Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a philatelic week last week as most of my time was spent working on school-related tasks. The end of the long school year is upon us and next week is comprised solely of final exams — tests in English and Chinese subjects Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the Thai language exams occurring on Thursday and Friday. My M3-level students (roughly equivalent to the Sophomore level of high school in the United States) will take entrance exams for different schools on Monday before starting their holidays next Tuesday). The 2019-2020 school year will begin in early May, probably the Tuesday following the Royal Coronation of HM King Maha Vajiralongkhorn (Rama X). There should be plenty of Thailand Post philatelic items surrounding that long-awaited event.

Postccrossing postcard received on March 2, 2019, bearing one stamp from 2017 and two from 2018, nicely postmarked (many covers and cards from the U.S. miss postmarks entirely).

Continue reading “My Philatelic Pursuits #2019-08”

It’s been a busy month at work for me but still I have maintained daily articles for A Stamp A Day, all but a very small handful revolving around the theme of National Stamp Collecting Month. Today’s article gives a history of postcards, an introduction to collecting them and a discussion of the Postcrossing project. I’d chosen a Postcrossing-themed stamp from Romania to illustrate the article and planned to sprinkle scans from my meager collection of six stamps related to this topical.

At about the time I should have been wrapping up the article this afternoon, I began putting together a checklist of all of the Postcrossing stamps I could find. Not only that, but I sought out images of each of the stamps themselves (not always an easy task). I came up with a total of 20 different issues between October 2011 and early this year and 42 different stamps. Rather than simply throwing them into a slideshow, I decided to create an illustrated version of my list here on Philatelic Pursuits. Most of the images  and catalogue numbers were sourced from the Colnect online catalogue with the Universal Postal Union’s WADP listings and Postcrossing providing a few others plus some information on sheet sizes and stamp designers. The listing is in chronological order.

It’s a great topical, both for stamp collectors and for deltiologists who love Postcrossing. Which reminds me: I haven’t sent or received any postcards at all in 2018 (been too busy with other endeavors, I suppose) so I think I should get cracking and write some cards this weekend.

Continue reading “Postcrossing on Stamps: A Catalogue”

NOTE: This article also appears, virtually the same, on Asian Meanderings — my main blog about my life in Thailand.

Since 1981, the month of October has been celebrated as National Stamp Collecting Month in the United States and Canada. November is National Stamp Collecting Month in the Philippines.

I began collecting stamps around the age of nine years old; counting a few breaks for other pursuits (girls, music, travel to name but three), I estimate that I have been involved in the hobby for a little more than 30 years. I promote it whenever and wherever I can these days, having begun collecting again following my move to Thailand more than a decade ago.

November is National Stamp Collecting Month in The Philippines
November is National Stamp Collecting Month in The Philippines

At the beginning of July 2016, I started a blog called A Stamp A Day on which I feature a different stamp (usually from a different place) each and every day. Different countries and territories have been included in a more or less alphabetical order and historic anniversaries and birthdays have been marked on occasion with an appropriate stamp. The write-ups (background histories on the issuing entities and details about the stamps) are often quite lengthy!

ASAD” is my second stamp blog; Philatelic Pursuits is still active with a post or two each month. I also have a blog dedicated to postcards that I receive through Postcrossing, trades, or traveling friends and family members. I feel that the hobbies of philately (stamps) and deltiology (postcards) compliment each other. I recently changed the name of my postcard blog (for the third time) and it is now called Postcards to Phuket.

I live in Phuket, an island province in the south of Thailand. It wasn’t long after I’d arrived here that I discovered the Phuket Philatelic Museum in the administrative capital of Phuket Town. My first visit was in the midst of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the reign of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I’d already been struck at how Thai people worshiped the king as a deity and had been swept up in royal fever. Seeing the beautiful stamps issued in his honor spurred me to return to the hobby.

While never much of a museum (a few dusty displays of telegraph equipment and several frames of stamp “reproductions” at the present), the Phuket Philatelic Museum contained a large shop which was filled with Thai stamps dating back to the early 1970s (all sold for face value), first day covers for the previous year’s releases, albums and supplies in a dedicated room.

About three years ago, the shop was moved to a counter in the museum lobby to make room for Thailand’s first drive-thru post office. Many of the supplies such as albums and ornate stamp pages plus older stamps were gone but at least I could still purchase the new-release stamps and first day covers (going back a year or so) as well as the annual yearbooks. The main clerk spoke good English and was extremely helpful. She was reassigned about a year ago, replaced by a woman who speaks very little English but is quite cheerful and always let me go through the stock books.

I recently visited the Phuket Philatelic Museum for the first time in quite a while and was told that they weren’t selling stamps anymore. There were a few first day covers remaining (most of which I already had). The clerk told me she didn’t know if they would receive any stamps in the future. She seemed quite upset about it. I’m actually worried that the museum itself might close down as I believe the sales counter was the only income source. There’s a meeting room that I believe used to be used by a local stamp club but I could never get any information about meetings, etc. I’ve had ideas in the past to organize a Postcrossing meeting there amongst members who live on the island or to form my own stamp club, but I just haven’t had the time.

I am now unable to purchase any Thai stamps locally; one visit to a nearby post office left me wondering if the two clerks on duty even knew what a stamp was!) I will have to rely on mail order until I find someplace else. It’s a shame as there have been some very interesting stamps issued by Thailand recently. I am looking forward to finding out what Thailand Post has planned to mark the one-year anniversary of King Bhumibol’s death; there’s already been an extensive series of banknotes and coins announced by the Royal Thai Mint.

The whole of October leading up to His Majesty’s cremation at the end of the month will be a period of intensified mourning in Thailand. The initial period lasted from his death on October 13, 2016, to the beginning of December (his birthday) when his son formally accepted the succession and became King Rama X.

While a number of people have remained wearing black for the entire year (including all teachers such as myself), it will once again be expected in public starting (I believe) today. Since midnight last night, all Thai television stations are broadcasting in black and white only; most of my Thai friends have changed their Facebook profile and cover photos to greyscale today. The public are requested not to engage in any festivities during the month of October and many entertainment and sporting events will be canceled.  There will be many other signs of mourning and I will put together another article in the near future detailing some of those.

I plan to do my part by combining my celebration of National Stamp Collecting Month with a memorial to the late king. I’ve decided to feature only Thai stamps on A Stamp A Day during the month of October, mainly those portraying King Bhumibol. I plan to keep the commentary to a minimum so that I’ll have the time (and energy!) to write a few how-to-collect articles for Philatelic Pursuits and add a few things to Postcards to Phuket as well.

Happy Stamp Collecting Month(s)!

Scan20151024-001As expected, local mail delivery was halted during the almost-two-week’s long Phuket Vegetarian Festival as the street processions with their accompanying unregulated fireworks (thrown by the spectators) would have put the motorbike-driving postmen at great risk.  Yesterday’s national holiday marking the birthday of Thailand’s revered fifth king, Chulalongkorn, provided yet another no-mail day but I finally received a few items this morning.

I was pleased to receive the latest edition of Thailand Post’s new issues bulletin with MOST of the upcoming releases for the fourth quarter illustrated.  At this point, there are just twenty-one individual stamps in seven different sets remaining in the 2015 stamp program.  Of course, Thailand Post always issues a few more in December with little or no warning.  The next upcoming issue is a pair to be released on 2 November marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka.  As usual, I love the English headlines accompanying each description.  One commemorating the Department of Corrections has the headline “A Pride of Corrections the Protects the Society” while the World Post Day issue is described as “National Economic Support and the Global Connectivity.”  The catalogue reminds me that I missed out on a few recent issues over the past couple of months so it’s time for a trip to the Phuket Philatelic Museum in the near future.

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I received a pair of postcards one via Postcrossing which, I can honestly say, is the first I have ever received that didn’t bear a single stamp.  Instead, there is a very ugly Deutsche Post meter with a QR code upon it.  I was surprised as many Postcrossing members seem to be stamp collectors or at least aware that their recipients are collectors (indeed, I mention it in my profile).  The second postcard was MUCH more interesting as the first thing I noticed was that it had been posted from Mauritius – a island nation in which I have become quite interested lately.  This is due in large part to my recent reading of the wonderful book Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Rarest Stamps.  Imagine my surprise when I turned the postcard over and found it had been sent by that book’s author, Helen Morgan.  She’s enjoying her first visit on Mauritius in almost ten years and had discovered my blogs via a Google Alert.  How cool is that?

Scan20151024-008Next up, I received a “starter set” of Hawid stamp mounts ordered from a dealer in the UK.  I’m starting to find a few sources of supplies that don’t charge an arm and a leg to ship them to Thailand.  I’ve had bad luck recently in that packets of hinges I’d ordered happened to arrive in the midst of some of the words storms to hit Phuket since I moved here a decade ago, rendering them into a solid mass of stuck-together goo.  I felt that I would have better success with mounts, particularly since I have an increasing backlog of Mint Never Hinged stamps that I would like to take out of the stock books and onto my self-printed album pages.  I did take a few minutes from other pursuits to mount the first page of Abu Dhabi.  Very nice…

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Finally!  A stamp!  This one confused me as it arrived in an envelope mailed from Poland and I hadn’t ordered anything from there.  At any rate, it was a used copy of United States Scott #69, the 12c George Washington black from the 1861-62 series.  I’d won it from a dealer in Bissinghem, Germany.  No idea why it was mailed from Krakow…

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One final, semi-philatelic note on the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.  The post office left a stack of postal cards on a table in the new shopping center behind my home along with two baskets full of themed handstamps (most were made of metal) and three different colors of inkpads.  I’m lucky that I found this on the first day of the festival as the cards quickly disappeared and the ink dried up as very few people closed the lids when they were finished.  I spent an enjoyable few minutes applying the handstamps to both sides of perhaps a half-dozen cards.  With the post office inaccessible for the duration of the festival (it’s almost at “Ground Zero”), I haven’t yet had the chance to mail any of the cards.  I will have to think of some appropriate stamps as none have ever been issued commemorating this festival (this was it’s 190th year in Phuket!).  Perhaps next year, I will think to design a few for the Muang Phuket Local Post…

Happy Collecting!

 

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After a week or so of the barest of trickles, the floodwaters opened today and once again a nice-sized stack of mail awaited my return from work.  It was a bit of a card-oriented day – only one short set of “real” stamps and a couple of souvenir folders of local post issues from Lundy Island – and Great Britain dominated the senders’ countries.  In all, five pieces of mail from the UK, one from France, and two parcels from the U.S.

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The Qu’aiti State in Hadhramaut counts as a “new” country in my A Stamp From Everywhere collection as the sheikdom in Aden Protectorate had changed its name from the Qu’aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla.  These four stamps are the lowest values (Scott #29-32)  in a set of twelve released on 1 September 1955, the first with the new name inscribed. 

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Lundy Island is probably my favorite of the local posts that I collect.  The island itself is quite interesting and I particularly like the stamps portraying puffins which is also the “currency” used.  Some of the earlier issues portrayed the number of puffins equal to the stamp’s denomination.  Today, I received two similar souvenir folders – this one has the complete 1982 definitive set while the other has the three-stamp issue marking Winston Churchill’s death in 1965.

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Here we have a maxi-card bearing the lovely stamp issued by Monaco in 1977 marking the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic, an addition to my “Pioneers of American Aviation” topical collection.

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This year marks the 175th anniversary of the world’s first stamp, the famed Penny Black.  A number of countries have issued stamps commemorating this anniversary but I have yet to obtain a single one (I celebrated by purchasing an 1840 Penny Black with my initials – MJ – as the control letters).  However, I just received this souvenir card issued at London’s Europhilex stamp show a couple of months ago.  It illustrates Sir Rowland Hill’s original sketches for what became the Penny Black.

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Although I am adopted, I am proud of my adoptive family’s name and wish that more was known of its early history.  The story that I remembering hearing as a child was that the “a” in Joachim was dropped when my grandfather emigrated to the United States (I believe through Ellis Island).  So I am always on the lookout for philatelic items bearing either of the spellings.  This card is one of a lot of posted-on-board items from Danish ferries.  I will write about them in some detail – starting with the M/F Prins Joachim, of course – on my postcard blog in the near future.

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Finally, I received three new rubber stamps for my own little local post – Muang Phuket LP.  The one on the left was intended as a first day of issue postmark for the ASEAN Day issue (8 August) but I ordered the 2-inch size which is too big; I’ll probably use it as a cachet instead and “cancel” the stamps using my generic “wave” postmark.  A tuk-tuk is a local mode of transportation; my rubber stamp supplier had a buy-one get-one for free promotion which is why I have two sizes of that…

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Happy Collecting!

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I’m becoming increasingly convinced that either my local postman or somebody at the main post office is withholding my mail from delivery until they decide that I have “enough” to make it worth their while.  Last Wednesday, I received some 14 pieces of mail after quite a long period of nothingness and today there were nine envelopes waiting for me at the reception desk.  I’d only received one postcard in the interim (one picturing the Bohemian town of Joachimsthal).  But no matter, at least the mail does arrive slowly but surely and it’s nice to have such treasures awaiting me when I return from a 13-hour day at work.

New stamp arrivals -- 11 June 2015

Bech001As I’m currently making small purchases – single stamps and sets to fill a few gaps and build new topical interests – the nine envelopes received today contained a total of 27 stamp items from eight different countries.  Only two of the stamp-issuing entities are “new” to my A Stamp From Everywhere collection – British Bechuanaland and Bechuanaland Protectorate (the northern section of the the Bechuanaland region in southern Africa).

A glance at the scans above will reveal a few of the themes I’m  working on – Places I’ve Lived and The Story of My Family (my father was a missile instructor at Fort Bliss) are the less obvious. 

Picture side of Swedish stamped postcard, 1977I’ve started to collect stamps picturing Charles Lindbergh because my life-long interest in his historic first flight across the Atlantic was rekindled last year by reading Bill Bryson’s excellent One Summer: America, 1927.  The first day cover for the United States’ 1977 issue marking the 50th anniversary of his flight was the first I received through the Postal Commemorative Society.  I vividly remember buying a few of the stamps shortly after their release, pasting one inside the front cover of my paperback copy of The Spirit Of St. Louis and getting it postmarked at the Hendersonville, Tennessee, post office near our home at the time.  The Wright Brothers stamps were similarly inspired by reading a book – David McCullough’s recently published biography.

Ajman23The Ajman airmail stamps (Scott #C1-9) were purchased as they are actually listed in the catalogue whereas a set of (rather ugly) international military uniforms that I received in a packet a couple of years ago is not listed.  However, I’m rather disappointed in the torn lower left corner of the 15-naye paise value.  I’ll probably use the 35np camel as the Ajman representative stamp on the ASFEW album page.

Lastly, I want to mention that I absolutely love the design of the two stamps from Gibraltar (Scott #932-933) received today.  The tiny colony always seems to produce some of the nicest-looking stamps around.  I look forward to obtaining more (these are only the second and third that I own from “The Rock”).

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The French Lindbergh stamp from 1977 (Scott #C49) is also strikingly beautiful…

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Happy Collecting!

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I’d started to worry as I hadn’t received much in the way of mail for the past two weeks or so.  I’d been waiting on numerous stamps won in eBay auctions, several for longer than the average three weeks.  I felt that I’d receive something on the day following Monday’s Vesak Buja holiday but there was nothing…

Austria062When I returned home this evening, one of the young women who work at the front desk of my guesthouse came rushing up to me:  “Mr. Mark, you have mail!”  She then gave me a stack of fourteen envelopes from seven different countries, almost all fairly festooned with colorful stamps.  I often wonder what the staff things about the amount of mail I receive and the decorations thereon.

Yes, it was a really good mail day.  Recently, I’ve been purchasing individual stamps needed for one or another of my various topical collections and to add to my A Stamp From Everywhere collection.  Today’s mail brought a total of 137 stamps from 110 different countries; most of these were in one packet sold as “100 different stamps from 100 different countries” which turned out to be an excellent mix.  I was able to add 39 “new” countries to the ASFEW list:

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Bahrain
  • Belgian Congo
  • Cameroun
  • Colombia
  • Dubai
  • Faroe Islands
  • German Offices in China
  • German Offices in Morocco
  • Gibraltar
  • Gilbert & Ellice Islands
  • Gold Coast
  • Grenada-Grenadines
  • Macedonia
  • Malagasy Republic
  • Malaya
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands Indies
  • Niger
  • Niue
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Rhodesia & Nyasaland
  • Rwanda
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Spanish Sahara
  • St. Vincent
  • Suriname
  • Switzerland
  • Tripolitania
  • Uganda
  • United Nations-New York
  • Upper Volta
  • Venezuela
  • Yugoslavia (Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia)

This brings me the total of stamp-issuing entities in the ASFEW collection to 229.  I really need to get cracking on the album pages; I’ve only created pages for eight countries thus far.

Madonna-of-Bruges001aThere were also three postcards amongst all of this mail, which I’d purchased on eBay – two showing buildings in Nashville, Tennessee (The Hermitage and The Parthenon reproduction) to add to a planned “My Life In Stamps and Cards”-themed collection, the other portraying the famous Madonna of Bruges statue inspired from my viewing of the movie The Monuments Men and subsequent reading of the book.  I’ll blog about those on “Please, Mr. Postman!” sometime in the near future.

20150603-000aI try my best to “process” new stamps as soon as I can after they arrive.  This entails marking them as “received” in a spreadsheet where I track my eBay activities and then scanning the stamps.  I then need to straighten and crop the images before finally entering them into my inventory program of choice (StampManage 2015) and then putting them in stock books until the time I can add them to proper stamp album pages.  Scanning is the most time-consuming part of the process as I scan each one individually at 1200 dpi.  I’ll write-up the entire routine in much greater detail someday soon, along with a review of StampManage, for this blog. 

 

I wish all days were as good mail days as this one was…

Happy Collecting!