I am currently reading the latest thriller by Steve Berry, The Malta Exchange, and just came across a passage mentioning stamps. The main character, Cotton Malone, is in Italy where he had a violent encounter with somebody he has discovered is a member of the Knights of Justice.  In the passage, Malone is thinking about what he has learned about the organization:

One hundred and four countries maintained formal diplomatic relations, including an exchange of embassies. It possessed its own constitution and actively operated within fifty-four nations, having the ability to transport medicine and supplies around the world without customs inspections or political interference. It even possessed observer status in the United Nations, issuing its own passports, license plates, stamps, and coins. Not a country, as there were no citizens or borders to defend, more a sovereign entity, all of its efforts focused on helping the sick and protecting its name and heritage, which members defended zealously.”

Palazzo di Malta, Via dei Condotti 68 Roma, headquarters of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Note the flags flying at half-staff after the death of the Grand Master Andrew Bertie. Photo taken by Willtron on February 11, 2008. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Sovereign Military Order of Malta – Yvert et Tellier #184: Baptism of Christ (June 25, 1980). Image sourced from active eBay auction.

Upon reading that, my first thought was, “I have never heard of ‘Knights of Justice’ stamps” but then I realized that Malone is referring to the Knights Hospitaller (founded in 1050 in Jerusalem) which are now officially called the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta and better known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM). It is a Roman Catholic order based in Rome.  A postal administration called the Poste Magistrali was set up for the order under a Decree of the Grand Master on May 20, 1966, with first stamps issued on November15 of that year. I have seen these referred to once or twice but always thought they meant the stamps of Malta, either as a British colony or independent republic.

Of course, now that I know about this issuing entity, I need to seek out some of their stamps. Unfortunately, postal agreements have been established with only 50 or so territories which allow mail sent, provided it is posted at the Magistral Post Office at Via Bocca di Leone 68, Rome. The United States doesn’t have such an agreement with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta nor is the order a member of the Universal Postal Union. As a result, many catalogues view these as Cinderellas or local post stamps and simply do not list them. In fact, the only two major catalogues for which I have found SMOM listings are the Italian-language Unificato and French-language Yvert et Tellier catalogues.

Australia – Queen Victoria Bicentennial gold coin

May 24 marks the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth and a number of entities are planning stamp issues as well as commemorative coins. In searching for new stamps in this topical, I came across a number of coins that I would love to obtain as well. I found the designs from the Perth Mint in Australia particularly beautiful. Oddly, I cannot find an announcement picturing the designs for Great Britain’s upcoming stamp set other than the one that accompanied press releases last December that described this year’s stamp programme.  However, there are several online dealers advertising their first day cover cachet designs picturing the stamps. One example is shown below:

Great Britain – Queen Victoria Bicentennial (May 24, 2019) first day cover
Jersey – Queen Victoria Bicentennial (May 24, 2019)

The set from Jersey is another of my early favorites. This is an island I began collecting about the same time I started my childhood collections of Pitcairn Islands and Tristan da Cunha (sometime around late 1978 or early 1979). My other great interest at this time was North Atlantic ocean liners and I had just started a correspondence with Noel R.P. Bonsor, an author who had a series of books that profiled virtually every passenger ship that had steamed across the Atlantic since the early days of Samuel Cunard’s beginnings. Bonsor divided his time between a residence on Jersey and a villa in Alicante, Spain, and we traded letters back and forth for many years. Eventually, he began sending me stamp issues (mostly in presentation packs) from Jersey. I stopped actively collecting the bailiwick’s releases sometime in the 1990’s when they began releasing far too many stamps to keep up with (or afford). However, I will try to add the Queen Victoria set. The souvenir sheet is particularly striking:

Jersey – Queen Victoria Bicentennial (May 24, 2019) souvenir sheet
Thailand – Coronation of King Rama X (May 4, 2019)

Here in Thailand, everybody is getting reading for this weekend’s Coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, usually referred to in the West as King Rama X. There have already been a plethora of ceremonies and events associated with the event and the King himself got married Wednesday afternoon to the head of his Royal bodyguard detail (his father, the much revered King Bhumiphol Adulyadej, similarly married Queen Sirikit just prior to his own coronation back in 1950). The actual coronation ceremony occurs tomorrow (May 4) but the grand procession through the streets of Bangkok is scheduled for Sunday afternoon and Monday is a special holiday for the Kingdom.  All government employees (myself included) are to wear the Royal color of yellow every day for the entire month of May. Thailand Post’s stamp for the Coronation will be released tomorrow; while there are special postmarks available from many of the post offices in Bangkok, I doubt any of the post offices here in Phuket will be open. I have to work all day anyway and it won’t be until next week that I will be able to buy any of the new stamps (and there are several due for release next Friday so I may just wait until then).

Canada – Sweet Canada (April 17, 2019)

I have a fair amount of stamps that make me hungry looking at them, particularly those from Thailand, Malaysia, and New Zealand that portray the wonderful fruit we have in this part of the world.  I now have the opportunity to add a few picturing sweets thanks to delectable sets released by Canada and Singapore, coincidentally (?) both on April 17.  The Sweet Canada set has received some controversy as confectionary “experts” claim the proportions of chocolate, custard and crumb crust are pictured incorrectly on the design featuring the famed Nanaimo bar. It still looks tasty to me!  The stamps in Singapore’s Traditional Confections set are just as mouth-watering.

Singapore – Traditional Confections (April 17, 2019)

I haven’t spent much time on the stamp blogs lately but I did read an excellent article by John M. Hotchner on the Virtual Stamp Blog about “Collecting On A Tight Budget“, something I totally relate to.  I also came across an essay that was originally broadcast on CBC Radio discussing “The Lost Art of Writing Letters“.

“May 5, 1862 and the siege of Puebla”, a 1901 image from the Biblioteca del Niño Mexicano, a series of booklets for children detailing the history of Mexico.”

Sunday is, of course, the 5th of May — a date which is celebrated in Mexico and the American Southwest as Cinco de Mayo. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. Oddly, the holiday has taken on a greater significance in the U.S. than in Mexico, and has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. These celebrations began in California, where they have been observed annually since 1863. The day gained nationwide popularity in the 1980s thanks especially to advertising campaigns by beer and wine companies. Today, Cinco de Mayo generates beer sales on par with the Super Bowl. I plan to celebrate in my own way with a nice meal of Mexican food, a real hit-or-miss affair in Phuket, Thailand. Luckily, one of the island’s best restaurants serving Mexican food in located not far from my home.

Mexico – Children’s Day (April 26, 2017)

I am also thinking about putting together a Cinco de Mayo article for the long-hibernating A Stamp A Day blog as I have several stamps that commemorate the Battle of Puebla. Over the past several months, I have added quite a few Mexican stamps to my collection, many are modern stamps commemorating various holidays and other annual celebrations, something I think they do consistently well (much better than some of the other entities I collect). There are a number of other Mexican holidays in May for which I have stamps including the birthday of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla — the initiator of the Mexican Independence War — on the 8th, Día de las Madres (Mother’s Day) on the 10th, and Día del Maestro (Teachers’ Day) on the 15th.

 

Most people arm themselves with water cannons such as this in order to “celebrate” Songkran, the Thai New Year, during which huge amounts of water are sprayed at or dumped on complete strangers and friends alike.

There were quite a few new stamp issues announced over the past week as I fall farther and farther behind on my listings of the year’s stamps. In fact, I have not done anything to these pages in perhaps two weeks and am trying to push myself to get back on-track. Part of the “problem” has been the extreme heat wave that we have been trying to endure here in Thailand.  There has been very little rain since December in Phuket and the reservoirs that hold our daily-use water are all but dry. We had a brief respite for Thai New Year (Songkran) which has become a nationwide all-out water fight when nobody cares about conserving what little water there actually is.  I often wake up around four or five in the morning to find the temperature already hovering at 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and it only goes up from there. Luckily, I do have air-conditioning at my office (my home has two powerful fans but they just move the hot air back and forth). The heat saps your energy and it is a struggle to do anything at all.

However, I did find a burst of motivation mid-week as I began “formally” preparing for my participation at SINGPEX 2019. The 36th Asian International Stamp Exhibition will occur from July 31 through August 4 at the SUNTEC Convention Centre in the Lion City and will be my first big stamp show since Pacific 97 in San Francisco twenty-two years ago. This is also my first trip outside of Thailand since I journeyed to Cambodia (Angkor Wat!) in April 2013. I booked my accommodation early in the week; Singapore is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE and I ended up with a room in a capsule hotel which, I suppose, is one step up from a dorm bed in a hostel. I am watching my budget closely on this trip as I plan to stay in Singapore for six days and want to have enough cash for plenty of stamps and supplies (my main goal is to find some decent albums and update a few catalogues). I am really looking forward to the show.

Possible t-shirt design for my participation at SINGPEX. At the very least, I will have a rubber stamp made of the postmark for adding and cancelling my local post stamps onto covers posted during my trip.

As I didn’t have any classes on Thursday, I began the day working on company-logoed polo shirt designs for my teachers’ agency. This naturally led to my designing a few shirts to print for my Singapore trip, playing around with back print designs with various Thailand stamps that have been issued promoting Phuket (there are not very many of these, unfortunately). This, in turn, led to my designing a commemorative postmark which became a design to use for cancelling my local post stamps while attending the exhibition as an addition to any covers and postcards I may send while there. I briefly thought about designing special REPUBLICA PHUKETIA stamps for SINGPEX as well but I still have quite a few remaining definitives and commemoratives from last year’s print run with yourstamps of Germany. I suppose I could create a rubber stamp overprint should I feel I need to add anything.

Closed until 2020!
Singapore Philatelic Museum — Closed until 2020!

I am disappointed to discover that the Singapore Philatelic Museum closed in March for renovations that are planned to last until the end of 2020. I had been looking forward to a return visit to this, perhaps the best stamp museum in Southeast Asia, during my upcoming trip. My last visit was back in October 2006 while I was in Singapore obtaining my first long-stay Thai visa but I was not able to fully explore the museum due to time constraints. While there will be plenty to see and do (and buy) at SINGPEX, I was hoping to obtain some dual first day cancellations there as well as purchase a few souvenirs.

Artsakh - National Birds, Europa (March 22, 2019) sheet of 10, 2 designs
Artsakh – National Birds, Europa (March 22, 2019) sheet of 10, 2 designs

Two of the topicals that I have been avidly following in 2019 are those stamps released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing and this year’s EUROPA stamps which all relate to “National Birds”. While perusing newly-released stamps of the latter topic was a set from a stamp-issuing entity that I initially didn’t recognize, the Republic of Artsakh (Արցախի Հանրապետություն — Artsakhi Hanrapetut’yun in Armenian). A quick view of the Wikipedia page told me this is the place I already knew under the name of Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is closely linked in every way to Armenia and accessible only through Armenia. Having released stamps under the latter name since 1993, the “republic” has been recognized only by three other self-proclaimed and unrecognized states, Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Although Armenia supports Nagorno-Karabakh economically and militarily, they have not recognized the region’s independence.

According to the europa, cept, norden & sepac stamps information blog,

The stamps issued by the Republic of Artsakh aren’t recognized on an international level, not by the UPU nor by PostEurop. Those stamps are listed in most stamps catalogues (Gibbons, Yvert & Tellier, Michel) and most Europa stamps collectors collect those stamps even if they aren’t official stamp issues.”

Map and flag of the Republic of Artsakh

The change in name to Artsakh came about in 2017 and the stamp designs are reminiscent of those of Armenia (the same designers and printers?) . I have recently become interested in Armenian stamps which are fairly easy to find on eBay. There are also at least two websites selling them, Armenian Stamps.com (which lists Karabakh stamps up to 2017) and Stamps of Armenia (which does not seem to list any of the issues by the various break-away states). The region seems like an interesting one to visit; although the city of Stepanakert does have an airport, flights are not allowed to land or take off due to Azerbaijan’s threats of shooting them down. Access is easy by road from Armenia; if you plan to visit Azerbaijan, you should go BEFORE entering Armenia or Artsakh as visas from those places will either see you turned away at the border or arrested. The people in Artsakh are said to be quite friendly and hitch-hiking is a recommended form of exploring the area.

Other recently-issued and forthcoming National Birds/EUROPA stamps that have caught my eye have been those from Ireland (April 11), Faroe Islands (April 29), Monaco (May 6), and Åland (May 9). These, and more, are included in the slideshow below:

United States – George H.W. Bush (June 12, 2019)

The only recent addition to the United States Postal Service program for 2019 was the announcement and design revelation for the expected stamp to honor former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush,, who passed away December 1, 2018, at the age of 94. He was born June 12, 1924, and U.S. custom is that former presidents are honored with a stamp on their first birthday after their death. The design of the nondenominated (55¢) commemorative Forever stamp was revealed Saturday, April 6 and will be sold in panes of 20 starting with the first day of issue ceremony on June 12 at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

I have long collected the stamps of France, particularly less-than-recent issues which were extremely beautiful in their designs the majority of which continued utilizing intaglio engraving long after other stamp issuers ceased doing so. My affinity for Paris, in particular, has been strong since my high school days learning the French language in the U.S. Midwest.  As a result, I have amassed a nice collection of stamps portraying such iconic sites of Paris as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. The first news that reached me of the latter’s burning last Monday came via a philatelic page on Facebook and I became increasingly saddened as a scrolled further along the page finding additional details and mourning over the tragedy from all quarters — childhood and school friends in Texas and Kansas, news sites from around the world (including Thailand) as well as numerous Facebook groups (in additional to many in the stamp world, I am also a member of various Francophile, history and archaeology groups all of which had something to offer about Notre-Dame in the fire’s wake). Here is my small tribute to Notre-Dame with some of the stamps and postcards coming from my own collection, others found on eBay:

I hope that the next week brings happier events.

I have never been a fan of bees.  I am not allergic to the sting but I find them quite unpleasant and have a long history of unpleasant encounters with them, not to mention hornets, wasps and the like.  At least we don’t seem to have such stinging pests in Thailand, at least not where I live.

United Nations Postal Administration (New York/Geneva/Vienna) - World Bee Day (May 20, 2019)
United Nations Postal Administration (New York/Geneva/Vienna) – World Bee Day (May 20, 2019) souvenir sheets

As an anti-bee person, I never gave their appearance on stamps a second thought despite their being a rather popular topical. That may change, however, with the recent release of an attractive set of bee stamps by Malaysia and a forthcoming set by the United Nations Postal Administration for all there of its issuing offices.  The latter will mark World Bee Day on May 20 and will be UNPA’s first “scratch-and-sniff” stamps with a honey scent on the flowers. Which makes me wonder, “Will the stamps attract real bees with the honey scent?” It is a good thing that nobody has issued edible stamps either (imagine the cataloging — “that’s the half-eaten variety”, “the regurgitated variety”) or I would be sorely tempted. Honey is one of the foods I miss; Thai-made honey is really the worst I have ever eaten and non-Thai honey sold here is extremely expensive (I once ordered a jar from Pitcairn Island — still the best I have tried — and the shipping cost was less than the average cost of a jar sold here).

Malaysia - Honey Bees of Malaysia (April 9, 2019) advertisements
Malaysia – Honey Bees of Malaysia (April 9, 2019)
New Zealand - Space Pioneers (May 1, 2019) se-tenant strip of 5
New Zealand – Space Pioneers (May 1, 2019) se-tenant strip of 5

Lately, it seems there have been a plethora of such “unusual” stamps with the fabric stamps from Luxembourg and the Vatican City, other odd-materials stamps made of items such as different forms of wood and metal and the ever-creative shapes such as Malaysia’s honeycombed-shaped stamps for its bee issue (not to mention a bee-shaped souvenir sheet as well). I am finding myself increasingly drawn to such non-traditional stamps and am looking forward to finding more. However, I will have to forego the recent issue from Liechtenstein that includes an attached 1-gram .999.99 fine gold ingot and probably Romania’s silver stamp issued for Easter.

One of the more unusual materials I have come across will be featured on the upcoming Space Pioneers set to be released by New Zealand Post on May 1. As soon as I saw the design, I became a fan of the se-tenant strip of stamps featuring portraits of various Kiwis who had contributed in some way to space exploration through discoveries, inventions or observation with the individual stamps forming a rocket shape (the portraits peering out of portholes in the fuselage). While the majority of space-themed stamps released in 2019 are designed to commemorate the Apollo 11 spacecraft or the astronauts who flew on that mission, it is nice to see New Zealand Post once again thinking outside of the box. What makes this set (and the accompanying 3D lenticular souvenir sheet) even more interesting is that they have been topped off with a sprinkling of crushed meteorite, creating stamps that are quite literally “out of this world”.

Faroe Islands - The Moon Landing 1969 (April 29, 2019)
Faroe Islands – The Moon Landing 1969 (April 29, 2019)

Another space stamp that I will definitely be ordering is the Faroe Islands commemorative for the Apollo 11 anniversary. There are several reasons for my interest, aside from the topical. I have avidly collected stamps and postal history from the Faroes since the late 1980s. It was one of my first completed country collections along with Åland Islands (I used to have nice Davo hingeless albums for both). However, upon reading the story about the artist who designed the single 17-kroner stamp makes it somewhat more personal. The stamp depicts one of artist Edward Fuglø’s first childhood memories — that of his father pointing out the moon at the time of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s arrival upon the surface. At the time, the Faroe Islands had no television access so those living there received news of the Apollo 11 mission via radio relays between Denmark Radio studios in Copenhagen and Útvarp Føroya, the Faroese radio station. Fuglø was just four years old at the time of the moon landing, as was I when my parents allowed me to stay up late for Armstrong’s historic “one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind.” To this day, I believe those ghostly images to be my own earliest memory.

Edward Fuglø - The Seagull Has Landed (2012)[
“The Seagull Has Landed” painted by Edward Fuglø (2012)

In the description about the Faroe Islands Moon Landing stamp, it mentioned that Edward Fuglø had once “created a nine-meter-long satirical painting entitled ‘The Seagull Has Landed’, showing an astronaut planting the Faroese national flag on the Moon, while a group of other astronauts engage in the traditional Faroese chain dance on the Moon’s surface.” A portion of this is shown on Posta’s website but I just had to track down a copy of the original painting. I finally found it on Fuglø’s website (under Works\2012);I think it would make a mighty fine stamp in it’s own right.

United States - Scott #1805-1806 (1980) Letters Preserve Memories/P.S. Write Soon
United States – Scott #1805-1806 (1980) Letters Preserve Memories/P.S. Write Soon

An online article for Linn’s Stamp News this week reminds me that April is National Card and Letter Writing Month in the United States. I try to participate such activities as often as I can (although I missed A Month of Letters this February) and will request a few more addresses for Postcrossing this month. I have done quite a few activities during English lessons over the years revolving around writing (and designing) postcards over the years.  There are a few interesting lesson plans (with downloadable materials) on the Scholastic website associated with National Card and Letter Month, several of which I will try in classes in the upcoming school year (April in Thailand is a month-long holiday period). The card and envelope templates on the site are especially nice.

Finally, on this rather short weekly update (as I would like to get out and participate in some New Year’s Eve festivities — tomorrow is the Thai New Year), I wanted to mention that 12 years ago today the first of the FOREVER-priced stamps issued by the United States Postal Service was released.  The Liberty Bell housed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was chosen as the first subject to be featured on such a  stamp which are sold at the current first-class postage rate, remaining valid even if that rate rises in the future. If you buy a Forever stamp at 49 cents per stamp and the first-class postage rate rises in six months to $0.55 per stamp, you are saving six cents for every letter you send. The first of the Liberty Bell stamps was issued on April 12, 2007. At the time, the USPS stated, “The Liberty Bell is an icon that resonates for freedom and independence for all of America, and those are exactly the qualities we want people to associate with the Forever stamp.”  Thirteen varieties of this design were released between 2007 and 2010; the stamp on the first day cover pictured in this article is Scott #4128 from the ATM booklet printed by Avery Dennison with serpentine die-cut perforations of 8.

United States - Scott #4128 (2007) first day cover
United States – Scott #4128 (2007) first day cover

The Forever stamp was so successful for the Postal Service that in 2011, they started using Forever stamps for almost all first-class stamps. In 2015, the postal service extended the Forever stamp concept to postcard-rate stamps and more. According to a 2015 notice from the USPS, the Forever Stamps eliminate “the need for customers and the Postal Service to acquire and distribute new denominated stamps in anticipation of price changes affecting these stamp types, each time a price change occurs.” It is hard to believe that all of this began just 12 years ago — AFTER I had moved away from the United States….forever.

See you next week.  And “Happy Thai New Year” (Sawasdee pii mai Thai) everybody!

 

It has been way too long (two weeks and counting) since my last philatelic update. Much of that time was spent during a two-week Summer Camp at a temple school on the opposite site of the island and nearly a week of “recovery” as my body rebelled against my brutal schedule and our current heat wave. Earlier this week, I lost nearly 1-terabyte of data when an external hard drive (my main backup drive) became corrupted; this includes every stamp in my collection (duly scanned and catalogued over the course of about five years) and many other philatelic files. The good news is that I will be able to recover most of that data; the bad news is that it will cost me quite a bit of time and money.

Moving forward….

Macedonia – 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing (March 21, 2019) first day cover

While I was ill, I started to read Dick Parry’s Moonshot in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The first few stamps have been released in commemoration and the United States Postal Service announced their upcoming two-stamp release about a week ago. These will be released at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 19. The images have been publicized far and wide and there has been quite a bit of criticism about the “boring” nature of the  stamps, not to mention the fact that a living person appears on one contrary to U.S. stamp “law”. The designs have grown on me a bit (my first impression was probably, ho-hum). The fun, I think, will be in tracking down those being released elsewhere. I quite like the Apollo 11 stamp from Macedonia, seen above on a first day cover.

Thailand Post #1165 – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) set of four sheet stamps
Thailand Post #1165 – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) first day cover

The next new stamps to be issued by Thailand Post will be the annual set marking Thai Heritage Conversation Day on April 2. This is always one of my favorite issues each year and the 2019 edition features murals from Buddhist temples in Thailand’s southern provinces. While Songkhla is relatively safe, the far southern areas of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala (not featured here) have been war-torn for years due to border unrest with Malaysia. A majority of the population is Muslim and many in the region would like to see these provinces either returned to Malaysia or become their own independent state. Talks are virtually nonexistent and bombings frequent, often targeting teachers and schools. Needless to say, I have yet to visit this area of Thailand. The images used on the stamps were provided by Associate Professor Dr. Somporn Thuri of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at Rajamangala University of Technology in Thanyaburi. Google Translate tells me the murals are as follow:

Thailand Post #1165 – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) four sheets of 10 stamps each

3.00 baht (Type 1): Chumamani Chedi, Khok Khian Temple, Narathiwat Province
3.00 baht (Type 2): Tradition of giving alms to merit merit for those who passed away, Pa Si Temple, Pattani Province
3.00 baht (Type 3): The event in the story of Phra Wessadon Chadok, Khu Tao Temple, Songkhla Province
3.00 baht (Type 4): History of Buddhism at the time of descending from Dao Dueng Temple, Wat Pha Phra, Songkhla Province

As usual, there will also be a souvenir sheet although Thailand Post has not yet released any details about it other than the image below (which appears to me as a self-adhesive):

Thailand – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) souvenir sheet of one
Vatican City and Poland – 100th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations Restored (March 29, 2019) first day covers

I quite enjoy joint-issue stamps with the same or similar designs released by two different entities concurrently. On March 29, Poland and the Vatican City each released a single stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Poland and the Holy See. I consider Vatican stamps to be some of the most beautifully designed in the world and Poland is a nation near and dear to my heart. I will be ordering these as soon as possible.

Free download from the Royal Philatelic Society London

It is always fun to find free resources, particularly when they pertain to our hobby.  The Royal Philatelic Society London is currently offering a 109-page PDF-format extract of Stamp Perforation: The Somerset House Years — 1848 to 1880, originally published in 2006 as the culmination of a number of years of research and collaboration. Parts 1 and 2 of the book dealt with the history and introduction of perforation, whereas Part 3 (the majority of which is included in the free download) covered perforation varieties, with a large section on constant perforation varieties, commonly known as broken perforation pin varieties. Visit this page for the download links for the extract and a few additional resources as well.

Canada – Canadians in Flight (March 27, 2019)

One of the few philatelic-related projects NOT on my (semi-)failed backup drive were my folders containing images for my New Issues pages as well as my spreadsheets detailing those releases. Within the next few days, I plan to get back on-track updating the information, seeking out quality images and updating the pages themselves. I have already brought the U.S. and Thailand pages up-to-date (several release dates and a few images added to the former, images and details added to the latter). The worldwide monthly pages are a bit more intimidating, particularly with numerous new issues having been announced or released recently. A particularly favorite from last week is a five-stamp set picturing Canadians in Flight.

As we head into the Thai New Year holiday (Songkran), there is a distinct slow-down at work although my administrative duties will probably increase this week as our long-time Head Teacher departs and the new Head takes his place. As Deputy Head Teacher, it will be my responsibility to train my new boss as we begin accepting applications and assigning teachers to our contracted schools in advance of the next school year (which will begin in early May). With my putting A Stamp A Day “on vacation” for the foreseeable future, I should be able to handle my workload and still have time to get tackle quite a few philatelic pursuits in the next few weeks.  Now that my exhaustion/illness seems to have subsided, I am ready to move forward…

The final baker’s dozen ASAD articles since my last update covered a wide range of topics and I was very successful in avoiding such heavily-highlighted issuers as the United States, Germany and Canada. My current plan is to return to writing articles for that blog once I have the Philatelic Pursuits New Issues pages up-to-date. If I am lazy, that might be a while….

  1.  March 13, 2019:  “The Phoenix Lights” (San Marino — Scott #1396, 1997) 3,590 words
  2.  March 14, 2019:  “Birth of Einstein, Death of Hawking” (Isle of Man — Michel #2178-2179, 2016) 2,044 words
  3.  March 15, 2019:  “The Assassination of Julius Caesar” (Italy — Scott #217, 1929) 3,806 words
  4.  March 16, 2019:  “The Seal of St. Vincent Colony” (St. Vincent — Scott #197, 1955) 954 words
  5.  March 17, 2019:  “St. Patrick’s Day” (Ireland — Scott #121, 1943) 2,506 words
  6.  March 18, 2019:  “St. Vincent and the Grenadines:  Mickey’s School of Education” (St. Vincent and the Grenadines — Scott #2252 (1996) 1,726 words
  7.  March 19, 2019:  “Post #995:  Sydney Harbour Bridge” (Australia — Scott #2675e, 2007) 4,429 words
  8.  March 20, 2019:  “Post #996:  The Grenadines of St. Vincent” (The Grenadines of St. Vincent — Scott #909, 1992) 946 words
  9.  March 21, 2019:  “Post #997:  Natalicio de Benito Juárez” (México — Scott #1229, 1981) 4,368 words
  10.  March 22, 2019:  “Post #998:  World Water Day” (Uruguay — Scott #2067, 2004) 899 words
  11. March 23, 2019:  “Post #999:  Coastwatchers in the Solomon Islands” (Solomon Islands — Scott #333, 1976) 1,886 words
  12. March 24, 2019:  “Post #1000:  One Thousand (!)” (Free City of Danzig — Scott #127, 1923) 1,807 words
  13. March 25, 2019:  “A Thousand and One Posts…Going on Vacation!” (Mali — Scott #879, 1997) 1,074 words

Thank you, dear readers.  I hope I don’t take as long with the next update….

It was a busy week for me so I couldn’t devote as much time to philatelic pursuits I would have liked. I did maintain my daily posts to A Stamp A Day (and topped 100,000 words for this month with Saturday’s blog) ans have been working on my new issues spreadsheet mentioned in last week’s “Phila-Bytes”. I had planned to compile the latter into a series (first monthly, then bi-weekly) of articles listing and illustrating all of the new releases I could find from around the world. I got a late start on it, not anticipating how much time it would actually involve. My revised plan is to publish it as a page which will be a work-in-progress added to and updated throughout the year. I hope to have the January portion finished within the next week or so (I have information and images of more than 150 separate stamp issues for this month alone).

United States - Transcontinental Railroad (2019)
United States – Transcontinental Railroad (2019)

The biggest stamp-related news this week was yesterday’s United States Postal Service announcement of a few additional upcoming stamp issues. There is still no word on the Apollo 11 anniversary but the Transcontinental Railroad is indeed being commemorated with three stamps, two illustrating the locomotives Jupiter and No. 119 with the third showing the Golden Spike driven when the trains met at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869. A set of four stamps will mark “Military Working Dogs”, a very worthy subject. Abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly has ten of his paintings appearing in a pane of twenty stamps while tennis champion Maureen Connolly Brinker, also known as “Little Mo” — gets a stamp of her own. Finally, the “Star Ribbon” stamp will be issued in coil rolls of 10,000 and panes of 20. According to the USPS press release:

The artwork features a digital illustration of a star made of red, white and blue ribbon. The white space in the middle of the ribbon creates a second smaller star. The tri-colored ribbon, folded into a patriotic symbol, is intended to evoke the connectedness of the American people.”

Release dates have yet to be announced for any of these stamps.

Canada - Albert Jackson (January 25, 2019)
Canada – Albert Jackson (January 25, 2019)

I didn’t see any advanced notice for the latest set released by the Netherlands other than a press release on the date of issue, January 24. This is a miniature sheet containing two stamps with slightly different designs commemorating “220 Years of Postal Service.” On the same day, Canada Post announced a stamp to honor Albert Jackson, thought to have been Canada’s first black letter carrier. This was issued on January 25 in booklets of ten.

I am not an error collector but it’s always interesting when a new one is reported in the new, particularly on modern issues that are still available from post offices. Last week, Linn’s Stamp Newsan article ran detailing the discovery of multiple imperforate panes of the John Lennon stamps released by the United States last October (Scott #5312-5315). These are missing the die-cuts used to separate self-adhesives stamps from each other. Thus far, more than twenty sheets with this error have been found in Iowa, Florida, and New York. It is likely there are more to be found.

Philosateleian Post - First Moon Landing (January 28, 2019)
Philosateleian Post – First Moon Landing (January 28, 2019)

The Local Post Collectors Society commemorates “World Local Post Day” on the last Monday of January with the organization’s members “releasing” their own stamps marking a common topic. I created stamps for two of these — the World War I centennial in 2014 and the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black in 2015. Both of these were under the moniker of Muang Phuket Local Post (which became Republica Phuketia this past year). Members of the society chose the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing for the 2019 World Local Post Day theme with stamps being “issued” on January 28. Philosateleian Post‘s design carried an image of Neil Armstrong’s boot in the lunar surface. You can receive a mint single of Philosateleian Post’s First Moon Landing stamp or first day cover by sending either USD $2.00 or a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request to:

Kevin Blackston
Philosateleian Post
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America

Isle of Man - Manx Buses (January 29, 2019) first day cover
Isle of Man – Manx Buses (January 29, 2019) first day cover

My two favorite new issues of this week are a set of six released by the Isle of Man on January 29 depicting Manx buses and a souvenir sheet containing a single stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the Polish banknote. A promotional image even points out all the various security features of the release by Poland.

Poland - 100th Anniversary of the Polish Banknote (January 25, 2019) security features
Poland – 100th Anniversary of the Polish Banknote (January 25, 2019)

This Friday (February 1) is a particularly heavy day with new stamps scheduled to be released by entities as diverse as Åland, Belarus, Japan, Spain, and the New York office of the United Nations. Next Tuesday (February 5) will also see a number of new issues from Estonia, Jersey, Malawi, and New Zealand. That day is also the start of Chinese New Year so I may be more involved in that than blogging. Time will tell….

I didn’t receive any stamps in the mail this week so all that remains is to list my articles published on A Stamp A Day since the last edition of “Weekly Phila-Bytes”:

  1. January 22, 2019:  “The Pontifical Swiss Guard” (Vatican City Scott #1316, 2005) 4,417 words
  2. January 23, 2019:  “Bathyscaphe USS Trieste’s Record-Breaking Dive” (Switzerland Scott #946, 1994) 2,300 words
  3. January 24, 2019:  “Sutter’s Mill & the California Gold Rush” (United States Scott #954, 1948) 5,933 words
  4. January 25, 2019:  “Thailand’s War Against Britain & the United States” (Phuketia MPLP #Ph48, 2018) 6,181 words
  5. January 26, 2019:  “General Douglas MacArthur” (United States Scott #1424, 1971) 7,572 words
  6. January 27, 2019:  “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” (Germany Scott #1691, 1991) 4,470 words
  7. January 28, 2019:  “King Henry VII of England” (North Korea Scott #2662, 1984) 2,305 words
  8. January 29, 2019:  “Stamford Raffles & the Founding of Modern Singapore” (Singapore Scott #40, 1955) 4,302 words
United States - Star Ribbon (2019)
United States – Star Ribbon (2019)

I still have not decided on a topic for today’s ASAD entry as January 30 is filled with anniversaries of such things as the beheading of King Charles I of England in 1649, the execution of Oliver Cromwell in 1661, the legendary Akō incident during which forty-seven rōnin (leaderless samurai) avenged the death of their master in 1703, the first assassination attempt against a United States President (Andrew Jackson) in 1835, and the successful assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. I do not feel like writing about death this evening. It is also the birth anniversary of German flutist, flute maker and Baroque music composer Johann Joachim Quantz which interests me because of his middle name but I don’t have any stamps picturing him (at least one has been issued by Germany). Thus, it will be a “random stamp day” which means I will search through folders of stamps scanned from my collection until one catches my eye. In these instances, I try to choose something easy (such as an animal or a scenic place) that won’t involve too much research or assembly time. This will be only the second “random stamp day” this month (this year, for that matter); I usually average about 10-12 per month.

Before getting started on that (article #947), it’s time for a trip to the local outdoor market for dinner.

I hope everybody enjoys their weekend.

United States - Ellsworth Kelly (2019)
United States – Ellsworth Kelly (2019)

October 9 is World Post Day, commemorating the date in 1874 that the Universal Postal Union was established. The week surrounding this date is also marked as International Letter Writing Week. My A STAMP A DAY blog has several articles about the Universal Postal Union and the commemorations of it, most extensive are those that appeared on this date in 2016 and one I published yesterday.

I have obtained a number of stamps over the years that specifically celebrate either International Letter Writing Week or World Post Day; many more in my collection mark the Universal Postal Union in some way (I have most of the 1949 omnibus for the UPU’s 75th anniversary, for example). I put together about 90 of my favorites for the slideshow below, titled by catalogue numbers (mostly Scott, but some of the newer stamps bear numbers from Michel, Stanley Gibbons, Thailand Post, and the UPU’s own World Numbering System..

Enjoy the stamps, write some letters (or postcards), and use the posts in your country!

 

Continue reading “World Stamp Day / International Letter Writing Week”

744px-Blason_Ordre_Malte_3D.svg
1500px-Flag_of_Italy_(1861-1946).svg

Aegean Islands (Dodecanese)
Italian Islands of the Aegean
Isole Italiane dell’Egeo

LOCATION: Aegean Sea – Group of 12 islands, plus Rhodes and Castelrosso
GOVERNMENT: Military occupation and intermediate colony of Italy
POPULATION: 132,289 (est. 1936)
CAPITAL: Rhodes
FIRST STAMPS USED: Turkish stamps up to 1912
FIRST STAMPS ISSUED: Overprinted Italian stamps 1912
LAST STAMPS ISSUED: 1940
CURRENCY:
100 Centesimi = 1 Lira

The Dodecanese are a group of twelve islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Although the name literally means “the twelve islands”, the group actually comprises 15 larger and 150 smaller islands, of which only 26 are occupied. They were civilized in ancient times and formed part of the base for Venetian merchants, played a minor role in the history of Classical Greece and subsequently joined the Roman Empire. They belonged to the Knights of St. John from 1309-1522 but were then conquered by the Turks and included in the Ottoman Empire. Due to their rich history, many of even the smallest inhabited islands boast dozens of Byzantine churches and medieval castles.

Aegean Islands (Dodecanese)-v2

In the midst of the Italo-Turkish War over Libya, the Dodecanese Islands were seized by Italy in April 1912, becoming Italian colonies. Italy agreed to return the islands to the Ottoman Empire according to the Treaty of Ouchy signed on 18 October 1912 but the vagueness of the text allowed a provisional Italian administration of the Dodecanese. Although there were 13 islands occupied by the Italians (12 plus Rhodes), the name “Dodecanese” remained unchanged. The occupation continued after Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 21 August 1915 during the First World War. During the war, the islands became an important naval base for Britain and France; Italy was allied with both nations during this time. The Dodecanese were used as a staging area for numerous campaigns, most famously the one at Gallipoli.

Rhodes 06

Turkey renounced all claims on the islands in the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 and the Dodecanese were formally annexed by Fascist Italy as the Possedimenti Italiani dell’Egeo. Britain attempted to capture the islands during World War II without success. After the Italian armistice in 1943, the islands were occupied by German forces. Britain finally occupied them from 1945-47 after which they were ceded to Greece.

Rhodes 07

Before seizure by the Italians, the Dodecanese had a limited postal service under Turkish control. Italian interests in the Aegean region date from the 1897 blockade of Crete and the opening of an Italian civilian post office at Canea in 1900.  An Italian fleet began occupying the archipelago in May 1912. 

Italian forces landing in the Dodecanese, 1912

Before official Italian government stamps could be released, a “Commissione del popolo” on the island of Calino decided to issue postage stamps for use on all the islands. Three denominations were released in May 1912 by this Autonomous Administration and were only used on philatelic covers with favor cancels.  A decree by the Commissioner for Civilian Affairs of the occupying forces was issued on 10 September 1912 authorizing the overprinting of two Italian definitive stamps (25c and 50c) with the inscription EGEO. These were placed on sale in the islands on 22 September.

Scan_20160520 (7)

On 1 December 1912, a set of seven Italian stamps were issued for each of the individual islands with the Italian name of the island overprinted. These were Astypalaea (Stampalia), Kalimnos (Calimno), Karpathos (Scarpanto), Kasos (Caso), Khalki (Carchi), Kos (Cos), Leros (Lero), Lipsos (Lipso), Nisyros (Nisiros), Patmos (Patmo), Rhodes (Rodi), Syme (Simi), and Telos (Piscopi). Regardless of the overprint, all of these new stamps were valid for use throughout the Dodecanese.   Between 1912 and 1924 these stamps were used concurrently with Italian stamps.

Castellorizo 01

In January 1916, Italian stamps without overprint were issued.  Katelorizo (Castelrosso) was added to the Dodecanese in 1921, having been under French occupation since 27 December 1915. Italian stamps overprinted with the island’s name were issued on 11 July 1922.  The Italian occupation ended on 24 July 1923 when the archipelago officially became an Italian colony. On 19 May 1929, a nine-value definitive series was issued for Rhodes, inscribed with the Italian RODI.

Italo-Turkish_War_peace_treaty_chromolithograph

On 20 October 1930, a set honoring Italian hero Ferrucci was issued for each island with the name again overprinted. There was also a general issue of the same set with the overprint ISOLE ITALIANE DELL’EGEO.  The 20th anniversary of the Italian takeover of the Dodecanese was commemorated with a ten-value set inscribed RODI.  There was a further issue in 1932 for the individual islands but, after that, only Rhodes was given its own stamps. For the rest, the general issues applied.

Rhodes 03

During the Second World War, the airfields of Rhodes, Cos and Leros became the main Axis bases for air raids against British forces in Egypt.  Greece capitulated in April 1941 and during the following month Italian forces completed the occupation of the Cyclades Islands.  The ousting of Mussolini during the summer of 1943 was followed by Italy’s signing of an armistice with the Allies.  On 8 September, the Germans invaded Rhodes and the occupation was completed in a matter of days. 

Simi 001

Under German military rule, the Dodecanese was administratively run by Italian civilians.  Between November 1943 and February 1945, several Italian colonial stamps were overprinted with surcharges in aid of refugees and victims of war. During this time, there were eight internment camps for Italian soldiers on Rhodes.  In October 1944, German forces evacuated Greece and their counterparts in the Aegean were cut off from sea-route supplies and mail.  Only air links were possible, thus impacting the influx of mail to and from German soldiers in the area.  As a result, rationed concessionary stamps for the German Field Post were overprinted INSELPOST (Island Post) and issued.  On 22 December 1944, Italian postal authorities made quantities of the 5c Rhodes definitive stamps available to the Germans who overprinted them with the inscription WEIHNACHTEN 1944 (Christmas 1944). 

British troops in landing craft - Dodecanese

In May 1945, the German capitulation in the Aegean was formally ratified in Berlin and a British Military Administration was established in Rhodes.  British stamps were overprinted M.E.F. (Middle East Forces) and placed in use.  The British occupation ended on 31 March 1947 and the Greeks took over.  The following day, a Greek stamp overprinted SDD (Stratiotiki Dioikisis Dodecanissou – Dodecanese Military Occupation) was issued.  Seven denominations with the same overprint were added on 21 September.  These were withdrawn on 20 November and replaced by Greek general issue stamps, beginning with the “Restoration of the Dodecanese” definitive series. 

Short Sunderland-RAF-1940'-Castelrosso

The Aegean Islands were officially annexed by the Kingdom of Greece on 7 March 1948.  The current status of the islands is that they remain a constituent part of Greece and continue to use Greek stamps.

There were a total of 116 stamps – 65 general issue, 47 air mail, and 4 air mail special delivery – issued for the Dodecanese Islands.  Of these, I have but one – a used copy of Scott #2.  Many have a high catalogue value, particularly in used condition.  As with all occupied regions, the area is an interesting one to study and I hope to add to my collection.  I will deal with stamps for the individual islands as well as the German, British, and Greek occupations in separate “Stamp Issuer” installments.

Around two-and-a-half years ago, I set out to collect A Stamp From Everywhere (ASFEW).  The first step in this endeavor was to set some criteria:  For the most part, I am collecting only those stamps listed in the Scott Catalogue.  These aren’t always actual “countries”; many towns and cities, provinces, states, colonies, and organizations have issued stamps over the past one hundred and seventy-six years.  Because of this, I usually refer to “stamp issuers” or “issuing entities” when writing about them.

A second criteria concerns my budget.  My occupation as a teacher doesn’t make me rich in any sense of the word and as an English teacher in Thailand, I earn significantly less than I would in a more developed country.  Thus, there are certain issuers which will sadly always remain out of my collection.  An example of these would be the various Postmasters’ Provisionals issued by the Confederate States (and most of those by the U.S.A. as well).

I still do not have a grand total of stamp issuers.  I’ve been working on a spreadsheet designed to help me but it is a slow process.  I decided the best way to tackle that project was to go page by page through my Scott Catalogue (6-volume 2009 edition) and list all the stamp issuing entities and their page numbers, along with a great deal of additional information.  Bear in mind that each volume of this edition numbers around 1,300 pages and is not strictly alphabetical (Åland Islands is found after Finland, for example) with some entities even appearing in two different locations based on political status (Azores appearing both in Volume 1 at the end of the A’s and in volume 5 following Portugal to cite one instance).  Fairly often, I run into the question of whether or not I should separate an entity from it’s mother listing at all.

As I’ve added stamps to the collection, I’ve departed from the original goal of adding a single stamp from each issuer.  It is much more satisfying to look at an album page containing a set, for example.  For certain entities, I’ve also delved into covers (FDC’s, flight covers or the occasional bit of postal history) and the odd bit of unlisted postal stationery (I tend to go for the postal cards rather than envelopes).

I am (slowly) creating self-designed album pages for each entity which includes a map, flag(s) used, and a brief overview of their political and/or postal history.  While it all seems like a lot of work, it is probably the most satisfying of all of my collections that I’ve created over the past forty-plus years. 

While I didn’t set out to collect alphabetically, I’ve found that is the easiest way to search on eBay as well as giving me a greater sense of accomplishment as I near the completion of a letter of the alphabet.

While there may be a few more “A’s” in volumes 5 and 6 of the Scott Catalogue, I am confident that I can call the letter almost complete (minus nine Confederate Postmasters who issued provisionals from places such as Anderson Court House, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia).

The following are the “A” stamp issuers, as I have sorted them in my collection, illustrated by a single stamp from each and listing the year range they issued stamps and the number of stamps I currently have from each (minus duplicates and unlisted stamps). 

*I will probably end up re-sorting the Aden Protectorate States in the K’s and Q’s to be consistent with how I’m organizing other states and territories.

Abu Dhabi [1964-1972]: 9 stamps owned
Abu Dhabi - 1 - 1964

 

 

 

 

Aden Colony [1937-1965]: 40 stamps owned
Aden - 23A - 1939

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Kathiri State of Seiyun [1942-1964]: 6 stamps owned*
Aden - Kathiri State of Seiyun - 1 - 1942

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Qu’aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla [1942-1955]: 2 stamps owned*
Aden - Hadhramaut - 31 - 1955

 

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Qu’aiti State in Hadhamaut [1955-1963]: 4 stamps owned*
Aden - Hadhramaut - 30 - 1955

 

 

 

 

 

Aegean Islands (Dodecanese) [1912-1945]: 1 stamp owned
Scan_20160520 (7)

 

 

 

 

Afars and Issas [1967-1977]: 4 stamps owned
Afars And Issas - 321 - 1968

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan [1871-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Afghanistan - 689 - 1964

 

 

 

 

La Aguera [1920-1924]: 2 stamps owned
Aguera, La - 14 - 1922

 

 

 

 

Aitutaki [1903-1932, 1972-Present]: 9 stamps owned
Aitutaki - 33 - 1920

 

 

 

 

Ajman [1964-1972]: 9 stamps owned
Ajman - C9 - 1965

 

 

 

 

Åland Islands [1984-Present]: 14 stamps owned
Åland Islands - 72a - 1993

 

 

 

 

 

Alaouites [1925-1930]: 1 stamp owned
Alaouites - C17 - 1929

 

 

 

Albania [1913-Present]: 2 stamps owned
Albania - 232 - 1928

 

 

 

 

Alderney [1983-Present]: 5 stamps owned
Alderney - 37 - 1989

 

 

 

 

Alexandretta [1938]: 2 stamps owned
Alexandretta - J1 - 1938

 

 

 

 

Alexandria (French Post Office in Egypt) [1899-1931]: 1 stamp owned
Alexandria - 27 - 1902

 

 

 

 

Algeria [1924-1958, 1962-Present]: 83 stamps owned
Algeria - 1 - 1924 (1)

 

 

 

 

Alsace (German Occupation) [1940]: 2 stamps owned
Alsace - N29 - 1940

 

 

 

 

Alsace and Lorraine (German Occupation) [1870-1872, 1916]: 2 stamps owned
Alsace And Lorraine - N4 - 1870

 

 

 

 

Alwar [1877-1902]: 7 stamps owned
Scan_20160331 (7)

 

 

 

 

Andorra (French Administration) [1931-Present]: 6 stamps owned
Andorra, French - 23 - 1932

 

 

 

 

Andorra (Spanish Administration) [1928-Present]: 4 stamps owned
Andorra, Spanish - 102a - 1978

 

 

 

 

 

Angola [1870-Present]: 19 stamps owned
Angola - 119 - 1914

 

 

 

 

Angra [1892-1906]: 6 stamps owned
Angra - 2 - 1892

 

 

 

 

Anguilla [1967-Present]: 1 souvenir sheet owned
Anguilla - 366a - 1979 (rs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anjouan [1892-1914]: 1 stamp owned
Anjouan - 4 - 1892

 

 

 

 

Annam and Tonkin [1888-1892]: 1 stamp owned
Annam and Tonkin - 1 - 1888

 

 

 

 

Antigua [1862-1981]: 2 stamps owned
Antigua - 84 - 1938

 

 

 

 

 

Antigua and Barbuda [1981-Present]: 9 stamps owned
Antigua & Barbuda - 746 - 1984

 

 

 

 

Antioquia [1868-1904]: 6 stamps owned
Antioquia - 123 - 1899

 

 

 

 

Arad (French Occupation in Hungary) [1919]: 1 stamp owned
Scan_20160331

 

 

 

 

Argentina [1858-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Argentina - 551 - 1946

 

 

 

 

 

Armenia [1919-1923, 1992-Date]: 6 stamps owned
Armenia - 300 - 1922

 

 

 

 

 

Army of the North (Russian Civil War) [1919]: 5 stamps owned
Scan_20160520 (4)

 

 

 

 Army of the Northwest (Russian Civil War) [1919]: 1 stamp owned
Scan_20160520 (8)

 

 

 

 Aruba [1986-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Aruba - 266 - 2005

 

 

 

 

 

Ascension [1922-Present]: 4 stamps owned
Ascension - 46 - 1944

 

 

 

 

Australia [1902-Present]: 172 stamps owned
Australia - 1199 - 1991 (1)

 

 

 

 

Australian Antarctic Territory [1957-Present]: 5 stamps owned
AAT - L75 - 1986

 

 

 

 

 

Austria [1850-Present]: 75 stamps owned
Austria - 5 - 1850

 

 

 

 

Austrian Offices in Crete [1903-1914]: 6 stamps owned
Scan_20160601 (3)

 

 

 

 

Austrian Offices in the Turkish Empire [1867-1914]: 6 stamps owned
Austria-Turkish Empire - 7F - 1876

 

 

 

 

Azerbaijan [1919-1924, 1992-Present]: 1 stamp owned
Scan_20160331 (2)

 

 

 

 

Azores [1868-1931, 1980-Present]: 1 souvenir sheet owned
Scan_20160331 (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the “A’s” portion in what I am now calling my “Stamps From (Almost) Everywhere” collection currently has some 552 stamps amongst 45 stamp-issuing entities.  The B’s appear to be about halfway completed as are the C’s and I suppose there is probably one more entity to go in the Q’s.  There are other letters in the alphabet that are nearing completion as well….

Alwar1010Alwar_flag.svg

Princely State of Alwar (1877-1902)

LOCATION: A Feudatory State of India, lying southwest of Delhi
in the Jaipur Residency
AREA: 3,300 sq. mi. (8,547 sq. km)
POPULATION: 682,900 (est. 1895)
GOVERNMENT: Princely State of India
CAPITAL: Alwar

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED: February 1877
LAST STAMPS ISSUED: 1901

CURRENCY:
12 Pies = 1 Anna; 16 Annas = 1 Rupee

Alwar (अलवर) was a princely state in northern India.  It was named after a Khazada ruler, Ulawar Khan, who established his kingdom in the region in 1412.  Formerly spelt as “Ulwar” in British India which placed it in last position in alphabetically ordered lists, a ruler changed the spelling to “Alwar” to bring it to the top.  It became a recognized Rajput kingdom in 1771 when Pratap Singh conquered the city of Alwar and broke from under the rule of the Maratha Empire. It was ruled by the Rajput dynasty during the period of the British Raj in India. Alwar became the first Indian State to sign an alliance with the British East India Company following the Battle of Laswari in 1803.

alwar_railway_map

It was named after a Khazada ruler, Ulawar Khan, who established his kingdom in the region in 1412. Formerly spelt as “Ulwar” in British India which placed it in last position in alphabetically ordered lists, a ruler changed the spelling to “Alwar” to bring it to the top. It became a recognized Rajput kingdom in 1771 when Pratap Singh conquered the city of Alwar and broke from under the rule of the Maratha Empire. It was ruled by the Rajput dynasty during the period of
the British Raj in India. Alwar became the first Indian State to sign an alliance with the British East India Company following the Battle of Laswari in 1803.

British colonial authorities ruled India with two administrative systems. About 60 percent of the Indian sub-continent were provinces and territories directly under British colonial administration – known as Convention States – while the remaining 40 percent were native Indian – Princely, or Feudatory – States under direct treaty relations with British India. Feudatory States, such as Alwar, ran their own postal systems and issued stamps which were valid only in that particular state. Convention States had an agreement with the British India postal system to handle internal postage.

Alwar-karauli_map

Following the independence of India in 1947, Alwar acceded unto the dominion of India. On 18 March 1948, the state merged with three neighboring princely states (Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli) to form the Matsya Union. This union in turn merged into the Union of India. On 15 May 1949, it was united with certain other princely states and the territory of Ajmer to form the present-day Indian state of Rajasthan.

British colonial authorities ruled India with two administrative systems.  About 60 percent of the Indian sub-continent were provinces and territories directly under British colonial administration – known as Convention States – while the remaining 40 percent were native Indian – Princely, or Feudatory – States under direct treaty relations with British India.  Feudatory States, such as Alwar, ran their own postal systems and issued stamps which were valid only in that particular state.  Convention States had an agreement with the British India postal system to handle internal postage.

15596207_5_l

Following the independence of India in 1947, Alwar acceded unto the dominion of India. On 18 March 1948, the state merged with three neighboring princely states (Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli) to form the Matsya Union. This union in turn merged into the Union of India. On 15 May 1949, it was united with certain other princely states and the territory of Ajmer to form the present-day Indian state of Rajasthan.

The first stamps of Alwar State appeared in February 1877 but may have been issued as early as September 1876.  They were valid until 1 July 1902 when the postal service was taken over by the British Imperial Post.  The design remained virtually unchanged during this 25-year period and features a native dagger known as a Kandjar pointing to the right.  This is a fiendish weapon that, when squeezed by the user, the blades open like scissors inside the victim.  The state name, Raj Alwar, is written above the dagger and below it the denomination, both in Devanagari script. 

Scan_20160331 (1)

Alwar’s stamps were printed in two denominations, ¼ anna and 1 anna, printed by lithography.  Those of the first issue were produced from a single master die for the ¼a value.  Six transfers were taken from this to produce an intermediate matrix stone and that was transferred numerous times onto the actual printing stone.  Perhaps twenty-five transfers were made from the matrix stone to the printing stone for the ¼a value, resulting in a sheet of 150 stamps each inscribed in Hindi “pav anna” (quarter anna).  There were two separate printings.

The 1 anna stamps were produced by adapting matrix stones prepared from the ¼a die to the new value by erasing the word “pav” and inserting a tiny plug bearing the word “ek” (one).  Sheets of 70 and of 150 stamps seem to have been produced in separate printings. 

Scan_20160331 (4)

The first issue of 1877 was rouletted, but this was not always perfect and pairs are known of both denominations which are imperforate between stamps, either horizontally or vertically.  The frame lines at the left and bottom of the stamps are thick.  The ¼a was issued in various shades of blue and the 1a in several shades of brown.  Scott lists two varieties for the ¼a (Scott #1 in ultramarine and #1a in blue) and three for the 1a (Scott #2 in brown, #2a is yellow brown, and #2b in red brown).

In 1899 the design of the ¼ anna stamp was redrawn and a new master die was produced from which transfers were made to the printing stone without any intermediate matrix in ten horizontal rows of six.  In these issues, only the bottom frame line is thick and the stamps were pin-perforated 12.  In the first printing of the redrawn issues, the stamps were set further apart in the sheet.  The wider margins, averaging about 3mm, are obvious.  The color of this issue is a deep slate-blue, distinct from the paler shades of the first issue, and is listed in the Scott Catalogue as #3.

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Towards the end of 1899, a printing of the ¼a was made from a new stone in an emerald green color.  These also have wide margins but the size of the sheet and their arrangement is unknown.  They are the scarcest of all the Alwar stamps.  Although this issue was not reported until 1904, it was probably the earliest printing of the value in green, because of its similarity in spacing to that of 1899.  The only known used copy is dated 7 August 1901.  It is given the minor listing of #4b in Scott.

Between 1899 and 1901 another printing of the ¼a in emerald green was made, from another new stone, in which the stamps were set close together, with narrow margins, in eleven rows of seven stamps.  The earliest recorded postmark for this issue (Scott #4c) is 3 January 1901.  Finally, a printing of the ¼a with narrow margins was made, again from a new stone and again set close together, arranged in five rows of seven.  In this issue the stamps were printed in a pale yellowish green and are listed as Scott #4.

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Scott #1-4 occasionally show portions of the papermaker’s watermark, W. T. & Co.

The Scott catalogue assigns four major numbers and five minor numbers for shades, plus three additional minor numbers for imperforarate pairs.  I have a total of seven Alwar stamps, some of which may be duplicates.  I’m not certain if my copies of the ¼a from 1877 are Scott #1 (ultramarine) or Scott #1a (blue or steel blue as described by the Stanley Gibbons catalog), nor am I sure about the shades of the 1 anna (#2 brown, #2a yellow brown, #2b red brown – which may be the same that Gibbons calls “chocolate”).  I AM sure that none of those ¼a’s are Scott #3 as they all feature a thick left border, nor do I have the emerald wide margins stamp of 1899 (Scott #4b) which is worth US $600 in my 2009 edition of the catalogue.

Teacher Mark at Plukpanya Municipal School, Phuket Town - January 2016This past November, I took over the position of Deputy Head Teacher for a large language school and teachers’ agency in southern Thailand.  In addition to overseeing some 40 teachers from five or so different countries and a myriad of administrative duties (i.e., staffing our contracted government-run schools, organizing local English camps, writing course syllabi, etc.), I am still required to teach a minimum of 75 hours per month.  Some of these classes are “in-house” (at the air-conditioned, in-a-shopping-mall language school itself) but most are substitute-teaching assignments for the regular teachers when they take ill or need to deal with periodic immigration requirements.  These lessons are in very hot (perhaps there’s a ceiling fan or two that actually work) wooden or concrete classrooms jam-packed with an average of 40-50 kids – most of whom couldn’t care less about learning English.

The end result of this workload is that I have had no time to spend with my stamps (or writing about them) since long before Christmas.  The month of March – the hottest in Thailand, a country already boiling twelve months of the year – brings the end of the school year and a general slowdown in duties.  Most of my in-house young students have gone on “summer holiday” and my business students mostly learn in the mornings or evenings.  I don’t have to worry about filling-in at one of the myriad of schools scattered about the island.

I finally have time for stamps once again.

I’m starting slowly with a few eBay bids here and there.  I’m still waiting for the stamps I’ve won to arrive but they represent two countries new to my collection (Austrian Offices in the Ottoman Empire and the Indian Feudatory State of Alwar) and a few to bolster my tiny collection of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.

Cover Page for 'Stamps from (Almost) Everywhere' AlbumMy main collecting focus has shifted a bit.  I was attempting to obtain “A Stamp From Everywhere” but found that it was often difficult to pick just ONE stamp to represent an entire stamp-issuing entity.  In designing the album pages for my collection, I decided I didn’t like those that contained a single stamp.  I am now calling the collection “Stamps From (Almost) Everywhere.

That has necessitated a re-start to my album page design.  It is this re-start that have energized my recent boost in philatelic activity.  Each stamp issuer will have two introductory pages containing an information box, flag and map, and a one- or two-page summary of the entity’s political and postal history.  I’d like to obtain enough stamps from each place so that none of the stamps look particularly lonely.  I’ve found that four stamps is the absolute minimum I would like to have displayed on a single page (or one stamp and a postally-used item such as a nice cover or postcard).  There are a few countries that I may strive for completeness (Aden Colony and its Protectorate States, for example) but I am aiming for a “representation” in most instances.

Abu Dhabi - From the Collection of Mark Jochim, March 2016

I’m printing the stamps onto A4 paper as that’s the standard size available in Thailand.  I tried using 150gsm-weight card stock but these jammed in my printer (and the one at work as well) more often than not.  I am now using 120gsm card stock which seems fine.  I decided I liked a light beige color better than white.  For now, I have them in sheet protectors housed in a generic three-ring binder.  I’m trying to find a proper binder (preferably with a slipcase) but the shipping costs to Thailand are prohibitive.  I have more or less settled on a Lighthouse Classic Grande which I know my A4-sized pages will fit.  But I’m not willing to pay US $90 for shipping and import fees.  A proper stamp album binder may have to wait until I can visit someplace that actually sells them in the shops.  My next planned vacation is one to the United States in the autumn of 2017.  Can I wait that long?

First pages of Algeria housed in generic three-ring binder, March 2016

For my worldwide collection, I am trying to stick with those nations actually listed in the Scott Catalogue – although a few local posts will eventually be added.  To this end, I have been compiling the mother of all spreadsheets which has become a labor of love.  I have been going through my 2009 edition of the catalogue page by page – entering stamp-issuing entities in alphabetical order (moving, for example, entries such as the Confederate States, Hawaii, and Canal Zone out from under the United States umbrella) and including columns for years active, volume and page numbers, columns giving information about my own collection (numbers of inventoried, scanned, to be scanned, unlisted or bogus stamps), along with numerous “count” columns.  These last columns will include the number of stamps on EACH page of the catalogue for each country (divided into General Issues and the various Back of the Book items such as Air Post, Special Delivery, etc.).  I do page by page counts so that it is easier to backtrack if I lose count along the way.  I’ve been skipping the “Huge” countries for now and just counting those that only have en or less pages in Scott.

Screenshot of 'Stamp Issuers' Spreadsheet, March 2016

It is a monumental undertaking – I’ve been working on this spreadsheet on and off for about eight months and I’ve only just started on Volume 4 (out of six).  I currently have some 4,486 stamps in my collection (the majority of which have been obtained in just the past four years or so) representing 280 different stamp-issuing entities.  Of these, I have only entered 1912 into my inventory database (the wonderful but time-consuming StampManage) and there are 1529 stamps that have yet to be scanned.  These totals don’t include 210 duplicates and 33 that are either unlisted in Scott or “bogus” (read, counterfeit or facsimile).

It’s a grand-looking spreadsheet and I hope to share it once the “important” pieces are done (namely, the re-ordered countries).  In the meantime, if anybody would like to volunteer to count listed stamps (I am counting MAJOR numbers with a few minor exceptions) for particular countries please let me know.

As for the blog, I hope to resume my “Stamp Issuers” series at some point and will continue to report on new additions to my own collection (although probably not in a “Today’s Mail” format – perhaps as periodic wrap-ups).  I am looking for inspiration in writing other types of articles but I’m not really sure what aspect of philately I feel qualified to write about (I am intimidated by “How-To” articles and reviews).  Time will tell.  I just hope I won’t let another four months pass without an update.

Getting back to my stamps feels really good…