We have arrived in the Twenties and I am ready to see a lot of new stamps. Promo artwork is fine but it is so much nicer to have an actual stamp to hold in your tongs as you place it into an album or stockbook for the first time. I will have my first chance in 2020 when Thailand’s Year of the Mouse Zodiac stamp is issued tomorrow.
My New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair spent at home although I did go out to the balcony at midnight to watch the fireworks over Phuket Town. They may not have been as impressive as those in Singapore or North Korea (both of which were broadcast live on television here), but there was a nice breeze making it much cooler to be outside than in my non-air conditioned apartment.
I did take the time to create a new handstamp inspired by one I saw on Timbre Phil-Ouest’s Facebook page:
A fairly active week for me in my hobby of philately capped off by purchasing the year’s second Thailand stamp issue and some successful bids on eBay (where I’ve been looking at some classic U.S. stamps trying to fill gaps in my 1893 Columbians and 1869 pictorials sets as well as much more recent first day covers). I received a few purchases made in December and am continuing to seek out news of upcoming releases for 2019. Canada recently revealed its first designs of the year, the first of which were issued on January 14, and Great Britain releases its Stamp Classics sheet today. I’ve also begun creating what I am calling my “Virtual Album”, placing scanned images upon digital pages. All of this amidst daily additions to the A Stamp A Day blog (and my day-job of teaching) has made for a very busy week indeed.
It wasn’t until last night that I had a chance to read a few philatelic news sites, learning that the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. is yet another victim (as are all of the other Smithsonian Institution facilities) of the current U.S. government shutdown that began on December 22. The postal museum closed on January 2 and suspended all on-site programming and events. The Smithsonian Institution is about two-thirds federally funded, with the rest of the funding coming from other areas; including donations, endowments and revenues from product development and sales, concessions and other sources. The Smithsonian Institution reports that its federal appropriation for the 2018 fiscal year was $1 billion.
I never have fun when using Photoshop and there are only about two functions that I can perform using the unwieldy program (and not always with the same degree of success). “Fun with Paint” isn’t quite as good a title, however…
If I attempt to design something, I use a combination of Microsoft’s Paint (and not that new 3D version they tried to force upon me a few Windows 10 auto-updates ago) and an open-source program called PhotoScape which is great for things like placing (and resizing) transparent background images upon other images and manipulating lettering amongst other functions.
This weekend, I decided that it was time to change the small logo at the top of my “other” stamp blog, A Stamp A Day. After all, I hadn’t done anything to the design of the blog since I started it over a year ago (I am VERY happy with the theme — a free WordPress theme called Spun).
That logo was just a simple “edit” of a stamp issued by France in 1963 for an upcoming philatelic exhibition (Scott #1078):
But this didn’t even include the name of the blog, something that kind of bothered me but also allowed me to use the image from time to time here on Philatelic Pursuits and as an avatar on various stamp forums that I’m a member of.
I’d planned to make a new one for quite some time but it’s just hard to find the free time (another detractor is that I didn’t save a copy of the “unlettered” version so I’d have to start from scratch). This weekend, I finally had plenty of downtime and made several versions:
After I made those, I thought, “Let’s do some more!” Once I get started on something, it’s hard for me to stop.
My second try with “editing” a stamp was an attempt using Monaco #C16 issued in 1947, my favorite stamp-collecting themed stamp (I also collect FDR topicals):
My first tries at obscuring the cross-hatching in the upper-left and below the country tablet were fairly awful:
I then decided on a “wipe” approach to the upper-left cross-hatching (mainly because any lettering I placed over the cross-hatching was completely unreadable):
Hey! This is fun! Let’s see what the United States #1474 from 1972 looks like:
German Democratic Republic #91 issued in 1951 for Stamp Day:
For my final stabs at stamp “editing” this weekend were to work on two booklet panes issued in 1986 with a stamp collecting theme: Sweden #1588a and United States #2201a:
I even added a couple of items to the selvage of the Swedish stamp (at the top is the Phuket provincial seal) and at the bottom is a stylized entwined U.S. and Thai flag design. I had some problems removing elements and some of the quadrilles on the U.S. issue in particular are out of alignment. I will go back and fix these at some point, but my “free time” on a Sunday morning had come to end….
Admittedly, what I’ve done is quite basic. But the point is: If I can do this, then anybody can.
My biggest problem now is deciding which of these that I like the best. Which one shall have the upper left corner of the “A Stamp A Day” blog for the next year? I applied the Monaco stamp yesterday but it appears too large so I’ll resize that. I may end up setting it so that a different image appears on each separate click.
In preparing this article, I thought I’d also share a few stamp “designs” I made earlier this year. They may see eventual “release” through my Muang Phuket Local Post; I haven’t printed any of my creations for that project in almost two years (the last being a souvenir sheet for ASEAN Day on August 8, 2015). I have found somebody who can print these labels on dry gum paper and apply perforations so I may do that at some point in the future. The personalized image at the head of this article was created entirely in Photoshop (one of my few “successes”, I suppose but I’m still not entirely happy about it); I’d planned to make covers for my 50th birthday at the end of 2015 but never finished it.
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…
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.