My Philatelic Pursuits #2019-13

 

Most people arm themselves with water cannons such as this in order to “celebrate” Songkran, the Thai New Year, during which huge amounts of water are sprayed at or dumped on complete strangers and friends alike.

There were quite a few new stamp issues announced over the past week as I fall farther and farther behind on my listings of the year’s stamps. In fact, I have not done anything to these pages in perhaps two weeks and am trying to push myself to get back on-track. Part of the “problem” has been the extreme heat wave that we have been trying to endure here in Thailand.  There has been very little rain since December in Phuket and the reservoirs that hold our daily-use water are all but dry. We had a brief respite for Thai New Year (Songkran) which has become a nationwide all-out water fight when nobody cares about conserving what little water there actually is.  I often wake up around four or five in the morning to find the temperature already hovering at 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and it only goes up from there. Luckily, I do have air-conditioning at my office (my home has two powerful fans but they just move the hot air back and forth). The heat saps your energy and it is a struggle to do anything at all.

However, I did find a burst of motivation mid-week as I began “formally” preparing for my participation at SINGPEX 2019. The 36th Asian International Stamp Exhibition will occur from July 31 through August 4 at the SUNTEC Convention Centre in the Lion City and will be my first big stamp show since Pacific 97 in San Francisco twenty-two years ago. This is also my first trip outside of Thailand since I journeyed to Cambodia (Angkor Wat!) in April 2013. I booked my accommodation early in the week; Singapore is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE and I ended up with a room in a capsule hotel which, I suppose, is one step up from a dorm bed in a hostel. I am watching my budget closely on this trip as I plan to stay in Singapore for six days and want to have enough cash for plenty of stamps and supplies (my main goal is to find some decent albums and update a few catalogues). I am really looking forward to the show.

Possible t-shirt design for my participation at SINGPEX. At the very least, I will have a rubber stamp made of the postmark for adding and cancelling my local post stamps onto covers posted during my trip.

As I didn’t have any classes on Thursday, I began the day working on company-logoed polo shirt designs for my teachers’ agency. This naturally led to my designing a few shirts to print for my Singapore trip, playing around with back print designs with various Thailand stamps that have been issued promoting Phuket (there are not very many of these, unfortunately). This, in turn, led to my designing a commemorative postmark which became a design to use for cancelling my local post stamps while attending the exhibition as an addition to any covers and postcards I may send while there. I briefly thought about designing special REPUBLICA PHUKETIA stamps for SINGPEX as well but I still have quite a few remaining definitives and commemoratives from last year’s print run with yourstamps of Germany. I suppose I could create a rubber stamp overprint should I feel I need to add anything.

Closed until 2020!
Singapore Philatelic Museum — Closed until 2020!

I am disappointed to discover that the Singapore Philatelic Museum closed in March for renovations that are planned to last until the end of 2020. I had been looking forward to a return visit to this, perhaps the best stamp museum in Southeast Asia, during my upcoming trip. My last visit was back in October 2006 while I was in Singapore obtaining my first long-stay Thai visa but I was not able to fully explore the museum due to time constraints. While there will be plenty to see and do (and buy) at SINGPEX, I was hoping to obtain some dual first day cancellations there as well as purchase a few souvenirs.

Artsakh - National Birds, Europa (March 22, 2019) sheet of 10, 2 designs
Artsakh – National Birds, Europa (March 22, 2019) sheet of 10, 2 designs

Two of the topicals that I have been avidly following in 2019 are those stamps released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing and this year’s EUROPA stamps which all relate to “National Birds”. While perusing newly-released stamps of the latter topic was a set from a stamp-issuing entity that I initially didn’t recognize, the Republic of Artsakh (Արցախի Հանրապետություն — Artsakhi Hanrapetut’yun in Armenian). A quick view of the Wikipedia page told me this is the place I already knew under the name of Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is closely linked in every way to Armenia and accessible only through Armenia. Having released stamps under the latter name since 1993, the “republic” has been recognized only by three other self-proclaimed and unrecognized states, Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Although Armenia supports Nagorno-Karabakh economically and militarily, they have not recognized the region’s independence.

According to the europa, cept, norden & sepac stamps information blog,

The stamps issued by the Republic of Artsakh aren’t recognized on an international level, not by the UPU nor by PostEurop. Those stamps are listed in most stamps catalogues (Gibbons, Yvert & Tellier, Michel) and most Europa stamps collectors collect those stamps even if they aren’t official stamp issues.”

Map and flag of the Republic of Artsakh

The change in name to Artsakh came about in 2017 and the stamp designs are reminiscent of those of Armenia (the same designers and printers?) . I have recently become interested in Armenian stamps which are fairly easy to find on eBay. There are also at least two websites selling them, Armenian Stamps.com (which lists Karabakh stamps up to 2017) and Stamps of Armenia (which does not seem to list any of the issues by the various break-away states). The region seems like an interesting one to visit; although the city of Stepanakert does have an airport, flights are not allowed to land or take off due to Azerbaijan’s threats of shooting them down. Access is easy by road from Armenia; if you plan to visit Azerbaijan, you should go BEFORE entering Armenia or Artsakh as visas from those places will either see you turned away at the border or arrested. The people in Artsakh are said to be quite friendly and hitch-hiking is a recommended form of exploring the area.

Other recently-issued and forthcoming National Birds/EUROPA stamps that have caught my eye have been those from Ireland (April 11), Faroe Islands (April 29), Monaco (May 6), and Åland (May 9). These, and more, are included in the slideshow below:

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United States – George H.W. Bush (June 12, 2019)

The only recent addition to the United States Postal Service program for 2019 was the announcement and design revelation for the expected stamp to honor former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush,, who passed away December 1, 2018, at the age of 94. He was born June 12, 1924, and U.S. custom is that former presidents are honored with a stamp on their first birthday after their death. The design of the nondenominated (55¢) commemorative Forever stamp was revealed Saturday, April 6 and will be sold in panes of 20 starting with the first day of issue ceremony on June 12 at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

I have long collected the stamps of France, particularly less-than-recent issues which were extremely beautiful in their designs the majority of which continued utilizing intaglio engraving long after other stamp issuers ceased doing so. My affinity for Paris, in particular, has been strong since my high school days learning the French language in the U.S. Midwest.  As a result, I have amassed a nice collection of stamps portraying such iconic sites of Paris as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. The first news that reached me of the latter’s burning last Monday came via a philatelic page on Facebook and I became increasingly saddened as a scrolled further along the page finding additional details and mourning over the tragedy from all quarters — childhood and school friends in Texas and Kansas, news sites from around the world (including Thailand) as well as numerous Facebook groups (in additional to many in the stamp world, I am also a member of various Francophile, history and archaeology groups all of which had something to offer about Notre-Dame in the fire’s wake). Here is my small tribute to Notre-Dame with some of the stamps and postcards coming from my own collection, others found on eBay:

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I hope that the next week brings happier events.

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