Around two-and-a-half years ago, I set out to collect A Stamp From Everywhere (ASFEW).  The first step in this endeavor was to set some criteria:  For the most part, I am collecting only those stamps listed in the Scott Catalogue.  These aren’t always actual “countries”; many towns and cities, provinces, states, colonies, and organizations have issued stamps over the past one hundred and seventy-six years.  Because of this, I usually refer to “stamp issuers” or “issuing entities” when writing about them.

A second criteria concerns my budget.  My occupation as a teacher doesn’t make me rich in any sense of the word and as an English teacher in Thailand, I earn significantly less than I would in a more developed country.  Thus, there are certain issuers which will sadly always remain out of my collection.  An example of these would be the various Postmasters’ Provisionals issued by the Confederate States (and most of those by the U.S.A. as well).

I still do not have a grand total of stamp issuers.  I’ve been working on a spreadsheet designed to help me but it is a slow process.  I decided the best way to tackle that project was to go page by page through my Scott Catalogue (6-volume 2009 edition) and list all the stamp issuing entities and their page numbers, along with a great deal of additional information.  Bear in mind that each volume of this edition numbers around 1,300 pages and is not strictly alphabetical (Åland Islands is found after Finland, for example) with some entities even appearing in two different locations based on political status (Azores appearing both in Volume 1 at the end of the A’s and in volume 5 following Portugal to cite one instance).  Fairly often, I run into the question of whether or not I should separate an entity from it’s mother listing at all.

As I’ve added stamps to the collection, I’ve departed from the original goal of adding a single stamp from each issuer.  It is much more satisfying to look at an album page containing a set, for example.  For certain entities, I’ve also delved into covers (FDC’s, flight covers or the occasional bit of postal history) and the odd bit of unlisted postal stationery (I tend to go for the postal cards rather than envelopes).

I am (slowly) creating self-designed album pages for each entity which includes a map, flag(s) used, and a brief overview of their political and/or postal history.  While it all seems like a lot of work, it is probably the most satisfying of all of my collections that I’ve created over the past forty-plus years. 

While I didn’t set out to collect alphabetically, I’ve found that is the easiest way to search on eBay as well as giving me a greater sense of accomplishment as I near the completion of a letter of the alphabet.

While there may be a few more “A’s” in volumes 5 and 6 of the Scott Catalogue, I am confident that I can call the letter almost complete (minus nine Confederate Postmasters who issued provisionals from places such as Anderson Court House, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia).

The following are the “A” stamp issuers, as I have sorted them in my collection, illustrated by a single stamp from each and listing the year range they issued stamps and the number of stamps I currently have from each (minus duplicates and unlisted stamps). 

*I will probably end up re-sorting the Aden Protectorate States in the K’s and Q’s to be consistent with how I’m organizing other states and territories.

Abu Dhabi [1964-1972]: 9 stamps owned
Abu Dhabi - 1 - 1964

 

 

 

 

Aden Colony [1937-1965]: 40 stamps owned
Aden - 23A - 1939

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Kathiri State of Seiyun [1942-1964]: 6 stamps owned*
Aden - Kathiri State of Seiyun - 1 - 1942

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Qu’aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla [1942-1955]: 2 stamps owned*
Aden - Hadhramaut - 31 - 1955

 

 

 

 

 

Aden Protectorate: Qu’aiti State in Hadhamaut [1955-1963]: 4 stamps owned*
Aden - Hadhramaut - 30 - 1955

 

 

 

 

 

Aegean Islands (Dodecanese) [1912-1945]: 1 stamp owned
Scan_20160520 (7)

 

 

 

 

Afars and Issas [1967-1977]: 4 stamps owned
Afars And Issas - 321 - 1968

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan [1871-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Afghanistan - 689 - 1964

 

 

 

 

La Aguera [1920-1924]: 2 stamps owned
Aguera, La - 14 - 1922

 

 

 

 

Aitutaki [1903-1932, 1972-Present]: 9 stamps owned
Aitutaki - 33 - 1920

 

 

 

 

Ajman [1964-1972]: 9 stamps owned
Ajman - C9 - 1965

 

 

 

 

Åland Islands [1984-Present]: 14 stamps owned
Åland Islands - 72a - 1993

 

 

 

 

 

Alaouites [1925-1930]: 1 stamp owned
Alaouites - C17 - 1929

 

 

 

Albania [1913-Present]: 2 stamps owned
Albania - 232 - 1928

 

 

 

 

Alderney [1983-Present]: 5 stamps owned
Alderney - 37 - 1989

 

 

 

 

Alexandretta [1938]: 2 stamps owned
Alexandretta - J1 - 1938

 

 

 

 

Alexandria (French Post Office in Egypt) [1899-1931]: 1 stamp owned
Alexandria - 27 - 1902

 

 

 

 

Algeria [1924-1958, 1962-Present]: 83 stamps owned
Algeria - 1 - 1924 (1)

 

 

 

 

Alsace (German Occupation) [1940]: 2 stamps owned
Alsace - N29 - 1940

 

 

 

 

Alsace and Lorraine (German Occupation) [1870-1872, 1916]: 2 stamps owned
Alsace And Lorraine - N4 - 1870

 

 

 

 

Alwar [1877-1902]: 7 stamps owned
Scan_20160331 (7)

 

 

 

 

Andorra (French Administration) [1931-Present]: 6 stamps owned
Andorra, French - 23 - 1932

 

 

 

 

Andorra (Spanish Administration) [1928-Present]: 4 stamps owned
Andorra, Spanish - 102a - 1978

 

 

 

 

 

Angola [1870-Present]: 19 stamps owned
Angola - 119 - 1914

 

 

 

 

Angra [1892-1906]: 6 stamps owned
Angra - 2 - 1892

 

 

 

 

Anguilla [1967-Present]: 1 souvenir sheet owned
Anguilla - 366a - 1979 (rs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anjouan [1892-1914]: 1 stamp owned
Anjouan - 4 - 1892

 

 

 

 

Annam and Tonkin [1888-1892]: 1 stamp owned
Annam and Tonkin - 1 - 1888

 

 

 

 

Antigua [1862-1981]: 2 stamps owned
Antigua - 84 - 1938

 

 

 

 

 

Antigua and Barbuda [1981-Present]: 9 stamps owned
Antigua & Barbuda - 746 - 1984

 

 

 

 

Antioquia [1868-1904]: 6 stamps owned
Antioquia - 123 - 1899

 

 

 

 

Arad (French Occupation in Hungary) [1919]: 1 stamp owned
Scan_20160331

 

 

 

 

Argentina [1858-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Argentina - 551 - 1946

 

 

 

 

 

Armenia [1919-1923, 1992-Date]: 6 stamps owned
Armenia - 300 - 1922

 

 

 

 

 

Army of the North (Russian Civil War) [1919]: 5 stamps owned
Scan_20160520 (4)

 

 

 

 Army of the Northwest (Russian Civil War) [1919]: 1 stamp owned
Scan_20160520 (8)

 

 

 

 Aruba [1986-Present]: 3 stamps owned
Aruba - 266 - 2005

 

 

 

 

 

Ascension [1922-Present]: 4 stamps owned
Ascension - 46 - 1944

 

 

 

 

Australia [1902-Present]: 172 stamps owned
Australia - 1199 - 1991 (1)

 

 

 

 

Australian Antarctic Territory [1957-Present]: 5 stamps owned
AAT - L75 - 1986

 

 

 

 

 

Austria [1850-Present]: 75 stamps owned
Austria - 5 - 1850

 

 

 

 

Austrian Offices in Crete [1903-1914]: 6 stamps owned
Scan_20160601 (3)

 

 

 

 

Austrian Offices in the Turkish Empire [1867-1914]: 6 stamps owned
Austria-Turkish Empire - 7F - 1876

 

 

 

 

Azerbaijan [1919-1924, 1992-Present]: 1 stamp owned
Scan_20160331 (2)

 

 

 

 

Azores [1868-1931, 1980-Present]: 1 souvenir sheet owned
Scan_20160331 (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the “A’s” portion in what I am now calling my “Stamps From (Almost) Everywhere” collection currently has some 552 stamps amongst 45 stamp-issuing entities.  The B’s appear to be about halfway completed as are the C’s and I suppose there is probably one more entity to go in the Q’s.  There are other letters in the alphabet that are nearing completion as well….

SAM_7204

Wrapping up the school term – just a week-and-a-half left – while Phuket is being battered by Typhoon Vamco has put most of my philatelic pursuits into a hopefully brief holding pattern.  The mail is unable to be delivered most days due to the heavy rains and high winds but I received a nice-sized stack mid-week.  All, aside from a postcard from China, contained stamp orders with my recently started collection of Mauritius gaining the most benefit with nearly 60 stamps from that island nation (including several dubious bonuses).  I was able to add four new countries (five if you count two different periods of German occupation), a couple topical first day covers, a few postal stationery items, and several classics from the nation of my birth.  Unfortunately, the end of the week brought my first-ever damaged stamps due to careless packaging.

Mauritius - 8 - 1858

The Mauritius stamps came from two small lots with a nice range dating from 1858 through 1946, including the unissued Scott #8.  While several have faults, they will look nice on the pages I recently printed.  While I have yet to find a decent binder (losing several eBay auctions for reasonably-priced Stanley Gibbons springback albums and winning one that never arrived), I recently found a good-quality heavy-weight paper in the local stationery shop.  Several months ago, I purchased a DVD-R containing over 24,000 album pages of a very pleasing, semi-classical design which I like better than the famous Steiner pages.  I’ve been printing some as-is and modifying others.  My Mauritius pages fall into the former category…

Mauritius p1

This sample of page one, obviously, features color images of the stamps none of which I could ever hope to obtain.  But wait a minute!  Didn’t that dealer send something that I could put into a few of those spaces?  I’ve never had a stamp seller send a “bonus” such as this and I’m a bit reluctant to mount them into an album of mine.  What do you think?

Mauritius fakes

They aren’t even very good fakes but there you have it – an eBay seller sent me examples of the 1d and 2d Post Office Mauritius (Scott #1 and 2) plus the successive Post Paid of the same values (Scott #3 and 4) completely free.  They don’t even have the “Copy” notification on the gum-side of the counterfeits.  At any rate, I don’t even think they would look all that great on the album page…

A bit higher status than counterfeit stamps but somewhat less than originally-issued emissions are reprints, especially those officially sanctioned.  Take the case of these Heligoland stamps that I received this week, a “new” entry in my A Stamp From Everywhere collection. 

Scan_20150903 (5)

Scan_20150903 (10a)The one on the left just doesn’t look right but I would have to say that all three are probably reprints as mentioned in the Scott Catalogue, despite my paying a somewhat higher price than $1-2.  But they could be Scott #7 and 10, issued in 1873.

My second “new” stamp issuer this week is Alexandria, listed in volume 2 of the 2009 Scott catalogue under French Offices.  France maintained a post office in the famous Egyptian city which issued stamps from 1899 until 1928.  The one pictured below is Scott #27, the 50 centime bister brown with lavender center, issued in 1902.

Scan_20150908 (7)

I received two postal cards from Angra in the Azores which are unlisted in Scott but the pre-printed stamps are the same King Carlos designs as the 25 reis green and 50 reis blue (Scott #5 and 7) issued in 1892.  What intrigued me was the design of the postal cards – something I’d never seen before:  they are folded in half with the outer rims gummed and perforated to provide some privacy, much like later aerogrammes.

Scan_20150908 (9)

Scan_20150908 (8)

Yet another “new” country received this week were two sets (ships and aviation) from Antigua & Barbuda which I’m counting as separate from those stamps bearing the name of just “Antigua” and those bearing just “Barbuda.”

Scan_20150908 (11)vtop

The stamps of Alsace and Lorraine (1870 and 1916) as well as Alsace (1940, plus the now separate Lorraine issues) follow the listings of France in volume 2 of the 2009 Scott catalogue as these are “Occupation Stamps” and given the “N” prefix to their catalogue numbers.  Germany was the occupying force in each instance. German Empire stamps replacing those of Alsace and Lorraine from 1 January 1872 until the World War I surcharges which were also used in parts of Belgium occupied by the German forces. 

The 1870 series from Alsace and Lorraine are some of the dullest classical period general issue stamps that I have yet to come across.  I have Scott #N1 – the 1 centime bronze green – and Scott #N4 – 5 centime yellow green – on piece, the latter of which bears a nice CDS.

Scan_20150915 (14)

Scan_20150915 (15)

The two stamps I received from the 1940 occupation of Alsace are overprinted German stamps from the 1933-36 series featuring  Paul von Hindenburg, the second president of Germany.  These are Scott #N29 – 5 pfennig bright green – and Scott #N31 – 8 pfennig vermilion.

Scan_20150915 (17)

In the mail were two first day covers – one featuring the infamous Pluto “Not Yet Explored” stamp that was carried aboard the spacecraft which recently flew by the former tenth planet (autographed by the stamp’s designer and featuring a JPL Stamp Club cachet), the other honoring our “Stamp Collecting President” FDR.

Scan_20150904 (3)

Scan_20150908 (12)

I’ve long been enchanted by the United States’ first “official” commemorative stamp series – the 1893 Columbian Exposition issue – but hadn’t purchased many until recently.  The first to arrive were Scott #231 (2 cent brown violet – Used pair plus Mint “broken hat” variety), 233 (3 cent green Used), and 233 (4 cent ultramarine Mint), plus #U349 (stamped envelope 2c violet Unused entire).

Scan_20150915 (32)

Scan_20150915 (31)

Scan_20150918 (9)

Scan_20150915 (33)

Scan_20150908 (10)

I am starting to pick up a few other early U.S. stamps as well, filling in gaps with the less expensive stamps before working upwards a bit.  Here’s a nice pair of Scott #26, released in 1857, with New Orleans cancellation.

Scan_20150915 (30)

Rounding out this week’s batch of mail were a set from the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic issued in 1921 (Scott #278-294) and the first real mail-order disappointment I’ve had in nearly 40 years of collecting.  I’d been trying for a couple of months to successfully bid on a stamp or two from La Aguera and finally won an auction last month featuring Mint copies of Scott #14 (1 centimo turquoise blue) and #15 (2 centimo dark green), issued in June 1922.  They arrived just today from Spain but the seller had taped them up into a little pocket of glossy newspaper advertisement.  I had to take great care cutting the tape so as not to damage the stamps but when I finally got out of the taped enclosure, they were stuck together by their gum.  I slid my tongs between to see if they would separate easily and the top stamp came away with much of the bottom one still attached!  Partly my fault, partly the poor packaging.  Luckily, there are a couple of the same stamps (with slightly better centering) currently on eBay so I’ll have a second chance…

Scan_20150918 (10)

I certainly hope my next batch of mail brings a bit better luck and…

Happy Collecting!

SAM_6477

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!

ASFEWcover-PPMy primary collecting focus right now is attempting to obtain A Stamp From Everywhere (ASFEW).  The number of stamp-issuing entities depends on how they are separated out into territories, departments, offices, agencies, and the like. 

When I started this endeavor, I made a spreadsheet based on lists found on the Linn’s Stamp News and Stamp Atlas web sites.  This list had a total of 914 individual stamp-issuing entities.  Since then, I’ve come across an even more complete spreadsheet on the Stamp World History blog that lists more than 3000 stamp-issuers.  Another site I’ve seen claims more than 50,000 (!) but I think that includes many local posts and stamps issued by various schools, youth organizations and the like.

For the time being, I’m striving to complete my original list and my current total includes some 199 different entities.  I started this particular collection just a little over two years ago so I feel I’m doing fairly well.

All of this was inspired by reading a review of an album called The Single Specimen World Gazetteer Stamp Album made by Terra Nova Publishing of Pennsylvania.  This album includes some 600 entities with a space for one stamp from each place, along with a small map and brief synopsis of the stamp-issuer.  These elements all inspired me to start a similar collection, albeit without a “proper” album due to high shipping costs.

As I began going after countries via the worldwide mixed packet route (and, more recently, targeting specific entities), I stored the stamps in blank stock books – a temporary solution until I’d found an album.  After much deliberation on the matter, I recently decided to create my own album – designing pages that I could print as I added new countries and that would eventually be stored in a binder (or several).  The former has proved far easier than the latter!

I tried out a number of free and trial versions of dedicated album page-making software but quickly grew frustrated with the results.  It wasn’t until a month ago that I turned to the familiar Microsoft Word to see if I could create the pages I envisioned using that.  I was very pleased with the ease with which I could design using Word and soon had a nice template in a two-page-per- entity format with a pleasing semi-modern border design. 

[scribd id=267381657 key=key-bNKEyTOAn10RrOIlmXfn mode=scroll]

I knew I wanted the pages to include flags, maps and coats of arms for each country and it took me a while to balance these elements in an attractive way while still leaving room for the stamps and write-ups.  The left-hand page includes an information box including location, government, estimated population, etc. along with brief political and philatelic histories.  The right-hand page displays the stamp itself along with catalogue number and information, plus a brief write-up of the subject matter portrayed upon it.

It does take me about 90 minutes to create each page once I have the research notes for the write-ups.  Most of this time is taken up by trying to condense the information into an interesting and coherent account of the stamp-issuer’s history.  In the past month, I’ve made pages for seven countries so I am off to a fairly slow start.  When I do have time, it is yet another enjoyable aspect of the hobby for me.

One of the difficulties involved in collecting A Stamp From Everywhere is deciding exactly which stamp should represent the entity.  For many stamp-issuers, the only issues were overprinted stamps from whichever nation had sovereignty over it or they had fairly uniform designs of numerals or monarchs.  In such cases, I tend to go with the earliest released stamp that I can easily afford.  For those countries with a bit more longevity, I desire to show something of their local identity be it culture, clothing or symbols.  So much the better if these are engraved single- or bi-colored stamps as these have always been my favorites.  I try to avoid using issues such as British Commonwealth omnibuses which feature similar designs for all of their colonies.

P1080631Of course, there are many instances where I obtain full sets in order to get at that single representative stamp for a lower overall cost.  Or, I simply fall in love with certain stamp-issuing entities and end up with more than just the one stamp I’d strived for.  As a result I seem to be building something of a general worldwide collection alongside the A Stamp From Everywhere focus.  That is one reason why I’ve finally purchased a proper album after several years of temporary stock book storage.  This album, Scott Modern pages in a Stanley Gibbons binder, hasn’t yet arrived yet but it will bring me full-circle to my earliest collecting days as I’d received my mother’s old Scott Modern as a gift for my tenth birthday.  Little did anybody realize that I’d still be collecting some four decades later…

Happy Collecting.

Living as I do in southern Thailand, the only stamps I can buy locally are new issues from the local post office.  There is not a single stamp shop on the island where I live.  While there are still a few stamp shops remaining in Bangkok, along with at least one large show each year, neither my schedule or budget offer many opportunities for travel to the capital.  Thus, the vast majority of my my collection is built up through online purchases, primarily via eBay auctions.

This means that I am constantly having to take into consideration the shipping costs of whatever stamps I want to bid on.  This is also the reason that I rarely purchase much-needed supplies such as catalogues or album binders and even things like mounts and stock books fall by the wayside.  While my inventory records only the base purchase price for each stamp, my philatelic-purchasing budget needs to factor in costs with shipping included.

Continue reading “The Shipping Dilemma”

There are basically four types of stamp album pages — commercial pages in a variety of styles and sizes with pre-printed spaces, blank commercial pages, the print-your-own variety available online, and those you make yourself either via software (dedicated or adapted) or by hand.

Most of us started out collecting by filling spaces in a commercial pre-printed album.  A beginning stamp collector’s goal is usually to “collect the world,” attempting to fill all of the spaces in such an album.  But with time the challenge of filling the album eventually becomes too daunting and the collector begins to look elsewhere for inspiration.  Often, they then start to “specialize,” perhaps purchasing a pre-printed country album with the stamps of their own country often being the focus.

Continue reading “Stamp Album Pages”

Welcome to my “Philatelic Pursuits.”  Allow me to introduce myself and this blog.

My name is Mark Jochim and I was born in Texas.  For the first 40 years of my life, I lived in the United States where I collected stamps off and on from the age of ten.

A decade ago, I made a very big change in my life. I became a teacher of English As A Second Language (ESL) and moved to Phuket, an island in southern Thailand.

Continue reading “Introducing My Philatelic Pursuits”