Around two-and-a-half years ago, I set out to collect A Stamp From Everywhere (ASFEW).  The first step in this endeavor was to set some criteria:  For the most part, I am collecting only those stamps listed in the Scott Catalogue.  These aren’t always actual “countries”; many towns and cities, provinces, states, colonies, and organizations have issued stamps over the past one hundred and seventy-six years.  Because of this, I usually refer to “stamp issuers” or “issuing entities” when writing about them.

A second criteria concerns my budget.  My occupation as a teacher doesn’t make me rich in any sense of the word and as an English teacher in Thailand, I earn significantly less than I would in a more developed country.  Thus, there are certain issuers which will sadly always remain out of my collection.  An example of these would be the various Postmasters’ Provisionals issued by the Confederate States (and most of those by the U.S.A. as well).

I still do not have a grand total of stamp issuers.  I’ve been working on a spreadsheet designed to help me but it is a slow process.  I decided the best way to tackle that project was to go page by page through my Scott Catalogue (6-volume 2009 edition) and list all the stamp issuing entities and their page numbers, along with a great deal of additional information.  Bear in mind that each volume of this edition numbers around 1,300 pages and is not strictly alphabetical (Åland Islands is found after Finland, for example) with some entities even appearing in two different locations based on political status (Azores appearing both in Volume 1 at the end of the A’s and in volume 5 following Portugal to cite one instance).  Fairly often, I run into the question of whether or not I should separate an entity from it’s mother listing at all.

As I’ve added stamps to the collection, I’ve departed from the original goal of adding a single stamp from each issuer.  It is much more satisfying to look at an album page containing a set, for example.  For certain entities, I’ve also delved into covers (FDC’s, flight covers or the occasional bit of postal history) and the odd bit of unlisted postal stationery (I tend to go for the postal cards rather than envelopes).

I am (slowly) creating self-designed album pages for each entity which includes a map, flag(s) used, and a brief overview of their political and/or postal history.  While it all seems like a lot of work, it is probably the most satisfying of all of my collections that I’ve created over the past forty-plus years. 

While I didn’t set out to collect alphabetically, I’ve found that is the easiest way to search on eBay as well as giving me a greater sense of accomplishment as I near the completion of a letter of the alphabet.

While there may be a few more “A’s” in volumes 5 and 6 of the Scott Catalogue, I am confident that I can call the letter almost complete (minus nine Confederate Postmasters who issued provisionals from places such as Anderson Court House, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia).

The following are the “A” stamp issuers, as I have sorted them in my collection, illustrated by a single stamp from each and listing the year range they issued stamps and the number of stamps I currently have from each (minus duplicates and unlisted stamps). 

*I will probably end up re-sorting the Aden Protectorate States in the K’s and Q’s to be consistent with how I’m organizing other states and territories.

Abu Dhabi [1964-1972]: 9 stamps owned
Abu Dhabi - 1 - 1964

 

 

 

 

Aden Colony [1937-1965]: 40 stamps owned
Aden - 23A - 1939

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Kathiri State of Seiyun [1942-1964]: 6 stamps owned*
Aden - Kathiri State of Seiyun - 1 - 1942

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Qu’aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla [1942-1955]: 2 stamps owned*
Aden - Hadhramaut - 31 - 1955

 

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Qu’aiti State in Hadhamaut [1955-1963]: 4 stamps owned*
Aden - Hadhramaut - 30 - 1955

 

 

 

 

 

Aegean Islands (Dodecanese) [1912-1945]: 1 stamp owned
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Afars and Issas [1967-1977]: 4 stamps owned
Afars And Issas - 321 - 1968

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan [1871-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Afghanistan - 689 - 1964

 

 

 

 

La Aguera [1920-1924]: 2 stamps owned
Aguera, La - 14 - 1922

 

 

 

 

Aitutaki [1903-1932, 1972-Present]: 9 stamps owned
Aitutaki - 33 - 1920

 

 

 

 

Ajman [1964-1972]: 9 stamps owned
Ajman - C9 - 1965

 

 

 

 

Åland Islands [1984-Present]: 14 stamps owned
Åland Islands - 72a - 1993

 

 

 

 

 

Alaouites [1925-1930]: 1 stamp owned
Alaouites - C17 - 1929

 

 

 

Albania [1913-Present]: 2 stamps owned
Albania - 232 - 1928

 

 

 

 

Alderney [1983-Present]: 5 stamps owned
Alderney - 37 - 1989

 

 

 

 

Alexandretta [1938]: 2 stamps owned
Alexandretta - J1 - 1938

 

 

 

 

Alexandria (French Post Office in Egypt) [1899-1931]: 1 stamp owned
Alexandria - 27 - 1902

 

 

 

 

Algeria [1924-1958, 1962-Present]: 83 stamps owned
Algeria - 1 - 1924 (1)

 

 

 

 

Alsace (German Occupation) [1940]: 2 stamps owned
Alsace - N29 - 1940

 

 

 

 

Alsace and Lorraine (German Occupation) [1870-1872, 1916]: 2 stamps owned
Alsace And Lorraine - N4 - 1870

 

 

 

 

Alwar [1877-1902]: 7 stamps owned
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Andorra (French Administration) [1931-Present]: 6 stamps owned
Andorra, French - 23 - 1932

 

 

 

 

Andorra (Spanish Administration) [1928-Present]: 4 stamps owned
Andorra, Spanish - 102a - 1978

 

 

 

 

 

Angola [1870-Present]: 19 stamps owned
Angola - 119 - 1914

 

 

 

 

Angra [1892-1906]: 6 stamps owned
Angra - 2 - 1892

 

 

 

 

Anguilla [1967-Present]: 1 souvenir sheet owned
Anguilla - 366a - 1979 (rs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anjouan [1892-1914]: 1 stamp owned
Anjouan - 4 - 1892

 

 

 

 

Annam and Tonkin [1888-1892]: 1 stamp owned
Annam and Tonkin - 1 - 1888

 

 

 

 

Antigua [1862-1981]: 2 stamps owned
Antigua - 84 - 1938

 

 

 

 

 

Antigua and Barbuda [1981-Present]: 9 stamps owned
Antigua & Barbuda - 746 - 1984

 

 

 

 

Antioquia [1868-1904]: 6 stamps owned
Antioquia - 123 - 1899

 

 

 

 

Arad (French Occupation in Hungary) [1919]: 1 stamp owned
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Argentina [1858-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Argentina - 551 - 1946

 

 

 

 

 

Armenia [1919-1923, 1992-Date]: 6 stamps owned
Armenia - 300 - 1922

 

 

 

 

 

Army of the North (Russian Civil War) [1919]: 5 stamps owned
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 Army of the Northwest (Russian Civil War) [1919]: 1 stamp owned
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 Aruba [1986-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Aruba - 266 - 2005

 

 

 

 

 

Ascension [1922-Present]: 4 stamps owned
Ascension - 46 - 1944

 

 

 

 

Australia [1902-Present]: 172 stamps owned
Australia - 1199 - 1991 (1)

 

 

 

 

Australian Antarctic Territory [1957-Present]: 5 stamps owned
AAT - L75 - 1986

 

 

 

 

 

Austria [1850-Present]: 75 stamps owned
Austria - 5 - 1850

 

 

 

 

Austrian Offices in Crete [1903-1914]: 6 stamps owned
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Austrian Offices in the Turkish Empire [1867-1914]: 6 stamps owned
Austria-Turkish Empire - 7F - 1876

 

 

 

 

Azerbaijan [1919-1924, 1992-Present]: 1 stamp owned
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Azores [1868-1931, 1980-Present]: 1 souvenir sheet owned
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So, the “A’s” portion in what I am now calling my “Stamps From (Almost) Everywhere” collection currently has some 552 stamps amongst 45 stamp-issuing entities.  The B’s appear to be about halfway completed as are the C’s and I suppose there is probably one more entity to go in the Q’s.  There are other letters in the alphabet that are nearing completion as well….

Teacher Mark at Plukpanya Municipal School, Phuket Town - January 2016This past November, I took over the position of Deputy Head Teacher for a large language school and teachers’ agency in southern Thailand.  In addition to overseeing some 40 teachers from five or so different countries and a myriad of administrative duties (i.e., staffing our contracted government-run schools, organizing local English camps, writing course syllabi, etc.), I am still required to teach a minimum of 75 hours per month.  Some of these classes are “in-house” (at the air-conditioned, in-a-shopping-mall language school itself) but most are substitute-teaching assignments for the regular teachers when they take ill or need to deal with periodic immigration requirements.  These lessons are in very hot (perhaps there’s a ceiling fan or two that actually work) wooden or concrete classrooms jam-packed with an average of 40-50 kids – most of whom couldn’t care less about learning English.

The end result of this workload is that I have had no time to spend with my stamps (or writing about them) since long before Christmas.  The month of March – the hottest in Thailand, a country already boiling twelve months of the year – brings the end of the school year and a general slowdown in duties.  Most of my in-house young students have gone on “summer holiday” and my business students mostly learn in the mornings or evenings.  I don’t have to worry about filling-in at one of the myriad of schools scattered about the island.

I finally have time for stamps once again.

I’m starting slowly with a few eBay bids here and there.  I’m still waiting for the stamps I’ve won to arrive but they represent two countries new to my collection (Austrian Offices in the Ottoman Empire and the Indian Feudatory State of Alwar) and a few to bolster my tiny collection of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.

Cover Page for 'Stamps from (Almost) Everywhere' AlbumMy main collecting focus has shifted a bit.  I was attempting to obtain “A Stamp From Everywhere” but found that it was often difficult to pick just ONE stamp to represent an entire stamp-issuing entity.  In designing the album pages for my collection, I decided I didn’t like those that contained a single stamp.  I am now calling the collection “Stamps From (Almost) Everywhere.

That has necessitated a re-start to my album page design.  It is this re-start that have energized my recent boost in philatelic activity.  Each stamp issuer will have two introductory pages containing an information box, flag and map, and a one- or two-page summary of the entity’s political and postal history.  I’d like to obtain enough stamps from each place so that none of the stamps look particularly lonely.  I’ve found that four stamps is the absolute minimum I would like to have displayed on a single page (or one stamp and a postally-used item such as a nice cover or postcard).  There are a few countries that I may strive for completeness (Aden Colony and its Protectorate States, for example) but I am aiming for a “representation” in most instances.

Abu Dhabi - From the Collection of Mark Jochim, March 2016

I’m printing the stamps onto A4 paper as that’s the standard size available in Thailand.  I tried using 150gsm-weight card stock but these jammed in my printer (and the one at work as well) more often than not.  I am now using 120gsm card stock which seems fine.  I decided I liked a light beige color better than white.  For now, I have them in sheet protectors housed in a generic three-ring binder.  I’m trying to find a proper binder (preferably with a slipcase) but the shipping costs to Thailand are prohibitive.  I have more or less settled on a Lighthouse Classic Grande which I know my A4-sized pages will fit.  But I’m not willing to pay US $90 for shipping and import fees.  A proper stamp album binder may have to wait until I can visit someplace that actually sells them in the shops.  My next planned vacation is one to the United States in the autumn of 2017.  Can I wait that long?

First pages of Algeria housed in generic three-ring binder, March 2016

For my worldwide collection, I am trying to stick with those nations actually listed in the Scott Catalogue – although a few local posts will eventually be added.  To this end, I have been compiling the mother of all spreadsheets which has become a labor of love.  I have been going through my 2009 edition of the catalogue page by page – entering stamp-issuing entities in alphabetical order (moving, for example, entries such as the Confederate States, Hawaii, and Canal Zone out from under the United States umbrella) and including columns for years active, volume and page numbers, columns giving information about my own collection (numbers of inventoried, scanned, to be scanned, unlisted or bogus stamps), along with numerous “count” columns.  These last columns will include the number of stamps on EACH page of the catalogue for each country (divided into General Issues and the various Back of the Book items such as Air Post, Special Delivery, etc.).  I do page by page counts so that it is easier to backtrack if I lose count along the way.  I’ve been skipping the “Huge” countries for now and just counting those that only have en or less pages in Scott.

Screenshot of 'Stamp Issuers' Spreadsheet, March 2016

It is a monumental undertaking – I’ve been working on this spreadsheet on and off for about eight months and I’ve only just started on Volume 4 (out of six).  I currently have some 4,486 stamps in my collection (the majority of which have been obtained in just the past four years or so) representing 280 different stamp-issuing entities.  Of these, I have only entered 1912 into my inventory database (the wonderful but time-consuming StampManage) and there are 1529 stamps that have yet to be scanned.  These totals don’t include 210 duplicates and 33 that are either unlisted in Scott or “bogus” (read, counterfeit or facsimile).

It’s a grand-looking spreadsheet and I hope to share it once the “important” pieces are done (namely, the re-ordered countries).  In the meantime, if anybody would like to volunteer to count listed stamps (I am counting MAJOR numbers with a few minor exceptions) for particular countries please let me know.

As for the blog, I hope to resume my “Stamp Issuers” series at some point and will continue to report on new additions to my own collection (although probably not in a “Today’s Mail” format – perhaps as periodic wrap-ups).  I am looking for inspiration in writing other types of articles but I’m not really sure what aspect of philately I feel qualified to write about (I am intimidated by “How-To” articles and reviews).  Time will tell.  I just hope I won’t let another four months pass without an update.

Getting back to my stamps feels really good…

Scan_20151105 (7)

With my recent promotion to Assistant Head Teacher of my school here in Phuket, Thailand, my leisure time has once again been drastically reduced.  In addition to administrative duties, I still have a number of teaching hours each week including a series of private three-hour Conversation lessons Mondays through Thursdays with a Thai man who is, at best, an Elementary level student.  That one lesson leaves me more exhausted than anything else I do and all I want to do when I return home in the evenings is eat dinner and go to sleep. It has been difficult to become motivated to do anything else!

Luckily, a few stamps arrived at the end of the week that have restored my interest in my philatelic pursuits.  Indeed, the covering envelopes were almost as interesting as the items contained within…

Scan_20151105 (5)-obs-red

Looking at the first, I knew I would be disappointed once I opened it.  The wrinkles from the water damage are apparent from this scan.  In southern Thailand we have just two seasons – the Dry Season (hot and hotter) and the Wet Season (hot and rainy).  This year, the monsoons have been particularly bad with the addition of being hammered by the outer spokes of at least four monster typhoons (AKA hurricanes).  I’m actually surprised that I haven’t received more soaked mail than I have – only three this year (all of which contained mint stamps ruined by the moisture).  As local mail deliveries are made by guys on tiny 110cc motorbikes, they often won’t make their rounds if the skies look threatening.  Occasionally the storms seem to come out of nowhere…

Scan_20151105 (6)

What would have been the “A Stamp From Everywhere” addition for Azerbaijan didn’t survive a storm somewhere along it’s journey from a dealer in Bangor, Maine.  The containing envelope bore a purple marking in Thai (I’ll see if somebody at work can translate it) and the back flap is taped closed.  I have no idea if the marking – and possible resealing – of the envelope occurred in Bangkok or Phuket.  The stamp – Scott #350, 35 kopeck picturing flag on map of Azerbaijan, issued on 26 March 1992 commemorating the nation’s independence – is wrinkled and stuck to the inside of a glassine envelope.  Luckily, it’s not an expensive stamp (2009 catalogue value for MNH was US $1.25) and I should be able to track down another.  Makes me wonder if I should just not order anything during the six months or so of the Wet Season….

Scan_20151105 (2a)
Scan_20151105 (2b)

Stamp dealers often affix older postage stamps to envelopes when mailing out orders but I’ve never seen an 11 year old First Day Cover recycled as was this one from Canada.  The cover bears a souvenir sheet (Scott #2027) issued on 26 March 2004 containing a C$1.40 stamp portraying Arctic explorer Otto Sverdup’s ship the Fram as well as two labels.  This was a joint issue with Norway and Greenland; I believe that the “NU” in the pictorial postmark stands for Nunavut, Canada’s Arctic province.  The dealer added three copies (one on the front and two on the back) of Scott #1812, a holographic self-adhesive stamp issued on 12 October 1999 to mark the Millennium, as well as a single copy of Scott #1856 issued 23 May 2000 to mark the Queen Mother’s 100th birth anniversary.

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The recycled FDC from the frozen Canadian north contained a folder of twelve stamps from the tropical islands of Hawaii.  Specifically, the stamps are:

  • Scott #35 (1875) 2c brown King David Kalakaua
  • Scott #42 (1883) 1c green Princess Likelike
  • Scott #43 (1886) 2c rose King David Kalakaua (a duplicate)
  • Scott #52 (1891) 2c dull violet Queen Liliuokalani
  • Scott #57 (1893) 2c dull violet Provisional Government overprint in red
  • Scott #66 (1893) 2c rose Provisional Government overprint in black
  • Scott #74 (1894) 1c yellow Coat of Arms
  • Scott #75 (1894) 2c brown View of Honolulu (a duplicate)
  • Scott #76 (1894) 5c rose lake Statue of Kamehameha
  • Scott #80 (1899) 1c dark green Coat of Arms
  • Scott #81 (1899) 2c rose View of Honolulu
  • Scott #82 (1899) 5c blue Statue of Kamehameha

I plan to design a few album pages to house these Hawaiian stamps on my next day off (currently, that MIGHT be next Friday) and would like to purchase a few more.  There are a number that are rather affordable but others that I can never hope to obtain.  It appears that the earliest stamp from Hawaii that I will be able to add would be Scott #10 (2009 value of US $25 unused), an official reprint issued in 1868 of an 1855 stamp picturing a rough rendition of King Kamehameha III.

Scan_20151105 (9)

From the pre-statehood issues of one future U.S. state to a fantasy issue purporting to represent the republic era of yet another U.S. state, that of my birth – Texas.  These were created this year by Philosateleian, a local post operated out of Jacksonville, Florida, and probably the most visible of the American hobbyist posts.  To quote the designer:

The Republic of Texas never issued postage stamps. Indeed, it became part of the United States of America in 1846, the year before the USA issued its first stamps. But what if Texas had used postage stamps? What might they have looked like? I am creating a series of fantasy stamps for the Republic of Texas, and these are the first set in that series.

In 1916, W. L. Newsom wrote that the early Texas postal system had five basic rates for a letter comprised of a single sheet of paper:

– 6¼ cents (up to 20 miles)
– 12½ cents (20-50 miles)
– 18¾ cents (50-100 miles)
– 25 cents (100-200 miles)
– 37½ cents (over 200 miles)

The five fantasy stamps included in this lot match the rates listed above. They are ungummed.

No more than 280 copies (20 sheets of 14) of each of these stamps will be produced.”

I love the minimalist design of the stamps with the Lone Star of Texas dominating.  I look forward to additional “issues” in this series.  Another term for fantasy stamps, by the way, are Cinderella stamps.

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The front and back of the envelope containing the Republic of Texas stamps is a good example of what I enjoy seeing when I pick up my mail in my guesthouse’s lobby.  While most dealers cover envelopes with older stamps from the 1950’s and 1960’s (full sheets of these stamps being dirt-cheap), I would rather see recent stamps such as the new Elvis Presley and Paul Newman emissions issued this past August and September, respectively.  A nice addition is another Philosateleian local post stamp and appropriate markings.

Happy Collecting!

 Scan_20151031 (2)-obre

A busy ending to a long holiday month (school term break in Thailand) brought a major job promotion, watching my hometown baseball team win the first two games of the World Series and lose the third, not to mention Halloween which is viewed by Thais as an opportunity for women to dress in the sexiest witch outfits one can imagine and spend the night getting as drunk as possible with not a pumpkin or bowl of candy corn to be found.  By the looks of one envelope received today, Zorro is alive and well working for Canada Post – defacing a lovely block of four (Scott #913) issued in 1982 portraying the original “Bluenose” stamp (Scott #158) of 1929 which many regard as the most beautiful stamp ever issued.

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Another order had some recently-issued United States stamps affixed, including two of the recent “Charlie Brown Christmas” stamps – a television show which debuted on the day of my birth in 1965.  I must remember to order the full booklet in the near future!  I love receiving recent stamps on my mail more than the old 3c or 5c stock that most dealers tend to use.

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Enough of what was on the outside of my mail today.  What lurked within?  The “Bluenose” envelope brought yet another of my attempts to order stamp hinges that I can actually use.  The last several orders arrived in the middle of heavy downpours, soaking the envelopes and gluing together the thousand hinges each packet contained.  Normally, our local mailman will not even load up his 110cc motor scooter if the weather is foul but at some point he must brave the monsoons.  I will try and not place any orders next year during the rainy season (which runs roughly from early May through October); I was lucky more often than not this time around but…

Austria-Turkish Empire - 41 - 1906

The sole addition to my “A Stamp From Everywhere” collection is the 1 piaster ultramarine value issued by Austria in 1906 for use in their post offices in the Turkish Empire (Scott #41).

United States - 73 - 1863

I have been buying a few stamps from the early issuing years of the United States recently.  My budget has been that of a teacher’s salary (and teachers in Thailand being paid even more dismally than our counterparts back in the States) so I am sometimes compelled to buy poorly-centered “space-fillers” until I can afford a more beautiful specimen.  A case in point is this copy of Scott #73, two-cent black Andrew Jackson (known to collectors as the “Black Jack”), issued in 1863.  A well-centered (four margins, Very Fine) used Black Jack is valued at US $70.00 in my 2009 Scott Catalogue; I paid $6.50 for this one.  I like the fancy cancellation “X” made out of cork.

Hawaii - 75 - 1894

As an American expat, I find a certain fascination in the places that later became parts of the United States or that once held territorial status.   Probably such issuer holds more interest for me than the isles of Hawaii although I had to set foot anywhere within our 50th state (my parents once spent a holiday at Kaanapali Bay on Maui, however).  Prior to Hawaii becoming a U.S. territory on 14 June 1900, it issued its own stamps and postal stationary.  Scott #75, received in today’s mail, is part of a set designed by E. W. Holdsworth following his success at winning a competition.  The two-cent brown value pictures Honolulu harbor.  What I can read of the purple postmark leads me to conclude that is that of one of two different towns on the big island of Hawaii – either Paauhau or Paauilo – which sat on the northeastern coast about five miles apart in the wet region (Hamakua) which included a number of large sugar plantations.

hawham

Interestingly, the nine stamps that comprise the pictorial issue (five issued on 28 February 1894, one released on 27 October 1894 with the final three put on sale in 1899) were issued by three different governments – a Provisional Government established in 1893, the independent Republic of Hawaii which was formed on 4 July 1894, and an administrative “Republic of Hawaii” which existed in name only following annexation by the U.S. on 12 August 1898.  At midnight on 13 July 1900, all Hawaiian stamps became invalid for postage and soon thereafter sent to Washington, D.C., via Honolulu where they were burned on 9 February 1901.

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A great website covering all details about the stamps and postal history of pre-territorial Hawaii is called Post Office in Paradise.  It is highly interesting even if you have no interest in the stamps themselves.

Happy Collecting!