Editorial, Thailand Philately

What About the U.S.A.?

[url=https://flic.kr/p/24w2P7f][img]https://farm1.staticflickr.com/974/40377611310_6292bdafb3_o.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/24w2P7f]ef54ba8a-b2c7-11e6-b17d-d6b2ebc6f34a_image_hires[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/am-jochim/]Mark Jochim[/url], on Flickr
U.S. President Barack Obama meeting with the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a visit to Bangkok, Thailand, on November 18, 2012.

Sometimes I wonder what Thailand Post is thinking of when the stamp selection committee meets to choose topics for future issues. Tue, most subjects on Thai stamps are quite worthy and beautifully executed; we aren’t bombarded with the tons of frivolous wallpaper that some postal administrations churn out with regularity. There have been relatively few poor designs in the years since I moved to southern Thailand and began to avidly collect the Kingdom’s issues, past and present.

However, I feel that there have been missed opportunities along the way and that Thailand Post has repeated itself far too often in recent years. There are certain issues that are guaranteed each year: (Western) New Year’s Day, Children’s Day, Chinese New Year (which they actually passed over in 2018!), a Thai traditional festivals set coinciding with Thai New Year, at least one of the Buddhist holidays (Vesak Bucha being this year’s honoree), Thai Heritage Conservation Day, the King’s Birthday, Mother’s Day, World Post Day, and the multi-stamp flowers issue for the following New Year (annually released in November, they take the place of the Christmas stamps released by Christian nations).

There are also various joint-issues mixed in throughout most years. I quite like these but it is in this area that Thailand Post tends to make mistakes. For example, last week a nice pair of stamps was released to mark the 60th anniversary of Thailand’s diplomatic relations with Turkey with a stamp each portraying the nations’ national sports. A beautiful set and a worthwhile commemoration until you realize that the 50th anniversary of Thai-Turkish diplomatic relations was marked by a joint-issue a mere ten years ago. Is the nation going to mark the 70th anniversary as well? It’s not as if we are being overrun with Turkish tourists (I’ve only met one Turk in the 14 years I’ve lived here).

Thailand -Thailand Post #TH-1147, released on May 12, 2018.
Thailand -Thailand Post #TH-1147, released on May 12, 2018.
Thailand - Thailand Post #TH-1068 First Day Cover, released May 8, 2015.
Thailand – Thailand Post #TH-1068 First Day Cover, released May 8, 2015.

Thailand does seem to like oddly-numbered anniversaries as well. While many nations such as the United States or Great Britain will deem 50th, 100th, and 200th anniversaries of events as stamp-worthy, Thailand Post has issued stamps in the past few years marking the diplomatic relations between the Kingdom and Russia (120 years), China (40 years), Sri Lanka (60 years), Israel (60 years), and even the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — that’s North Korea to you and me — (40 years). Of course, the granddaddy of all of these was the joint issue with Portugal which marked 500 years of friendship (which predates both the Chakri Dynasty and the Ayutthaya Kingdom).

Yet, Thailand has never philatelically honored the United States of America — it’s longest-held diplomatic trading partner if you measure the birth of the nation as the beginning of the ongoing Rattanakosin Kingdom (อาณาจักรรัตนโกสินทร์,) which was founded in 1782. Perhaps the bosses at Thailand Post have forgotten that nearly every paved road and airport in the vast northeast region known as Isaan was not only designed but also constructed by U.S. Army manpower. The two countries have fought shoulder-to-shoulder in every major conflict since World War II, and even redefined their partnership to meet modern global challenges like terrorism and transnational crime.

I was reminded the other day that 2018 is the 200th year of friendship between Thailand and the U.S. This reminded didn’t arrive via a U.S. Embassy Resident Alert or mention on the media, or, as I would hope, by the announcement of a pending stamp issue. No, I made a rare visit to the local McDonald’s (sometimes you just NEED a Big Mac) and, as I finished my fries and moved the carton in order to attack the burger the message loomed large as life on the tray-liner!

Come on, Thailand Post! If a fast-food establishment — albeit such a sheer symbol of Westerness throughout the world — feels it is worthwhile to remind its customers that Thailand and the United States has been friends for 200 years, why can’t we have a nice stamp to commemorate that fact? Even North Korea has regularly portrayed its relations with the U.S. on stamps, although they aren’t exactly promoting anything remotely friendly or diplomatic..

North Korean anti-U.S.A. stamps issued June 25, 2017.

The first recorded contact between Thailand (then known as Siam) and the United States came in 1818, when an American ship captain visited the country, bearing a letter from U.S. President James Monroe. Chang and Eng Bunker immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1830s. In 1832, President Andrew Jackson sent his envoy Edmund Roberts in the U.S. sloop-of-war Peacock, to the courts of Cochin-China, Siam and Muscat. Roberts concluded a Treaty of Amity and Commerce on March 20, 1833, with the Chao-Phraya Phra Klang representing King Phra Nang Klao; ratifications were exchanged April 14, 1836, and the Treaty was proclaimed on June 24, 1837. The Treaty of 1833 was the United States’ first treaty with a country in Asia, making Thailand truly America’s oldest friend in the region.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Treaty, it was revealed that President Andrew Jackson had given the king (later known as Rama III) a gold sword with a design of an elephant and an eagle chased on a gold handle. The king had also been presented a proof set of United States coins, which included the “King of Siam” 1804 dollar struck in 1834. The set, minus a Jackson gold medal, was purchased for a record price of U.S. $8.5 million by Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Irvine, California on November 1, 2005. The set had been sold by Goldberg Coins & Collectibles of Beverly Hills, California, on behalf of an anonymous owner described as “a West Coast business executive,” who purchased it for over U.S. $4 million four years before.

Mural from a school in Koh Samui, Thailand, on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 2013.
Mural from a school in Koh Samui, Thailand, on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 2013.

Perhaps Thailand Post had ignored the United States considerable contribution to the Kingdom as an indicator of current U.S.-Thai relations.  Since the 2014 military coup, the United States has withheld military aid and high-level engagement, unwilling to resume them until a democratically-elected government is restored. That could be quite a bit in the future as elections have been postponed each year and were indefinitely put on hold by the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the ensuing year-long mourning period. As in the Philippines, China has been more than happy to fill this void with their own aid, steadily prying Thailand away from the U.S.-led alliance system.

While 2018 does mark the bicentennial of Thai-American contact, perhaps Thailand Post would like to mark the anniversary that the Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed, formalizing diplomatic relations. Still, 2018 is the 185th anniversary of that event. Please don’t make us wait another 15 years for a stamp marking our long friendship.

In the absence of a stamp issue, at least those Americans who live here or are just passing through can feel proud that McDonald’s has remembered us. If only they would give us a free Big Mac if we show them our passport….

The U.S. Consulate produced a nice logo in 2013 on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of 1833. The slideshow below includes a few additional anniversary logos and Thailand Post stamps…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Advertisements
New Issues, Thailand Philately, U.S. stamps

Catching Up: Recent & Upcoming New Issues by the United States and Thailand

I’m quite surprised that the two main countries for which I collect new stamp issues — the country of my birth and my adopted home of the past thirteen years — have not released more stamps thus far in 2018. The United States issued just five in the entire month of April, four of those in a set at the beginning of the month and a single definitive towards the end of April. Thailand released eight stamps and one souvenir sheet in the same time frame which I discussed in my last Philatelic Pursuits article. For May, the USPS has but two stamps scheduled (one of which was issued almost weeks ago) while Thailand Post is set to release eight in three different sets.

United States - STEM Education - April 6, 2018
United States – STEM Education – April 6, 2018
United States - STEM Education - April 6, 2018
United States – STEM Education – April 6, 2018

On April 6, four Forever (50-cent) stamps were issued by the United States to promote the role of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education “in keeping the United States a global leader in innovation and providing new opportunities for all Americans to learn and explore the world.” David Plunkert of Baltimore, Maryland, was the designer and artist for the four stamps which each feature a collage of faces, symbols, drawings, and numbers that represent the complexity and interconnectedness of the STEM disciplines. Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, Virginia, was the art director and typographer for the issue while Joseph Sheeran was the modeler.

Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. printed 15,000,000 of the self-adhesive stamps in panes of 20 using the offset process at its plant in Williamsville, New York, on a Muller A76 press using the colors of black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. The stamps first went on sale in Washington, D.C.

In 2015 the Department of Education established the Committee on STEM Education and explained, “The United States has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators. In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex…it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information…subjects collectively known as STEM.”

United States - Peace Rose - April 21, 2018
United States – Peace Rose – April 21, 2018
United States - Peace Rose - April 21, 2018
United States – Peace Rose – April 21, 2018

On April 21, 2018, in Shreveport, LA, the U.S. Postal Service issued a single Peace Rose Forever (50-cent) stamp in a self-adhesive double-sided booklet of 20 stamps. The stamp was dedicated at the Gardens of the American Rose Center. April 21 was also the closing date of one of the oldest festivals in the South, Holiday in Dixie, which was held April 13-April 21 in Shreveport. The stamp release served as the kick-off to the annual Spring Bloom Festival and preceded National Peace Rose Day on April 29.

Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Marylan, designed the Peace Rose stamp from an existing photograph taken by Richard C. Baer. Ashton Potter has printed 400,000,000 of these stamps using offset and microprinting in Williamsville, New York.

The new Peace Rose stamp celebrates one of the most popular roses of all time. The stamp art features a detail from a photograph of the Peace Rose blossom and its creamy yellow petals, with a touch of pink on the edges. The rose revolutionized hybrid tea roses with its unique coloring, hardiness, and disease resistance.

United States - U.S. Airmail Centennial (blue) - May 1, 2018
United States – U.S. Airmail Centennial (blue) – May 1, 2018
United States - U.S. Airmail Centennial (blue) - May 1, 2018
United States – U.S. Airmail Centennial (blue) – May 1, 2018

Cover flown on the first day of scheduled Air Mail Service in the U.S. and franked with the first U.S. Air Mail stamp, the 24 Cent "Jenny" (C-3). Cancel: "AIR MAIL SERVICE - WASH. N.Y. PHILA." "MAY 15, 1918 - FIRST TRIP" "PHILA." (Type: USPOD CDS w/killer bars) Sourrce: The Cooper Collection of U.S. Aero Postal History, via Wikipedia.
Cover flown on the first day of scheduled Air Mail Service in the U.S. and franked with the first U.S. Air Mail stamp, the 24 Cent “Jenny” (C-3). Cancel: “AIR MAIL SERVICE – WASH. N.Y. PHILA.” “MAY 15, 1918 – FIRST TRIP” “PHILA.” (Type: USPOD CDS w/killer bars) Sourrce: The Cooper Collection of U.S. Aero Postal History, via Wikipedia.

On May 1, the United States marked the centennial of the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail service by releasing a single Forever (50-cent) self-adhesive stamp picturing a Curtis JN-4H biplane printed in blue. The issue ceremony was held at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. An identical stamp, printed in red, will be released later in the summer to commemorate the beginning of airmail delivery through the U.S. Post Office Department, which began in August 1918.

Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. printed 7,500,000 copies of the blue Airmail stamp using the intaglio process on a Stevens Vari-size Security Press in Williamsville, New York. Dan Gretta of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the designer and also did the typography while Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, Virginia, was the art director on this project which “commemorates the pioneering spirit of the brave Army pilots who initiated the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail service.”

United States - Sally Ride - May 23, 2018
United States – Sally Ride – May 23, 2018
United States - Sally Ride - May 23, 2018
United States – Sally Ride – May 23, 2018

The USPS will pay tribute to America’s first woman in space, Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012) with a single Forever (50-cent) self-adhesive stamp scheduled for release in La Jolla, California, on May 23, 2018. Ride was a member of the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger STS-7 in 1984. She inspired the nation as a pioneering astronaut, brilliant physicist, and dedicated educator, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. Sally Ride was born May 26, 1951 in Encino, California, and died July 23, 2012 in La Jolla.

The stamp art, sketched first in charcoal and then rendered in oil paint, features a colorful portrait of Ride in her light blue space suit with a dramatic depiction of a space shuttle lifting off in the background. Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland, designed the stamp with artwork by Paul Salmon of Burke, Virginia. Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. is offset printing 20,000,000 Sally Ride stamps on the Muller A76 press at Williamsville, New York.

For the past couple of years, Thailand Post has been very slow to publicize information on its upcoming stamp releases. Currently, there is nothing on the schedule beyond May 31 other than the delayed Rama X definitive set at the end of July. Due to my work schedule, I haven’t even made it to the post office since last November.

Thailand - 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with Turkey - May 12, 2018 [TH-1146]
Thailand – 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with Turkey – May 12, 2018 [TH-1146]
Thailand - 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with Turkey - May 12, 2018 [TH-1146]
Thailand – 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with Turkey – May 12, 2018 [TH-1146]

There are two 3-baht stamps under the title of “60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Thailand and Turkey Commemorative Stamps” scheduled for release tomorrow, May 12. A press release (in Thai) along with images of single stamps and a full sheet were finally released earlier this week.. It has a Thailand Post issue number of TH-1146 assigned. One of the stamps depicts Thailand’s national sport of muay thai (มวยไทย) while the other portrays oil wrestling (Yağlı güreş in Turkish), also called grease wrestling, which is the Turkish national sport. It is so called because the wrestlers douse themselves with olive oil.

Thailand - Vesak Bucha Day - May 29, 2018 [TH-1147]
Thailand – Vesak Bucha Day – May 29, 2018 [TH-1147]

 There are rather blurry images of the four-stamp TH-1147 “Visak Day 2018 Commemorative Stamps” issue now rescheduled from May 14 to the actual 2018 date of the holiday, May 29. Vesaka Bucha (วิสาขบูชา) is a major festival in Thailand and elsewhere throughout Asia as it commemorates the birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition. The designs portray the stupas (เจดีย์ — chedi in Thai) from various Thai temples called wat (วัด). I tried to identify the chedi on these new stamps, using the released image but failed. They don’t seem to be any of the “usual subjects”.

Finally, on May 31, there is a 2-stamp joint issue planned with Romania planned but no further details have been announced. Romania and Thailand established diplomatic relations with the establishment of an embassy in Bangkok on June 1, 1973. There is also an honorary Romanian consulate in Pattaya and the Thais have an embassy in Bucharest. Additionally, December 1, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the union of Transylvania with Romania celebrated with Romania’s national holiday of Great Union Day.. The holiday was established after the Romanian Revolution, and marks the unification not only of Transylvania, but also of the provinces of Banat, Bessarabia and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom. These other provinces had all joined with the Kingdom of Romania earlier in 1918.

Sueng Bung Fai with traditional Isan dressing and local long drum show. Photo taken in Suwannaphum District, Roi Et, Thailand on June 6, 2015.
New Issues, Thailand Philately

New Issues: Thailand [April 2018]

After nearly two months without any new stamps, Thailand Post is set to release two sets within the next four days for a total of eight stamps and one souvenir sheet.

Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 commemorative stamp set, release date April 2, 2018 Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 souvenir sheet, release date April 2, 2018Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 First Day Cover, release date April 2, 2018

Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 pictorial postmarks, release date April 2, 2018
Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 commemorative stamp set with souvenir sheet, release date April 2, 2018

Due tomorrow, April 2, 2018, is the annual set marking Thai Heritage Conservation Day (วันอนุรักษ์มรดกไทย — Wan Anurak Moradok Thai). Marking the birthday of the popular Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (มหาจักรีสิรินธร), a stamp collector and designer herself, the special day has been observed since 1995. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information about the murals portrayed on this year’s stamp set. Four 3-baht stamps plus a souvenir sheet which will be sold for 15 baht are scheduled to be issued under the Thailand Post catalogue number of TH-1144.

Thailand TH-1144 Thai Traditional Festivals 2018 commemorative stamp set, release date April 4, 2018 Thailand TH-1144 Thai Traditional Festivals 2018 First Day Cover, release date April 4, 2018

Thailand TH-1144 Thai Traditional Festivals 2018 pictorial postmarks, release date April 4, 2018
Thailand TH-1144 Thai Traditional Festivals 2018 commemorative stamp set, release date April 4, 2018

On April 4, the annual set of four Thai Traditional Festivals set will be released under the Thailand Post number TH-1145. This year’s subject is the spectacular Sky Rocket Festival (ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ — Prapheni Bun Bang Fai), a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people throughout much of the Isan region of northeastern Thailand and Laos near the beginning of the wet season. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets.

Rocket Festival, Yasothon ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ จังหวัดยโสธร
Rocket launch at Yasothon, Thailand ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ จังหวัดยโสธร
Sueng Bung Fai with traditional Isan dressing and local long drum show. Photo taken in Suwannaphum District, Roi Et, Thailand on June 6, 2015.
Sueng Bung Fai with traditional Isan dressing and local long drum show. Photo taken in Suwannaphum District, Roi Et, Thailand on June 6, 2015.

Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia. The most famous celebrations are those held in Yasothon’s provincial capital staged annually over the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that falls in the middle of May. In 2018, I believe this is May 18-20 but haven’t been able to confirm those dates yet. It appears that the photographs used for Thailand’s new stamps were taken at Yasathon. The festival is one I’ve long wanted to attend and will make an extra effort this year (it can be difficult to take more than two days off from work). At the very least, I will put together an article about the Skyrocket Festival for my A Stamp A Day blog next month.

In the meantime, here’s some video from the 2016 Rocket Festival at Kut Wa in Kalasin Province, Thailand:

The next stamps on the Thailand Post calendar is a 2-stamp set marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic releations between Thailand and Turkey (TH-1146), scheduled for release on May 12. There is also a four-stamp set (TH-1147) scheduled for May 14 to mark Vesak Buja Day (วันวิสาขบูชา — Wan Wisakhabucha). This is a Buddhist observance commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha, traditionally at the full moon of the sixth Thai lunar month (May). In Thailand, it is also observed as National Tree Day.

April 6 in Thailand is observed as Chakri Memorial Day (วันจักรี — Wan Chakkri), which commemorates the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty and the founding of Bangkok by King Phutthayotfa Chulalok in 1782. Officially known as King Phutthayotfa Chulalok the Great Day and Chakri Dynasty Memorial Day (วันพระบาทสมเด็จพระพุทธยอดฟ้าจุฬาโลกมหาราชและวันที่ระลึกมหาจักรีบรมราชวงศ์), this year the date will see the release of the first new banknotes and coins bearing the likeness of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (มหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร). In the West, he is called simply King Rama X. Banknotes in the denominations of 20, 50 and 100 baht will be released on April 6 as well as coins denominated 10, 5, 2, and 1 baht plus 50, 25, 10, 5, and 1 satang (all of the satang coinage is basically useless, retailers usually will round up or give customers 25- or 50-satang coins in change but refuse to accept them as payment; the lowest values are so that banks can balance their account books and probably won’t reach circulation).

Thailand King Rama X Definitive Stamps (Series I), scheduled for release July 28, 2018.
Pre-Order announcement for Thailand King Rama X Definitive Stamps (Series I), scheduled for release July 28, 2018.

The first Rama X definitive stamps were originally scheduled to have been released on April 6 as well but are now delayed until July 28. That date is known in English as King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Birthday but in Thai it is วันเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษาสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัวมหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร — Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Maha Wachiralongkon Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun. Have I mentioned that I have given up trying to learn the language due to mouthfuls such as this? There will be twelve stamps released that date bearing Rama X’s portrait in denominations of 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 50, and 100 baht. The total face value is 220 baht, plus it appears that there will also be a souvenir sheet containing all 12 stamps to be sold for 250 baht. The stamps are now available for pre-order, as evidenced by the pictured advertisement I found on Facebook.

Although King Maha Vajiralongkorn accepted the throne on the night of December 1, 2016, and King Bhumibol Adulyadej was cremated on October 26, 2017, a coronation for the new king has yet to be held.

New Issues

New Stamp Issues: U.S.A. [February & March 2018]

The two principal countries from which I collect new stamp issues each year, Thailand and the United States, have remained fairly quiet thus far in 2018.  Thailand Post hasn’t released anything at all since February 7 but that is about to change (I’ll dedicate the next article to the planned April releases). The United States Postal Service has had three stamp issues (one a set of ten) since I last blogged about U.S. stamps back on February 9.

The first of these was a set of ten (50¢) forever commemorative stamps picturing “Bioluminescent Life” (specifically, deep-ocean octopus, midwater jellyfish, deep-sea comb jelly, mushroom, firefly, bamboo coral, white marine worm, crown jellyfish, pale blue marine worm, and sea pen) released on February 22 at Fort Pierce, Florida, in panes of 20. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism, a form of chemiluminescence. This occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, microorganisms including some bioluminescent bacteria and terrestrial invertebrates such as fireflies. In some animals, the light is bacteriogenic, produced by symbiotic organisms such as Vibrio bacteria; in others, it is autogenic, produced by the animals themselves.

In a general sense, the principal chemical reaction in bioluminescence involves some light-emitting molecule and an enzyme, generally called the luciferin and the luciferase, respectively. Because these are generic names, the luciferins and luciferases are often distinguished by including the species or group, i.e. Firefly luciferin. In all characterized cases, the enzyme catalyzes the oxidation of the luciferin.

The first day of issue city, Fort Pierce, is home to ORCA, the Ocean Research & Conservation Association. ORCA’s CEO and Senior Scientist is Dr. Edith Widder, who took the photographs that appear on seven of the stamp images. The selvage — or area outside the stamps — features a transparent deep-sea comb jelly (photo by Gregory G. Dimijian), surrounded by images of the firefly squid (photos by Danté Fenolio). Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps and selvage from existing photographs. They were printed by Banknote Corporation of America at Browns Summit, North Carolina, with a total of 40,000,000 selft-adhesive stamps printed. The panes are printed in the following arrangementt:

  • Row 1: deep-ocean octopus and midwater jellyfish (photos by Edith Widder);
  • Row 2: deep-sea comb jelly (photo by Edith Widder), mushroom (photo by Taylor F. Lockwood);
  • Row 3: firefly (photo by Gail Shumway), bamboo coral (photo by Edith Widder);
  • Row 4: marine worm and crown jellyfish (photos by Edith Widder);
  • Row 5: marine worm (photo by Steve Haddock) sea pen (photo by Edith Widder).

On March 5, a single self-adhesive stamp was released in Springfield, Illinois to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Illinois statehood. The first Europeans to visit Illinois were the French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette in 1673, but the region was ceded to Britain after the French and Indian War. After the American Revolution, Illinois became a territory of the United States, and achieved statehood on December 3, 1818.

The stamp art features an outline of the state map with a series of yellow beams that are meant to look like rays of a rising sun. In similar fashion, the Postal People tell us “the yellows and blues symbolize the dawning of a new day as the state joins the Union. Stars, representing the first 20 states, grace the top of the stamp. The rising sun symbolizes the 21st star.” Illinois artist Michael Konetzka designed the stamp; Antonio Alcalá was the art director. They were printed by Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina, using offset printing in a quantity of 25,000,000 stamps.

The stamp is available from USPS online sales and phone outlets. Although other post offices may order them, they are being distributed automatically only to Post Offices in Illinois.

I can recall watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a child growing up in West Texas but I don’t remember much about it. The USPS released a single self-adhesive stamp on March 23 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, picturing the show’s host, Fred Rogers (1928-2003), The stamp also pictures King Friday XIII, a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood puppet character hailing from “The Neighborhood of Make-Believe.”

Rogers’ groundbreaking public television series inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity and honesty. Filmed in Pittsburgh and first distributed nationally in 1968 by a predecessor of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the program was innovative and unlike anything on television for children at that time. Each episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” began with its host welcoming the audience into his television house. While singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Rogers always put on his trademark cardigan, changed into sneakers and then introduced the day’s topic. He discussed many of the experiences of growing up, delicately covering everything from sharing and friendship to difficult subjects like anger, fear, divorce and death.

Derry Noyes was the art director, designer and typographer on this stamp while the artist was Walt Seng. Printed using offset by the Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina, 12,000,000 stamps were printed in panes of 20.

Currently, the United States Postal Service has two releases scheduled for April: a set of four to be issued on April 6 in order to bring awareness to the role of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education “in keeping the United States a global leader in innovation and providing new opportunities for all Americans to learn and explore the world” as well as a single Peace Rose stamp due on April 21. I’ll report more on these next month.

2018-01-01 Year of the Dog [TH-1141]
Chinese New Year, New Issues, Topical Pursuits

New Issues – Thematic Wrap-Up: Year of the Dog

Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year,  known popularly as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival (simplified Chinese: 春节; traditional Chinese: 春節; pinyin: Chūn Jié). For a number of years, my adopted home of Thailand issued Zodiac stamps usually on January 1 and then a Chinese New Year set (often depicting various deities) a few weeks later. Last year, there was no Chinese New Year stamp and that has been repeated this year as well. Many nations have released Year of the Dog stamps, most with a distinctive Chinese slant, and a few have released issues more focused on the Spring Festival itself. If you are a dog lover, there are some very attractive topical stamps issued so far in 2018. To read more about the background of Chinese New Year, please have a look at my article on A Stamp A Day.

BHUTAN: Year of the Dog, released January 20, 2018

2018-01-20 [Bhutan] Chinese New Year


CANADA: Chinese New Year, released January 15, 2018

2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year 2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year 2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year 2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year


PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: Year of the Dog, released January 5, 2018

2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year 2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year


PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: Spring Festival, released January 10, 2018

2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year


CHRISTMAS ISLAND: Year of the Dog, released January 8, 2018

2018-01-08 [Christmas Island] Chinese New Year 2018-01-08 [Christmas Island] Chinese New Year 2018-01-08 [Christmas Island] Chinese New Year


FRANCE: Happy New Year, released February 2, 2018

2018-01-08 [Christmas Island] Chinese New Year


FRENCH POLYNESIA: Year of the Dog, released February 16, 2018

2018-02-16 Chinese New Year [French Polynesia]


GIBRALTAR: Year of the Dog, released January 30, 2018

2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year


GUERNSEY: Year of the Dog, released February 3, 2018

2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year


HONG KONG S.A.R., CHINA: Year of the Dog, released January 27, 2018

2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year


INDONESIA: Chinese New Year, released February 1, 2018

2018-02-01 Chinese New Year [Indonesia] 2018-02-01 Chinese New Year [Indonesia]


ISLE OF MAN: Year of the Dog, released February 8, 2018

2018-02-01 Chinese New Year [Indonesia]


JERSEY: Year of the Dog, released January 5, 2018


KAZAKHSTAN: Chinese New Year, released January 1, 2018

2018-01-01 [Kazakhstan] Chinese New Year miniature sheet


KYRGYZSTAN: Chinese New Year, released January 30, 2018


MACAU, CHINA: Year of the Dog, released January 5, 2018


MALAYSIA: Working Dogs, released January 13, 2018


MONGOLIA: Year of the Dog, released January 5, 2018

2018-01-05 [Mongolia] Chinese New Year


THE NETHERLANDS: Year of the Dog, released January 29, 2018


NEW CALEDONIA: Year of the Dog, released February 16, 2016

2018-02-16 Chinese New Year [New Caledonia]


NEW ZEALAND: Year of the Dog, released January 10, 2018


SINGAPORE: Year of the Dog (personalized stamps), released January 5, 2018

2018-01-05 [Singapore] Chinese New Year [peronalized stamps]


SLOVENIA: Year of the Dog, released January 26, 2018

2018-01-26 Chinese New Year [Slovenia]


TAJIKISTAN: Year of the Dog, released January 26, 2018

2018-01-26 Chinese New Year [Slovenia]


THAILAND: Year of the Dog, released January 1, 2018

2018-01-01 Year of the Dog [TH-1141]


UNITED NATIONS: Chinese New Year personalized sheet, released February 2, 2018

2018-01-01 Year of the Dog [TH-1141]


UNITED STATES: Zodiac Year of the Dog, released January 11, 2018

2018-01-11 [United States] Year of the Dog [Honolulu, HI]


WALLIS & FUTUNA ISLANDS: Year of the Dog, released February 16, 2018

2016-02-16 Chinese New Year [Wallis & Futuna]

Love on Stamps, New Issues, Topical Pursuits

New Issues – Thematic Wrap-Up: Love 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A week ago, I posted a blog entry about Thailand’s Symbol of Love 2018 stamp release. Of course, the Land of Smiles is not the only nation promoting the theme of LOVE philatelicly. Below are images of other stamps that have been released recently which you may wish to use on any Valentine’s Day cards you’d like to mail (people do that, right?). At the very least, these may inspire you to buy something special for your significant other on what we call in Thailand Wan Rak (“day of love”). I recommend giving flowers or chocolate, NOT stamps or first day covers unless your loved-one also happens to share your beloved hobby.

AUSTRALIA: With Love, released February 6, 2018

Australia - Love, released February 6, 2018Australia - Love, released February 6, 2018

Australia - Love, released February 6, 2018


FRANCE: Valentine’s Day/50th Anniversary of Fashion House, released January 12, 2018

France - Valentine's Day/50th Anniversary of Fashion House, released January 12, 2018

France - Valentine's Day/50th Anniversary of Fashion House, released January 12, 2018 France - Valentine's Day/50th Anniversary of Fashion House, released January 12, 2018


IRELAND: Love & Marriage, released February 8, 2018

Ireland - Love & Marriage, released February 8, 2018


LEBANON: Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018

Lebanon - Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018

Lebanon - Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018 [sheet]

Lebanon - Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018 [First Day Cover, front]

Lebanon - Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018 [First Day Cover, back]


MOLDOVA: Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018

While this stamp from the land-locked Eastern European nation of Moldova looks similar to the other stamps in this theme, the purpose of this issue is actually to promote Organ Transplants which are probably the ultimate gift of love!

Moldova - Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018Molodva - Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018 [sheet]

Molodva - Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018 [FDC]


SLOVENIA: Love, released January 26, 2018

Slovenia - Love, released January 26, 2018

Slovenia - Love, released January 26, 2018 [sheet]


THAILAND: Symbol of Love, released February 7, 2018 [Thailand Post #TH-1148]

Thailand TH-1143: Symbol of Love Postage StampThailand - Symbol of Love, released February 7, 2018 [sheet]

Thailand - Symbol of Love, released February 7, 2018 [FDC]


UNITED STATES: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [Scott #5255]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [Scott #5255]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [sheet]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [sheet liner]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [fFDC]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [FDC with digital color postmark]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [first day of issue cermeony program]

Flags on Stamps, New Issues

Issued Today (February 9, 2018): United States – U.S.A. Flag

The United States Postal Service is issuing a new definitive stamp today — February 9, 2018 — at the American Stamp Dealers Association’s ASDA Winter Postage Stamp Show in Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310. The USPS’s two contract security printers — Ashton Potter of Williamsville, New York, and Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina — have each printed a coil and a double-sided pane, creating a total of four collectible varieties of this design. All four varieties are pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) and are Forever stamps to pay the First-Class Mail rate, currently 50 cents.

United States stamps picturing the national flag in vivid red, white and blue have been available to the public almost continuously since 1957. This eye-catching new issuance continues that tradition with a striking graphic design of the flag with two crisp folds. Ethel Kessler served as art director for this stamp, which features a digital illustration by Kit Hinrichs. It is one of two U.S. flag stamps currently scheduled for release in 2018, the other being a commemorative stamp in the same basic design to this definitive, marking the 200th anniversary of the Flag Act enacted by Congress on April 4, 1818. This final Flag Act (of three) provided for the modern rule of having thirteen stripes to represent the original thirteen colonies and having the number of stars match the number of states. It also provided that subsequent changes in the number of stars be made on July 4, Independence Day.

Mailers in the United States like to use flag stamps on their mail as it is thought they have a better chance of being opened; however, most volume mailers use non-denominated stamps to pay a base fee, 5¢ for example, then pay the remaining postage by check or balance transfer. So this stamp will be used mostly by small businesses and individuals.

Full technical details and information on ordering first day of issue postmarks (the deadline is April 9, 2018) can be found in USPS Postal Bulletin 22484 (January 4, 2018). Postal Bulletin 22486 (February 1, 2018) pictures a black & white pictorial postmark for the first day of issue.