 50.00 and a souvenir sheet on Monday, November 2, 2015 to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Thailand during the state visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to Thailand.

Thailand Post also issued two postage stamps parallel to this issue using the same designs in the same day and this will be the first ever joint stamp issue Sri Lanka has done with a foreign postal administration.

The ceremony was held in Government House, Bangkok, Thailand and W. A. G. Wickramasinghe (Deputy Postmaster General – Operations) and K. Kanagasundaram (Diector, Philatelic Bureau) participated in this ceremony representing Sri Lanka Post.

See the original article here.

Canada issues second set of ghost stories stamps

Canada Post has issued a second set of stamps featuring popular Canadian ghost stories. The stamps are part of a multi-year series that shares some of the spookiest tales from across the country.
This year’s set highlights stories about Vancouver’s Gastown – believed to have the most haunted history of any other neighborhood in Canada; the rumbling ghostly ox cart that panicked the soldiers of the Red River Valley’s Lower Fort Garry, in Manitoba; Marie-Josephte Corriveau, whose soul is said to wander the dark roads and forests near Lévis, Quebec; the Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon, rumored to be haunted by its past innkeeper; and the Grey Lady who wanders the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site searching for her lost love.

“There is nothing more fun, yet unsettling, as ghost stories, and we have a history filled with these memorable tales. Our hope is that Canadians from coast to coast can continue to discover and pass on these stories, which are sure to give a few spine-tingling chills,” says Jim Phillips, Director of Stamp Services, Canada Post. “Be prepared for a little scare with these legendary local stories and let your creativity take over,” says Joel Sutherland, author of the children’s series of Haunted Canada books and adviser to the stamp series. “The series makes for huddling close to the campfire – or a scary sleepover.”

  • Gastown, Vancouver, B.C. – haunted history: Legend has it the Waterfront Station and several bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood are all haunted – making it home to more dearly departed but persistently present spirits than any neighbourhood in Canada.
  • Red River Valley, Man. – the ox cart: In 1903, soldiers at the Red River Valley’s Fort Garry claimed to have seen phantoms driving a cart pulled by a team of oxen pass through their post at night.
  • Lévis, Que. – Marie-Josephte Corriveau: In 1763, she was executed on charges of murder. Her soul was said to walk the road at night, approaching travelers and grabbing anyone passing by with her claw-like hands as she opened her blood-red eyes.
  • Carcross, Yukon – Caribou Hotel: Built in the town of Bennett in 1898 at the start of the Klondike Gold Rush, the hotel is rumoured to be haunted by late hotel co-owner Bessie Gideon’s ghost. She was supposedly buried in Carcross but a cemetery survey did not locate her grave.
  • Halifax, N.S. – the Grey Lady: Legend has it that the spirit of the “Grey Lady” wanders the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, mourning her lost love, strolling the second floor at night, smelling of roses and wearing a 19th-century dress.

About the stamps

The five Permanent domestic-rate stamps measure 32 mm by 32 mm and are available in booklets of 10. They were designed by Lionel Gadoury and printed by Lowe-Martin Group in six-colour lithography with a holographic foil. A souvenir sheet of the five stamps measuring 127 mm by 73 mm, an Official First Day Cover, cancelled in Lévis, Que., an uncut press sheet measuring 483 mm by 616 mm and a Haunted Canada Gift set complete this stamp issue.

US stamps feature Mexican artist Martín Ramírez

Martin Ramirez Forever stamps

The U.S. Postal Service has honored the work of Mexican artist Martín(pronounced Mar-teen) Ramírez by placing five of his more than 450 dynamic drawings and collages on Limited Edition Forever stamps. The First-Day-of-Issue stamp dedication ceremony took place Thurs., March 26,  at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York City. The event is free and open to the public.

Although confined to psychiatric hospitals for more than 30 years, Ramírez transcended his own situation to create a remarkably visualized world free from the constraints of borders or time itself. Characterized by repeating lines, idiosyncratic motifs, and daring perspective, Ramírez’s art blends the emotional and physical landscapes of his life in Mexico with the modern popular culture of the United States. Although he worked mostly outside the art world in his lifetime, Ramírez is recognized today as one of the great artists of the 20th century. He was born in 1895 in a rural community in Guadalajara, and died in 1963.

“Our choice of Martin Ramírez as the subject of a Forever stamp sheet reflects the widespread — and growing — influence he has had on art in the United States, as well as on artists throughout the world,” said U.S. Postal Service Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Joseph Corbett, who will dedicate the stamps.

“And though his name remained virtually unknown in the decade following his death in 1963, Martin Ramírez’s work has become some of the most highly valued examples of art. Today, he joins the ranks of other famous artists, such as Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keefe, William H. Johnson and Frida Kahlo, who have been honored on American postage stamps.”

Scheduled to join Corbett in the ceremony will be Ambassador Sandra Fuentes-Berain, Consul General of Mexico in New York; Prospect New Orleans/U.S. Biennial Executive Director Brooke Davis Anderson; “New York” magazine Senior Editor Jerry Saltz; and, Frank Maresca , partner, Ricco/Maresca Gallery.

Ramírez’s known body of work now comprises more than 450 drawings and collages “is a complete wonder,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, executive director of Prospect New Orleans, “because the artist defied his environment and diagnosis to create astounding art.”

The pane of 20 self-adhesive Forever stamps is imbued with hypnotic power and remarkable personal vision.

The first row of stamps highlights a floral detail from “Untitled (Horse and Rider with Trees),” created with crayon and pencil in 1954 on paper that has been pieced together. The artwork is owned by George and Sue Veiner.

The second row of stamps showcases the central image of “Untitled (Man Riding Donkey),” a gouache, colored pencil, and graphite drawing on paper from circa 1960 -1963. The artwork is owned by American author and academic Richard Rubenstein.

The third row of stamps shows a detail from “Untitled (Trains on Inclined Tracks),” a gouache, colored pencil, and graphite drawing on pieced paper from circa 1960–1963. The artwork is part of a private collection.

The fourth row of stamps showcases the central image of “Untitled (Deer).” The gouache, colored pencil, and graphite drawing on paper dates from circa 1960–1963. The owner of the image is unknown.

The fifth row of stamps features a detail from “Untitled (Tunnel With Cars and Buses).” The drawing was made with pencil, colored pencil, watercolor, and crayon on paper in 1954. The artwork is owned by the Guggenheim Museum.

The pane’s verso includes brief text about Ramírez and his importance to 20th century American art.
Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, designed the stamp pane.

Ramírez’s Origin
Ramírez and his family owned a small ranch and were devout Catholics, two cultural references that would later figure prominently in his art. By the early 1920s, Ramírez had set up his own small rural property and started a family, but ranchero life was difficult and money scarce. In 1925, he left Mexico for the United States, where, like other migrant workers at the time, he worked in mines and on the railroad.

Ramírez’s property was destroyed in a regional war just two years after he left Mexico, and the conflict prevented him from returning home to his wife and children. A few years later, he lost his job as a result of the Great Depression. Tens of thousands of Mexican migrant workers were deported from California during this period, but Ramírez was not among them. Emotionally upset and in poor physical condition, he was detained by police in 1931. Unable or unwilling to communicate, he was committed to a psychiatric hospital in northern California.

Catatonic Schizophrenia Diagnosis
After several months under observation, and without the aid of an interpreter, Ramírez was diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia. During the clinical evaluation he limited himself to repeating that he did not speak English.

His Art
After leaving a psychiatric hospital, Ramírez began to draw obsessively. He worked crouched on the floor over enormous sheets of paper that he constructed out of discarded papers, cigarette packaging, and paper cups glued together with a paste he made himself. His usual art materials included pencils, crayons, shoe polish, red juice extracted from fruits, and the charcoal from used matchsticks.

Sometimes he used a tongue depressor as a straightedge. He also clipped images from magazines, which he occasionally added to his drawings. In spite of the shortage of materials, his works range in size from two feet to more than 20 feet long. To evaluate such large-scale pieces, he would lay out the scrolls on the floor and climb on a table to get a good look.

One of the first characteristics most viewers notice about Ramírez’s work are the lines. Repetitive and hypnotic, the lines define both space and time without constricting them. Not only do the lines carry viewers across the narrative plane and give depth to Ramírez’s images, but they also draw viewers into an idealized world where overcrowded highways and the railroads that Ramírez helped build lead directly to the towns, churches, and countryside of rural Mexico — and back again.

Filled with nostalgic scenes of his life in Mexico, Ramírez’s drawings balance tradition and modernity, the figurative and the abstract. As with his use of lines, Ramírez repeated a small but refined vocabulary of motifs in drawing after drawing. One of his most frequent motifs was the horseback rider, or jinete. Nearly as common are trains and tunnels, which came to dominate his later work, including one scroll nearly 20 feet long from 1963. Other favorite images include landscapes, buildings, churches, Madonnas and desert wildlife. Although he used these motifs again and again for 30 years, Ramírez altered the details in each of his drawings to create enormous variety. The content of his work suggests that drawing was a prime means for preserving memory and identity, and for giving sense and order to the world around him.

Critical and public interest in Ramírez’s art began in the early 1950s, when a number of visitors to the hospital, including Dr. Tarmo Pasto, a professor of psychology and art at California State University, recognized the unique value of Ramírez’s artwork. For the next two decades, Pasto and others supplied Ramírez with art-making materials, preserved his drawings, and helped organize public exhibitions, including shows at the de Young Memorial Museum and other museums in Northern California.

His Work Shown Anonymously
Purportedly because of the California laws applicable to institutionalized persons, Ramírez’s work was shown anonymously during his lifetime, and his name remained virtually unknown in the decade following his death in 1963. By the mid-1970s, however, his drawings were being exhibited to a much wider audience. “Ramírez’s work anticipates many contemporary trends, while unconsciously echoing earlier styles,” wrote one “Chicago Tribune” reviewer. “The compelling use of space, poetic re-creation of forms, and extraordinary vitality all scream for attention.”

In 1985, a retrospective of Ramírez’s drawings was held in Philadelphia before touring the U.S. and then traveling to Canada and Mexico. Ten years later, curators at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City discovered ten previously unknown drawings that had been held by the museum since the 1950s. In 2007, a retrospective show at the American Folk Art Museum established Ramírez as one of the great artists of the 20th century. The following year and to wide acclaim, the same museum exhibited some of the more than 140 drawings by Ramírez discovered in a California garage. In 2010, the New York exhibit was replicated by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the foremost contemporary art museum in Spain. In the same year, one of Ramírez’s drawings was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City for its permanent collection.

Customers may purchase the stamps at usps.com/stamps, the Postal Store, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide or visit ebay.com/stamps to shop for a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles.

Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks
Customers have 60 days to obtain first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store website at usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

Martin Ramirez Stamps
Special Events Coordinator
380 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10199-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by May 25, 2015.

Ordering First-Day Covers
The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online atusps.com/shop or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service
Catalog Request
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO  64121-9014

Philatelic Products
Eight philatelic products are available.