A set of stamps had been scheduled by Thailand Post last year to mark the 70th anniversary of the reign of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). These were due for release on what would have been the King’s 89th birthday; I believe this had the issue number of TH-1115. The designs had never been announced and the issue was quietly withdrawn following His Majesty’s death on October 13, 2016.
Yesterday (March 29, 2017), Thailand Post announced the release of a sheet of five stamps. A photograph appeared on page 2 of today’s Bangkok Post, the largest English-language newspaper in the country:
The caption reads:
“Labours of love: Thailand Post Co. unveils a set of stamps featuring the late King Bhumibol Aduyladej at work in six different settings to commemorate the 70th anniversary of his accession to the throne. A 45-baht set consists of five stamps, each 17cm long, the longest in the world. The stamps will be sold across the country from Saturday.”
According to an even briefer article on the website for The Nation — Thailand’s second largest English-language daily newspaper — nine million copies of the stamp have been printed and will be released on April 1. Nine is considered a very lucky number in Thai culture, and most Thai people have been wearing black shirts during the one-year-long mourning period that include a stylized Thai number “9”, often with an inscription in English or Thai mentioning that the wearer is proud to have been born in the ninth reign.
The sale of black clothing over the last six months has been the sole “bright spot” in the economy; several times, black was in such short supply that the government offered to dye other colors to black at no cost.
A quick reminder that a very nice set of four circular stamps, plus a souvenir sheet, commemorating the 120th anniversary of the State Railway of Thailand, are scheduled for release tomorrow, 26 March 2016. This is a Sunday and so stamps will not be available for purchase here in Phuket until at least Monday. I will never understand why Thailand Post insists on issuing stamps when none of the post offices are open for business. In recent years, they have become even slower at distributing new issues to the provinces (and some NEVER arrive!).
Nevertheless, this is an attractive issue and I will do my best to purchase copies for myself. As the face value of Thai stamps is low (usually 3 baht, occasionally 5, 9 or 15 baht for the vast majority of issues), I tend to buy full sheets. Most stamps are released in sheets of just 10 stamps. Then, of course, are the first day covers which are sold at minimal mark-up from the face value of the stamps. All of these are easily obtainable at most local post offices. I am blessed in that I live within walking distance (approximately 10 minutes, most of which is through a shady park) from the provincial philatelic museum and their fully-stocked sales counter.
The ever-increasing numbers of “special folders” are harder to find and I have to resort to eBay; I don’t always hear about these scarcer collectibles until the price has risen or they’ve sold out completely. Lately, I’ve obtained several first day covers that have received multiple pictorial cancellations (mostly in locations around Bangkok); these are usually signed by the stamp designer as well.
I am still waiting to see illustrations of the next two issues due to be released (on April 2 and 7, each in a set of four) as these have yet to be revealed. At some point later this year, new definitives portraying HRH King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun — the first of the 1oth reign of the Chulalongkorn dynasty — will be released, probably with little (if any) advanced notice. Thailand Post also mentioned in the most recent stamp bulletin that there will be an issue marking the cremation of HRH the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in either September or October following the mandatory year-long period of mourning. Yes, as a teacher (a government employee), I am still required to wear black each and every day…