While the week before was largely celebratory with a three-day local festival plus Valentine’s Day, this past week has been all about work as we prepare for the rapidly approaching end of the school year. While I am a classroom teacher (high school level in the Intensive English Programme this term), I am first and foremost an administrator. This means that in addition to preparing the students for their final exams and assessing them in a number of different categories, I also am in the middle of organizing various activities such as multiple-day English camps, school Open Houses, student entrance interviews for the next school year which begins in early May, and making sure that our current teachers are up-to-date with their own assessments. Since a number of them will return to their home countries soon after the school year ends, new teacher recruitment and interviews are in the near future. Add in the retirement of our head teacher and the impending relocation of my agency’s offices from the basement of a shopping mall into a compound of heritage buildings in the Old Town district will leave very little time for stamps in the immediate future.

People's Republic of China - Scott #2548a (1994) Ancient Pagodas souvenir sheet; ASAD article #970 today details the Iron Pagoda on the 2-yuan stamp from this set.
People’s Republic of China – Scott #2548a (1994) Ancient Pagodas souvenir sheet; ASAD article #970 today details the Iron Pagoda on the 2-yuan stamp from this set.

Yet, somehow I will find the time to relax with various philatelic pursuits. With today’s article on A Stamp A Day, I am now 30 posts shy of 1,000. I have long planned to take a hiatus from that blog once I hit one thousand articles. I have not missed a single day since July 1, 2016, and preparing for each one does take a significant amount of time each day. While taking a break from ASAD, I will attempt to get caught up on my New Issues pages (falling further and further behind right now) as well as such set-aside endeavors as cataloguing, creating album pages (both virtual and physical), and perhaps a bit of soaking and sorting as well.

Another detriment to stamp activities recently has been the current heat wave we are experiencing here in southern Thailand. It has been hotter than I have experienced in nearly 15 years of living in the tropics. I am seriously thinking of moving to a (much more expensive) location so that I can have in-home air-conditioning. I haven’t been able to sleep well due to the heat and even sitting at the computer for any length of time one becomes coated in sweat. It is not comfortable at all. Rather than sitting and writing, I find that I am positioning my laptop between my floor fan and ceiling fan and laying down to read.

A few of the many stamps, sheets, etc. to be released by Great Britain on March 14 picturing Marvel Comics.
A few of the many stamps, sheets, etc. to be released by Great Britain on March 14 picturing Marvel Comics.

There didn’t seem to be much in the way of stamp news over the past week. I think the most significant “event” was Royal Mail’s surprise announcement of a huge set (including expensive prestige books, sheetlets galore and more) depicting Marvel Comics characters. I have yet to find a single stamp blog that has mentioned these stamps in a positive manner. The British issue (due March 14) just looks like a complete money-grab to me; a block of four probably would have been sufficient for the subject matter. I never really cared for comic books growing up and have tired of seeing such designs grace a nation’s stamps. These stamps hold zero interest for me although I did learn the names of a few characters I’d never heard of before (Captain Britain?).

Much more to my liking is a single stamp released by Spain this week commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III. The Correos website has a nice write-up in English for a change.

Spain - 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III (issued February 20, 2019)
Spain – 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III (issued February 20, 2019)

The only thing remotely philatelic I received in the mail this week was my first Postcrossing postcard of 2019. It came from the Netherlands and the stamp didn’t get postmarked. Hopefully, the next one will be a bit more interesting.

Articles published on A Stamp A Day over since the last update were:

  1.  February 15, 2019:  “Canada’s Maple Leaf Flag” (Canada — Scott #2808, 2015) 4,260 words
  2.  February 16, 2019:  “Day of the Shining Star / 광명성절” (North Korea — Scott #1906, 1980) 2,656 words
  3.  February 17, 2019:  “Castle Doria in Dolceacqua” (Italy — Michel #3978, 2017) 1,222 words
  4.  February 18, 2019:  “Huckleberry Finn” (Germany — Scott #B889, 2001) 3,022 words
  5.  February 19, 2019:  “Nicoalus Copernicus” (United States — Scott #1488, 1973) 3,022 words
  6.  February 20, 2019:  “John Glenn and his Orbital Flight aboard Friendship 7” (United States — Scott #1193, 1962) 11,757 words
  7.  February 21, 2019:  “International Mother Language Day” (Bangladesh — Scott #647, 2002) 1,857 words
  8.  February 22, 2019:  “The Iron Pagoda of Kaifeng” (China — Scott #2548, 1994) 1,709 words

Thus, we come to the end of this week’s “Phila-Bytes”. I am contemplating a name-change to something like “The Week in Stamps” or “My Philatelic Week”. Hopefully, I can find the time to brainstorm….

Happy Valentine’s Day or as it is known in Thailand, Wan Rak (“Day of Love”).

The Philatelic Museum in Bangkok has a special Valentine's Day postmark. I really wish the museum in Phuket would do something like this sometime.
The Philatelic Museum in Bangkok has a special Valentine’s Day postmark. I really wish the post office or museum in Phuket would do something similar.

Continue reading “Weekly Phila-Bytes #2019-06 (Valentine’s Edition)”

Today is the birth anniversary of French author Jules Verne and I am in the middle of putting together an article about him for A Stamp A Day. As is often the case, I have more stamps and covers portraying the writer and his works than I can possibly include in the article. So, I have added a slideshow of that material here on Philatelic Pursuits where I have more storage space in which to upload photos. I hope you enjoy the stamps (you can right-click on any of them to view a larger-sized image). If you’re interested in the life of Jules Verne, please have a look at the completed article on A Stamp A Day…

Aside from articles for A Stamp A Day and updates to my New Issues page, I had a relatively stampless week. Part of the reason is that we are currently in the midst of a heatwave — I cannot recall a hotter period of time since moving to the tropics (at least since my body adjusted to constant high temperatures). It is not weather conducive to working on one’s stamp collection: my home doesn’t have air-conditioning and the sweat soon begins dripping off my forehead into my eyes and down my nose. I can cool my workspace with fans but fans and stamps don’t mix no matter how careful I am. During such times, most of my philatelic activity is entirely digital.

Thailand - Symbol of Love (February 7, 2019)
Thailand – Symbol of Love (February 7, 2019)

Today, Thailand Post is releasing its annual “Symbol of Love” issue a week before Valentine’s Day. In recent years this has been a single 5-baht stamp (regular first class domestic rate is 3 baht); they used to issue a pair. I will stop by the post office after work to buy a pane (of ten) and a first day cover or two, perhaps adding a Phuket postmark to the latter (they usually allow me to cancel my own).

The holiday itself is quite popular in Thailand yet the giving of Valentine’s Day cards is rare. Chocolate is a relatively new addition but the giving of bouquets of flowers, usually red or pink rose replacements, is quite common. In schools, students of all ages (and some of the Thai teachers as well), purchase sheets of love-themed stickers and paste them onto each other’s shirts and faces.  The more stickers you are covered with, the more “loved” you are. The stickers are cheaply made so they tend to fall off during the course of the day so you can be progressively less loved as the afternoon wears on.

The only stamp news that I noticed all week concerned new issues. Quite frankly, I have tired of Chinese New Year releases and am amazed at some of the nations who put them out. I doubt that places such as Gibraltar and French Polynesia have a large enough Chinese population to warrant much of a celebration and certainly don’t need multiple stamps and souvenir items to mark the holiday.  However, a lot of stamp, cover and postcard collectors in this part of the world are avidly seeking out and exchanging Year of the Pig stamps with others in some of these far-flung countries and territories.

Åland - Sailing Ships (February 1, 2019)
Åland – Sailing Ships (February 1, 2019)

My favorite stamp issue this week comes from Åland, a Finnish territory in the Gulf of Bohnia which I have avidly collected since they began issuing their own stamps in 1984. The sailing ships Vineta and Parma are featured on a pair issued on February 1, the second to last in the series of stamps utilizing painting by the artist (and sea captain) Allan Palmer. The slideshow below includes the stamps, sheets, first day covers and maximum cards.

In U.S. stamp news, the National Postal Museum reopened on January 29 following the government shutdown and a new edition (the 17th) of the Scott Catalogue of Errors on U.S. Postage Stamps has just been published. Linn’s Stamp News had an interesting article about the past twelve years of the “Forever”-denominated stamps.

United States - Marvin Gaye (April 2, 2019)
United States – Marvin Gaye (April 2, 2019)
United States - Post Office Murals (April 10, 2019)
United States – Post Office Murals (April 10, 2019)

This week, the United States Postal Service announced dates and locations for two previously-announced forthcoming releases: The Marvin Gaye stamp will be issued on April 2 in Los Angeles, California, on what would have been the singer’s 80th birthday. The small town of Piggott, Arkansas, will be the location of the first day of issue ceremonies for the set of 5 Post Office Murals stamps, scheduled for April 10. Located in the northeast corner of the state, Piggott is the northern terminus of the Arkansas segment of the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, a National Scenic Byway, and is perhaps best known for its association with Ernest Hemingway who made frequent and lengthy visits to there to visit his second wife’s parents and wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms and other works while staying there.

Following the onslaught of rate-change stamps on January 27 (and the Gregory Hines stamp on the 28th), plus a few issues in February (10 Cactus Flower stamps on February 15 and an Alabama Statehood single on the 23rd), it appears the USPS is giving U.S. collectors a well deserved break for nearly a month with the next currently scheduled stamp, the Star Ribbon issue, due on March 22.

Great Britain - Leonardo da Vinci (February 13, 2019) Royal Mail announcement
Great Britain – Leonardo da Vinci (February 13, 2019) Royal Mail announcement
Great Britain - Leonardo da Vinci (February 13, 2019) 1 of 12
Great Britain – Leonardo da Vinci (February 13, 2019) 1 of 12

The next big issue by Royal Mail in Great Britain will be a set due on February 13 marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the designs of which were revealed over the past week. I am quite enamored with these and it is difficult to pick a favorite, but 12 stamps (for a face value of £8.04 PLUS a prestige booklet (costing £13.10), not to mention the attendant first day covers, PHQ cards, and more, does seem a bit excessive for such a decidedly non-British subject (oh, the Queen does own these drawings and they will be displayed around the UK in the year to come).

Great Britain - Birds of Prey (April 4, 2019)
Great Britain – Birds of Prey (April 4, 2019)
Great Britain - Queen Victoria Bicentenary (May 24, 2019)
Great Britain – Queen Victoria Bicentenary (May 24, 2019)

On the same date as the da Vinci stamps, the recent Stamp Classics mini-sheet will see a re-release with an exclusive inscription for the STAMPEX show and will be sold exclusively at the three-day exhibition. Release dates have also been announced for the Birds of Prey (April 4), British Engineering (May 2), Queen Victoria Bicentenary (May 24), D-Day (June 2), Curious Customs (July 9), Forests (August 13), Music Giants (September 3), Royal Navy Ships (September 19), and Christmas (November 5) issues, making for some interesting topics this year. I wonder if the “Music Giants” issue will have some tie-in with the U.S. Woodstock anniversary stamp. At any rate, no images for any of these have been revealed other than the two initial images of a Birds of Pray and Queen Victoria stamp when included with the original Royal Mail subject-matter announcement back in December. I imagine these will both be multi-stamp releases, probably in blocks of four.

A Stamp A Day underwent a design change last weekend, the first since I started the blog on July 1, 2016. I hope you like it. Since the last installment of “Weekly Phila-Bytes”, I have published the following articles on A Stamp A Day:

  1.  January 30, 2019:  “Claude Lorrain and the Seaport at Sunset” (France – Scott #3395, 2008) 4,067 words
  2.  January 31, 2019:  “Franz Schubert” (Austria – Scott #391, 1947) 1.541 words
  3.  February 1, 2019:  “Royal Canadian Mounted Police” (Canada – Scott #223, 1935) 3.977 words
  4.  February 2, 2019:  “The Real Robinson Crusoe is Recued!” (Chile – Scott #349, 1965) 4,790 words
  5.  February 3, 2019:  “The Immortal Chaplains of S.S. Dorchester” (United States – Scott #956, 1948) 3.942 words
  6.  February 4, 2019:  “The Federated States of Micronesia & the Last Raider of the Confederate States of America Navy” (Micronesia, Scott #C12, 1985) 5,454 words
  7.  February 5, 2019:  “Chinese New Year 2019 / วันตรุษจีน 2562 ประวัติวันตรุษจีน” (China, New Year Greetings stamp released on January 10, 2019) 373 words
  8.  February 6, 2019:  “The Treaty of Waitangi” (New Zealand, Stanley Gibbons #MS3662, 2015) 3.496 words

Today’s topic will be a literary one, either about Charles Dickens who was born on this date in 1812 or Laura Ingalls Wilder, born 1867. It all depends on the stamps and I will begin working on it in the late afternoon (following my classes and a trip to the post office).

Have a great week….

China - New Year's Greetings (January 10, 2019)
China – New Year’s Greetings (January 10, 2019)

Happy Chinese New Year!

Thailand, and particularly places like Phuket where I live, has a very large Thai-Chinese population stemming from migrations in the late 19th century who arrived to work in the tin mines. My tiny lane just to the north of the historical district of the provincial capital has several Chinese clan shrines which have been setting off fireworks every hour since yesterday morning. All of the schools were closed yesterday and remain shut today. There will be parades through town in the afternoon.

Thus, I am taking a day’s break from blogging so I can go out and enjoy the festivities.

In the meantime, let me offer a few useful phrases (although I cannot pronounce them properly as I am essentially tone-deaf and getting the tones correct is essential in Chinese):

  • 恭喜发财 (Gōngxǐ fācái): “Happiness and prosperity” (use this when receiving gifts or lucky money)
  • 新年好 (Xīnnián hǎo), 过年好 (Guònián hǎo), or 新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè), all of which mean”Happy New Year”
  • 春节快乐 (Chūnjié kuàilè): “Happy Spring Festival”
  • 吉星高照 (Jíxīng gāozhào): “Fortune will smile on you”
  • 心想事成 (Xīnxiǎng shì chéng): “May all your wishes come true”

“Weekly Phila-Bytes” will return tomorrow.