Isle of Man Stamps & Coins commemorates the Battle of Clontarf, a turning point in Irish history

Isle of Man Stamps and Coins is pleased to present a set of six stamps to mark the millennium anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf. Due for release on April 15th, this commemorative sheet brings the historic events to life through the dynamic paintings of Victor Ambrus and evocative text from Dr Howie Firth, one thousand years after the great battle.

The Battle of Clontarf was fought outside Dublin on Good Friday, 23rd April 1041 and marked a turning point in the history of Ireland, stemming the power of the Norse and Danes.

In the text that accompanies the sheet, Howie provides a short but detailed narrative account of the dramatic events leading up to the demise of King Brian Boru and the conquest of his armies and territories in Munster.

Howie’s narrative also includes select quotes and insights from expert chroniclers of the period and their accounts refer to King Brian Boru as a hero figure that brought years of peace, stability, commerce and learning to 11th century Ireland.

The stamps use six different renderings that are representative of war. The images created using watercolour and ink capture the stark brutality and ferocity of war and colour is applied in a bold and brash manner. Images are action led and show different scenes, various scenes from the battle as well as individual profiles including Brodir the Warrior and the portrait of the Earl Sigurd’s mother Eithne.

Commenting on the stamps Dr Howie Firth said: “It’s tremendous that the Isle of Man Post Office is marking the 1000th anniversary of an event that has resonated through the centuries in stories and sagas. The battle affected the lives of so many people and communities, from Ireland and Man to Orkney and Iceland. The sea route from Norway down through the Irish Sea and on the Mediterranean was one of the great trading highways of Europe at the time, and the Isle of Man was part of the complex mix of commerce and politics.

The stamps are beautiful, capturing the swirl of the battle when the two armies clashed on the land between the Liffey and the Tolka on Good Friday 1014. It’s good to think of the shared appreciation in art and story bringing people together to remember those who lived and died at Clontarf.”

Maxine Cannon, General Manager, Isle of Man Stamps and Coins said: “Victor Ambrus has produced some amazing images that capture crucial events in the thousand year old shared history of the Isle of Man, Ireland and the Orkney Isles. The Battle of Clontarf is a key event in history that has shaped the future of Ireland and of course the Isle of Man. These stamps pay a great tribute to the memory of the battle and King Brian Boru. We are very pleased to be able to offer our collectors such an important piece of history.”

Isle of Man Stamps and Coins and the Red Arrows celebrate the 50th display season with a set of six stamps

Isle of Man Stamps and Coins is pleased to present a set of six stamps celebrating the 50th display season of the Red Arrows. Due for release on February 19th, the celebratory anniversary pack comes complete with six stamps that depict the speed, agility and precision of the world-famous Red Arrows synchronised acrobatics team.

The Red Arrows is the public face of the Royal Air Force and have thrilled thousands of fans and spectators with displays around the globe, including the Isle of Man. The team is a core part of the Royal Air Force and its pilots have previous combat experience in various theatres across the world.  Each individual both male and female contributes to maintain the team’s position and it’s a world leader in its class. To date the team has performed over 4500 displays worldwide in 55 countries.

The stamps depict the Red Arrows squadron in its signature formations around the world including its trade mark diamond nine formation and show the famous red, white and blue smoke trails left behind.

This postal tribute created in association with the Ministry of Defence offers high definition photography with vibrant images and a high quality finish to create a fitting celebration of the Red Arrows 50th display season.

Maxine Cannon, General Manager Isle of Man Stamps and Coins said: “The stamps look fantastic and frame the images of the planes perfectly. We are delighted to be able help the Red Arrows celebrate its landmark 50th display season with this commemorative set and to be able to add these to our portfolio of stamp collections.”

Squadron Leader Jim Turner, Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, said: “The stamps beautifully capture the images of the jets, the sky and the countless audiences who have enjoyed the displays performed by the team around the world.

“Those pictures used in the design of the stamps demonstrate speed, precision and dedication – which are not just hallmarks of the Red Arrows but also of the Royal Air Force as a whole.

“The stamps also help celebrate what will be a very special 2014 for the Team – our 50th display season.

“This is a milestone moment for a Team that represents the United Kingdom, the values of the Royal Air Force and helps promote British industry.”

He added: “We are impressed with the way Isle of Man Stamps and Coins have presented the pictures of the jets and the aerobatics.

“The Isle of Man has often been a date in our display calendar, involving the TT celebrations, and is an event we look forward to.

“We hope people will share our pride and enjoyment when you watch us perform during 2014 and we would like to thank you for your continued, and valued, support.”

To view the Red Arrows stamps and to pre-order please click here

Silk painters beautiful eye catching banner designs appear on Post Office miniature sheet

The Post Office unveiled a stunning and vibrant miniature sheet celebrating the exemplary works of The Isle of Man Guild of Silk Painters in the production of its silk town banners. The stamp launch took place on the morning of October 23 at the House of Manannan in Peel, where the banners will now remain on display as part of The Island of Culture 2014, after which they will be passed to the relative town commissioners for display in the Island’s town halls.

The seven banners were created by The Isle of Man Guild of Silk Painters for The Celtic Kingdom Festival of Silk 2013 when the Island’s Guild hosted the bi-annual festival. The design and painting of the banners was undertaken by seven of the Guild’s artists – Anne Cannell, Chris Cowell, Sarah Goulden, Betty Hopson, Hilary Bruce, Jean Buck and Jan Avron-Cotton with help from Mary Gulland and portray the Island’s heritage sites, buildings and activities unique to each area.

This exquisite and vibrant miniature sheet showcases three of the seven banner designs produced by the Isle of Man Guild of Silk Painters – Castletown with an image of Castle Rushen topped with a crown, Ramsey with the town’s emblem and a visual of the Albert Tower, and Port St Mary framed as the stamp uses the town’s emblem followed by a map of the Island, a loughtan sheep, the Legs of Man and the bright red sails of a Manx nobby fishing boat.

At last week’s launch event, the Post Office invited the Guild’s artists responsible for the silk banner designs along with the town commissioners to The House of Manannan to celebrate the release of the stamp.

Jean Buck of The Isle of Man Guild of Silk Painters said: “The miniature sheet is a splendid display of our work. The launch at the House of Manannan was “the icing on the cake” for the Island’s Silk Painters Guild. We are thrilled to realise our work will now be seen worldwide.”

Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins said: “We are delighted to be linked with this amazing piece of artistry, the beautiful images used on the banners portray the Island’s key heritage sites in a captivating and evocative manner.”

Post Office ‘celebrates’ Manx Radio’s Golden Jubilee with stunning stamp issue

The 50th anniversary of Manx Radio is being celebrated in what is the ultimate accolade by Isle of Man Post Office with the issue of a set of eight stamps to mark the “historic landmark” of the Island’s national radio station.

The stamps, which go on sale from October 1, have been specially designed and pictorially reflect some of the key programmes and services that the “nation’s station” broadcasts throughout the year.

A rough sea image by Simon Park reflects the daily weather reports, while one of the House of Keys by Andy Stephenson highlights current affairs programme Mandate.  Outside broadcast coverage shows the visit by the Queen in 1979 with an iconic image by Bill Peters, courtesy of Manx National Heritage.

There is Mannin Line with the programme’s  avuncular host David Callister in the studio, Countryside with the station’s respected farming correspondent  John Kennaugh and musician and ‘big band’ enthusiast Jim Caine, presenter of the ever popular “Sweet ‘n’ Swing” programme.

Popular broadcasters of yesterday are also remembered and will certainly evoke nostalgia among many older listeners. Alan Jackson is shown presenting his popular morning show Jackson’s Jollybodys with a group of children while TT coverage is depicted by the late Peter Kneale, commentating from the Grandstand studio, who was known as the ‘voice of the TT’ to fans around the world.

Maxine Cannon, general manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins said: “We are delighted to present our latest stamp issue which celebrates the tremendous 50 year landmark anniversary of Manx Radio, the first commercial radio station to be licensed in the British Isles and the longest standing.”

She added:  “Since the station’s inception in 1964 it continues to provide its listeners with the latest relevant local community news and information through its varied shows and this is something that we have replicated through the images used on our stamps in this issue.”

Manx Radio’s business director John Marsom said: “We are extremely proud to have been selected by the Isle of Man Post Office to have a series of celebratory stamps created to mark our 50th year in broadcasting.

“Isle of Man Post Office has done the station and the Island proud and we cannot thank them enough for their enthusiasm which has led to the production of this issue. We look forward to promoting the issue on the radio and around the world at manxradio.com.”

A special presentation pack giving an account of the station’s 50 year history has been compiled by the Post Office in conjunction with Manx Radio.  In it journalist and broadcaster Terry Cringle details the station’s history and there are also photographs of many Manx Radio broadcasters, past and present.  This, along with first day covers and mint sets of the stamps, can be pre-ordered online at iomstamps.com or by calling the Stamps and Coins team on 01624 698430.  From October 1 they will also be available at the Post Office in Regent Street, Douglas.

Isle of Man’s star studded skies captured on Post Office’s latest stamp issue

The Isle of Man now has a total of 26 Dark Sky sites, which is by far the greatest concentration of such sites in Europe. 19 sites were recognised in January 2014, which were in addition to the seven that were similarly granted this prestigious status by the Dark Sky Discovery Network (DSDN) based at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh during October 2012.

Dark Sky Status is granted only to sites that have spectacular views of the night sky. One of the criteria for Dark Sky Status is the ability to see the Milky Way clearly on dark clear moonless nights, which is known in Manx as “Raad Mooar re Gorry” or the great way of King Orry, commemorating the landing of King Orry in the late 11th Century. The Isle of Man has many such locations, which have now been formally acknowledged by the DSDN and by many visiting astronomers.

Nicole Stott, NASA Astronaut and wife of Manxman Chris Stott gave her full support to the application for the original seven sites with the following quote: “I tried on many occasions to identify the Isle of Man from orbit, but I had great difficulty because it is so dark! I eventually captured an image and it shows how wonderful the night skies in the Island are. The Manx skies are fantastic for astronomy – great from above, on board the ISS (International Space Station) and from below, on the Island.”

The stamp issue has been produced following consultation with Howard Parkin FRAS of AstroManx and the pictures used on the stamps show spectacular images of the Manx night skies and feature some of the constellations clearly visible throughout the year from the Island’s darker skies. The stamps show four Dark Sky scenes taken from various locations on the Island across the seasons with one or more constellations superimposed on each. The stars as well as the surround of each stamp are distinct in that they are metallic, an essential collectable for all philatelists and astronomy enthusiasts.

The 42p stamp shows Orion, one of the most spectacular winter constellations superimposed onto an image taken from Niarbyl. The 164p stamp shows Leo, a spring constellation and the skies from Port Erin, the 182p stamp shows the summer constellation of Cygnus with a spectacular view of the Milky Way as seen from Fort Island and the 230p stamp shows the autumn group showing Pegasus and Andromeda with the sky from Langness.

Dan Hillier, Leader of the DSD initiative at the STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, said: “It’s gratifying that the Dark Sky Discovery Sites have led to the commissioning of these Isle of Man stamps. The dramatic views of the Manx night skies are truly impressive, so having them captured on a set of stamps is a great accolade for the island and for the Dark Sky Discovery initiative.”

Howard Parkin BSc FRAS said: “I was delighted to be able to help Isle of Man Stamps & Coins produce these beautiful stamps. They show just how clear the Manx night skies can be, and each stamp shows a different view of just what can be seen from our Dark Skies throughout the year and as such they can be used as a mini star atlas, which we believe may be unique from a philatelic viewpoint.”

Isle of Man Stamps and Coins forges link with Panama Canal to mark Centenary

Isle of Man Post Office has produced a miniature sheet that marks the Centenary of the Panama Canal, the incredible feats of the civil engineers tasked with its creation and a series of achievements exemplified by the passage of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth through the world famous waterway. The sheet is due for launch on 8th of August.

The construction of the Panama Canal was first officially authorised by the Spanish Government in 1819, however it’s commencement was stalled for some time whilst a number of surveys were undertaken, one of which by Manxman William Kennish, born in Cornaa in 1799 and recognised by The Society of Arts and Commerce as a notable engineer, explorer, inventor, scientist and poet.

Following a number of setbacks, the project was eventually completed by the US Government and the Canal was officially opened on 15th August 1914 with the passage of the cargo ship SS Ancon. Since then, the Panama Canal has averaged 14,000 ships per year, representing 5% of the world’s shipping industry, and continues to be regarded as one of the world’s busiest waterways. In 2014, we mark 100 years since the first ship sailed its entire length.

Panama will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary by different events throughout the year. These events will focus on the aspects that have led to its international status as well Panama’s future. Last but not least Panama celebrates the Canal through its generous and necessary Canal extension, referred to as the ‘Third Set of Locks’, which is currently in progress and set to double the capacity of the Canal by 2015 by creating a new lane and allowing more and larger ships to transit.

The miniature sheet consists of a collage of images associated with the Canal’s Centenary celebrations; it includes a visual of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth passing through the world famous Panama waterway, with Cunard also celebrating next year the 175th Anniversary of its first ship Britannia setting sail in July 1840.The image also includes a map of the Canal and a high definition photo of Manxman William Kennish.

William P. McLaughlin, Past President/Historian of Panama Canal Society said: “It was a very pleasant surprise when the Panama Canal Society was contacted by Maxine Cannon of the Isle of Man Stamps and Coins informing us of the wonderful tribute they have done in commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal.  The Panama Canal Society was founded on July 24, 1932 by a group of former employees of the Panama Canal who wanted a means to keep in contact with each other.  The Panama Canal Society has been going strong all these years with over 2,000 members who were born, lived and worked in Panama for the Panama Canal.  Our motto is “To preserve American Ideals and Canal Zone Friendships”.  The Panama Canal was one of the United States greatest engineering accomplishments but this fame is slowly disappearing with newer generations.  We are honoured that the Isle of Man still recognises the importance of the Panama Canal by commemorating the 100th Anniversary.  It is also a great to know of Manxman William Kennish and his part in making the Panama Canal reality so long ago. The visionaries of that era are to be commended to have the vision of the great Panama Canal which still operates for the world all these years later in time.”

Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins said: “The Panama Canal is a remarkable project and considered one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’. On the Centenary of its first passage we are delighted to present our miniature sheet which marks the occasion. A number of challenges were faced during the Canal’s development which stalled its progress, and yet through the perseverance of its workforce, celebrated liners such as Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth now use it every year. We would like to thank our supporters Cunard for their assistance and congratulate them on their 175th Anniversary in 2015.”

An Ace playing cards stamp issue from Isle of Man Stamps & Coins

Isle of Man Stamps and Coins has another ace up its sleeve with its latest collectors stamp issue this time based upon the history of Manx themed playing cards. Due for release on the 8th of August, this issue features six fascinating, full colour stamps.

The history of playing cards is one of mystery and intrigue. Believed to have originated from China as far back as 1294 before arriving in Southern Europe by the late 1300s, and spreading quickly by trade and colonialism where they adapted to different cultures in which they found themselves. Indeed it is believed that the core elements of the decks and suits that we have today originated in the 15th Century from the red and black colour scheme of France during that period.

By the late 19th century the Isle of Man had developed into a popular tourist destination drawing visitors from across England. As the demand for the sale of novelty goods grew with holiday makers wishing to commemorate their trip, Warrington businessman, Samuel Webb, saw this opportunity and opened his first shop in Duke Street Douglas. He then commissioned a set of playing cards featuring iconic Manx elements as a souvenir for tourists and authorised London based designers and printers Charles Goodall and Sons to produce the first set. Over the next 57 years they with other companies, produced approximately 30 different designs leaving a unique legacy in playing cards history which has been beautifully commemorated into this collector’s issue.

The six stamps incorporate select images from local expert Mike Goodall’s exceptional collection. A descendant of Charles Goodall, Mike has worked closely with Isle of Man Stamps and Coins to provide access to and collate six of the most iconic in his extensive catalogue, and which also reflect the changing printing techniques of the era from engravings through to photography and ink. Each scene depicted, including Bradda Head and Peel Castle to the Laxey Wheel and the Groudle Wheel, is set against a vibrant background which corresponds to the rear of the original card, giving a complete representation with every unique stamp.

Mike Goodall collector said: “I was delighted when I was approached by the Isle of Man Post Office for help with their proposed issue of a set of stamps featuring Isle of Man souvenir playing cards with scenic views of the Island, These cards were published in the second half of the 19th century, some of the first of this type to be produced worldwide; several of the packs selected for use were designed and printed by my family’s old company, Charles Goodall and Son of London. The designers are to be congratulated in having produced a gorgeous and elegant set of stamps with the Isle of Man views clearly recognisable in such a small space.”

Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps & Coins said: “We would like to thank Mike Goodall for his expert assistance and generous access to his exceptional collection which marks an important and unique addition to our collector’s portfolio. This is a rare opportunity to own a collection which captures forgotten moments in Manx tourism history, from surviving architecture to lost landscapes.”