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…

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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.