The ugly duckling's penguin tormentor

28th October 2005 at 01:00
Antarctic wildlife does not feature prominently in the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. When the ugly duckling was mocked by fellow birds for its ungainliness, few illustrators included a penguin among its tormentors.

But a new set of stamps, marking the golden jubilee of Falkland infants and junior school, has relocated four of Andersen's more famous stories to the Falkland Islands.

The school is the only sizable primary in the British outpost. And the local philatelic bureau has decided to mark its 50th anniversary alongside the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Andersen, by issuing commemorative stamps. For 30p, Falklands letter-writers can see Andersen's snowman sitting with a sheepdog outside a local house. The Little Mermaid pines near a group of schoolchildren on the 18p stamp. The pound;1 edition shows Thumbelina sitting on a local flower.

And the 45p stamp depicts the ugly duckling being mocked by a collection of more attractive birds, including a Falklands penguin. The Falkland school logo appears in the right-hand corner of each stamp, underneath the fairytale images. Anton Livermore, of the Falklands philatelic bureau, said: "It's about literacy. Seeing their school's logo on a stamp may encourage children to write letters." He also hopes it will encourage the PlayStation generation to take an interest in philately.

The stamps will be sold for a year. They are being launched today, and local post offices will use a one-off postmark designed by a local primary pupil: an adult penguin teaching three smaller penguins. Nicholas Barrett, Falkland head, said: "It's a bit different. I write school letters on headed notepaper, but it'll be a real thrill to put our own, personalised stamp on the envelope. Not many schools can do that."

Damaris D'Avdino, 10, said: "It's great. People all over the world will be able to see part of my school - well, the logo at least. The stamps are really colourful and nice, just like the islands."

Kyle Johnhobman, also 10, said: "They have really nice pictures on them, it's really great, our school is going to be famous."

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