I am excited about the upcoming week for a number of reasons, several of which are fairly non-philatelic. Sunday the 25th marks the official beginning of the Lunar New Year, the second of three New Years which are enthusiastically celebrated in my adopted home of Phuket, Thailand. There is a Chinese clan shrine just a few steps from my front-door and I anticipate a long night of hourly fireworks explosions. This leads to about a week of New Years festivities which is immediately followed by one of my favorite local events: the annual Old Town Phuket Festival with plenty of great food and music in this UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
Happy Valentine’s Day or as it is known in Thailand, Wan Rak (“Day of Love”).
Aside from articles for A Stamp A Day and updates to my New Issues page, I had a relatively stampless week. Part of the reason is that we are currently in the midst of a heatwave — I cannot recall a hotter period of time since moving to the tropics (at least since my body adjusted to constant high temperatures). It is not weather conducive to working on one’s stamp collection: my home doesn’t have air-conditioning and the sweat soon begins dripping off my forehead into my eyes and down my nose. I can cool my workspace with fans but fans and stamps don’t mix no matter how careful I am. During such times, most of my philatelic activity is entirely digital.
Today, Thailand Post is releasing its annual “Symbol of Love” issue a week before Valentine’s Day. In recent years this has been a single 5-baht stamp (regular first class domestic rate is 3 baht); they used to issue a pair. I will stop by the post office after work to buy a pane (of ten) and a first day cover or two, perhaps adding a Phuket postmark to the latter (they usually allow me to cancel my own).
The holiday itself is quite popular in Thailand yet the giving of Valentine’s Day cards is rare. Chocolate is a relatively new addition but the giving of bouquets of flowers, usually red or pink rose replacements, is quite common. In schools, students of all ages (and some of the Thai teachers as well), purchase sheets of love-themed stickers and paste them onto each other’s shirts and faces. The more stickers you are covered with, the more “loved” you are. The stickers are cheaply made so they tend to fall off during the course of the day so you can be progressively less loved as the afternoon wears on.
The only stamp news that I noticed all week concerned new issues. Quite frankly, I have tired of Chinese New Year releases and am amazed at some of the nations who put them out. I doubt that places such as Gibraltar and French Polynesia have a large enough Chinese population to warrant much of a celebration and certainly don’t need multiple stamps and souvenir items to mark the holiday. However, a lot of stamp, cover and postcard collectors in this part of the world are avidly seeking out and exchanging Year of the Pig stamps with others in some of these far-flung countries and territories.
My favorite stamp issue this week comes from Åland, a Finnish territory in the Gulf of Bohnia which I have avidly collected since they began issuing their own stamps in 1984. The sailing ships Vineta and Parma are featured on a pair issued on February 1, the second to last in the series of stamps utilizing painting by the artist (and sea captain) Allan Palmer. The slideshow below includes the stamps, sheets, first day covers and maximum cards.
In U.S. stamp news, the National Postal Museum reopened on January 29 following the government shutdown and a new edition (the 17th) of the Scott Catalogue of Errors on U.S. Postage Stamps has just been published. Linn’s Stamp News had an interesting article about the past twelve years of the “Forever”-denominated stamps.
This week, the United States Postal Service announced dates and locations for two previously-announced forthcoming releases: The Marvin Gaye stamp will be issued on April 2 in Los Angeles, California, on what would have been the singer’s 80th birthday. The small town of Piggott, Arkansas, will be the location of the first day of issue ceremonies for the set of 5 Post Office Murals stamps, scheduled for April 10. Located in the northeast corner of the state, Piggott is the northern terminus of the Arkansas segment of the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, a National Scenic Byway, and is perhaps best known for its association with Ernest Hemingway who made frequent and lengthy visits to there to visit his second wife’s parents and wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms and other works while staying there.
Following the onslaught of rate-change stamps on January 27 (and the Gregory Hines stamp on the 28th), plus a few issues in February (10 Cactus Flower stamps on February 15 and an Alabama Statehood single on the 23rd), it appears the USPS is giving U.S. collectors a well deserved break for nearly a month with the next currently scheduled stamp, the Star Ribbon issue, due on March 22.
The next big issue by Royal Mail in Great Britain will be a set due on February 13 marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the designs of which were revealed over the past week. I am quite enamored with these and it is difficult to pick a favorite, but 12 stamps (for a face value of £8.04 PLUS a prestige booklet (costing £13.10), not to mention the attendant first day covers, PHQ cards, and more, does seem a bit excessive for such a decidedly non-British subject (oh, the Queen does own these drawings and they will be displayed around the UK in the year to come).
On the same date as the da Vinci stamps, the recent Stamp Classics mini-sheet will see a re-release with an exclusive inscription for the STAMPEX show and will be sold exclusively at the three-day exhibition. Release dates have also been announced for the Birds of Prey (April 4), British Engineering (May 2), Queen Victoria Bicentenary (May 24), D-Day (June 2), Curious Customs (July 9), Forests (August 13), Music Giants (September 3), Royal Navy Ships (September 19), and Christmas (November 5) issues, making for some interesting topics this year. I wonder if the “Music Giants” issue will have some tie-in with the U.S. Woodstock anniversary stamp. At any rate, no images for any of these have been revealed other than the two initial images of a Birds of Pray and Queen Victoria stamp when included with the original Royal Mail subject-matter announcement back in December. I imagine these will both be multi-stamp releases, probably in blocks of four.
A Stamp A Day underwent a design change last weekend, the first since I started the blog on July 1, 2016. I hope you like it. Since the last installment of “Weekly Phila-Bytes”, I have published the following articles on A Stamp A Day:
- January 30, 2019: “Claude Lorrain and the Seaport at Sunset” (France – Scott #3395, 2008) 4,067 words
- January 31, 2019: “Franz Schubert” (Austria – Scott #391, 1947) 1.541 words
- February 1, 2019: “Royal Canadian Mounted Police” (Canada – Scott #223, 1935) 3.977 words
- February 2, 2019: “The Real Robinson Crusoe is Recued!” (Chile – Scott #349, 1965) 4,790 words
- February 3, 2019: “The Immortal Chaplains of S.S. Dorchester” (United States – Scott #956, 1948) 3.942 words
- February 4, 2019: “The Federated States of Micronesia & the Last Raider of the Confederate States of America Navy” (Micronesia, Scott #C12, 1985) 5,454 words
- February 5, 2019: “Chinese New Year 2019 / วันตรุษจีน 2562 ประวัติวันตรุษจีน” (China, New Year Greetings stamp released on January 10, 2019) 373 words
- February 6, 2019: “The Treaty of Waitangi” (New Zealand, Stanley Gibbons #MS3662, 2015) 3.496 words
Today’s topic will be a literary one, either about Charles Dickens who was born on this date in 1812 or Laura Ingalls Wilder, born 1867. It all depends on the stamps and I will begin working on it in the late afternoon (following my classes and a trip to the post office).
Have a great week….