Abu Dhabi Scott #1-8 (1964) VF MNH

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival – held each year since 1825 – kicked off yesterday with lots of screaming and beating of drums.  Check out my other blog at Asian Meanderings for a selection of photos of events over the next nine days or so.  As I am on holiday from work this month, I am stuck without a reliable WiFi connection at my home and am trying to post these blog entries and photos using my mobile phone.  It’s a bit hit-or-miss as the networks are often completely down and snail’s pace slow when they work at all.

At least today I only have two items of mail to talk about, eight stamps and a postcard.  As seen above, the stamps are from Abu Dhabi – eight from the sheikdom’s first set of eleven issued in March 1964 – mint, never hinged.  It is exceedingly difficult to obtain stamps from the British-protected era of Abu Dhabi at reasonable prices nowadays.  A once affordable country to collect has seen values heading upward recently as new collectors in the Arabian Gulf discover the pre-UAE issues.  There’s a lot of competition in the market right now…

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Next up is a postcard picturing a few of the princesses from King Chulalongkorn’s day.  That is the highly-revered King Rama V who is definitely the Thai people’s favorite king next to the present monarch, Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX).  The postcard is from a Thai collector by the name of Jobbo whom I met via my “Please, Mr. Postman!” postcards-only blog.  Here he mentions the weekend market that is held in the parking lot of the old General Post Office building in Bangkok.

I’ve long wanted to spend a holiday in Bangkok searching out places to buy stamps, inspired in no small part by a vastly out-out-date guide originally compiled by Alan Cameron.  The following is an excerpt of the relevant sections:

“GENERAL POST OFFICE
Location: 1160 Charoen Krung Road
Map Grid: G-6

The GPO is an absolute must for a visiting stamp collector, not only for the sake of the building itself and the services provided there but also because the largest concentration of postage stamp stores in Bangkok is within a 1-2 minute walk from this location.

Let’s assume you get there early on a weekend morning, perhaps about 0800. The main hall that you enter is huge, and there are 39 service counters in front of you. At the extreme right end of the hall is the pack and wrap service area. There is also a doorway here entering into a room off of which are the restrooms, a staircase, and an entryway into the telegraph office. (Telegraph office is now closed and blocked off. There is a small counter just inside the main GPO entrance that now takes telegrams. Telegram service is rapidly being phased out of the Thai postal service.) Want a good photograph of the main hall? Go up one flight on the staircase and you’ll find a large window over-looking the hall.

At the other end of the main hall are the Post Restante facilities and the Philatelic section. You should go to the philatelic sales windows first because they’ll be hard to get to later after the crowds arrive. If the windows are already open you’ll find a basket of scrap paper on the counter. Take a piece and write down the code numbers of the stamps, souvenir sheets, first day covers, maximum cards, etc. displayed in the various cases and then get in line.

Why is the GPO located here? With all of the tall buildings around it’s hard to realize it but the back yard of the GPO is the Chao Phraya River, and the GPO was probably constructed here around 1940 because of its proximity to the river. You can get to the river by walking down some of the sois off of Charoen Krung Road. A new GPO Tower (high-rise building) has now been constructed behind the old GPO building. It has a unique “Broadcast Tower” on it’s top that can be seen from a great distance. The river is behind this new building.

THE GPO WEEKEND BOURSE
Location: In front of the General Post Office, 1160 Charoen Krung Road
Map Grid: G-6
Hours: Sat-Sun only 0900-1700. Some dealers start leaving around 3:00PM.

Almost 20 stamp dealers operate from an open-sided tent erected in the parking lot in front of the GPO on New Road every weekend. Sales start at 0900 or earlier but many of the dealers don’t arrive until near noon. Each dealer has his material spread out on a table and there are usually plenty of chairs so you can sit down and go through their stock books and boxes of covers and souvenir sheets. For those who like classical Thai stamps and postal history, pay a visit to Kitti Damrongvadhana, who has a large and interesting stock together with a vast knowledge of the subject. He also speaks excellent English, German and French.

This is a must stop, not only because of the large number of dealers here but also because many of them do not have stores where you can visit them.”

Someday….

Happy Collecting!

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Earlier this month, my teaching agency asked me to substitute teach in a large high school for the seven weeks remaining in the term.  As a result, my workload increased to the point that I’ve had very little time to devote to working on my collections or writing about them.  Unfortunately, the school doesn’t even have an Internet connection so articles here will be few and far between until early October.

In fact, I’ve only received one philatelic item in the mail over the course of the past two weeks – this unused copy of the one-cent green Hawaii stamp featuring Princess Likelike, Scott #55, issued in 1893 with a red Provisional Government overprint. 

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I did receive a trickle of Postcrossing postcards over the past few days – one from the Ukraine, one from Russia and my first piece of mail from Turkey.  A card also arrived from my sister who had been vacationing along the California Pacific coast.  Her card from Avila Beach featured several stamps from the Harry Potter booklet – again, sadly they missed cancellation.  I will (eventually) write about these and a few other recently-arrived cards on “Please, Mr. Postman!” 

Scan_20150814 (41)I had been winding-down my online stamp purchases but that has picked up a bit in the past few days.  I picked up a nice set of classic Mauritius stamps, inspired by my current reading of Helen Morgan’s fascinating Blue Mauritius:  The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps.  I also picked up a few more countries under the letter “A” – Alsace and Lorraine, Alexandria, Annam & Tonkin, and Antigua & Barbuda amongst them.  However, I was outbid for a pair from La Aguera in the last seconds of an eBay auction.  That particular stamp-issuer is proving rather elusive!

Of course, you will see these stamps once they arrive in my mailbox – probably in around a month’s time.

Happy Collecting!

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Another rainy week of no mail deliveries (better than receiving soaked mail) and a national holiday on Wednesday for HM the Queen’s birthday (celebrated as Thai Mothers’ Day), brought a welcome – albeit small – stack of mail this afternoon.  Three eBay wins brought seven stamps, including a thought-lost order from Slovakia which took almost two months to arrive as well as stamps from the 265th country in my collections – Tasmania.

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The stamp arriving from Bratislava is a nice Austria Scott #45, 20 kreuzer gray issued in 1883.  But the reason I purchased this particular stamp was the very nice Joachimstal postmark (applied upside down), an addition to a loose collection based on my surname.  From the German Democratic Republic, I now have Scott #91 – 12 pfennig deep blue stamp picturing a father and his children with their stamp collection, issued on 28 October 1951 to mark Stamp Day (Tag der Briefmarke). 

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Scan_20150814 (8)Tasmania is a “new” country for me and I received five examples from the pictorial series which had eight different designs but were printed using several different printing methods (engraving, lithography and typography), perforation gauges and watermarks between 1899 and 1911, plus one surcharge in 1912.  I have tentatively identified my additions as Scott #88, the 2p violet picturing Hobart issued engraved in 1899; Scott #94, ½p green picturing Lake Marion printed by lithography and issued in 1902-03; Scott #95, 1p carmine, Scott #96, 1p dull red, both portraying Mount Wellington and issued in 1902-1903 – the carmine stamp is lithographed and the dull red is printed by typography; and Scott #97, another 2p violet with a view of Hobart, printed in lithography.  I think… (I seem to have misplaced my perforation gauge this evening…)

Scan_20150814 (13)-cropFinally, I received two postcards – one from my sister who was vacationing in California earlier this month and a Postcrossing card from Russia.  The stamps on each are of interest in that each country has different approaches to postmarking nowadays.  Most mail that I receive from the United States are festooned with what I find to be very ugly ink jet spray-on markings.  Often the stamps aren’t cancelled at all as in the case of the trio of Jimi Hendrix stamps (Scott #4880, issued in 2014) on the card from my sister.  She recently told me that she’d requested a postal clerk to handstamp a letter to me but was told that they “don’t do that anymore.”  The card from Russia, on the other hand, received two nice handstamps on the four stamps (three from a 2009 set of icebreakers and one 2008 stamp showing a bridge in Moscow).

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I’ll write about these postcards very soon on “Please, Mr. Postman!” – my blog about postcards and the subjects they portray.

Happy Collecting!

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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…

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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.

Happy Collecting!

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SAM_6714An 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.

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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).

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

Happy Collecting!

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We are now firmly into the mid-year monsoons with heavy rains and winds throughout each day.  Luckily, I’ve been inside most of the time working; it’s a busy time for me as my bank staff classes are wrapping up and I’ve been giving final exams and writing student evaluations.  I love coming home after a long day and having a few new stamps to add into my collection.

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I had a cold ride home on the back of a motorbike taxi – the wind was whipping up and I was shivering but, thankfully, the downpour held off until I was safely inside.  There were two envelopes and one postcard addressed to me on the reception desk’s counter – the Registered Mail envelope from Thailand contained a pair of Thai stamps marking the 1987 National Children’s Day while an envelope from the UK contained a couple of later stamps from Aden, one of my favorite countries of late.

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The postcard had me fooled at first as the picture side was facing up when I first saw it and I thought I’d received my first Postcrossing card from Sri Lanka.  Turning it over, I found it was from Slovenia instead – still a first.  As usual, I’ll save the write-up for my postcard blog.

Happy Collecting!

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Only one piece of mail arrived today – a Postcrossing card from Taiwan.  I’ve been a member of the international postcard exchange project since July 2006 and this is only the 30th card I’ve received which now matches my number of sent cards exactly.  You can tell I haven’t exactly been a heavy user! 

Part of the reason I’m not a heavier mailer is that I rarely have time to get to the post office to send items; if I use a postal kiosk in the shopping center where I work, they try to charge double the face value (15 baht for international postcards) for the stamps.  Unusually, many post offices don’t carry the small 15-baht stamps as these are usually sold (again, at a premium) in tourist-oriented shops or the privately-operated postal kiosks.  Under new regulations imposed by the current military regime of Thailand (the junta took power following a relatively peaceful coup a little over a year ago), foreigners must now present their passports when mailing anything, including postcards!

At any rate, every year I make the resolution to send more postcards and never seem to do that.  I’ll write-up this particular card in a bit more detail on my postcard-only blog

Happy Collecting!

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My first fan mail!!  Actually, this was probably in response to my postcard-only blog and that is where I will publish a full write-up.  Must not let this go to my head…  Nah, my ego needs stoking on a rainy day such as this.  The fact that I’m receiving mail on consecutive days is all the stoking I really need, however.

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The remaining two items received today a bits of philatelic reading material.  I’ve collected paquebot covers off and on since my teens, mainly those of Cunard liners or originating from favorite ports.  I’d long been looking for a copy of Philip Cockrill’s classic Ocean Mails and at last I found one on eBay.  I’ve been buying a few of these types of older philatelic literature over the past couple of months as the price is often reasonable and shipping costs low.  I plan to scan those that are out-of-print and (probably) offer the resulting PDF’s as free downloads via Scibd if they are in the public domain.

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Last, but certainly not least, in today’s mail was a 50-page Stanley Gibbons compilation of articles published in their excellent magazine marking the 40th anniversary of Guernsey’s and Jersey’s postal independence in late 2009.  While I corresponded with a famous author who lived on Jersey in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, I never really collected their stamps (I recall that my “penpal” sent me the Jersey presentation pack for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana but these are all I had, aside from those affixed to the numerous envelopes).  It’s only been in the last couple of years that my interest was piqued by a February 2013 article in The Philatelic Missive, by the Central Florida Stamp Club.  It concerned the German occupation of the Channel Islands and the stamps issued by Guernsey and Jersey during the occupation.

I now have a complete collection of the Jersey wartime issues and am working on those of Guernsey.  I also have a number of stamps released by each of these islands since their postal independence in 1969, as well as a few from Alderney (see my “Stamp Issuers” write-up) not to mention a few local post stamps from islands such as Herm and Jethou.  This book looks to improve my still somewhat limited knowledge on the subject.

I wonder what tomorrow’s mail will bring?

Happy Collecting!