My Philatelic Pursuits — both the blog and my personal collecting activities — have pretty much grinded to a halt in the past few months. This has mostly been due to lack of time as I was bogged-down with work and personal matters. Now that I do have time, I am finding it difficult to resume either. I am trying to motivate myself for a return to the hobby of stamp collecting (and blogging about it). I am to the point that I feel I can provide an update of sorts….
At the beginning of 2017, my favorite stamp blog (Big Blue 1840-1940) began a series “to present a postmark calendar for all the 366 possible days of the year, represented by interesting appropriate date cancellation stamps from the [Ralph A.] Kimble collection.” I thought this was a great idea and began going through scans of my collection to determine whether I could do something similar.
I came up with 255 stamps I could use for a Postmark Calendar of my own; this does include some duplicate dates. At the moment, the best-represented month is March. I did find out a couple of things in compiling stamps for my calendar: my eyesight is getting worse (time for a checkup!) and some dates are difficult to determine even when the postmark is clear. My criteria was simple: the month and date had to be clear; if I had to squint to figure out the date, I wouldn’t use it. I prefer to have the year included, but this wasn’t always possible. I also decided that I wouldn’t include postmarks from first day covers and other philatelic items.
While I was still going through my stamps examining their postmarks, I came across the Postmark Calendar thread on my favorite stamp collecting online forum, The Stamp Forum. The thread was started on August 11, 2013, and is now 122 pages strong! I began adding stamps to it around a month ago.
I love the format Jim has been following for his calendar entries on Big Blue so I’ll follow his model. After all, “imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery” according to the quote by Charles Caleb Colton.
Philatelic Pursuits Postmark Calendar: August
Kingstown is the capital, chief port, and main commercial center of Saint Vincent. Surrounded by steep hills, the town was founded by French settlers shortly after 1722, although Saint Vincent had 196 years of British rule before her independence. The botanical garden, conceived in 1765, is one of the oldest in the Western hemisphere. William Bligh, made famous from the Mutiny on the Bounty, brought seeds of the breadfruit tree here for planting in 1793.
Accra is the capital and most populous city of Ghana, with an estimated urban population of 2.27 million as of 2012. The city stretches along the Ghanaian Atlantic coast and extends north inland. Originally built around three different settlements, including a port (Jamestown), it served as the capital of the British Gold Coast between 1877 and 1957. Once merely a 19th-century suburb of Victoriaborg, Accra has since transitioned into a modern metropolis; the city’s architecture reflects this history, ranging from 19th-century architecture buildings to modern skyscrapers and apartment blocks.
Lake Forest is a city in Orange County, California, that incorporated as a city on December 20, 1991. Prior to incorporation, the community had been known as El Toro. Following a vote in 2000, Lake Forest expanded its city limits to include the master-planned developments of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills. This expansion brought new homes and commercial centers to the Northeastern boundary of the city. Lake Forest (along with its neighboring cities Mission Viejo and Irvine) is ranked as one of the safest cities in the country. The population was 77,264 at the 2010 census.
Founded in 1541, Santiago has been the capital city of Chile since colonial times. The city has a downtown core of 19th-century neoclassical architecture and winding side-streets, dotted by art deco, neo-gothic, and other styles. Santiago’s cityscape is shaped by several stand-alone hills and the fast-flowing Mapocho River, lined by parks such as Parque Forestal. The Andes Mountains can be seen from most points in the city. These mountains contribute to a considerable smog problem, particularly during winter. The city outskirts are surrounded by vineyards and Santiago is within a few hours of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Wesel originated from a Franconian manor that was first recorded in the 8th century. In the 12th century, the Duke of Clèves took possession of Wesel. The city became a member of the Hanseatic League during the 15th century. Within the Duchy of Cleves, Wesel was second only to Cologne in the lower Rhine region as an entrepôt. It was an important commercial center: a clearing station for the transshipment and trading of goods. Wesel is situated at the confluence of the Lippe River and the Rhine in North Rhine-Westphalia.
One of the best things about this wonderful hobby of philately is that I am constantly learning new things — not only about the stamps themselves but about the subjects portrayed upon them, the entities that issued them, and so on. In the course of my daily research for A Stamp A Day, I come across a great number of previously unknown (to me) webpages and blogs, some philatelic in nature, many about history or culture. It can indeed be a bit frustrating as I simply do not have enough time to read everything that I stumble across.
Take blogs, for example. Just in the past two weeks, I have found (and subscribed) to the following: Barbados Stamps, Executed Today, EWorld Stamps: Worldwide Stamp Collection, My Native Belarus, My Philatelic Passion, and Stamps of Armenia. All are worthy of further perusal. I hope I can find the time someday soon.
One great resource of information on older stamp issues are auction catalogues and I really appreciate firms that archive .pdf versions of their previous catalogues on their website. One such auction house is that of Robert A. Siegel whose catalogue often include introductory essays on the stamps included in a particular auction. Auctions for the 1893 Columbians and Hawaii Missionaries immediately spring to mind. While looking around the site recently, I came across a number of shorter (one- to four-page) summaries of numerous U.S. issues including an excellent timeline of the American postal system from 1632-1792.
One thing that really fascinates me is the beginnings and evolution of stamp collecting itself. While I have never seen a comprehensive work on the subject, I have come across bits and pieces in the philatelic literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and brief mentions on various websites. I just found a nice site with articles on early collecting in the United States. It’s called Stamping American Memory: Collectors, Citizens, Commemoratives, and the Post — and is a scholarly study of philately in the U.S. I’m looking forward to reading all of the pages.
A recent article in Linn’s Stamp News reminded me of the Philatelic Truck that traveled around the United States between May 1939 and December 1941, promoting stamp collecting to the youth of America. Because I was never really interested in poster stamps, Cinderella stamps, or local post stamps during much of my philatelic life, I never obtained a copy of the souvenir sheet printed by the Bureau of Engraving & Printing given to visitors to the truck. My collecting interests have, of course, changed over the years and now I am very interested in buying one of these (and will be placing a bid on eBay shortly). It was in my quest to find out more that I came across the Stamping America’s Memory site mentioned above. There is also a book about the truck, the tour and the sheet written by John H. Bruns, a former director of the National Postal Museum, that I’d also like to track down.
There are a number of significant anniversaries coming up in the next few months, including the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. No doubt these will be commemorated philatelicly (but I have yet to see any announcements). Much sooner than those, actually released today (September 9) for the nation’s Stamp Day, is a four-stamp mini-sheet marking the 25th anniversary of Croatian independence which will occur on October 8. One million of the 11 kuna stamp have been printed, bearing a hologram using a special technique to produce a “real 3D” effect — supposedly the first stamps to bear such an image.
Another recent issue commemorating an anniversary is that of Poland marking the 75th anniversary of the first airdrop by the Cichociemni, elite special-operations paratroops of the Polish Army in exile that were created in Great Britain during World War II to operate in occupied Poland. Designed by Ewa Szydłowsk, the 3.70 złoty stamps were released on September 1 in sheets of 35.
Much closer to home is a set of three stamps and a mini-sheet to be released by Malaysia on October 21, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Penang Free School. I have fond memories of strolling the campus of PFS while on several visits to George Town several years ago. While I did absolutely nothing philatelic (not even the purchase of a postcard) during these trips, I will definitely purchase this set and accompanying first day covers.
It’s not often that Royal Mail disappoints me with a stamp design for a subject that I’m interested in, but what’s with the graphic novel approach on the recent Great Fire of London set? The really ugly set of four was released on September 2 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the fire.
As a teacher, I avidly collect stamps portraying aspects of my profession particularly those picturing students and/or teachers. I am thrilled with the release earlier this week (September 6) of a set of four plus mini-sheet by Hong Kong Post titled “A Tribute to Teachers.” This is just in time for the annual celebration of Teacher’s Day (September 10) in the Chinese Special Administrative Region. The stamps depict chalkboard drawings, something I used to create on an almost daily basis (most Thai classrooms are now equipped with whiteboards which don’t provide quite the same effect). There is a nice range of products (postcards, maximum cards, presentation pack, regular and color cancellations, etc.) available for this issue.
Finally, one of my favorite stamp blogs — Big Blue 1840-1940, which covers the classic period of stamp issues as collected in the Scott International Part 1 albums or on Steiner album pages — earlier this week contemplated the question “Which Stamp Album is Best for WW Collectors?.” Blogger Jim, by the way, is almost finished with his survey of the “T” countries with an article at the end of August about the Turks and Caicos Islands. He started the blog about five-and-a-half years ago.