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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…

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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…

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Happy Collecting!

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A busy ending to a long holiday month (school term break in Thailand) brought a major job promotion, watching my hometown baseball team win the first two games of the World Series and lose the third, not to mention Halloween which is viewed by Thais as an opportunity for women to dress in the sexiest witch outfits one can imagine and spend the night getting as drunk as possible with not a pumpkin or bowl of candy corn to be found.  By the looks of one envelope received today, Zorro is alive and well working for Canada Post – defacing a lovely block of four (Scott #913) issued in 1982 portraying the original “Bluenose” stamp (Scott #158) of 1929 which many regard as the most beautiful stamp ever issued.

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Another order had some recently-issued United States stamps affixed, including two of the recent “Charlie Brown Christmas” stamps – a television show which debuted on the day of my birth in 1965.  I must remember to order the full booklet in the near future!  I love receiving recent stamps on my mail more than the old 3c or 5c stock that most dealers tend to use.

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Enough of what was on the outside of my mail today.  What lurked within?  The “Bluenose” envelope brought yet another of my attempts to order stamp hinges that I can actually use.  The last several orders arrived in the middle of heavy downpours, soaking the envelopes and gluing together the thousand hinges each packet contained.  Normally, our local mailman will not even load up his 110cc motor scooter if the weather is foul but at some point he must brave the monsoons.  I will try and not place any orders next year during the rainy season (which runs roughly from early May through October); I was lucky more often than not this time around but…

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The sole addition to my “A Stamp From Everywhere” collection is the 1 piaster ultramarine value issued by Austria in 1906 for use in their post offices in the Turkish Empire (Scott #41).

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I have been buying a few stamps from the early issuing years of the United States recently.  My budget has been that of a teacher’s salary (and teachers in Thailand being paid even more dismally than our counterparts back in the States) so I am sometimes compelled to buy poorly-centered “space-fillers” until I can afford a more beautiful specimen.  A case in point is this copy of Scott #73, two-cent black Andrew Jackson (known to collectors as the “Black Jack”), issued in 1863.  A well-centered (four margins, Very Fine) used Black Jack is valued at US $70.00 in my 2009 Scott Catalogue; I paid $6.50 for this one.  I like the fancy cancellation “X” made out of cork.

Hawaii - 75 - 1894

As an American expat, I find a certain fascination in the places that later became parts of the United States or that once held territorial status.   Probably such issuer holds more interest for me than the isles of Hawaii although I had to set foot anywhere within our 50th state (my parents once spent a holiday at Kaanapali Bay on Maui, however).  Prior to Hawaii becoming a U.S. territory on 14 June 1900, it issued its own stamps and postal stationary.  Scott #75, received in today’s mail, is part of a set designed by E. W. Holdsworth following his success at winning a competition.  The two-cent brown value pictures Honolulu harbor.  What I can read of the purple postmark leads me to conclude that is that of one of two different towns on the big island of Hawaii – either Paauhau or Paauilo – which sat on the northeastern coast about five miles apart in the wet region (Hamakua) which included a number of large sugar plantations.

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Interestingly, the nine stamps that comprise the pictorial issue (five issued on 28 February 1894, one released on 27 October 1894 with the final three put on sale in 1899) were issued by three different governments – a Provisional Government established in 1893, the independent Republic of Hawaii which was formed on 4 July 1894, and an administrative “Republic of Hawaii” which existed in name only following annexation by the U.S. on 12 August 1898.  At midnight on 13 July 1900, all Hawaiian stamps became invalid for postage and soon thereafter sent to Washington, D.C., via Honolulu where they were burned on 9 February 1901.

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A great website covering all details about the stamps and postal history of pre-territorial Hawaii is called Post Office in Paradise.  It is highly interesting even if you have no interest in the stamps themselves.

Happy Collecting!

Scan20151024-001As expected, local mail delivery was halted during the almost-two-week’s long Phuket Vegetarian Festival as the street processions with their accompanying unregulated fireworks (thrown by the spectators) would have put the motorbike-driving postmen at great risk.  Yesterday’s national holiday marking the birthday of Thailand’s revered fifth king, Chulalongkorn, provided yet another no-mail day but I finally received a few items this morning.

I was pleased to receive the latest edition of Thailand Post’s new issues bulletin with MOST of the upcoming releases for the fourth quarter illustrated.  At this point, there are just twenty-one individual stamps in seven different sets remaining in the 2015 stamp program.  Of course, Thailand Post always issues a few more in December with little or no warning.  The next upcoming issue is a pair to be released on 2 November marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka.  As usual, I love the English headlines accompanying each description.  One commemorating the Department of Corrections has the headline “A Pride of Corrections the Protects the Society” while the World Post Day issue is described as “National Economic Support and the Global Connectivity.”  The catalogue reminds me that I missed out on a few recent issues over the past couple of months so it’s time for a trip to the Phuket Philatelic Museum in the near future.

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I received a pair of postcards one via Postcrossing which, I can honestly say, is the first I have ever received that didn’t bear a single stamp.  Instead, there is a very ugly Deutsche Post meter with a QR code upon it.  I was surprised as many Postcrossing members seem to be stamp collectors or at least aware that their recipients are collectors (indeed, I mention it in my profile).  The second postcard was MUCH more interesting as the first thing I noticed was that it had been posted from Mauritius – a island nation in which I have become quite interested lately.  This is due in large part to my recent reading of the wonderful book Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Rarest Stamps.  Imagine my surprise when I turned the postcard over and found it had been sent by that book’s author, Helen Morgan.  She’s enjoying her first visit on Mauritius in almost ten years and had discovered my blogs via a Google Alert.  How cool is that?

Scan20151024-008Next up, I received a “starter set” of Hawid stamp mounts ordered from a dealer in the UK.  I’m starting to find a few sources of supplies that don’t charge an arm and a leg to ship them to Thailand.  I’ve had bad luck recently in that packets of hinges I’d ordered happened to arrive in the midst of some of the words storms to hit Phuket since I moved here a decade ago, rendering them into a solid mass of stuck-together goo.  I felt that I would have better success with mounts, particularly since I have an increasing backlog of Mint Never Hinged stamps that I would like to take out of the stock books and onto my self-printed album pages.  I did take a few minutes from other pursuits to mount the first page of Abu Dhabi.  Very nice…

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Finally!  A stamp!  This one confused me as it arrived in an envelope mailed from Poland and I hadn’t ordered anything from there.  At any rate, it was a used copy of United States Scott #69, the 12c George Washington black from the 1861-62 series.  I’d won it from a dealer in Bissinghem, Germany.  No idea why it was mailed from Krakow…

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One final, semi-philatelic note on the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.  The post office left a stack of postal cards on a table in the new shopping center behind my home along with two baskets full of themed handstamps (most were made of metal) and three different colors of inkpads.  I’m lucky that I found this on the first day of the festival as the cards quickly disappeared and the ink dried up as very few people closed the lids when they were finished.  I spent an enjoyable few minutes applying the handstamps to both sides of perhaps a half-dozen cards.  With the post office inaccessible for the duration of the festival (it’s almost at “Ground Zero”), I haven’t yet had the chance to mail any of the cards.  I will have to think of some appropriate stamps as none have ever been issued commemorating this festival (this was it’s 190th year in Phuket!).  Perhaps next year, I will think to design a few for the Muang Phuket Local Post…

Happy Collecting!

 

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Although it hasn’t felt like it, I have been on holiday for almost a week now. Because of the huge fires down in Indonesia, Phuket has been covered under thick smoke creating major health issues. They say that it is more dangerous than the worst of the L.A. smogs. It has been so bad that rhe hospitals have been distributing free facemasks. Thailand is a corrupt country and nothing is ever free (and refunds are never given), so you just know it is beyond bad.

You would think that being forced inside for a week would have led me to work on my stamps but I haven’t really been in the mood. However, the postman brought me no less than thirteen envelopes full of stamps this morning and I can feel my motivation-level moving up a few notches as I write this. Eight orders from the United States, four from the United Kingdom and one from New Zealand. They include stamps from Aden, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Russia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and the United States plus pre-stamped postal stationery from Hawaii and Mauritius. In all, just 30 philatelic items and three “new” stamp issuers (the Caribbean islands) for my A Stamp From Everywhere collection.

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First up is Aden. I’ve been putting together a nice collection of the then-British colony on the Arabian peninsula. While I previously bought used copies of several of the low values in the 1937 Dhows set, I now have the first five in Mint, lightly hinged, condition. Aren’t they beautiful?

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The first British representative is my first “Seahorse” stamp. These were first issued in 1913 with retouched values appearing in 1919 and then again in 1934. Three different printers were used during the course of these various releases. My copy is Scott #222 2sh6p brown from the 1934 series. A beautiful stamp picturing “Britannia Rules the Waves” with the portrait of King George V. I was inspired to purchase this stamp by reading about in in Nicholas Courtney’s excellent book The Queen’s Stamps: The Authorised History of the Royal Philatelic Collection.

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Another purchase inspired by Courtney’s book was that of Hong Kong’s 1946 Victory Issue picturing the Phoenix rising from the flames. Issued on 29 August 1946, Scott #174-175 was a significant departure in design from those issued by much of the rest of the British Commonwealth. Not only is the design quite striking but it was the story behind the stamps that intrigued me to purchase them. Briefly, the then Hong Kong Postmaster General, E.I. Wynne-Jones conceived the idea while he was himself a prisoner of the Japanese forces. He made a rough sketch of the design while interred at Stanley Camp.

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I have had a lifelong fascination with ships and the sea with the old transatlantic ocean liners being my favorite nautical interest. I have quite a few of the liners pictured on stamps and finally got around to purchasing Great Britain’s wonderful set issued on 15 January 1969 shortly before the maiden voyage of the Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth 2. Scott #575-580 is a lovely set; I’ve always preferred ship profiles to photographs or paintings of them at sea. However, I’ve often wondered why they chose the Mauretania over the Lusitania.

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Another “Columbian” arrived – Scott #234 5c chocolate Columbus Soliciting Aid from Isabella Mint with gum, hinged – coinciding with my resuming reading Erik Larson’s account of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, Devil In The White City after setting it aside for more than a year. I’ve long been interested in Columbus, something that may no longer be “politically correct” and is certainly at odds with my siding with Native American issues in most instances. In fact, I’ve slowly been building up a Columbus-themed collection with several items destined for that arriving today, just in time for the anniversary of his first landing in the West Indies. Most of these purchases were inspired by David Nye’s (Mr. Columbus) recent postings on several Facebook pages.

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The earliest is the stamp from Trinidad, Scott #91 2p gray violet and yellow brown. It was issued in 1898 to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ sighting of the island of Trinidad on 31 July 1498. The bicolor (green and violet) stamp from St. Kitts & Nevis is actually the first general issue – Scott #1 – for this former presidency of the Leeward Islands colony. It was issued in 1903. A solid green version was overprinted in 1916 to help fund Commonwealth involvement in the First World War. That is Scott #MR1, another of today’s arrivals.

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The Columbus issue by St. Lucia – Scott #49 – doesn’t mention him by name and pictures local landmark The Pitons. The 2p brown and green stamp was issued on 16 December 1902 to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of the island, something only indicated by the year range at top center.

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The final Columbus-themed stamp in this batch is a nice souvenir sheet issued on 18 March 1992 to mark the 500th anniversary of the so-called discovery of America. It’s catalogued as Scott #6075.

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I’m also pleased to add several more classic-era stamps from the United States starting with a nice lightly-cancelled example of Scott #11A, the 3 cent dull red, type II George Washington issued in 1851 (the difference being that the outer border frame lines were recut on both the outer and inner lines on Type II while Type I – Scott #11 – had just the outer lines recut). Next is a strip of three of Scott #182, 1c deep ultramarine George Washington, printed by the American Bank Note Company and released in 1879. Scott #306, 8c violet black Martha Washington, was released as part of a set of definitives from 1902 to 1903. This Mint, gummed and hinged, copy was obtained as a significant reduction from its 2009 catalogue value of US $45 due to its poor centering. I paid just over $3 for it and I’m happy to fill the space.

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Finally, the last of the U.S. stamps is a Mint example of Scott #324, the 2c carmine Thomas Jefferson, issued on 30 April 1904 for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis that year. Again, somewhat off-center, it was advertised as “original gum hinged” but I can find no evidence of a hinge mark. In fact, the gum looks so fresh that I suspect that it may have been regummed at some point. Time to look up how to determine if a stamp has been regummed… The value would be US $70 if it is in fact MNH; I paid $2.25.

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Last for today, we have several items of postal stationery which are unlisted in the Scott catalogues; still, I love adding these types of items to my regular stamp collection. First is a postal card from Hawaii – the three-cent preprinted stamp bears the same red Provisional Government overprint applied to regular stamps in 1893. Faulty corner and a very thick card. The two pre-stamped envelopes from Mauritius bearing Queen Victoria’s portrait are on rather thick paper and were probably issued sometime between 1882 and 1894 and the indicia are embossed, always pleasing to the eye. The final Mauritian envelope features the Coat of Arms design with 4c on 36c overprint, the same style as the overprinted stamps issued in 1925 during King George V’s reign.

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Yes, very nice stamp additions indeed.

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Happy Collecting!

SAM_7249The school term finally ended yesterday and I’m preparing to get back-on-track with my philatelic pursuits, including putting together another “Stamp Issuers” article for this blog in the very near future.  After a lengthy period of no mail deliveries, I had a nice batch trickle in during final exams week.  The mail brought a few more classic U.S. stamps and I was able to add three more countries to my “A Stamp From Everywhere” collection.

Annam and Tonkin - 1 - 1888

Country #273 in my collection is Annam & Tonkin, represented by a mint copy of Scott #1 issued on 21 January 1888 – 1c surcharge on French Colonies 2c brown on buff paper.  The protectorates of Annam and Tonkin were located in what is currently Vietnam with the China Sea forming the eastern border and Siam (present-day Thailand) to the west.  Annam’s capital was located at Hue while Tonkin’s was Hanoi.  For administrative purposes, the Protectorates of Annam, Tonkin, Cambodia, Laos and the Colony of Cochin-China were grouped together and called French Indo-China whose stamps superseded those of A&T in 1892.

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AntioquiaI received six stamps from the Columbian department of Antioquia, part of an eleven-stamp series featuring General José Maria Córdoba issued in 1899 (Scott #117, 119, and 123-126).  One of my favorite parts of collecting A Stamp From Everywhere is learning about places I’d never hears of before.  I’ve always been a real geography buff and I attribute that solely to receiving my mother’s old stamp album around the age of nine or ten; it was full of “Dead Countries” such as this.

The final “new” country received in the month of September was the nice set from Aruba – Scott #265-267 – depicting sunsets and issued on 31 May 2005.  Aruba was formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, lying in the Caribbean Sea just to the north of Venezuela.  In 1986, it achieved a separate status within The Netherlands and began issuing its own stamps.

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Finally, I received three more values from the United States beautiful set issued in 1893 to mark the World Columbian Exposition held in Chicago that year.  Scott #230, 1c deep blue, is titled “Columbus In Sight of Land” and is mint hinged.  The 2c chocolate “Columbus Soliciting Aid from Isabella” – Scott #234 – is used with a cork “fancy” cancellation while the Scott #236 8c magenta, mint hinged, depicts “Columbus Restored to Favor”.  I am now only missing four “Columbians” of those I consider to be within my budget (although I may be able to find an affordable copy of Scott #240 – the 50c slate blue – I doubt that I’ll ever be able to afford any of the dollar values). 

Moving backwards a bit, I also received an on-cover usage of Scott #65, 3c rose George Washington Perf. 12 issued 1861-62, with a nice CDS (circular date stamp) from Ashland, Ohio, as well as a lightly-cancelled Scott #11, 3c dull red Type I George Washington Imperforate issued 1852-57.

United States - 11 - 1855

I should also mention here that a British fellow teacher of mine journeyed to Penang, Malaysia, recently and returned bearing several postcards and a mix of Malaysian stamps found in a George Town bookshop.  She’d collected stamps during her childhood – particularly those depicting butterflies – and her interest has recently been restored through our break-time conversations.  It’s always thrilling for me to find a fellow collector here.  It happens so rarely!

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Happy Collecting!

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Wrapping up the school term – just a week-and-a-half left – while Phuket is being battered by Typhoon Vamco has put most of my philatelic pursuits into a hopefully brief holding pattern.  The mail is unable to be delivered most days due to the heavy rains and high winds but I received a nice-sized stack mid-week.  All, aside from a postcard from China, contained stamp orders with my recently started collection of Mauritius gaining the most benefit with nearly 60 stamps from that island nation (including several dubious bonuses).  I was able to add four new countries (five if you count two different periods of German occupation), a couple topical first day covers, a few postal stationery items, and several classics from the nation of my birth.  Unfortunately, the end of the week brought my first-ever damaged stamps due to careless packaging.

Mauritius - 8 - 1858

The Mauritius stamps came from two small lots with a nice range dating from 1858 through 1946, including the unissued Scott #8.  While several have faults, they will look nice on the pages I recently printed.  While I have yet to find a decent binder (losing several eBay auctions for reasonably-priced Stanley Gibbons springback albums and winning one that never arrived), I recently found a good-quality heavy-weight paper in the local stationery shop.  Several months ago, I purchased a DVD-R containing over 24,000 album pages of a very pleasing, semi-classical design which I like better than the famous Steiner pages.  I’ve been printing some as-is and modifying others.  My Mauritius pages fall into the former category…

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This sample of page one, obviously, features color images of the stamps none of which I could ever hope to obtain.  But wait a minute!  Didn’t that dealer send something that I could put into a few of those spaces?  I’ve never had a stamp seller send a “bonus” such as this and I’m a bit reluctant to mount them into an album of mine.  What do you think?

Mauritius fakes

They aren’t even very good fakes but there you have it – an eBay seller sent me examples of the 1d and 2d Post Office Mauritius (Scott #1 and 2) plus the successive Post Paid of the same values (Scott #3 and 4) completely free.  They don’t even have the “Copy” notification on the gum-side of the counterfeits.  At any rate, I don’t even think they would look all that great on the album page…

A bit higher status than counterfeit stamps but somewhat less than originally-issued emissions are reprints, especially those officially sanctioned.  Take the case of these Heligoland stamps that I received this week, a “new” entry in my A Stamp From Everywhere collection. 

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Scan_20150903 (10a)The one on the left just doesn’t look right but I would have to say that all three are probably reprints as mentioned in the Scott Catalogue, despite my paying a somewhat higher price than $1-2.  But they could be Scott #7 and 10, issued in 1873.

My second “new” stamp issuer this week is Alexandria, listed in volume 2 of the 2009 Scott catalogue under French Offices.  France maintained a post office in the famous Egyptian city which issued stamps from 1899 until 1928.  The one pictured below is Scott #27, the 50 centime bister brown with lavender center, issued in 1902.

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I received two postal cards from Angra in the Azores which are unlisted in Scott but the pre-printed stamps are the same King Carlos designs as the 25 reis green and 50 reis blue (Scott #5 and 7) issued in 1892.  What intrigued me was the design of the postal cards – something I’d never seen before:  they are folded in half with the outer rims gummed and perforated to provide some privacy, much like later aerogrammes.

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Yet another “new” country received this week were two sets (ships and aviation) from Antigua & Barbuda which I’m counting as separate from those stamps bearing the name of just “Antigua” and those bearing just “Barbuda.”

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The stamps of Alsace and Lorraine (1870 and 1916) as well as Alsace (1940, plus the now separate Lorraine issues) follow the listings of France in volume 2 of the 2009 Scott catalogue as these are “Occupation Stamps” and given the “N” prefix to their catalogue numbers.  Germany was the occupying force in each instance. German Empire stamps replacing those of Alsace and Lorraine from 1 January 1872 until the World War I surcharges which were also used in parts of Belgium occupied by the German forces. 

The 1870 series from Alsace and Lorraine are some of the dullest classical period general issue stamps that I have yet to come across.  I have Scott #N1 – the 1 centime bronze green – and Scott #N4 – 5 centime yellow green – on piece, the latter of which bears a nice CDS.

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The two stamps I received from the 1940 occupation of Alsace are overprinted German stamps from the 1933-36 series featuring  Paul von Hindenburg, the second president of Germany.  These are Scott #N29 – 5 pfennig bright green – and Scott #N31 – 8 pfennig vermilion.

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In the mail were two first day covers – one featuring the infamous Pluto “Not Yet Explored” stamp that was carried aboard the spacecraft which recently flew by the former tenth planet (autographed by the stamp’s designer and featuring a JPL Stamp Club cachet), the other honoring our “Stamp Collecting President” FDR.

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I’ve long been enchanted by the United States’ first “official” commemorative stamp series – the 1893 Columbian Exposition issue – but hadn’t purchased many until recently.  The first to arrive were Scott #231 (2 cent brown violet – Used pair plus Mint “broken hat” variety), 233 (3 cent green Used), and 233 (4 cent ultramarine Mint), plus #U349 (stamped envelope 2c violet Unused entire).

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I am starting to pick up a few other early U.S. stamps as well, filling in gaps with the less expensive stamps before working upwards a bit.  Here’s a nice pair of Scott #26, released in 1857, with New Orleans cancellation.

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Rounding out this week’s batch of mail were a set from the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic issued in 1921 (Scott #278-294) and the first real mail-order disappointment I’ve had in nearly 40 years of collecting.  I’d been trying for a couple of months to successfully bid on a stamp or two from La Aguera and finally won an auction last month featuring Mint copies of Scott #14 (1 centimo turquoise blue) and #15 (2 centimo dark green), issued in June 1922.  They arrived just today from Spain but the seller had taped them up into a little pocket of glossy newspaper advertisement.  I had to take great care cutting the tape so as not to damage the stamps but when I finally got out of the taped enclosure, they were stuck together by their gum.  I slid my tongs between to see if they would separate easily and the top stamp came away with much of the bottom one still attached!  Partly my fault, partly the poor packaging.  Luckily, there are a couple of the same stamps (with slightly better centering) currently on eBay so I’ll have a second chance…

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I certainly hope my next batch of mail brings a bit better luck and…

Happy Collecting!

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The first day of September brought more stamps to my home than I received in all of August.  I’ve been working on several thematic collections lately, including one dealing with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Although he is famous in philately as for having been an avid stamp collector, very few stamps have been issued portraying him as such.  I didn’t receive any of those today (already owning the issue from Monaco) but a mix of 30 stamps from Central and South American countries issued in commemoration of his 1945 death are a nice addition to my FDR topical collection.  I couldn’t resist the cover pictured below which was sent to Mr. Roosevelt at the White House from France, formerly a part of the presidential collection.

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In honor of my upcoming 50th birthday, I am also putting together a collection on pages showing “My Life In Stamps.”  I was adopted within the first month of my birth back in December 1965, through Hope Cottage in Dallas TX, and wanted to find a few stamps bringing attention to the adoption of children.  I’ve only found one – Scott #3298 from the United States, issued in 2000 – and bought a first day cover with Fleetwood cachet.

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Finally, I received a packet of Stanley Gibbons stamp hinges which weren’t a humidity-glued solid mass as were the packages of Prinz hinges received a couple of months ago.  I can’t wait until I have a bit of free time so that I can hinge a few hundred stamps onto my self-printed pages, finally getting them out of the stock pages and into a “real” album…

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!

SAM_6859Two days in a row of mail – thank goodness for sunny days.  We really needed a break from the monsoonal rains so flood waters can dissipate a bit and we can all dry out somewhat.  It won’t be long before we’re slammed by another storm.

Today was more of a book and FDC day aside from my morning visit to the Phuket Philatelic Museum.  All six of the Muang Phuket Local Post covers I prepared for ASEAN Day arrived, albeit a little worse for the wear.  As the philatelic staff had closed shop here in order to attend THAIPEX up in Bangkok last week, I had to drop the covers into a pillar box at the shopping mall where my school is located.  Most of the covers were somewhat battered as a result but managed to travel the two kilometers in just one week!

Scan_20150814 (40)I’ve been fascinated by the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II for quite some time and have a nice collection of the stamps and a few covers as well.  My interest to learn more led me to seek out Ralph Mollet’s Jersey Under the Swastika after having found a copy of a Jersey War Museum pamphlet of extracts.  The copy I found which arrived today was published in 1945 and formerly a part of the Royal Philatelic Society’s library holdings.  It may be too lengthy and fragile to scan, which is my preferred method of preserving (and then reading) these older softbound works, but I will give it a go.

Scan_20150814 (39)My interest in the Channel Islands goes back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when I began corresponding with a noted maritime author who lived on Jersey for most of the year (he wintered in Alicante, Spain).  In addition to collecting the issues of Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey, I’ve also accumulated a few of the local posts from Herm and Jethou.  Thus, when I came across an old catalogue of these types of carrier labels at a price of less than a U.S. dollar I couldn’t resist.  There looks to be a lot of useful information in this one…

Scan_20150814 (41)The last book to arrive today is one that I intend to begin reading this weekend.  Well, I actually started to read Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps as a Kindle sample from Amazon.com a couple of months ago.  I decided that I would rather have a physical copy than an eBook to read so I tracked down a used copy.  Although I have many stamp-related books in .pdf or .epub format (including most of my stamp catalogues),  I would much rather have a tree-book instead.  This one came all the way from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I intend to write a full review here once I finish it…

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Finally…some stamps!  I received six from the first of the King Carlos definitives released by the Portuguese administrative district of Angra.  This covered three islands in the Azores and only issued its own stamps from 1892 until 1905.  This is another “new” country for me – stamp issuer number 266, in fact.  The stamps I received were Scott #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9 – all mint hinged, except #5 which is used. 

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I now have but one outstanding stamp order – a Hawaiian provisional issue coming from a dealer in Israel.  Perhaps that will arrive tomorrow.  I’m winding down my stamp-buying somewhat in an effort to get caught up on scanning and cataloguing.  When stamps arrive in a trickle, it is fairly easy to get them done on the same day (my goal) but I’m still working on a massive lot that arrived at the end of July. 

The amount of time I have to work on stamp-related activities (including this blog) is also reduced right now as the rainy season tends to breed weekend English camps that my agency calls upon me to run.  Not only that, but I am starting work at a huge high school this coming Monday – covering classes until the end of the term (early October) because of the hasty departure of the previous teacher.  I doubt this particular school has WiFi so my blog-posting may be fairly irregular for the next couple of months.  But, stay tuned…

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!