Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolished?

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Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolished?

Post by Global Administrator »

Dear Friends

Iceland Post, Stamp and Philatelic Department (Postphil) will be abolished at the end of this year after about 90 years in operation.

We still have two stamp issues left this year, on September 12th. and October 31st., but when they are done the department will be closed down for good and will stop serving stamp collectors, domestic and foreign, altogether.

The fact that the number of our philatelic customers have constantly been decreasing year after year has lead to years of deficit for Postphil.

Iceland Post has got a new CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson, who is cutting down everything that is not profittable in this company, including Postphil, and that is due to the fact that Iceland Post currently has severe operating difficulties.

To-day, August 20 Iceland Post is laying off about 50 people throughout the company.

The current management of Iceland Post Ltd., prefers if possible to stop issuing new stamps altogether, but on the basis of current law, Iceland Post cannot unilaterally decide to do so.

However, there is some uncertainty as to how these matters will be handled in the future and the company is waiting for answers from it´s owner, the Icelandic state.

If the company must keep on issuing new stamps in 2020 and onward the number of new stamps will be very few each year and there will be no service for stamp collectors.

According to CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson this task of producing and issuing new stamps could be given to outside contractors.

I will leave Iceland Post Ltd., in September after 20 years in charge of Postphil.

From October to December there will only be 3 people working at Postphil so operations will be at minimum

Kind regards,

VILHJALMUR SIGURDSSON

HEAD OF PHILATELY

POSTPHIL | ICELAND POST

TEL: +354 580 1050 | DIRECT: +354 580 1051 | MOBILE: +354 825 1051 | STAMPS.IS | facebook.com/icelandicstamps | vilhjalmurs@postur.is

STORHOFDI 29 | 110 REYKJAVIK | ICELAND | TEL: +354 580 1000 | FAX: +354 580 1059 | POSTUR.IS |
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by DJCMH »

And so the endgame for the postage stamp begins..

Sad though, Iceland issues very nice stamps, but must no longer be the case where profit covers costs.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Global Administrator »

Iceland Post were a member here, and sorry to hear this short sighted bean counter CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson thinks as narrowly as he does, and that means Vilhjalmur and others lose their jobs in PostPhil. :roll:

Iceland Post kindly offered prizes like this below in the past.
Image

Image
Image
Mr Vilhjalmur Sigurdsson, head of Philately at Iceland Post, and one of his staff, Daniela Gunnarsdottir have seen this thread and they are pleased to see their Iceland Christmas issue was the most nominated stamp by members in their top votes. :)

To keep up this Global interest in Iceland stamps, they have kindly offered an Iceland 2011 Year Album as a "Special Prize" to members 2 and 3 who Mr Boggler drew from his random number generator.

Margo will post those member names shortly, and a photo of this superb prize, that I'll ask be mailed direct to the winners from Iceland Post.

Many thanks for their kind support! :)

These Year Packs cost $US71.97 each, so a superb prize to win!

Glen
Image
Birgir Jonsson does not appear to be a great business success - he lasted 10 days as Iceland Express CEO -

Volcanic business: Iceland Express CEO exit after 10 days in office

Oct 03, 2011 (newstodate): The office as CEO of Iceland Express is vacant again after only 10 days with its latest new holder.

According to a statement issued to the Icelandic press, Birgir Jonsson has left the carrier again after only 10 days in office.

Serving as Iceland Express CEO also in 2004-06, Mr Jonsson was called in to replace Icelandic Express' CEO since 2006, Matthias Imsland who failed to steer the carrier back into flight regularity and profitability during the recent period.

In his public statements, carried by Iceland's Frettirbladid, Mr Jonsson says he accepted the job as Iceland Express CEO on strict provisions concerning his collaboration with the owners in efforts to restructure the carrier - conditions that he soon found were not met in practice.


https://www.newstodate.aero/2011/10/volcanic-business-icelan ... in-office/

Looks like he has only been at Iceland post for 3 months -

https://www.postur.is/en/about-us/operations/executives/

But, he was a drummer in a heavy metal band, so must be a management genius!

I'll try and source a direct email address for this dope, to post here, so those here can hopefully email him, to counsel him on the short sightedness of his decision. :mrgreen:

Stay tuned.

Glen
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by lesbootman »

Talking of Iceland's post office I saw these three vans parked up in size order when we were fortunate enough to be in Ísafjörður last month. I guessed they were parked up because the day we were there was a Sunday. The post office shares the building with the supermarket.
Image
I used to be a customer of Iceland's philatelic bureau years ago before I moved on to other areas to collect.

New issues from places like Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands etc seem rather expensive (inevitable due to the pretty high postal rates)

Buying new issues is usually much the same as pouring ½ to ¾ of the money you spend down the drain.

The number of collectors is dwindling.

A lot of people are feeling the pinch financially.

Even though, as DJCMH says, Iceland's stamps have traditionally been pretty nice, there are a lot of nice stamps out there these days.

Given those factors it is not hard to see why Íslandspóstur have decided that it is no longer financially viable to produce, issue and market new stamp issues.

We were in Akureyri the day after the picture was taken and I did go in the post office there. It was quite a decent size but there were not many customers. Given Iceland's size, the many small and isolated communities they serve and the high level of wages etc., it is easy to understand why Iceland's post office would be struggling to keep its head above water given the worldwide decline in mail volumes.

As I have commented previously on different threads, I'm not sure of the relevance of on-going special issue stamps from the UK post office. Very few British special issue stamps are actually used on regular mail and when you do use them it soon becomes evident that Royal Mail's automated systems struggle with them (and they are often pen cancelled if they are cancelled at all).

I'm aware that some other members of Stampboards won't agree with that sentiment.

It could be that Iceland's decision to end new stamp production will set a precedent.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Allanswood »

"the current management prefers if possible to stop issuing new stamps altogether..."

Lets see what the Icelandic peoples have to say about that! So their going to wind it up and outsource any further production, maybe. Or just stop. How sad.

My little toe is "not profitable", but that doesn't mean I'll cut it off.
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Iceland Post to Close

Post by GJ50 »

As Editor of APF News I received the following from Iceland Post.
GJ50

Dear friends

Iceland Post, Stamp and Philatelic Department (Postphil) will be abolished at the end of this year after about 90 years in operation.
We still have two stamp issues left this year, on September 12th. and October 31st., but when they are done the department will be closed down
for good and will stop serving stamp collectors, domestic and foreign, altogether.

The fact that the number of our philatelic customers have constantly been decreasing year after year has lead to years of deficit for Postphil.
Iceland Post has got a new CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson, who is cutting down everything that is not profittable in this company, including Postphil,
and that is due to the fact that Iceland Post currently has severe operating difficulties.
To-day, August 20 Iceland Post is laying off about 50 people throughout the company.

The current management of Iceland Post Ltd., prefers if possible to stop issuing new stamps altogether, but on the basis of current law,
Iceland Post cannot unilaterally decide to do so. However, there is some uncertainty as to how these matters will be handled in the future and the
company is waiting for answers from it´s owner, the Icelandic state. If the company must keep on issuing new stamps in 2020 and onward
the number of new stamps will be very few each year and there will be no service for stamp collectors.
According to CEO Mr. Birgir Jonsson this task of producing and issuing new stamps could be given to outside contractors.

I will leave Iceland Post Ltd., in September after 20 years in charge of Postphil.
From October to December there will only be 3 people working at Postphil so operations will be at minimum
Kind regards,
VILHJALMUR SIGURDSSON
HEAD OF PHILATELY
POSTPHIL | ICELAND POST
TEL: +354 580 1050 | DIRECT: +354 580 1051 | MOBILE: +354 825 1051 | STAMPS.IS | facebook.com/icelandicstamps | vilhjalmurs@postur.is
NZ2020 FIAP INTERNATIONAL STAMP EXHIBITION
Auckland
March 19 to 22, 2020

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Re: Iceland Post to Close

Post by GJ50 »

Seems Glen beat me to it..............................
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by meisterstempel »

A number of post offices have closed over the last 12 months.

The Post Office on Pósthússtræti (Post Office Street) closed in December 2018.

They have also lost a glacier.

Sad times for Iceland.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Ubobo.R.O. »

Having a tribute to Iceland stamps on my thread today. Feel free to add yours.

http://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=82193&p=6145381#p6145381
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by aethelwulf »

Global Administrator wrote:The current management of Iceland Post Ltd., prefers if possible to stop issuing new stamps altogether, but on the basis of current law, Iceland Post cannot unilaterally decide to do so.
There are countries that have no new issues in a year, but has any place ever decided to abolish new issues?
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Panterra »

aethelwulf wrote:
Global Administrator wrote:The current management of Iceland Post Ltd., prefers if possible to stop issuing new stamps altogether, but on the basis of current law, Iceland Post cannot unilaterally decide to do so.

There are countries that have no new issues in a year, but has any place ever decided to abolish new issues?
Haiti stopped issuing new stamps back in 2003. Which is sad, as they missed getting a set for their bicentenary of independence in 2004.
They did a good job for the Centenary though, in 1904.

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hero of the slave rebellion, Toussaint L'Ouverture.
I predict that if the foolish Iceland Post stops stamp-issuing, one of the many private firms offering this service (such as Philatelic Collector, Crown Agents, or IGPC) will offer them a "dodgy" deal, and we will soon see truckloads of garish wallpaper with Iceland's name on.
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Iceland 1947 2½ kr airmail, SG 277.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by gavin-h »

I don't know about the endgame for the postage stamp, but conversely I think that closing the philatelic department could be a GOOD thing for collectors.

It may be counter-intuitive, but think about this... We all whinge endlessly about there being waaaaaaay too many new issues; stamps issued purely as "collectables" are dismissed as little more than labels; we stopped collecting at a significant point (millennium, change of monarch etc).

By adopting a policy of issuing stamps to satisfy postal need only (inflation-linked price changes etc), stamps will ONCE AGAIN become interesting. Differences in printing, shades of colour, perforation variations etc will have a re-discovered significance. Collectors (and dealers) will study these stamps more closely than they'd ever study yet another set of Star Wars, Harry Potter or Bored of the Rings jam-pot labels.

BACK TO THE FUTURE, this is GOOD NEWS for philately. :idea:

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by norvic »

The most important thing, if you want to complete your Europa set this year, or want any more of their stamps, best to put an order in very soon even if there are only 3 people there to deal with them!

Plus, there are a lot of downloadable files on their website - here's the English link.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by FairyFoot »

Wouldn't it be better to write a letter rather than email?
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Rigs »

The technical necessity for postage stamps may be largely finished, but that doesn't mean the end of philately - far from it.

Think of it like portrait painting. Before the advent of photography having your portrait painted in oils was pretty much the only way, technically, that you could get an image of someone.

But photography didn't kill portrait painting and it is still a commercial/fine art activity today, and readily collectible.

Just because the internet age has eclipsed the technical need for stamps in many ways, or stamps are cancelled by a pen, doesn't mean they won't continue to be issued.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Allanswood »

I'd imagine that if their really going to kill off any future issues then they'll just release a generic "forever" stamp and be done with any further designs. Buy the stamp at whatever the current price is and it's always valid.

No varieties, no shades to collect, might as well issue a white checkout label and be done with it.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by ViccyVFU »

Iceland has five coins and four banknotes (the largest of which would possibly never be used on a parcel).
Image
So if you had eight definitives, and four forever stamps, you could cover all bases (including make-up values).

Put the year on them, and only let them be valid for 10 years would also lessen the "Forever" problem you see cropping up all over the world.

It was "inevitable" that the Philatelic Bureau would close one day - six staff for a significantly decreasing user base, and stamp throughput.
Image
Colnect - stamp issues in year
If you look back over the years print runs were up to 2,500,000 for some issues, but they have been declining over the last 20 years, and now we are down to print runs of around 100k stamps (plus 10,000 M/S of 10).

The Bureau still list available stock back to 2011, so I guess business "remains slow"

Fewer stamps, but higher face values is a real downer on philatelic sales.

I just hope that closure of the Bureau will be a transitional step, to outsourcing philatelic distribution to a wholesaler (such as Harry Allens) of a more limited range of stamps.

I also hope they have considered that "by announcing this moratorium on new issues, people will inevitably try to use up old issues before they are possibly invalidated".

As collectors, I feel we should be indifferent to this specific closure - Postal Services all over the world need to balance their books (or get increasing Government subsidies). Who has $75 to spend on a year pack anymore?

What will be interesting to watch is how their postal services develop, and how many other SEPAC members use them as either a catalyst for change, or just a straight copycat.

By removing a loss making division, they are strengthening the rest of their network, possibly giving more local branches a bit of extra work too.

Its always possible the Government might find more funds (from various pots) to ensure Icelandic heritage and flags are still flown on all outgoing letters and packages. This announcement did seem to be couched in terms of "Details to be fully determined ......"

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by stampchris »

This is indeed sad, and potentially misguided.

However, I've been a customer of Postphil for decades and have seen the writing on the wall for the last ten years.

They used to send a new issue Bulletin for each issue date (4-5 a year). This was sent by air mail. These were cut back to two Bulletins a year, and now they are sent economy air.

When the financial crisis hit, the post office started to break up stamp booklets so collectors could buy tete-beche pairs, stamps with imperforate sides and self-adhesive versions of the regular gummed sheet stamps. This made life easier for collectors, and probably generated some income, but no doubt annoyed dealers who previously offered such a service.

They are again selling kiloware (which is essentially stamps cut from FDCs). No doubt the face value of the stamps is much higher than the selling price, but it is another revenue source, and further reduces their stock of stamps (and their financial liability).

Stamps are being used on the posting of orders. We may welcome that, but perhaps its also another way to use up stocks of stamps?

I honestly would prefer Iceland Post reconsider this plan, and reduce the number of issues. Maybe, just release a definitive series, and stop with all the peripheral items. A beautifully designed definitive series would keep collectors happy, and reduce costs, and as mentioned we can hunt down the varieties.

However, if they plan to abolish stamps, or outsource their production, what happens to the stamps people currently hold? All Iceland issues from the last few years are denominated with a service and weight limit, and so are essentially valid forever.

Also, if they do outsource their production, what say does Iceland Post have in their production, their design etc.? Postnord which runs Sweden and Denmark Post may be interested in taking on the production of Iceland stamps (one organisation handles the production of issues for both countries; and given the historical connections between Denmark and Iceland, its a possibility).

However, many of the Nordic post offices are going down a cost cutting road. I know Greenland Post has organised a reseller in Denmark to handle its philatelic sales due to the cost of getting mail to and from Greenland; maybe they may handle Iceland's issue? Sweden and Denmark closed their stamp printers and contracted it out to Cartor. These are all countries with high labour costs and high postal rates, along with excellent electronic connectivity.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Allanswood »

If you hold 7 or 8 years of residual stocks, then CTO them and sell/give them away.

Give all the school kids on the Island a once off special post office pack with CTO issues and generate some interest in their own stamps!


Your only loss is any left over value of the cost of printing them, nothing else. They are after all not money, just printed sheets of paper.

And issuing 30 stamps (or sets?) a year should have been scaled back eons ago.

But I can't believe the "no more stamps" decision, that's totally a knee jerk opposite reaction.

Then design and issue a master set for each year and let the issue run annually.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by lesbootman »

ViccyVFU wrote:Iceland has five coins and four banknotes (the largest of which would possibly never be used on a parcel).
Image
So if you had eight definitives, and four forever stamps, you could cover all bases (including make-up values).

Put the year on them, and only let them be valid for 10 years would also lessen the "Forever" problem you see cropping up all over the world.

It was "inevitable" that the Philatelic Bureau would close one day - six staff for a significantly decreasing user base, and stamp throughput.
Image
Colnect - stamp issues in year
If you look back over the years print runs were up to 2,500,000 for some issues, but they have been declining over the last 20 years, and now we are down to print runs of around 100k stamps (plus 10,000 M/S of 10).

The Bureau still list available stock back to 2011, so I guess business "remains slow"

Fewer stamps, but higher face values is a real downer on philatelic sales.

I just hope that closure of the Bureau will be a transitional step, to outsourcing philatelic distribution to a wholesaler (such as Harry Allens) of a more limited range of stamps.

I also hope they have considered that "by announcing this moratorium on new issues, people will inevitably try to use up old issues before they are possibly invalidated".

As collectors, I feel we should be indifferent to this specific closure - Postal Services all over the world need to balance their books (or get increasing Government subsidies). Who has $75 to spend on a year pack anymore?

What will be interesting to watch is how their postal services develop, and how many other SEPAC members use them as either a catalyst for change, or just a straight copycat.

By removing a loss making division, they are strengthening the rest of their network, possibly giving more local branches a bit of extra work too.

Its always possible the Government might find more funds (from various pots) to ensure Icelandic heritage and flags are still flown on all outgoing letters and packages. This announcement did seem to be couched in terms of "Details to be fully determined ......"
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by norvic »

Allanswood wrote:And issuing 30 stamps (or sets?) a year should have been scaled back eons ago.
At least they are all relevant and for genuine postal rates unlike many other countries closer to home for you.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by gavin-h »

stampchris wrote:However, if they plan to abolish stamps, or outsource their production, what happens to the stamps people currently hold? All Iceland issues from the last few years are denominated with a service and weight limit, and so are essentially valid forever.

Also, if they do outsource their production, what say does Iceland Post have in their production, their design etc.?
They could easily demonitise those issues - in some countries stamps have a limited validity and the PO will not accept them after a given date (I don't know about today, but in Germany in the 1960s/70s it was common for a stamp to only be valid 2-3 years after the date of issue). Alternatively, they could issue a series denominated in Kronor and simply state that any service/weight limit stamps are not valid from dd/mm/yyyy.

If they did outsource their production, they could retain a final say in design, production quality etc. It would just depend on the wording of the outsourcing contract (I used to work in an outsourced IT department and the contract was so full of detail it was thicker than a stack of bibles!).

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by stampchris »

gavin-h wrote:
stampchris wrote:However, if they plan to abolish stamps, or outsource their production, what happens to the stamps people currently hold? All Iceland issues from the last few years are denominated with a service and weight limit, and so are essentially valid forever.

Also, if they do outsource their production, what say does Iceland Post have in their production, their design etc.?
They could easily demonitise those issues - in some countries stamps have a limited validity and the PO will not accept them after a given date (I don't know about today, but in Germany in the 1960s/70s it was common for a stamp to only be valid 2-3 years after the date of issue). Alternatively, they could issue a series denominated in Kronor and simply state that any service/weight limit stamps are not valid from dd/mm/yyyy.

If they did outsource their production, they could retain a final say in design, production quality etc. It would just depend on the wording of the outsourcing contract (I used to work in an outsourced IT department and the contract was so full of detail it was thicker than a stack of bibles!).
Iceland does have a history of demonitising stamps. When the krona was revalued in 1981 (100 old kronur = 1 new krona), all the stamps which had values in kronur, were taken as being in aurar (i.e. a stamp with a face value of 250 old kronur, was now interpreted as 250 aurar). All stamps in the 1980s had their values printed in aurar, however with high inflation rates, this became impractical, as stamps with values of 10 kronur were written as 1000 aurar.

To handle this, Iceland Post started denominating stamps in kronur, with the aurar part written as two small zeroes from 1983, and invalidated all stamps without the two small zeroes. This made telling the difference between valid and invalid stamps easy.

However, with continued inflation, the government decreed that from 2003 all invoices should only be stated in kronur, and all aurar coins were withdrawn from circulation. Iceland Post followed by removing the aurur designation from 2006. Then soon after stamps with destinations and weight steps were released, and now just about every new issue has this. The kronur stamps since 1983 have never been invalidated, but it could easily be done; likewise the weight step stamps could be invalidated, but I think that would cause more anger amongst customers who bought them thinking they were valid forever.

I doubt Iceland Post or a third party would issue stamps will kronur denominations since inflation in Iceland is high and postal rates increase yearly (and sometimes twice-yearly). Also, if Iceland did ever change its currency to the Euro, then this would require more stamps.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by lesbootman »

Assuming that Iceland continues to use stamps following the closure of the philatelic bureau, it will be more of a challenge to acquire said stamps. Stamps were used for many years (from 1840 in the UK) before anyone decided to issue "special" or commemorative stamps. Even when the only stamps were definitive issues people still collected them.

Stamps like the Fiji overprints are in the main not available from the philatelic bureau in Suva. Initially Post Fiji issued them only to meet postal needs - with no thought or consideration whatsoever to their philatelic appeal.

Perhaps that was why they became popular with collectors, although not so much with dealers since they were harder, and sometimes pretty expensive) to acquire.

They were "real" stamps - not pretty wallpaper.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Ubobo.R.O. »

Nothing to do with Iceland.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by aethelwulf »

An op-ed in Linn's about this, from the dealer in Scandinavia Jay Smith

https://www.linns.com/news/world-stamps-postal-history/demog ... e-programs
Demographic, sales trends negatively impact Scandinavian new-issue programs

Aug 24, 2019

First, to be clear, I don’t know enough about Iceland Post’s specific problems to speak directly to them.

However, collectively for the Scandinavian post offices with which I have had deep experience as the operator of the Scandinavian New Issue Service for 30 years (1984-2014), I can speak to overall trends and behaviors of the Scandinavian post offices.

Yes, the number of new-issue subscribers directly from post offices has declined dramatically. And I believe the declines of subscribers from privately operated new-issue services (in total) declined even more sharply.

The declines as a result of the aging of the collector population started to bite at about the same time as two other events: The post offices started to accept credit card payments, and they started to provide (at least partially) functional websites.

Those were great advantages to both the post offices and collectors, but they had the unintended consequence of starting to cut dealers and private new-issue services out of the sales process.

As some collectors moved toward buying directly from the post offices, especially because they could now use credit cards for payment, dealers’ sales declined.

All this was on top of the decreased number of collectors due to demographic trends.

For a dealer to do all the work of keeping track of what is being issued, placing orders, fighting with the post offices when the orders were not received correctly or were received damaged, and so on, a dealer has to maintain a certain minimum volume to make the effort worthwhile.

On top of that, post offices started charging for shipping to dealers in some cases, and they also started demanding payment up-front. There was a time when large dealers could have 10 days to 30 days to pay for items received from post offices.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of post offices require dealers to pay the same price that collectors pay, but often dealers don’t get many of the same benefits — discounts or free shipping or reduced-price special products — that individual collectors can receive through special membership programs.

When dealers had to make the difficult decision to drop countries from their offerings, that had two effects.

First, while some collectors switched to buying from the post office directly or from other dealers, many collectors simply stopped buying new stamps from that country.

Second, dealers were often the spark that motivated collectors to buy the new issues of a particular country. When that spark went out, the countries unknowingly lost a huge (and free) marketing network.

Over the years as the Scandinavian New Issue Service operator, I suggested to the post offices joint marketing efforts and other special projects. The vast majority of these suggestions were rejected or ignored. The post offices made it clear that they knew what they were doing, and they did not have the time or interest to discuss such matters.

There also were other very significant factors.

The face values of Scandinavian stamps have risen steeply in the last decade. This has to do with the cost of operating a postal system; it was not an attempt to grab money from collectors.

Simultaneously, the number of different types of postal products expanded greatly, including items such as prestige booklets priced by the post offices well above face value and which contained completely different versions of stamps.

Collectors needed the stamps from many of their products in order to have a complete basic set of stamps in their albums.

There was also a push toward more souvenir sheets and smaller panes of stamps.

Certainly not all collectors bought some of these new types of products. (Some now greatly regret not buying them because the market prices of some have skyrocketed).

However, the mere thought that a collector had to forgo something that had been issued by the post office caused the collector to think twice about continuing. After all, if you are not going to get the complete run of new stamps, why bother getting any of them?

To add insult to injury, there were at least four other major events that have resulted in further damage to the market.

First, the post offices began to treat their philatelic operations in a completely inappropriate manner from an accounting perspective. The accountants started to value the stamps in philatelic inventories as if they were really worth their face value, which they are not until they are sold. As any business major will tell you, reducing inventory while maintaining or increasing sales is a desirable goal.

However, the accountants who took over the operations considered stamps issued a year or two ago to be akin to last year’s clothing styles; they thought that keeping stamps in stock any longer than absolutely necessary was a bad thing.

Keep in mind that the accountants were thinking about the stamps as being costly. However, millions of kroner of face value of unsold stamps only actually cost a tiny fraction of that to print and warehouse.

The accountants sought to reduce printing quantities so that stamps would sell out quickly, often before most collectors even knew they existed. They also sped up the sales lifetime of stamps that had not yet sold out, often withdrawing and destroying perfectly good stamps before all collectors had obtained them for their collections.

There was a time when a tourist visiting one of the Scandinavian countries could go into a larger post office and buy most or all of the stamps going back several years.

Nowadays, it is often not possible to get all the new stamp issues at most post offices and certainly not those issues that are more than a couple of years old.

Collectors can’t buy stamps that the post office is not offering for sale, and new collectors can’t be made if they don’t have access to enough stamps to get them started.

Second, the Danish post office rationalized not only its philatelic operations, but the formats of its stamp issues, often issuing items in multiple formats but not making collectors aware that they existed. This confused many collectors who ended up missing out on items.

Third, the Swedish and Danish post offices combined forces into a single commercial company, PostNord, owned by the respective governments. This resulted in a great upheaval of which activities occurred in which country. All stamp production, for example, was physically moved to Sweden.

The consequences of all these changes caused further confusion and disruption for collectors.

Fourth, through a program based in Gibraltar (WOPA Stamps and Coins), many post offices have made their stamps available through a combined platform from which collectors can order.

However, the stamps are shipped separately by each country. Thus collectors typically have to pay multiple shipping costs if buying stamps from multiple countries.

This sales platform, which is paid a commission by the participating countries’ post offices, has further undercut the countries’ agents and stamp dealers. Agents do receive a commission, but dealers have to pay the same price as collectors.

All these many factors have combined to make stamp dealers and new-issue services feel abandoned, ignored and unappreciated. As a result, dealers have put their time, interest and money elsewhere.

Despite post offices’ websites, which often don’t have available all stamps and products, collectors have less access to buying stamps and having a complete collection.

For dealers who attempt to hold inventories of stamps and don’t only offer what they can sell within a few weeks as a new-issue service, there is also a significant financial element to this discussion.

With the rising face value and the increased number of different (and usually more costly) products and formats, dealers who maintain inventories have to invest a huge amount of capital.

At the time that I ceased operating the Scandinavian New Issue Service, I also maintained an inventory of every stamp and format and many other products to last about four years to five years.

I also was investing approximately $25,000 per year in inventory, and the amount was rising every year. That was just for the seven Scandinavian countries.

While the inventory did eventually sell (much in four to five years, but some took as long as 10 years), the mark-up was not great, and the annual capital amount required was rising 10 percent to 15 percent per year, which alone could not always be funded by the mark-up of the previous years’ sales.

Compared to an equal amount of money annually invested in buying and selling higher-value classic-era stamps — and not having to do all the mental and physical work associated with new issues — a dealer could have a vastly more profitable business dealing with classic stamps.

What I have witnessed over 30 years in the new-issue stamp business has been the collision of the philatelic world (where the cost of labor and time-value of money is usually not properly recognized or valued) with advancing technology and, most important, the real-world financial needs of very large postal organizations, which have become much more than stamp sellers. They are now often huge banks and enormous logistics companies as well.

Philately has always been mostly the result of a post office’s activities and operations. For roughly 150 years, things were relatively stable, with incremental change in scope and scale.

For the last 30 years, post offices have had to change as the world has changed. As a result, philatelic concerns and interests were often left at the side of the road.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by west6 »

Thanks for sharing the dealer's perspective and observation. Maybe it is tough for dealer to stay competitive in the new issuance program (country based). I have standing subscription from the dealer for jurisdictions which do not offer online direct sales (Japan and else), and for topics (new issuance again).

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by norvic »

First, the post offices began to treat their philatelic operations in a completely inappropriate manner from an accounting perspective. The accountants started to value the stamps in philatelic inventories as if they were really worth their face value, which they are not until they are sold. As any business major will tell you, reducing inventory while maintaining or increasing sales is a desirable goal.
If true, this is very bad practice. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (or International Accounting Standards, or whatever this year's name is) state that stocks/inventory should be valued at the lesser of cost or net realisable value. And we all know which is the lesser figure.

If these values were used in company accounts (and some postal authorities were run as or required to be run as and produce accounts according to the same principles as companies) then those accounts were falsely stated and the error/lie should have been picked up by the auditors.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by kuikka »

norvic wrote:
First, the post offices began to treat their philatelic operations in a completely inappropriate manner from an accounting perspective. The accountants started to value the stamps in philatelic inventories as if they were really worth their face value, which they are not until they are sold. As any business major will tell you, reducing inventory while maintaining or increasing sales is a desirable goal.
If true, this is very bad practice. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (or International Accounting Standards, or whatever this year's name is) state that stocks/inventory should be valued at the lesser of cost or net realisable value. And we all know which is the lesser figure.

If these values were used in company accounts (and some postal authorities were run as or required to be run as and produce accounts according to the same principles as companies) then those accounts were falsely stated and the error/lie should have been picked up by the auditors.
If the post office sells the stamp to the philatelic operations either at face value or discounted face value, then that price becomes the cost (instead of the printing cost).

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by RobRoyH »

It has been forever since I took accounting classes but I vaguely remember that unsold inventory would not be listed as an asset at expected retail.

It is hard to understand how Philatelic sales fail to make money.

The corporate world is getting more and more crazy.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by ViccyVFU »

kuikka wrote:If the post office sells the stamp to the philatelic operations either at face value or discounted face value, then that price becomes the cost (instead of the printing cost).
That would be possible if the philatelic operations were not part of the same group of operating companies (like a completely separate third party), but NOT if it were just a subsidiary. There, you would need to remove urealised gains in intra group transfers, so we are back to paper and ink costs.

But .... If all your branches were independent distributors, who all bought stock "to their own account", you could technically "load the channels" by shipping out a load of stock into your partners books (At full face value, less their commissions due).

.... But (there again) .... REMEMBER THAT THESE ARE STAMPS (not all the other "collectibles"), and they have value "only as a prepaid label for a service yet to be consumed".

Technically, "there are no philatelic sales" of bare stamps, they are just "unredeemed prepaid labels" .... so any loading of the channels should cause "an equal and opposite provision to be made (for future services to be provided)" ...until they are redeemed (or invalidated).

With the ever rising value of NVI's being sold, its a time bomb that's ticking rather loudly .... I know RM put a figure in the accounts, but that barely skims the surface of "whats out there, with full glue, languishing in obsolete collections".

Icelands discontinuance will be a much watched case study into how much of this "previously booked as philatelic sales material" finds its way back into "labels used to prepay a current service".

Interesting times, indeed.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by The Pom »

However, the accountants who took over the operations considered stamps issued a year or two ago to be akin to last year’s clothing styles; they thought that keeping stamps in stock any longer than absolutely necessary was a bad thing.

Keep in mind that the accountants were thinking about the stamps as being costly. However, millions of kroner of face value of unsold stamps only actually cost a tiny fraction of that to print and warehouse.

The accountants sought to reduce printing quantities so that stamps would sell out quickly, often before most collectors even knew they existed. They also sped up the sales lifetime of stamps that had not yet sold out, often withdrawing and destroying perfectly good stamps before all collectors had obtained them for their collections.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by ViccyVFU »

The Pom wrote:Proof of the fact that you should never, ever, give accountants the power to do anything other than count money. As soon as you allow them to start making business decisions, you're stuffed.

"Never allow the accountancy tail to wag the policy dog" is a basic business adage.
Utter twaddle. (Well, in this case, but clearly not "in every case" :D :D )

Its not proof, nor is it a fact, its just the uncorroborated opinion of one marketing guy that "anything other than the over-marketing of modern day collectibles" is somehow to blame for "the demise of collecting".

(Any one of those cited curtailment actions could have been reversed, if the market was there to support it).

A lot of collectors are accountants, and when they see new issues "double or treble (remember VOLUME and VALUE), they will review their criteria for continued collection.

The improved electronic aftermarket also made picking up scraps relatively inexpensive ...... (Why spend £100 today, when you can pick it up for £50 in two years time?).

Its often the accountants job to call "time" on a party that's over, and "philatelic sales" is a party that was over a long time ago.

Philatelic sales of anything other than "added value products of a collectibles nature" (gift sets, cancelled labels, serviced items and ephemera) is actually just "counter sales of prepaid labels, with low expectation of redemption".......

All those costs to make the sale of plain labels, and the stored value is index linked against future services "forever".

The poo and the fan get ever closer, and Iceland are calling time on it.

Gibbons, last Monday, in their flagship premises, had few stamps in the window ....
Image
So, £15 plus VAT (which is a £5.25 markup on current issue price, which is tax exempt). How many of those would they have to sell, to pay the rent?

When people pay a premium, they are disinclined to use the stamps for postage, but I have already picked up this pack for £5 at a car boot sale (which is a higher % than I normally pay, but its modern).

Gibbons appear to have given up, the shop is a morgue, and the white van outside is probably Phoenix stock, on stock cards, ready to be driven off "if they hit retail difficulties".
Image
.

With the abolition of all these "traditional routes of supply", I think the determined collector is still going to be able to find their required supplies. After all, it is collectors we are short of, not shops (/ bureaus) supplying them.

Stamps were always "a pastime", and its "time" we are desperately short of nowadays ....

How is that accountancies fault?

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by norvic »

Thanks for the observations on accounting everyone. I had overlooked the possibility - though it clearly isn;t the case in Iceland - that the stamps could be sold at face value to an arms-length associate and therefore be counted a stock at cost = face value. But the seller would have already then accounted for it and made a full profit, so ....
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by erthur »

Is anyone having difficulty placing an order on the Postphil website? I cannot proceed to the checkout and make payment. Or is the site seeing high traffic and a lot of people are trying to do what I am doing, place an order??

Thanks,

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Iceland/Island will stop issueing stamps in the year 2020

Post by Wolfgang »

It seems Island will issue no stamps any more.

The reason is that number of clients went down from year to year.

So the service seems to be unprofitable.

50 employees will loose their jobs.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Global Administrator »

All old news Wolfgang. :)
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Wolfgang »

Sorry Glen,
I was not aware of your thread!
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Stewie1980 »

Panterra wrote:
aethelwulf wrote:
Global Administrator wrote:The current management of Iceland Post Ltd., prefers if possible to stop issuing new stamps altogether, but on the basis of current law, Iceland Post cannot unilaterally decide to do so.
There are countries that have no new issues in a year, but has any place ever decided to abolish new issues?
Haiti stopped issuing new stamps back in 2003. Which is sad, as they missed getting a set for their bicentenary of independence in 2004.
Somalia stopped in 2002. There was no postal service anymore since the beginning of the war in 1991, but stamp issues continued till 2002.

Since a few years they re-established the postal service, but no new stamps. Old stamps are valid again including the 1991-2002 stamps.

Guatemala stopped in 2016 when the government ended the concesion for the company responsible for the postal service.

They are looking for a company to take over the postal service, so maybe new stamps somewhere in the future.

And then there are countries which haven't issued stamps in years. Rwanda for example issued it's last stamps so far in 2010.

No idea about the current postal situation there. As far as I know they still use the 2010 stamps and old stocks dating back to the 1970s!

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by aerogi »

I'm not sure what to think about it.

But I would prefer if my country (Belgium) would do the same, and only issuing some definitive stamps.

Now they are issuing way too many stamps, that can only be bought on the website from bpost. Furthermore almost all issues with stamps to use for postage within Belgium have a face value of '2', which is twice the normal price to send a letter which is 2,10 euro. They all come in 'minisheets' containing 5 stamps, thus each sheet costs 10,50 euro. And these stamps are impossible to get used. The yearly CEPT souvenir sheet is a massive 2x3 Europe, which is a massive 8,40 euro.

so 5 years ago I decided to stop buying these, because I was basically paying a whole lot of money for in my eyes just a piece of paper, that is totally not meant to be used. I felt like they were just making money and not thinking about the collectors, that want to collect used, or to use these stamps for exchange. I know there have been issues that are not really intented to be used, but now they have one set of definitives that are used quite a lot (I get 20 letters each day at my work with these stupid self adhesive fruit or flower stamps), so stamps are still used.

see the issues for this year here: https://www.bephila.be/fileadmin/Documents/PresentatieCollectie2019_NL_-_versieweb.pdf

there is in fact a minisheet with values '1', but this is in fact a semi postal sheet, so there is a surtax.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Waffle »

On a recent cruise,I discovered that Iceland post have already abandoned post offices in most small villages.

They have adopted the current concept, common in many countries,Australia included, of farming out post office business to other outlets eg food outlets, newsagents, petrol stations as in UK and small shops. Extremely difficult to find anywhere to purchase stamps/very sad and deeply disappointing.

My much loved hobby seems to be going down the drain, as I suspect many small countries will slowly withdraw from issuing stamps altogether. Thanks a lot INTERNET!
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Panterra »

aerogi wrote:But I would prefer if my country (Belgium) would do the same, and only issuing some definitive stamps.

Now they are issuing way too many stamps, that can only be bought on the website from bpost. Furthermore almost all issues with stamps to use for postage within Belgium have a face value of '2', which is twice the normal price to send a letter which is 2,10 euro. They all come in 'minisheets' containing 5 stamps, thus each sheet costs 10,50 euro. And these stamps are impossible to get used. The yearly CEPT souvenir sheet is a massive 2x3 Europe, which is a massive 8,40 euro.

see the issues for this year here: https://www.bephila.be/fileadmin/Documents/PresentatieCollectie2019_NL_-_versieweb.pdf


...
Those Belgian commemoratives are wonderful (apart from the Princess 18th birthday, which is unfocussed).

What a shame they are not widely sold at shops for use on mail, and even more that they are not done in standard letter values! Wouldn't you think Postal administrators would have learned a few things by now?

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Panterra »

Image
Belgium 2019 Wonderful Pollinators set in minisheet.
What a great set! Carefully designed to appeal to five different groups of topical collectors, but unfortunately totally failing to be the standard letter rate of its origin country, and thus ensuring that they would get regular and widespread use on mail.

Get your act sorted, BPost. Your stamps are (mostly) pleasant and well-designed, but your style is questionable. These need to be widely sold in your outlets, and have each stamp the price for a standard letter, not double that!!

Thanks Aerogi for calling my attention to these. I'm a monarch butterfly breeder, so good to see these stamps.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by aerogi »

Panterra wrote:
Image
Belgium 2019 Wonderful Pollinators set in minisheet.
What a great set! Carefully designed to appeal to five different groups of topical collectors, but unfortunately totally failing to be the standard letter rate of its origin country, and thus ensuring that they would get regular and widespread use on mail.

Get your act sorted, BPost. Your stamps are (mostly) pleasant and well-designed, but your style is questionable. These need to be widely sold in your outlets, and have each stamp the price for a standard letter, not double that!!

Thanks Aerogi for calling my attention to these. I'm a monarch butterfly breeder, so good to see these stamps.
yeah, the designs are (mostly) great, but for postage within Belgium they are unfortunately not used. When I send letters for exchange and I have to use a '2' for postage, I prefer to use two different recent stamps of '1' instead of these.

And you cannot even buy these at official postal shops. Only through the philatelic website.

You have no idea how frustrating it is. Especially when I see that French, German, Swiss, British collectors do manage to get used recent for exchange.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by DJCMH »

Iceland released four stamps and a souvenir sheet today 12 Sept 2019. The four stamps are self-adhesive, the souvenir sheet is traditional gum (if I read the website correctly).
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Bicentenary of birth of author Jon Arnason. Face value ISK 230 (~US$1.85)
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Centenary of first aircraft flight in Iceland. Face value ISK 195 (~US$1.57)
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50th Anniversary of Icelandic Nurses Association. Face value ISK 195 (~US$1.57)
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SEPAC Issue : Traditional Residential Architecture. Face value ISK 250 (~US$2.01)
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Nature Day : Flora of the Tröllaskági Peninsula. Face value ISK 1100 (~US$8.80) [2 ISK 550 (~US$4.40) stamps in sheet]
Total Face value ISK 1980 (~US$15.86). Iceland's previous issue group was released on 11 April 2019, so considering five months between stamp issues, one would need to spend an average of ~US$3.20 per month since the last issue to buy this new set of issues.

For year 2019 to date, Iceland has issued 18 stamps and one souvenir sheet. Total Face value ISK 5740 (~US$46.00) so far for the year, making an average monthly cost of ~US$5.25 to be spent to keep up to date on Iceland new issues. Iceland's philatelic bureau does sell single stamps, there are no minimum quantities to purchase.

Iceland does have one more set of issues planned for 2019, to be released in I believe October.

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by Stewie1980 »

According to a news message on december 4th, the philatelic service has been moved to a new location.
https://stamps.postur.is/en/newsroom/news/details/2019/12/04 ... h-december

04. December 2019

Postphil closed due to relocation - no service on 5th and 6th December
Dear customer,

Postphil is moving and there will be no service on December 5th and 6th.

We are looking forward to opening again next week.

Our office opens again next week at Störhöfði 32 (Postal Center)
Note - There will be no store and no facilities to accommodate customers.

We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Best regards,

The staff at Postphil



So it has not been closed down as stated in earlier news items?!

New issue program was also announced:
https://stamps.postur.is/media/8462154/2020-issuing-plan_ensk.pdf

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by stampchris »

They published on Facebook that the 2020 new issue programme was coming soon, and here it is.

They appear to have gone to just two issue dates and a small reduction in stamp issues (similar to what Denmark has done). Interesting to see the Root Vegetable issue is listed as the first issue in a series of root vegetable stamps. Obviously they don't have to release the further issues, but it suggests there will be stamps for 2021 as well.
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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by erthur »

Check this link for an update on Iceland's upcoming stamp programme for 2020.

https://stamps.postur.is/media/8462154/2020-issuing-plan_ensk.pdf

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Re: Iceland Post, Stamp & Philatelic Dept. (Postphil) Abolis

Post by norvic »

Hmm. 21 and a miniature sheet.

For an 'ex-bureau' it's very active on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/icelandicstamps

Looks like their demise was announced prematurely.
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