Marco Polo Project Saint John New Brunswick

Joint Issue Stamp from Australia
Click image for larger view

Marco Polo stamp to sail
on Joint issue with Australia

Story by David Williams

   The Marco Polo stamp, which Canada Post is scheduled to issue March 19, will appear on a unique miniature sheet that will be a special joint stamp issue with Australia.

   According to a report in Canadian Stamp News, the miniature sheet will contain two stamps, one a newly-designed Canadian 46-cent Marco Polo stamp and the other the Australian 85-cent Marco Polo stamp that was first issued early last year.

    Each stamp will show a different painting of the Marco Polo in full sail.

   It will be the first time that the two British Commonwealth countries have had a joint stamp issue.

    And how's this for a new wrinkle? Apparently the sheet will be printed in Canada, so that the Australian stamp will end up with different perforations than when it was issued Down Under in January of 1998.

    This will certainly make the stamp unique. Collectors will be hard-pressed to remember another case where a stamp was issued and then was issued again more than a year later by another postal administration with different perforations and in a sheet with another stamp of a different design.

    The Canadian stamp will also be issued in panes of 16 stamps.

    A special launch ceremony is being planned for the stamp in Saint John where the keel for the famous clipper ship was laid in the building yard of John Smith 150 years ago. No details have been released yet by Canada Post.

   Meantime, it looks like there will be a lot of hoopla in Australia, where the stamps, will also be released during the Australia 99 Stamp Expo, which is being held March 18 to 24 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

    Australia is also to issue a joint stamp sheet with Ireland that features another unique sailing vessel. It will depict the Polly Woodside, a barque built in Ireland.

   The Marco Polo is probably the better known of the two vessels. It cut a week off the previous record for a run from England to Australia, completing the round trip in less than six months and earning it the title "Fastest Ship in the World". The Polly Woodside first sailed between the United Kingdom and South America before moving to an Australia-New Zealand route in the early part of this century. The vessel is now a permanent maritime museum moored outside the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

    Both the Australia-Canada stamp sheet and the Australia-Ireland sheet are scheduled to be released in Australia on March 19.

    Most of the information about the two joint stamp sheets was revealed in the latest issue of Canadian Stamp News, the national newspaper for collectors, prompting Canada Post to scramble to release some details of its own ahead of schedule. The stamp newspaper apparently got much of its information from the Australian post office. It appears that, once again, Australia got the jump on us, as it did when it issued the first Marco Polo stamp last year.

   The Canada Stamp News article showed the Canadian stamp with the Marco Polo sailing toward the viewer with what looks like Partridge Island and its lighthouse in the left background. Canada Post confirmed that the stamp features the painting by marine artist J. Franklin Wright, a work which shows the Marco Polo under sail, leaving Saint John.

    The 85-cent Australian stamp shows the clipper ship side on and under full sail. First issued on Jan. 15, 1998, it was one of a set of four stamps brought out under the theme "The Romance of Sail". It will not be valid for use as postage in Canada.

    Canada Post says it will issue 16 million Marco Polo stamps in panes of 16 stamps and one million souvenir sheets of the Canadian and Australian stamps. Saint John will be the official first day cover cancellation site.

The article below were taken from the Saint John Times Globe newspaper.