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:
With just five days remaining until the start of the Twenties, I find myself inundated with non-philatelic pursuits. I live in a country that is over 90 percent Buddhist with most of the remaining population being Muslim or Hindu. Christians make up an extremely small portion of the residents. And yet, Christmas is extremely popular. While the majority of schools throughout the Kingdom remain open on Christmas Day, most of these host parties where all students and teachers are decked-out in red felt shirts, skirts and/or hats and sing very bad renditions of “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. Of course, Santa Claus (and his sexy sidekick, Santy) must make an appearance to lead the throngs of children in games until the unrelenting tropical sun.
With the corornation of His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn (วชิราลงกรณ) — reigning title Phrabat Somdet Phra Vajira Klao Chao Yu Hua (พระบาทสมเด็จพระวชิรเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว) or King Rama X — on May 4, 2019, the Kingdom of Thailand also gained a new queen, Her Majesty Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana ( สุทิดา พัชรสุธาพิมลลักษณ). She was born Suthida Tidjai (สุทิดา ติดใจ) on June 3, 1978, in Hat Yai, Songkla, Thailand.
A Thai of Chinese origin, she graduated from Hatyaiwittayalai Somboonkulkanya Middle School and Assumption University with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts in 2000. Suthida was formerly a flight attendant for Jalways Airlines — which is now part of Japan Airlines — from 2000 to 2003 and later Thai Airways in 2003 till 2008.
Suthida was appointed commander of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s household guard in August 2014. Suthida was linked romantically to the crown prince following his divorce from Srirasmi Suwadee. In October 2016, international media reports labeled her as the designated king’s “consort”, despite the palace never officially declaring their relationship. Her name is consistent with naming conventions for wives of Thai princes. On December 1, 2016, she was appointed Commander of the Special Operations Unit of the King’s Guard and promoted to the rank of general. She reached her present rank after only six years of service.
On June 1, 2017, Suthida was appointed as acting commander of Royal Thai Aide-de-camp Department following the reorganization of the Royal Security Command. On October 13, 2017, she was named a Dame Grand Cross (First Class) of The Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao, which bestows the title Than Phu Ying (ท่านผู้หญิง). She is the first female officer to receive this honor since 2004 and the first in the reign of King Rama X. From that date until her marriage with the king, her full title and name was Than Phu Ying Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya (ท่านผู้หญิงสุทิดา วชิราลงกรณ์ ณ อยุธยา).
On May 1, 2019, King Vajiralongkorn married Suthida who became the his queen consort, three days before the coronation took place in Bangkok on May 4-6. The marriage registration took place at the Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall in Bangkok, with her sister-in-law Princess Sirindhorn and President of Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda as witnesses. Between May 1 and 4, her she was known as Somdet Phra Rajini Suthida (สมเด็จพระราชินีสุทิดา). Upon her husband’s coronation, Queen Suthida became Somdet Phra Nang Chao Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana Phra Borommarajini (สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสุทิดา พัชรสุธาพิมลลักษณ พระบรมราชินี).
In Thai, Queen’s Suthida’s Birthday is วันเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษาสมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสุทิดา พัชรสุธาพิมลลักษณ พระบรมราชินี or Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phra Nang Chao Suthida Phatcharasutha Phimon Lak Phra Borommarachini and was designated as a new national holiday late last month. Government offices and schools are closed (although my language school remains open today) and I observed a few new royal portraits alongside the roadways in Phuket this morning along with purple and yellow bunting and several new royal portraits at major intersections. Her Royal Biography was released yesterday and the slideshow above contains the English version as well as several photos from the royal wedding and coronation.
Thailand Post has yet to release a stamp portraying our new queen. I suspect that the first will be released one year from today to mark her 42nd birthday in 2020. In the meantime, I created five designs for my own local post, that of Republica Phuketia. There are four vertically-oriented rectangular designs, each denominated 25 farang (a sub-unit of eth). A 50-farang square stamp completes the set. These are the first Republica Phuketia stamps to be released in 2019 and have the MPLP (Muang Phuket Local Post) catalogue numbers of Ph51-55.
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.
It was a busy week for me so I couldn’t devote as much time to philatelic pursuits I would have liked. I did maintain my daily posts to A Stamp A Day (and topped 100,000 words for this month with Saturday’s blog) ans have been working on my new issues spreadsheet mentioned in last week’s “Phila-Bytes”. I had planned to compile the latter into a series (first monthly, then bi-weekly) of articles listing and illustrating all of the new releases I could find from around the world. I got a late start on it, not anticipating how much time it would actually involve. My revised plan is to publish it as a page which will be a work-in-progress added to and updated throughout the year. I hope to have the January portion finished within the next week or so (I have information and images of more than 150 separate stamp issues for this month alone).
The biggest stamp-related news this week was yesterday’s United States Postal Service announcement of a few additional upcoming stamp issues. There is still no word on the Apollo 11 anniversary but the Transcontinental Railroad is indeed being commemorated with three stamps, two illustrating the locomotives Jupiter and No. 119 with the third showing the Golden Spike driven when the trains met at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869. A set of four stamps will mark “Military Working Dogs”, a very worthy subject. Abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly has ten of his paintings appearing in a pane of twenty stamps while tennis champion Maureen Connolly Brinker, also known as “Little Mo” — gets a stamp of her own. Finally, the “Star Ribbon” stamp will be issued in coil rolls of 10,000 and panes of 20. According to the USPS press release:
“The artwork features a digital illustration of a star made of red, white and blue ribbon. The white space in the middle of the ribbon creates a second smaller star. The tri-colored ribbon, folded into a patriotic symbol, is intended to evoke the connectedness of the American people.”
Release dates have yet to be announced for any of these stamps.
I didn’t see any advanced notice for the latest set released by the Netherlands other than a press release on the date of issue, January 24. This is a miniature sheet containing two stamps with slightly different designs commemorating “220 Years of Postal Service.” On the same day, Canada Post announced a stamp to honor Albert Jackson, thought to have been Canada’s first black letter carrier. This was issued on January 25 in booklets of ten.
I am not an error collector but it’s always interesting when a new one is reported in the new, particularly on modern issues that are still available from post offices. Last week, Linn’s Stamp Newsan article ran detailing the discovery of multiple imperforate panes of the John Lennon stamps released by the United States last October (Scott #5312-5315). These are missing the die-cuts used to separate self-adhesives stamps from each other. Thus far, more than twenty sheets with this error have been found in Iowa, Florida, and New York. It is likely there are more to be found.
The Local Post Collectors Society commemorates “World Local Post Day” on the last Monday of January with the organization’s members “releasing” their own stamps marking a common topic. I created stamps for two of these — the World War I centennial in 2014 and the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black in 2015. Both of these were under the moniker of Muang Phuket Local Post (which became Republica Phuketia this past year). Members of the society chose the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing for the 2019 World Local Post Day theme with stamps being “issued” on January 28. Philosateleian Post‘s design carried an image of Neil Armstrong’s boot in the lunar surface. You can receive a mint single of Philosateleian Post’s First Moon Landing stamp or first day cover by sending either USD $2.00 or a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request to:
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America
My two favorite new issues of this week are a set of six released by the Isle of Man on January 29 depicting Manx buses and a souvenir sheet containing a single stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the Polish banknote. A promotional image even points out all the various security features of the release by Poland.
This Friday (February 1) is a particularly heavy day with new stamps scheduled to be released by entities as diverse as Åland, Belarus, Japan, Spain, and the New York office of the United Nations. Next Tuesday (February 5) will also see a number of new issues from Estonia, Jersey, Malawi, and New Zealand. That day is also the start of Chinese New Year so I may be more involved in that than blogging. Time will tell….
I didn’t receive any stamps in the mail this week so all that remains is to list my articles published on A Stamp A Day since the last edition of “Weekly Phila-Bytes”:
I still have not decided on a topic for today’s ASAD entry as January 30 is filled with anniversaries of such things as the beheading of King Charles I of England in 1649, the execution of Oliver Cromwell in 1661, the legendary Akō incident during which forty-seven rōnin (leaderless samurai) avenged the death of their master in 1703, the first assassination attempt against a United States President (Andrew Jackson) in 1835, and the successful assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. I do not feel like writing about death this evening. It is also the birth anniversary of German flutist, flute maker and Baroque music composer Johann Joachim Quantz which interests me because of his middle name but I don’t have any stamps picturing him (at least one has been issued by Germany). Thus, it will be a “random stamp day” which means I will search through folders of stamps scanned from my collection until one catches my eye. In these instances, I try to choose something easy (such as an animal or a scenic place) that won’t involve too much research or assembly time. This will be only the second “random stamp day” this month (this year, for that matter); I usually average about 10-12 per month.
Before getting started on that (article #947), it’s time for a trip to the local outdoor market for dinner.
It gives me great pleasure to announce the issuance of the first souvenir sheet to be released by Republica Phuketia. The sheet contains a block of four se-tenant 50-farang stamps which together form a outline map of Phuket Island which lies in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of southern Thailand. The Republica Phuketia seal is featured at the center of the stamp design so only a portion of it appears on each stamp. The stamps are also the first to be inscribed with the full name of the local post-operating micronation, REPUBLICA PHUKETIA. The background design of the souvenir sheet is a photograph taken by myself on October 13, 2008, at Kata Yai Beach on the west coast of Phuket Island. It portrays a rain squall approaching the beach; a long-tail boat in visible in the center background. The sheets were printed by Yoursetamps in Berlin, Germany, using high-resolution laser printing technology, comb perforated 13½ x 13.
Before I give details about the latest Phuketia local post stamp release, I am pleased to announce that the Republica Phuketia government is no longer “in-exile”. After nearly a month in the wilds of Phang Nga Province, I was allowed to return to the much more civilized (we have a mall!) and familiar surroundings of Phuket. As a result, there are no provisional postal markings noting the temporary location — meaning that I never had a chance to get to the post office while in Phang Nga. Thus, the Phuketian definitive set was not released until November 30 when the first day covers were delivered to the post office in Phuket (and have yet to complete the vast 2-kilometer distance back to Posta Phuketia headquarters).
With the definitive first day covers still in transit, another set is prepared and ready for the December 12, 2018, release of three commemorates marking the 200th anniversary of Thai-U.S. Friendship. Observant readers will notice that this is a change from the previously-announced date of December 10. This is due to the fact that the Thailand Post facilities will remain closed on that date (tomorrow) for the Constitution Day holiday. Yes, the kingdom still observes this as a government and banking holiday although they still haven’t adopted a new Constitution since the latest military coup back in May 2014. However, they did announce this week (as they do every year) that elections to vote on a new Constitution will be held in the near future (February 2019, according to the latest announcement). I suspect that, as they do every year, they will find some excuse to again delay these elections.
Since November 5 and continuing until early March 2019, the Republica Phuketia government (that’s me) has been in exile, residing in the neighboring province’s Thai Chang subdistrict of Amphoe Muang Phang Nga. Of course, that includes Posta Phuketia which will become a cross-provincial service with the release this weekend of ten definitive stamps, rather than merely a local post. We may have to annex a small piece of territory (namely the Foreign Teachers’ Room at Ban Thai Chang Municipality School) and initiate overprints to denote the longer reach.
However, I still must return to Phuket (a two-hour drive from Phang Nag) each Friday in order to teach a two-hour class on Saturday mornings and, thus, the first Phuketian definitives will be released today, November 24, at Posta Phuketia Headquarters. These consist of ten denominations:
Long-time readers of this blog and Asian Meanderings may recall that, from time to time, I have dabbled with creating “fantasy stamps” for my own local post. The Muang Phuket Local Post had its first releases in October 2013 and had a total of 26 designs through early August 2015. The stamps were printed on sticker paper (imperforate!) and affixed to the lower left of any correspondence I sent. I mailed first day covers to myself from a postbox near my work and these usually took between ten and 14 days to travel the two miles or so to my home (I think most of them went via Bangkok, 525 miles away!).