Weekly Phila-Bytes #2019-01

Thailand - Thailand Post #TH1162 (2019) first day cover - released January 1, 2019
Thailand – Thailand Post #TH1162 (2019) first day cover – released January 1, 2019

Back in August and September 2016, I wrote three articles under the heading “Phila-Bytes” in an effort to post on Philatelic Pursuits more often. It didn’t work. I’d set out to do a bi-weekly series and perhaps there was too much going on during those two weeks to keep track of. At any rate, the series fizzled.

I am beginning to think in terms of weekly posting schedules for each of my blogs (yes, even the 925-post strong A Stamp A Day). I published the first of a weekly recap series this past Sunday on Asian Meanderings — my first entry there since last July — which includes an account of my week in terms of work, places visited, books read, etc. with a mix of photos and video. With that out of the way, I believe future installments will be much easier to put together. I plan to start once-per-week entries on A Stamp A Day (with a name change, of course) once I hit my 1000th article there in late March. I haven’t received a single postcard in quite some time so it may be a bit more difficult to post each week on Postcards to Phuket but I’ll take a look at my unblogged cards and figure something out soon.

My stamp purchases have gotten a slow start in 2019. In the past week, I’ve spent just over 450 baht (USD $14.20) on stamps and covers, mostly in eBay auctions. It can take up to two months for those online acquisitions to arrive in Thailand (not included in the total above is another 250 baht in shipping costs).

Old and new Phuket post offices in the heart of Phuket Town, Thailand.
Old and new Phuket post offices in the heart of Phuket Town, Thailand.

I managed to get to the post office last Thursday for the first time in ages and bought some recent Thailand issues. Last summer, during one of our torrential downpours in the height of monsoon season, the roof of the historic building which houses the Phuket Philatelic Museum collapsed. As the shop inside was my sole source for new stamp purchases, I hadn’t added any Thai stamps to my collection in quite a while.

With the start of the New Year, I wanted to buy the Year of the Pig stamp — the first stamp issued in 2019 anywhere — so I decided to visit the main post office (adjacent to the old museum). The counter clerk had no idea what I meant when I said that I wanted to buy stamps until I showed her a photo on my phone. “Follow me,” she indicated and led me to a separate room. There I found my old friend from the Philatelic Museum and without a word being exchanged, she began gathering her stock books and file folders. I purchased two sheets (only ten 3-baht stamps in each) and two first day covers of the Year of the Pig Stamps.

Thailand - Thailand Post #1155 (2018) - released November 15, 2018
Thailand – Thailand Post #1155 (2018) souvenir sheet – released November 15, 2018
Thailand - Thailand Post #TH1158 (2018) first day cover - released November 28, 2018
Thailand – Thailand Post #TH1158 (2018) first day cover – released November 28, 2018
Thailand - Thailand Post #TH1160 (2018) full sheet - released December 5, 2018
Thailand – Thailand Post #TH1160 (2018) full sheet – released December 5, 2018

I also bought a few issues issued in mid- to late November and early December (the New Year Sweets mini-sheet of six, the National Anthem sheet of 10, and first day covers for the New Years Sweets, Thailand 2018 World Stamp Exhibition, and Tourist Attractions of Phitsanulok sets). I didn’t have enough cash in my wallet for much else! It felt really good to add these to my collection, starting off 2019 in a good way.

However, the best part of the visit was learning that the repairs and remodeling of the Phuket Philatelic Museum (love the new yellow paint scheme!) is nearly complete and it will reopen around February 23, just in time for the annual Old Town Phuket Festival.

eBay order [U.S. Transportation coils] from Spokane, Washington, USA. Mailed December 13, 2018. Received January 5, 2019.
eBay order [U.S. Transportation coils] from Spokane, Washington, USA. Mailed December 13, 2018. Received January 5, 2019.
eBay order [German Christmas stamps] from Berlin, Germany, mailed on December 18, 2018. Received on January 5, 2019.
eBay order [German Christmas stamps] from Berlin, Germany, mailed on December 18, 2018. Received on January 5, 2019.
eBay order [US FDC] from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Received on January 5, 2019.
eBay order [US FDC] from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Received on January 5, 2019.

I received three stamp orders in the mail on January 5, the result of spending time on eBay in early December. I prefer using eBay over other online auction sites due mainly to the Android app being much more user-friendly than the regular website. I tend to look for bargains in small mixtures. I’ve also been looking at a lot of first day covers lately as I can often pay less for these than for mint (or used) copies of certain stamp sets. Combined (and sometimes free) shipping always gets my attention. I’m on the lookout for various topics to use for the A Stamp A Day blog.Disappointingly, the stamps on the order from Germany were rather heavily cancelled (unusual for that country) while — unusually — all the stamps on the two orders from the U.S. actually got cancelled (most often, the inkjet sprays miss the stamps).

United States - Transportation coils from 1985, 1988 and 1990
United States – Transportation coils from 1985, 1988 and 1990
Germany - Christmas and religious stamps, 1979-1986
Germany – Christmas and religious stamps, 1979-1986

The first arrivals are an odd mix, I suppose:

  • Eight examples (including a duplicate pair) from the United States’ Transportation Series of coil stamps released in the mid-1980s to early 1990s. I’ve always liked the look of these stamps but have very few in my collection thus far
  • Thirteen stamps listed as a mix of “Christmas” stamps from Germany. Not all are specifically marking Christmas but have some religious theme such as picturing different saints. I’ve been buying a fair number of German stamps from all eras since last summer.
  • A 1988 first day cover for a U.S. stamp picturing Antarctic explorer Nathaniel Palmer (Scott #2386). I’ve never heard of him. I was outbid on the matching covers for the other three stamps in the set (I was mainly going for the Richard Byrd stamp); I’m not a big fan of FDC’s with stamps in the same set being offered in multiple auctions as opposed to all four as a lot in one auction. I did get this for one for practically nothing and it may make an interesting ASAD article someday.
United States - Scott #2386 (1988) first day cover
United States – Scott #2386 (1988) first day cover

Speaking of that blog, I had planned to make a concentrated effort to produce shorter articles and include “secondary” stamps each day. I experimented with the latter idea two or three times last week but found it was extremely time-consuming. The shorter articles haven’t materialized either, with the shortest being just shy of 2,000 words. The longest featured Joan of Arc and came in at a word-count of 6,857! Together, the eight articles in the first week of 2019 total nearly 32,000 words. How long is a standard-length mystery novel, I wonder.

A Stamp A Day articles published last week:

  1. January 1, 2019:  “Welcome to the Year of the Pig 2019 / ยินดีต้อนรับสู่ปีกุน 2562” (Thailand – Thailand Post #TH-1162, 2019) 4,911 words
  2. January 2, 2019:  “National Science Fiction Day – The First Men in the Moon” (Great Britain – Scott #1617, 1995) 2,318 words
  3. January 3, 2019:  “The Birth Anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien” (Kyrgyzstan – Michel #EX89, 2017) 4,355 words
  4. January 4, 2019:  “Introduction of the euro Currency” (Luxembourg – Scott #1069, 2001) 3,216 words
  5. January 5, 2019:  “King Juan Carlos of Spain” (Spain – Scott #3132e, 2001) 1,974 words
  6. January 6, 2019:  “Joan of Arc” (Vatican City – Scott #1499, 2012) 6,857 words
  7. January 7, 2019:  “Millard Fillmore: One of the Worst U.S. Presidents?” (United States – Scott #818, 1938) 3,228 words
  8. January 8, 2019:  “Northern Mariana Islands & the Latte Stone” (United States – Scott #2804, 1993) 4,945 words

For today, I have three choices — Connecticut ratifying the U.S. Constitution in 1788, the birth of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon in 1913, or the first flight of the Avro Lancaster in 1941. Since I’ve featured U.S. stamps for the past couple of days, I will probably go with the article about the plane. Tomorrow, I have to decide between the birth of German painter Johannes Zick in 1702, the publication of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense in 1776, or the debut of London’s Metropolitan Railway (which later became the Underground) in 1863. I have yet to check the stamps (condition is playing a bigger consideration now that most articles are about event anniversaries rather than stamp issuers).

As I mentioned at the end of last month in my article profiling the upcoming U.S. stamp program, I’d planned to do something similar for a few other countries including Thailand, Canada, and Great Britain. However, none of these entities have released anything other than bare-bones information and finding high-quality images for any of the stamp has proven elusive. The site that has been my main source on the Thailand stamp-issuing program has been inaccessible since around Christmastime and I haven’t received a bulletin in the mail in months. I do know that the next scheduled release will be on Saturday, January 12 for National Children’s Day. Since I’m working that day, I probably won’t be able to purchase the stamps and first day cover until next Tuesday, just in time for “Phila-Bytes” #2.

There are other blogs that report on new issues much more effectively than I could ever aspire to so I will simply highlight a few of my favorite upcoming releases within these weekly updates.

Thailand – Thailand Post #TH-1162 (2019) full sheet

I must say that I tend to become bored each year with the plethora of Chinese Zodiac stamps. I like Thailand’s current series due to the fact that they don’t look remotely Chinese (I find it humorous when you have to look at releases from places like Jersey or Christmas Island to determine that they are, in fact, not from some Asian nation). Thailand’s series features cartoonish paintings by Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn Maha Chakri and may be the only ones released each year that don’t have shades of red or pink as the predominant color scheme. I also like the fact that Thailand post releases exactly one stamp on New Year’s Day with none of the plethora of souvenir sheets in multiple formats one sees from other places. I like affordability in my new stamp issues.

France - Year of the Pig 0,88 euro (January 25, 2019)
France – Year of the Pig 0,88 euro (January 25, 2019)
New Zealand - Year of the Pig (January 20, 2019)
New Zealand – Year of the Pig (January 20, 2019)

That being said, I do quite like the designs for the Year of the Pig stamps due from France (January 25) and New Zealand (January 20) later this month. Okay, the high value of the latter set doesn’t have pink or red in it…

Great Britain - "Stamp Classics" miniature sheet (January 15, 2019)
Great Britain – “Stamp Classics” miniature sheet (January 15, 2019)

I’m a real sucker for stamp-on-stamp designs and the “Stamp Classics” miniature sheet to be released on January 15 by Great Britain is a good way foe Royal Mail to kick off the year. It is being issued in conjunction with the 150th anniversary celebrations for the Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL).

Spain - 450th Anniversary of the Bear Bible and Fifth Century of the Protestant Reformation (January 14, 2019)
Spain – 450th Anniversary of the Bear Bible and Fifth Century of the Protestant Reformation (January 14, 2019)

Spain has released several stamps so far this month, none of which remotely have a New Year’s theme. There are a couple of stamps promoting tourism and one marking engineering feats on the Panama Canal. Even more interesting is a single due today (January 9) commemorating the “International Year of the Periodic Table of the Elements”. My favorite 2019 Spanish stamp so far is one due on January 14 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and the publication of the Biblia del Oso or “Bear Bible” in 1569.  This was the first complete Bible printed in Spanish based on Hebrew and Greek sources, created by Casiodoro de Reina. The Bear Bible was first published on September 28, 1569, in Basel, Switzerland, because it was forbidden in Spain. It is nicknamed after the title-page illustration of a bear-cub reaching for the hive dripping with honey.

And with that, I close the first (I hope) Weekly Phila-Bytes of 2019. Look for the next installment next in about one week’s time (I will aim for Tuesday afternoon (Thai time, which is GMT +7). Please let me know what you think of this article in the comments. What else, if anything, should I include? (For example, I could do a recap of the week’s most interesting/important philatelic news.)

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