I have paid attention to postmarks for much of my philatelic life. I probably noticed them on the used stamps in my first album (I received my mother’s childhood album as a gift on probably my 10th birthday). I still remember the first time I received a first day cover in the mail — it was Scott #1710 from the United States, a 13-cent stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight and the first of many through what was to be a long subscription to the Postal Commemorative Society. I don’t recall which was the first non-U.S. first day cover I ever saw but do remember it was from Great Britain and was amazed at the elaborate postmark having become accustomed to the standard American “FIRST DAY OF ISSUE” cancellations.
As I got older, I began accumulating special event covers from stamp shows, etc. while looking through dealers’ boxes and later dabbled in postal history and paquebot covers for a time, studying many different types of postal markings. That interest has stuck with me. I didn’t often send off my own covers for special cancellations, however. During a long period living in the U.S. state of New Mexico, I sought out small post offices during my many travels to remote and scenic locations throughout the region. I always had a supply of pre-addressed postal cards in my car and would ask the clerks for a postmark and then drop it in the box outside. They would often arrive home before I did.
When my 30th birthday was approaching, a created a simple cachet and sent pre-addressed postal cards to a number of post offices requesting a cancellation on my birthdate; these included variations on my first, middle and last names as well as places I’d lived up to that point.
While constantly perusing philatelic agency, postal carrier sites and Facebook groups looking for new stamp issue announcements, from time to time I come across interesting pictorial cancellations. Some of these would make great additions to unofficial first day covers while others call attention to local commemorations or events that aren’t associated with a stamp release at all.
I have decided to share these on Philatelic Pursuits. I have created an index page, similar to that for the Christmas 2019 topical stamps that will provide links to the individual posts. I plan to post in a monthly format for most entities and update it as I receive more information and images. Some will be more regular than others (Royal Mail, for example, has a Postmarks page on their site with links to monthly Bulletins while the United States Postal Service also announces many such pictorial postmarks in their own Postal Bulletins).
Thailand, where I have lived since 2004, has special postmarks at post offices throughout the capital city of Bangkok on stamp-release days but I have yet to find a way to order these; one has to either travel to the various post offices (daunting given Bangkok’s horrendous traffic gridlock) or trade with other collectors. Sometimes, multi-postmarked first day covers can be found for sale on eBay and other sites. The General Post Office in Bangkok often has a variety of these handstamps available in the lobby for collectors to use at will. Certain post offices (such as the one at the Thai Stamp Museum) have special postmarks as well. Unfortunately, none of of these are in my own province of Phuket.
If you know of any special postmarks, whether temporary or permanent, please contact me at the email which appears on the bottom of each Philatelic Pursuits.com page, or post the information in the Stamps of 2020 Facebook group.