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.
Back in August and September 2016, I wrote three articles under the heading “Phila-Bytes” in an effort to post on Philatelic Pursuits more often. It didn’t work. I’d set out to do a bi-weekly series and perhaps there was too much going on during those two weeks to keep track of. At any rate, the series fizzled.
I am beginning to think in terms of weekly posting schedules for each of my blogs (yes, even the 925-post strong A Stamp A Day). I published the first of a weekly recap series this past Sunday on Asian Meanderings — my first entry there since last July — which includes an account of my week in terms of work, places visited, books read, etc. with a mix of photos and video. With that out of the way, I believe future installments will be much easier to put together. I plan to start once-per-week entries on A Stamp A Day (with a name change, of course) once I hit my 1000th article there in late March. I haven’t received a single postcard in quite some time so it may be a bit more difficult to post each week on Postcards to Phuket but I’ll take a look at my unblogged cards and figure something out soon.
My stamp purchases have gotten a slow start in 2019. In the past week, I’ve spent just over 450 baht (USD $14.20) on stamps and covers, mostly in eBay auctions. It can take up to two months for those online acquisitions to arrive in Thailand (not included in the total above is another 250 baht in shipping costs).
Once again, the Olympics are upon us. I don’t watch many sports but I have tuned-in to watch the Olympics ever since I can remember. In fact, I can recall viewing bits of the 1976 summer games held in Montréal and being disappointed when the United States boycotted the Moscow-hosted edition in 1980.
While I casually collected the U.S. stamps released for those two Olympic years, by the time of the 1984 winter games I was philatelically “all in”. I designed my own cachets for not only the first day covers of the stamps (different designs for blocks and singles) but also for the special postmarks available from the post offices along the torch relay route and for the various venues themselves. I began collecting Olympic memorabilia and amassed a great amount of Lake Placid 1980 souvenir magazines, clothing, even ticket stubs. When Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner were forced to withdraw from the gold medal round of the pairs figure skating due to Gardner’s groin injury, I wrote them a condolence letter and received a reply back. That was really the peak of my Olympic collecting activities, although I did dabble every four years until my first real break from stamps around 200o or 2001 — a philatelic hiatus that lasted until shortly after I moved to Thailand permanently in 2015. Sadly, that collection remained in the U.S. and is now gone.
I still get excited when the Olympics come around and, since Lake Placid, I prefer the Winter Olympics more than the Summer. The 2018 edition — the XXIII Olympic Winter Games (Les XXIIIes Jeux olympiques d’hiver in French and 제23회 동계 올림픽 in Hangul, pronounced Je-isipsamhoe Donggye Ollimpik) — are being held from February 9 through the 25 in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. Interest is very high here in Thailand as there is a very large Korean population. These will be South Korea’s second Olympic Games and its first Winter Games; Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988. There are now 2,952 participating athletes registered from 92 nations with a total of 102 events in seven sports (15 disciplines).
Amazingly, a unified Korean team consisting of players from both North Korea and South Korea will compete in the women’s ice hockey tournament following talks in Panmunjom on January 17. Of the 35 players on the team, 12 are from North Korea and 23 are from South Korea. Although Russia participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics, following a doping controversy the Russian NOC was barred and the Russian athletes are participating in Pyeonchang as the “Olympic Athletes from Russia”.
The National Olympic Committee of Thailand is scheduled to field a team of four athletes in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the largest delegation it has sent since its Winter Olympic debut in 2002. Thailand qualified one male — Nicola Zanon — and one female — Vanessa Vanakorn — alpine skier. In cross-country skiing, Thailand qualified two athletes, one male and one female. Mark and Karen Chanloung are siblings who are half-Italian and half-Thai. They grew up in Gressoney-La-Trinité, Italy.
South Korea released it’s first stamps for PyeongChang 2018 way back on August 3, 2011. It had been announced as the host city on July 6, 2011, having won its bid in the first round of voting, receiving more votes than both Munich, Germany and Annecy, France combined.
On November 1, 2017. South Korea issued two miniature sheets containing ten 330-won stamps each portraying the PyeongChang 2018 emblem and the official mascot — official mascot, Soohorang (수호랑), a white tiger — as an athlete in the various sports. The Paralympic Games, which will follow, have a different mascot — Bandabi (반다비), an Asiatic black bear.
Several different nations have released, or scheduled, stamps marking the 2018 Winter Olympics. Those that I’ve heard about are pictured below, sourced from a variety of sources (I don’t have any of these in my collection…yet).
If you know of any stamps released for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, please let me know in the Comments (and include an image, if you can). Also, what is your favorite Winter Olympics sport? My favorites are bob-sledding and the ski jump).
It’s been nearly four months since I’ve last posted anything to Philatelic Pursuits; most of my free-time energies have been dedicated to putting together material for A Stamp A Day. That being said, I do have a few items in the works for this blog so please stay tuned. The first is a periodic overview of new stamp issues for a few of the countries that I’m interested in philatelicly such as Thailand (where I live and try to keep up with new releases) and the United States (which puts out so much material each year that I often don’t pay much attention). I may add other countries at times to serve as reminders to myself to seek out certain stamps that catch my eye.
Thailand has only released two stamps in 2018 and I have yet to get to the post office to buy either of them. Unusually, Thailand Post has only announced new releases only up until the end of May rather than the full year as it has previously. These include the regular annual issues such as “Symbol of Love”, “Thai Heritage Conservation”, “Thai Traditional Festival”, and “Visak Day” as well as a new entry in its long list of “Diplomatic Relations” stamps (Turkey this time) and a joint issue with Romania. Just announced is the first set of definitive portraying the as-yet-coronated King Maha Vajiralongkhorn (Rama X), due to be released on April 6. New coinage bearing his portrait has also been recently revealed but still no word on the new reign’s paper currency with the new series of King Bhumibol Adulyadej banknotes having been released at the time of his cremation last October.
As usual, January 1 saw the release of the annual Zodiac issue with a single 3-baht stamp marking the Year of the Dog (Thailand Post issue number 1141). Once again, the stamp features a painting by Her Majesty Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
The second Saturday in January is celebrated in Thailand as National Children’s Day and a set of four 3-baht stamps featuring traditional Thai crafts including kites and parasols was released on January 13 (Thailand Post issue number 1142). A number of post offices in the Bangkok area had Children’s Day activities and featured the usual myriad of individual first day of issue postmarks. Most of the handstamp devices are also available in the large atrium at Bangkok’s old General Post Office in Chinatown and many collectors go there and apply the various chops to their own covers rather than try to travel throughout the capitol, visiting each post office in turn.
The only upcoming stamp announced (so far) to be released in February is the annual “Symbol of Love” 5-baht emission due to be issued on February 7, just a week before Valentine’s Day (Thailand Post 1143). The design appears to be a crocheted heart. The next issues on the calendar are set for April 2 — a four-stamp Thai Heritage and Conservation set (Thailand Post 1144) — and April 4 — four designs for the Thai Traditional Festival set (Thailand Post 1145), which annually is released just prior to Thai New Year (Songkran, April 13). No images for either of these two set have been revealed yet and I suspect that we will also see releases soon for the annual Chinese New Year and Red Cross stamps.
The Thai-language Stamp magazine is the source for the image above — the first set of definitives depicting His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn who took the throne following the October 13, 2016, death of his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX). These range from 1 baht to 100 baht and will be used on the majority of stamped mail within Thailand for the next few years. While these have yet to appear on Thailand Post’s website or on the official release schedule, a Facebook post by a well-connected Thai collector mentions that they will be issued on April 6. I will attempt to create some unofficial first day covers as I doubt Thailand Post will sell official ones.
There are a number of very interesting stamps on the early release calendar of the United States Postal Service. Five stamps and one stamped envelope have been released in January so far and one more is due tomorrow (January 30). One of the reasons I long ago gave up trying to purchase one of each new stamp from the United States is the expense. The stamps released thus far this year have a total face value of US $39.60 (which is 1240.17 Thai baht, making it sound even worse!). While the designs are striking for the Priority Mail rate issues, I doubt I will ever purchase any. However, some of the U.S. stamps slated for later this year are ones I definitely want to pick up featuring such subjects as the end of World War I, scenes inspired by “America, The Beautiful” and British music legend John Lennon. I’m not excited by the Mister Rodgers stamp but to each, their own.
The United States’ Zodiac 2018 stamp was released on January 11 in Honolulu, Hawaii 96820, in a PSA pane of 12 printed by the Banknote Corporation of America. The Year of the Dog stamp is the 11th of 12 stamps in the current Celebrating Lunar New Year cycle. The artwork focuses on some of the common ways the Lunar New Year holiday is celebrated. It depicts an arrangement of lucky bamboo. On the red paper to the right, the Chinese character fu — meaning good fortune, rendered in calligraphy — is a common decoration on doors and entryways during Lunar New Year festivities.
Love Flourishes, the latest stamp in a series that goes back to 1973, was released on January 18 in Phoenix, Arizona 85026 in a PSA pane printed by the Banknote Corporation of America in panes of 20. It features a fanciful garden of colorful flowers surrounding the word “Love” in cursive script. The First Day of Issue site is Creativation, the annual Craft & Hobby Association convention that brings together the global creative products community from designers to manufacturers, some of whom may want to incorporate postage stamps in their designs. The flowers on the stamp include stylized roses, peonies, and dahlias in pink, coral, and yellow, with pale blue-green berries and gold fronds and leaves.
The 2¢ Meyer Lemons stamp is the latest in the current Fruits low-denomination definitive series. It was issued on January 19 in Kenner, Louisiana 70062, printed in coils of 10,000 by the Banknote Corporation of America. The Meyer lemon is native to China, and is thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It was introduced to the U.S. in 1908, but in the 1940s it was discovered that a majority of the Meyer lemon trees being cloned were symptomless carriers of a virus that had killed or rendered useless millions of citrus trees all over the world. Most of the Meyer lemon trees in the U.S. were then destroyed, after which a virus-free selection was developed in the 1950s and certified and released in 1975 by the University of California as the ‘Improved Meyer lemon’.”
The Byodo-In Temple — a popular tourist attraction in Hawaii, is featured on a $6.70 Priority Mail flat-rate envelope as well as a $6.70 stamp released in panes of four released on January 21 in Kansas City, Missouri 64108. These, and the following stamp, are the latest entries in the long-running American Landmarks series.
With this Priority Mail Express stamp in the American Landmarks series, the Postal Service celebrates the Sleeping Bear Dunes, a national park in Michigan that takes its name from a Native American legend. It was released in panes of four on January 21 in Kansas City, Missouri 64108.
Due for release on January 30 is a single stamp portraying Lena Horne in New York, New York. Horne is included in the USPS Black Heritage series as a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color when in fact, her fame and her contributions were much broader. As a performer her 70-year career was capped by a one-woman show, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music,” which ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway and then on tour across the United States. And as an activist, her defense of the civil rights of all Americans led to her being blacklisted during the infamous era of McCarthyism and the Red Scare. Released in panes of 20 printed by the Banknote Corporation of America, the stamp features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s, with an added background reminiscent of Horne’s “Stormy Weather” album.
Next to be released by the United States are four Forever definitive stamps (currently 50 cents) in two double-sided panes of 20 and two coils of 100 scheduled for issue at Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33310 on February 9. I will provide images of that release, as well as more new stamps, next month.
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.
As 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.
I’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.
The 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”).
The French Lindbergh stamp from 1977 (Scott #C49) is also strikingly beautiful…
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…
When 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:
German Offices in China
German Offices in Morocco
Gilbert & Ellice Islands
Papua New Guinea
Rhodesia & Nyasaland
United Nations-New York
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.
There 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.
I 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…