Mail Call 2021

With the New Year comes new ideas for content and my first for 2021 was something I planned to call “Philatelic Purchases” to detail items as I bought them for my collection.

I spent some time designing a logo and then decided to change the name (and scope) to “Mail Call”, reporting on each month’s new additions to my collection.  The majority of those items are purchased online with eBay being my preference, closely followed by Delcampe. My only local stamp purchases are made at the Phuket Philatelic Museum which is a short walk from my home, usually on issue dates with the clerk applying the Phuket Town CDS to my first day covers.

January has proven to be a rather dismal start of the year in so many ways and my mailbox was unhappy quite often.  However, what I did receive was significant on two occasions as I have returned to pre-printed manufactured stamp albums for the first time in many years.  This came, ironically enough, in a month in which an example of my self-made worldwide album was featured in The American Philatelist!

My first additions of the year came on Monday, 4 January which was our first day back at school following a slightly extended holiday due more to a pandemic outbreak than to anything remotely celebratory.  As soon as I was able to clock-out (they use face- and temperature-scanners both upon arrival and departure), I high-tailed it over to the philatelic museum where I purchased Thailand’s first stamp issue of the year, the annual Zodiac New Year stamp.  As in the previous several years, this was based on a sketch by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who happens to be a stamp collector and the patron of the Royal Thai Philatelic Association.  I bought my usual one sheet of ten stamps and a first day cover.  Grand total was 42 Thai baht, or 1.40 in U.S. dollars.

The following day, I received my first eBay-derived purchase of the year (second-to-last Buy It Now of 2020) coming to me from Hamme, Belgium, and postmarked on 15 December.  This was a postcard picturing the settlement of Kasulu which lies in the northwestern part of what is now Tanzania and postmarked on 19 July 1926 at Kigali in the African Great Lakes region. Now the capital of Rwanda, in 1926 this was still a relatively small community, once part of German East Africa, which was occupied by the Belgians during the East African Campaign of World War I. The territory of Ruanda-Urundi was under military occupation from 1916 to 1922 and later became a Belgian-controlled Class-B Mandate under the League of Nations from 1922 to 1945. It was replaced by Trust Territory status under the auspices of the United Nations in the aftermath of World War II and the dissolution of the League but remained under Belgian control. Ruanda-Urundi was granted independence in 1962 as the two separate states of Rwanda and Burundi. Obviously philatelic in nature, it bears overprinted Belgian Congo stamps noting the Belgian occupation as well as the League of Nations mandate.

The first BIG package arrived on Tuesday, 12 January, from America’s Stamp Shop in Berkley, Michigan, having been ordered on 30 December and shipped the following day (with much care, I might add).  In a way, this marks my return to the collecting focus of my youth when I started out with an inherited Scott Modern Album, circa 1938 edition.  This particular package found sitting on my guesthouse lobby’s front counter when I got home from work is the much larger (and heavier!) Scott International Album, Part I covering 1840-1940. 

I had wanted to purchase a copy of “Big Blue” for a number of years now and spent many hours looking for one with the right combination of condition (I didn’t care if it had any stamps within as long as the binder and pages were in good shape) and price, particularly shipping costs.  Alas, this one is nearly pristine with just a small ding in the top of the front cover and even included “several hundred stamps”, perhaps a third of which were duplicates to those already in my collection.  I am very slowly going through it inventorying what is there and adding stamps I previously housed in various stock books.  I will be reporting on my progress with this album in occasional blog entries so look for those if you are interested.

On the same day at the big album arrived, a packet of SuperSafe stamp hinges ordered from a dealer in Rockwell, Texas (mailed on 2 January).  I prefer to use hinges rather than mounts for all but the more expensive MNH stamps (of which I have relatively few) but never order very many at a time due to Thailand’s high humidity.  I don’t need a stockpile of stuck-together stamp hinges!

My next heavy parcel was sitting on the counter downstairs ten days later — Friday, 22 January.  The one contained not one but three new albums, Part II of the Scott International (1941-1949) and two volumes of the French Historical Album published by Pierre de Brimont with one covering the years 1947-1958 and the other 1958-1962, all in pristine condition and with some stamps included. I hope to find some additional volumes of the Brimont albums as these are quite packed with information; those I won on eBay were a real steal with the later volume hammering-down at just USD 0.99! These were purchased from a dealer in Staten Island, New York; the nearly 20-pound carton was postmarked on 13 January making a nine-day trip to Phuket.

After work on the 25th, I stopped off at the Phuket Philatelic Museum once again to purchase the recently released Children’s Day and 150th Anniversary of Wat Ratchapradit issues; both had multiple sheets (2 3-baht and 2 5-baht for the former and 4 5-baht and 1 10-baht sheet plus a souvenir sheet for the latter) making this the first expensive local purchase of 2021. I had gone to the museum on Children’s Day (always the second Saturday in January) but they had not yet received their shipment from Bangkok.  On the 22nd, I received a text from the shop clerk letting me know that both stamp sets had arrived.  I wasn’t able to get there until the 25th but she had previously applied the Phuket postmarks to my covers with the appropriate dates.

The same day, I received a 1941 postcard picturing different views of Rock City high atop Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This was a childhood favorite summertime trip and I am planning an article about the site for my postcard blog once I have accumulated a few more cards. This was meter-dated on 5 January.

Finally, on the last Saturday of the month I received an envelope from Great Britain with a virtually unreadable COVID-themed spray-jet cancellation. This contained an old album page of Italian stamps starting with Scott #23 from 1863 and going up to 1896. Many of the stamps had tears or short perforations plus there were two duplicates within the small lot. Still, I managed to add five good stamps to my Part I album.

Thus ends this first installment of the revamped “Mail Call”. While I don’t have anything as exciting as new albums on the horizon, there are a few nice stamps winging their way (or on the so-called Slow Boat to China) that should be arriving at some point in February.

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