As expected, local mail delivery was halted during the almost-two-week’s long Phuket Vegetarian Festival as the street processions with their accompanying unregulated fireworks (thrown by the spectators) would have put the motorbike-driving postmen at great risk. Yesterday’s national holiday marking the birthday of Thailand’s revered fifth king, Chulalongkorn, provided yet another no-mail day but I finally received a few items this morning.
I was pleased to receive the latest edition of Thailand Post’s new issues bulletin with MOST of the upcoming releases for the fourth quarter illustrated. At this point, there are just twenty-one individual stamps in seven different sets remaining in the 2015 stamp program. Of course, Thailand Post always issues a few more in December with little or no warning. The next upcoming issue is a pair to be released on 2 November marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka. As usual, I love the English headlines accompanying each description. One commemorating the Department of Corrections has the headline “A Pride of Corrections the Protects the Society” while the World Post Day issue is described as “National Economic Support and the Global Connectivity.” The catalogue reminds me that I missed out on a few recent issues over the past couple of months so it’s time for a trip to the Phuket Philatelic Museum in the near future.
I received a pair of postcards one via Postcrossing which, I can honestly say, is the first I have ever received that didn’t bear a single stamp. Instead, there is a very ugly Deutsche Post meter with a QR code upon it. I was surprised as many Postcrossing members seem to be stamp collectors or at least aware that their recipients are collectors (indeed, I mention it in my profile). The second postcard was MUCH more interesting as the first thing I noticed was that it had been posted from Mauritius – a island nation in which I have become quite interested lately. This is due in large part to my recent reading of the wonderful book Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Rarest Stamps. Imagine my surprise when I turned the postcard over and found it had been sent by that book’s author, Helen Morgan. She’s enjoying her first visit on Mauritius in almost ten years and had discovered my blogs via a Google Alert. How cool is that?
Next up, I received a “starter set” of Hawid stamp mounts ordered from a dealer in the UK. I’m starting to find a few sources of supplies that don’t charge an arm and a leg to ship them to Thailand. I’ve had bad luck recently in that packets of hinges I’d ordered happened to arrive in the midst of some of the words storms to hit Phuket since I moved here a decade ago, rendering them into a solid mass of stuck-together goo. I felt that I would have better success with mounts, particularly since I have an increasing backlog of Mint Never Hinged stamps that I would like to take out of the stock books and onto my self-printed album pages. I did take a few minutes from other pursuits to mount the first page of Abu Dhabi. Very nice…
Finally! A stamp! This one confused me as it arrived in an envelope mailed from Poland and I hadn’t ordered anything from there. At any rate, it was a used copy of United States Scott #69, the 12c George Washington black from the 1861-62 series. I’d won it from a dealer in Bissinghem, Germany. No idea why it was mailed from Krakow…
One final, semi-philatelic note on the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. The post office left a stack of postal cards on a table in the new shopping center behind my home along with two baskets full of themed handstamps (most were made of metal) and three different colors of inkpads. I’m lucky that I found this on the first day of the festival as the cards quickly disappeared and the ink dried up as very few people closed the lids when they were finished. I spent an enjoyable few minutes applying the handstamps to both sides of perhaps a half-dozen cards. With the post office inaccessible for the duration of the festival (it’s almost at “Ground Zero”), I haven’t yet had the chance to mail any of the cards. I will have to think of some appropriate stamps as none have ever been issued commemorating this festival (this was it’s 190th year in Phuket!). Perhaps next year, I will think to design a few for the Muang Phuket Local Post…
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival – held each year since 1825 – kicked off yesterday with lots of screaming and beating of drums. Check out my other blog at Asian Meanderings for a selection of photos of events over the next nine days or so. As I am on holiday from work this month, I am stuck without a reliable WiFi connection at my home and am trying to post these blog entries and photos using my mobile phone. It’s a bit hit-or-miss as the networks are often completely down and snail’s pace slow when they work at all.
At least today I only have two items of mail to talk about, eight stamps and a postcard. As seen above, the stamps are from Abu Dhabi – eight from the sheikdom’s first set of eleven issued in March 1964 – mint, never hinged. It is exceedingly difficult to obtain stamps from the British-protected era of Abu Dhabi at reasonable prices nowadays. A once affordable country to collect has seen values heading upward recently as new collectors in the Arabian Gulf discover the pre-UAE issues. There’s a lot of competition in the market right now…
Next up is a postcard picturing a few of the princesses from King Chulalongkorn’s day. That is the highly-revered King Rama V who is definitely the Thai people’s favorite king next to the present monarch, Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). The postcard is from a Thai collector by the name of Jobbo whom I met via my “Please, Mr. Postman!” postcards-only blog. Here he mentions the weekend market that is held in the parking lot of the old General Post Office building in Bangkok.
I’ve long wanted to spend a holiday in Bangkok searching out places to buy stamps, inspired in no small part by a vastly out-out-date guide originally compiled by Alan Cameron. The following is an excerpt of the relevant sections:
“GENERAL POST OFFICE
Location: 1160 Charoen Krung Road
Map Grid: G-6
The GPO is an absolute must for a visiting stamp collector, not only for the sake of the building itself and the services provided there but also because the largest concentration of postage stamp stores in Bangkok is within a 1-2 minute walk from this location.
Let’s assume you get there early on a weekend morning, perhaps about 0800. The main hall that you enter is huge, and there are 39 service counters in front of you. At the extreme right end of the hall is the pack and wrap service area. There is also a doorway here entering into a room off of which are the restrooms, a staircase, and an entryway into the telegraph office. (Telegraph office is now closed and blocked off. There is a small counter just inside the main GPO entrance that now takes telegrams. Telegram service is rapidly being phased out of the Thai postal service.) Want a good photograph of the main hall? Go up one flight on the staircase and you’ll find a large window over-looking the hall.
At the other end of the main hall are the Post Restante facilities and the Philatelic section. You should go to the philatelic sales windows first because they’ll be hard to get to later after the crowds arrive. If the windows are already open you’ll find a basket of scrap paper on the counter. Take a piece and write down the code numbers of the stamps, souvenir sheets, first day covers, maximum cards, etc. displayed in the various cases and then get in line.
Why is the GPO located here? With all of the tall buildings around it’s hard to realize it but the back yard of the GPO is the Chao Phraya River, and the GPO was probably constructed here around 1940 because of its proximity to the river. You can get to the river by walking down some of the sois off of Charoen Krung Road. A new GPO Tower (high-rise building) has now been constructed behind the old GPO building. It has a unique “Broadcast Tower” on it’s top that can be seen from a great distance. The river is behind this new building.
THE GPO WEEKEND BOURSE
Location: In front of the General Post Office, 1160 Charoen Krung Road
Map Grid: G-6
Hours: Sat-Sun only 0900-1700. Some dealers start leaving around 3:00PM.
Almost 20 stamp dealers operate from an open-sided tent erected in the parking lot in front of the GPO on New Road every weekend. Sales start at 0900 or earlier but many of the dealers don’t arrive until near noon. Each dealer has his material spread out on a table and there are usually plenty of chairs so you can sit down and go through their stock books and boxes of covers and souvenir sheets. For those who like classical Thai stamps and postal history, pay a visit to Kitti Damrongvadhana, who has a large and interesting stock together with a vast knowledge of the subject. He also speaks excellent English, German and French.
This is a must stop, not only because of the large number of dealers here but also because many of them do not have stores where you can visit them.”
Although it hasn’t felt like it, I have been on holiday for almost a week now. Because of the huge fires down in Indonesia, Phuket has been covered under thick smoke creating major health issues. They say that it is more dangerous than the worst of the L.A. smogs. It has been so bad that rhe hospitals have been distributing free facemasks. Thailand is a corrupt country and nothing is ever free (and refunds are never given), so you just know it is beyond bad.
You would think that being forced inside for a week would have led me to work on my stamps but I haven’t really been in the mood. However, the postman brought me no less than thirteen envelopes full of stamps this morning and I can feel my motivation-level moving up a few notches as I write this. Eight orders from the United States, four from the United Kingdom and one from New Zealand. They include stamps from Aden, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Russia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and the United States plus pre-stamped postal stationery from Hawaii and Mauritius. In all, just 30 philatelic items and three “new” stamp issuers (the Caribbean islands) for my A Stamp From Everywhere collection.
First up is Aden. I’ve been putting together a nice collection of the then-British colony on the Arabian peninsula. While I previously bought used copies of several of the low values in the 1937 Dhows set, I now have the first five in Mint, lightly hinged, condition. Aren’t they beautiful?
The first British representative is my first “Seahorse” stamp. These were first issued in 1913 with retouched values appearing in 1919 and then again in 1934. Three different printers were used during the course of these various releases. My copy is Scott #222 2sh6p brown from the 1934 series. A beautiful stamp picturing “Britannia Rules the Waves” with the portrait of King George V. I was inspired to purchase this stamp by reading about in in Nicholas Courtney’s excellent book The Queen’s Stamps: The Authorised History of the Royal Philatelic Collection.
Another purchase inspired by Courtney’s book was that of Hong Kong’s 1946 Victory Issue picturing the Phoenix rising from the flames. Issued on 29 August 1946, Scott #174-175 was a significant departure in design from those issued by much of the rest of the British Commonwealth. Not only is the design quite striking but it was the story behind the stamps that intrigued me to purchase them. Briefly, the then Hong Kong Postmaster General, E.I. Wynne-Jones conceived the idea while he was himself a prisoner of the Japanese forces. He made a rough sketch of the design while interred at Stanley Camp.
I have had a lifelong fascination with ships and the sea with the old transatlantic ocean liners being my favorite nautical interest. I have quite a few of the liners pictured on stamps and finally got around to purchasing Great Britain’s wonderful set issued on 15 January 1969 shortly before the maiden voyage of the Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth 2. Scott #575-580 is a lovely set; I’ve always preferred ship profiles to photographs or paintings of them at sea. However, I’ve often wondered why they chose the Mauretania over the Lusitania.
Another “Columbian” arrived – Scott #234 5c chocolate Columbus Soliciting Aid from Isabella Mint with gum, hinged – coinciding with my resuming reading Erik Larson’s account of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, Devil In The White City after setting it aside for more than a year. I’ve long been interested in Columbus, something that may no longer be “politically correct” and is certainly at odds with my siding with Native American issues in most instances. In fact, I’ve slowly been building up a Columbus-themed collection with several items destined for that arriving today, just in time for the anniversary of his first landing in the West Indies. Most of these purchases were inspired by David Nye’s (Mr. Columbus) recent postings on several Facebook pages.
The earliest is the stamp from Trinidad, Scott #91 2p gray violet and yellow brown. It was issued in 1898 to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ sighting of the island of Trinidad on 31 July 1498. The bicolor (green and violet) stamp from St. Kitts & Nevis is actually the first general issue – Scott #1 – for this former presidency of the Leeward Islands colony. It was issued in 1903. A solid green version was overprinted in 1916 to help fund Commonwealth involvement in the First World War. That is Scott #MR1, another of today’s arrivals.
The Columbus issue by St. Lucia – Scott #49 – doesn’t mention him by name and pictures local landmark The Pitons. The 2p brown and green stamp was issued on 16 December 1902 to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of the island, something only indicated by the year range at top center.
The final Columbus-themed stamp in this batch is a nice souvenir sheet issued on 18 March 1992 to mark the 500th anniversary of the so-called discovery of America. It’s catalogued as Scott #6075.
I’m also pleased to add several more classic-era stamps from the United States starting with a nice lightly-cancelled example of Scott #11A, the 3 cent dull red, type II George Washington issued in 1851 (the difference being that the outer border frame lines were recut on both the outer and inner lines on Type II while Type I – Scott #11 – had just the outer lines recut). Next is a strip of three of Scott #182, 1c deep ultramarine George Washington, printed by the American Bank Note Company and released in 1879. Scott #306, 8c violet black Martha Washington, was released as part of a set of definitives from 1902 to 1903. This Mint, gummed and hinged, copy was obtained as a significant reduction from its 2009 catalogue value of US $45 due to its poor centering. I paid just over $3 for it and I’m happy to fill the space.
Finally, the last of the U.S. stamps is a Mint example of Scott #324, the 2c carmine Thomas Jefferson, issued on 30 April 1904 for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis that year. Again, somewhat off-center, it was advertised as “original gum hinged” but I can find no evidence of a hinge mark. In fact, the gum looks so fresh that I suspect that it may have been regummed at some point. Time to look up how to determine if a stamp has been regummed… The value would be US $70 if it is in fact MNH; I paid $2.25.
Last for today, we have several items of postal stationery which are unlisted in the Scott catalogues; still, I love adding these types of items to my regular stamp collection. First is a postal card from Hawaii – the three-cent preprinted stamp bears the same red Provisional Government overprint applied to regular stamps in 1893. Faulty corner and a very thick card. The two pre-stamped envelopes from Mauritius bearing Queen Victoria’s portrait are on rather thick paper and were probably issued sometime between 1882 and 1894 and the indicia are embossed, always pleasing to the eye. The final Mauritian envelope features the Coat of Arms design with 4c on 36c overprint, the same style as the overprinted stamps issued in 1925 during King George V’s reign.
Yes, very nice stamp additions indeed.
The school term finally ended yesterday and I’m preparing to get back-on-track with my philatelic pursuits, including putting together another “Stamp Issuers” article for this blog in the very near future. After a lengthy period of no mail deliveries, I had a nice batch trickle in during final exams week. The mail brought a few more classic U.S. stamps and I was able to add three more countries to my “A Stamp From Everywhere” collection.
Country #273 in my collection is Annam & Tonkin, represented by a mint copy of Scott #1 issued on 21 January 1888 – 1c surcharge on French Colonies 2c brown on buff paper. The protectorates of Annam and Tonkin were located in what is currently Vietnam with the China Sea forming the eastern border and Siam (present-day Thailand) to the west. Annam’s capital was located at Hue while Tonkin’s was Hanoi. For administrative purposes, the Protectorates of Annam, Tonkin, Cambodia, Laos and the Colony of Cochin-China were grouped together and called French Indo-China whose stamps superseded those of A&T in 1892.
I received six stamps from the Columbian department of Antioquia, part of an eleven-stamp series featuring General José Maria Córdoba issued in 1899 (Scott #117, 119, and 123-126). One of my favorite parts of collecting A Stamp From Everywhere is learning about places I’d never hears of before. I’ve always been a real geography buff and I attribute that solely to receiving my mother’s old stamp album around the age of nine or ten; it was full of “Dead Countries” such as this.
The final “new” country received in the month of September was the nice set from Aruba – Scott #265-267 – depicting sunsets and issued on 31 May 2005. Aruba was formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, lying in the Caribbean Sea just to the north of Venezuela. In 1986, it achieved a separate status within The Netherlands and began issuing its own stamps.
Finally, I received three more values from the United States beautiful set issued in 1893 to mark the World Columbian Exposition held in Chicago that year. Scott #230, 1c deep blue, is titled “Columbus In Sight of Land” and is mint hinged. The 2c chocolate “Columbus Soliciting Aid from Isabella” – Scott #234 – is used with a cork “fancy” cancellation while the Scott #236 8c magenta, mint hinged, depicts “Columbus Restored to Favor”. I am now only missing four “Columbians” of those I consider to be within my budget (although I may be able to find an affordable copy of Scott #240 – the 50c slate blue – I doubt that I’ll ever be able to afford any of the dollar values).
Moving backwards a bit, I also received an on-cover usage of Scott #65, 3c rose George Washington Perf. 12 issued 1861-62, with a nice CDS (circular date stamp) from Ashland, Ohio, as well as a lightly-cancelled Scott #11, 3c dull red Type I George Washington Imperforate issued 1852-57.
I should also mention here that a British fellow teacher of mine journeyed to Penang, Malaysia, recently and returned bearing several postcards and a mix of Malaysian stamps found in a George Town bookshop. She’d collected stamps during her childhood – particularly those depicting butterflies – and her interest has recently been restored through our break-time conversations. It’s always thrilling for me to find a fellow collector here. It happens so rarely!