Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a philatelic week last week as most of my time was spent working on school-related tasks. The end of the long school year is upon us and next week is comprised solely of final exams — tests in English and Chinese subjects Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the Thai language exams occurring on Thursday and Friday. My M3-level students (roughly equivalent to the Sophomore level of high school in the United States) will take entrance exams for different schools on Monday before starting their holidays next Tuesday). The 2019-2020 school year will begin in early May, probably the Tuesday following the Royal Coronation of HM King Maha Vajiralongkhorn (Rama X). There should be plenty of Thailand Post philatelic items surrounding that long-awaited event.
While the week before was largely celebratory with a three-day local festival plus Valentine’s Day, this past week has been all about work as we prepare for the rapidly approaching end of the school year. While I am a classroom teacher (high school level in the Intensive English Programme this term), I am first and foremost an administrator. This means that in addition to preparing the students for their final exams and assessing them in a number of different categories, I also am in the middle of organizing various activities such as multiple-day English camps, school Open Houses, student entrance interviews for the next school year which begins in early May, and making sure that our current teachers are up-to-date with their own assessments. Since a number of them will return to their home countries soon after the school year ends, new teacher recruitment and interviews are in the near future. Add in the retirement of our head teacher and the impending relocation of my agency’s offices from the basement of a shopping mall into a compound of heritage buildings in the Old Town district will leave very little time for stamps in the immediate future.
Yet, somehow I will find the time to relax with various philatelic pursuits. With today’s article on A Stamp A Day, I am now 30 posts shy of 1,000. I have long planned to take a hiatus from that blog once I hit one thousand articles. I have not missed a single day since July 1, 2016, and preparing for each one does take a significant amount of time each day. While taking a break from ASAD, I will attempt to get caught up on my New Issues pages (falling further and further behind right now) as well as such set-aside endeavors as cataloguing, creating album pages (both virtual and physical), and perhaps a bit of soaking and sorting as well.
Another detriment to stamp activities recently has been the current heat wave we are experiencing here in southern Thailand. It has been hotter than I have experienced in nearly 15 years of living in the tropics. I am seriously thinking of moving to a (much more expensive) location so that I can have in-home air-conditioning. I haven’t been able to sleep well due to the heat and even sitting at the computer for any length of time one becomes coated in sweat. It is not comfortable at all. Rather than sitting and writing, I find that I am positioning my laptop between my floor fan and ceiling fan and laying down to read.
There didn’t seem to be much in the way of stamp news over the past week. I think the most significant “event” was Royal Mail’s surprise announcement of a huge set (including expensive prestige books, sheetlets galore and more) depicting Marvel Comics characters. I have yet to find a single stamp blog that has mentioned these stamps in a positive manner. The British issue (due March 14) just looks like a complete money-grab to me; a block of four probably would have been sufficient for the subject matter. I never really cared for comic books growing up and have tired of seeing such designs grace a nation’s stamps. These stamps hold zero interest for me although I did learn the names of a few characters I’d never heard of before (Captain Britain?).
Much more to my liking is a single stamp released by Spain this week commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III. The Correos website has a nice write-up in English for a change.
The only thing remotely philatelic I received in the mail this week was my first Postcrossing postcard of 2019. It came from the Netherlands and the stamp didn’t get postmarked. Hopefully, the next one will be a bit more interesting.
Articles published on A Stamp A Day over since the last update were:
- February 15, 2019: “Canada’s Maple Leaf Flag” (Canada — Scott #2808, 2015) 4,260 words
- February 16, 2019: “Day of the Shining Star / 광명성절” (North Korea — Scott #1906, 1980) 2,656 words
- February 17, 2019: “Castle Doria in Dolceacqua” (Italy — Michel #3978, 2017) 1,222 words
- February 18, 2019: “Huckleberry Finn” (Germany — Scott #B889, 2001) 3,022 words
- February 19, 2019: “Nicoalus Copernicus” (United States — Scott #1488, 1973) 3,022 words
- February 20, 2019: “John Glenn and his Orbital Flight aboard Friendship 7” (United States — Scott #1193, 1962) 11,757 words
- February 21, 2019: “International Mother Language Day” (Bangladesh — Scott #647, 2002) 1,857 words
- February 22, 2019: “The Iron Pagoda of Kaifeng” (China — Scott #2548, 1994) 1,709 words
Thus, we come to the end of this week’s “Phila-Bytes”. I am contemplating a name-change to something like “The Week in Stamps” or “My Philatelic Week”. Hopefully, I can find the time to brainstorm….
Happy Valentine’s Day or as it is known in Thailand, Wan Rak (“Day of Love”).
Today is the birth anniversary of French author Jules Verne and I am in the middle of putting together an article about him for A Stamp A Day. As is often the case, I have more stamps and covers portraying the writer and his works than I can possibly include in the article. So, I have added a slideshow of that material here on Philatelic Pursuits where I have more storage space in which to upload photos. I hope you enjoy the stamps (you can right-click on any of them to view a larger-sized image). If you’re interested in the life of Jules Verne, please have a look at the completed article on A Stamp A Day…
Aside from articles for A Stamp A Day and updates to my New Issues page, I had a relatively stampless week. Part of the reason is that we are currently in the midst of a heatwave — I cannot recall a hotter period of time since moving to the tropics (at least since my body adjusted to constant high temperatures). It is not weather conducive to working on one’s stamp collection: my home doesn’t have air-conditioning and the sweat soon begins dripping off my forehead into my eyes and down my nose. I can cool my workspace with fans but fans and stamps don’t mix no matter how careful I am. During such times, most of my philatelic activity is entirely digital.
Today, Thailand Post is releasing its annual “Symbol of Love” issue a week before Valentine’s Day. In recent years this has been a single 5-baht stamp (regular first class domestic rate is 3 baht); they used to issue a pair. I will stop by the post office after work to buy a pane (of ten) and a first day cover or two, perhaps adding a Phuket postmark to the latter (they usually allow me to cancel my own).
The holiday itself is quite popular in Thailand yet the giving of Valentine’s Day cards is rare. Chocolate is a relatively new addition but the giving of bouquets of flowers, usually red or pink rose replacements, is quite common. In schools, students of all ages (and some of the Thai teachers as well), purchase sheets of love-themed stickers and paste them onto each other’s shirts and faces. The more stickers you are covered with, the more “loved” you are. The stickers are cheaply made so they tend to fall off during the course of the day so you can be progressively less loved as the afternoon wears on.
The only stamp news that I noticed all week concerned new issues. Quite frankly, I have tired of Chinese New Year releases and am amazed at some of the nations who put them out. I doubt that places such as Gibraltar and French Polynesia have a large enough Chinese population to warrant much of a celebration and certainly don’t need multiple stamps and souvenir items to mark the holiday. However, a lot of stamp, cover and postcard collectors in this part of the world are avidly seeking out and exchanging Year of the Pig stamps with others in some of these far-flung countries and territories.
My favorite stamp issue this week comes from Åland, a Finnish territory in the Gulf of Bohnia which I have avidly collected since they began issuing their own stamps in 1984. The sailing ships Vineta and Parma are featured on a pair issued on February 1, the second to last in the series of stamps utilizing painting by the artist (and sea captain) Allan Palmer. The slideshow below includes the stamps, sheets, first day covers and maximum cards.
In U.S. stamp news, the National Postal Museum reopened on January 29 following the government shutdown and a new edition (the 17th) of the Scott Catalogue of Errors on U.S. Postage Stamps has just been published. Linn’s Stamp News had an interesting article about the past twelve years of the “Forever”-denominated stamps.
This week, the United States Postal Service announced dates and locations for two previously-announced forthcoming releases: The Marvin Gaye stamp will be issued on April 2 in Los Angeles, California, on what would have been the singer’s 80th birthday. The small town of Piggott, Arkansas, will be the location of the first day of issue ceremonies for the set of 5 Post Office Murals stamps, scheduled for April 10. Located in the northeast corner of the state, Piggott is the northern terminus of the Arkansas segment of the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, a National Scenic Byway, and is perhaps best known for its association with Ernest Hemingway who made frequent and lengthy visits to there to visit his second wife’s parents and wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms and other works while staying there.
Following the onslaught of rate-change stamps on January 27 (and the Gregory Hines stamp on the 28th), plus a few issues in February (10 Cactus Flower stamps on February 15 and an Alabama Statehood single on the 23rd), it appears the USPS is giving U.S. collectors a well deserved break for nearly a month with the next currently scheduled stamp, the Star Ribbon issue, due on March 22.
The next big issue by Royal Mail in Great Britain will be a set due on February 13 marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the designs of which were revealed over the past week. I am quite enamored with these and it is difficult to pick a favorite, but 12 stamps (for a face value of £8.04 PLUS a prestige booklet (costing £13.10), not to mention the attendant first day covers, PHQ cards, and more, does seem a bit excessive for such a decidedly non-British subject (oh, the Queen does own these drawings and they will be displayed around the UK in the year to come).
On the same date as the da Vinci stamps, the recent Stamp Classics mini-sheet will see a re-release with an exclusive inscription for the STAMPEX show and will be sold exclusively at the three-day exhibition. Release dates have also been announced for the Birds of Prey (April 4), British Engineering (May 2), Queen Victoria Bicentenary (May 24), D-Day (June 2), Curious Customs (July 9), Forests (August 13), Music Giants (September 3), Royal Navy Ships (September 19), and Christmas (November 5) issues, making for some interesting topics this year. I wonder if the “Music Giants” issue will have some tie-in with the U.S. Woodstock anniversary stamp. At any rate, no images for any of these have been revealed other than the two initial images of a Birds of Pray and Queen Victoria stamp when included with the original Royal Mail subject-matter announcement back in December. I imagine these will both be multi-stamp releases, probably in blocks of four.
A Stamp A Day underwent a design change last weekend, the first since I started the blog on July 1, 2016. I hope you like it. Since the last installment of “Weekly Phila-Bytes”, I have published the following articles on A Stamp A Day:
- January 30, 2019: “Claude Lorrain and the Seaport at Sunset” (France – Scott #3395, 2008) 4,067 words
- January 31, 2019: “Franz Schubert” (Austria – Scott #391, 1947) 1.541 words
- February 1, 2019: “Royal Canadian Mounted Police” (Canada – Scott #223, 1935) 3.977 words
- February 2, 2019: “The Real Robinson Crusoe is Recued!” (Chile – Scott #349, 1965) 4,790 words
- February 3, 2019: “The Immortal Chaplains of S.S. Dorchester” (United States – Scott #956, 1948) 3.942 words
- February 4, 2019: “The Federated States of Micronesia & the Last Raider of the Confederate States of America Navy” (Micronesia, Scott #C12, 1985) 5,454 words
- February 5, 2019: “Chinese New Year 2019 / วันตรุษจีน 2562 ประวัติวันตรุษจีน” (China, New Year Greetings stamp released on January 10, 2019) 373 words
- February 6, 2019: “The Treaty of Waitangi” (New Zealand, Stanley Gibbons #MS3662, 2015) 3.496 words
Today’s topic will be a literary one, either about Charles Dickens who was born on this date in 1812 or Laura Ingalls Wilder, born 1867. It all depends on the stamps and I will begin working on it in the late afternoon (following my classes and a trip to the post office).
Have a great week….
It was a busy week for me so I couldn’t devote as much time to philatelic pursuits I would have liked. I did maintain my daily posts to A Stamp A Day (and topped 100,000 words for this month with Saturday’s blog) ans have been working on my new issues spreadsheet mentioned in last week’s “Phila-Bytes”. I had planned to compile the latter into a series (first monthly, then bi-weekly) of articles listing and illustrating all of the new releases I could find from around the world. I got a late start on it, not anticipating how much time it would actually involve. My revised plan is to publish it as a page which will be a work-in-progress added to and updated throughout the year. I hope to have the January portion finished within the next week or so (I have information and images of more than 150 separate stamp issues for this month alone).
The biggest stamp-related news this week was yesterday’s United States Postal Service announcement of a few additional upcoming stamp issues. There is still no word on the Apollo 11 anniversary but the Transcontinental Railroad is indeed being commemorated with three stamps, two illustrating the locomotives Jupiter and No. 119 with the third showing the Golden Spike driven when the trains met at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869. A set of four stamps will mark “Military Working Dogs”, a very worthy subject. Abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly has ten of his paintings appearing in a pane of twenty stamps while tennis champion Maureen Connolly Brinker, also known as “Little Mo” — gets a stamp of her own. Finally, the “Star Ribbon” stamp will be issued in coil rolls of 10,000 and panes of 20. According to the USPS press release:
“The artwork features a digital illustration of a star made of red, white and blue ribbon. The white space in the middle of the ribbon creates a second smaller star. The tri-colored ribbon, folded into a patriotic symbol, is intended to evoke the connectedness of the American people.”
Release dates have yet to be announced for any of these stamps.
I didn’t see any advanced notice for the latest set released by the Netherlands other than a press release on the date of issue, January 24. This is a miniature sheet containing two stamps with slightly different designs commemorating “220 Years of Postal Service.” On the same day, Canada Post announced a stamp to honor Albert Jackson, thought to have been Canada’s first black letter carrier. This was issued on January 25 in booklets of ten.
I am not an error collector but it’s always interesting when a new one is reported in the new, particularly on modern issues that are still available from post offices. Last week, Linn’s Stamp Newsan article ran detailing the discovery of multiple imperforate panes of the John Lennon stamps released by the United States last October (Scott #5312-5315). These are missing the die-cuts used to separate self-adhesives stamps from each other. Thus far, more than twenty sheets with this error have been found in Iowa, Florida, and New York. It is likely there are more to be found.
The Local Post Collectors Society commemorates “World Local Post Day” on the last Monday of January with the organization’s members “releasing” their own stamps marking a common topic. I created stamps for two of these — the World War I centennial in 2014 and the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black in 2015. Both of these were under the moniker of Muang Phuket Local Post (which became Republica Phuketia this past year). Members of the society chose the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing for the 2019 World Local Post Day theme with stamps being “issued” on January 28. Philosateleian Post‘s design carried an image of Neil Armstrong’s boot in the lunar surface. You can receive a mint single of Philosateleian Post’s First Moon Landing stamp or first day cover by sending either USD $2.00 or a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request to:
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America
My two favorite new issues of this week are a set of six released by the Isle of Man on January 29 depicting Manx buses and a souvenir sheet containing a single stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the Polish banknote. A promotional image even points out all the various security features of the release by Poland.
This Friday (February 1) is a particularly heavy day with new stamps scheduled to be released by entities as diverse as Åland, Belarus, Japan, Spain, and the New York office of the United Nations. Next Tuesday (February 5) will also see a number of new issues from Estonia, Jersey, Malawi, and New Zealand. That day is also the start of Chinese New Year so I may be more involved in that than blogging. Time will tell….
I didn’t receive any stamps in the mail this week so all that remains is to list my articles published on A Stamp A Day since the last edition of “Weekly Phila-Bytes”:
- January 22, 2019: “The Pontifical Swiss Guard” (Vatican City Scott #1316, 2005) 4,417 words
- January 23, 2019: “Bathyscaphe USS Trieste’s Record-Breaking Dive” (Switzerland Scott #946, 1994) 2,300 words
- January 24, 2019: “Sutter’s Mill & the California Gold Rush” (United States Scott #954, 1948) 5,933 words
- January 25, 2019: “Thailand’s War Against Britain & the United States” (Phuketia MPLP #Ph48, 2018) 6,181 words
- January 26, 2019: “General Douglas MacArthur” (United States Scott #1424, 1971) 7,572 words
- January 27, 2019: “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” (Germany Scott #1691, 1991) 4,470 words
- January 28, 2019: “King Henry VII of England” (North Korea Scott #2662, 1984) 2,305 words
- January 29, 2019: “Stamford Raffles & the Founding of Modern Singapore” (Singapore Scott #40, 1955) 4,302 words
I still have not decided on a topic for today’s ASAD entry as January 30 is filled with anniversaries of such things as the beheading of King Charles I of England in 1649, the execution of Oliver Cromwell in 1661, the legendary Akō incident during which forty-seven rōnin (leaderless samurai) avenged the death of their master in 1703, the first assassination attempt against a United States President (Andrew Jackson) in 1835, and the successful assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. I do not feel like writing about death this evening. It is also the birth anniversary of German flutist, flute maker and Baroque music composer Johann Joachim Quantz which interests me because of his middle name but I don’t have any stamps picturing him (at least one has been issued by Germany). Thus, it will be a “random stamp day” which means I will search through folders of stamps scanned from my collection until one catches my eye. In these instances, I try to choose something easy (such as an animal or a scenic place) that won’t involve too much research or assembly time. This will be only the second “random stamp day” this month (this year, for that matter); I usually average about 10-12 per month.
Before getting started on that (article #947), it’s time for a trip to the local outdoor market for dinner.
I hope everybody enjoys their weekend.
Apart from my daily articles for A Stamp A Day, my main philatelic activity this week involved putting together a spreadsheet summarizing all of the stamp issues I’ve been able to find that are scheduled for release in 2019. I’ve been perusing a wide variety of sources and even uncovered a few on eBay that I hadn’t come across elsewhere (including stamps by both Myanmar and Russia). I now have images for most of January’s new issues and a few others scattered later in the year. The problem is that most of the images are rather low-quality. My spreadsheet currently has 89 separate issues with a total of 211 face-different stamps from 48 stamp-issuing entities. I am trying to figure out how to embed this spreadsheet onto a (free) WordPress blog so that a constantly-updated version will be available here on Philatelic Pursuits.
My favorite stamp issue of the week is a pair issued yesterday (January 21) by Greenland marking that territory’s involvement in World War II. This is the fourth set in the series. Artist Naja Rosing-Asvid from Nuuk, Greenland, designed all the stamp images while Norwegian engraver and illustrator Martin Mörck undertook the engraving. The series, comprised of 10 stamps, is printed in combined offset and laser etching. The 25-Danish krone stamp for this year portrays “Communications” while the 41-krone denomination illustrates “Weather Stations”.
I am also quite interested in tomorrow’s release of a self-adhesive “embroidered” souvenir sheet marking the 300th anniversary of the Principality of Liechtenstein. Lying between Switzerland and Austria, it took its current name as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire in 1719. This is the first time that Liechtenstein has issued an embroidered stamp. Denominated at 6.30 Swiss francs, it is in the shape of a prince’s hat and was created by the embroidery firm Hämmerle & Vogel in Lustenau, Austria. A limited edition version of the stamp, embroidered with real gold thread, will also be available.
A few days after I was able to snap a photo of a Thailand Post stamp release schedule at my local post office (including a couple of issues marked as “under consideration”), a Thai friend of mine posted a similar schedule on Facebook as well as images of a few forthcoming releases. Thus, I am finally attempting to put together a “Stamp-Issuing Program” article for Thailand. I hope to have that finished within the next few days. The usual annual series and birthday anniversaries are in place and this year’s Diplomatic Relations stamps honor the Philippines (70th anniversary) and Luxembourg (80th anniversary); it still bothers me that Thailand Post didn’t mark last year’s 200th anniversary of Thai-U.S. friendship but the Phuketian stamps I created have proved rather popular with my trading partners. There will also be a joint-issue with the Maldives in June and what seems to be two 4-stamp topical issues scheduled for September — one on the subject of “Marine Life” and the other portrays “Lighthouses.”
On January 17 (the same date that the second United States stamp of the year was released), the U.S. Postal Service announced that it would offer four low-denomination Fruit series coil stamps in rolls of 3,000 on January 27 as well as in the previously released rolls of 10,000 stamps. The stamps affected are the 2-cent Meyer Lemons (originally issued on January 19, 2018, and listed as Scott #5256); 3-cent Strawberries (May 5, 2017, Scott #5201); 5-cent Pinot Noir Grapes (February 19, 2016, Scott #5038); and the 10-cent Red Pears (January 17, 2016, Scott #5039). It is as yet unknown if the stamps in the new size coil rolls will differ in any significant way from the original issues in the larger rolls (such as, for example, bearing microprinted “2019” dates). The same date will also see the reissue of the Uncle Sam Hat stamp previously released in panes on 20 on February 18, 2017 (Scott #5174), this time in coils of 100 stamps including a “2019” year inscription. January 27 will be a very expensive day for those few collectors left who still obtain all new U.S. issues.
Meanwhile, the 12th stamp of the U.S. Postal Service’s Celebrating Lunar New Year series was released on January 17 in ceremonies at the Chinese Community Center in Houston, Texas. USPS vice president of finance and planning Luke Grossmann was on hand to introduce the Year of the Boar stamp, the final stamp in a series that began in 2008. As with the previous 11 stamps in the series, the central artwork features a painting by New York-based artist Kam Mak. The 2019 illustration shows purple peach blossoms on a branch against a pale green background. Peach trees in China typically bloom in February. The upcoming Year of the Pig (or, Boar) will begin February 5, 2019, and end on January 24, 2020.
A Stamp A Day articles published last week:
- January 15, 2019: “Franz Grillparzer” (Austria — Scott #489, 1949) 2,435 words
- January 16, 2019: “Wan Khru (วันครู), or Teacher’s Day in Thailand” (Thailand — Scott #2849v, 2015) 1,509 words
- January 17, 2019: “Happy Birthday, Ben Franklin” (Great Britain — Scott #785, 1976) 794 words
- January 18, 2019: “Daniel Webster & the Dartmouth College Case” (United States — Scott #1380, 1969) 2,202 words
- January 19, 2019: “Edgar Allan Poe & His Stamps” (United States — Scott #986, 1949) 6,525 words
- January 20, 2019: “The British Colony of Hong Kong” (Hong Kong — Scott #173, 1941) 2,743 words
- January 21, 2019: “Monte Carlo Auto Rally” (Monaco — Scott #333, 1955) 2,539 words
Today’s article, which will be post #939 to that blog, will be about the The Pontifical Swiss Guard (Cohors Pedestris Helvetiorum a Sacra Custodia Pontificis in Latin and Guardia Svizzera Pontificia in Italian). This is the small force maintained by the Holy See that is responsible for the safety of the Pope, including the security of the Apostolic Palace. The Swiss Guard serves as the de facto military of Vatican City. Established in 1506 under Pope Julius II with the first 100 soldiers arriving on January 21 of that year, the Pontifical Swiss Guard is among the oldest military units in continuous operation. I am still trying to decide which stamp to feature for the article (I have several to choose from issued by the Vatican as well as Switzerland) and will put it together later this afternoon or evening.
I didn’t spent much time on my “virtual stamp album” pages this week, only adding a couple of stamps to the United States Trans-Mississippian issue of 1898, which I’d received in the mail last week. The 4-cent and 8-cent values are next on my list to acquire as well as upgrades and adding to the Pan-American issue of 1901.
This October, I have been celebrating (U.S.) National Stamp Collecting Month with near-daily articles about different aspects of the hobby and mail delivery on my A Stamp A Day blog. Today’s article about the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. was my last on the subject, my 23rd in a month of 31 days. Tomorrow’s post will be Halloween-themed. After that, I will be taking a two-month break from lengthy ASAD articles. I will still post an image of a stamp from my collection each day during that time, but the descriptions will be extremely bare-boned (probably just the stamp’s caption and a line or two about the subject portrayed). There are several reasons for this, and I will explain them in my article on that blog on November 1.
In the meantime, I’d like to share the photos NOT used in today’s National Postal Museum article. This is a place I haven’t yet visited but I will definitely remedy that on my next trip to the United States. These photos help to remind me why I want to go. It might take me a few more years, but I will get there eventually….