It’s been a very fast two weeks which means it’s time for the second installment of “Phila-Bytes” – a compendium of interesting things I’ve stumbled upon in the stamp web.  This will be a fairly short edition as I’ve been very busy with work!

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First up, I should mention that today is the centennial of the U.S. National Parks Service.  I am preparing an article about the NPS for my other stamp blog, A Stamp A Day (insert shameless plug here).  I was somewhat surprised that Wikipedia doesn’t have a dedicated page for the 1934 National Parks Issue but there is plenty on the Internet about the recently-released set of 16 stamps including a page on the NPS site itself.  I have yet to obtain copies of these but will do so as soon as our monsoon season ends.  While I was hoping that my personal favorite — Chaco Canyon — would be included, it was still nice to see two other parks from my former home of New Mexico honored.

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This is, in fact, a year where there are many interesting issues I can add to my various topical collections. I’ve long been a voracious reader of crime fiction and have a number of stamps commemorating  the legacy of Sherlock Holmes as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  It’s refreshing, however, that a different favorite mystery writer is receiving the philatelic treatment this year.  I came across the news on the Commonwealth Stamps Blog that a set of six will be released on 15 September by the United Kingdom to “to commemorate the Centenary of the first murder mystery written by Agatha Christie (The Mysterious Affair At Styles featuring Hercule Poirot).  It’s a rather striking set and one now firmly included on my want list.

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I’m also a lifelong fan of rock music in (almost) all of its forms.  While Bruce Springsteen has been my favorite performer for almost as long as I can remember (which is a long time, actually), I’ve also enjoyed forays into progressive rock such as Pink Floyd (honored by a Royal Mail set earlier this year), Peter Gabriel-led Genesis, and both eras of Marillion (I prefer Steve Hogarth’s version of the band over that of Fish,  despite him being the singer for the first four years that I listened to them).  I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Yes throughout the years.  I remember buying the LP for Yessongs when I was attending college in central Kansas but I refused to buy the then-current 90125 for years as the hit single was overplayed and I found it really annoying!  It wasn’t until 1994 that I saw them perform live and became began buying their back-catalogue.

Sometimes the best thing about the albums were the covers created by Roger Dean, defining the visual image of the band, much the same way that Hipnogsis represented Pink Floyd.  Thus, I was quite pleased to find that a set of his artwork would be released on stamps by the Isle of Man.  They were issued on 19 August and I like the fact that the attention to detail extended to the fonts used as well.  However, much like the writer of Commonwealth Stamps Blog, I was underwhelmed by the final product.  These images just don’t translate well to the stamp format.  Truth be known, they don’t look that great CD-sized either.  Roger Dean’s work is best seen on the full 12-inch LP with gatefold sleeves.  Oddly enough, I don’t think the same for the Pink Floyd album covers (or previous issues showing The Beatles covers).  Perhaps if I was a bigger Yes fan, I’d think differently.  The set also includes one brand-new piece of artwork inspired by the Isle of Man as well as artwork for albums by The Blind Owl and Uriah Heap.

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The biggest news this week was perhaps the selling at auction of two of the rarest stamps in the world – the 1p and 2p “Post Office” Mauritius stamps of 1847. I mentioned in “Phila-Bytes” #1 that the copper plate used to print these stamps will be auctioned later in the year. The most-newsworthy aspect seems to be the fact that an unknown Czech investor was the winning bidder for an undisclosed sum thought to be in excess of US $4.1 million.  It’s unknown whether these are on-cover examples or singles.  The news article can be found here.

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That’s all for this time.  I’ll see you again in about two weeks…

While I’ve posted something EVERY DAY since the beginning of July on A Stamp A Day, I haven’t written anything for Philatelic Pursuits in quite some time.  In an effort to find inspiration on a more regular basis, I am starting this new bi-weekly feature, relating bits and pieces of philatelic information that I stumble across on the internet.  These will include news items, new-to-me resources, or something I found interesting for one reason or another.  I’m calling it “Phila-Bytes” (until I can think of something better!).

I start this first edition with a quote found on the Collecting Irish Stamps, Coins, Postcards and Collectibles blog in an article about a Glasgow stamp shop:

A Stamp Collection is meant to be unique, personal…even a bit quirky ….an extension of ME.

Good words to collect by…

The biggest news in Thai philately right now is that Thailand 2016 – the 32nd Asian World Stamp Exhibition – is set to start today, 10 August, at The Mall Ngamwongwan Convention Center in Bangkok.  This is sponsored by the Federation of Inter-Asian Philately (FIAP) which holds several of these large stamp shows each year rotating around its member countries.  For example, the 31st Asian World Stamp Exhibition occurred in Hong Kong last November while the 33rd will be held in Guangxi, China, from 2-6 December and the 34th takes place in Melbourne, Australia, at the end of next March.  Unfortunately, I have never been to a large stamp exhibition in the decade that I’ve lived in Thailand as they always seem to occur when I’m extremely busy with work!

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Thailand is releasing a single stamp today to mark the Thailand 2016 show as well as the annual release on Friday (the 12th) to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday.  According to the Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog, Pos Malaysia will reissue last December’s “Trains in Sabah” miniature sheet with an additional inscription to mark its participation in the show.  Thailand 2016 runs through 15 August.

During my childhood collecting days, I dabbled in Olympic stamps.  The Montreal games of 1976 occurred just after I’d begun collecting and I vividly remember seeking out the commemorations of this event.  Watching the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics in Rio this past week has caused me to reflect on how much the hobby of stamp collecting has taught me about the world. I have always watched the ceremonies no gain some feel for the host country’s culture and language.  I also enjoy seeing the national flags in the parade of athletes and strive to call out the country name before the announcers do. It’s nice to see the real flags that I’ve collected philatelicly through the years.  It’s also wonderful when team members wear their national costumes, which brings to life images usually seen on my album pages. Our hobby is a wonderful learning tool in so many different fields.

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Olympic stamps seem to be even more popular now but most countries issues but so few are affordable to a general worldwide collector such as myself.  I may purchase a few here and there, and probably only on First Day Covers.  I quite like the set issued by Singapore on the day of the Opening Ceremony.  The aforementioned Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog says that the stamps were designed by Andy Koh and lithographed by Lowe-Martin.  The blog gives the set a three-star rating.

I love looking at old photographs, especially those in black and white, so I was quite interested in a recent article on the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum blog telling about Marion Post Wolcott who was the first female photographer for the Farm Security Administration, working for them from 1938-1942. During that time, in the midst of her work highlighting the effects of the Great Depression on regular citizens, she photographed many post offices in rural areas. A search on the Library of Congress’ Print & Photographs Online Catalog uncovers thousands of results, several of which illustrate this edition of “Phila-Bytes”.

Post Offices - Marion Post Wolcott - Ashepoo, South Carolina

With my great interest in Mauritian philately over the past year or so, including a reading of the excellent book Blue Mauritius by Helen Morgan, I cannot figure out how I managed to miss the news that the original copper plate to print the 1p and 2p 1847 issue had been rediscovered at long last.  I nearly missed the news item on StampNews.com as well discussing how the plate was to go to auction this coming December.  A visit to the website of David Feldman – the Geneva-based auctioneer – revealed a nice section devoted to the Mauritius plate, including an excellent documentary and a commemorative book for sale.  I’m going to have to save up for that one at 65 euros, including overseas shipping.  (Um, oops.  I just found out that the book is sold out!)

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Another accidental stumble recently (yesterday!) was found on philatelic author Richard Frajola’s website. The “Edwin Mueller Series on European Classic Stamps and Postal History“, is a collection of articles published in the Mercury Stamp Journal between 1950 and 1962. The focus of the series was to cover the philatelic and postal history of only those European stamp-issuing entities which were independent or had their own postal service before 1875. Mueller counted these at 61, although several issuers were grouped as “forerunners” of later independent nations (Basel, Geneva, and Zurich being grouped with Switzerland, for example). While the author’s death in 1962 prevented the completion of the series, there were 35 published articles covering the issuers from Alsace-Lorraine to the Netherlands.

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The Mueller articles discuss postal stationery, pre-stamp postmarks and cancellations in addition to the stamps themselves in order to give as complete a picture as possible about each entity. This is an excellent resource and I plan to use it to add details in my album page write-ups and those on my A Stamp A Day blog (which are becoming as lengthy as the “Stamp Issuers” series here on Philatelic Pursuits).

Apart from collecting stamps and postcards, my other main holiday is reading.  I began my teaching career in Thailand as a reading teacher back in 2007.  Through my students, I discovered the works of Roald Dahl and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.  I have small thematic collections of stamps related to each.  Thus, my interest was piqued in reading on the Postcrossing.com blog that there is to be an exhibition devoted to Harry Potter at the Singapore Philatelic Museum, perhaps the best stamp museum in the region.  The exhibition will be held from November until next July and the museum is calling upon fans to submit items from their collections for inclusion. 

The SPM is also asking that the public send them Harry Potter-themed postcards.  Cards received by 21 August that include a return address will be reciprocated by a card sent by the museum.  The address is:

          Singapore Philatelic Museum
          23B Coleman Street
          Singapore 179807
          Singapore

 

While I don’t have any Harry Potter postcards, I will send something (perhaps my self-designed Postcrossing anniversary card in the hopes of receiving a card from the SPM.  Perhaps I’ll try to take a mini-holiday down to Singapore around Christmastime and visit the museum again myself.

Post Offices - Marion Post Wolcott - Bynam, North Carolina

That wraps-up the first edition of “Phila-Bytes”.  Please feel free to comment with any suggestions, links to philatelic sites you find interesting, or ideas for a better name.  (I came up with the idea and name while stuck in traffic on the bus last night…)