I have paid attention to postmarks for much of my philatelic life.  I probably noticed them on the used stamps in my first album (I received my mother’s childhood album as a gift on probably my 10th birthday).  I still remember the first time I received a first day cover in the mail —  it was Scott #1710 from the United States, a 13-cent stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight and the first of many through what was to be a long subscription to the Postal Commemorative Society.  I don’t recall which was the first non-U.S. first day cover I ever saw but do remember it was from Great Britain and was amazed at the elaborate postmark having become accustomed to the standard American “FIRST DAY OF ISSUE” cancellations.

Continue reading “Announcing ‘Postmarks 2020’”

While the week before was largely celebratory with a three-day local festival plus Valentine’s Day, this past week has been all about work as we prepare for the rapidly approaching end of the school year. While I am a classroom teacher (high school level in the Intensive English Programme this term), I am first and foremost an administrator. This means that in addition to preparing the students for their final exams and assessing them in a number of different categories, I also am in the middle of organizing various activities such as multiple-day English camps, school Open Houses, student entrance interviews for the next school year which begins in early May, and making sure that our current teachers are up-to-date with their own assessments. Since a number of them will return to their home countries soon after the school year ends, new teacher recruitment and interviews are in the near future. Add in the retirement of our head teacher and the impending relocation of my agency’s offices from the basement of a shopping mall into a compound of heritage buildings in the Old Town district will leave very little time for stamps in the immediate future.

People's Republic of China - Scott #2548a (1994) Ancient Pagodas souvenir sheet; ASAD article #970 today details the Iron Pagoda on the 2-yuan stamp from this set.
People’s Republic of China – Scott #2548a (1994) Ancient Pagodas souvenir sheet; ASAD article #970 today details the Iron Pagoda on the 2-yuan stamp from this set.

Yet, somehow I will find the time to relax with various philatelic pursuits. With today’s article on A Stamp A Day, I am now 30 posts shy of 1,000. I have long planned to take a hiatus from that blog once I hit one thousand articles. I have not missed a single day since July 1, 2016, and preparing for each one does take a significant amount of time each day. While taking a break from ASAD, I will attempt to get caught up on my New Issues pages (falling further and further behind right now) as well as such set-aside endeavors as cataloguing, creating album pages (both virtual and physical), and perhaps a bit of soaking and sorting as well.

Another detriment to stamp activities recently has been the current heat wave we are experiencing here in southern Thailand. It has been hotter than I have experienced in nearly 15 years of living in the tropics. I am seriously thinking of moving to a (much more expensive) location so that I can have in-home air-conditioning. I haven’t been able to sleep well due to the heat and even sitting at the computer for any length of time one becomes coated in sweat. It is not comfortable at all. Rather than sitting and writing, I find that I am positioning my laptop between my floor fan and ceiling fan and laying down to read.

A few of the many stamps, sheets, etc. to be released by Great Britain on March 14 picturing Marvel Comics.
A few of the many stamps, sheets, etc. to be released by Great Britain on March 14 picturing Marvel Comics.

There didn’t seem to be much in the way of stamp news over the past week. I think the most significant “event” was Royal Mail’s surprise announcement of a huge set (including expensive prestige books, sheetlets galore and more) depicting Marvel Comics characters. I have yet to find a single stamp blog that has mentioned these stamps in a positive manner. The British issue (due March 14) just looks like a complete money-grab to me; a block of four probably would have been sufficient for the subject matter. I never really cared for comic books growing up and have tired of seeing such designs grace a nation’s stamps. These stamps hold zero interest for me although I did learn the names of a few characters I’d never heard of before (Captain Britain?).

Much more to my liking is a single stamp released by Spain this week commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III. The Correos website has a nice write-up in English for a change.

Spain - 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III (issued February 20, 2019)
Spain – 250th Anniversary of the creation of the Royal Ordinances of Charles III (issued February 20, 2019)

The only thing remotely philatelic I received in the mail this week was my first Postcrossing postcard of 2019. It came from the Netherlands and the stamp didn’t get postmarked. Hopefully, the next one will be a bit more interesting.

Articles published on A Stamp A Day over since the last update were:

  1.  February 15, 2019:  “Canada’s Maple Leaf Flag” (Canada — Scott #2808, 2015) 4,260 words
  2.  February 16, 2019:  “Day of the Shining Star / 광명성절” (North Korea — Scott #1906, 1980) 2,656 words
  3.  February 17, 2019:  “Castle Doria in Dolceacqua” (Italy — Michel #3978, 2017) 1,222 words
  4.  February 18, 2019:  “Huckleberry Finn” (Germany — Scott #B889, 2001) 3,022 words
  5.  February 19, 2019:  “Nicoalus Copernicus” (United States — Scott #1488, 1973) 3,022 words
  6.  February 20, 2019:  “John Glenn and his Orbital Flight aboard Friendship 7” (United States — Scott #1193, 1962) 11,757 words
  7.  February 21, 2019:  “International Mother Language Day” (Bangladesh — Scott #647, 2002) 1,857 words
  8.  February 22, 2019:  “The Iron Pagoda of Kaifeng” (China — Scott #2548, 1994) 1,709 words

Thus, we come to the end of this week’s “Phila-Bytes”. I am contemplating a name-change to something like “The Week in Stamps” or “My Philatelic Week”. Hopefully, I can find the time to brainstorm….

One of the best things about this wonderful hobby of philately is that I am constantly learning new things — not only about the stamps themselves but about the subjects portrayed upon them, the entities that issued them, and so on. In the course of my daily research for A Stamp A Day, I come across a great number of previously unknown (to me) webpages and blogs, some philatelic in nature, many about history or culture. It can indeed be a bit frustrating as I simply do not have enough time to read everything that I stumble across.

Take blogs, for example.  Just in the past two weeks, I have found (and subscribed) to the following: Barbados Stamps, Executed Today, EWorld Stamps: Worldwide Stamp Collection, My Native Belarus, My Philatelic Passion, and Stamps of Armenia. All are worthy of further perusal. I hope I can find the time someday soon.

One great resource of information on older stamp issues are auction catalogues and I really appreciate firms that archive .pdf versions of their previous catalogues on their website. One such auction house is that of Robert A. Siegel whose catalogue often include introductory essays on the stamps included in a particular auction. Auctions for the 1893 Columbians and Hawaii Missionaries immediately spring to mind. While looking around the site recently, I came across a number of shorter (one- to four-page) summaries of numerous U.S. issues including an excellent timeline of the American postal system from 1632-1792.

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One thing that really fascinates me is the beginnings and evolution of stamp collecting itself. While I have never seen a comprehensive work on the subject, I have come across bits and pieces in the philatelic literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and brief mentions on various websites. I just found a nice site with articles on early collecting in the United States. It’s called Stamping American Memory: Collectors, Citizens, Commemoratives, and the Post — and is a scholarly study of philately in the U.S. I’m looking forward to reading all of the pages.

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A recent article in Linn’s Stamp News reminded me of the Philatelic Truck that traveled around the United States between May 1939 and December 1941, promoting stamp collecting to the youth of America. Because I was never really interested in poster stamps, Cinderella stamps, or local post stamps during much of my philatelic life, I never obtained a copy of the souvenir sheet printed by the Bureau of Engraving & Printing given to visitors to the truck. My collecting interests have, of course, changed over the years and now I am very interested in buying one of these (and will be placing a bid on eBay shortly). It was in my quest to find out more that I came across the Stamping America’s Memory site mentioned above. There is also a book about the truck, the tour and the sheet written by John H. Bruns, a former director of the National Postal Museum, that I’d also like to track down.

Farley and philatelic truck at White House. Washington, D.C., May 9. The Post Office's new philatelic stamp truck which began a tour of the United States today following ceremonies at the White House was given a final inspection by the Post Master General James A. Farely before it started out from the White House. The truck, containing stamp frames of all U.S. stamp issues, a miniature stamp press and souvenir engravings showing the White House, will visit cities and towns in every state of the Union.

There are a number of significant anniversaries coming up in the next few months, including the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. No doubt these will be commemorated philatelicly (but I have yet to see any announcements). Much sooner than those, actually released today (September 9) for the nation’s Stamp Day, is a four-stamp mini-sheet marking the 25th anniversary of Croatian independence which will occur on October 8. One million of the 11 kuna stamp have been printed, bearing a hologram using a special technique to produce a “real 3D” effect — supposedly the first stamps to bear such an image.

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Another recent issue commemorating an anniversary is that of Poland marking the 75th anniversary of the first airdrop by the Cichociemni, elite special-operations paratroops of the Polish Army in exile that were created in Great Britain during World War II to operate in occupied Poland. Designed by Ewa Szydłowsk, the 3.70 złoty stamps were released on September 1 in sheets of 35.

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Much closer to home is a set of three stamps and a mini-sheet to be released by Malaysia on October 21, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Penang Free School. I have fond memories of strolling the campus of PFS while on several visits to George Town several years ago. While I did absolutely nothing philatelic (not even the purchase of a postcard) during these trips, I will definitely purchase this set and accompanying first day covers.

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It’s not often that Royal Mail disappoints me with a stamp design for a subject that I’m interested in, but what’s with the graphic novel approach on the recent Great Fire of London set? The really ugly set of four was released on September 2 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the fire.

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As a teacher, I avidly collect stamps portraying aspects of my profession particularly those picturing students and/or teachers. I am thrilled with the release earlier this week (September 6) of a set of four plus mini-sheet by Hong Kong Post titled “A Tribute to Teachers.” This is just in time for the annual celebration of Teacher’s Day (September 10) in the Chinese Special Administrative Region. The stamps depict chalkboard drawings, something I used to create on an almost daily basis (most Thai classrooms are now equipped with whiteboards which don’t provide quite the same effect). There is a nice range of products (postcards, maximum cards, presentation pack, regular and color cancellations, etc.) available for this issue.

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Finally, one of my favorite stamp blogs — Big Blue 1840-1940, which covers the classic period of stamp issues as collected in the Scott International Part 1 albums or on Steiner album pages — earlier this week contemplated the question “Which Stamp Album is Best for WW Collectors?.” Blogger Jim, by the way, is almost finished with his survey of the “T” countries with an article at the end of August about the Turks and Caicos Islands. He started the blog about five-and-a-half years ago.

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My first job in Thailand, starting back in April 2007, was as a reading teacher at a large bilingual school in the center of Phuket.  At the time, I was wholly unaware of the works of British children’s writer Roald Dahl aside from a viewing of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  One of the students in my first class – P3 Yellow — a then-young girl named Melanie, was a big fan.  Through her, I discovered the world populated by the likes of The BFG, The Witches, The Twits, and my personal favorite — Matilda.

I was drawn not only by the writing which used somw imaginative twistings of the English language while crafting really interesying stories, but also by the wobderful illustrations by Quentin Blake as seen on a set of stamps, sheets and booklets issued by Royal Mail on 10 January 2012.

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Today, I honor the memory and the works of Roald Dahl.