As 2020 draws draws ever nearer to finally ending, Philatelic Pursuits has hit a couple of significant (to me, at least) milestones. The site itself has just (on 8 December) surpassed 100,000 hits since moving to my own server and webhost on 5 January 2020. By contrast, my A Stamp A Day blog took from 1 July 2016 to 13 August 2019 to reach the same number. At the same time, the associated The Stamps of 2020 Facebook group is now at 499 members. I appreciate the support for what began as a way for myself to keep track of new stamp issues. Thank you and I hope you enjoy seeing all these new stamps as much as I do, whether you add them to your own collections or not.
Back in October 2019, when I decided to cover New Issues to the extent that I have over these past 13 months, I knew it would be for a only a single year. My desire was to create a listing of every stamp issued in a single year. While I have fallen short of that lofty goal (thank you, agencies such as IGPC and Stamperija for making an impossible task even more insurmountable), I do have many, many stamp issues that received the “full treatment” in nearly 1,400 different posts so far this year.
I picked 2020 for a variety of reasons, never imagining the year it would become. The first announcement that I came across for a stamp to be issued during 2020 was the now iconic EUROPA issue from Finland which would finally be released in May (some seven months in the future at that point in time). I was excited by the EUROPA theme of “Ancient Postal Routes” and was humored by the fact that Finland chose Santa Claus in his sleigh. I was looking forward to see what other nations came up with in their designs.
I also felt there would be a number of territories drawing parallels between 2020 and the Roaring Twenties of a century before. To date, only Belgium has released such an issue.
Apart from the EUROPA stamps, I felt the big topicals of the year would be those marking the anniversaries of Beethoven, Charles Dickens and the United Nations. As it turned out, these were indeed popular (although Dickens stamps were released by just two entities). These, unfortunately, were completely overshadowed (as were all other stamp releases) by something completely new that continues to dominate international headlines….the Coronavirus COVID-19.
The initial days of lockdown in Thailand saw the first of stamps rumored for release under this newest of topical themes with preliminary designs for a stamp from the People’s Republic of China. Iran eventually held the position of the first actual stamp issued and what began as a trickle eventually became a deluge.
The agencies got into the act by mid-Spring with a few fairly comical and amateurish designs (my favorite being the various “Penny Black Against COVID-19” emissions). As more entities jumped on the bandwagon, a number of people completely new to the hobby joined the pursuit. New collectors is always good for the hobby but at times I became quite frustrated as all anybody seemed to care about were virus stamps when I was trying to track down information on more interesting (to me) issues.
Eventually, I more or less accepted the popularity of the coronavirus stamps and assisted in the organization of the Pandemic Philately group on Facebook to help disseminate information on related releases, including the many rarely seen postmarks and covers.
What is in store for 2021?
For one thing, I want to complete the 2020 listings. While I have accepted that I will never have articles on EVERY issue released during the year, I want to complete the schedules for each of the nearly 200 entities on the site. I have been trying to tabulate the number of actual postage stamps, broken down by entity and month issued, and hope to share those results at some point in the future (mid-January would be nice).
I plan to scale things way down as far as New Issues articles for 2021 stamps. They will still be a part of Philatelic Pursuits but only for select releases. I will continue to track COVID-19 themed stamps and a few other topicals but I am not really interested in this year’s EUROPA theme (“Endangered National Wildlife”). However, the SEPAC theme of “Historical Maps” intrigues me. I will continue to track certain entities in their entirety including Thailand (my home for nearly 16 years and counting), the United States, and a few others.
Other plans include a listing of postal administration websites with a review of each (some provide little to no information about the stamps, others are extremely impressive) and a series of how-to articles (such as creating your own album pages).
I also want to give myself time to resurrect my other blogs. They were sorely neglected throughout of 2020 due to my focus on Philatelic Pursuits. My original personal blog, Asian Meanderings, has been on the skids for a number of years but it would be nice to add new content to A Stamp A Day and Postcards to Phuket more often than I managed in 2020.
Since returning to work on 1 July following 105 days of “lockdown”, what little free time I have managed has been devoted to working on Philatelic Pursuits the site whether tracking down information on stamp issues or finding images of those stamps (and then editing them including adding transparent backgrounds, etc.) and writing the articles. Sometimes, the last task is quite easy as I can cut-and-paste directly from postal administration press releases or articles on their sites but I often need to translate that information into English or do Wikipedia searches.
That has left me very little time to work on my own stamp and postcard collections. While I did add a number of items to my holdings over the course of the year (more since going back to work as I once again had money coming in), many of them remain in unopened envelopes waiting for a period of time when I have time to open them, scan the stamps and covers within, and add them to my stock books or albums. In addition to a number of 2020 issues, I have many stamps waiting to be added to my collections of German East Africa and Third Reich philately.
I received a small number of postcards throughout the year but 2020 was the first year in many that I did not participate at all in Postcrossing (I have been a “light-user” member since 1 July 2006). I think it’s time to request some addresses!
I also did not design or print any local post issues in 2020, although I did design one “Delayed by COVID-19” handstamp. Hopefully, I can brainstorm a few ideas for new Republica Phuketia stamps at some point in 2021.
I would also like to devote some time to catching up on the sheer content that exists to support our hobby of philately. The past year has seen an spectacular increase in the use of social media to promote stamp collecting. This is particularly evident in the rise in quality video content spearheaded by Graham Beck’s YouTube endeavors and expanded by the American Philatelic Society and many private collectors. I have not had the time to watch much more than a smattering of the many available videos. I would also like to eventually create a few of my own but I have a learning curve to navigate first.
Whatever happens in 2021, I certainly hope that it is a year full of new and exciting philatelic pursuits. I hope all of my fellow collectors enjoy the journey as much as I. Thanks again for joining me.