Monday, 30th October 2017

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British stamp of honour for Tagore at 150

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  • Published 10.01.10

The Royal Mail UK will bring out a sheet of 10 stamps to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. “We are fighting against time to release the stamps at the Book Fair,” said Manoj Joshi, the official philatelic representative of South Asian Royal Mail. Ten images have been chosen for the purpose and Professor Dipesh Chakrabarty, a professor at the University of Chicago, has written the blurb on Tagore that will go into the booklet.

The stamps will be within reach of buyers in Calcutta because Royal Mail stamps are now being made available at stores here. Joshi and Chakraborty were present at the launch of the complete range of Royal Mail’s philatelic collectibles recently at Oxford Bookstore.

“Royal Mail has a tradition of commemorative stamps.” In recent times, it has issued stamps designed for Robert Burns’s 250th anniversary. There is also a series of five stamps on Darwin. Other stamps on personalities from diverse fields like Arthur Conan Doyle, Fred Perry, William Goldsmith and Mary Wollstonecraft have also been issued and were on display at the bookstore for buyers. Also on view were commemorative silver stamps with the original stamp cancelled on the same envelope, medal covers and ingots alongside yearbooks and presentation packs. “What makes them valuable is their limited shelf life. Special issues are destroyed after 12 months if they remain in supply with Royal Mail. For yearbooks, the shelf life is stipulated as 24 months.” Pointing to a coin on the 60th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth, Joshi pointed out how all unsold copies of the stamp that came out simultaneously on the occasion in 2007 have since been destroyed in keeping with the custom.

In an interactive session that followed, Prof Chakrabarty spoke of waning interest in stamp collection as a hobby. “But stamps are a valuable investment, a great learning tool and a celebration of personalities and events, other than being a great hobby."

Royal Mail brings out around 12 stamps a year, the last issue being on Christmas, compared to around 68 stamps released by India Post. “We are looking for scope of collaborations. A philately team from the UK headed by Royal Mail managing director, philately, David Walker had visited India last November and will return in a few months to work out the feasibility of a joint product,” said Joshi.

Royal Mail is also planning a series on the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi as well as an exhibition of its products in India during the event.