I have been extremely busy at work since the new school year began in mid-May (yes, we start as schools back in the U.S. are just letting out for the long summer holiday) and haven’t had much free time to work on most of my blogs. The workload shows no signs of lessening in the near future but I am trying to prepare a New Issues update with recent USPS design and issue announcements.
I’m quite surprised that the two main countries for which I collect new stamp issues — the country of my birth and my adopted home of the past thirteen years — have not released more stamps thus far in 2018. The United States issued just five in the entire month of April, four of those in a set at the beginning of the month and a single definitive towards the end of April. Thailand released eight stamps and one souvenir sheet in the same time frame which I discussed in my last Philatelic Pursuits article. For May, the USPS has but two stamps scheduled (one of which was issued almost weeks ago) while Thailand Post is set to release eight in three different sets.
On April 6, four Forever (50-cent) stamps were issued by the United States to promote the role of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education “in keeping the United States a global leader in innovation and providing new opportunities for all Americans to learn and explore the world.” David Plunkert of Baltimore, Maryland, was the designer and artist for the four stamps which each feature a collage of faces, symbols, drawings, and numbers that represent the complexity and interconnectedness of the STEM disciplines. Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, Virginia, was the art director and typographer for the issue while Joseph Sheeran was the modeler.
Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. printed 15,000,000 of the self-adhesive stamps in panes of 20 using the offset process at its plant in Williamsville, New York, on a Muller A76 press using the colors of black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. The stamps first went on sale in Washington, D.C.
In 2015 the Department of Education established the Committee on STEM Education and explained, “The United States has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators. In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex…it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information…subjects collectively known as STEM.”
On April 21, 2018, in Shreveport, LA, the U.S. Postal Service issued a single Peace Rose Forever (50-cent) stamp in a self-adhesive double-sided booklet of 20 stamps. The stamp was dedicated at the Gardens of the American Rose Center. April 21 was also the closing date of one of the oldest festivals in the South, Holiday in Dixie, which was held April 13-April 21 in Shreveport. The stamp release served as the kick-off to the annual Spring Bloom Festival and preceded National Peace Rose Day on April 29.
Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Marylan, designed the Peace Rose stamp from an existing photograph taken by Richard C. Baer. Ashton Potter has printed 400,000,000 of these stamps using offset and microprinting in Williamsville, New York.
The new Peace Rose stamp celebrates one of the most popular roses of all time. The stamp art features a detail from a photograph of the Peace Rose blossom and its creamy yellow petals, with a touch of pink on the edges. The rose revolutionized hybrid tea roses with its unique coloring, hardiness, and disease resistance.
On May 1, the United States marked the centennial of the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail service by releasing a single Forever (50-cent) self-adhesive stamp picturing a Curtis JN-4H biplane printed in blue. The issue ceremony was held at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. An identical stamp, printed in red, will be released later in the summer to commemorate the beginning of airmail delivery through the U.S. Post Office Department, which began in August 1918.
Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. printed 7,500,000 copies of the blue Airmail stamp using the intaglio process on a Stevens Vari-size Security Press in Williamsville, New York. Dan Gretta of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the designer and also did the typography while Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, Virginia, was the art director on this project which “commemorates the pioneering spirit of the brave Army pilots who initiated the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail service.”
The USPS will pay tribute to America’s first woman in space, Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012) with a single Forever (50-cent) self-adhesive stamp scheduled for release in La Jolla, California, on May 23, 2018. Ride was a member of the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger STS-7 in 1984. She inspired the nation as a pioneering astronaut, brilliant physicist, and dedicated educator, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. Sally Ride was born May 26, 1951 in Encino, California, and died July 23, 2012 in La Jolla.
The stamp art, sketched first in charcoal and then rendered in oil paint, features a colorful portrait of Ride in her light blue space suit with a dramatic depiction of a space shuttle lifting off in the background. Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland, designed the stamp with artwork by Paul Salmon of Burke, Virginia. Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. is offset printing 20,000,000 Sally Ride stamps on the Muller A76 press at Williamsville, New York.
For the past couple of years, Thailand Post has been very slow to publicize information on its upcoming stamp releases. Currently, there is nothing on the schedule beyond May 31 other than the delayed Rama X definitive set at the end of July. Due to my work schedule, I haven’t even made it to the post office since last November.
There are two 3-baht stamps under the title of “60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Thailand and Turkey Commemorative Stamps” scheduled for release tomorrow, May 12. A press release (in Thai) along with images of single stamps and a full sheet were finally released earlier this week.. It has a Thailand Post issue number of TH-1146 assigned. One of the stamps depicts Thailand’s national sport of muay thai (มวยไทย) while the other portrays oil wrestling (Yağlı güreş in Turkish), also called grease wrestling, which is the Turkish national sport. It is so called because the wrestlers douse themselves with olive oil.
There are rather blurry images of the four-stamp TH-1147 “Visak Day 2018 Commemorative Stamps” issue now rescheduled from May 14 to the actual 2018 date of the holiday, May 29. Vesaka Bucha (วิสาขบูชา) is a major festival in Thailand and elsewhere throughout Asia as it commemorates the birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition. The designs portray the stupas (เจดีย์ — chedi in Thai) from various Thai temples called wat (วัด). I tried to identify the chedi on these new stamps, using the released image but failed. They don’t seem to be any of the “usual subjects”.
Finally, on May 31, there is a 2-stamp joint issue planned with Romania planned but no further details have been announced. Romania and Thailand established diplomatic relations with the establishment of an embassy in Bangkok on June 1, 1973. There is also an honorary Romanian consulate in Pattaya and the Thais have an embassy in Bucharest. Additionally, December 1, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the union of Transylvania with Romania celebrated with Romania’s national holiday of Great Union Day.. The holiday was established after the Romanian Revolution, and marks the unification not only of Transylvania, but also of the provinces of Banat, Bessarabia and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom. These other provinces had all joined with the Kingdom of Romania earlier in 1918.