Mexican Christmas 2019
06 December 2019
Name: Mexican Christmas
Price: $ 22.00 Pesos $ 1.15 USD
Issue Date: 06/12/2019
Paper: Matte white couché, a rubberized face of 110 gms./m2
Designer: Vivek Luis Martínez Avín
Theme: Mexican Christmas, Education
Description: Mexican Christmas
These stamps and other products can be purchased from Servicio Postal Mexicano.
I am currently reading the latest thriller by Steve Berry, The Malta Exchange, and just came across a passage mentioning stamps. The main character, Cotton Malone, is in Italy where he had a violent encounter with somebody he has discovered is a member of the Knights of Justice. In the passage, Malone is thinking about what he has learned about the organization:
“One hundred and four countries maintained formal diplomatic relations, including an exchange of embassies. It possessed its own constitution and actively operated within fifty-four nations, having the ability to transport medicine and supplies around the world without customs inspections or political interference. It even possessed observer status in the United Nations, issuing its own passports, license plates, stamps, and coins. Not a country, as there were no citizens or borders to defend, more a sovereign entity, all of its efforts focused on helping the sick and protecting its name and heritage, which members defended zealously.”
Upon reading that, my first thought was, “I have never heard of ‘Knights of Justice’ stamps” but then I realized that Malone is referring to the Knights Hospitaller (founded in 1050 in Jerusalem) which are now officially called the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta and better known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM). It is a Roman Catholic order based in Rome. A postal administration called the Poste Magistrali was set up for the order under a Decree of the Grand Master on May 20, 1966, with first stamps issued on November15 of that year. I have seen these referred to once or twice but always thought they meant the stamps of Malta, either as a British colony or independent republic.
Of course, now that I know about this issuing entity, I need to seek out some of their stamps. Unfortunately, postal agreements have been established with only 50 or so territories which allow mail sent, provided it is posted at the Magistral Post Office at Via Bocca di Leone 68, Rome. The United States doesn’t have such an agreement with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta nor is the order a member of the Universal Postal Union. As a result, many catalogues view these as Cinderellas or local post stamps and simply do not list them. In fact, the only two major catalogues for which I have found SMOM listings are the Italian-language Unificato and French-language Yvert et Tellier catalogues.
May 24 marks the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth and a number of entities are planning stamp issues as well as commemorative coins. In searching for new stamps in this topical, I came across a number of coins that I would love to obtain as well. I found the designs from the Perth Mint in Australia particularly beautiful. Oddly, I cannot find an announcement picturing the designs for Great Britain’s upcoming stamp set other than the one that accompanied press releases last December that described this year’s stamp programme. However, there are several online dealers advertising their first day cover cachet designs picturing the stamps. One example is shown below:
The set from Jersey is another of my early favorites. This is an island I began collecting about the same time I started my childhood collections of Pitcairn Islands and Tristan da Cunha (sometime around late 1978 or early 1979). My other great interest at this time was North Atlantic ocean liners and I had just started a correspondence with Noel R.P. Bonsor, an author who had a series of books that profiled virtually every passenger ship that had steamed across the Atlantic since the early days of Samuel Cunard’s beginnings. Bonsor divided his time between a residence on Jersey and a villa in Alicante, Spain, and we traded letters back and forth for many years. Eventually, he began sending me stamp issues (mostly in presentation packs) from Jersey. I stopped actively collecting the bailiwick’s releases sometime in the 1990’s when they began releasing far too many stamps to keep up with (or afford). However, I will try to add the Queen Victoria set. The souvenir sheet is particularly striking:
Here in Thailand, everybody is getting reading for this weekend’s Coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, usually referred to in the West as King Rama X. There have already been a plethora of ceremonies and events associated with the event and the King himself got married Wednesday afternoon to the head of his Royal bodyguard detail (his father, the much revered King Bhumiphol Adulyadej, similarly married Queen Sirikit just prior to his own coronation back in 1950). The actual coronation ceremony occurs tomorrow (May 4) but the grand procession through the streets of Bangkok is scheduled for Sunday afternoon and Monday is a special holiday for the Kingdom. All government employees (myself included) are to wear the Royal color of yellow every day for the entire month of May. Thailand Post’s stamp for the Coronation will be released tomorrow; while there are special postmarks available from many of the post offices in Bangkok, I doubt any of the post offices here in Phuket will be open. I have to work all day anyway and it won’t be until next week that I will be able to buy any of the new stamps (and there are several due for release next Friday so I may just wait until then).
I have a fair amount of stamps that make me hungry looking at them, particularly those from Thailand, Malaysia, and New Zealand that portray the wonderful fruit we have in this part of the world. I now have the opportunity to add a few picturing sweets thanks to delectable sets released by Canada and Singapore, coincidentally (?) both on April 17. The Sweet Canada set has received some controversy as confectionary “experts” claim the proportions of chocolate, custard and crumb crust are pictured incorrectly on the design featuring the famed Nanaimo bar. It still looks tasty to me! The stamps in Singapore’s Traditional Confections set are just as mouth-watering.
I haven’t spent much time on the stamp blogs lately but I did read an excellent article by John M. Hotchner on the Virtual Stamp Blog about “Collecting On A Tight Budget“, something I totally relate to. I also came across an essay that was originally broadcast on CBC Radio discussing “The Lost Art of Writing Letters“.
Sunday is, of course, the 5th of May — a date which is celebrated in Mexico and the American Southwest as Cinco de Mayo. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. Oddly, the holiday has taken on a greater significance in the U.S. than in Mexico, and has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. These celebrations began in California, where they have been observed annually since 1863. The day gained nationwide popularity in the 1980s thanks especially to advertising campaigns by beer and wine companies. Today, Cinco de Mayo generates beer sales on par with the Super Bowl. I plan to celebrate in my own way with a nice meal of Mexican food, a real hit-or-miss affair in Phuket, Thailand. Luckily, one of the island’s best restaurants serving Mexican food in located not far from my home.
I am also thinking about putting together a Cinco de Mayo article for the long-hibernating A Stamp A Day blog as I have several stamps that commemorate the Battle of Puebla. Over the past several months, I have added quite a few Mexican stamps to my collection, many are modern stamps commemorating various holidays and other annual celebrations, something I think they do consistently well (much better than some of the other entities I collect). There are a number of other Mexican holidays in May for which I have stamps including the birthday of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla — the initiator of the Mexican Independence War — on the 8th, Día de las Madres (Mother’s Day) on the 10th, and Día del Maestro (Teachers’ Day) on the 15th.
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….
I was about ready to call this a “slow philatelic news week” and publish a very short update article when the United States Postal Service chose today to announce three new stamp issues due later this year. Unfortunately, the anticipated issue for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 is not among them. The information about each issue comes directly from the USPS press release:
“The Postal Service honors Sesame Street as one of the most influential and beloved children’s television shows. For the last 50 years, it has provided educational programming and entertainment for generations of children throughout the country and around the world. The stamp art features photographs of 16 Muppets from Sesame Street — Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Rosita, The Count, Oscar the Grouch, Abby Cadabby, Herry Monster, Julia, Guy Smiley, Snuffleupagus, Elmo, Telly, Grover and Zoe. Art Director Derry Noyes designed the stamps.”
With this pane of 16 stamps, the Postal Service brings Tyrannosaurus rex to life — some 66 million years after its demise. One design illustrates a face-to-face encounter with a T. rex approaching through a forest clearing; another shows the same young adult T. rex with a young Triceratops — both dinosaurs shown in fossil form. The third and fourth stamps depict a newly hatched T. rex covered with downy feathers and a bare-skinned juvenile T. rex chasing a primitive mammal. The “Nation’s T. rex,” the young adult depicted on two of the stamps, was discovered on federal land in Montana and is one of the most studied and important specimens ever found. Its remains will soon be on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps with original artwork by Julius T. Csotonyi, a scientist and paleoartist.
Halloween has long been a holiday that lets us delight in the things that scare us. With the approach of autumn, Spooky Silhouettes stamps will offer fun, frightful scenes that symbolize this annual celebration. Four stamps feature digital illustrations in which traditional Halloween motifs are rendered as black silhouettes in eerily backlit windows. Artist Tyler Lang created the artwork. Art Director Greg Breeding designed the stamps.
As a teacher, I should be thrilled with the Sesame Street stamps but I feel 16 different stamps is just too many. The T. rex stamps do nothing at all for me and we’ve had way too many dinosaur stamps already. I do like the design of the “Spooky Silhouettes” set, however. Any one of these could be the designated issue for National Stamp Collecting Month, or perhaps that will be the previously-announced (but no design yet revealed) Frogs issue.
With the announcement of these new Halloween stamps, I am reminded of one of the celebrations I miss from the years I lived in the American Southwest. This is Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which pretty much replaces Halloween in portions of the Southwest as well as throughout México. México has released stamps for the holiday since 2009; I only have one of these (the 2012 release, on a first day cover), which I featured on ASAD in October 2016. A week or two following the Dia de Muertos stamp release each year, México issues one or more stamps marking Dia del Cartero, Postman’s Day. While seeking to add a few of these to my collection on eBay recently, I came across a stamp from 2017 which seems to combine the two special days:
I love this stamp and hope that someday México will release one picturing a skeletal teacher (perhaps in front of a class of skeletal students); the annual Día del Maestro (Teacher’s Day) in mid-May is also annually commemorated with attractively-designed stamps. I am beginning to obtain a few of these in preparation for an “education on stamps” Topical Pursuits. This will probably appear a couple of months down the road.
Last week saw very little time, once again, for any philatelic pursuits as it was the final week of the school year filled with testing and paperwork as well as an afternoon of activities for about 180 Kindergarten students. During the latter, I became quite dehydrated and nearly collapsed from heat exhaustion, having to cancel a business class later that evening. This week is perhaps busier (I am supposed to be on summer holiday) as I was asked to do a 10-day English camp in a temple school in the western portion of the island. I was told that the students would be high school level and spent several all-nighters preparing material for the camp (normally, we have weeks to put together these types of events). When I arrived, I found that the children were all between the ages of four and six and most had never even heard English spoken before! It has been a real struggle (none of the prepared material is appropriate and they won’t stay in one spot long enough for me to explain a game to them — nor would they understand if they did); I’ve been exhausted each evening and have been trying to pick “short subjects” for the A Stamp A Day articles. They have still taken about the same amount of time to put together each night as I have to constantly get up and walk around as my muscles tighten from the days spent chasing after tiny-tots. I will take a holiday once this camp finishes on March 23, which is two days before ASAD’s post #1000 and my planned hiatus from that.
Thailand Post has been very sporadic and random with their new issue and design announcements during recent years and this year is no exception. Details have yet to be revealed for the Royal Coronation issue (the ceremonies set to begin early next month with the actual Coronation occurring the first weekend in May), yet a rather blurry image of a stamp due the following week has just been revealed along with a few of the details but only in Thai. A single 3-baht stamp marking the 80th anniversary of the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand will be released on May 10:
วันแรกจำหน่าย : 10 พฤษภาคม 2562
ชนิดราคา : 3.00 บาท
จำนวนพิมพ์ : 500,000 ดวง
ขนาด : 48 x 30 มม. (แนวนอน)
ผู้ออกแบบ : ว่าที่ ร.ท.ปฏิพล ซอกิ่ง (บริษัท ไปรษณีย์ไทย จำกัด)
บริษัทผู้พิมพ์ :ไทยบริติชซีเคียวริตี้ พริ้นติ้ง จำกัด (มหาชน) ประเทศไทย
วิธีการพิมพ์และสี : ลิโธกราฟี่ – หลายสี
จำนวนดวงในแผ่น : 10 ดวง
ซองวันแรกจำหน่าย : 11.00 บาท
The next stamps to be released by Thailand Post will be the annual Thai Heritage Conservation Day issue on April 2.
I noticed this piece of information on a dealer’s site last week:
“Confirmed from the North Korea Post Office that they no longer sell any Anti-US stamps (including those already issued and to be issued) due to political reasons. This causes the price hike and shortage of these types of stamps in the market.“
I have mentioned on this blog and elsewhere that I have long “enjoyed” collecting the propaganda poster stamps from North Korea, especially those issued around the time of the annual “Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism Month” which runs from June 25 until July 27. North Koreans flock to war museums such as the Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities and attend rallies against the “evils” of the United States. Over 100,000 gather in Pyongyang’s Kim II Sung Stadium to speak out against “the fatty monster U.S. imperialists” as part of the ‘Mass Rally on the Day of the Struggle Against the U.S.”, An stamp issue has been a part of the anti-American celebrations off-and-on since 1952, with most featuring images taken from fairly graphic propaganda posters. Despite the June 12, 2018, summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and 3rd Supreme Leader of the DPRK Kim Jong-un (김정은) in Singapore last year, North Korea released their anti-U.S. stamp set right on schedule on June 25.
One of my primary reasons for wanting to travel to North Korea was to easily purchase these stamps (and the associated post cards, propaganda poster books, etc.) directly from the source. I planned to use these to mail postcards to my home in Thailand and to various friends (although I don’t think I would have tried to send any to the United States). I do have other reasons for wanting to travel to this very strange place before it changes and had been close to booking a trip when President Trump basically made it illegal to travel there (since August 2017, Americans who have their passports scanned at a border checkpoint that points to a crossing into North Korea will generate a “revoke” code with the U.S. Department of State). I hope that the current round of talks will lead to a reversal of this policy very soon (the recent summit in Vietnam didn’t seem to end that well). The stamps on a postcard from there do not have to be anti-American to still be “cool”. For much more, please see my ASAD article from last year.
On April 26, La Poste of France will release a single stamp depicting the cave paintings of Lascaux Cave (Grotte de Lascaux) in a complex of caves near the village of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne in southwestern France. Over 600 parietal wall paintings cover the interior walls and ceilings of the cave. The paintings represent primarily large animals, typical local and contemporary fauna that correspond with the fossil record of the Upper Paleolithic time. The drawings are the combined effort of many generations, and with continued debate, the age of the paintings is estimated at around 17,000 years (early Magdalenian). Lascaux was inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1979, as element of the Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley. Apparently, this is the first stamp France has issued honoring the site since 1968.
Last week began with an extremely lengthy ASAD articles with the Monday blog about Hernán Cortés approaching 11,000 words (largely put together Sunday night into Monday morning) despite ONLY dealing with his conquest of the Aztec empire, a subject I have long been interested in. Wednesday’s article was big as well, topping out at more than 6700 words about Michelangelo. The others were much more reasonable with several maritime themes popping up. As I count down to a much-needed break from the blog, I am trying to include stamps from the lesser-featured stamp issuing entities. I am doing my best to avoid using stamps from the United States, Thailand, Great Britain, and Germany. The articles published since my last update:
- March 4, 2019: “Hernán Cortés & His Conquest of the Aztec Empire” (Spain — Scott #754, 1948) 10,929 words
- March 5, 2019: “Learn From Lei Feng Day” (People’s Republic of China — Scott #4071a, 2013) 2,025 words
- March 6, 2019: “Michelangelo: Sculptor, Painter, Architect” (Afars & Issas — Scott #C93, 1975) 6,744 words
- March 7, 2019: “Ross Dependency, Scott Base, and HMNZS Endeavour” (Ross Dependency — Scott #L12, 1972) 3,195 words
- March 8, 2019: “The Spanish “Find” Copán” (Honduras — (Honduras — Scott #C619, 1978) 1,608 words
- March 9, 2019: “Jukong Boat of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands” (Cocos (Keeling) Islands — Scott #292a-c, 1994) 972 words
- March 10, 2019: “The Mining Disaster at Courrières” (France — Scott #3190, 2006) 1,216 words
- March 11, 2019: “Bon Om Touk: The Cambodian Water Festival” (Kingdom of Cambodia — Scott #1997, 2000) 1,075 words
- March 12, 2019: “The Dory” (British Honduras — Scott #122, 1938) 2,430 words
That’s all I have for this week. Cheers!