Ireland – Great Irish Songs (May 2, 2019) U2 “With Or Without You”

I don’t have very many stamps in my collection depicting my preferred musical genre of rock and roll and none at all honoring my three favorite performers — Marillion, Bruce Springsteen and U2 — all three of which are still regularly playing shows and releasing great music. That will change a bit on May 2 when Ireland releases a set of four stamps commemorating Great Irish Songs. U2 is included in this set recognizing “With Or Without You” from 1987’s The Joshua Tree. This album, perhaps their greatest, was the first to be released after I’d become a die-hard U2 fan.

My younger sister had gotten me interested in the band by way of their 1983 Live at Red Rocks EP and video; I believe she’d bought the War sometime before that. I purchased The Unforgettable Fire soon after it’s release in the autumn of 1984 but became an super-fan upon witnessing the band’s performance at 1985’s Live Aid (I’d been recording the live radio and TV simulcasts on cassette and VHS throughout that day). I was hooked and finally got to see them play a concert at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena nearly two–and-a-half years later in the midst of The Joshua Tree tour.

By then, I was purchasing their 7-inch and 12-inch singles as soon as possible upon their release (all with B-sides not on the album itself, all of which were as good as any song on the album). For a long time, they just kept getting better and more popular it seemed. One of the things I miss about living in the United States is attending great concerts such as those that U2 produce; of course, my sister still tries to attend as many as she can (most recently being that marking the 30th anniversary of the release of The Joshua Tree.

Ireland – Great Irish Songs (May 2, 2019) Cranberries “Dreams”

I will, of course, be purchasing these stamps. In addition to the U2 stamp, the others recognize “Dreams” by The Cranberries (another big favorite; oddly, their later song “Zombie” is HUGELY popular here in Thailand — one of only two or three Western songs EVERYBODY here knows), “Danny Boy” by John McCormack, and “On Raglan Road” by Luke Kelly.

Fairly early on, I enjoyed collecting stamps from “obscure” and remote islands. Perhaps the first of these was Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean. In late 1978 and early 1979 (and beyond), my other great interest besides stamp collecting was the classic ocean liners that once crossed the Atlantic as well as those big passenger ships that still existed at the time. One of my favorite side-line hobbies was writing to various shipping companies to request brochures (they didn’t seem to be the big collectible they are now and I really wish I had retained those). Chief among these were the booklets sent to me from the Cunard Line with nice foldout cutaways and deck plans of their then-flagship RMS Queen Elizabeth 2.

Thus, I was doubly-interested when I discovered that Tristan da Cunha planned to release several stamps marking the QE2‘s visit to the tiny island on her 1979 world cruise including one picturing the RMS Queen Mary, a favorite due to several visits to Long Beach, California, where she has been moored since 1967, during family vacations. Perhaps what piqued my interest was the fact that a beautiful profile of the QE2 would be featured on what at the time was the world’s widest stamp (or longest, if you prefer).

Tristan da Cunha – Lobster Industry (April 10, 2019)

This was in the days before the Internet made obtaining new issues from such far-off lands as easy as a few clicks of the mouse so I found the address of Tristan da Cunha’s philatelic bureau (on the island itself rather than an agency in the UK or elsewhere) and duly wrote a request for stamps and covers along with a postal money order for what I estimated to be the total amount.  Months later, I received the stamps in a presentation pack (which had been autographed by representatives of each family still living there as well as several first day covers. That transaction began a forty-year love affair with the island and her stamps and I still admire the designs and the conservative issuing policy. The latest release from Tristan da Cunha continues the trend of attractive designs and relevant topics with a set of four due later this week marking the island’s lobster industry, a very important part of the local economy.

Pitcairn Islands – Scott #1-8 (1940-1951)

Another island that I have avidly collected since childhood could be considered the Pacific Ocean equivalent of Tristan da Cunha. I do not recall if I first saw the Charles Laughton and Clark Gable movie or read the books by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall but I became quite interested in the entire story of the Bounty mutiny not long after I turned ten years old. My birthday that year included not only my first stamp album but a copy of Nordhoff and Hall’s Bounty Trilogy (the edition with the N.C. Wyeth illustrations). While I loved reading the events of the mutiny and Bligh’s small boat voyage to Timor, I was particularly enthralled with what happened to Fletcher Christian and the other mutineers once they arrived on Pitcairn Island. A bonus to my budding interest at the time was the fact that the album I received (which had been my mother’s childhood album) contained one or two stamps from Pitcairn, starting another lifelong philatelic (and bibliographic) pursuit. It was only two or three years ago that I finally completed the initial 1940-1951 definitive set of ten stamps by obtaining MNH copies of Scott #5A and #6A which are a bit pricier than the others.

Pitcairn Islands – Paintings of the HMAV Bounty (February 27, 2019)
Pitcairn Islands – Paintings of the HMAV Bounty (February 27, 2019) first day cover

The islands (the name on the stamps including the others in the administrative territory although all but Pitcairn are uninhabited) continue a fairly conservative issuing policy based on local interests. The most recent Pitcairn Islands release appeared on February 27, a beautiful set of four stamps depicting paintings of the HMAV Bounty.

The newly-restored Phuket Philatelic Museum building, AKA the old post office, in Phuket Town, Thailand.

Of course, now that I live in Thailand I avidly collect the Kingdom’s stamps and eagerly await each new issue. Last week saw only the fourth stamp release of 2019 but the schedule will heat up somewhat in May with several issues due.  The annual Thai Heritage Conversation set rarely disappoints and I walked over to the Phuket Philatelic Museum on April 2 to make my purchase. It was the first time I had been inside the old post office building (established in a building previously used as somebody’s home back in the early 1930s) since the roof collapsed during a monsoonal storm in the middle of last year. The redesign looked pleasant enough, although somewhat sparse and I am quite pleased with the new pastel yellow exterior. I was happy to see the Muslim clerk back in her rightful environment (she seemed so out-of-place during the restoration when she sold stamps from a back room in the main post office building next door).

Main post office in Phuket Town, Thailand, directly to the north of the original building.
Thailand – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) first day cover with added Phuket postmark

My usual new issue purchase of Thai stamps consists of full sheets of each design (roughly one U.S. dollar each) as well as three first day covers, one of which I get postmarked with the local date stamp if I am there on the release date. However, I wish they wouldn’t let me cancel my own cover as I am hopeless at it having never mastered the very odd dry ink used. On this occasion, I heavily over-inked the device and brought all my weight down upon it making for a rather messy postmark. The clerk was so distraught that she probably would have given me another cover to make a second attempt on had I asked; I simply said mai bpen rai (roughly equivalent to “No problem”) and made my exit.

Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2019 (April 2, 2019). I purchased one of each full sheet (4 x 10 stamps each) and three first day covers for a total cost of 204 Thai baht. This converts to just $6.39 in U.S. currency under the current exchange rate. Thai stamps are very inexpensive to purchase and a lot of fun to collect.

While at the museum, I found the only edition of the Thailand Post new issues bulletin published thus far in 2019. It covers the first three releases of the year, useful in that I was able to gather the names of the stamp designers. I also enjoy reading the English version of the issue information; these are somewhat better than those generated by Google Translate but still produce a bit of humor or puzzlement when reading them. You can right-click to view the images in the slideshow below if you would like to see what I mean.

My other big “pursuit” of the past few days has been to try and get caught up on my New Issues pages. This seems to be a never-ending task as I am constantly finding about stamps that were released months ago.  I was barely finished “celebrating” my completion of the January page when I came across a large batch of first day covers bearing the date of January 1, 2019, supposedly from Madagascar. These are very similar to those “released” by the Republic of Chad on the same date (with probably the exact same CDS device used on those). With these and others from agencies such as the Intergovernmental Philatelic Corporation, I am sorely tempted to NOT include these borderline issues. After all, they will probably never see usage on mail deriving from the entity imprinted thereon and certainly won’t be included in certain major catalogues.

Madagascar – Captain America (January 1, 2019) first day cover

However, somebody must collect this stuff or why spend the money to print them in the first place?  Although I find them quite tedious to add to my listings due to the sameness in their appearance, I have decided to include all such stamps that I can find decent-quality images of. I am aiming for completion on the Stamps of 2019 pages and I hope I can maintain them throughout the year (and beyond?). At some point, I may even add a few local post issues if I can track down a few more of those.  It is hard work but I enjoy (most of) it.

The Punk Philatelist blog

Other than seeing a bunch of new stamp issue announcements (many through my Facebook new feed) and noticing a list of new Scott numbers for recently-issued United States stamps, there really hasn’t been much news in the philatelic world that I have noticed. My favorite stamp bloggers have been fairly quiet and I just got around to reading the latest by The Punk Philatelist among others. Due to changing my Google account, I only just found out that Graham of Exploring Stamps — hands down, the best philatelic channel on YouTube — is already six episodes into Season 3. I will need to do some binge-watching this weekend to get caught up. For those who haven’t discovered the joys of this vlog (and his other forays on social media), have a look at his landing page which has links to each corner of his empire. I wish more of us would do something similar to bring our hobby back to the masses.

Exploring Stamps – on You Tube, Instagram, Twitter, and more…

Have a great philatelic week….

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….

I was about ready to call this a “slow philatelic news week” and publish a very short update article when the United States Postal Service chose today to announce three new stamp issues due later this year. Unfortunately, the anticipated issue for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 is not among them. The information about each issue comes directly from the USPS press release:

Sesame Street

United States – Sesame Street (2019) sheet of 16

The Postal Service honors Sesame Street as one of the most influential and beloved children’s television shows. For the last 50 years, it has provided educational programming and entertainment for generations of children throughout the country and around the world. The stamp art features photographs of 16 Muppets from Sesame Street — Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Rosita, The Count, Oscar the Grouch, Abby Cadabby, Herry Monster, Julia, Guy Smiley, Snuffleupagus, Elmo, Telly, Grover and Zoe. Art Director Derry Noyes designed the stamps.”

T. Rex

United States – T. Rex (2019) block of 4

With this pane of 16 stamps, the Postal Service brings Tyrannosaurus rex to life — some 66 million years after its demise. One design illustrates a face-to-face encounter with a T. rex approaching through a forest clearing; another shows the same young adult T. rex with a young Triceratops — both dinosaurs shown in fossil form. The third and fourth stamps depict a newly hatched T. rex covered with downy feathers and a bare-skinned juvenile T. rex chasing a primitive mammal. The “Nation’s T. rex,” the young adult depicted on two of the stamps, was discovered on federal land in Montana and is one of the most studied and important specimens ever found. Its remains will soon be on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps with original artwork by Julius T. Csotonyi, a scientist and paleoartist.

Spooky Silhouettes

United States – Spooky Silhouettes (October 2019)

Halloween has long been a holiday that lets us delight in the things that scare us. With the approach of autumn, Spooky Silhouettes stamps will offer fun, frightful scenes that symbolize this annual celebration. Four stamps feature digital illustrations in which traditional Halloween motifs are rendered as black silhouettes in eerily backlit windows. Artist Tyler Lang created the artwork. Art Director Greg Breeding designed the stamps.

As a teacher, I should be thrilled with the Sesame Street stamps but I feel 16 different stamps is just too many. The T. rex stamps do nothing at all for me and we’ve had way too many dinosaur stamps already. I do like the design of the “Spooky Silhouettes” set, however. Any one of these could be the designated issue for National Stamp Collecting Month, or perhaps that will be the previously-announced (but no design yet revealed) Frogs issue.

With the announcement of these new Halloween stamps, I am reminded of one of the celebrations I miss from the years I lived in the American Southwest. This is Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which pretty much replaces Halloween in portions of the Southwest as well as throughout México. México has released stamps for the holiday since 2009; I only have one of these (the 2012 release, on a first day cover), which I featured on ASAD in October 2016. A week or two following the Dia de Muertos stamp release each year, México issues one or more stamps marking Dia del Cartero, Postman’s Day. While seeking to add a few of these to my collection on eBay recently, I came across a stamp from 2017 which seems to combine the two special days:

Mexico – Dia de Muertos with Postman (2017)

I love this stamp and hope that someday México will release one picturing a skeletal teacher (perhaps in front of a class of skeletal students); the annual Día del Maestro (Teacher’s Day) in mid-May is also annually commemorated with attractively-designed stamps. I am beginning to obtain a few of these in preparation for an “education on stamps” Topical Pursuits. This will probably appear a couple of months down the road.

Last week saw very little time, once again, for any philatelic pursuits as it was the final week of the school year filled with testing and paperwork as well as an afternoon of activities for about 180 Kindergarten students. During the latter, I became quite dehydrated and nearly collapsed from heat exhaustion, having to cancel a business class later that evening. This week is perhaps busier (I am supposed to be on summer holiday) as I was asked to do a 10-day English camp in a temple school in the western portion of the island. I was told that the students would be high school level and spent several all-nighters preparing material for the camp (normally, we have weeks to put together these types of events). When I arrived, I found that the children were all between the ages of four and six and most had never even heard English spoken before! It has been a real struggle (none of the prepared material is appropriate and they won’t stay in one spot long enough for me to explain a game to them — nor would they understand if they did); I’ve been exhausted each evening and have been trying to pick “short subjects” for the A Stamp A Day articles. They have still taken about the same amount of time to put together each night as I have to constantly get up and walk around as my muscles tighten from the days spent chasing after tiny-tots. I will take a holiday once this camp finishes on March 23, which is two days before ASAD’s post #1000 and my planned hiatus from that.

Thailand – National Children’s Day, Scott #1170a (January 10, 1987)

Thailand Post has been very sporadic and random with their new issue and design announcements during recent years and this year is no exception. Details have yet to be revealed for the Royal Coronation issue (the ceremonies set to begin early next month with the actual Coronation occurring the first weekend in May), yet a rather blurry image of a stamp due the following week has just been revealed along with a few of the details but only in Thai. A single 3-baht stamp marking the 80th anniversary of the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand will be released on May 10:

วันแรกจำหน่าย : 10 พฤษภาคม 2562
ชนิดราคา : 3.00 บาท
จำนวนพิมพ์ : 500,000 ดวง
ขนาด : 48 x 30 มม. (แนวนอน)
ผู้ออกแบบ : ว่าที่ ร.ท.ปฏิพล ซอกิ่ง (บริษัท ไปรษณีย์ไทย จำกัด)
บริษัทผู้พิมพ์ :ไทยบริติชซีเคียวริตี้ พริ้นติ้ง จำกัด (มหาชน) ประเทศไทย
วิธีการพิมพ์และสี : ลิโธกราฟี่ – หลายสี
จำนวนดวงในแผ่น : 10 ดวง
ซองวันแรกจำหน่าย : 11.00 บาท

Thailand – 80 Years Foundation for the Blind in Thailand (May 10, 2019)

The next stamps to be released by Thailand Post will be the annual Thai Heritage Conservation Day issue on April 2.

I noticed this piece of information on a dealer’s site last week:

Confirmed from the North Korea Post Office that they no longer sell any Anti-US stamps (including those already issued and to be issued) due to political reasons. This causes the price hike and shortage of these types of stamps in the market.

I have mentioned on this blog and elsewhere that I have long “enjoyed” collecting the propaganda poster stamps from North Korea, especially those issued around the time of the annual “Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism Month” which runs from June 25 until July 27.  North Koreans flock to war museums such as the Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities and attend rallies against the “evils” of the United States. Over 100,000 gather in Pyongyang’s Kim II Sung Stadium to speak out against “the fatty monster U.S. imperialists” as part of the ‘Mass Rally on the Day of the Struggle Against the U.S.”, An stamp issue has been a part of the anti-American celebrations off-and-on since 1952, with most featuring images taken from fairly graphic propaganda posters. Despite the June 12, 2018, summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and 3rd Supreme Leader of the DPRK Kim Jong-un (김정은) in Singapore last year, North Korea released their anti-U.S. stamp set right on schedule on June 25.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – Joint Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism (issued April 2018) – imperforate variety

One of my primary reasons for wanting to travel to North Korea was to easily purchase these stamps (and the associated post cards, propaganda poster books, etc.) directly from the source. I planned to use these to mail postcards to my home in Thailand and to various friends (although I don’t think I would have tried to send any to the United States). I do have other reasons for wanting to travel to this very strange place before it changes and had been close to booking a trip when President Trump basically made it illegal to travel there  (since August 2017, Americans who have their passports scanned at a border checkpoint that points to a crossing into North Korea will generate a “revoke” code with the U.S. Department of State). I hope that the current round of talks will lead to a reversal of this policy very soon (the recent summit in Vietnam didn’t seem to end that well). The stamps on a postcard from there do not have to be anti-American to still be “cool”. For much more, please see my ASAD article from last year.

France – Caves of Lascaux (April 26, 2019) first day of issue postmark

On April 26, La Poste of France will release a single stamp depicting the cave paintings of Lascaux Cave (Grotte de Lascaux) in a complex of caves near the village of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne in southwestern France. Over 600 parietal wall paintings cover the interior walls and ceilings of the cave. The paintings represent primarily large animals, typical local and contemporary fauna that correspond with the fossil record of the Upper Paleolithic time. The drawings are the combined effort of many generations, and with continued debate, the age of the paintings is estimated at around 17,000 years (early Magdalenian). Lascaux was inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1979, as element of the Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley. Apparently, this is the first stamp France has issued honoring the site since 1968.

France – Cave of Lascaux (April 26, 2019)

Last week began with an extremely lengthy ASAD articles with the Monday blog about Hernán Cortés approaching 11,000 words (largely put together Sunday night into Monday morning) despite ONLY dealing with his conquest of the Aztec empire, a subject I have long been interested in. Wednesday’s article was big as well, topping out at more than 6700 words about Michelangelo. The others were much more reasonable with several maritime themes popping up. As I count down to a much-needed break from the blog, I am trying to include stamps from the lesser-featured stamp issuing entities. I am doing my best to avoid using stamps from the United States, Thailand, Great Britain, and Germany. The articles published since my last update:

  1.  March 4, 2019:  “Hernán Cortés & His Conquest of the Aztec Empire” (Spain — Scott #754, 1948) 10,929 words
  2.  March 5, 2019:  “Learn From Lei Feng Day” (People’s Republic of China — Scott #4071a, 2013) 2,025 words
  3.  March 6, 2019:  “Michelangelo:  Sculptor, Painter, Architect”  (Afars & Issas — Scott #C93, 1975) 6,744 words
  4.  March 7, 2019:  “Ross Dependency, Scott Base, and HMNZS Endeavour” (Ross Dependency — Scott #L12, 1972) 3,195 words
  5.  March 8, 2019:  “The Spanish “Find” Copán” (Honduras — (Honduras — Scott #C619, 1978) 1,608 words
  6.  March 9, 2019:  “Jukong Boat of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands” (Cocos (Keeling) Islands — Scott #292a-c, 1994) 972 words
  7.  March 10, 2019:  “The Mining Disaster at Courrières” (France — Scott #3190, 2006) 1,216 words
  8.  March 11, 2019:  “Bon Om Touk: The Cambodian Water Festival” (Kingdom of Cambodia — Scott #1997, 2000) 1,075 words
  9.  March 12, 2019:  “The Dory” (British Honduras — Scott #122, 1938) 2,430 words

That’s all I have for this week. Cheers!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a philatelic week last week as most of my time was spent working on school-related tasks. The end of the long school year is upon us and next week is comprised solely of final exams — tests in English and Chinese subjects Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the Thai language exams occurring on Thursday and Friday. My M3-level students (roughly equivalent to the Sophomore level of high school in the United States) will take entrance exams for different schools on Monday before starting their holidays next Tuesday). The 2019-2020 school year will begin in early May, probably the Tuesday following the Royal Coronation of HM King Maha Vajiralongkhorn (Rama X). There should be plenty of Thailand Post philatelic items surrounding that long-awaited event.

Postccrossing postcard received on March 2, 2019, bearing one stamp from 2017 and two from 2018, nicely postmarked (many covers and cards from the U.S. miss postmarks entirely).

Continue reading “My Philatelic Pursuits #2019-08”

While the week before was largely celebratory with a three-day local festival plus Valentine’s Day, this past week has been all about work as we prepare for the rapidly approaching end of the school year. While I am a classroom teacher (high school level in the Intensive English Programme this term), I am first and foremost an administrator. This means that in addition to preparing the students for their final exams and assessing them in a number of different categories, I also am in the middle of organizing various activities such as multiple-day English camps, school Open Houses, student entrance interviews for the next school year which begins in early May, and making sure that our current teachers are up-to-date with their own assessments. Since a number of them will return to their home countries soon after the school year ends, new teacher recruitment and interviews are in the near future. Add in the retirement of our head teacher and the impending relocation of my agency’s offices from the basement of a shopping mall into a compound of heritage buildings in the Old Town district will leave very little time for stamps in the immediate future.

People's Republic of China - Scott #2548a (1994) Ancient Pagodas souvenir sheet; ASAD article #970 today details the Iron Pagoda on the 2-yuan stamp from this set.
People’s Republic of China – Scott #2548a (1994) Ancient Pagodas souvenir sheet; ASAD article #970 today details the Iron Pagoda on the 2-yuan stamp from this set.

Yet, somehow I will find the time to relax with various philatelic pursuits. With today’s article on A Stamp A Day, I am now 30 posts shy of 1,000. I have long planned to take a hiatus from that blog once I hit one thousand articles. I have not missed a single day since July 1, 2016, and preparing for each one does take a significant amount of time each day. While taking a break from ASAD, I will attempt to get caught up on my New Issues pages (falling further and further behind right now) as well as such set-aside endeavors as cataloguing, creating album pages (both virtual and physical), and perhaps a bit of soaking and sorting as well.

Another detriment to stamp activities recently has been the current heat wave we are experiencing here in southern Thailand. It has been hotter than I have experienced in nearly 15 years of living in the tropics. I am seriously thinking of moving to a (much more expensive) location so that I can have in-home air-conditioning. I haven’t been able to sleep well due to the heat and even sitting at the computer for any length of time one becomes coated in sweat. It is not comfortable at all. Rather than sitting and writing, I find that I am positioning my laptop between my floor fan and ceiling fan and laying down to read.

A few of the many stamps, sheets, etc. to be released by Great Britain on March 14 picturing Marvel Comics.
A few of the many stamps, sheets, etc. to be released by Great Britain on March 14 picturing Marvel Comics.

There didn’t seem to be much in the way of stamp news over the past week. I think the most significant “event” was Royal Mail’s surprise announcement of a huge set (including expensive prestige books, sheetlets galore and more) depicting Marvel Comics characters. I have yet to find a single stamp blog that has mentioned these stamps in a positive manner. The British issue (due March 14) just looks like a complete money-grab to me; a block of four probably would have been sufficient for the subject matter. I never really cared for comic books growing up and have tired of seeing such designs grace a nation’s stamps. These stamps hold zero interest for me although I did learn the names of a few characters I’d never heard of before (Captain Britain?).

Much more to my liking is a single stamp released by Spain this week commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III. The Correos website has a nice write-up in English for a change.

Spain - 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III (issued February 20, 2019)
Spain – 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III (issued February 20, 2019)

The only thing remotely philatelic I received in the mail this week was my first Postcrossing postcard of 2019. It came from the Netherlands and the stamp didn’t get postmarked. Hopefully, the next one will be a bit more interesting.

Articles published on A Stamp A Day over since the last update were:

  1.  February 15, 2019:  “Canada’s Maple Leaf Flag” (Canada — Scott #2808, 2015) 4,260 words
  2.  February 16, 2019:  “Day of the Shining Star / 광명성절” (North Korea — Scott #1906, 1980) 2,656 words
  3.  February 17, 2019:  “Castle Doria in Dolceacqua” (Italy — Michel #3978, 2017) 1,222 words
  4.  February 18, 2019:  “Huckleberry Finn” (Germany — Scott #B889, 2001) 3,022 words
  5.  February 19, 2019:  “Nicoalus Copernicus” (United States — Scott #1488, 1973) 3,022 words
  6.  February 20, 2019:  “John Glenn and his Orbital Flight aboard Friendship 7” (United States — Scott #1193, 1962) 11,757 words
  7.  February 21, 2019:  “International Mother Language Day” (Bangladesh — Scott #647, 2002) 1,857 words
  8.  February 22, 2019:  “The Iron Pagoda of Kaifeng” (China — Scott #2548, 1994) 1,709 words

Thus, we come to the end of this week’s “Phila-Bytes”. I am contemplating a name-change to something like “The Week in Stamps” or “My Philatelic Week”. Hopefully, I can find the time to brainstorm….

Aside from articles for A Stamp A Day and updates to my New Issues page, I had a relatively stampless week. Part of the reason is that we are currently in the midst of a heatwave — I cannot recall a hotter period of time since moving to the tropics (at least since my body adjusted to constant high temperatures). It is not weather conducive to working on one’s stamp collection: my home doesn’t have air-conditioning and the sweat soon begins dripping off my forehead into my eyes and down my nose. I can cool my workspace with fans but fans and stamps don’t mix no matter how careful I am. During such times, most of my philatelic activity is entirely digital.

Thailand - Symbol of Love (February 7, 2019)
Thailand – Symbol of Love (February 7, 2019)

Today, Thailand Post is releasing its annual “Symbol of Love” issue a week before Valentine’s Day. In recent years this has been a single 5-baht stamp (regular first class domestic rate is 3 baht); they used to issue a pair. I will stop by the post office after work to buy a pane (of ten) and a first day cover or two, perhaps adding a Phuket postmark to the latter (they usually allow me to cancel my own).

The holiday itself is quite popular in Thailand yet the giving of Valentine’s Day cards is rare. Chocolate is a relatively new addition but the giving of bouquets of flowers, usually red or pink rose replacements, is quite common. In schools, students of all ages (and some of the Thai teachers as well), purchase sheets of love-themed stickers and paste them onto each other’s shirts and faces.  The more stickers you are covered with, the more “loved” you are. The stickers are cheaply made so they tend to fall off during the course of the day so you can be progressively less loved as the afternoon wears on.

The only stamp news that I noticed all week concerned new issues. Quite frankly, I have tired of Chinese New Year releases and am amazed at some of the nations who put them out. I doubt that places such as Gibraltar and French Polynesia have a large enough Chinese population to warrant much of a celebration and certainly don’t need multiple stamps and souvenir items to mark the holiday.  However, a lot of stamp, cover and postcard collectors in this part of the world are avidly seeking out and exchanging Year of the Pig stamps with others in some of these far-flung countries and territories.

Åland - Sailing Ships (February 1, 2019)
Åland – Sailing Ships (February 1, 2019)

My favorite stamp issue this week comes from Åland, a Finnish territory in the Gulf of Bohnia which I have avidly collected since they began issuing their own stamps in 1984. The sailing ships Vineta and Parma are featured on a pair issued on February 1, the second to last in the series of stamps utilizing painting by the artist (and sea captain) Allan Palmer. The slideshow below includes the stamps, sheets, first day covers and maximum cards.

In U.S. stamp news, the National Postal Museum reopened on January 29 following the government shutdown and a new edition (the 17th) of the Scott Catalogue of Errors on U.S. Postage Stamps has just been published. Linn’s Stamp News had an interesting article about the past twelve years of the “Forever”-denominated stamps.

United States - Marvin Gaye (April 2, 2019)
United States – Marvin Gaye (April 2, 2019)
United States - Post Office Murals (April 10, 2019)
United States – Post Office Murals (April 10, 2019)

This week, the United States Postal Service announced dates and locations for two previously-announced forthcoming releases: The Marvin Gaye stamp will be issued on April 2 in Los Angeles, California, on what would have been the singer’s 80th birthday. The small town of Piggott, Arkansas, will be the location of the first day of issue ceremonies for the set of 5 Post Office Murals stamps, scheduled for April 10. Located in the northeast corner of the state, Piggott is the northern terminus of the Arkansas segment of the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, a National Scenic Byway, and is perhaps best known for its association with Ernest Hemingway who made frequent and lengthy visits to there to visit his second wife’s parents and wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms and other works while staying there.

Following the onslaught of rate-change stamps on January 27 (and the Gregory Hines stamp on the 28th), plus a few issues in February (10 Cactus Flower stamps on February 15 and an Alabama Statehood single on the 23rd), it appears the USPS is giving U.S. collectors a well deserved break for nearly a month with the next currently scheduled stamp, the Star Ribbon issue, due on March 22.

Great Britain - Leonardo da Vinci (February 13, 2019) Royal Mail announcement
Great Britain – Leonardo da Vinci (February 13, 2019) Royal Mail announcement
Great Britain - Leonardo da Vinci (February 13, 2019) 1 of 12
Great Britain – Leonardo da Vinci (February 13, 2019) 1 of 12

The next big issue by Royal Mail in Great Britain will be a set due on February 13 marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the designs of which were revealed over the past week. I am quite enamored with these and it is difficult to pick a favorite, but 12 stamps (for a face value of £8.04 PLUS a prestige booklet (costing £13.10), not to mention the attendant first day covers, PHQ cards, and more, does seem a bit excessive for such a decidedly non-British subject (oh, the Queen does own these drawings and they will be displayed around the UK in the year to come).

Great Britain - Birds of Prey (April 4, 2019)
Great Britain – Birds of Prey (April 4, 2019)
Great Britain - Queen Victoria Bicentenary (May 24, 2019)
Great Britain – Queen Victoria Bicentenary (May 24, 2019)

On the same date as the da Vinci stamps, the recent Stamp Classics mini-sheet will see a re-release with an exclusive inscription for the STAMPEX show and will be sold exclusively at the three-day exhibition. Release dates have also been announced for the Birds of Prey (April 4), British Engineering (May 2), Queen Victoria Bicentenary (May 24), D-Day (June 2), Curious Customs (July 9), Forests (August 13), Music Giants (September 3), Royal Navy Ships (September 19), and Christmas (November 5) issues, making for some interesting topics this year. I wonder if the “Music Giants” issue will have some tie-in with the U.S. Woodstock anniversary stamp. At any rate, no images for any of these have been revealed other than the two initial images of a Birds of Pray and Queen Victoria stamp when included with the original Royal Mail subject-matter announcement back in December. I imagine these will both be multi-stamp releases, probably in blocks of four.

A Stamp A Day underwent a design change last weekend, the first since I started the blog on July 1, 2016. I hope you like it. Since the last installment of “Weekly Phila-Bytes”, I have published the following articles on A Stamp A Day:

  1.  January 30, 2019:  “Claude Lorrain and the Seaport at Sunset” (France – Scott #3395, 2008) 4,067 words
  2.  January 31, 2019:  “Franz Schubert” (Austria – Scott #391, 1947) 1.541 words
  3.  February 1, 2019:  “Royal Canadian Mounted Police” (Canada – Scott #223, 1935) 3.977 words
  4.  February 2, 2019:  “The Real Robinson Crusoe is Recued!” (Chile – Scott #349, 1965) 4,790 words
  5.  February 3, 2019:  “The Immortal Chaplains of S.S. Dorchester” (United States – Scott #956, 1948) 3.942 words
  6.  February 4, 2019:  “The Federated States of Micronesia & the Last Raider of the Confederate States of America Navy” (Micronesia, Scott #C12, 1985) 5,454 words
  7.  February 5, 2019:  “Chinese New Year 2019 / วันตรุษจีน 2562 ประวัติวันตรุษจีน” (China, New Year Greetings stamp released on January 10, 2019) 373 words
  8.  February 6, 2019:  “The Treaty of Waitangi” (New Zealand, Stanley Gibbons #MS3662, 2015) 3.496 words

Today’s topic will be a literary one, either about Charles Dickens who was born on this date in 1812 or Laura Ingalls Wilder, born 1867. It all depends on the stamps and I will begin working on it in the late afternoon (following my classes and a trip to the post office).

Have a great week….

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)

Apart from my daily articles for A Stamp A Day, my main philatelic activity this week involved putting together a spreadsheet summarizing all of the stamp issues I’ve been able to find that are scheduled for release in 2019. I’ve been perusing a wide variety of sources and even uncovered a few on eBay that I hadn’t come across elsewhere (including stamps by both Myanmar and Russia). I now have images for most of January’s new issues and a few others scattered later in the year. The problem is that most of the images are rather low-quality. My spreadsheet currently has 89 separate issues with a total of 211 face-different stamps from 48 stamp-issuing entities. I am trying to figure out how to embed this spreadsheet onto a (free) WordPress blog so that a constantly-updated version will be available here on Philatelic Pursuits.

Greenland - Greenland in World War II, 1940-1945 (January 21, 2019)
Greenland – Greenland in World War II, 1940-1945 (January 21, 2019)

My favorite stamp issue of the week is a pair issued yesterday (January 21) by Greenland marking that territory’s involvement in World War II. This is the fourth set in the series. Artist Naja Rosing-Asvid from Nuuk, Greenland, designed all the stamp images while Norwegian engraver and illustrator Martin Mörck undertook the engraving. The series, comprised of 10 stamps, is printed in combined offset and laser etching. The 25-Danish krone stamp for this year portrays “Communications” while the 41-krone denomination illustrates “Weather Stations”.

Liechtenstein - 300 Years of Liechtenstein embroidered souvenir sheet (January 23, 2019)
Liechtenstein – 300 Years of Liechtenstein embroidered souvenir sheet (January 23, 2019)

I am also quite interested in tomorrow’s release of a self-adhesive “embroidered” souvenir sheet marking the 300th anniversary of the Principality of Liechtenstein. Lying between Switzerland and Austria, it took its current name as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire in 1719. This is the first time that Liechtenstein has issued an embroidered stamp. Denominated at 6.30 Swiss francs, it is in the shape of a prince’s hat and was created by the embroidery firm Hämmerle & Vogel in Lustenau, Austria. A limited edition version of the stamp, embroidered with real gold thread, will also be available.

Thailand 2019 Stamp-Issuing Program (tentative schedule, from Facebook mid-January 2019)
Thailand 2019 Stamp-Issuing Program (tentative schedule, from Facebook mid-January 2019)

A few days after I was able to snap a photo of a Thailand Post stamp release schedule at my local post office (including a couple of issues marked as “under consideration”), a Thai friend of mine posted a similar schedule on Facebook as well as images of a few forthcoming releases. Thus, I am finally attempting to put together a “Stamp-Issuing Program” article for Thailand. I hope to have that finished within the next few days. The usual annual series and birthday anniversaries are in place and this year’s Diplomatic Relations stamps honor the Philippines (70th anniversary) and Luxembourg (80th anniversary); it still bothers me that Thailand Post didn’t mark last year’s 200th anniversary of Thai-U.S. friendship but the Phuketian stamps I created have proved rather popular with my trading partners. There will also be a joint-issue with the Maldives in June and what seems to be two 4-stamp topical issues scheduled for September — one on the subject of “Marine Life” and the other portrays “Lighthouses.”

United States - Uncle Sam Hat reissues (January 27, 2019)
United States – Uncle Sam Hat coil stamp (January 27, 2019)

On January 17 (the same date that the second United States stamp of the year was released), the U.S. Postal Service announced that it would offer four low-denomination Fruit series coil stamps in rolls of 3,000 on January 27 as well as in the previously released rolls of 10,000 stamps. The stamps affected are the 2-cent Meyer Lemons (originally issued on January 19, 2018, and listed as Scott #5256); 3-cent Strawberries (May 5, 2017, Scott #5201); 5-cent Pinot Noir Grapes (February 19, 2016, Scott #5038); and the 10-cent Red Pears (January 17, 2016, Scott #5039). It is as yet unknown if the stamps in the new size coil rolls will differ in any significant way from the original issues in the larger rolls (such as, for example, bearing microprinted “2019” dates). The same date will also see the reissue of the Uncle Sam Hat stamp previously released in panes on 20 on February 18, 2017 (Scott #5174), this time in coils of 100 stamps including a “2019” year inscription. January 27 will be a very expensive day for those few collectors left who still obtain all new U.S. issues.

The Year of the Boar commemorative forever stamp was unveiled January 17, 2019, at the Chinese Community Center in Houston, Texas. Screen capture from U.S. Postal Service video via Linn's Stamp News.
The Year of the Boar commemorative forever stamp was unveiled January 17, 2019, at the Chinese Community Center in Houston, Texas. Screen capture from U.S. Postal Service video via Linn’s Stamp News.

Meanwhile, the 12th stamp of the U.S. Postal Service’s Celebrating Lunar New Year series was released on January 17 in ceremonies at the Chinese Community Center in Houston, Texas. USPS vice president of finance and planning Luke Grossmann was on hand to introduce the Year of the Boar stamp, the final stamp in a series that began in 2008. As with the previous 11 stamps in the series, the central artwork features a painting by New York-based artist Kam Mak. The 2019 illustration shows purple peach blossoms on a branch against a pale green background. Peach trees in China typically bloom in February. The upcoming Year of the Pig (or, Boar) will begin February 5, 2019, and end on January 24, 2020.

A Stamp A Day articles published last week:

  1. January 15, 2019:   “Franz Grillparzer” (Austria — Scott #489, 1949) 2,435 words
  2. January 16, 2019:  “Wan Khru (วันครู), or Teacher’s Day in Thailand” (Thailand — Scott #2849v, 2015) 1,509 words
  3. January 17, 2019:  “Happy Birthday, Ben Franklin” (Great Britain — Scott #785, 1976) 794 words
  4. January 18, 2019:  “Daniel Webster & the Dartmouth College Case” (United States — Scott #1380, 1969) 2,202 words
  5. January 19, 2019:  “Edgar Allan Poe & His Stamps” (United States — Scott #986, 1949) 6,525 words
  6. January 20, 2019:  “The British Colony of Hong Kong” (Hong Kong — Scott #173, 1941) 2,743 words
  7. January 21, 2019:  “Monte Carlo Auto Rally” (Monaco — Scott #333, 1955) 2,539 words
Pontifical Swiss Guard swearing-in ceremony at the Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican City.
Pontifical Swiss Guard swearing-in ceremony at the Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican City.

Today’s article, which will be post #939 to that blog, will be about the The Pontifical Swiss Guard (Cohors Pedestris Helvetiorum a Sacra Custodia Pontificis in Latin and Guardia Svizzera Pontificia in Italian). This is the small force maintained by the Holy See that is responsible for the safety of the Pope, including the security of the Apostolic Palace. The Swiss Guard serves as the de facto military of Vatican City. Established in 1506 under Pope Julius II with the first 100 soldiers arriving on January 21 of that year, the Pontifical Swiss Guard is among the oldest military units in continuous operation. I am still trying to decide which stamp to feature for the article (I have several to choose from issued by the Vatican as well as Switzerland) and will put it together later this afternoon or evening.

United States page 20 from my "Virtual Stamp Album" using scans from my own collection placed upon modified Steiner pages. Here, I added Scott #288 and #290 and upgraded Scott #287 from the 1898 Trans-Mississippian Exposition issue.
United States page 20 from my “Virtual Stamp Album” using scans from my own collection placed upon modified Steiner pages. Here, I added Scott #288 and #290 and upgraded Scott #287 from the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition issue.

I didn’t spent much time on my “virtual stamp album” pages this week, only adding a couple of stamps to the United States Trans-Mississippian issue of 1898, which I’d received in the mail last week. The 4-cent and 8-cent values are next on my list to acquire as well as upgrades and adding to the Pan-American issue of 1901.

A fairly active week for me in my hobby of philately capped off by purchasing the year’s second Thailand stamp issue and some successful bids on eBay (where I’ve been looking at some classic U.S. stamps trying to fill gaps in my 1893 Columbians and 1869 pictorials sets as well as much more recent first day covers).  I received a few purchases made in December and am continuing to seek out news of upcoming releases for 2019. Canada recently revealed its first designs of the year, the first of which were issued on January 14, and Great Britain releases its Stamp Classics sheet today. I’ve also begun creating what I am calling my “Virtual Album”, placing scanned images upon digital pages. All of this amidst daily additions to the A Stamp A Day blog (and my day-job of teaching) has made for a very busy week indeed.

It wasn’t until last night that I had a chance to read a few philatelic news sites, learning that the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. is yet another victim (as are all of the other Smithsonian Institution facilities) of the current U.S. government shutdown that began on December 22. The postal museum closed on January 2 and suspended all on-site programming and events. The Smithsonian Institution is about two-thirds federally funded, with the rest of the funding coming from other areas; including donations, endowments and revenues from product development and sales, concessions and other sources. The Smithsonian Institution reports that its federal appropriation for the 2018 fiscal year was $1 billion.

Continue reading “Weekly Phila-Bytes #2019-02”

Thailand - Thailand Post #TH1162 (2019) first day cover - released January 1, 2019
Thailand – Thailand Post #TH1162 (2019) first day cover – released January 1, 2019

Back in August and September 2016, I wrote three articles under the heading “Phila-Bytes” in an effort to post on Philatelic Pursuits more often. It didn’t work. I’d set out to do a bi-weekly series and perhaps there was too much going on during those two weeks to keep track of. At any rate, the series fizzled.

I am beginning to think in terms of weekly posting schedules for each of my blogs (yes, even the 925-post strong A Stamp A Day). I published the first of a weekly recap series this past Sunday on Asian Meanderings — my first entry there since last July — which includes an account of my week in terms of work, places visited, books read, etc. with a mix of photos and video. With that out of the way, I believe future installments will be much easier to put together. I plan to start once-per-week entries on A Stamp A Day (with a name change, of course) once I hit my 1000th article there in late March. I haven’t received a single postcard in quite some time so it may be a bit more difficult to post each week on Postcards to Phuket but I’ll take a look at my unblogged cards and figure something out soon.

My stamp purchases have gotten a slow start in 2019. In the past week, I’ve spent just over 450 baht (USD $14.20) on stamps and covers, mostly in eBay auctions. It can take up to two months for those online acquisitions to arrive in Thailand (not included in the total above is another 250 baht in shipping costs).

Old and new Phuket post offices in the heart of Phuket Town, Thailand.
Old and new Phuket post offices in the heart of Phuket Town, Thailand.
Continue reading “Weekly Phila-Bytes #2019-01”