This past Friday, Thailand Post announced — complete with design images — its first stamp for 2019 marking the Year of the Pig, due for release on January 1. This served as a reminder to me that it had been a while since I’d written about Thailand’s stamps released over the past few months. In fact, the last time I posted an article about Thai new issues was way back at the beginning of April!
Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I haven’t been able to buy any stamps at the post office since mid-May (shortly after the issuance of the Thai-Turkish joint issue and they’d already sold out of the first day cover by that time!). Thus, most of the images in this article were sourced from eBay, Thailand Post, Siam Stamp Catalog, and the Facebook page of the Thailand Stamp Museum. My next day off that also is not a post office holiday won’t be until late December so I may just have to wait until the annual yearbook is released in February to obtain all of the stamps I’ve missed this year!
I won’t provide much commentary on the stamps in this article other than date of issue and a few other details. I have included the Thailand Post issue numbers for reference; it usually takes a few years (!) before I can track down Scott or Michel catalogue numbers….
At 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time today — September 7, 2018 — the United States Postal Service will hold a dedication ceremony at the Namburg Bandshell in New York City’s Central Park in order to officially unveil its newest entry in the Music Icons series, a set of four stamps utilizing the same design in different colors depicting singer and songwriter John Lennon. The event will be officiated by U.S. Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “Beloved around the world, Lennon was successful both as a founding member of the Beatles and as a solo artist. Lennon’s music continues to speak for truth, peace, and tolerance,” the Postal Service said in a press release on July 11.
The September 7 release date fits with the design of the stamp and “Imagine,” the song he wrote and the album by that name, which was issued on September 9, 1971. The stamp features a photograph of John Lennon taken by rock-and-roll photographer Bob Gruen in August 1974 during the photo session for Lennon‘s 1974 album Walls and Bridges. The original black-and-white photograph has been treated in gradations of color.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? – Bloomington, Minnesota: July 14, 2014
On July 14, the USPS released a single stamp in a pane of 12 portraying the cartoon character Scooby-Doo from the animated TV series of the same name, produced from 1969 to the present day. Writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears created the original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, for Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1969. This Saturday-morning cartoon series featured four teenagers — Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers — and their talking brown Great Dane named Scooby-Doo, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures through a series of antics and missteps.
With the release today, July 4, 2018, of the “O Beautiful” pane of 20 se-tenant stamps, the United States Postal Service is unleashing another beautiful set in a year full of them. I can’t recall another recent year so full of attractive stamps. It also seems that they are being issued at a more or less “reasonable” rate rather than too many all at once.
This particular set sees the Postal Service commemorating the beauty and majesty of the United States through images that correspond with one of the nation’s most beloved songs, “America the Beautiful.” The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College, and the music was composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey. The two never met.
In 1893, at the age of 33, Bates had taken a train trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to teach a short summer school session at Colorado College. Several of the sights on her trip inspired her, and they found their way into a poem she called “Pike’s Peak”, including the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the “White City” with its promise of the future contained within its gleaming white buildings; the wheat fields of America’s heartland Kansas, through which her train was riding on July 16; and the majestic view of the Great Plains from high atop Pikes Peak.
Since my last “catch-up” article on U.S. New Issues, there has been only a couple of releases by the United States Postal Service, starting with a single Forever stamp issued on June 9 in Appleton, Wisconsin, marking the 200th anniversary of the Flag Act of 1818. The basic design repeats that used for the U.S. Flag definitive stamp released on February 9; that stamp bore a 50-star flag while the newer stamp features a flag with 20 stars, the number of states in the Union when the Flag Act of 1818 was implemented. According to the USPS press release, “The flag‘s crisp folds and layering effect convey a sense of the dynamism of the young nation.” Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland, served as art director for the project with stamp design and typography by Kit Hinrichs of San Francisco. The stamps were printed by Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. at Williamsville, New York, using the offset process in a quantity of 200,000,000. They were released in self-adhesive panes of 20.
After nearly two months without any new stamps, Thailand Post is set to release two sets within the next four days for a total of eight stamps and one souvenir sheet.
Due tomorrow, April 2, 2018, is the annual set marking Thai Heritage Conservation Day (วันอนุรักษ์มรดกไทย — Wan Anurak Moradok Thai). Marking the birthday of the popular Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (มหาจักรีสิรินธร), a stamp collector and designer herself, the special day has been observed since 1995. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information about the murals portrayed on this year’s stamp set. Four 3-baht stamps plus a souvenir sheet which will be sold for 15 baht are scheduled to be issued under the Thailand Post catalogue number of TH-1144.
On April 4, the annual set of four Thai Traditional Festivals set will be released under the Thailand Post number TH-1145. This year’s subject is the spectacular Sky Rocket Festival (ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ — Prapheni Bun Bang Fai), a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people throughout much of the Isan region of northeastern Thailand and Laos near the beginning of the wet season. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets.
Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia. The most famous celebrations are those held in Yasothon’s provincial capital staged annually over the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that falls in the middle of May. In 2018, I believe this is May 18-20 but haven’t been able to confirm those dates yet. It appears that the photographs used for Thailand’s new stamps were taken at Yasathon. The festival is one I’ve long wanted to attend and will make an extra effort this year (it can be difficult to take more than two days off from work). At the very least, I will put together an article about the Skyrocket Festival for my A Stamp A Day blog next month.
In the meantime, here’s some video from the 2016 Rocket Festival at Kut Wa in Kalasin Province, Thailand:
The next stamps on the Thailand Post calendar is a 2-stamp set marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic releations between Thailand and Turkey (TH-1146), scheduled for release on May 12. There is also a four-stamp set (TH-1147) scheduled for May 14 to mark Vesak Buja Day (วันวิสาขบูชา — Wan Wisakhabucha). This is a Buddhist observance commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha, traditionally at the full moon of the sixth Thai lunar month (May). In Thailand, it is also observed as National Tree Day.
April 6 in Thailand is observed as Chakri Memorial Day (วันจักรี — Wan Chakkri), which commemorates the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty and the founding of Bangkok by King Phutthayotfa Chulalok in 1782. Officially known as King Phutthayotfa Chulalok the Great Day and Chakri Dynasty Memorial Day (วันพระบาทสมเด็จพระพุทธยอดฟ้าจุฬาโลกมหาราชและวันที่ระลึกมหาจักรีบรมราชวงศ์), this year the date will see the release of the first new banknotes and coins bearing the likeness of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (มหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร). In the West, he is called simply King Rama X. Banknotes in the denominations of 20, 50 and 100 baht will be released on April 6 as well as coins denominated 10, 5, 2, and 1 baht plus 50, 25, 10, 5, and 1 satang (all of the satang coinage is basically useless, retailers usually will round up or give customers 25- or 50-satang coins in change but refuse to accept them as payment; the lowest values are so that banks can balance their account books and probably won’t reach circulation).
The first Rama X definitive stamps were originally scheduled to have been released on April 6 as well but are now delayed until July 28. That date is known in English as King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Birthday but in Thai it is วันเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษาสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัวมหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร — Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Maha Wachiralongkon Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun. Have I mentioned that I have given up trying to learn the language due to mouthfuls such as this? There will be twelve stamps released that date bearing Rama X’s portrait in denominations of 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 50, and 100 baht. The total face value is 220 baht, plus it appears that there will also be a souvenir sheet containing all 12 stamps to be sold for 250 baht. The stamps are now available for pre-order, as evidenced by the pictured advertisement I found on Facebook.
Although King Maha Vajiralongkorn accepted the throne on the night of December 1, 2016, and King Bhumibol Adulyadej was cremated on October 26, 2017, a coronation for the new king has yet to be held.
The two principal countries from which I collect new stamp issues each year, Thailand and the United States, have remained fairly quiet thus far in 2018. Thailand Post hasn’t released anything at all since February 7 but that is about to change (I’ll dedicate the next article to the planned April releases). The United States Postal Service has had three stamp issues (one a set of ten) since I last blogged about U.S. stamps back on February 9.
The first of these was a set of ten (50¢) forever commemorative stamps picturing “Bioluminescent Life” (specifically, deep-ocean octopus, midwater jellyfish, deep-sea comb jelly, mushroom, firefly, bamboo coral, white marine worm, crown jellyfish, pale blue marine worm, and sea pen) released on February 22 at Fort Pierce, Florida, in panes of 20. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism, a form of chemiluminescence. This occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, microorganisms including some bioluminescent bacteria and terrestrial invertebrates such as fireflies. In some animals, the light is bacteriogenic, produced by symbiotic organisms such as Vibrio bacteria; in others, it is autogenic, produced by the animals themselves.
In a general sense, the principal chemical reaction in bioluminescence involves some light-emitting molecule and an enzyme, generally called the luciferin and the luciferase, respectively. Because these are generic names, the luciferins and luciferases are often distinguished by including the species or group, i.e. Firefly luciferin. In all characterized cases, the enzyme catalyzes the oxidation of the luciferin.
The first day of issue city, Fort Pierce, is home to ORCA, the Ocean Research & Conservation Association. ORCA’s CEO and Senior Scientist is Dr. Edith Widder, who took the photographs that appear on seven of the stamp images. The selvage — or area outside the stamps — features a transparent deep-sea comb jelly (photo by Gregory G. Dimijian), surrounded by images of the firefly squid (photos by Danté Fenolio). Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps and selvage from existing photographs. They were printed by Banknote Corporation of America at Browns Summit, North Carolina, with a total of 40,000,000 selft-adhesive stamps printed. The panes are printed in the following arrangementt:
Row 1: deep-ocean octopus and midwater jellyfish (photos by Edith Widder);
Row 2: deep-sea comb jelly (photo by Edith Widder), mushroom (photo by Taylor F. Lockwood);
Row 3: firefly (photo by Gail Shumway), bamboo coral (photo by Edith Widder);
Row 4: marine worm and crown jellyfish (photos by Edith Widder);
Row 5: marine worm (photo by Steve Haddock) sea pen (photo by Edith Widder).
On March 5, a single self-adhesive stamp was released in Springfield, Illinois to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Illinois statehood. The first Europeans to visit Illinois were the French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette in 1673, but the region was ceded to Britain after the French and Indian War. After the American Revolution, Illinois became a territory of the United States, and achieved statehood on December 3, 1818.
The stamp art features an outline of the state map with a series of yellow beams that are meant to look like rays of a rising sun. In similar fashion, the Postal People tell us “the yellows and blues symbolize the dawning of a new day as the state joins the Union. Stars, representing the first 20 states, grace the top of the stamp. The rising sun symbolizes the 21st star.” Illinois artist Michael Konetzka designed the stamp; Antonio Alcalá was the art director. They were printed by Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina, using offset printing in a quantity of 25,000,000 stamps.
The stamp is available from USPS online sales and phone outlets. Although other post offices may order them, they are being distributed automatically only to Post Offices in Illinois.
I can recall watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a child growing up in West Texas but I don’t remember much about it. The USPS released a single self-adhesive stamp on March 23 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, picturing the show’s host, Fred Rogers (1928-2003), The stamp also pictures King Friday XIII, a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood puppet character hailing from “The Neighborhood of Make-Believe.”
Rogers’ groundbreaking public television series inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity and honesty. Filmed in Pittsburgh and first distributed nationally in 1968 by a predecessor of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the program was innovative and unlike anything on television for children at that time. Each episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” began with its host welcoming the audience into his television house. While singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Rogers always put on his trademark cardigan, changed into sneakers and then introduced the day’s topic. He discussed many of the experiences of growing up, delicately covering everything from sharing and friendship to difficult subjects like anger, fear, divorce and death.
Derry Noyes was the art director, designer and typographer on this stamp while the artist was Walt Seng. Printed using offset by the Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina, 12,000,000 stamps were printed in panes of 20.
Currently, the United States Postal Service has two releases scheduled for April: a set of four to be issued on April 6 in order to bring awareness to the role of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education “in keeping the United States a global leader in innovation and providing new opportunities for all Americans to learn and explore the world” as well as a single Peace Rose stamp due on April 21. I’ll report more on these next month.
The United States Postal Service is issuing a new definitive stamp today — February 9, 2018 — at the American Stamp Dealers Association’s ASDA Winter Postage Stamp Show in Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310. The USPS’s two contract security printers — Ashton Potter of Williamsville, New York, and Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina — have each printed a coil and a double-sided pane, creating a total of four collectible varieties of this design. All four varieties are pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) and are Forever stamps to pay the First-Class Mail rate, currently 50 cents.
United States stamps picturing the national flag in vivid red, white and blue have been available to the public almost continuously since 1957. This eye-catching new issuance continues that tradition with a striking graphic design of the flag with two crisp folds. Ethel Kessler served as art director for this stamp, which features a digital illustration by Kit Hinrichs. It is one of two U.S. flag stamps currently scheduled for release in 2018, the other being a commemorative stamp in the same basic design to this definitive, marking the 200th anniversary of the Flag Act enacted by Congress on April 4, 1818. This final Flag Act (of three) provided for the modern rule of having thirteen stripes to represent the original thirteen colonies and having the number of stars match the number of states. It also provided that subsequent changes in the number of stars be made on July 4, Independence Day.
Mailers in the United States like to use flag stamps on their mail as it is thought they have a better chance of being opened; however, most volume mailers use non-denominated stamps to pay a base fee, 5¢ for example, then pay the remaining postage by check or balance transfer. So this stamp will be used mostly by small businesses and individuals.
Full technical details and information on ordering first day of issue postmarks (the deadline is April 9, 2018) can be found in USPS Postal Bulletin 22484 (January 4, 2018). Postal Bulletin 22486 (February 1, 2018) pictures a black & white pictorial postmark for the first day of issue.
Thailand Post is issuing its annual Symbol of Love stamp today — February 7, 2018 — at post offices throughout the Kingdom. The single 5-baht stamp has been given the issue number 1143 and is released just in time for Valentine’s Day (วันวาเลนไทน์ — Wan Wal-en-thyn), which is a very big event here in Thailand. Most Thais refer to it as Wan Rak (วันรัก) which means “day of love”.
While giving boxes of chocolate is not very popular (it melts easily in the heat — February tends to be one of the hottest months in Thailand) and I have never seen a candy heart here, flowers seem to be even more popular of a gift than in the United States. Even though the price does increase a bit this time of year, the cost of bouquets and individual long-stemmed flowers is still dirt-cheap compared to most Western countries.
In the early morning hours the day before Valentine’s Day, thousands of street stalls suddenly appear EVERYWHERE and start selling anything that is red or pink or both: stuffed bears, plush hearts, and tons of flowers. In the schools, the students (and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in kindergarten or a high school senior) will walk around plastering all manner of heart stickers on each other’s shirts. By the end of the day, everybody is covered head to toe in pink and red stickers (including some of the teachers!). One finds hearts that have fallen off of shirts affixed to sidewalks for weeks afterwards.
Yes, Valentine’s Day in Thailand is mostly about who gets the most gifts and flowers to show off (and the girls love walking around carrying bears and huge bouquets all day long).
While many will go out to eat dinner, it is rare to see Thai people holding hands in public other than the younger generation (no doubt, influenced by us Western visitors who aren’t so chaste). For those who stay at home, there are special Valentine’s Day television programs shown all day long on almost every channel. Mostly, these are cheesy game shows and comedies.
For philatelists (some in Thailand actually have girlfriends and wives!), a number of the Bangkok area post offices have special Valentine’s Day cancellations available. These are in addition to the regular first day of issue postmarks (again, most branches in Bangkok will offer special pictorial cancellations today). I often wish that Phuket would do something similar (at least the Philatelic Museum counter) and have occasionally thought about moving to the capital simply in order to obtain postmark-filled covers on release dates. But then I think of the traffic congestion and pollution and come to my senses.
The postmarks, press release and first day cover pictured above came courtesy of Thailand Post’s collector-oriented Facebook page (called “Stamp In Love”). The following images were shared this afternoon on the Thai Stamp Museum Facebook page:
I hope all of you enjoy Wan Rak with your significant other. If you want to be a little adventurous, why not give these Thai love phrases a try?
Once again, the Olympics are upon us. I don’t watch many sports but I have tuned-in to watch the Olympics ever since I can remember. In fact, I can recall viewing bits of the 1976 summer games held in Montréal and being disappointed when the United States boycotted the Moscow-hosted edition in 1980.
While I casually collected the U.S. stamps released for those two Olympic years, by the time of the 1984 winter games I was philatelically “all in”. I designed my own cachets for not only the first day covers of the stamps (different designs for blocks and singles) but also for the special postmarks available from the post offices along the torch relay route and for the various venues themselves. I began collecting Olympic memorabilia and amassed a great amount of Lake Placid 1980 souvenir magazines, clothing, even ticket stubs. When Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner were forced to withdraw from the gold medal round of the pairs figure skating due to Gardner’s groin injury, I wrote them a condolence letter and received a reply back. That was really the peak of my Olympic collecting activities, although I did dabble every four years until my first real break from stamps around 200o or 2001 — a philatelic hiatus that lasted until shortly after I moved to Thailand permanently in 2015. Sadly, that collection remained in the U.S. and is now gone.
I still get excited when the Olympics come around and, since Lake Placid, I prefer the Winter Olympics more than the Summer. The 2018 edition — the XXIII Olympic Winter Games (Les XXIIIes Jeux olympiques d’hiver in French and 제23회 동계 올림픽 in Hangul, pronounced Je-isipsamhoe Donggye Ollimpik) — are being held from February 9 through the 25 in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. Interest is very high here in Thailand as there is a very large Korean population. These will be South Korea’s second Olympic Games and its first Winter Games; Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988. There are now 2,952 participating athletes registered from 92 nations with a total of 102 events in seven sports (15 disciplines).
Amazingly, a unified Korean team consisting of players from both North Korea and South Korea will compete in the women’s ice hockey tournament following talks in Panmunjom on January 17. Of the 35 players on the team, 12 are from North Korea and 23 are from South Korea. Although Russia participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics, following a doping controversy the Russian NOC was barred and the Russian athletes are participating in Pyeonchang as the “Olympic Athletes from Russia”.
The National Olympic Committee of Thailand is scheduled to field a team of four athletes in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the largest delegation it has sent since its Winter Olympic debut in 2002. Thailand qualified one male — Nicola Zanon — and one female — Vanessa Vanakorn — alpine skier. In cross-country skiing, Thailand qualified two athletes, one male and one female. Mark and Karen Chanloung are siblings who are half-Italian and half-Thai. They grew up in Gressoney-La-Trinité, Italy.
South Korea released it’s first stamps for PyeongChang 2018 way back on August 3, 2011. It had been announced as the host city on July 6, 2011, having won its bid in the first round of voting, receiving more votes than both Munich, Germany and Annecy, France combined.
On November 1, 2017. South Korea issued two miniature sheets containing ten 330-won stamps each portraying the PyeongChang 2018 emblem and the official mascot — official mascot, Soohorang (수호랑), a white tiger — as an athlete in the various sports. The Paralympic Games, which will follow, have a different mascot — Bandabi (반다비), an Asiatic black bear.
Several different nations have released, or scheduled, stamps marking the 2018 Winter Olympics. Those that I’ve heard about are pictured below, sourced from a variety of sources (I don’t have any of these in my collection…yet).
If you know of any stamps released for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, please let me know in the Comments (and include an image, if you can). Also, what is your favorite Winter Olympics sport? My favorites are bob-sledding and the ski jump).