Early 'Dennis the Menace' Smilers, 2000
This first group of the five sheets comprises one of three series of Smilers issues. It is a select group because there were no
generic issues to accompany them, as with later issues. A sixth sheet of 20 "Hello Vapour Trail" stamps was produced in 2002,
also with no generic issue accompanying it.
The second series is comprised of those generic issues, starting with the Stamp Show 2000 issue, and currently numbering 26 issues, plus two reprints. A third series includes a growing variety of commercial sheets, issued in relatively small numbers, and covering various topics. There are about 50 commercial sheets on the market today, and all range in price from 10 pd to 30 pd.
This third series consists of several themes. Originally issued to promote football (soccer) in Great Britain, there were six sheets issued in 2002 to commemorate great players for Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Norwich City, and the Rangers.
2002 Liverpool United sheet
These were followed in 2003 by additional sheets for Arsenal, Spurs, Maine Road, and then England Rugby Heroes and World Cup Rugby Heroes. Other commercial enterprises got into the act, including Rush Stamps, a British stamp dealer who issued two sheets commemorating their 45 anniversary. The semi-annual Stampex Stamp Show also issued both a spring and fall sheet, and followed these up with spring and fall sheets fro 2004, and a spring sheet for 2005.
2004 saw the beginning of a proliferation of commercial sheets, starting with three sheets promoting "Collect British Stamps". These were followed by movie sheets for the "Thunderbirds", "Spiderman", and the "Red DwarfV in 2005. There are also Elvis Presley – four different sheets, and Dr. Who, with seven different sheets. Of course several new football sheets appeared, including Heroes of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United, and two sheets for Heroes of the Rugby World Cup. Other sheets issued in these years included Jordan Formula 1 racing, two sheets featuring Olympic Gold Medalists, the Rainhill Trials, and a 2003 South Africa World Cup Cricket sheet.
Because of the limited quantities, often below 5000 issues, the prices are quite high, and generally range from 10 pd to 50 pd per sheet. These commercial sheets are very popular on eBay.
The issues that seem to be increasing in popularity are the second series – those postally issued generic Smilers.
The first sheet for the "Stamp Show 2000" was followed later in 2000 by two Christmas issues – a second class "Robin in a Letter Box" (from the 19p Christmas issue of 1995); and a first class "Christmas Cracker" issue (from the first class 1997 Christmas issue of Santa bursting through Wrapping Paper).
2000 Stamp Show Smilers
In 2001 the Post Office produced three new Smilers issues. "Hallmarks" is a sheet of 20 of the 2001 Occasions set of Silver Hallmarks. This was followed by "Famous Smiles", a reprint of the Stamp Show sheet, without the show logos, and with solid colored tabs. Next was "Cartoons", based upon the 1996 Cartoon Greetings booklet issue. These also catalogue quite impressively at 85 pd, 125 pd, and 70 pd respectively. I was fortunate to purchase both the Famous Smiles and Cartoons sheets a couple of years ago at Brunpex, for $10 each, not realizing their value.
In late 2001 the Post Office was privatized into a company called "Consignia". They re-issued both the Letter Box and Christmas Crackers issues with very minimal changes. The title "Smilers" was added to each and the words "Consignia 2001" added to the trademark section. These were not advertised to the public, to collectors, nor even to postal workers, and thus very few were ever put into circulation. Their catalogue value of 750pd for the pair reflects this.
2002 followed with four new issues, which range in value from 35 pd to 40 pd. They include "Occasions for You" "World Cup Football" "Knock-Knock" and "Father Christmas". "Occasions" was patterned after the 2002 Occasions issue and the "World Cup" after the 2002 World Cup Football issue of commemorative stamps. The "Knock-Knock" issue is composed of 10 each of the Dennis the Menace and Teddy Bear stamps from the 1991 Famous Smiles issue, while the Father Christmas is from the 1997 Christmas issue, but in a different format than the “Christmas Cracker” Smiler issues.p Six issues graced 2003, including "Flowers" from the 1997 Greetings booklet issue, "Multiple Choice Occasions" from the 2003 Occasions issue, and "Cartoon Crosswords" from the 1996 Cartoon Greetings booklet issue, and again in a different format than the 2001 Cartoon issue.
These were followed by three Christmas issues, including "Winter Robins", which was the first self-adhesive Smiler issue. This was based upon the 2001 Christmas issue of Cartoons of Robins. Also issued were two sheets from the 2003 Christmas issues – the first class "Icicle Star" and the second class "Ice Spiral". Values for the 2003 sheets range from 20 pd to 25 pd in catalogues.
Rare 2001 reprint "Christmas Crackers" smilers (cv 350 pounds)
2004 "Rule Britannia" issue
In 2004 Smilers include "Hong Kong Expo 2004", featuring the "Hello Vapour Trail" stamps; "Occasions Envelopes"
from the 2004 Occasions issue; and the Royal Horticultural "Society Dahlias" with the 2004 stamp of the same name.
Also issued were "Rule Britannia" using the 2001 Union Jack stamp from the Submarine Service Centenary issue, and the
"Father Christmas", combining 10 second class and 10 first class stamps from the 2004 Christmas issues. Catalogue prices are
lower, naturally, and run from 10 pd to 15 pd.
2005 will again see six issues, including the "Farm Animals" with the ten stamp set issued in January 2005. This was followed in March by a sheet comprising stamps from the 2005 "Magic" issue, then the "Pacific Explorer" issue to celebrate the Australian Expo 2005. In June the "White Ensign" sheet was issued to commemorate the Year of the Sea, and the "Classic ITV" sheet in September to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Independent Television in Britain. The annual issues will be completed with a "Christmas Robins", featuring 10 first class and 10 second class stamps from the 2001 Christmas issue. These issues are available for 6.15 Pd direct from Royal Mail, and are retained on sale for one year.
These issues are now recognized in Stanley Gibbons catalogues, and have been assigned catalogue numbers LS-1 to LS-27. They routinely sell on eBay for 50% to 70% of catalogue value.
A few other Smiler-type sheets produced by other countries include both a 2003 and 2004 sheet from the United Nations, with a third to follow later this autumn. Canadian sheets include the Canada-Alaska cruise sheets from 2003, which catalogue at $ 75.00, and the two picture frame sheets from 2004. There are a variety of others world-wide as well. ***
Meetings of the Fundy Stamp Collectors Club have been quite constant in attendance, averaging 12-15 members. The clubs annual show and sale – BRUNPEX 2005 – will coincide with this issue. We all hope attendance will continue to grow from previous years.
From the last Newsletter in February 2004, here is a little follow-up to the feature article on the stamps of Lundy. This first day cover commemorates the 1961 Europa CEPT issue of Great Britain. On the reverse are seven stamps from the 1954 Lundy millenary issue overprinted "Europa 1961".
Don Mills, editor
How to Use Hinges, Mounts and Tongs
These are known as the tools of stamp collecting.
Stamp hinges are available at every stamp store or through mail order catalogs. They were invented years ago so collectors can affix their stamps to a page and peel it off years later with no damage to the stamp. However, you should be careful when using hinges so that you wet only the hinge and not the stamp. This happens when you use a lot of moisture on the hinge. Then you have licked the stamp to the album page. The best way to wet the hinge is to lick the tip of your finger and then touch the finger to the hinge. This prevents too much moisture on the hinge, but will still be sufficient to attach the stamp firmly to the page.
(I use a small paint brush to wet the hinge, Reid)
A stamp mount works in much the same way as a hinge in keeping the stamp in the album, but without damage to the back of the stamp.
Mounts are actually small plastic sleeves to which stamps are inserted and then the mount is affixed to the page by wetting the glue
on the back of the mount.
Tongs are similar to cosmetic tweezers, but without sharp edges that could damage the stamp. Do not use drugstore tweezers on your stamps! Stamp tongs are very inexpensive. The logic of the tongs is that your fingers may damage a valuable stamp, either with moisture or by pulling it when placing the stamp in the correct position. ***