This past Friday, Thailand Post announced — complete with design images — its first stamp for 2019 marking the Year of the Pig, due for release on January 1. This served as a reminder to me that it had been a while since I’d written about Thailand’s stamps released over the past few months. In fact, the last time I posted an article about Thai new issues was way back at the beginning of April!
Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I haven’t been able to buy any stamps at the post office since mid-May (shortly after the issuance of the Thai-Turkish joint issue and they’d already sold out of the first day cover by that time!). Thus, most of the images in this article were sourced from eBay, Thailand Post, Siam Stamp Catalog, and the Facebook page of the Thailand Stamp Museum. My next day off that also is not a post office holiday won’t be until late December so I may just have to wait until the annual yearbook is released in February to obtain all of the stamps I’ve missed this year!
I won’t provide much commentary on the stamps in this article other than date of issue and a few other details. I have included the Thailand Post issue numbers for reference; it usually takes a few years (!) before I can track down Scott or Michel catalogue numbers….
1147 (May 12, 2018): 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Thailand and Turkey Commemorative Stamps
Two 3-baht stamps in sheets of 10 stamps
Design 1: Thai Boxing designed by Mr. Udorn Niyomthum (Thailand Post)
Design 2: Turkish oil wrestling, designed by Mr. Serdar Dokgöz (Turkish Post)
Printed by Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand (offset lithography: 700,000 copies of each design
1146 (May 22, 2018): Important Buddhist Religious Day (Vesak Day) 2018 Postage Stamps
four 3-baht stamps in sheets of 10 stamps each
souvenir sheet of four stamps
Printed by Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand
1148 (May 31, 2018): Thailand and Romania Joint Issue Stamps
two 3-baht stamps in sheets of 16 stamps
Printed by Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand
[no issue number assigned] (June 14, 2018): FIFA World Cup 2018 Self-Adhesive Booklet Stamps
booklet pane of five 3-baht stamps (booklet sold for 15 baht)
booklet pane of three 5-baht stamps (booklet sold for 45 baht)
No official Thailand Post first day covers sold for this issue, although unofficial FDCs were prepared.
25611 (July 28, 2018): H.M. King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun Definitive Issue (King Rama X)
issue delayed from April 6
12 stamps — 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 50, and 100 baht; sheets of 20 stamps each
1 baht — blue
2 baht — red
3 baht — green
5 baht — brown
6 baht — violet
7 baht — rose
9 baht — yellow
10 baht — dark grey and orange
12 baht — dark blue and bluish green
15 baht — deep green and yellowish brown
50 baht — emerald green and violet foil stamping
100 baht — green and gold foil stamping
souvenir sheet of 12 stamps (sold for 250 baht)
Designed by Mr. Thaneth Ponchaiwong, using royal photo of H.M. the King
Printed by Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand
1151 (July 28, 2018): H.M. King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangun’s 66th Birthday Anniversary Commemorative Stamp
10-baht stamp in sheets of 10 stamps
Designed by Mr. Thaneth Pongchaiwong, using royal photo of H.M. the King
Printed by Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand (offset lithography; 1,000,000 copies)
1161 (December 3, 2018): Phra Achan Fan Acharo Postage Stamp
one 9-baht stamp
1162 (December 5, 2018): National Day 2018 Commemorative Stamp
one 5-baht stamp
1163 (January 1, 2019): Zodiac 2019 (Year of the Pig) Postage Stamp
one 3-baht stamp in sheets of 10 stamps
Designed by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
Printed by Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand
Note that there may be up to three additional releases for 2018 as we have not yet seen issue numbers 1150, 1153 and 1154. I also imagine there may be a few interesting items released in conjunction with the Thailand 2018 World Stamp Exhibition which runs from November 28 until December 3. This past week, I was forced to make the sad decision not to attend the show (I really thought that this would be the year I could attend as previous shows were always in August). To compensate, I am starting to think about making a trip to Singapore early next year…
October 9 is World Post Day, commemorating the date in 1874 that the Universal Postal Union was established. The week surrounding this date is also marked as International Letter Writing Week. My A STAMP A DAY blog has several articles about the Universal Postal Union and the commemorations of it, most extensive are those that appeared on this date in 2016 and one I published yesterday.
I have obtained a number of stamps over the years that specifically celebrate either International Letter Writing Week or World Post Day; many more in my collection mark the Universal Postal Union in some way (I have most of the 1949 omnibus for the UPU’s 75th anniversary, for example). I put together about 90 of my favorites for the slideshow below, titled by catalogue numbers (mostly Scott, but some of the newer stamps bear numbers from Michel, Stanley Gibbons, Thailand Post, and the UPU’s own World Numbering System..
Enjoy the stamps, write some letters (or postcards), and use the posts in your country!
Although I have lived in southern Thailand with its myriad of Royal and Buddhist holidays for going on 14 years now, there are a few American observances that I steadfastly cling to such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving (school is always in session during Christmas and the weather is so hot that I try to avoid the holiday altogether unless I am called upon to wear the Santa Claus costume to the delight of kindergarteners).
My favorite American “celebration”, of course, remains National Stamp Collecting Month each October. It is a rather philatelic month elsewhere as well containing such stamp-related observances as International Letter-Writing Week, World Post Day and several nations’ Stamp Days. In years past, I have promoted the stampy nature of October with a beginning-of-the-month article here on Philatelic Pursuits and the creation of a banner used on my personal Facebook page. For 2018, estimated to be my 35th year as a collector, I plan to step things up a notch or two.
My first idea was to simply change my Facebook profile photo each day of October to display a different favorite stamp, perhaps in a frame mentioning National Stamp Collecting Month. I then realized that I probably have enough stamp-on-stamp, philately as a hobby and similar thematic stamps in my collection to use these as my profile photos. In the end, I decided why not start a Facebook page for the A Stamp A Day blog? I have maintained that blog each day since July 1, 2016, featuring a different stamp from each of the issuing entities in my collection (currently just under 400) and marking different event anniversaries with appropriate stamps or detailing whatever is portrayed on a particular stamp. To date, there are 825 articles on A Stamp A Day. Having a Facebook page to tie in with that blog will give me the opportunity to do a bit more promotion than I normally do (which is none at all aside from mentions on Philatelic Pursuits which isn’t exactly promoted, either).
Thus, for October 2018, most of my articles on A Stamp A Day will cover some aspect of philately or postal history to (more or less) describe whatever is depicted on the stamp. I plan to change the profile photos on the A Stamp A Day Facebook page several times throughout the month (not daily as originally planned), although they may not always match the stamp featured on the blog. There may be a few philatelic surprises along the way, plus a few breaks to mark non-philatelic anniversaries occurring during the month (including three different American Revolutionary War battles, John Lennon’s birthday — if my order from the USPS arrives in time — and the Phuket Vegetarian Festival). My Halloween post will (probably) feature the Legend of Sleepy Hollow but mostly, the articles will be about our beloved holiday.
I previously wrote about National Stamp Collecting Month on Philatelic Pursuits in 2016 and 2017 with similar articles on A Stamp A Daylast year and the year before. October 2018 is my second attempt to maintain nearly an entire month of daily posts on the same subject; last year, I dedicated most of October to the memory of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand whose elaborate cremation ceremonies at the end of the month concluded more than a year-long mourning period.
At 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time today — September 7, 2018 — the United States Postal Service will hold a dedication ceremony at the Namburg Bandshell in New York City’s Central Park in order to officially unveil its newest entry in the Music Icons series, a set of four stamps utilizing the same design in different colors depicting singer and songwriter John Lennon. The event will be officiated by U.S. Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “Beloved around the world, Lennon was successful both as a founding member of the Beatles and as a solo artist. Lennon’s music continues to speak for truth, peace, and tolerance,” the Postal Service said in a press release on July 11.
The September 7 release date fits with the design of the stamp and “Imagine,” the song he wrote and the album by that name, which was issued on September 9, 1971. The stamp features a photograph of John Lennon taken by rock-and-roll photographer Bob Gruen in August 1974 during the photo session for Lennon‘s 1974 album Walls and Bridges. The original black-and-white photograph has been treated in gradations of color.
The self-adhesive stamp pane is designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve. One side of the pane includes 16 non-denominated (50-cent) Forever stamps and brief text about Lennon’s legacy as well as the image of a sliver of a record seeming to peek out the top of the sleeve. A black-and-white photograph of Lennon seated at his white piano appears on the reverse, along with Lennon‘s signature and the Music Icons series logo. Taken by photographer Peter Fordham, the original photograph was used to promote Lennon‘s landmark 1971 solo album, Imagine. Art director Antonio Alcalá worked on the stamp pane with designer Neal Ashby.
The stamps were offset printed by the Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina, using the Alprinta 74 press in a total quantity of 40,000,000 stamps. The print run was made using the colors Cool Gray 7, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black on phosphor, block tagged, paper with pressure sensitive adhesive. The plate consisted of 96 stamps per revolution. They have an overall size measuring 1.225 x 1.225 inches (31.115 x 31.115 mm) while each individual pane measures 7 x 7 inches (177.8 x 177.8 mm).
In addition to the official USPS first day of issue postmarks (standard black & white and digital color cancellations), only one pictorial cancellation has been authorized for the John Lennon stamps. The word “Station” or the abbreviation “STA” is required somewhere in the design, because these will be temporary stations.
John Winston Ono Lennon was an English singer, songwriter, and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group would ascend to worldwide fame during the 1960s.
He was born as John Winston Lennon on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, where he became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. In 1957, he formed his first band, the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Lennon began to record as a solo artist before the band’s break-up in April 1970; two of those songs were “Give Peace a Chance” and “Instant Karma!” Lennon subsequently produced albums that included John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and songs such as “Working Class Hero”, “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. After he married Yoko Ono in 1969, he added “Ono” as one of his middle names. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to raise his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the album Double Fantasy. He was shot and killed in the archway of his Manhattan apartment building on December 8, 1980, three weeks after the album was released.
Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved from London to Manhattan in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by the Nixon administration to deport him. Some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture.
By 2012, Lennon’s solo album sales in the United States had exceeded 14 million units. He had 25 number-one singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart as a writer, co-writer, or performer. In 2002, Lennon was voted eighth in a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons and in 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all time. In 1987, he was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Lennon was twice posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: first in 1988 as a member of the Beatles and again in 1994 as a solo artist.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? – Bloomington, Minnesota: July 14, 2014
On July 14, the USPS released a single stamp in a pane of 12 portraying the cartoon character Scooby-Doo from the animated TV series of the same name, produced from 1969 to the present day. Writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears created the original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, for Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1969. This Saturday-morning cartoon series featured four teenagers — Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers — and their talking brown Great Dane named Scooby-Doo, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures through a series of antics and missteps.
Following the success of the original series, Hanna-Barbera and its successor Warner Bros. Animation have produced numerous follow-up and spin-off animated series and several related works, including television specials and made-for-TV movies, a line of direct-to-video films, and two Warner Bros.–produced theatrical feature films. Some versions of Scooby-Doo feature different variations on the show’s supernatural theme, and include characters such as Scooby’s cousin Scooby-Dum and nephew Scrappy-Doo in addition to or instead of some of the original characters.
Scooby-Doo was originally broadcast on CBS from 1969 to 1975, when it moved to ABC. ABC aired the show until canceling it in 1986, and presented a spin-off featuring the characters as children, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, from 1988 until 1991. New Scooby-Doo series aired as part of Kids’ WB on The WB Network and its successor, The CW Network, from 2002 until 2008. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated aired on Cartoon Network from 2010 to 2013, and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! aired on Cartoon Network from 2015 to 2018. Repeats of the various Scooby-Doo series are broadcast frequently on Cartoon Network’s sister channel Boomerang in the United States as well as other countries. In 2013, TV Guide ranked Scooby-Doo the fifth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time.
The new Forever stamp is part of a campaign highlighting a new social responsibility initiative called Scooby-Doo DOO GOOD and pictures Scooby-Doo helping out by watering a blossoming plant in a flowerpot — a simple act symbolizing a component of the “Doo Good” campaign’s to provide young people with tools and activities geared toward enriching the environment. The campaign, launching this year in partnership with generationOn, the youth division of Points of Light, also focuses on helping the hungry and acting as animal allies. Art director Greg Breeding worked closely with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Inc. to design this stamp.
The stamp was issued in Bloomington, Minnesota, on July 14, Forever-priced at the First-Class Mail rate) in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive pane of 12 stamps. The Scooby-Doo! pane of 12 stamps may not be split and the stamps may not be sold individually, according to the USPS announcement. The stamps were printed using the offset process by Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. at Williamsville, New York with a total of 252,000,000 stamps printed.
World War I, Turning the Tide – Kansas City, Missouri: July 27, 2018
With this stamp, released on July 27 in Kansas City, the Postal Service paid tribute to the sacrifice of American soldiers and millions of supporters on the home front who experienced World War I. Entering World War I (1914–1918) in its later stages, the United States helped turn the tide of war in favor of the Allies. The stamp art features a close-up of a member of the American Expeditionary Force holding the U.S. flag. Barbed wire can be seen in the background, as well as an airplane in flight and smoke rising up from the battlefield. The artwork was painted in airbrush on illustration board, a technique that evokes the propaganda posters used during World War I. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with art by Mark Stutzman. There were 20,000,000 Forever stamps issued in self-adhesive panes of 20.
he American Expeditionary Forces was a formation of the United States Army on the Western Front of World War I. The AEF was established on July 5, 1917, in France under the command of General John J. Pershing. It fought alongside French Army, British Army, Canadian Army, and Australian Army units against the German Empire. A minority of the AEF troops also fought alongside Italian Army units in that same year against the Austro-Hungarian Army. The AEF helped the French Army on the Western Front during the Aisne Offensive (at the Battle of Château-Thierry and Battle of Belleau Wood) in the summer of 1918, and fought its major actions in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the latter part of 1918.
By June 1917, only 14,000 American soldiers, who were often called “Doughboys”, had arrived in France, and the AEF had only a minor participation at the front through late October 1917, but by May 1918 over one million American troops were stationed in France, though only half of them made it to the front lines. Since the transport ships needed to bring American troops to Europe were scarce at the beginning, the U.S. Army pressed into service passenger liners, seized German ships, and borrowed Allied ships to transport American soldiers from ports in New York City, New Jersey, and Virginia. The mobilization effort taxed the American military to the limit and required new organizational strategies and command structures to transport great numbers of troops and supplies quickly and efficiently. The French harbors of Bordeaux, La Pallice, Saint Nazaire, and Brest became the entry points into the French railway system that brought the American troops and their supplies to the Western Front. American engineers in France also built 82 new ship berths, nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of additional standard-gauge tracks, and over 100,000 miles (160,000 km) of telephone and telegraph lines.
The first day ceremonies for this World War I stamp were held at the National World War I Museum and Memorial of the United States in Kansas City, Missouri, which was known as the Liberty Memorial during the nearly twenty years that I lived in the area. Originally opened in 1926, in 2004 the United States Congress designated it as America’s official museum dedicated to World War I. The Museum and Memorial are managed by a non-profit organization in cooperation with the Kansas City Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners, reopening to the public in December 2006 with an expanded, award-winning facility to exhibit an artifact collection that began in 1920. The National World War I Museum tells the story of the Great War and related global events from their origins before 1914 through the 1918 armistice and 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Visitors enter the exhibit space within the 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m²) facility across a glass bridge above a field of 9,000 red poppies, each one representing 1,000 combatant deaths.
The Art of Magic – Las Vegas, Nevada: August 7, 2018
On August 7, 2018, in Las Vegas, NV, the U.S. Postal Service will issued The Art of Magic stamps (Forever-priced at the First-Class Mail rate) in five designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive pane of 20 stamps. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps, and Jay Fletcher created the illustrations and served as the typographer. These were offset-printed by the Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina.
The stamps celebrate the art of magic with digital illustrations of five classic tricks magicians use to amaze and delight audiences:
A rabbit in a hat (production),
A fortune teller using a crystal ball (prediction),
A woman floating in the air (levitation),
An empty bird cage (vanishing), and
A bird emerging from a flower (transformation).
A souvenir sheet including three copies of the disappearing rabbit stamp has also been released.
In ancient times, Greeks and Persians had been at war for centuries, and the Persian priests came to be known as magoi in Greek. Ritual acts of these Persian priests were termed magika, which eventually meant any foreign, unorthodox, or illegitimate ritual practice. During the 17th century, many books were published that described magic tricks. Until the 18th century, magic shows were a common source of entertainment at fairs. A founding figure of modern entertainment magic was Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, who had a magic theatre in Paris in 1845. John Henry Anderson was pioneering the same transition in London in the 1840s. Towards the end of the 19th century, large magic shows permanently staged at big theatre venues became the norm.
As a form of entertainment, magic easily moved from theatrical venues to television magic specials. Performances that modern observers would recognize as conjuring have been practiced throughout history. For many recorded centuries, magicians were associated with the devil and the occult. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many stage magicians even capitalized on this notion in their advertisements. The same level of ingenuity that was used to produce famous ancient deceptions such as the Trojan Horse would also have been used for entertainment, or at least for cheating in money games. At least one magic author has suggested that more books are written about magic than any other performing art. Although the bulk of these books are not seen on the shelves of libraries or public bookstores, the serious student can find many titles through specialized stores catering to the needs of magic performers.
Dragons – Columbus, Ohio – August 9, 2018
Four designs featuring dragons were issued on August 9, 2018, during the American Philatelic Society’s Stamp Show held August 9-12 in Columbus, Ohio. The self-adhesive pane of 16 stamps celebrates dragons, the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia. Each of the stamps showcases one of four dragons:
A green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval–inspired castle;
A purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle;
A black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea; and
A wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.
Each of the stamps and the header feature orange foiled highlights that add a fire-like glint. At the top of the pane, “Dragons” appears alongside a black fire-breathing dragon. The stamps are digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio, while Greg Breeding served as art director. These were offset printed with hot foil stamping by the Banknote Corporation of America using the Alprinta 74, Müeller-Martini Custom press. There were 30,000,000 stamps printed.
According to Wikipedia, a dragon is a large, serpent-like legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures around the world. Beliefs about dragons vary drastically by region, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence.
The earliest attested dragons resemble giant snakes. Dragon-like creatures are first described in the mythologies of the ancient Near East and appear in ancient Mesopotamian art and literature. Stories about storm-gods slaying giant serpents occur throughout nearly all Indo-European and Near Eastern mythologies. Famous prototypical dragons include the mušḫuššu of ancient Mesopotamia, Apep in Egyptian mythology, Vṛtra in the Rigveda, the Leviathan in the Hebrew Bible, Python, Ladon, Wyvern, and the Lernaean Hydra in Greek mythology, Jörmungandr, Níðhöggr, and Fafnir in Norse mythology, and the dragon from Beowulf.
Manuscript illustration from Verona of Saint George slaying the dragon, dating to c. 1270
The popular western image of a dragon as winged, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire is an invention of the High Middle Ages based on a conflation of earlier dragons from different traditions. In western cultures, dragons are portrayed as monsters to be tamed or overcome, usually by saints or culture heroes, as in the popular legend of Saint George and the Dragon. They are often said to have ravenous appetites and to live in caves, where they hoard treasure. These dragons appear frequently in western fantasy literature, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.
The word “dragon” has also come to be applied to the Chinese lung (龍), which are associated with good fortune and are thought to have power over rain. Dragons and their associations with rain are the source of the Chinese customs of dragon dancing and dragon boat racing. Many East Asian deities and demigods have dragons as their personal mounts or companions. Dragons were also identified with the Emperor of China, who, during later Chinese imperial history, was the only one permitted to have dragons on his house, clothing, or personal articles.
U.S. Air Mail Centennial (red) – College Park, Maryland: August 11, 2018
The United States Air Mail (red) stamp issued on August 11 was the second stamp issued in 2018 by the Postal Service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of regular airmail service. The first stamp, issued in May and printed in blue, paid tribute to the pioneering spirit of the brave Army pilots who initiated the airmail service on May 15, 1918. This second stamp, identical to the first except that it is rendered in red, commemorates the beginning of airmail delivery through the U.S. Post Office Department on August 12, 1918. Both stamps were printed in intaglio and feature a drawing of the type of plane typically used in the early days of airmail, a Curtiss JN-4H biplane. The stamp design evokes that earlier period. The stamp designer and typographer was Dan Gretta, while Greg Breeding served as the art director. The stamps were printed by Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. on a Stevens Vari-Size Security Press in self-adhesive panes of 20 with a total quantity of 20,000,000 stamps printed.
I covered the initial May 1918 flights in an article for my blog, A Stamp A Day, earlier this year.
Global Poinsettia – Kansas City, Missouri: August 26, 2018
Global Poinsettia is a new Global Forever international rate stamp that can be used to mail a 1-ounce letter to any country to which First-Class Mail International service is available. The stamp was released in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 26 and is the first Global Forever Holiday stamp issued since 2014. . These stamps can also be used domestically. At present, they would pay $1.15 in postage. A striking photograph of a poinsettia arranged against a white background graces this round holiday stamp. Taken from above, the photo captures the beauty of the green leaves, the red bracts, and the yellow flowers in the center of the plant. William J. Gicker was the art director and Greg Breeding designed the stamp with an existing photograph by Betsy Pettet. Offset printed by the Banknote Corporation of America using an Alprinta 74 press, 100,000,000 of the stamps have been printed in self-adhesive panes of 100.
The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a plant species of the diverse spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) which is indigenous to Mexico. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant to the U.S. in 1825.
The plant’s association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.
Poinsettias are popular Christmas decorations in homes, churches, offices, and elsewhere across North America. They are available in large numbers from grocery, drug, and hardware stores. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.
Today is the Thai holiday of Wan Khao Phansa (วันเข้าพรรษา) marking the beginning of Vassa, the three-month rains’ retreat also known as Buddhist Lent, following yesterday’s holiday of Wan Asanhabucha (วันอาสาฬหบูชา) commemorating the Buddha’s first discourse. This year, however, the twin Buddhist holidays coincide with another important holiday, that of Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Maha Wachiralongkon Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun (วันเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษาสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัวมหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร), which in English is simply the Birthday of King Rama X, incorporating his title and a small part of his full name. His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) was born on July 28, 1952, and ascended to the Thai throne upon the death of his father, King Bhumiphol Adulyajej (Rama IX), on October 13, 2016. For more on King Rama X, please see my post on Asian Meanderings.
For collectors of Thai stamps, today marks the long-delayed release of the first King Rama X definitive stamps, 12 denominations ranging from 1 baht to 100 baht for a total face value of 250 baht. In addition to sheets of 20 for each value, all 12 are also available in a souvenir sheet. Additionally, Thailand Post has released a 10-baht commemorative stamp marking the king’s 66th birthday today.
This has been a relatively quiet year for Thai stamps; I have yet to report on a Thailand-Romania joint issue that was released at the end of May and a booklet and postal card released to mark the World Cup championships that appeared without prior announcement in mid-June. August usually sees an abundance of releases with annual commemorations of Thailand Post Day, ASEAN Day and Mothers Day (the Queen’s birthday) but thus far I haven’t seen any new issue announcements. I hope those will appear soon.
Until recently, I was only a casual YouTube watcher generally seeking out the occasional country, historical, or wildlife documentary, kiddie videos to entertain my younger students, and old live music clips or full concerts. I’d dabbled in searching for stamp-related videos from time to time but wasn’t often impressed with what I found. Earlier this year, I discovered “vlogs” — video blogs — and became hooked on several involving expat life in Japan and here in Phuket, Thailand, as well as several concerning food (Hellthy Junk Food and The Burger Show chief amongst these). Still, I couldn’t find anything similar related to philately.
Maybe I just didn’t search hard enough.
It took reading a recent article on another blog, The Punk Philatelist, to become aware of Exploring Stamps. I spent a couple of hours this Sunday watching episode after episode (most are around five minutes long), starting from the very first and continuing through the start of Season 2. As often happens, I feel I’m a bit late to the party as a Google search turned up a number of discussions on stamp collecting message boards as well as an earlier blog article. Apparently, the series was even featured in The American Philatelist earlier this year.
The basic premise is very similar to what I’ve been doing with my A Stamp A Day blog for the past two years: the host, Graham, uses his tongs to fish out a random stamp from a large cardboard box and then learns what he can about the stamp itself as well as the subject matter portrayed thereon. Where my articles tend to the lengthy and try to give all the information I can find, Graham condenses his findings into a highly entertaining few minutes that keeps you watching. Along the way, he touches on many different aspects of the hobby as well as geography, history, and so much more.
The production quality of the videos is top-notch. His use of simple graphics, different camera angles, props, and even green-screen effects make each episode a joy to watch. The videos are educational enough that I learn something new from almost every episode. He speaks very clearly as well in language that would be understandable to school children. I’ve long desired to incorporate stamps into my lessons here in Thailand; Graham has given me a roadmap to follow.
Graham has Twitter and Instagram accounts in addition to his YouTube Channel on which he gives hints to upcoming Exploring Stamps episodes. While he doesn’t have a regular blog, he does have a landing page on WordPress which provides links to each of Exploring Stamps’ other social media outlets, including an interesting site and app called Snupps which Graham explained in an early video.