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Earlier this month, my teaching agency asked me to substitute teach in a large high school for the seven weeks remaining in the term.  As a result, my workload increased to the point that I’ve had very little time to devote to working on my collections or writing about them.  Unfortunately, the school doesn’t even have an Internet connection so articles here will be few and far between until early October.

In fact, I’ve only received one philatelic item in the mail over the course of the past two weeks – this unused copy of the one-cent green Hawaii stamp featuring Princess Likelike, Scott #55, issued in 1893 with a red Provisional Government overprint. 

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I did receive a trickle of Postcrossing postcards over the past few days – one from the Ukraine, one from Russia and my first piece of mail from Turkey.  A card also arrived from my sister who had been vacationing along the California Pacific coast.  Her card from Avila Beach featured several stamps from the Harry Potter booklet – again, sadly they missed cancellation.  I will (eventually) write about these and a few other recently-arrived cards on “Please, Mr. Postman!” 

Scan_20150814 (41)I had been winding-down my online stamp purchases but that has picked up a bit in the past few days.  I picked up a nice set of classic Mauritius stamps, inspired by my current reading of Helen Morgan’s fascinating Blue Mauritius:  The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps.  I also picked up a few more countries under the letter “A” – Alsace and Lorraine, Alexandria, Annam & Tonkin, and Antigua & Barbuda amongst them.  However, I was outbid for a pair from La Aguera in the last seconds of an eBay auction.  That particular stamp-issuer is proving rather elusive!

Of course, you will see these stamps once they arrive in my mailbox – probably in around a month’s time.

Happy Collecting!

Andorra Coat of ArmsAndorra Flag

Andorra (1928-Date)

LOCATION: On the southern slope of the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain
AREA:  179 sq. mi.
Population:  72,766 (1 July 1996)
GOVERNMENT:  Constitutional Coprincipality
CAPITAL:  Andorra la Vella

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED:  1928

CURRENCY:
100 Centimos = 1 Peseta/100 Centimes = 1 Franc (1928-2002)
100 Cents = 1 Euro (2002-date)

Andorra is a co-principality that had been jointly administered by France and the Spanish bishop of Urgell since 1278.  In 1993, Andorra became a constitutional coprincipality, governed by its own parliament.  It is the sixth smallest country in Europe with an area of just 181 square miles (468 square kilometers).  The capital city of Andorra la Vella is the highest in Europe, sitting at an elevation of 3,356 feet (1,023 meters) above sea level.  Stamps are issued by both France and Spain for use in the principality with Correos of Spain and La Poste of France operating side by side.  The Spanish post boxes are red and French ones are yellow. However the postal code system, introduced in July 2004, has a different format from those of either Spain or France, consisting of the letters “AD”, followed by three digits.

Andorra-plotical-map

Andorra was created under a charter granted by King Charles the Great (Charlemagne) in return for the Andorran people fighting against the Moors with Overlordship of the territory by the Count of Urgell.  In A.D. 988, the Andorran valleys were given to the Diocese of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya.  The Bishop of Urgell, based in Seu d’Urgell, has owned Andorra since then.  The principality was given its territory and political form in 1278 with the signing of the first paréage which provided that Andorra’s sovereignty be shared between the count of Foix (whose title would eventually be transferred to the French head of state) and the Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia.

With the passage of time the co-title to Andorra passed to the kings of Navarre. After Henry of Navarre became King Henry IV of France, he issued an edict in 1607 that established the head of the French state and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra. In 1812–13 the First French Empire annexed Catalonia and divided it in four départements, with Andorra being made part of the district of Puigcerdà (département of Sègre).

andorra postcard madriu llac dels pessons

The first postal route serving Andorra seems to have been established in 1837 with couriers conveying mail between Urgell and Aix during the Carlist War in northern Spain.  Due to the difficulties in direct communication between Andorra and France, the mountain passes being frequently snowbound in the months from autumn until late spring, the Andorrans always depended on Seu d’Urgell to conduct the bulk of their business, postal or otherwise and that city was their principal point of communication with the outside world, including with their northern neighbor.

In 1877, an Andorra subject, Tomàs Rossell y Moles, was appointed postmaster and sold postage stamps of both France and Spain to be affixed on outgoing mail according to its destination.  Mail bearing French stamps were postmarked at Porté and Spanish mail received the Seu d’Urgell postmark.  Then, as now, mail destined for internal Andorran destinations were always conveyed free of charge, requiring no stamps of any kind.

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At the Universal Postal Union Congress held in Paris in 1878, it was declared that that Andorra was a subordinate of the Spanish postal service although it would be another fifty years before that postal service was actually organized. France ignored the UPU stipulation and established a rudimentary postal service between Porté and Andorra la Vella in 1887, consisting of two postmen travelling by foot.  A French courier service inaugurated in 1892 continued to operate, virtually unaltered until 1931 when the present postal service came into being.

Andorra declared war on Imperial Germany during World War I, but did not actually take part in the fighting. It remained in an official state of belligerency until 1958 as it was not included in the Treaty of Versailles.

A Ministerial Decree dated 31st October 1927, created the Spanish Postal Administration of Andorra la Vella, empowering it to take all steps necessary to introduce a full postal service in the country.   On 1st January 1928 post offices were opened throughout the principality and the postal service was officially inaugurated.  At its inauguration, the Spanish Postal Administration consisted of the Head Post Office at Andorra la Vella and six sub-post offices at Canillo, Encamp, Les Escaldes, Sant Julia de Loria, La Massana, and Ordino.  Seven postmen – all Andorran residents – were hired to carry on the service within the country, while the Head Postmaster – Don Filemon Lopez y Lopez – was a Spanish postal employee. 

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The Spanish Administration commenced with the usage of the then current series of Spain – the 1922-1930 issue portraying the portrait of King Alfonso XIII.  Overprints of this same set of stamps, plus the 1 centimo value of 1920 and the 20c express stamp of 1925, were released on 28 March 1928 with the unoverprinted values remaining valid.  This, it is possible to find covers bearing mixed frankings of both overprinted and unoverprinted stamps. 

Two additional sub-post offices were opened later in the year, at Soldeu on 2 September and Santa Coloma on 8 October.  The name of Andorra first appeared as in integral part of the stamp design with the release of the second series of stamps in 1929.

Andorra, Spanish - 102b - 1978

Interestingly enough, Andorrans were somewhat displeased over the seizure of their postal services by the Spanish and subsequent protests led to the eventual signing of a Hispano-French agreement concerning the dual handling of the posts on 30 June 1930.  The agreement went into effect on 1 August 1930 and the French Postal Administration of Andorra was officially inaugurated on 16 June 1931 with a Head Office at Andorra la Vella and Postal Agencies at Soldeu, Canillo, Encamp, Sant Julia de Loria, La Massana, and Ordino. No changes took place in this list of post offices until the 1st January 1967 when an additional agency was opened at Pas de la Casa, on the Franco-Andorran frontier, a sizeable settlement having developed here as a tourism and winter sports center.

Andorra, French - 23 - 1932

In 1931, the French Administration of Andorra used twenty-two overprinted French stamps from 1900-29.  Like the Spanish Administration, France only used overprinted stamps for the first set; with the second set of stamps issued, the name of the country was part of the design of the stamp.

In 1933 France occupied Andorra following social unrest which occurred before elections. On 12 July 1934 adventurer Boris Skossyreff issued a proclamation in Urgell, declaring himself “Boris I, King of Andorra”, simultaneously declaring war on the Bishop of Urgell. He was arrested by the Spanish authorities on 20 July and ultimately expelled from Spain.

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From 1936 until 1940 a French military detachment was garrisoned in Andorra to secure the Principality against against disruption from the Spanish Civil War and Francoist Spain. Francoist troops reached the Andorran border in the later stages of the war. During World War II, Andorra remained neutral and was an important smuggling route between Vichy France and Spain.

Andorra’s tourism services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually.  It is not a member of the European Union, but the Euro is the de facto currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993.  The population of Andorra in 2014 was estimated at 85,458 and has grown from 5,000 in 1900. As of December 2014, the people of Andorra have the highest life expectancy in the world – 81 years.

Andorra, French - 458 - 1995

The 2009 Scott Catalogue for the Spanish Administration of Andorra lists 330 general issue stamps, four air mail and five special delivery stamps.  It should be noted that the majority of the Spanish Andorra stamps issued until about 1950 are poorly centered and that well-centered examples will sell for approximately twice the value listed in the catalogue.  The French Administration is a somewhat heavier stamp issuer with a total of 728 — broken down as 656 general issues, one semi-postal, eight air mail stamps, 62 postage due, and one newspaper stamp.  Most stamps of French Andorra issued from 1961 onwards also exist in unlisted imperforate and small presentation sheet varieties. My collection currently holds six of the French Administration stamps and four of the Spanish releases.

Andorra, Spanish - 102a - 1978

SAM_6859Two days in a row of mail – thank goodness for sunny days.  We really needed a break from the monsoonal rains so flood waters can dissipate a bit and we can all dry out somewhat.  It won’t be long before we’re slammed by another storm.

Today was more of a book and FDC day aside from my morning visit to the Phuket Philatelic Museum.  All six of the Muang Phuket Local Post covers I prepared for ASEAN Day arrived, albeit a little worse for the wear.  As the philatelic staff had closed shop here in order to attend THAIPEX up in Bangkok last week, I had to drop the covers into a pillar box at the shopping mall where my school is located.  Most of the covers were somewhat battered as a result but managed to travel the two kilometers in just one week!

Scan_20150814 (40)I’ve been fascinated by the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II for quite some time and have a nice collection of the stamps and a few covers as well.  My interest to learn more led me to seek out Ralph Mollet’s Jersey Under the Swastika after having found a copy of a Jersey War Museum pamphlet of extracts.  The copy I found which arrived today was published in 1945 and formerly a part of the Royal Philatelic Society’s library holdings.  It may be too lengthy and fragile to scan, which is my preferred method of preserving (and then reading) these older softbound works, but I will give it a go.

Scan_20150814 (39)My interest in the Channel Islands goes back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when I began corresponding with a noted maritime author who lived on Jersey for most of the year (he wintered in Alicante, Spain).  In addition to collecting the issues of Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey, I’ve also accumulated a few of the local posts from Herm and Jethou.  Thus, when I came across an old catalogue of these types of carrier labels at a price of less than a U.S. dollar I couldn’t resist.  There looks to be a lot of useful information in this one…

Scan_20150814 (41)The last book to arrive today is one that I intend to begin reading this weekend.  Well, I actually started to read Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps as a Kindle sample from Amazon.com a couple of months ago.  I decided that I would rather have a physical copy than an eBook to read so I tracked down a used copy.  Although I have many stamp-related books in .pdf or .epub format (including most of my stamp catalogues),  I would much rather have a tree-book instead.  This one came all the way from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I intend to write a full review here once I finish it…

Angra Mix

Finally…some stamps!  I received six from the first of the King Carlos definitives released by the Portuguese administrative district of Angra.  This covered three islands in the Azores and only issued its own stamps from 1892 until 1905.  This is another “new” country for me – stamp issuer number 266, in fact.  The stamps I received were Scott #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9 – all mint hinged, except #5 which is used. 

Angra - 2 - 1892

I now have but one outstanding stamp order – a Hawaiian provisional issue coming from a dealer in Israel.  Perhaps that will arrive tomorrow.  I’m winding down my stamp-buying somewhat in an effort to get caught up on scanning and cataloguing.  When stamps arrive in a trickle, it is fairly easy to get them done on the same day (my goal) but I’m still working on a massive lot that arrived at the end of July. 

The amount of time I have to work on stamp-related activities (including this blog) is also reduced right now as the rainy season tends to breed weekend English camps that my agency calls upon me to run.  Not only that, but I am starting work at a huge high school this coming Monday – covering classes until the end of the term (early October) because of the hasty departure of the previous teacher.  I doubt this particular school has WiFi so my blog-posting may be fairly irregular for the next couple of months.  But, stay tuned…

Happy Collecting!

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Today is listed on my calendar as Thailand Post Co. Ltd. Establishment Day, marking the date in 2003 that Thailand’s postal services were privatized.  The stamp at left was released to mark the 10th anniversary two years ago and is Thailand’s biggest stamp released to date, measuring 62 x 62 mm.  I’m not really sure what rate the 10-baht face value was intended for (first class domestic letters are 3 baht; international postcards are 15 baht); it was released in a sheet of four.

I’d already planned a trip to the Phuket Philatelic Museum to buy a few new issues released since my last visit on 29 July (the release date of the Thai Alphabet set), this being my last day off until early October.  But first I needed to visit Phuket Immigration Office; foreigner residents are required to check-in every 90 days.

While walking back home from the immigration office, I witnessed the totally unexpected local celebration of Thailand Post Day:  Led by a highway patrol car with lights and siren to clear the traffic, I first saw perhaps a half-dozen red-and-white Thailand Post and EMS trucks.  This was followed with around 50 motorbikes ridden by local mail carriers wearing their red-and-white jackets and helmets.  It was quite a site – particularly as they were circling a locally-iconic clock tower at the time.  It’s a shame that I didn’t have my camera with me – one of the rare occurrences that I’d left it at home!  Next year, I will be waiting…

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As for the post office visit, the ladies manning the philatelic museum shop counter were sporting the red 12th anniversary polo shirts which I commented on.  To my shock, they offered me one but they didn’t have one in my size (a Thai XXL which, back in America would be a loose-fitting XL).  Thai people are nothing but hospitable.  They had all the stamps I needed but were sold out of the first day covers for the THAIPEX issues (beautiful purple-based stamps portraying musical instruments played by HRH Princess Chakri Maha Siridhorn who is celebrating her 60th birthday this year) as well as the FDC for National Communications Day (which happens to be on the anniversary of the very first stamps released by Siam in 1883).  They did have the covers for the Royal Thai Army stamp and ASEAN Day stamp, both released on 8 August.

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The ASEAN Day stamp is quite striking and will make a nice accompaniment to my Muang Phuket Local Post ASEAN flags stamps on outgoing postcards (the 15-baht rate is the international postcard rate).  Since it also saw a souvenir sheet release, it took some effort to explain to one counter-lady that I wanted that plus a full sheet of ten.  I discovered that they call the souvenir sheet a “sheet” and a full sheet should be ordered by saying, “per sheet”.  This was the first time I ever had a real lost-in-translation moment at Phuket Philatelic Museum as they are usually pretty good at interpreting my stamp needs. 

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While I’m thinking about it, I’ll go online this afternoon and try to find the missing first day covers; the post office also sold out of the princess’s 60th birthday stamp issued in March and I haven’t yet tracked one down.

The next Thai stamps won’t be released until 18 September, a pair commemorating a half-century of diplomatic relations with Singapore and picturing tasty desserts (sticky rice with mango for Thailand, ice cream sandwiches for Singapore), followed on the 22nd with a single stamp marking the 103rd annual World Congress of the World Dental Federation to be held in Bangkok.

Happy Birthday, Thailand Post!

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Another rainy week of no mail deliveries (better than receiving soaked mail) and a national holiday on Wednesday for HM the Queen’s birthday (celebrated as Thai Mothers’ Day), brought a welcome – albeit small – stack of mail this afternoon.  Three eBay wins brought seven stamps, including a thought-lost order from Slovakia which took almost two months to arrive as well as stamps from the 265th country in my collections – Tasmania.

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The stamp arriving from Bratislava is a nice Austria Scott #45, 20 kreuzer gray issued in 1883.  But the reason I purchased this particular stamp was the very nice Joachimstal postmark (applied upside down), an addition to a loose collection based on my surname.  From the German Democratic Republic, I now have Scott #91 – 12 pfennig deep blue stamp picturing a father and his children with their stamp collection, issued on 28 October 1951 to mark Stamp Day (Tag der Briefmarke). 

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Scan_20150814 (8)Tasmania is a “new” country for me and I received five examples from the pictorial series which had eight different designs but were printed using several different printing methods (engraving, lithography and typography), perforation gauges and watermarks between 1899 and 1911, plus one surcharge in 1912.  I have tentatively identified my additions as Scott #88, the 2p violet picturing Hobart issued engraved in 1899; Scott #94, ½p green picturing Lake Marion printed by lithography and issued in 1902-03; Scott #95, 1p carmine, Scott #96, 1p dull red, both portraying Mount Wellington and issued in 1902-1903 – the carmine stamp is lithographed and the dull red is printed by typography; and Scott #97, another 2p violet with a view of Hobart, printed in lithography.  I think… (I seem to have misplaced my perforation gauge this evening…)

Scan_20150814 (13)-cropFinally, I received two postcards – one from my sister who was vacationing in California earlier this month and a Postcrossing card from Russia.  The stamps on each are of interest in that each country has different approaches to postmarking nowadays.  Most mail that I receive from the United States are festooned with what I find to be very ugly ink jet spray-on markings.  Often the stamps aren’t cancelled at all as in the case of the trio of Jimi Hendrix stamps (Scott #4880, issued in 2014) on the card from my sister.  She recently told me that she’d requested a postal clerk to handstamp a letter to me but was told that they “don’t do that anymore.”  The card from Russia, on the other hand, received two nice handstamps on the four stamps (three from a 2009 set of icebreakers and one 2008 stamp showing a bridge in Moscow).

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I’ll write about these postcards very soon on “Please, Mr. Postman!” – my blog about postcards and the subjects they portray.

Happy Collecting!

France - COA (1953-Date)France Flag

French Territory of the Afars and Issas (1967-1977)

LOCATION: East Africa
AREA:  8,958 sq. mi. (23,200 sq. km)
Population:  367,210 (est. 1971)
GOVERNMENT:  French Overseas Territory
CAPITAL:  Djibouti

FIRST STAMPS:  French Colonies (1883); Obock (1892); Djibouti (1894); French Somali Coast (1902)
FIRST STAMPS ISSUED:  21 August 1967
LAST STAMPS ISSUED:  5 May 1977 (Replaced by stamps of Republic of Djibouti on 27 June 1977)

CURRENCY:  100 Centimes = 1 Franc

The French overseas territory of Afars and Issas existed as a stamp-issuing entity for just under ten years but had evolved out of the original Territory of Obock and then French Somaliland before finally gaining its independence in 1977 as the Republic of Djibouti, the name under which it exists to the present day.  It is located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Eritrea to the north, Ethiopia to the west and south, and Somalia to the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Afars and Issas map

The French first arrived in the region during an expedition led by Captains de la Merveille of Le Curieux and Champloret le Brun of Le Diligent which sailed along the Somali coast in December 1708.  They were poorly received and five sailors were killed during an ambush when they attempted to land at Berbera.  Le Curieux and Le Diligent entered the Gulf of Tadjoura soon afterwards during which an envoy arrived in the name of the King of Adel and Zaylah, offering safe entry at the port of Zayla. The French declined the offer and sailed on to Yemen in search of coffee plants.  The next visit by a Frenchman wouldn’t occur until 1838.

In January 1839, Great Britain established a protectorate over Aden which caused French explorers to scour the entrance to the Red Sea seeking a means to counterbalance the British presence before the opening of the Suez Canal.  In October 1855 the French Consul at Aden, Henri Lambert, visited Tadjoura and then Obock the following April where he was informed that he was the first European to land there as far the natives could remember.  Later in the year, Abou Baker Ibrahim, the Sultan of Tadjoura offered the French trading rights at Ras Ali and Obock.  Not long after, Henri Lambert made the mistake of involving himself in a rivalry between the Sultan of Tadjoura and Pasha Chermarké of Zayla.  He was thrown into the sea and drowned shortly after his ship docked at Moucha on 4 June 1859.

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Dini Ahmed Abou Baker, Sultan of the Afars, signed a treaty of alliance and friendship with France on 11 March 1862, ceding the lands surrounding Obock in exchange for 10,000 Maria Theresa Thalers.  For the next twenty years, the French presence was confined to the tricolor flag guarded by an elderly Danakil who received an occasional visit from a ship of the French Navy.

From  1862 until 1894, the land to the north of the Gulf of Tadjoura was known as the Obock territory and ruled by Somali and Afar Sultans, local authorities with whom France signed various treaties between 1883 and 1887 to gain a foothold in the region.  French Colonial general issues were used in the territory from 1883 with the first Obock overprinted stamps issued on 1 February 1892. 

Obock lost all importance after the settlement at Djibouti was founded in 1888 when the Côte Française des Somalis (French Somali Coast) protectorate was established.  The boundaries of the Côte Française were established between 1888 and 1901; the administration was moved to Djibouti in 1894 at which time the post office in Obock was closed.  Obock stamp issues were used in Djibouti starting in 1893 until supplies were exhausted.  Djibouti stamps were used from 1894 until they were replaced in August 1902 by issues bearing the title of the Côte Française des Somalis following the change in status from protectorate to colony. 

Dj-card-1

The construction of the Imperial Ethiopian Railway west into Ethiopia turned the port of Djibouti into a boomtown of 15,000 at a time when Harar was the only city in Ethiopia to exceed that.  Although the population fell after the completion of the line to Dire Dawa and the original company failed and required a government bail-out, the rail link allowed the territory to quickly supersede the caravan-based trade carried on at Zayla (then in the British area of Somaliland) and become the premier port for coffee and other goods leaving southern Ethiopia and the Ogaden through Harar.  The railroad continued to operate following the Italian conquest of Ethiopia but, following the tumult of the Second World War, the area became an overseas territory of France in 1946.

Dj-card-6

In 1958, on the eve of neighboring Somalia’s independence in 1960, a referendum was held in the territory to decide whether or not to join the Somali Republic or to remain with France. The referendum turned out in favor of a continued association with France, but on 19 March 1967 a second plebiscite was held to determine the fate of the territory.  Announcement of the plebiscite results sparked civil unrest, including several deaths. France also increased its military force along the frontier. 

On 5 July 1967, shortly after the referendum was held, the former Côte Française des Somalis was renamed to Territoire Français des Afars et des Issas. This was to recognize the two primary clans of people that live in the area.  The Afars are an historically nomadic people comprising about 35% of the population, and the Issas are a Somali-based clan with about 60% of the population. In the past, the two people-groups have been hostile to one another, politically, although tensions has eased in recent years.

Afars And Issas - 318 - 1968

The first stamps bearing the inscription of the newly-named territory were released on 21 August 1967 – two general issues and one airmail depicting birds.  The numbering in the Scott catalogue follow those of the Côte Française des Somalis (under “Somali Coast”, starting on page 29 of Volume 6 in my 2009 edition) and, thus, begins at Scott #310 for these 1967 issues.  The final Afars and Issas general issues were a pair (Scott #437 and 438) picturing fish and were released on 15 April 1977.  On 5 May 1977, the final airmail stamps (Scott #C104 and C105) were issued honoring the inventors Thomas Edison and Alexander Volta.

On 27 June 1977, a third vote took place. A landslide 98.8% of the electorate supported independence from France and the territory became the République de Djibouti. Hassan Gouled Aptidon, a Somali politician who had campaigned for a yes vote in the referendum of 1958, eventually wound up as the nation’s first president, remaining in office until 1999.

Afars And Issas - 319 - 1968

In all, Scott lists a total of 176 stamps bearing the Afars and Issas territorial name.  Of these, 116 are general issues, 56 for airmail and four stamps were intended for postage due.  Bearing the wonderful designs so typical of French stamps of the era, the majority range in value between US $2 and $10 in my 2009 edition of the Scott catalogue.  There are only six stamps priced at more than $20 in mint condition:  Scott #314 ($24.00), #C50 ($21.50), #C53 ($25.00), #C56 ($25.00), #C65 ($34.00), and #C102 ($24.00).  There are also imperforate varieties of many of the stamps which are unlisted in Scott.

Afars And Issas - 320 - 1968

I currently have four Afars and Issas stamps in my collection, Scott #318-321 – a set released on 17 May 1968 portraying various fortresses established in the territory by the French.  The Scott catalogue lists these as “administration buildings”.  The 20 franc value – printed in slate, brown and emerald – shows the fortress at Damerdjog while that of Ali Adde is on the 25fr in bright green, blue and brown.  Dorra Fortress – brown olive, brown orange and slate – appears on the 30 franc stamp and the 40fr value colored with brown-olive, slate and bright green shows the Assamo fortress.   These stamps are all engraved and perforated 13.  Current catalogue value for the unused set is US $7.00.

Afars And Issas - 321 - 1968

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It’s been a rainy week with the summer monsoon finally kicking in with a vengeance.  Phuket has seen quite a few canals flooding, muddy landslides and downed power lines but once again we escaped the full brunt of the storm that brought wide-spread destruction to our neighbors to the northwest in Myanmar.  Our local postman wisely stayed at home for several days, only venturing out on Wednesday for the first mail delivery we’ve had since the dual Buddhist holidays last week.  I was happy to receive a small amount of mail, although a couple of the envelopes were somewhat water-damaged.  Luckily, the stamps within remained dry in their glassine envelopes.

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A dealer in New South Wales, Australia, sent me these three stamps issued by the Armenian republican government in 1920, part of s set of ten that never saw postal use.  The Scott catalogue doesn’t assign numbers for these but does note that some were used fiscally and values the entire set at US $10.  Scott further mentions that imperforate samples and reprints are also available. 

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My first Hawaiian stamp came, appropriately enough, from an eBay seller in the interestingly-named town of Captain Cook in Hawaii itself.  This is Scott #43 picturing King David Kalakaua, 2 cent rose issued in 1886.  I also received – by way of Portland, Oregon – the lovely postcard of Honolulu pictured below, bearing a U.S. stamp and a 1909 Honolulu cancellation depicting the U.S. flag some fifty years prior to statehood. 

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I’ve been buying a few Lundy Island items lately and felt that this postcard made a nice companion to the local post stamps.  I started collecting Lundy Island stamps upon stumbling across one of the early puffin issues which had the number of puffins pictured to match the stamp’s denomination.  In retrospect, I wish I’d followed a similar design plan for my own Muang Phuket Local Post as I could have had the currency valued in “gibbons” accompanied by pictures of the local primate population.  I suppose I could have a currency-change series, but I digress…

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Finally, from the pleasant-sounding Blue Jay, California, I received a mixed lot of 75 stamps from French Algeria, a sign that my original “A Stamp From Everywhere” collection is becoming a mite complicated.  Often, I will start off obtaining a single stamp from a particular country and then that stamp causes me to want to add more. Packets such as this one can make it easy to put together nice collections of certain stamp-issuing countries without spending a whole lot of money.

Happy Collecting!

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Photo courtesy of NASA and USPS

I really don’t know how I missed this, but…

Like most people I know, I eagerly watched the recent fly-by of Pluto by the New Horizons space probe via news feeds on my Facebook page.  I’ve had the “space bug” ever since witnessing Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon via grainy black & white images when I was a wee lad of three-and-a-half (probably my earliest memory).  Mr. Armstrong even autographed a photo for me about ten years later.  I am still a geek at heart and in the 21st century, Facebook provides most of my space news via “likes” on numerous NASA and other science-related pages.

New Horizons cover 2015-07-14

But I completely missed the philatelic aspect.  It was only this week that I stumbled across an eBay listing that mentioned the fact that the 29-cent Pluto “Not Yet Explored” stamp issued by the United States on 1 October 1991 had been affixed to the exterior of New Horizons and sent on its way to Pluto and beyond.

Articles on Astronomy.com and collectSPACE tell the full story but the short version is that the Pluto stamp was part of a set of ten commemorating NASA’s exploration of the Solar System to that point.  Each of the nine planets (Pluto not yet having been demoted) and the Moon had their image accompanied by a depiction of one of the spacecraft that had studied it.  All, that is, but the Pluto stamp which bore the inscription “Not Yet Explored.”  Apparently, this rankled a few scientists during the First Day of Issue ceremony held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  It may have even provided some motivation for a future mission.  At any rate, some of these scientists felt that the stamp needed to be included on the New Horizons probe.

Pluto 1991 FDC Auto by Designer

There are actually nine different objects hitching a ride on this mission – a few ashes from the cremated body of Clyde Tombaugh (the New Mexican who discovered Pluto); the names of some 434,000 people who participated in the “Send Your Name To Pluto” offer by NASA; a CD_ROM picturing the scientists who worked on the New Horizons development; state quarters from both Maryland (where New Horizons was built) and Florida (from where it was launched); a small piece of the Space Ship One private spacecraft; and two U.S. flags accompany the Pluto stamp.

Artist's concept of proposed New Horizons stamp

All that needs to be done now if for a new Pluto stamp to be issued by the United States Postal Service.  There is even a petition to that effect.

Happy Collecting!

SAM_6724

I apologize for the delay in publishing this edition of “Today’s Mail”.  Since they arrived on Wednesday (the last mail day before a four-day government shut-down due to the Buddhist holidays of Asarna Buja and Khao Pansa), I’ve been sorting and counting stamps, the majority of which came in a lot of 1500 off-paper stamps with no duplication.  This represents some 160 different countries, of which sixty-nine are “new” to my A Stamp From Everywhere collection.  I haven’t even begun scanning these stamps yet.  It will take me a bit longer to get that organized!

Scan_20150730 (6)

The other orders which the Thailand Post mailman delivered (have I mentioned that they use tiny 150cc motorbikes?) were miniscule in comparison but represented four countries, three of them “new” to ASFEW – Afars & Issas, Anguilla and Anjouan.  I’ve started to put together yet another topical collection of Americana on stamps and I was quite taken by the set of three from San Marino.

There was also a packet of ten seven-row double-sided stock pages from Hong Kong.  Of note, the estimated date of delivery for this particular package was between the 9th and 17th of September, a rare occasion of something arriving much, much sooner than expected!  The cost, including shipping was quite reasonable and I will be ordering many more stock pages from this company in the near future.

Well, enough commentary this time around as I’d like to get back to the huge lot – it’s just too easy to get behind on these things.  I believe I’ll scan stamps from the “new” countries first…

Happy Collecting!