With the corornation of His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn (วชิราลงกรณ) — reigning title Phrabat Somdet Phra Vajira Klao Chao Yu Hua (พระบาทสมเด็จพระวชิรเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว) or King Rama X — on May 4, 2019, the Kingdom of Thailand also gained a new queen, Her Majesty Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana ( สุทิดา พัชรสุธาพิมลลักษณ). She was born Suthida Tidjai (สุทิดา ติดใจ) on June 3, 1978, in Hat Yai, Songkla, Thailand.
A Thai of Chinese origin, she graduated from Hatyaiwittayalai Somboonkulkanya Middle School and Assumption University with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts in 2000. Suthida was formerly a flight attendant for Jalways Airlines — which is now part of Japan Airlines — from 2000 to 2003 and later Thai Airways in 2003 till 2008.
Suthida was appointed commander of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s household guard in August 2014. Suthida was linked romantically to the crown prince following his divorce from Srirasmi Suwadee. In October 2016, international media reports labeled her as the designated king’s “consort”, despite the palace never officially declaring their relationship. Her name is consistent with naming conventions for wives of Thai princes. On December 1, 2016, she was appointed Commander of the Special Operations Unit of the King’s Guard and promoted to the rank of general. She reached her present rank after only six years of service.
On June 1, 2017, Suthida was appointed as acting commander of Royal Thai Aide-de-camp Department following the reorganization of the Royal Security Command. On October 13, 2017, she was named a Dame Grand Cross (First Class) of The Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao, which bestows the title Than Phu Ying (ท่านผู้หญิง). She is the first female officer to receive this honor since 2004 and the first in the reign of King Rama X. From that date until her marriage with the king, her full title and name was Than Phu Ying Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya (ท่านผู้หญิงสุทิดา วชิราลงกรณ์ ณ อยุธยา).
On May 1, 2019, King Vajiralongkorn married Suthida who became the his queen consort, three days before the coronation took place in Bangkok on May 4-6. The marriage registration took place at the Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall in Bangkok, with her sister-in-law Princess Sirindhorn and President of Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda as witnesses. Between May 1 and 4, her she was known as Somdet Phra Rajini Suthida (สมเด็จพระราชินีสุทิดา). Upon her husband’s coronation, Queen Suthida became Somdet Phra Nang Chao Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana Phra Borommarajini (สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสุทิดา พัชรสุธาพิมลลักษณ พระบรมราชินี).
In Thai, Queen’s Suthida’s Birthday is วันเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษาสมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสุทิดา พัชรสุธาพิมลลักษณ พระบรมราชินี or Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phra Nang Chao Suthida Phatcharasutha Phimon Lak Phra Borommarachini and was designated as a new national holiday late last month. Government offices and schools are closed (although my language school remains open today) and I observed a few new royal portraits alongside the roadways in Phuket this morning along with purple and yellow bunting and several new royal portraits at major intersections. Her Royal Biography was released yesterday and the slideshow above contains the English version as well as several photos from the royal wedding and coronation.
Thailand Post has yet to release a stamp portraying our new queen. I suspect that the first will be released one year from today to mark her 42nd birthday in 2020. In the meantime, I created five designs for my own local post, that of Republica Phuketia. There are four vertically-oriented rectangular designs, each denominated 25 farang (a sub-unit of eth). A 50-farang square stamp completes the set. These are the first Republica Phuketia stamps to be released in 2019 and have the MPLP (Muang Phuket Local Post) catalogue numbers of Ph51-55.
It gives me great pleasure to announce the issuance of the first souvenir sheet to be released by Republica Phuketia. The sheet contains a block of four se-tenant 50-farang stamps which together form a outline map of Phuket Island which lies in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of southern Thailand. The Republica Phuketia seal is featured at the center of the stamp design so only a portion of it appears on each stamp. The stamps are also the first to be inscribed with the full name of the local post-operating micronation, REPUBLICA PHUKETIA. The background design of the souvenir sheet is a photograph taken by myself on October 13, 2008, at Kata Yai Beach on the west coast of Phuket Island. It portrays a rain squall approaching the beach; a long-tail boat in visible in the center background. The sheets were printed by Yoursetamps in Berlin, Germany, using high-resolution laser printing technology, comb perforated 13½ x 13.
Before I give details about the latest Phuketia local post stamp release, I am pleased to announce that the Republica Phuketia government is no longer “in-exile”. After nearly a month in the wilds of Phang Nga Province, I was allowed to return to the much more civilized (we have a mall!) and familiar surroundings of Phuket. As a result, there are no provisional postal markings noting the temporary location — meaning that I never had a chance to get to the post office while in Phang Nga. Thus, the Phuketian definitive set was not released until November 30 when the first day covers were delivered to the post office in Phuket (and have yet to complete the vast 2-kilometer distance back to Posta Phuketia headquarters).
With the definitive first day covers still in transit, another set is prepared and ready for the December 12, 2018, release of three commemorates marking the 200th anniversary of Thai-U.S. Friendship. Observant readers will notice that this is a change from the previously-announced date of December 10. This is due to the fact that the Thailand Post facilities will remain closed on that date (tomorrow) for the Constitution Day holiday. Yes, the kingdom still observes this as a government and banking holiday although they still haven’t adopted a new Constitution since the latest military coup back in May 2014. However, they did announce this week (as they do every year) that elections to vote on a new Constitution will be held in the near future (February 2019, according to the latest announcement). I suspect that, as they do every year, they will find some excuse to again delay these elections.
Since November 5 and continuing until early March 2019, the Republica Phuketia government (that’s me) has been in exile, residing in the neighboring province’s Thai Chang subdistrict of Amphoe Muang Phang Nga. Of course, that includes Posta Phuketia which will become a cross-provincial service with the release this weekend of ten definitive stamps, rather than merely a local post. We may have to annex a small piece of territory (namely the Foreign Teachers’ Room at Ban Thai Chang Municipality School) and initiate overprints to denote the longer reach.
However, I still must return to Phuket (a two-hour drive from Phang Nag) each Friday in order to teach a two-hour class on Saturday mornings and, thus, the first Phuketian definitives will be released today, November 24, at Posta Phuketia Headquarters. These consist of ten denominations:
- 4-farang tan tuk-tuk (MPLP #Ph37)
Long-time readers of this blog and Asian Meanderings may recall that, from time to time, I have dabbled with creating “fantasy stamps” for my own local post. The Muang Phuket Local Post had its first releases in October 2013 and had a total of 26 designs through early August 2015. The stamps were printed on sticker paper (imperforate!) and affixed to the lower left of any correspondence I sent. I mailed first day covers to myself from a postbox near my work and these usually took between ten and 14 days to travel the two miles or so to my home (I think most of them went via Bangkok, 525 miles away!).
With my recent promotion to Assistant Head Teacher of my school here in Phuket, Thailand, my leisure time has once again been drastically reduced. In addition to administrative duties, I still have a number of teaching hours each week including a series of private three-hour Conversation lessons Mondays through Thursdays with a Thai man who is, at best, an Elementary level student. That one lesson leaves me more exhausted than anything else I do and all I want to do when I return home in the evenings is eat dinner and go to sleep. It has been difficult to become motivated to do anything else!
Luckily, a few stamps arrived at the end of the week that have restored my interest in my philatelic pursuits. Indeed, the covering envelopes were almost as interesting as the items contained within…
Looking at the first, I knew I would be disappointed once I opened it. The wrinkles from the water damage are apparent from this scan. In southern Thailand we have just two seasons – the Dry Season (hot and hotter) and the Wet Season (hot and rainy). This year, the monsoons have been particularly bad with the addition of being hammered by the outer spokes of at least four monster typhoons (AKA hurricanes). I’m actually surprised that I haven’t received more soaked mail than I have – only three this year (all of which contained mint stamps ruined by the moisture). As local mail deliveries are made by guys on tiny 110cc motorbikes, they often won’t make their rounds if the skies look threatening. Occasionally the storms seem to come out of nowhere…
What would have been the “A Stamp From Everywhere” addition for Azerbaijan didn’t survive a storm somewhere along it’s journey from a dealer in Bangor, Maine. The containing envelope bore a purple marking in Thai (I’ll see if somebody at work can translate it) and the back flap is taped closed. I have no idea if the marking – and possible resealing – of the envelope occurred in Bangkok or Phuket. The stamp – Scott #350, 35 kopeck picturing flag on map of Azerbaijan, issued on 26 March 1992 commemorating the nation’s independence – is wrinkled and stuck to the inside of a glassine envelope. Luckily, it’s not an expensive stamp (2009 catalogue value for MNH was US $1.25) and I should be able to track down another. Makes me wonder if I should just not order anything during the six months or so of the Wet Season….
Stamp dealers often affix older postage stamps to envelopes when mailing out orders but I’ve never seen an 11 year old First Day Cover recycled as was this one from Canada. The cover bears a souvenir sheet (Scott #2027) issued on 26 March 2004 containing a C$1.40 stamp portraying Arctic explorer Otto Sverdup’s ship the Fram as well as two labels. This was a joint issue with Norway and Greenland; I believe that the “NU” in the pictorial postmark stands for Nunavut, Canada’s Arctic province. The dealer added three copies (one on the front and two on the back) of Scott #1812, a holographic self-adhesive stamp issued on 12 October 1999 to mark the Millennium, as well as a single copy of Scott #1856 issued 23 May 2000 to mark the Queen Mother’s 100th birth anniversary.
The recycled FDC from the frozen Canadian north contained a folder of twelve stamps from the tropical islands of Hawaii. Specifically, the stamps are:
Scott #35 (1875) 2c brown King David Kalakaua
Scott #42 (1883) 1c green Princess Likelike
Scott #43 (1886) 2c rose King David Kalakaua (a duplicate)
Scott #52 (1891) 2c dull violet Queen Liliuokalani
Scott #57 (1893) 2c dull violet Provisional Government overprint in red
Scott #66 (1893) 2c rose Provisional Government overprint in black
Scott #74 (1894) 1c yellow Coat of Arms
Scott #75 (1894) 2c brown View of Honolulu (a duplicate)
Scott #76 (1894) 5c rose lake Statue of Kamehameha
Scott #80 (1899) 1c dark green Coat of Arms
Scott #81 (1899) 2c rose View of Honolulu
Scott #82 (1899) 5c blue Statue of Kamehameha
I plan to design a few album pages to house these Hawaiian stamps on my next day off (currently, that MIGHT be next Friday) and would like to purchase a few more. There are a number that are rather affordable but others that I can never hope to obtain. It appears that the earliest stamp from Hawaii that I will be able to add would be Scott #10 (2009 value of US $25 unused), an official reprint issued in 1868 of an 1855 stamp picturing a rough rendition of King Kamehameha III.
From the pre-statehood issues of one future U.S. state to a fantasy issue purporting to represent the republic era of yet another U.S. state, that of my birth – Texas. These were created this year by Philosateleian, a local post operated out of Jacksonville, Florida, and probably the most visible of the American hobbyist posts. To quote the designer:
“The Republic of Texas never issued postage stamps. Indeed, it became part of the United States of America in 1846, the year before the USA issued its first stamps. But what if Texas had used postage stamps? What might they have looked like? I am creating a series of fantasy stamps for the Republic of Texas, and these are the first set in that series.
In 1916, W. L. Newsom wrote that the early Texas postal system had five basic rates for a letter comprised of a single sheet of paper:
– 6¼ cents (up to 20 miles)
– 12½ cents (20-50 miles)
– 18¾ cents (50-100 miles)
– 25 cents (100-200 miles)
– 37½ cents (over 200 miles)
The five fantasy stamps included in this lot match the rates listed above. They are ungummed.
No more than 280 copies (20 sheets of 14) of each of these stamps will be produced.”
I love the minimalist design of the stamps with the Lone Star of Texas dominating. I look forward to additional “issues” in this series. Another term for fantasy stamps, by the way, are Cinderella stamps.
The front and back of the envelope containing the Republic of Texas stamps is a good example of what I enjoy seeing when I pick up my mail in my guesthouse’s lobby. While most dealers cover envelopes with older stamps from the 1950’s and 1960’s (full sheets of these stamps being dirt-cheap), I would rather see recent stamps such as the new Elvis Presley and Paul Newman emissions issued this past August and September, respectively. A nice addition is another Philosateleian local post stamp and appropriate markings.
It’s been a rainy week with the summer monsoon finally kicking in with a vengeance. Phuket has seen quite a few canals flooding, muddy landslides and downed power lines but once again we escaped the full brunt of the storm that brought wide-spread destruction to our neighbors to the northwest in Myanmar. Our local postman wisely stayed at home for several days, only venturing out on Wednesday for the first mail delivery we’ve had since the dual Buddhist holidays last week. I was happy to receive a small amount of mail, although a couple of the envelopes were somewhat water-damaged. Luckily, the stamps within remained dry in their glassine envelopes.
A dealer in New South Wales, Australia, sent me these three stamps issued by the Armenian republican government in 1920, part of s set of ten that never saw postal use. The Scott catalogue doesn’t assign numbers for these but does note that some were used fiscally and values the entire set at US $10. Scott further mentions that imperforate samples and reprints are also available.
My first Hawaiian stamp came, appropriately enough, from an eBay seller in the interestingly-named town of Captain Cook in Hawaii itself. This is Scott #43 picturing King David Kalakaua, 2 cent rose issued in 1886. I also received – by way of Portland, Oregon – the lovely postcard of Honolulu pictured below, bearing a U.S. stamp and a 1909 Honolulu cancellation depicting the U.S. flag some fifty years prior to statehood.
I’ve been buying a few Lundy Island items lately and felt that this postcard made a nice companion to the local post stamps. I started collecting Lundy Island stamps upon stumbling across one of the early puffin issues which had the number of puffins pictured to match the stamp’s denomination. In retrospect, I wish I’d followed a similar design plan for my own Muang Phuket Local Post as I could have had the currency valued in “gibbons” accompanied by pictures of the local primate population. I suppose I could have a currency-change series, but I digress…
Finally, from the pleasant-sounding Blue Jay, California, I received a mixed lot of 75 stamps from French Algeria, a sign that my original “A Stamp From Everywhere” collection is becoming a mite complicated. Often, I will start off obtaining a single stamp from a particular country and then that stamp causes me to want to add more. Packets such as this one can make it easy to put together nice collections of certain stamp-issuing countries without spending a whole lot of money.
An odd mail day – five philatelic orders received but only one stamp amongst them. Also, the envelope from the UK was enclosed in a clear plastic Thailand Post “body bag” as it was damaged in transit. The left side was torn away and somebody patched it with tape – on the inside! The result was that much of the enclosure was stuck to that tape. Luckily, the item (a small cover) wasn’t nor were the stamps on the cover. There was a nice variety of items – a stamp, a cover, a maximum card, an aerogramme, and a book.
The sole stamp is a German semi-postal, Scott #B201, issued on 11 January 1942 to mark that year’s Stamp Day. I’m starting to put together a topical collection honoring the “hobby of kings” and the Stamp Day releases by Germany, Austria, and Afghanistan provide many examples. Looks like I need to rescan this one as it appears a bit blurry (I’ve been having a few scanner problems with latest build of Windows 10 Insider Preview).
One of my departures from the mainstream of philately is the collection of certain local posts, particularly the carriage labels of Lundy Island in England’s Bristol Channel. I was initially drawn to these by the many designs featuring puffins, a bird I’ve always been enamored of. Occasionally, I’ll come across related material such as this cover bearing a British stamp – Scott #1239 – with a Lundy Island pictorial cancellation applied on the first day of issue, 17 January 1989. The 19p stamp is the lowest value in a set of four commemorating the centenary of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the establishment of the Wild Bird Protection Act.
Charles Lindbergh was one of my heroes when I was a boy living in rural Tennessee. I must have read The Spirit Of St. Louis a half-dozen times in my teens and watched the movie starring Jimmy Stewart every time it was shown on local TV. For my eleventh birthday, my mother purchased a membership in the Postal Commemorative Society and the first cover I received was the one bearing the stamp marking the 50th anniversary of his historic New York to Paris flight. I affixed a copy of that stamp onto the title page of my paperback copy of The Spirit Of St. Louis. Not long afterwards, my father and I embarked on one of our annual summertime motorcycle-camping trips – journeying from Kansas to Ontario and back this particular time – and made a special point of stopping at Little Falls, Lindbergh’s boyhood home in the wilds of Minnesota.
However, it’s only been relatively recently that I’ve begun seeking out stamps and other philatelic items honoring Lindbergh. I did have all of the various issues released by the U.S. but somehow I’d neglected the many foreign stamps. I particularly like this maximum card illustrating the famous plane; Scott #530 was part of a set of six released by St. Thomas and Prince on 21 December 1979 portraying the history of aviation (souvenir sheets in the same serious had been previously issued in mid-September).
I plan to do a full write-up of my Lindbergh-themed collection once I’ve obtained a cover flown by the Minnesotan aviator himself…
Lately, I’ve been collecting many of the stamps issued for the British protectorate of Aden and now have about have of those listed in the Scott catalogue. Scott doesn’t list postal stationery items for countries outside of the United States but I was happy to add this aerogramme to my collection. Released in 1959, it was the last to be released by the colony.
Yet another book added to my philatelic bookshelf, The Queen’s Stamps is a beautifully-illustrated history of Great Britian’s Royal Philatelic Collection and the stamps it contains. Looking forward to reading this one but it may have to wait awhile; I’ve been buying so many books lately that there is now a significant backlog!