This October, I have been celebrating (U.S.) National Stamp Collecting Month with near-daily articles about different aspects of the hobby and mail delivery on my A Stamp A Day blog. Today’s article about the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. was my last on the subject, my 23rd in a month of 31 days. Tomorrow’s post will be Halloween-themed. After that, I will be taking a two-month break from lengthy ASAD articles. I will still post an image of a stamp from my collection each day during that time, but the descriptions will be extremely bare-boned (probably just the stamp’s caption and a line or two about the subject portrayed). There are several reasons for this, and I will explain them in my article on that blog on November 1.
In the meantime, I’d like to share the photos NOT used in today’s National Postal Museum article. This is a place I haven’t yet visited but I will definitely remedy that on my next trip to the United States. These photos help to remind me why I want to go. It might take me a few more years, but I will get there eventually….
Long-time readers of this blog and Asian Meanderings may recall that, from time to time, I have dabbled with creating “fantasy stamps” for my own local post. The Muang Phuket Local Post had its first releases in October 2013 and had a total of 26 designs through early August 2015. The stamps were printed on sticker paper (imperforate!) and affixed to the lower left of any correspondence I sent. I mailed first day covers to myself from a postbox near my work and these usually took between ten and 14 days to travel the two miles or so to my home (I think most of them went via Bangkok, 525 miles away!).
Not only did I design and print stamps but I also had various rubber stamps made for the cancellations and other postal markings. It was a fun sideline to my “regular” stamp collecting activities. However, with only one completed and printed design in 2017 (MPLP #27, the first to be printed on gummed paper and perforated), the project died out, mostly over my own inability to master Adobe Photoshop. I spent countless hours trying to create a special release for my 50th birthday (in December 2015) but my attempts at a “classic engraved” design met with failure despite several tries at various times over the next year.
In early August of this year, several things combined to renew my interest in designing my own stamps and reviving the local post. I taught a teenager preparing for the IELTS exam and one of the reading tests included a text about micronations, specifically mentioning the Principality of Sealand in the North Sea. While discussing the article, I mentioned that I had some stamps from Sealand which I brought to the next lesson, along with some of my old Muang Phuket Local Post stamps. My student became quite fascinated with these and this led to her suggesting the new name of “Phuketia” (I’d previously taught her that the demonym for a person from Phuket was Phuketian).
Evolution of the Phuketian Flag
Not long after, I gave her an assignment to write an essay describing the new micronation of Phuketia. In preparation for this, she sketched out an idea for a flag, saying it should be red, white and blue as those were the colors for the flags of Thailand and the United States (home country of her teacher) but also have light blue to represent the Andaman Sea surrounding the island. I suggested that the clocktower which is the unofficial symbol of Phuket Town should be incorporated (it appears on the first MPLP release) but she said the “Two Heroines” of Phuket would be better.
Around this time, I stumbled across an excellent piece of photo-editing software called Paint.net which pretty much does everything that Photoshop can do but without the steep learning curve. If a task isn’t included in the program natively, there’s usually a plugin that will do the job. Searching the online forums yield plenty of easy-to-understand solutions to any problems one may encounter. I found it a joy to use and quickly designed an emblem and flag for what we were now calling “Republica Phuketia” and this inspired me to resume my stamp-designing endeavors. Certain design elements were edited using Paint.net (making transparent backgrounds and circular text, for example) but most of the actual stamps were created using another piece of software that I like called PhotoScape (v3.7) which has a lot more features than you might realize!
A few design ideas were sketched-out during the lessons with my IELTS student and brainstorm sessions became a regular part of the classes (she learned with me five days per week, two hours per day so we needed a break from some of the more difficult assignments and practice tests). She suggested that there should be stamps with elephants and tuk-tuks (a mechanized three-wheel taxi popular in Bangkok; the Phuket version is vastly different with four wheels). I had the idea of a stamp commemorating the bicentennial of Thai-U.S. friendship, something that Thailand Post seems to have ignored but McDonald’s here has not!
It was my student that decided on the pronunciation of “Phuketia”. The word Phuket itself is a Thai derivative of the Malay word bukit, meaning a hill, and is pronounced /bpoo-get/ with the “b” sounding more prominent than the “p” sound (with the diphthong Ph definitely NOT pronounced like an “f”!). The demonym “Phuketian” is pronounced /bpoo-get-tee-un/ (hard “t” sound) but my student suggested that, for our micronation, the “tia” combination should be a “ch” sound, thus /bpoo-get-chuh/. This, of course, takes much longer to describe than to say! She declared that the language should be a combination of American English and Thinglish (the pidgin English that most first-time Thai learners speaking in until they have had proper lessons) with some elements of Mexican Spanish and Latin thrown in for good measure. During one class period, we started making a list of Phuketian phrases with some hilarious results. We also established the currency as the eth, the name of a letter used in Old English, Middle English, Icelandic, Faroese (in which it is called edd), and Elfdalian, that is pronounced like the “th” in English “father”. The upper-case letter is Ð while the lowercase form is ð, which I’ve used on the stamp designs as it looks a bit more exotic. The Phuketian eth is divided into 100 farang (which is a Thai word referring to any non-Asian white foreigner).
Remembering an episode of the Exploring Stamps YouTube series that mentioned Yourstamps as a printer who could perforate sheets of stamps, I checked out the very informative website and this sparked even more creativity. I found myself designing Phuketian stamps to fit most of the various formats that this company could make. I made small-sized definitives (slightly smaller than the final Muang Phuket issue) and commemorative-sized stamps in both horizonal and vertical orientation. By this time, I’d already contacted Yourstamps with a few questions (and to request a free sample packet) and found that they could make a continuous design across several stamps which led me to design a really cool souvenir sheet featuring a block of four. Upon reading that they could make triangular-shaped stamps made me decide that I needed my own! (These proved the most difficult to design until I realized that I could just design them as square stamps and then bisect the image.)
The final design of this first batch of stamps created is the first to be issued. The 2018 Phuket Vegetarian Festival stamps commemorate the nine–day event that got its local start in 1825. The vegetarian festival (เทศกาลกินเจ, thetsakan kin che in Thai) — the local version of a Taoist celebration usually called the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, held in many Chinese communities in Southeast Asia. The festivities are at their height here in Phuket, where about 35% of the population is Thai Chinese. It attracts massive crowds of spectators because of many of the unusual religious rituals that are performed. For a more extensive explanation of the festival itself, please see my recent article on A Stamp A Day. I have also written about it quite a few times over the years on my Asian Meandering blog with an October 2011 article describing the reason behind Phuket’s version of the festival, an October 2013 article about the “grand finale”, and an article from October 2015 about the ceremony that signals the beginning of the event being the most “illuminating.”
I finalized my order early in September and patiently awaited the large parcel of sheets of stamps to arrive from the printer in Germany. I had hoped to have the Phuket Vegetarian Festival stamps (a set of eight) available during the festival which ran from October 7 until the 17th this year. A number of the Chinese temples and shrines have chop marks which can be rubber-stamped onto envelopes and other items (one year, a shopping center behind my home had a table with all of the rubber stamps available for use to one’s heart’s content). However, there were some delays in production and mail delivery (which can be sporadic in Phuket during the rainy season and the motorbike-using mailmen will not venture out from the post office if the weather is too wet and they suspend all service in my location during the Vegetarian Festival due to the processions clogging the roadways and the fireworks thrown at participants, spectators, and anybody else caught in the crossfire).
An provisional stamp issue was prepared in the interim using the 2017 Muang Phuket Local Post definitive and overprinting it with a Phuketia “Two Heroines” marking and change of value (the original was 25 satang which is equivalent to 10 farang in the new currency). I prepared a very limited number of MPLP last day/Phuketia first day of service covers this past Friday and Saturday, one of which is illustrated below.
The first day of issue for the 2018 Phuket Vegetarian Festival stamps for Republica Phuketia will be October 31, 2018 (Halloween being somewhat appropriate for this theme as both are frightening!). There are three horizontally-oriented stamps (#Ph29-31) printed in sheets of 15, perforated 13¼ x 13½, .and five vertically-oriented stamps (#Ph32-36) printed in sheets of 15, perforated 13½ x 13¼. They are denominated at 20 farang each. The stamps were designed by myself, Mark Joseph Jochim, using photographs taken by myself during the 2015 Phuket Vegetarian Festival and were printed by Yoursetamps using high-resolution laser printing technology. All are pictured below.
There will be a limited number of first day covers prepared for this release. However, they will receive the standard double-ringed Phuketia CDS with no additional pictorial postmark. Special rubber stamps may be prepared for future issues but that has yet to be determined.
A full release schedule for the remainder of 2018 will be announced in the upcoming week. A website for the micronation of Republica Phuketia (officially, the Non-Bureaucratic Autocracy of Republica Phuketia in English) is in the initial planning stages, based on my IELTS student’s essay and other work in our classroom project. She scored very well on the exam and has been accepted in a study program in the United States. I wish her well.
While these stamps are not for sale, I am always happy to trade for your other local post stamps, either mint or on cover. Simply contact me on this blog and we can set up a swap.
It’s been a busy month at work for me but still I have maintained daily articles for A Stamp A Day, all but a very small handful revolving around the theme of National Stamp Collecting Month. Today’s article gives a history of postcards, an introduction to collecting them and a discussion of the Postcrossing project. I’d chosen a Postcrossing-themed stamp from Romania to illustrate the article and planned to sprinkle scans from my meager collection of six stamps related to this topical.
At about the time I should have been wrapping up the article this afternoon, I began putting together a checklist of all of the Postcrossing stamps I could find. Not only that, but I sought out images of each of the stamps themselves (not always an easy task). I came up with a total of 20 different issues between October 2011 and early this year and 42 different stamps. Rather than simply throwing them into a slideshow, I decided to create an illustrated version of my list here on Philatelic Pursuits. Most of the images and catalogue numbers were sourced from the Colnect online catalogue with the Universal Postal Union’s WADP listings and Postcrossing providing a few others plus some information on sheet sizes and stamp designers. The listing is in chronological order.
It’s a great topical, both for stamp collectors and for deltiologists who love Postcrossing. Which reminds me: I haven’t sent or received any postcards at all in 2018 (been too busy with other endeavors, I suppose) so I think I should get cracking and write some cards this weekend.
Postcrossing-Themed Stamps, 2011-2018
Netherlands: October 11, 2011: 6 stamps (Scott #1399a-1399f). miniature sheet of 10
Finland: September 9, 2013 — 4 stamps (Scott #1444a-1444d), booklet pane of 4
Belarus: January 2, 2014 — 1 stamp (Scott #884), sheet of 12; designed by Inga Turlo
Guernsey: May 28, 2014 — 1 stamp (Stanley Gibbons #1517); designed by Bridget Yabsley
Russia: January 27, 2015 — 1 stamp (Michel #2128) in sheet of 9; designed by Olga Shushlebina
Slovenia: May 29, 2015 — 1 stamp (Michel #1153)
Czech Republic: September 2, 2015 — 1 stamp (Scott #3648) in sheet of 40; designed by graphic designer and illustrator Maria Nogueira
Ukraine: October 5, 2015 — 1 stamp (Michel #1510) in sheet of 16; designed by Nataliia Andriichenko; pictures a girl holding a pen while wearing a traditional Ukranian costume
Russia: March 25, 2016 — 1 stamp (Michel #2300) in sheet of 9; designed by I. Sidenko
Netherlands: March 29, 2016 — 10 stamps (Michel #3447-3456) in miniature sheet of 10; designed by Reinier Hamel
Austria: May 21, 2016 — 1 stamp (Scott #2615) in sheet of 50; designed by Robert Sabolovic; features a wall of stylized postcards with “Postcrossing” written in the colors of the Austrian flag
Poland: July 14, 2016 — 1 stamp (Michel #4852) in miniature sheet of 6
Guernsey: July 16, 2016 — 2 stamps (Michel #1572-1573)
Belarus: January 3, 2017 — 1 stamp (Michel #1168); designed by Marina Vitkovskaya
Romania: February 24, 2017 — 1 stamp (Michel #7184) in miniature sheet of 8; designed by Râzvan Popescu
Indonesia: June 5, 2017 — 3 stamps, 1 souvenir sheet
Switzerland: September 7, 2017 — 3 stamps (Michel #2500-2502); designed by Max Spring
Ireland: October 5, 2017 — 1 stamp (Michel #2242); illustration by Cathy Dineen
Hungary: February 2, 2018 — 1 stamp (Michel #5937) in a miniature sheet of 4: based on artwork created by graphic artist Zsolt Vidák
Moldova: June 23, 2018 — 1 stamp (Michel #1053); drawn by Lilian Iaţco
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.