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Because of my job as an English teacher in Thailand, it can be difficult for me to make a trip to the post office during business hours.  This morning, however, I was able to stop by the Phuket Philatelic Museum on my way to work and buy all of those issues that have been released since my last visit back in April.  In fact, the only item that was unavailable was the first day cover for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s 60th birthday.  I was surprised that they had today’s new release – a sheet of ten depicting Thai numerals – along with the first day cover.  Bangkok is getting much better at supplying the provinces!

I was able to buy three months’ worth of stamp singles, sets, souvenir sheets, and first day covers plus Thailand Post’s monthly stamp magazine – well illustrated but I can’t read a lick of it – all for 353 Thai baht.  That’s just a bit over $10 in U.S. currency.  Where else can you do that?

As I mentioned, the Thai numerals set was released today – 29 July – which happens to be National Thai Language Day.  According to Thailand Post’s quarterly new issue bulletin,  “Thai numbers constituting the numeric system in Thai is considered to be one of the national identities.  Their curvy, wavy, and gentle lines indicate the values of Thai art, the beautiful cultural heritage and the prosperity of the nation for having its own numbers and alphabets for over 700 years.  The numbers were designed by King Ramkhamhaeng, who adapted them from the Khmer numbers, which were derived from the Indian Devanagari.

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“Currently, the government has a policy to encourage the use of Thai numbers in official documents, according to the resolution of the cabinet in 2000, along with the use of fonts in the computer and the internet.  School students are also encourage to familiarize with the written Thai numbers to uphold the value of this Thai heritage.  This stamp series is the continuing series of Thai Alphabets in 2011.  The images depict Thai numbers from 0 to 9, together with 10 colorful numeric symbols on 10 stamps, which may also be used as a learning media for children.  This series will be launched on the National Thai Language Day on this 29 July.”

Aside from use on Thai government documents, the Thai numerals are also used to denote room numbers in government-operated schools.  Knowing these numbers has helped me on numerous occasions when I’ve had to substitute at a new school and couldn’t find anybody to ask the location of classrooms.

I’m happy I was able to go to the post office today as they will be closed tomorrow and Friday for the twin Buddhist holidays of Wan Asanha Bucha and Wan Khao Phansa (the ban on selling and consuming alcohol begins at one minute past midnight tonight). 

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The Phuket Philatelic Museum will be closed all of next week as the staff will travel to Bangkok for the resumption of THAIPEX –- the National Stamp Exhibition – for the first time since 2011.  Held at the Grand Postal Building in Bang Rak, the show will be presided over by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and will see the release of several stamps during it’s run from 3-9 August.  Admission is free, by the way.

Unfortunately, this means that I probably won’t be able to have the ASEAN Day Muang Phuket Local Post covers dual-cancelled with the Phuket postmark on 8 August.  They are receptive to my doing such things at the Phuket Philatelic Museum but counter clerks at the regular post office deny this sort of service.  It’s a bit of a shame as Thailand Post is issuing a very nice ASEAN Day stamp of their own next Saturday and I’d planned to make a few special first day covers.  We’ll see what happens…

ASEAN Day 2015 Souvenir Sheet-final

Happy Collecting!

SAM_6714An odd mail day – five philatelic orders received but only one stamp amongst them.  Also, the envelope from the UK was enclosed in a clear plastic Thailand Post “body bag” as it was damaged in transit.  The left side was torn away and somebody patched it with tape – on the inside!  The result was that much of the enclosure was stuck to that tape.  Luckily, the item (a small cover) wasn’t nor were the stamps on the cover.  There was a nice variety of items – a stamp, a cover, a maximum card, an aerogramme, and a book.

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The sole stamp is a German semi-postal, Scott #B201, issued on 11 January 1942 to mark that year’s Stamp Day.  I’m starting to put together a topical collection honoring the “hobby of kings” and the Stamp Day releases by Germany, Austria, and Afghanistan provide many examples.  Looks like I need to rescan this one as it appears a bit blurry (I’ve been having a few scanner problems with latest build of Windows 10 Insider Preview).

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One of my departures from the mainstream of philately is the collection of certain local posts, particularly the carriage labels of Lundy Island in England’s Bristol Channel.  I was initially drawn to these by the many designs featuring puffins, a bird I’ve always been enamored of.  Occasionally, I’ll come across related material such as this cover bearing a British stamp – Scott #1239 – with a Lundy Island pictorial cancellation applied on the first day of issue, 17 January 1989.  The 19p stamp is the lowest value in a set of four commemorating the centenary of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the establishment of the Wild Bird Protection Act.

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Charles Lindbergh was one of my heroes when I was a boy living in rural Tennessee.  I must have read The Spirit Of St. Louis a half-dozen times in my teens and watched the movie starring Jimmy Stewart every time it was shown on local TV.  For my eleventh birthday, my mother purchased a membership in the Postal Commemorative Society and the first cover I received was the one bearing the stamp marking the 50th anniversary of his historic New York to Paris flight.  I affixed a copy of that stamp onto the title page of my paperback copy of The Spirit Of St. Louis.  Not long afterwards, my father and I embarked on one of our annual summertime motorcycle-camping trips – journeying from Kansas to Ontario and back this particular time – and made a special point of stopping at Little Falls, Lindbergh’s boyhood home in the wilds of Minnesota.

However, it’s only been relatively recently that I’ve begun seeking out stamps and other philatelic items honoring Lindbergh.  I did have all of the various issues released by the U.S. but somehow I’d neglected the many foreign stamps.  I particularly like this maximum card illustrating the famous plane; Scott #530 was part of a set of six released by St. Thomas and Prince on 21 December 1979 portraying the history of aviation (souvenir sheets in the same serious had been previously issued in mid-September).

I plan to do a full write-up of my Lindbergh-themed collection once I’ve obtained a cover flown by the Minnesotan aviator himself…

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Lately, I’ve been collecting many of the stamps issued for the British protectorate of Aden and now have about have of those listed in the Scott catalogue.  Scott doesn’t list postal stationery items for countries outside of the United States but I was happy to add this aerogramme to my collection.  Released in 1959, it was the last to be released by the colony.

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Yet another book added to my philatelic bookshelf, The Queen’s Stamps is a beautifully-illustrated history of Great Britian’s Royal Philatelic Collection and the stamps it contains.  Looking forward to reading this one but it may have to wait awhile; I’ve been buying so many books lately that there is now a significant backlog!

Happy Collecting!

Allenstein COA-cropAllentstein Flag 1

Allenstein (1920)

LOCATION: East Prussia
AREA:  4,457 sq. mi.
POPULATION:  540,000 (1920 est.)
CAPITAL:  Allenstein

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED:  Overprinted Germany 3 April 1920

CURRENCY:
100 Pfennig = 1 Mark

Allenstein was a district in East Prussia centered upon the city of the same name (currently the Polish city of Olsztyn) which overprinted German stamps in April 1920 to publicize a self-determination vote known as a plebiscite.  The name is German for “castle on the Alle River”, construction of which was begun by Teutonic knights in 1347 and completed fifty years later.  Since 1999, the city has been the capital of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in northeastern Poland; the river is now known as the Łyna.

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The area has changed hands numerous times throughout its history.  It was captured by the Kingdom of Poland during the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War in 1410, and again in 1414 during the Hunger War, but it was returned to the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights after hostilities ended.  Allenstein joined the Prussian Confederation in 1440 and rebelled against the Teutonic Knights in 1454 upon the outbreak of the Thirteen Years’ War, requesting protection from the Polish Crown. Although the Teutonic Knights captured the town the following year, it was retaken by Polish troops in 1463. The Second Peace of Thorn in 1466 designated Allenstein and the Bishopric of Warmia as part of Royal Prussia under the sovereignty of the Crown of Poland.

Castle at Allenstein, completed 1397 (postcard)

The astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus lived at the castle as administrator of both Allenstein and Mehlsack (now Pieniężno) from 1516 to 1521 and was in charge of the defenses of Allenstein and Warmia during the Polish-Teutonic War of 1519–21.  Allenstein was sacked by Swedish troops in both 1655 and 1708 during the Polish-Swedish wars, and the town’s population was nearly wiped out in 1710 by epidemics of bubonic plague and cholera.

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The town was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1772 during the First Partition of Poland. A Prussian census recorded a population of 1,770 people, predominantly farmers, and Allenstein was administered within the Province of East Prussia. It was visited by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807 after his victories over the Prussian Army.  The town became part of the German Empire in 1871 during the Prussian-led unification of Germany. In 1905, Allenstein became the capital of Regierungsbezirk Allenstein, a government administrative region in East Prussia. From 1818 to 1910, the community was administered within the East Prussia Allenstein District, after which it became an independent city.

During the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Allenstein used stamps of Prussia, the North German Confederation and Germany.

Many inhabitants of the region had Polish roots and were influenced by Polish culture; the last official German census in 1910 classified them ethnically as Poles or Masurians. During the period of the German Empire, harsh Germanization measures were enacted in the region.

Allenstein was captured by troops of the Russian Empire shortly after the start of World War I in 1914, but it was recovered by the Imperial German Army in the Battle of Tannenberg. The battle actually took place much closer to Allenstein than to Tannenberg (now Stębark), but the victorious Germans, having been defeated in the medieval battle of Tannenberg, named it as such for propaganda purposes.

Allenstein Postal Card circa 1898

Following World War I, the Polish delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, led by Roman Dmowski, made a number of demands in relation to those areas which were part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1772 and despite their protests, supported by the French, President Woodrow Wilson and the other allies agreed that plebiscites according to self-determination should be held.  A number of disputed areas were placed under temporary League of Nations administration, pending plebiscites to determine which nation the populace wished to join.

Allenstein Foot Artillery, 1917

At the time, Allenstein had a population estimated at 540,000 mixed Germanic and Slavic people.  Although Allenstein had a sizable Slavic minority, these people were not Poles. They were Masurians who shared the Lutheran faith with the German-speaking Prussians.

The French and the British were looking for ways to strengthen the new Polish republic as a bulwark against the Soviet threat. The British and French tried to attach Allenstein to Poland, but the Germans objected strongly, so the East Prussian Plebiscite (Abstimmung in Ostpreußen) was called.  The vote in Allenstein was scheduled to take place on 11 July 1920 and was conducted by the German authorities.

Many German citizens of Polish ethnicity of the region voted for Germany out of fear that if the area was allocated to Poland it would soon fall under Soviet rule. According to several Polish sources the German side engaged in mass persecution of Polish activists, their Masurian supporters, going as far as engaging in regular hunts and murder against them to influence the vote. Additionally the organization of the plebiscite was influenced by Great Britain, which at the time supported Germany, fearing the increased power of France in post-war Europe.

Allenstein Postcard 1911

Articles 94 to 97 of the Treaty of Versailles defined the Allenstein Plebiscite Area as “the western and northern boundary of Allenstein Government Region to its junction with the boundary between the districts of Oletzko  and of Angerburg; thence, the northern boundary of the Oletzko District to its junction with the old frontier of East Prussia.” 

A five-member Inter-Allied Administrative and Plebiscite Commission for Allenstein was appointed to represent the League of Nations.  British and Italian troops under the command of this commission soon after 12 February 1920.  The local police forces were placed under the control of two British officers.  There was also a battalion from the Royal Irish Regiment and an Italian regiment stationed at Lyck (Ełk). Civil and municipal administration was continued under the existing German authorities who were responsible to the Commission for the duration of the plebiscite period.

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On 18 February 1919 the Allenstein-based Commission decreed that the Polish language would gain equal rights to the German language in the region.  The Commission had to eventually remove both the mayor of Allenstein and an officer of Sicherheitswehr after a Polish banner at the local consulate of Poland was defaced; the Polish side expressed gratitude for Allied protection of Polish rights and underlined its desire for peaceful coexistence with German-speaking population.

In April 1920 during a Polish theatrical performance in Deuthen (Dajtki) near Allenstein, ethnic Poles were attacked by pro-German activists; on the demands of the Allied Commission, the German police escorted Polish actors but ignored the attackers.  There were pogroms against ethnic Poles that month in the towns of Bischofsburg (Biskupiec) and Lötzen (Giżycko), the latter of which saw Italian forces sent to protect the Polish population.  In May several attacks on ethnic Poles were reported in Osterode (Ostróda), and included attacks on co-workers of the Masurian Committee.

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Shortly before the plebiscite, pro-Polish activists decided to boycott the preparations for electoral commissions to protest unequal treatment of the Polish and German side and pro-German terror.  This allowed German officials to falsify lists with eligible voters, writing down names of dead people or people who weren’t eligible to vote.

The plebiscite asked the voters whether they wanted their homeland to remain in East Prussia, which was part of Weimar Germany, or instead become part of Poland (the alternatives for the voters were not Poland / Germany, but Poland / East Prussia, which itself was no sovereign nation). All inhabitants of the plebiscite areas older than 20 years of age or those who were born in this area before 1 January 1905, were entitled to return to vote.

During the plebiscite Germans transported pro-German voters to numerous locations allowing them to cast votes multiple times. In Allenstein, cards with pro-Polish votes were simply taken away by a German official who declared that they were “invalid” and presented voters with cards for the pro-German side.  Voters were observed by German police in the polling stations.  Pro-Polish voting cards were often hidden or taken away and Polish controllers were removed from polling stations.  A large number of ethnic Poles – out of fear of repressions – didn’t attend the plebiscite at all.

The plebiscite ended on 11 July 1920 with a majority of the voters voting for East Prussia with only a small part of the territory awarded to Poland, the majority remaining with Germany.  The results were a hugely lopsided  362,209 votes (97.8%) for East Prussia and 7,980 votes (2.2%) for Poland.  After the plebiscite, attacks on ethnic Polish population commenced by pro-German mobs saw ethnically Polish priests and politicians driven from their homes.

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A total of twenty-eight stamps were issued to publicize the Allenstein plebiscite, with the first appearing on 3 April 1920.  These were German stamps overprinted with either of two styles. The first fourteen stamps were overprinted with “PLEBISCITE / OLSZTYN / ALLENSTEIN” while the second fourteen read “TRAITÉ / DE / VERSAILLES / ART. 94 et 95” referring to the Articles 94 and 95 of the treaty.   International use of the overprinted stamps ceased from 20 August 1920 and German stamps were used thereafter.

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Following the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, the Poles and Jews in Allenstein were increasingly persecuted. The city was made the seat of the Allenstein Militärische Bereich by the Wehrmacht in 1933. It was the home of the 11th Infanterie Division, the 11th Artillery Regiment, and the 217th Infanterie Division.  After the German invasion of Poland that started the Second World War, the Wehrmacht established an Area Headquarters for Wehrkreis I on 12 October 1939.  It controlled the sub-areas of Allenstein, Lötzen (now Giżycko) and Zichenau (Ciechanów). Beginning in 1939, members of the Polish-speaking minority, especially members of the Union of Poles in Germany, were deported to German death camps.

Allenstein was plundered and burnt by the invading Soviet Red Army on 22 January 1945 as the Eastern Front reached the city. Allenstein’s German population evacuated the region or were subsequently expelled. On 2 August 1945, the city was placed under Polish administration by the Soviets according to the Potsdam Agreement and officially renamed to Olsztyn. Polish stamps replaced those of Germany at that time.  In October 1945, the German population of Olsztyn was expelled by Order of the City Commanders of Olszty.

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The entire run of Allenstein stamps have a total value of US $49 unused, $105 mint never hinged and $91.90 used, according to the 2009 edition of the Scott catalogue.  The two most expensive single stamps are Scott #18 ($20 unused, $35 used) and Scott #4 ($5.50 unused, $9.50 used).  This is a 15-pfennig stamp in violet brown in each of the different overprint varieties which was issued some time after the initial 3 April 1920 release, replacing the 15pf dark violet shade.

Postmarked on the day of the Allenstein Plebiscite, 11 July 1920

Scott does list a few minor varieties – double and inverted overprints – and mentions that several other denominations of German stamps received the plebiscite overprints but weren’t actually issued.  These appear on the collector market from time to time and the Scott catalogue values them at between $75 hinged and $175 never hinged.

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Allenstein was the stamp issuer that first attracted me to early German stamps.  I currently have sixteen stamps in my collection, four of which are duplicates.  It won’t be difficult to obtain the remaining issues and Allenstein may just be my first “complete country” (Bohemia and Moravia is close behind).

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Happy Collecting!

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After a week or so of the barest of trickles, the floodwaters opened today and once again a nice-sized stack of mail awaited my return from work.  It was a bit of a card-oriented day – only one short set of “real” stamps and a couple of souvenir folders of local post issues from Lundy Island – and Great Britain dominated the senders’ countries.  In all, five pieces of mail from the UK, one from France, and two parcels from the U.S.

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The Qu’aiti State in Hadhramaut counts as a “new” country in my A Stamp From Everywhere collection as the sheikdom in Aden Protectorate had changed its name from the Qu’aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla.  These four stamps are the lowest values (Scott #29-32)  in a set of twelve released on 1 September 1955, the first with the new name inscribed. 

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Lundy Island is probably my favorite of the local posts that I collect.  The island itself is quite interesting and I particularly like the stamps portraying puffins which is also the “currency” used.  Some of the earlier issues portrayed the number of puffins equal to the stamp’s denomination.  Today, I received two similar souvenir folders – this one has the complete 1982 definitive set while the other has the three-stamp issue marking Winston Churchill’s death in 1965.

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Here we have a maxi-card bearing the lovely stamp issued by Monaco in 1977 marking the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic, an addition to my “Pioneers of American Aviation” topical collection.

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This year marks the 175th anniversary of the world’s first stamp, the famed Penny Black.  A number of countries have issued stamps commemorating this anniversary but I have yet to obtain a single one (I celebrated by purchasing an 1840 Penny Black with my initials – MJ – as the control letters).  However, I just received this souvenir card issued at London’s Europhilex stamp show a couple of months ago.  It illustrates Sir Rowland Hill’s original sketches for what became the Penny Black.

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Although I am adopted, I am proud of my adoptive family’s name and wish that more was known of its early history.  The story that I remembering hearing as a child was that the “a” in Joachim was dropped when my grandfather emigrated to the United States (I believe through Ellis Island).  So I am always on the lookout for philatelic items bearing either of the spellings.  This card is one of a lot of posted-on-board items from Danish ferries.  I will write about them in some detail – starting with the M/F Prins Joachim, of course – on my postcard blog in the near future.

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Finally, I received three new rubber stamps for my own little local post – Muang Phuket LP.  The one on the left was intended as a first day of issue postmark for the ASEAN Day issue (8 August) but I ordered the 2-inch size which is too big; I’ll probably use it as a cachet instead and “cancel” the stamps using my generic “wave” postmark.  A tuk-tuk is a local mode of transportation; my rubber stamp supplier had a buy-one get-one for free promotion which is why I have two sizes of that…

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Happy Collecting!

Algeria COAAlgeria Flag

Algeria (1924-1958; 1962-Date)

LOCATION:  North Africa
AREA:  919,595 sq. mi. (2,381,741 sq. km)
Population:  39,500,000 (2015 est.)
GOVERNMENT:  Republic
CAPITAL:  Algiers

FIRST STAMPS:  France from 1849
FIRST STAMPS ISSUED: 
8 May 1924

CURRENCY:
100 Centimes = 1 Franc (1924-1964)
100 Centimes = 1 Dinar (1964-date)

Algeria is the largest country in Africa, situated in the northern part of the continent on the Mediterranean coast.  The country was named after the capital city of Algiers, deriving from the Arabic الجزائر (al-Jazā’ir, “the islands”).  Today, the official language is Arabic, although about 40% speaks Berber and French is widely understood, being the language of choice for business and university-level education.Map of AlgeriaRemnants of hominid occupation dating to 200,000 BC have been found in the Ain Hanech region in Saïda Province and Neanderthal tool makers produced hand axes in styles similar to those found in the Levant dating to 43,000 BC.  Neolithic civilizations marked by animal domestication and agriculture developed in the Saharan and coastal regions between 11,000 and 2000 BC.  The various Northern African peoples eventually coalesced into a distinct indigenous population that came to be called the Berbers.  

Phoenician and Carthaginian settlements were established along the coast beginning around 600 BC but Berber power grew following the destruction of the city of Carthage in 146 BC.  Two Berber kingdoms were established in Numidia by the second century BC and were annexed by the Roman Empire in 24 AD.  The Romans ruled the region of Algeria for several centuries; it was one of the breadbaskets of the empire, exporting cereals and other agricultural products.  The Arabs conquered Algeria in the mid-seventh century.

Ruins at Djemila, Algeria

In the early 16th century, Spain constructed fortified outposts called presidios in the coastal regions of Algeria, taking control of several coastal towns.  Spain built a fort on one of the rocky islets in the harbor at Algiers in 1510.  Turkish privateer brothers Aruj and Hayreddin Barbarossa moved their base of operations to Algiers in 1516 and conquered the city from the Spaniards.  With the aid of a force of 2000 janissaries provided by the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Hayreddin Barbarossa conquered the whole area between Constantine and Oran in 1518; the city of Oran remained in Spanish hands until 1791.  The Ottomans ruled Algeria for the next five centuries.

Santa Cruz de Oran, Algeria

Despite usurpation, military coups and occasional mob rule, the day-to-day operation of Ottoman government in Algeria was remarkably orderly.  One major threat, however, was in the form of Barbary pirates who preyed on Christian and non-Islamic shipping in the western Mediterranean, capturing between one and 1.25 million Europeans as slaves between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Two pirate ships from Algiers sailed as far as Iceland in July 1627, raiding and capturing slaves as they went.  In 1629, pirate ships from Algeria raided the Faroe Islands.  Piracy on American vessels resulted in the First (1801-1805) and Second Barbary Wars (1815).

It is not known when postal services were first established in Algeria but letters sent by Europeans in Algiers date from 1690.  A postal marking from Spanish-controlled Oran is known from 1749.

French bombardment of Algiers, 1830

In 1830, the French invaded and captured Algiers followed by a conquest which lasted until 1848 and resulted in considerable bloodshed.   In 1834, France annexed the occupied areas of Algeria, which had an estimated Muslim population of about two million, as a colony. Colonial administration in the occupied areas – the so-called régime du sabre (government of the sword) – was placed under a governor general, a high-ranking army officer invested with civil and military jurisdiction, who was responsible to the minister of war. Marshal Bugeaud, who became the first governor-general, headed the conquest, making a systemic use of torture and following a “scorched earth” policy.  A period of pacification followed until 1871 and then a period of peace from 1872-1890 before the conquest of the Saharan oases.  Civil administration by France did not reach the desert provinces until 1902.

Biskra, Algeria in 1899

Regular postal services were introduced by France in 1830 when the military postal organization Tresor et Postes was established in Algiers.  This was opened to civilians in 1835 but still used military handstamps until 1839 after which datestamps with town names became standard.  The service expanded into the interior as French control spread.  There were 295 post offices in operation by 1880.

Initial postal services were by courier and by coastal steamboat service operated by the French navy which passed to Messageries Maritimes in 1866.  Starting in 1862, railways began slowly moving forward with the Constantine-Philippeville line opening in 1870 and Algiers-Oran the following year. 

Stamps of France were used for mail in Algeria starting on 16 January 1849 and were initially obliterated by dumb grille which are only identifiable as originating from Algeria when on cover.  Starting in 1852, these were replaced in 1852 by the so called “petit chiffres” (small figures), a lozenge of dots surrounding a number.  The “grande chiffres” (large figures) with new post office numbers replaced the small figures after 1863.  The numerical cancellations were replaced by circular datestamps incorporating the name of the post office from April 1876.

Algeria Scott #P1

On 8 May 1924, French stamps and postal stationery overprinted with “ALGÉRIE” were issued for the country.   Some thirty-two types were issued over the next two years.  The first stamps inscribed with the country’s name appeared in 1926, consisting of four typographed designs showing local scenes.  This series ultimately consisted of thirty-five types, ranging in denomination from 1 centime to 20 francs.  Algeria’s first commemorative stamp marked the centenary of French control and depicted the Bay of Algiers on a 10-franc value.

Postcard commemorating centenary of French control of Algeria

Following the armistice between France and Germany in 1940, Algeria continued to be governed by France.  The Allies first landed in North Africa on 8 November 1942 and the Comité Français de Libération Nationale (French Committee of National Liberation) took over the administration of Algeria on 13 March 1943.  Fezzan was captured by the Free French Forces of Chad in 1943 and used the stamps of Algeria between 1943 and 1946.

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After the Second World War, dissatisfaction among the Muslim population, which lacked political and economic status in the colonial system, gave rise to demands for greater political autonomy, and eventually independence, from France. A declaration that Algeria was to become an integral province of France led to open war on 1 November 1954.  The Algerian War led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Algerians and hundreds of thousands of injuries.

Postcard from Algeria

The use of Algerian-imprinted stamps ceased during the war and French stamps were used from 22 July 1958 until 27 June 1962.  The war lasted until a cease-fire on 18 March 1962. By referendum Algeria became independent on 3 July 1962.  Locally-applied overprints reading “EA” on stocks of French stamps in a wide variety of colors and typefaces were used from 4 July 1962 until 31 October 1962.  These were replaced the following day by a set of five designs showing local scenes and inscribed “REPUBLIQUE ALGERIENNE” in both French and Arabic which was the first appearance of Arabic on Algerian stamps.

Algerian traditional music

Today, Algeria is a semi-presidential republic of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes. Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been President since 1999.  The country supplies large amounts of natural gas to Europe, and energy exports are the backbone of the economy. According to OPEC Algeria has the 17th largest reserves of oil in the world, and the second largest in Africa, while it has the 9th largest reserves of natural gas. Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa.  With an area of 2,381,741 square kilometers (919,595 square miles), 90% of which is desert, Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world and the largest in Africa.

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My 2009 edition of the Scott catalogue lists a total of 1605 Algerian stamps.  These are divided amongst 1388 general issue stamps, 115 semi-postals, 23 air mail releases, three air post semi-postal stamps, 74 postage due varieties, and two stamps for parcel post.  Algeria is considered to be a fairly inexpensive country to collect with the majority of issues valued at less than US $1.  The most expensive stamp listed is Scott #66, the 10-franc denomination issued in 1927 picturing the tomb of Sidi Yacoub, valued at $52.50 in 2009.

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In addition to the Scott-listed stamps, French postal stationery items consisting of envelopes, newspaper wrappers, letter cards, and postal cards were overprinted “ALGÉRIE” and issued in 1924. A total of eleven different newspaper wrappers were produced for use in Algeria between 1924 and 1943, four of these were by overprinting French newspaper wrappers and two by surcharging Algerian newspaper wrappers. These were followed by postal stationery printed for Algeria in 1927. Envelopes, newspaper wrappers and letter cards were discontinued in the early 1940s.  Upon independence in 1962, Algeria issued a single postal card plus aerogrammes in 1976.  There are also the Algerian Railways (Parcel Post) issues in five pictorial designs – Gare de Philippeville, Renault Railcar, Micheline Railcar in an Oasis, Viaduct, Gare de Bone – which are unlisted in Scott.

Algeria Scott #1

I currently have seventeen stamps from Algeria, including Scott #1 – eleven of the general issues, five airmails and one newspaper stamp (Scott #1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 173, 175, 176, 179, 182, 284, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, and P1).  With so many utilizing the French penchant for great design and the low cost involved, I would like to add more of these attractive stamps to my collection.  I still don’t have one which I would call the “perfect choice” to represent Algeria in my A Stamp From Everywhere collection.

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No stamps arrived in the mail today, but I did receive two additions to my slowly-expanding philatelic library.  An American History Album: The Story of the United States Told Through Stamps is a beautifully-illustrated book using stamps to explain aspects of American history and society.  Dictionary of World Stamps: Philatelic Atlas of the World is akin to a condensed version of Rossiter and Flower’s Stamp Atlas, the “dictionary” being an indexed gazetteer of the locations pinpointed on the maps in the first half of the book.  Both were obtained at steep discount and significantly reduced shipping from charitable organizations in the UK.

DictionaryWorldStamps001

Trial 001d - ThailandTrial 002b - Indonesia

 

Trial 003b - SingaporeTrial 004b - Malaysia

 

Trial 005b - LaosTrial 006b - Myanmar

Trial 007b - PhillippinesTrial 008a - Cambodia

Trial 009a - VietnamTrial 010a - Brunei

Trial 011b - ASEAN

ASEAN Day 2015:  Member States Flags

First Day of Issue:  8 August 2015

 

TECHNICAL DETAILS:

DIMENSIONS: 1.75 x 1.16 inches / 40mm x 30mm
PERFORATION:  Imperforate
GUM:  Self-adhesive
DENOMINATION:  50 satang
DESIGNS:  11
SHEET FORMAT:  12 stamps (3 x 4); 1 of each design, two of ASEAN flag
PRINTING METHOD: Inkjet

 

It is with great pleasure that Muang Phuket Local Post announces a special stamp release in conjunction with ASEAN Day on 8 August.  Only the second MPLP issue of 2015, it is the largest issue yet – one stamp for each of the 10 member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations plus the ASEAN flag itself.  The stamps are imperforate, printed digitally on self-adhesive paper and will be released in a sheet of twelve featuring one each of the member states’ flags plus two of the official ASEAN flag.

ASEAN-2015-2

The ten members of ASEAN are:

  • Brunei dar Salaam
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • The Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

A very limited number of first day covers will be prepared, featuring MPLP stamps on the lower left side of the envelopes; a Thai stamp will be affixed in the upper right corner to receive Thailand Post’s Phuket hand-stamped postmark. 

Mint sets of the ASEAN Day issue may be obtained by sending a self-addressed envelope to:

                    MARK JOCHIM
                    Thanaporn 2 Guesthouse
                    8/1 Suthas Soi 2 #402
                    T. Talat Yai
                    A. Muang Phuket
                    83000
                    THAILAND

Please enclose a US $1 bill or the equivalent amount in mint postage stamps (64p for Great Britain, €0,92 for EU countries, etc.) to contribute towards postage costs for each set of eleven stamps. 

Requests for full sheets should be accompanied by an A5 or 5×7-inch SAE and US $2 or its equivalent in stamps. 

Operators of other local posts should feel free to send samples of their own local post stamps in equal exchange for MPLP stamps, no postage contribution required. 

Previous Muang Phuket Local Post stamps are used on the outer envelopes of all requests.

ASEAN Day 2015 Souvenir Sheet-final

AdenH000

This has been a slow mail week but today brought two orders – one from the UK and one from the United States.  The four stamps pictured above are from the Kathiri State of Seiyun which was in the Eastern Protectorate of Aden, a nation I’ve become rather fond of recently.  Unfortunately, I’m missing one of the UPU anniversary stamps as I was outbid on eBay in the last second!

USFDC001

The first day cover contains a block of four Scott #1098, issued in 1957 to honor teachers of America.  I’m slowly buying stamps portraying education as part of a collection I’m putting together to illustrate “My Life in Stamps”; I have been an English teacher in Thailand for almost nine years now. 

Albania COAAlbania Flag

Albania (1913-Date)

LOCATION: Southeastern Europe
AREA:  11,101 sq. mi.
Population:  2,893,005 (est. 2011)
GOVERNMENT:  Republic
CAPITAL:  Tirana

FIRST STAMPS:  Turkish, from 1870
FIRST STAMPS ISSUED:  October 1913

CURRENCY:
40 paras = 1 piastre or grosch; 100 qint = 1 franc (1913-1947)
100 qint = 1 lek (1947-1965)
100 older = 1 new lek (1965-date)

Albania is a republic in southeast Europe, bordering on the Adriatic Sea.  Formerly part of ancient Epirus, it was defeated by the Turks in the 14th century and became a province in the European portion of the Ottoman Empire.  A national hero, Scanderberg, rose up about 1443 and liberated Albania from Turkish control until the siege of Scutari in 1478.  During the period of Turkish control there were seven post offices in Albania each with its own special hand-stamp.  Frequently the hand-stamps were only used as arrival marks, and stamps were applied at the office of delivery.

Albania Map 1

Italy, as part of its policy of expansion in the Mediterranean opened post offices in Albania in 1902 which used Italian stamps overprinted ALBANIA and in Turkish currency. Offices were opened at Durazzo, Scutari and Valona. The first issue was replaced in 1909 by a further issue overprinted for each of the towns.

Albania did not take part in the first Balkan War in 1912-13, but declared its independence on 28 November 1912. This was confirmed by the Treaty of London, which ended the war.  The country issued its first stamps in October and November 1913 with overprints on various Turkish adhesives. The overprints featured a double-headed eagle and the legend SHQIPËNIA. “Shqipënia” would be the first of a large number of variations of the country’s name on Albanian stamps over the years. The first permanent series was released in December 1913, inscribed SHQIPËNIE E LIRË.

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However, the new country was to suffer immediate problems. Overrun by German, Serbian, Montenegrin, Greek, Bulgarian, Italian, French and Austrian troops during World War I, foreign forces remained in Albania until 1921.  Essad Pasha set up his own regime and issued stamps for central Albania. The Greeks also issued stamps in 1914 for Epirus and Northern Epirus, which they had occupied. To try to bring peace, the Dutch were asked to send a detachment of police. These used their own special stamps at their headquarters in Koritza. The Montenegrins had occupied Scutari. Postmarks of SCUTARI-SKADOR are found on the stamps of Montenegro and Albania. 

Stamps of this time included many different overprints, plus different inscriptions for the name of the country, including SHQIPËNIË, POSTA SHQYPTARE, POSTE SHQYPTARE, REPUBLIKA SHQIPTARE, and REP. SHQIPTARE. Others have no inscription at all, and may be identified by the prominent double-headed eagle.

The country fell into a state of anarchy when the prince and all members of the International Commission left Albania. Subsequently General Ferrero in command of Italian troops declared Albania an independent country. A constitution was adopted and a republican form of government was instituted which continued until 1928 when, by constitutional amendment, Albania was declared to be a monarchy. The President of the republic, Ahmed Zogu, became king of the new state.

Tirana_Old_Postcard

On 7 April 1939, Italy invaded Albania. King Zog fled but did not abdicate. The King of Italy acquired the crown. Stamps were issued almost immediately and were overprinted ‘Constituent Assembly 12 IV 1939 XVII’. This referred to the body who offered the crown of Albania to the King of Italy. The figure XVII refers to the 17th year of Fascist rule in Italy.  Italy did not enter World War II until June 1940.  After the fall of France it used Albania as its base for the invasion of Greece on 28 October 1940. The Greeks counterattacked and soon overran almost half of Albania. They issued stamps overprinted for southern Albania on 10 December 1940.

When Germany invaded Yugoslavia and Greece in April 1941, it returned the control of Albania to Italy. However, when Italy surrendered in September 1943, Germany immediately assumed the occupation of Albania. Stamps were again issued. These were from the Italian occupation overprinted.

In 1944 a guerilla leader, General Enver Hoxha, drove German forces from the country and proclaimed Albania to be a democratic republic on 22 November 1944. In January 1945 definitive stamps from the Italian occupation were further overprinted for the new republic.  Stamps in 1945 were issued inscribed QEVERIA DEMOKRATIKE E SHQIPNIS. In 1946, the new appellation REPUBLIKA POPULLORE E SHQIPERISE was used, first as an overprint, then as an inscription on new stamp issues. This was subsequently shortened on some stamps to a variation of RP E SHQIPERISE, SHQIPERIA, SHQIPËRIJA, etc.

Albania

In January 1946, a communist people’s republic was proclaimed. At first it appeared that Albania would become a satellite of Yugoslavia, but it maintained its independence, under Hoxha’s repressive regime. In 1960, because of the Soviet Union’s de-Stalinization campaign, Albania broke with the Soviet Union and aligned its foreign policy with that of the People’s Republic of China. In 1978 China’s liberalization brought a break between that country and Albania. From 1978 to 1991, Albania was one of the most economically undeveloped nations in Europe and one of the most isolated nations in the world.

In 1991, Albania held its first multi-party elections and became a Socialist Republic on 29 April 1991 with an elected President and a new Constitution. Since 1991, with the collapse of communism in Europe, Albania has instituted a democratic republican government. Economic reverses in 1997 threatened the country with a return to the anarchy that has characterized so much of its history.  Rioting broke out in January 1997 following the collapse of a number of pyramid investment schemes. Anti-Government protests were followed by open rebellion and a State of Emergency was declared in March. The attacks on the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo by the Serbs led to a general move by the refugees into Albania.

saranda-albania-66_1

As of 2011, the capital, Tirana, was home to 421,286 of the country’s 2,893,005 people within the city limits, 763,634 in the metropolitan area.[ Tirana is also the financial capital of the country. Free-market reforms have opened the country to foreign investment, especially in the development of energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania provides a universal health care system and free primary and secondary education.  The country is an upper-middle income economy with the service sector dominating the country’s economy, followed by the industrial sector and agriculture.

By my count*, there are a total of 3229 Albanian stamps listed in the 2009 Scott Catalogue.  Of these, 3064 are general issues, 40 semi-postals (the charity going mainly to health-related organizations such as the Albanian Red Cross), 79 airmail stamps, three special delivery stamps and 43 postage dues.  The early issues tend to be priced quite high.

I have exactly one stamp from Albania in my collection. Scott #1057 was released on 25 August 1967, the 80q value in a set of eight portraying regional costumes.  This stamp shows a man and woman from Dropullit. 

Albania001

*Yes, I am attempting to physically count all the stamps in the 2009 scott catalogue,  look for a blog article highlighting my reasons and methods for such an undertaking (and a look at the spreadsheet I’m developing to track stamp issuers and their emissions).

StampsSiameseKings001

Stamps of the Siamese Kings 1876-1948: A Journey Through Three Reigns

Michael A. Jones
Silkworm Books: Chiang Mai, Thailand (2003)
184 pages

 

I’ve been buying a few stamp-related books lately, mostly through eBay and other online vendors.  It is indeed a rare occurrence when I find such a book in my local bookshop.  Even when I do, they are usually priced far above my budget as any book written in English – even when published in Thailand – is deemed a “foreign import” and stickered accordingly.  But I couldn’t resist this tiny volume despite its price of 710 Thai baht (approximately USD $21).

Stamps of the Siamese Kings is a survey of those stamps issued in the Kingdom that became Thailand starting with the early local post stamps used in the Royal Palace and continuing through to the last stamps bearing the name “Siam”, overprints issued in January 1955.  Each stamp is presented in color along with issue dates and other details, presented with anecdotes of what was happening in the country when the particular sets were initially released.

StampsSiameseKings002

While not at a level a true specialist might require, the book goes a long way towards clarifying the different issues, particularly the complex provisional overprints of 1889-1899.  Back of the book stamps – airmails and revenues – are included as are the Thai occupation of Malaya issues.  There is even a brief section showing cancellations used on early Siamese stamps; the Malayan states’ offices (Straits Settlements) are to be expected but I was surprised by usages in both Singapore and Hong Kong.

StampsSiameseKings003

No catalogue numbers or values are listed but those are easy enough to pencil in if one feels the need.  All in all, it’s a perfect companion to the Scott catalogue as well as those specializing in Thailand such as the catalogue published by International House of Stamps in Bangkok.  Those simply interested in Thai history will find it just as interesting as collectors of the Kingdom’s stamps.

StampsSiameseKings004

Happy Reading!