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.
As a teacher of English As A Foreign Language (EFL), I would like to start collecting stamps and postmarks portraying different aspects of education be they schools, students, classroom elements, or the teachers themselves. Thus, I’m thrilled by the recent stamps issued by the tiny nation of San Marino. Perhaps they will be the first I will add to an education-themed topical collection (I have yet to find them listed on eBay).
The pair of stamps released on 16 June honor World Teachers’ Day, held annually every 5 October since 1994 in order to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers. According to UNESCO, World Teachers’ Day represents “a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development.” Over one hundred countries currently observe this special day.
The 2015 San Marino set of stamps were designed by graphic artist Guido Scarabottolo. The 80 euro value features stylized students listening to a teacher holding a book in his hand while they are standing on piles of books, meaning that the roots of knowledge come from the same fertile soil. The 95 euro stamp portrays a teacher showing the light of knowledge to her students. This same image appears on the issue’s first day of issue cancellation.
There have been many stamps issued since the late 1950’s honoring education in all of its forms. I’ve identified a few on eBay that I’d like to purchase in the near future. This pair below was issued in 1997 for Thailand’s Children’s Day, held annually on the first Saturday of January. The stamp on the left illustrates a typical schoolyard scene with the students in the ubiquitous uniform of Thai government-run school – white tops with brown shorts for boys and blue skirts for the girls.
Teachers are generally greatly revered in Thailand and there are two days designated in the schools here in which to honor them. Wai Kru Day is on a Thursday in mid- to late June on which is held a ceremony where all of the students of the school will bow to the point that their knees and head are on the floor before presenting an elaborate flower arrangement to the teacher who happens to be sitting across from them. If it is a large school (as most here tend to be), the teacher may end up with fifty or more flower arrangements each which often end up in a large trash bin.
In January (the week following Children’s Day, on a Thursday once again), is Wan Kru which translates as “Teachers’ Day” and is simply an extra day off. The students seem to enjoy this more than the teachers do as it falls right at mid-terms and there are already way too many government, Buddhist and other holidays (days off without pay) during the November to February stretch. At any rate, I have yet to come across any stamps honoring these two special days for teachers. However, the stamp below was issued in mid-June 1998 honoring education in general so it may have been intended to mark Wai Kru as well.
My birth-country of the United States has issued numerous stamps on an education theme since the 1950s. A selection appears below:
As has the United Nations:
I quite like these from Vietnam, Mongolia, China, and Israel:
Beautiful maximum card from Greece:
I’m not usually a big fan of Disney stamps, but perhaps I’ll make an exception for this mini-sheet from St. Vincent and the Grenadines:
And, finally, here are two more marking various World Teachers’ Days – from The Philippines and Algeria:
What other education-related stamps do you recommend? Please leave images in the Comments…