Happy Valentine’s Day!
A week ago, I posted a blog entry about Thailand’s Symbol of Love 2018 stamp release. Of course, the Land of Smiles is not the only nation promoting the theme of LOVE philatelicly. Below are images of other stamps that have been released recently which you may wish to use on any Valentine’s Day cards you’d like to mail (people do that, right?). At the very least, these may inspire you to buy something special for your significant other on what we call in Thailand Wan Rak (“day of love”). I recommend giving flowers or chocolate, NOT stamps or first day covers unless your loved-one also happens to share your beloved hobby.
AUSTRALIA: With Love, released February 6, 2018
IRELAND: Love & Marriage, released February 8, 2018
LEBANON: Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018
MOLDOVA: Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018
While this stamp from the land-locked Eastern European nation of Moldova looks similar to the other stamps in this theme, the purpose of this issue is actually to promote Organ Transplants which are probably the ultimate gift of love!
SLOVENIA: Love, released January 26, 2018
Last year, I read a thread on one of the stamp collecting online forums about a man who collected covers postmarked on his birthday each year. I set out to do something similar and quickly found that this is no easy task. The search parameters I used on eBay tended to generate lists of magazine covers (mostly TV Guide or Life Magazine); changing the year didn’t help much. I considered going through the Scott Catalogue looking for stamps issued on or near my birthday each year. Searching through the issues of the United States first, I only found one — a stamp released on my fourth birthday (1969). However, I soon tired of the boredom of this task.
I did find an Air France first flight cover (Paris to Las Palmas) dated December 5, 1965, two days after the date on my birth certificate but the date I’ve celebrated each year since moving to Thailand a decade ago. This is because it is a national holiday here as His Royal Highness the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born on December 5. Due to the nature of my adoption, however, the exact date of my birth is uncertain. The French cover is illustrated in an entry I wrote for Philatelic Pursuits on May 11, 2016.
Recently, I wanted to add more German stamps to my collection, specifically those with a philatelic theme such as portrayed on the annual Stamp Day (Tag der Briefmarke) issues. My search soon expanded to Austria and I quickly found covers bearing the 1965 Stamp Day issue (Scott #B321) and realized the postmark actually had my date of birth within — December 3, 1965. From the same seller, I managed to find three different first day covers of this stamp: one with a regular circular CDS from Vienna, one with a pictorial first day of issue cancellation, and one from an international stamp exhibition held at the Vienna Messepalast as this was the 30th annual Austrian Stamp Day. The first was held in 1935, the year of my father’s birth.
The stamp itself is denominated at 3s and bears a 75g surcharge to support Stamp Day. The engraved blue green stamp portrays a postman distributing mail into mailboxes. It is perforated 13½ x 14.
The sole United States stamp issued on my birthday was Scott #1386, an entry in the American Painting series. The 6-cent stamp portrays William M. Harnett‘s still-life entitled “Old Models” which can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The stamp was designed by Robert J. Jones and was issued in panes of thirty-two, with an initial printing of 130 million. Released on December 3, 1969, the stamp is perforated 11.
I have many December 5th covers from Thailand. There were releases on His Majesty the late King’s birthday throughout his long reign (May 2016 was the 70th anniversary of his ascension). I believe last year’s issue (due to commemorate that 70th anniversary) was pulled as it disappeared from the schedule following his death on October 13. I never could get an answer at the local post office about it, either. The 2016 Thailand Post yearbook has yet to be issued (it’s usually available by early February) and the 2017 stamp release schedule doesn’t currently include anything on December 5.
Maybe it’s time to start looking for a few of those elusive non-philatelic usages….
Not too long ago, I read a thread on the Stamp Bears forum which talked about one collector’s pursuit of covers posted on his birthday. Most of his covers were regular mail (what we philatelists like to call “postal history”) and he talked about how difficult it was to find such items while flipping through dealers’ boxes at stamp shows or searching on eBay. Despite having only the latter source available to me here in Thailand, I was inspired enough by the forum thread to begin my own pursuit of a birthday cover or several.
The date on my birth certificate reads December 3, 1965. I was adopted sometime in late December 1965 or early January 1966 and have long had the understanding that December 3rd wasn’t my actual date of birth. When I moved to Thailand more than a decade ago, I discovered that His Majesty the King, the much revered Bhumipol Adulyadej (known in the West as Rama IX), was born on the 5th of December which is also Thai Father’s Day. Thus, I began celebrating my birthday on this particular date as it’s a national holiday.
I soon found that it was easier to search for philatelic covers (first day covers, first flight covers, etc.) using dates than for postal history items. I have yet to find anything on eBay with a 3 December 1965 date but came upon this first flight cover from Paris to Las Palmas posted on 5 December 1965 and quickly purchased it. A couple of nice Paris Aviation postmarks grace the front while it’s backstamped with a Las Palmas arrival postmark, also on my “adopted” birthdate.
I also found a number of first day covers with December 3rd postmarks from other years, giving me the idea for a new collection rather than just a one-off cover. While I hope to find something posted on 3 December 1965 (preferably from Dallas, Texas, as this was where I was born – in Parkland Memorial Hospital, to be exact), I will seek out covers from as many as the following birthdays as possible. These will be from the 3rd of December up until 2006, the first year I celebrated a birthday in Thailand after which I will search for covers postmarked on the 5th of December (much easier as most years see an issue honoring His Majesty released on that date).
I think these will make a great addition to the “My Life In Stamps” collection I’ve already started, helping me to organize that along more chronological lines rather than thematically. As always, the pursuit will be as much fun as the additions…
Wrapping up the school term – just a week-and-a-half left – while Phuket is being battered by Typhoon Vamco has put most of my philatelic pursuits into a hopefully brief holding pattern. The mail is unable to be delivered most days due to the heavy rains and high winds but I received a nice-sized stack mid-week. All, aside from a postcard from China, contained stamp orders with my recently started collection of Mauritius gaining the most benefit with nearly 60 stamps from that island nation (including several dubious bonuses). I was able to add four new countries (five if you count two different periods of German occupation), a couple topical first day covers, a few postal stationery items, and several classics from the nation of my birth. Unfortunately, the end of the week brought my first-ever damaged stamps due to careless packaging.
The Mauritius stamps came from two small lots with a nice range dating from 1858 through 1946, including the unissued Scott #8. While several have faults, they will look nice on the pages I recently printed. While I have yet to find a decent binder (losing several eBay auctions for reasonably-priced Stanley Gibbons springback albums and winning one that never arrived), I recently found a good-quality heavy-weight paper in the local stationery shop. Several months ago, I purchased a DVD-R containing over 24,000 album pages of a very pleasing, semi-classical design which I like better than the famous Steiner pages. I’ve been printing some as-is and modifying others. My Mauritius pages fall into the former category…
This sample of page one, obviously, features color images of the stamps none of which I could ever hope to obtain. But wait a minute! Didn’t that dealer send something that I could put into a few of those spaces? I’ve never had a stamp seller send a “bonus” such as this and I’m a bit reluctant to mount them into an album of mine. What do you think?
They aren’t even very good fakes but there you have it – an eBay seller sent me examples of the 1d and 2d Post Office Mauritius (Scott #1 and 2) plus the successive Post Paid of the same values (Scott #3 and 4) completely free. They don’t even have the “Copy” notification on the gum-side of the counterfeits. At any rate, I don’t even think they would look all that great on the album page…
A bit higher status than counterfeit stamps but somewhat less than originally-issued emissions are reprints, especially those officially sanctioned. Take the case of these Heligoland stamps that I received this week, a “new” entry in my A Stamp From Everywhere collection.
The one on the left just doesn’t look right but I would have to say that all three are probably reprints as mentioned in the Scott Catalogue, despite my paying a somewhat higher price than $1-2. But they could be Scott #7 and 10, issued in 1873.
My second “new” stamp issuer this week is Alexandria, listed in volume 2 of the 2009 Scott catalogue under French Offices. France maintained a post office in the famous Egyptian city which issued stamps from 1899 until 1928. The one pictured below is Scott #27, the 50 centime bister brown with lavender center, issued in 1902.
I received two postal cards from Angra in the Azores which are unlisted in Scott but the pre-printed stamps are the same King Carlos designs as the 25 reis green and 50 reis blue (Scott #5 and 7) issued in 1892. What intrigued me was the design of the postal cards – something I’d never seen before: they are folded in half with the outer rims gummed and perforated to provide some privacy, much like later aerogrammes.
Yet another “new” country received this week were two sets (ships and aviation) from Antigua & Barbuda which I’m counting as separate from those stamps bearing the name of just “Antigua” and those bearing just “Barbuda.”
The stamps of Alsace and Lorraine (1870 and 1916) as well as Alsace (1940, plus the now separate Lorraine issues) follow the listings of France in volume 2 of the 2009 Scott catalogue as these are “Occupation Stamps” and given the “N” prefix to their catalogue numbers. Germany was the occupying force in each instance. German Empire stamps replacing those of Alsace and Lorraine from 1 January 1872 until the World War I surcharges which were also used in parts of Belgium occupied by the German forces.
The 1870 series from Alsace and Lorraine are some of the dullest classical period general issue stamps that I have yet to come across. I have Scott #N1 – the 1 centime bronze green – and Scott #N4 – 5 centime yellow green – on piece, the latter of which bears a nice CDS.
The two stamps I received from the 1940 occupation of Alsace are overprinted German stamps from the 1933-36 series featuring Paul von Hindenburg, the second president of Germany. These are Scott #N29 – 5 pfennig bright green – and Scott #N31 – 8 pfennig vermilion.
In the mail were two first day covers – one featuring the infamous Pluto “Not Yet Explored” stamp that was carried aboard the spacecraft which recently flew by the former tenth planet (autographed by the stamp’s designer and featuring a JPL Stamp Club cachet), the other honoring our “Stamp Collecting President” FDR.
I’ve long been enchanted by the United States’ first “official” commemorative stamp series – the 1893 Columbian Exposition issue – but hadn’t purchased many until recently. The first to arrive were Scott #231 (2 cent brown violet – Used pair plus Mint “broken hat” variety), 233 (3 cent green Used), and 233 (4 cent ultramarine Mint), plus #U349 (stamped envelope 2c violet Unused entire).
I am starting to pick up a few other early U.S. stamps as well, filling in gaps with the less expensive stamps before working upwards a bit. Here’s a nice pair of Scott #26, released in 1857, with New Orleans cancellation.
Rounding out this week’s batch of mail were a set from the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic issued in 1921 (Scott #278-294) and the first real mail-order disappointment I’ve had in nearly 40 years of collecting. I’d been trying for a couple of months to successfully bid on a stamp or two from La Aguera and finally won an auction last month featuring Mint copies of Scott #14 (1 centimo turquoise blue) and #15 (2 centimo dark green), issued in June 1922. They arrived just today from Spain but the seller had taped them up into a little pocket of glossy newspaper advertisement. I had to take great care cutting the tape so as not to damage the stamps but when I finally got out of the taped enclosure, they were stuck together by their gum. I slid my tongs between to see if they would separate easily and the top stamp came away with much of the bottom one still attached! Partly my fault, partly the poor packaging. Luckily, there are a couple of the same stamps (with slightly better centering) currently on eBay so I’ll have a second chance…
I certainly hope my next batch of mail brings a bit better luck and…
Two days in a row of mail – thank goodness for sunny days. We really needed a break from the monsoonal rains so flood waters can dissipate a bit and we can all dry out somewhat. It won’t be long before we’re slammed by another storm.
Today was more of a book and FDC day aside from my morning visit to the Phuket Philatelic Museum. All six of the Muang Phuket Local Post covers I prepared for ASEAN Day arrived, albeit a little worse for the wear. As the philatelic staff had closed shop here in order to attend THAIPEX up in Bangkok last week, I had to drop the covers into a pillar box at the shopping mall where my school is located. Most of the covers were somewhat battered as a result but managed to travel the two kilometers in just one week!
I’ve been fascinated by the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II for quite some time and have a nice collection of the stamps and a few covers as well. My interest to learn more led me to seek out Ralph Mollet’s Jersey Under the Swastika after having found a copy of a Jersey War Museum pamphlet of extracts. The copy I found which arrived today was published in 1945 and formerly a part of the Royal Philatelic Society’s library holdings. It may be too lengthy and fragile to scan, which is my preferred method of preserving (and then reading) these older softbound works, but I will give it a go.
My interest in the Channel Islands goes back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when I began corresponding with a noted maritime author who lived on Jersey for most of the year (he wintered in Alicante, Spain). In addition to collecting the issues of Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey, I’ve also accumulated a few of the local posts from Herm and Jethou. Thus, when I came across an old catalogue of these types of carrier labels at a price of less than a U.S. dollar I couldn’t resist. There looks to be a lot of useful information in this one…
The last book to arrive today is one that I intend to begin reading this weekend. Well, I actually started to read Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps as a Kindle sample from Amazon.com a couple of months ago. I decided that I would rather have a physical copy than an eBook to read so I tracked down a used copy. Although I have many stamp-related books in .pdf or .epub format (including most of my stamp catalogues), I would much rather have a tree-book instead. This one came all the way from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I intend to write a full review here once I finish it…
Finally…some stamps! I received six from the first of the King Carlos definitives released by the Portuguese administrative district of Angra. This covered three islands in the Azores and only issued its own stamps from 1892 until 1905. This is another “new” country for me – stamp issuer number 266, in fact. The stamps I received were Scott #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9 – all mint hinged, except #5 which is used.
I now have but one outstanding stamp order – a Hawaiian provisional issue coming from a dealer in Israel. Perhaps that will arrive tomorrow. I’m winding down my stamp-buying somewhat in an effort to get caught up on scanning and cataloguing. When stamps arrive in a trickle, it is fairly easy to get them done on the same day (my goal) but I’m still working on a massive lot that arrived at the end of July.
The amount of time I have to work on stamp-related activities (including this blog) is also reduced right now as the rainy season tends to breed weekend English camps that my agency calls upon me to run. Not only that, but I am starting work at a huge high school this coming Monday – covering classes until the end of the term (early October) because of the hasty departure of the previous teacher. I doubt this particular school has WiFi so my blog-posting may be fairly irregular for the next couple of months. But, stay tuned…
Because of my job as an English teacher in Thailand, it can be difficult for me to make a trip to the post office during business hours. This morning, however, I was able to stop by the Phuket Philatelic Museum on my way to work and buy all of those issues that have been released since my last visit back in April. In fact, the only item that was unavailable was the first day cover for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s 60th birthday. I was surprised that they had today’s new release – a sheet of ten depicting Thai numerals – along with the first day cover. Bangkok is getting much better at supplying the provinces!
I was able to buy three months’ worth of stamp singles, sets, souvenir sheets, and first day covers plus Thailand Post’s monthly stamp magazine – well illustrated but I can’t read a lick of it – all for 353 Thai baht. That’s just a bit over $10 in U.S. currency. Where else can you do that?
As I mentioned, the Thai numerals set was released today – 29 July – which happens to be National Thai Language Day. According to Thailand Post’s quarterly new issue bulletin, “Thai numbers constituting the numeric system in Thai is considered to be one of the national identities. Their curvy, wavy, and gentle lines indicate the values of Thai art, the beautiful cultural heritage and the prosperity of the nation for having its own numbers and alphabets for over 700 years. The numbers were designed by King Ramkhamhaeng, who adapted them from the Khmer numbers, which were derived from the Indian Devanagari.
“Currently, the government has a policy to encourage the use of Thai numbers in official documents, according to the resolution of the cabinet in 2000, along with the use of fonts in the computer and the internet. School students are also encourage to familiarize with the written Thai numbers to uphold the value of this Thai heritage. This stamp series is the continuing series of Thai Alphabets in 2011. The images depict Thai numbers from 0 to 9, together with 10 colorful numeric symbols on 10 stamps, which may also be used as a learning media for children. This series will be launched on the National Thai Language Day on this 29 July.”
Aside from use on Thai government documents, the Thai numerals are also used to denote room numbers in government-operated schools. Knowing these numbers has helped me on numerous occasions when I’ve had to substitute at a new school and couldn’t find anybody to ask the location of classrooms.
I’m happy I was able to go to the post office today as they will be closed tomorrow and Friday for the twin Buddhist holidays of Wan Asanha Bucha and Wan Khao Phansa (the ban on selling and consuming alcohol begins at one minute past midnight tonight).
The Phuket Philatelic Museum will be closed all of next week as the staff will travel to Bangkok for the resumption of THAIPEX –- the National Stamp Exhibition – for the first time since 2011. Held at the Grand Postal Building in Bang Rak, the show will be presided over by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and will see the release of several stamps during it’s run from 3-9 August. Admission is free, by the way.
Unfortunately, this means that I probably won’t be able to have the ASEAN Day Muang Phuket Local Post covers dual-cancelled with the Phuket postmark on 8 August. They are receptive to my doing such things at the Phuket Philatelic Museum but counter clerks at the regular post office deny this sort of service. It’s a bit of a shame as Thailand Post is issuing a very nice ASEAN Day stamp of their own next Saturday and I’d planned to make a few special first day covers. We’ll see what happens…
This has been a slow mail week but today brought two orders – one from the UK and one from the United States. The four stamps pictured above are from the Kathiri State of Seiyun which was in the Eastern Protectorate of Aden, a nation I’ve become rather fond of recently. Unfortunately, I’m missing one of the UPU anniversary stamps as I was outbid on eBay in the last second!
The first day cover contains a block of four Scott #1098, issued in 1957 to honor teachers of America. I’m slowly buying stamps portraying education as part of a collection I’m putting together to illustrate “My Life in Stamps”; I have been an English teacher in Thailand for almost nine years now.
Around the time I began collecting stamps again in earnest, I stumbled across several local post stamps. Somewhat inspired by these, I set off on a tangent to my main philatelic pursuits and launched my own local post. I had two purposes in mind when I created Muang Phuket Local Post: 1) to learn how to use photo-editing software to design stamp-like labels and postcards and 2) to commemorate subjects that I felt were interesting but weren’t being honored by official postal administrations. Mostly, it was just for fun.
Muang refers to an administrative district for a community in Thailand, applied to the capital district (amphoe muang) of a province but is also generally the municipal equivalent of a town. Originally, the term was used for a town having a defensive wall and a ruler with at least the noble rank of khun. Other district subdivisions include tambon (township or subdistrict) and muban (village or hamlet). I happen to live in Tambon Talat Yai (“big market subdistrict”) in Amphoe Muang Phuket which most local people just call Muang Phuket or “Phuket Town”. Thus, the name for the local post.
The first issues in late 2013 were designed using a couple of different Android apps while the postmarks were done in Adobe Photoshop (a program in which I’m still struggling with the basics). Various other markings were pieced together using Microsoft Paint and sheet layouts were often done using MS Office Word. The 2014 releases were created using a Windows 8 app called Fotr while the January 2015 Penny Black issue and the yet-to-be-released ASEAN flag stamps were made using Paint. An issue I’m planning to mark my 50th birthday in December may be the most complex yet as with portions made using Paint, Photoscape, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I hope it comes together as I intend…
I “released” the first two Muang Phuket Local Post stamps in October 2013 – a definitive featuring an iconic building that serves as one of the symbols for Phuket Town plus a commemorative for World Post Day. Four additional issues appeared before the end of the year marking the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, 180 years of Thai-American friendship, and a 6-stamp Christmas in Thailand set. MPLP has participated in the last two World Local Post Days (the last Monday in January) with a single commemorating the centenary of the start of World War I in 2014 and the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black this year. A pair of stamps at the end of 2014 marked the tenth anniversary of the Boxing Day Tsunami.
Future releases include an eleven-stamp set portraying flags of the ASEAN member nations (plus the ASEAN flag itself) to be issued in early August, at least five marking my 50th birthday in December (which happens to fall on the same day as His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej), and a single designed for use at the English camps held by my teaching agency at various village schools on Phuket and neighboring islands.
To date, all MPLP issues have been imperforate, the 2013 issues printed on plain paper and affixed to covers using a glue stick. The 2014 and 2015 stamps have been printed on self-adhesive paper. All have been extremely limited releases, usually numbering less than fifty of each design printed with less than ten first day covers prepared for each issue. These are dual-canceled by the Phuket Town post office and sent through the mail.
Denominations are in either 25 or 50 satang, a very small unit of the Thai baht (100 satang = 1 baht = US $0.029). The tiny brass coins are occasionally given as change (rounded down) but never accepted for payment, at least here in Phuket Town.
First day of issue postmarks have also been made for each issue, the majority printed directly on the envelopes after stamps had been affixed. For the 2014 tsunami anniversary issue, I had a generic undated rubber handstamp made with a stylized wave which I’ve been using on all Muang Phuket Local Post correspondence (primarily Postcrossing postcards). I’ve also designed a few transport markings including “Carried by Elephant” and “Tuk Tuk Express” but thus far these have been printed by computer rather than actual handstamps.
The sole manner of conveyance is by my own footpower, transporting covers and postcards from my home to the closest mailbox or post office (usually the main one in Phuket Town, adjacent to the Phuket Philatelic Museum). Rather than doing hand-back service at the counter, I prefer to have these go through the Thai mailstream (i.e., FDC’s are always mailed to myself or another collector). I have sent envelopes bearing MPLP stamps (affixed to the lower left) internationally and all have arrived…so far. The local postings do illustrate the inefficiency of Thailand Post as they take at least a week and usually closer to two weeks to travel the two kilometers between the main post office and my home.
I’m currently at work creating a catalogue listing the stamps, covers, and postmarks of Muang Phuket Local Post. And I just realized that I should make stamp album pages as well…
Once again, I find it interesting the tangents that this hobby can lead you to pursue.