Continue reading “The Stamps of 2020: June”

Continue reading “EUROPA 2020 — Ancient Postal Routes: A Checklist of Stamps”

Continue reading “The Stamps of 2020: February”

It has been way too long (two weeks and counting) since my last philatelic update. Much of that time was spent during a two-week Summer Camp at a temple school on the opposite site of the island and nearly a week of “recovery” as my body rebelled against my brutal schedule and our current heat wave. Earlier this week, I lost nearly 1-terabyte of data when an external hard drive (my main backup drive) became corrupted; this includes every stamp in my collection (duly scanned and catalogued over the course of about five years) and many other philatelic files. The good news is that I will be able to recover most of that data; the bad news is that it will cost me quite a bit of time and money.

Moving forward….

Macedonia – 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing (March 21, 2019) first day cover

While I was ill, I started to read Dick Parry’s Moonshot in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The first few stamps have been released in commemoration and the United States Postal Service announced their upcoming two-stamp release about a week ago. These will be released at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 19. The images have been publicized far and wide and there has been quite a bit of criticism about the “boring” nature of the  stamps, not to mention the fact that a living person appears on one contrary to U.S. stamp “law”. The designs have grown on me a bit (my first impression was probably, ho-hum). The fun, I think, will be in tracking down those being released elsewhere. I quite like the Apollo 11 stamp from Macedonia, seen above on a first day cover.

Thailand Post #1165 – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) set of four sheet stamps
Thailand Post #1165 – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) first day cover

The next new stamps to be issued by Thailand Post will be the annual set marking Thai Heritage Conversation Day on April 2. This is always one of my favorite issues each year and the 2019 edition features murals from Buddhist temples in Thailand’s southern provinces. While Songkhla is relatively safe, the far southern areas of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala (not featured here) have been war-torn for years due to border unrest with Malaysia. A majority of the population is Muslim and many in the region would like to see these provinces either returned to Malaysia or become their own independent state. Talks are virtually nonexistent and bombings frequent, often targeting teachers and schools. Needless to say, I have yet to visit this area of Thailand. The images used on the stamps were provided by Associate Professor Dr. Somporn Thuri of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at Rajamangala University of Technology in Thanyaburi. Google Translate tells me the murals are as follow:

Thailand Post #1165 – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) four sheets of 10 stamps each

3.00 baht (Type 1): Chumamani Chedi, Khok Khian Temple, Narathiwat Province
3.00 baht (Type 2): Tradition of giving alms to merit merit for those who passed away, Pa Si Temple, Pattani Province
3.00 baht (Type 3): The event in the story of Phra Wessadon Chadok, Khu Tao Temple, Songkhla Province
3.00 baht (Type 4): History of Buddhism at the time of descending from Dao Dueng Temple, Wat Pha Phra, Songkhla Province

As usual, there will also be a souvenir sheet although Thailand Post has not yet released any details about it other than the image below (which appears to me as a self-adhesive):

Thailand – Thai Heritage Conservation Day (April 2, 2019) souvenir sheet of one
Vatican City and Poland – 100th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations Restored (March 29, 2019) first day covers

I quite enjoy joint-issue stamps with the same or similar designs released by two different entities concurrently. On March 29, Poland and the Vatican City each released a single stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Poland and the Holy See. I consider Vatican stamps to be some of the most beautifully designed in the world and Poland is a nation near and dear to my heart. I will be ordering these as soon as possible.

Free download from the Royal Philatelic Society London

It is always fun to find free resources, particularly when they pertain to our hobby.  The Royal Philatelic Society London is currently offering a 109-page PDF-format extract of Stamp Perforation: The Somerset House Years — 1848 to 1880, originally published in 2006 as the culmination of a number of years of research and collaboration. Parts 1 and 2 of the book dealt with the history and introduction of perforation, whereas Part 3 (the majority of which is included in the free download) covered perforation varieties, with a large section on constant perforation varieties, commonly known as broken perforation pin varieties. Visit this page for the download links for the extract and a few additional resources as well.

Canada – Canadians in Flight (March 27, 2019)

One of the few philatelic-related projects NOT on my (semi-)failed backup drive were my folders containing images for my New Issues pages as well as my spreadsheets detailing those releases. Within the next few days, I plan to get back on-track updating the information, seeking out quality images and updating the pages themselves. I have already brought the U.S. and Thailand pages up-to-date (several release dates and a few images added to the former, images and details added to the latter). The worldwide monthly pages are a bit more intimidating, particularly with numerous new issues having been announced or released recently. A particularly favorite from last week is a five-stamp set picturing Canadians in Flight.

As we head into the Thai New Year holiday (Songkran), there is a distinct slow-down at work although my administrative duties will probably increase this week as our long-time Head Teacher departs and the new Head takes his place. As Deputy Head Teacher, it will be my responsibility to train my new boss as we begin accepting applications and assigning teachers to our contracted schools in advance of the next school year (which will begin in early May). With my putting A Stamp A Day “on vacation” for the foreseeable future, I should be able to handle my workload and still have time to get tackle quite a few philatelic pursuits in the next few weeks.  Now that my exhaustion/illness seems to have subsided, I am ready to move forward…

The final baker’s dozen ASAD articles since my last update covered a wide range of topics and I was very successful in avoiding such heavily-highlighted issuers as the United States, Germany and Canada. My current plan is to return to writing articles for that blog once I have the Philatelic Pursuits New Issues pages up-to-date. If I am lazy, that might be a while….

  1.  March 13, 2019:  “The Phoenix Lights” (San Marino — Scott #1396, 1997) 3,590 words
  2.  March 14, 2019:  “Birth of Einstein, Death of Hawking” (Isle of Man — Michel #2178-2179, 2016) 2,044 words
  3.  March 15, 2019:  “The Assassination of Julius Caesar” (Italy — Scott #217, 1929) 3,806 words
  4.  March 16, 2019:  “The Seal of St. Vincent Colony” (St. Vincent — Scott #197, 1955) 954 words
  5.  March 17, 2019:  “St. Patrick’s Day” (Ireland — Scott #121, 1943) 2,506 words
  6.  March 18, 2019:  “St. Vincent and the Grenadines:  Mickey’s School of Education” (St. Vincent and the Grenadines — Scott #2252 (1996) 1,726 words
  7.  March 19, 2019:  “Post #995:  Sydney Harbour Bridge” (Australia — Scott #2675e, 2007) 4,429 words
  8.  March 20, 2019:  “Post #996:  The Grenadines of St. Vincent” (The Grenadines of St. Vincent — Scott #909, 1992) 946 words
  9.  March 21, 2019:  “Post #997:  Natalicio de Benito Juárez” (México — Scott #1229, 1981) 4,368 words
  10.  March 22, 2019:  “Post #998:  World Water Day” (Uruguay — Scott #2067, 2004) 899 words
  11. March 23, 2019:  “Post #999:  Coastwatchers in the Solomon Islands” (Solomon Islands — Scott #333, 1976) 1,886 words
  12. March 24, 2019:  “Post #1000:  One Thousand (!)” (Free City of Danzig — Scott #127, 1923) 1,807 words
  13. March 25, 2019:  “A Thousand and One Posts…Going on Vacation!” (Mali — Scott #879, 1997) 1,074 words

Thank you, dear readers.  I hope I don’t take as long with the next update….

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.

Postccrossing postcard received on March 2, 2019, bearing one stamp from 2017 and two from 2018, nicely postmarked (many covers and cards from the U.S. miss postmarks entirely).

Continue reading “My Philatelic Pursuits #2019-08”

Apart from my daily articles for A Stamp A Day, my main philatelic activity this week involved putting together a spreadsheet summarizing all of the stamp issues I’ve been able to find that are scheduled for release in 2019. I’ve been perusing a wide variety of sources and even uncovered a few on eBay that I hadn’t come across elsewhere (including stamps by both Myanmar and Russia). I now have images for most of January’s new issues and a few others scattered later in the year. The problem is that most of the images are rather low-quality. My spreadsheet currently has 89 separate issues with a total of 211 face-different stamps from 48 stamp-issuing entities. I am trying to figure out how to embed this spreadsheet onto a (free) WordPress blog so that a constantly-updated version will be available here on Philatelic Pursuits.

Greenland - Greenland in World War II, 1940-1945 (January 21, 2019)
Greenland – Greenland in World War II, 1940-1945 (January 21, 2019)

My favorite stamp issue of the week is a pair issued yesterday (January 21) by Greenland marking that territory’s involvement in World War II. This is the fourth set in the series. Artist Naja Rosing-Asvid from Nuuk, Greenland, designed all the stamp images while Norwegian engraver and illustrator Martin Mörck undertook the engraving. The series, comprised of 10 stamps, is printed in combined offset and laser etching. The 25-Danish krone stamp for this year portrays “Communications” while the 41-krone denomination illustrates “Weather Stations”.

Liechtenstein - 300 Years of Liechtenstein embroidered souvenir sheet (January 23, 2019)
Liechtenstein – 300 Years of Liechtenstein embroidered souvenir sheet (January 23, 2019)

I am also quite interested in tomorrow’s release of a self-adhesive “embroidered” souvenir sheet marking the 300th anniversary of the Principality of Liechtenstein. Lying between Switzerland and Austria, it took its current name as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire in 1719. This is the first time that Liechtenstein has issued an embroidered stamp. Denominated at 6.30 Swiss francs, it is in the shape of a prince’s hat and was created by the embroidery firm Hämmerle & Vogel in Lustenau, Austria. A limited edition version of the stamp, embroidered with real gold thread, will also be available.

Thailand 2019 Stamp-Issuing Program (tentative schedule, from Facebook mid-January 2019)
Thailand 2019 Stamp-Issuing Program (tentative schedule, from Facebook mid-January 2019)

A few days after I was able to snap a photo of a Thailand Post stamp release schedule at my local post office (including a couple of issues marked as “under consideration”), a Thai friend of mine posted a similar schedule on Facebook as well as images of a few forthcoming releases. Thus, I am finally attempting to put together a “Stamp-Issuing Program” article for Thailand. I hope to have that finished within the next few days. The usual annual series and birthday anniversaries are in place and this year’s Diplomatic Relations stamps honor the Philippines (70th anniversary) and Luxembourg (80th anniversary); it still bothers me that Thailand Post didn’t mark last year’s 200th anniversary of Thai-U.S. friendship but the Phuketian stamps I created have proved rather popular with my trading partners. There will also be a joint-issue with the Maldives in June and what seems to be two 4-stamp topical issues scheduled for September — one on the subject of “Marine Life” and the other portrays “Lighthouses.”

United States - Uncle Sam Hat reissues (January 27, 2019)
United States – Uncle Sam Hat coil stamp (January 27, 2019)

On January 17 (the same date that the second United States stamp of the year was released), the U.S. Postal Service announced that it would offer four low-denomination Fruit series coil stamps in rolls of 3,000 on January 27 as well as in the previously released rolls of 10,000 stamps. The stamps affected are the 2-cent Meyer Lemons (originally issued on January 19, 2018, and listed as Scott #5256); 3-cent Strawberries (May 5, 2017, Scott #5201); 5-cent Pinot Noir Grapes (February 19, 2016, Scott #5038); and the 10-cent Red Pears (January 17, 2016, Scott #5039). It is as yet unknown if the stamps in the new size coil rolls will differ in any significant way from the original issues in the larger rolls (such as, for example, bearing microprinted “2019” dates). The same date will also see the reissue of the Uncle Sam Hat stamp previously released in panes on 20 on February 18, 2017 (Scott #5174), this time in coils of 100 stamps including a “2019” year inscription. January 27 will be a very expensive day for those few collectors left who still obtain all new U.S. issues.

The Year of the Boar commemorative forever stamp was unveiled January 17, 2019, at the Chinese Community Center in Houston, Texas. Screen capture from U.S. Postal Service video via Linn's Stamp News.
The Year of the Boar commemorative forever stamp was unveiled January 17, 2019, at the Chinese Community Center in Houston, Texas. Screen capture from U.S. Postal Service video via Linn’s Stamp News.

Meanwhile, the 12th stamp of the U.S. Postal Service’s Celebrating Lunar New Year series was released on January 17 in ceremonies at the Chinese Community Center in Houston, Texas. USPS vice president of finance and planning Luke Grossmann was on hand to introduce the Year of the Boar stamp, the final stamp in a series that began in 2008. As with the previous 11 stamps in the series, the central artwork features a painting by New York-based artist Kam Mak. The 2019 illustration shows purple peach blossoms on a branch against a pale green background. Peach trees in China typically bloom in February. The upcoming Year of the Pig (or, Boar) will begin February 5, 2019, and end on January 24, 2020.

A Stamp A Day articles published last week:

  1. January 15, 2019:   “Franz Grillparzer” (Austria — Scott #489, 1949) 2,435 words
  2. January 16, 2019:  “Wan Khru (วันครู), or Teacher’s Day in Thailand” (Thailand — Scott #2849v, 2015) 1,509 words
  3. January 17, 2019:  “Happy Birthday, Ben Franklin” (Great Britain — Scott #785, 1976) 794 words
  4. January 18, 2019:  “Daniel Webster & the Dartmouth College Case” (United States — Scott #1380, 1969) 2,202 words
  5. January 19, 2019:  “Edgar Allan Poe & His Stamps” (United States — Scott #986, 1949) 6,525 words
  6. January 20, 2019:  “The British Colony of Hong Kong” (Hong Kong — Scott #173, 1941) 2,743 words
  7. January 21, 2019:  “Monte Carlo Auto Rally” (Monaco — Scott #333, 1955) 2,539 words
Pontifical Swiss Guard swearing-in ceremony at the Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican City.
Pontifical Swiss Guard swearing-in ceremony at the Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican City.

Today’s article, which will be post #939 to that blog, will be about the The Pontifical Swiss Guard (Cohors Pedestris Helvetiorum a Sacra Custodia Pontificis in Latin and Guardia Svizzera Pontificia in Italian). This is the small force maintained by the Holy See that is responsible for the safety of the Pope, including the security of the Apostolic Palace. The Swiss Guard serves as the de facto military of Vatican City. Established in 1506 under Pope Julius II with the first 100 soldiers arriving on January 21 of that year, the Pontifical Swiss Guard is among the oldest military units in continuous operation. I am still trying to decide which stamp to feature for the article (I have several to choose from issued by the Vatican as well as Switzerland) and will put it together later this afternoon or evening.

United States page 20 from my "Virtual Stamp Album" using scans from my own collection placed upon modified Steiner pages. Here, I added Scott #288 and #290 and upgraded Scott #287 from the 1898 Trans-Mississippian Exposition issue.
United States page 20 from my “Virtual Stamp Album” using scans from my own collection placed upon modified Steiner pages. Here, I added Scott #288 and #290 and upgraded Scott #287 from the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition issue.

I didn’t spent much time on my “virtual stamp album” pages this week, only adding a couple of stamps to the United States Trans-Mississippian issue of 1898, which I’d received in the mail last week. The 4-cent and 8-cent values are next on my list to acquire as well as upgrades and adding to the Pan-American issue of 1901.