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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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I apologize for the delay in publishing this edition of “Today’s Mail”.  Since they arrived on Wednesday (the last mail day before a four-day government shut-down due to the Buddhist holidays of Asarna Buja and Khao Pansa), I’ve been sorting and counting stamps, the majority of which came in a lot of 1500 off-paper stamps with no duplication.  This represents some 160 different countries, of which sixty-nine are “new” to my A Stamp From Everywhere collection.  I haven’t even begun scanning these stamps yet.  It will take me a bit longer to get that organized!

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The other orders which the Thailand Post mailman delivered (have I mentioned that they use tiny 150cc motorbikes?) were miniscule in comparison but represented four countries, three of them “new” to ASFEW – Afars & Issas, Anguilla and Anjouan.  I’ve started to put together yet another topical collection of Americana on stamps and I was quite taken by the set of three from San Marino.

There was also a packet of ten seven-row double-sided stock pages from Hong Kong.  Of note, the estimated date of delivery for this particular package was between the 9th and 17th of September, a rare occasion of something arriving much, much sooner than expected!  The cost, including shipping was quite reasonable and I will be ordering many more stock pages from this company in the near future.

Well, enough commentary this time around as I’d like to get back to the huge lot – it’s just too easy to get behind on these things.  I believe I’ll scan stamps from the “new” countries first…

Happy Collecting!

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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After a week or so of the barest of trickles, the floodwaters opened today and once again a nice-sized stack of mail awaited my return from work.  It was a bit of a card-oriented day – only one short set of “real” stamps and a couple of souvenir folders of local post issues from Lundy Island – and Great Britain dominated the senders’ countries.  In all, five pieces of mail from the UK, one from France, and two parcels from the U.S.

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The Qu’aiti State in Hadhramaut counts as a “new” country in my A Stamp From Everywhere collection as the sheikdom in Aden Protectorate had changed its name from the Qu’aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla.  These four stamps are the lowest values (Scott #29-32)  in a set of twelve released on 1 September 1955, the first with the new name inscribed. 

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Lundy Island is probably my favorite of the local posts that I collect.  The island itself is quite interesting and I particularly like the stamps portraying puffins which is also the “currency” used.  Some of the earlier issues portrayed the number of puffins equal to the stamp’s denomination.  Today, I received two similar souvenir folders – this one has the complete 1982 definitive set while the other has the three-stamp issue marking Winston Churchill’s death in 1965.

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Here we have a maxi-card bearing the lovely stamp issued by Monaco in 1977 marking the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic, an addition to my “Pioneers of American Aviation” topical collection.

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This year marks the 175th anniversary of the world’s first stamp, the famed Penny Black.  A number of countries have issued stamps commemorating this anniversary but I have yet to obtain a single one (I celebrated by purchasing an 1840 Penny Black with my initials – MJ – as the control letters).  However, I just received this souvenir card issued at London’s Europhilex stamp show a couple of months ago.  It illustrates Sir Rowland Hill’s original sketches for what became the Penny Black.

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Although I am adopted, I am proud of my adoptive family’s name and wish that more was known of its early history.  The story that I remembering hearing as a child was that the “a” in Joachim was dropped when my grandfather emigrated to the United States (I believe through Ellis Island).  So I am always on the lookout for philatelic items bearing either of the spellings.  This card is one of a lot of posted-on-board items from Danish ferries.  I will write about them in some detail – starting with the M/F Prins Joachim, of course – on my postcard blog in the near future.

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Finally, I received three new rubber stamps for my own little local post – Muang Phuket LP.  The one on the left was intended as a first day of issue postmark for the ASEAN Day issue (8 August) but I ordered the 2-inch size which is too big; I’ll probably use it as a cachet instead and “cancel” the stamps using my generic “wave” postmark.  A tuk-tuk is a local mode of transportation; my rubber stamp supplier had a buy-one get-one for free promotion which is why I have two sizes of that…

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Happy Collecting!

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No stamps arrived in the mail today, but I did receive two additions to my slowly-expanding philatelic library.  An American History Album: The Story of the United States Told Through Stamps is a beautifully-illustrated book using stamps to explain aspects of American history and society.  Dictionary of World Stamps: Philatelic Atlas of the World is akin to a condensed version of Rossiter and Flower’s Stamp Atlas, the “dictionary” being an indexed gazetteer of the locations pinpointed on the maps in the first half of the book.  Both were obtained at steep discount and significantly reduced shipping from charitable organizations in the UK.

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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!

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Another day, another mail delivery, another new country.  I’m really enjoying the current streak of receiving at least one piece of mail each day.  Gives me something to look forward to on the bus journey home from work.  I’ve noticed that eBay sellers from certain countries such as India, Israel, anywhere in Eastern Europe, etc. don’t get bid on as much as those in the United States, the UK, Germany, or Australia.  I don’t know if that’s out of fear the items won’t arrive or some other reason but I’ve picked up stamps at a steal by looking for these sellers.  I’ve never had one go astray…

This was my first auction won from India and the stamps arrived in less than two weeks, nicely packaged.  The best part is that the seller didn’t try to make the stamps even more secure by enclosing the glassine envelopes or stock cards with copious amounts of tape.  This seems to be the habit of far too many dealers and I’m always afraid that I will damage the stamps when attempting to peel or cut away the tape.  At any rate, I’ll be bidding on this seller’s auctions again very soon.

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Seven stamps arrived – three from Cambodia released on 12 April 1986 showing Angkor-style ruins.  They are the three low values (Scott #677-679) from a set of seven promoting Khmer culture and are set for inclusion in a thematic collection I’m calling “My Life in Stamps”, specifically in a section of stamps portraying places I’ve visited.

The remaining four stamps are my first from the People’s Republic of Congo and were issued on 17 December 1993 to mark the 90th anniversary of manned flight.  Scott numbers 1049 to 1052 feature the Wright Brothers and the Model B Flyer in flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  They are, of course, additions to my “Pioneers of Aviation” topical collection so I’ll have to so I’ll have to find another PR of Congo stamp to add to the ASFEW album…

Happy Collecting!

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Only six days into the month, and I’ve received mail on four of those days which leads me to believe that my regular letter carrier may be back on the job following a lengthy holiday.  In fact, I’m sure of it as I found today’s two envelopes on a table next to the entrance of my guesthouse as he is too lazy to walk another few feet and leave the mail at the reception desk.  My previous complaint on this matter fell on deaf ears (the message I received made it sound as if they were doing me a favor by delivering my mail at all!); it’s a wonder that more of my mail doesn’t go astray.  Indeed, it appears that the old-time collection in Stanley Gibbons binder on Scott Modern pages that I ordered from Canada at the beginning of May is one rare MIA parcel (and I have just been given a refund for that; I’d much rather of had the album and stamps…).

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At any rate, the envelopes containing stamps almost always make it through and today I received two from Europe, both of which arrived a mere eleven days after I’d placed the orders.  From Spain, I received four stamps from Spanish Andorra (a “new” country in the A Stamp From Everywhere collection) – single stamps (Scott #102a-d) from a sheet of four issued on 31 March 1978 to mark the 50th anniversary of Spanish postal services in Andorra.

The order from France contained what is possibly my favorite stamp portraying the hobby of philately.  The most famous of all American stamp collectors was definitely Franklin D. Roosevelt and the hobby received an unprecedented amount of public awareness in the United States during his long presidency.  He was a truly remarkable man, as well as an astute politician, and I plan to write a brief profile of FDR once I have obtained a few more stamps picturing him to illustrate the article.

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This airmail release by Monaco (Scott #C16) appeared on 15 May 1947 as part of a set issued to commemorate the principality’s participation in the Centennial International Philatelic Exhibition held in New York City that month.  This was the tenth stamp to be issued by Monaco portraying Roosevelt since his death the preceding April (nine stamps – general issue, airmail, semi-postal, and airmail semi-postal – had been released on 13 December 1946).  There’s also a slight design error; see if you can spot something unusual about the president’s left hand…

Happy Collecting!