It has been way too long (two weeks and counting) since my last philatelic update. Much of that time was spent during a two-week Summer Camp at a temple school on the opposite site of the island and nearly a week of “recovery” as my body rebelled against my brutal schedule and our current heat wave. Earlier this week, I lost nearly 1-terabyte of data when an external hard drive (my main backup drive) became corrupted; this includes every stamp in my collection (duly scanned and catalogued over the course of about five years) and many other philatelic files. The good news is that I will be able to recover most of that data; the bad news is that it will cost me quite a bit of time and money.
While I was ill, I started to read Dick Parry’s Moonshot in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The first few stamps have been released in commemoration and the United States Postal Service announced their upcoming two-stamp release about a week ago. These will be released at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 19. The images have been publicized far and wide and there has been quite a bit of criticism about the “boring” nature of the stamps, not to mention the fact that a living person appears on one contrary to U.S. stamp “law”. The designs have grown on me a bit (my first impression was probably, ho-hum). The fun, I think, will be in tracking down those being released elsewhere. I quite like the Apollo 11 stamp from Macedonia, seen above on a first day cover.
The next new stamps to be issued by Thailand Post will be the annual set marking Thai Heritage Conversation Day on April 2. This is always one of my favorite issues each year and the 2019 edition features murals from Buddhist temples in Thailand’s southern provinces. While Songkhla is relatively safe, the far southern areas of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala (not featured here) have been war-torn for years due to border unrest with Malaysia. A majority of the population is Muslim and many in the region would like to see these provinces either returned to Malaysia or become their own independent state. Talks are virtually nonexistent and bombings frequent, often targeting teachers and schools. Needless to say, I have yet to visit this area of Thailand. The images used on the stamps were provided by Associate Professor Dr. Somporn Thuri of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at Rajamangala University of Technology in Thanyaburi. Google Translate tells me the murals are as follow:
3.00 baht (Type 1): Chumamani Chedi, Khok Khian Temple, Narathiwat Province
3.00 baht (Type 2): Tradition of giving alms to merit merit for those who passed away, Pa Si Temple, Pattani Province
3.00 baht (Type 3): The event in the story of Phra Wessadon Chadok, Khu Tao Temple, Songkhla Province
3.00 baht (Type 4): History of Buddhism at the time of descending from Dao Dueng Temple, Wat Pha Phra, Songkhla Province
As usual, there will also be a souvenir sheet although Thailand Post has not yet released any details about it other than the image below (which appears to me as a self-adhesive):
I quite enjoy joint-issue stamps with the same or similar designs released by two different entities concurrently. On March 29, Poland and the Vatican City each released a single stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Poland and the Holy See. I consider Vatican stamps to be some of the most beautifully designed in the world and Poland is a nation near and dear to my heart. I will be ordering these as soon as possible.
It is always fun to find free resources, particularly when they pertain to our hobby. The Royal Philatelic Society London is currently offering a 109-page PDF-format extract of Stamp Perforation: The Somerset House Years — 1848 to 1880, originally published in 2006 as the culmination of a number of years of research and collaboration. Parts 1 and 2 of the book dealt with the history and introduction of perforation, whereas Part 3 (the majority of which is included in the free download) covered perforation varieties, with a large section on constant perforation varieties, commonly known as broken perforation pin varieties. Visit this page for the download links for the extract and a few additional resources as well.
One of the few philatelic-related projects NOT on my (semi-)failed backup drive were my folders containing images for my New Issues pages as well as my spreadsheets detailing those releases. Within the next few days, I plan to get back on-track updating the information, seeking out quality images and updating the pages themselves. I have already brought the U.S. and Thailand pages up-to-date (several release dates and a few images added to the former, images and details added to the latter). The worldwide monthly pages are a bit more intimidating, particularly with numerous new issues having been announced or released recently. A particularly favorite from last week is a five-stamp set picturing Canadians in Flight.
As we head into the Thai New Year holiday (Songkran), there is a distinct slow-down at work although my administrative duties will probably increase this week as our long-time Head Teacher departs and the new Head takes his place. As Deputy Head Teacher, it will be my responsibility to train my new boss as we begin accepting applications and assigning teachers to our contracted schools in advance of the next school year (which will begin in early May). With my putting A Stamp A Day “on vacation” for the foreseeable future, I should be able to handle my workload and still have time to get tackle quite a few philatelic pursuits in the next few weeks. Now that my exhaustion/illness seems to have subsided, I am ready to move forward…
The final baker’s dozen ASAD articles since my last update covered a wide range of topics and I was very successful in avoiding such heavily-highlighted issuers as the United States, Germany and Canada. My current plan is to return to writing articles for that blog once I have the Philatelic Pursuits New Issues pages up-to-date. If I am lazy, that might be a while….
- March 13, 2019: “The Phoenix Lights” (San Marino — Scott #1396, 1997) 3,590 words
- March 14, 2019: “Birth of Einstein, Death of Hawking” (Isle of Man — Michel #2178-2179, 2016) 2,044 words
- March 15, 2019: “The Assassination of Julius Caesar” (Italy — Scott #217, 1929) 3,806 words
- March 16, 2019: “The Seal of St. Vincent Colony” (St. Vincent — Scott #197, 1955) 954 words
- March 17, 2019: “St. Patrick’s Day” (Ireland — Scott #121, 1943) 2,506 words
- March 18, 2019: “St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Mickey’s School of Education” (St. Vincent and the Grenadines — Scott #2252 (1996) 1,726 words
- March 19, 2019: “Post #995: Sydney Harbour Bridge” (Australia — Scott #2675e, 2007) 4,429 words
- March 20, 2019: “Post #996: The Grenadines of St. Vincent” (The Grenadines of St. Vincent — Scott #909, 1992) 946 words
- March 21, 2019: “Post #997: Natalicio de Benito Juárez” (México — Scott #1229, 1981) 4,368 words
- March 22, 2019: “Post #998: World Water Day” (Uruguay — Scott #2067, 2004) 899 words
- March 23, 2019: “Post #999: Coastwatchers in the Solomon Islands” (Solomon Islands — Scott #333, 1976) 1,886 words
- March 24, 2019: “Post #1000: One Thousand (!)” (Free City of Danzig — Scott #127, 1923) 1,807 words
- March 25, 2019: “A Thousand and One Posts…Going on Vacation!” (Mali — Scott #879, 1997) 1,074 words
Thank you, dear readers. I hope I don’t take as long with the next update….
This past Friday, Thailand Post announced — complete with design images — its first stamp for 2019 marking the Year of the Pig, due for release on January 1. This served as a reminder to me that it had been a while since I’d written about Thailand’s stamps released over the past few months. In fact, the last time I posted an article about Thai new issues was way back at the beginning of April!
Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I haven’t been able to buy any stamps at the post office since mid-May (shortly after the issuance of the Thai-Turkish joint issue and they’d already sold out of the first day cover by that time!). Thus, most of the images in this article were sourced from eBay, Thailand Post, Siam Stamp Catalog, and the Facebook page of the Thailand Stamp Museum. My next day off that also is not a post office holiday won’t be until late December so I may just have to wait until the annual yearbook is released in February to obtain all of the stamps I’ve missed this year!
I won’t provide much commentary on the stamps in this article other than date of issue and a few other details. I have included the Thailand Post issue numbers for reference; it usually takes a few years (!) before I can track down Scott or Michel catalogue numbers….
Sometimes I wonder what Thailand Post is thinking of when the stamp selection committee meets to choose topics for future issues. Tue, most subjects on Thai stamps are quite worthy and beautifully executed; we aren’t bombarded with the tons of frivolous wallpaper that some postal administrations churn out with regularity. There have been relatively few poor designs in the years since I moved to southern Thailand and began to avidly collect the Kingdom’s issues, past and present.
However, I feel that there have been missed opportunities along the way and that Thailand Post has repeated itself far too often in recent years. There are certain issues that are guaranteed each year: (Western) New Year’s Day, Children’s Day, Chinese New Year (which they actually passed over in 2018!), a Thai traditional festivals set coinciding with Thai New Year, at least one of the Buddhist holidays (Vesak Bucha being this year’s honoree), Thai Heritage Conservation Day, the King’s Birthday, Mother’s Day, World Post Day, and the multi-stamp flowers issue for the following New Year (annually released in November, they take the place of the Christmas stamps released by Christian nations).
There are also various joint-issues mixed in throughout most years. I quite like these but it is in this area that Thailand Post tends to make mistakes. For example, last week a nice pair of stamps was released to mark the 60th anniversary of Thailand’s diplomatic relations with Turkey with a stamp each portraying the nations’ national sports. A beautiful set and a worthwhile commemoration until you realize that the 50th anniversary of Thai-Turkish diplomatic relations was marked by a joint-issue a mere ten years ago. Is the nation going to mark the 70th anniversary as well? It’s not as if we are being overrun with Turkish tourists (I’ve only met one Turk in the 14 years I’ve lived here).
Thailand does seem to like oddly-numbered anniversaries as well. While many nations such as the United States or Great Britain will deem 50th, 100th, and 200th anniversaries of events as stamp-worthy, Thailand Post has issued stamps in the past few years marking the diplomatic relations between the Kingdom and Russia (120 years), China (40 years), Sri Lanka (60 years), Israel (60 years), and even the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — that’s North Korea to you and me — (40 years). Of course, the granddaddy of all of these was the joint issue with Portugal which marked 500 years of friendship (which predates both the Chakri Dynasty and the Ayutthaya Kingdom).
Yet, Thailand has never philatelically honored the United States of America — it’s longest-held diplomatic trading partner if you measure the birth of the nation as the beginning of the ongoing Rattanakosin Kingdom (อาณาจักรรัตนโกสินทร์,) which was founded in 1782. Perhaps the bosses at Thailand Post have forgotten that nearly every paved road and airport in the vast northeast region known as Isaan was not only designed but also constructed by U.S. Army manpower. The two countries have fought shoulder-to-shoulder in every major conflict since World War II, and even redefined their partnership to meet modern global challenges like terrorism and transnational crime.
I was reminded the other day that 2018 is the 200th year of friendship between Thailand and the U.S. This reminded didn’t arrive via a U.S. Embassy Resident Alert or mention on the media, or, as I would hope, by the announcement of a pending stamp issue. No, I made a rare visit to the local McDonald’s (sometimes you just NEED a Big Mac) and, as I finished my fries and moved the carton in order to attack the burger the message loomed large as life on the tray-liner!
Come on, Thailand Post! If a fast-food establishment — albeit such a sheer symbol of Westerness throughout the world — feels it is worthwhile to remind its customers that Thailand and the United States has been friends for 200 years, why can’t we have a nice stamp to commemorate that fact? Even North Korea has regularly portrayed its relations with the U.S. on stamps, although they aren’t exactly promoting anything remotely friendly or diplomatic..
The first recorded contact between Thailand (then known as Siam) and the United States came in 1818, when an American ship captain visited the country, bearing a letter from U.S. President James Monroe. Chang and Eng Bunker immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1830s. In 1832, President Andrew Jackson sent his envoy Edmund Roberts in the U.S. sloop-of-war Peacock, to the courts of Cochin-China, Siam and Muscat. Roberts concluded a Treaty of Amity and Commerce on March 20, 1833, with the Chao-Phraya Phra Klang representing King Phra Nang Klao; ratifications were exchanged April 14, 1836, and the Treaty was proclaimed on June 24, 1837. The Treaty of 1833 was the United States’ first treaty with a country in Asia, making Thailand truly America’s oldest friend in the region.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Treaty, it was revealed that President Andrew Jackson had given the king (later known as Rama III) a gold sword with a design of an elephant and an eagle chased on a gold handle. The king had also been presented a proof set of United States coins, which included the “King of Siam” 1804 dollar struck in 1834. The set, minus a Jackson gold medal, was purchased for a record price of U.S. $8.5 million by Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Irvine, California on November 1, 2005. The set had been sold by Goldberg Coins & Collectibles of Beverly Hills, California, on behalf of an anonymous owner described as “a West Coast business executive,” who purchased it for over U.S. $4 million four years before.
Perhaps Thailand Post had ignored the United States considerable contribution to the Kingdom as an indicator of current U.S.-Thai relations. Since the 2014 military coup, the United States has withheld military aid and high-level engagement, unwilling to resume them until a democratically-elected government is restored. That could be quite a bit in the future as elections have been postponed each year and were indefinitely put on hold by the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the ensuing year-long mourning period. As in the Philippines, China has been more than happy to fill this void with their own aid, steadily prying Thailand away from the U.S.-led alliance system.
While 2018 does mark the bicentennial of Thai-American contact, perhaps Thailand Post would like to mark the anniversary that the Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed, formalizing diplomatic relations. Still, 2018 is the 185th anniversary of that event. Please don’t make us wait another 15 years for a stamp marking our long friendship.
In the absence of a stamp issue, at least those Americans who live here or are just passing through can feel proud that McDonald’s has remembered us. If only they would give us a free Big Mac if we show them our passport….
The U.S. Consulate produced a nice logo in 2013 on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of 1833. The slideshow below includes a few additional anniversary logos and Thailand Post stamps…