Greetings, faithful readers of Philatelic Pursuits!
First, I want to apologize for the reduction in New Issues articles throughout the first four months of 2021. My original intention, back in October of 2019, was to ONLY cover the issues of 2020. Who knew the year would involve a global pandemic thus spawning a new, and extremely popular topical? Last year, my position at work also allowed much more free time to work on this site than in 2021. I had planned to move on to other things this year as far as the site was concerned.
Due partly to the numbers of people discovering the hobby of Stamp Collecting for the first time and others returning after a large absence, there has been a huge surge in all aspects of Philately. Demand for information about New Issues seems to be at an all-time high and I constantly receive queries about when I plan to feature the stamps of such-and-such country.
At the moment, we are experiencing a terrible third wave of COVID-19 in Thailand. As a result, I have a bit of an extended holiday so I have spent much of the past three weeks working on this website. Much of this work has been behind-the-scenes, so to speak although I did publish a few articles over the past few days. I intend to resurface, but slowly. More articles will appear, but perhaps not with the frequency of a year ago.
Some of you may have noticed my biggest project — a series of pages listing ALL of the stamp issues for 2021 so far as well as upcoming schedules for a number of places. It is now complete and up-to-date as of today, at least as much as it can be (some stamp issuing entities are not so forthcoming on information).
Before I explain this list, let me state right now that I am NOT a programmer nor do I know anything about coding. I am at the mercy of WordPress and there are limitations. I learn by trial and error. For example, I had wanted to present this list of stamp schedules on one very long page. I quickly ran into size quotas and at one point had it divided into six pages. However, I discovered that, while complete through April, I would not be able to update many territories without adding more pages to it. The end result is that the list comprises 13 pages now (several may need to be split at a later date — the T’s are looking pretty iffy at the moment).
You may enter the Stamp Programmes 2021 listings in several different ways. The 2021 portal page offers the links to individual pages as seen below. They also appear under the 2021 tab in the menu on each page and article of this website.
To offer a bit of explanation in the listings:
You will hear me reference “Entities” quite often. This is short for “stamp-issuing entities” which, I feel is a better way to refer to the postal authorities who issue stamps. While most are full-fledged independent countries, others are territories or even enclaves of other ruling nations. There are a few of these that have more than one postal administration issue stamps within them (i.e., French and Spanish posts for Andorra, central government as well as Croatian and Serbian posts for Bosnia and Herzegovina, two in Kyrgyzstan, etc.). There are organizations such as the three main offices of the United Nations (New York, Geneva and Vienna). There are also listings for some breakaway republics that are recognized by very few, if any, other nations and certainly not the Universal Postal Union (UPU). These include Abkhazia, Artsakh, Transnistria, and others. Entities is my blanket term for all of these stamp issuers. You will see the term as the page title as well (i.e., “Entities A”)
Currently, there are 221 stamp-issuing entities listed on these pages. Of those, 51 have not yet announced any scheduled stamps for 2021. I believe that at least half of the “TBA” entities will eventually issue stamps this year. I am ready with place-holders for when they do.
You will find different colored backgrounds in the listings. Blue means that the stamps have already been released:
Red indicates a stamp scheduled to be released at some point in the future:
A white background simply indicates an entity that has not yet announced a schedule or which no stamps are yet known to have been issued:
The dates are self-explanatory but occasionally you will see “TBD” (“To Be Determined”). That means that the stamp was released but the date is not yet known in the philatelic community. Sometimes, just the month is given but not always. Once I find more accurate information, those listings will be updated. “TBA”, of course, means “To Be Announced” (dates for future stamps, stamp subjects occasionally, or formats).
Yes, the stamps issued by the big agencies such as Stamperija, the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation, and Philatelic Collector Inc. are included here. While two of the three issue huge amounts of stamps that largely never make it to the places whose names are printed on the stamps, there are a few very rare exceptions. Togo is one example where an enterprising postal employee has taken it upon himself to help provide collectors with stamp covers of some of these items. This was particularly helpful for the COVID-related issues of 2020. Most of the PCI-produced stamps do seem to be available from the individual entities’ local postal administrations. Most of the so-called “agency stamps” are designed solely for what some call the “novelty” market — meaning to bilk collectors of the various topics out of money better spent on stamps produced for their intended use of pre-paying postage. Still, there are collectors for this material, perhaps because they like the topic portrayed or maybe the design appeals to them.
The main listings WILL NOT include private personalized stamps/sheets (a few official personalized items do crop up from time to time but only those sold by the postal administrations themselves), private carrier stamps (there are an increasing number of these from Germany), or local post stamps. I may create a separate listing for the latter at some point but it is difficult to find release information on all but one or two or the local post operators. I also do not have listings of the UNESCO or European Council stamps but may add them later if detailed information can be found.
The descriptions in the listings are brief to keep the overall page size as small as possible (at one point, I entertained the thought of including images). I try to list the number of design-different stamps; sometimes the difference is between the types of adhesive — gummed or self-adhesive. Different formats create different problems, particularly when it comes to sheets. I will call an item a “miniature sheet” only when it contains two or more stamps. Thus, a “souvenir sheet” contains a single stamp, whether perforated or imperforate. Different postal administrations use different terminology and it can often be difficult what to call a sheet without the benefit of a photo of the item. I also try to list major items included in the issue such as official maximum cards or prestige booklets but if the listing gets too lengthy, I may cut some of these out (Australia being the most difficult to list, in my opinion).
When the issue name is highlighted in yellow, that means there is a link to an article on Philatelic Pursuits. Light blue indicates a link to another site with information about that particular stamp issue (usually the postal administration). In the future, I hope to add more of both types of links.
My aim is to update these lists at least once every two weeks. My most recent update, at the time of writing, is 29-30 April.
As I had originally intended just to cover 2020 stamps, I made entity pages all dated with last year and including last year’s stamp schedules. I started doing the same with 2021 at the start of this year. I am proud of the entity pages as the more recent ones have included thumbnail histories of the entity, details about their postal history and stamps, maps, flags, etc. But to create new pages each year was a stupid idea. My menu page on WordPress takes quite a bit of scrolling just to move things around!
So, my next major project is to create a menu just for the entities. It will include past (2020) and future (2021 and beyond) stamp schedules on the pages as well as the details mentioned above. I have already finished one — Abkhazia — and will reformat the older ones to fit the new style (I have learned a lot about how to manipulate WordPress since I started this). One of the reasons for the low number of New Issues articles so far this year is that I dreaded making new entity pages before I could do an article. With multi-year pages, this will no longer be a problem. For now, the old entity pages will not be updated until I move them to the new format and spots on the menu. Check the Schedule Pages for the latest updates until that happens.
I also aim to create “Catalogue” articles based on the list of ALL stamps. It will be much faster for me to do this as I will already have the information on the schedules. The first one of these is an updated listing of all COVID-19 themed stamps released in 2020 and 2021. It will be in the same format as the basic schedule pages BUT will have thumbnail illustrations of all the stamps. Clicking the images will bring up a larger version (some are VERY large!). I am perhaps a third of the way done with this “COVID Catalogue” (just finished Guernsey) and hope to have it ready for publication by mid-May.
Future “Catalogue” articles may include the 2021 EUROPA, Sepac and Euromed multi-entity releases; the ASEAN Day 2021 issues from the ten member nations (on or around 8 August), Queen Elizabeth II’s 95th birth anniversary, and perhaps the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001. Thus far, only a few “agency countries” have issues stamps for this latter topical but I feel there may be a few more mainstream releases announced soon. At any rate, there will probably be several U.S. pictorial postmarks to mark the anniversary with plenty of covers to follow. I lost my mother to heart disease shortly before this attack and one of my cousins was a First Responder who eventually died from whatever he breathed in during the recovery searches he did. So, I am interested in this as a personal topical.
Well, I hope you like what I have done with the site and where it is going. With the biggest project behind me, look for an increased number of New Issues articles at least until I have to return to work. Once I am working again, I think that the changes I made to the site will make it easier to put together at least a few articles per week once again. I certainly hope so!
Mark Joseph Jochim
30 April 2021