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.
I’m always excited this time of the year tracking down new Christmas stamps (and am preparing the last two entries for my “A Month of Christmas” series on A Stamp A Day) as well as following announcements of the upcoming stamps for the New Year. Of course, many of the first issues are the myriad of Chinese New Year releases (2019 is the Year of the Pig) some of which are quite attractive but some countries such as Hong Kong seem to go a bit overboard with these. I much prefer the single stamp releases by the United States or Thailand for this particular topic. There are a few blogs around that do a good job of keeping track of various new issues and I’ve been checking some of the various issuing entities’ websites as well. It can be difficult to find decent-resolution images of stamp designs prior to their release.
United States of America
While 2018 saw some quite interesting stamps from the U.S., 2019 is shaping up to be much better. January will see several releases brought upon by rate increases including a couple of nicely-designed Priority Mail stamps that I would be happy to add to my collection were it not for the extremely high face values (US $7.35 and $25.50!). I’m extremely interested in the Wild and Scenic Rivers issue (reminiscent to last year’s O Beautiful! set) and the Post Office Murals stamps (I have seen one of those portrayed in person). Other favorites from the recently revealed designs include those of the USS Missouri, Marvin Gaye and Woodstock’s 50th anniversary. The Alabama stamp actually makes me want to revisit the state as I never found it THAT attractive but the Cactus Flowers, Coral Reefs and Frogs stamps don’t do much for me. The County and State Fairs issue is interesting but the design reminds me a bit too much of the Thanksgiving Parade issue of a few years ago.