Thailand Philately

Updates to 2017 Thailand Post Stamp Issues

Here we are in the middle of April and I still have not managed a trip to buy new Thai stamps this year! I am just coming off my first lengthy holiday of 2017, that of Thai New Year, but the philatelic museum and post offices were all closed for the holiday as well.

Although I also haven’t received a copy of the Thailand Post new issues bulletin for the second quarter of the year (it should be arriving shortly), the Siam Stamp Catalogue website recently added images for those stamps issued at the end of March and in early April.

I will add these images to my original post on the Stamp Issuing Programme for 2017 (the diagonal watermark of Siam Stamp Shop doesn’t appear on the actual stamps), to be replaced when I obtain stamps for my collection.

The next scheduled release is due on May 3, marking this year’s Vesak Buja Day.

Thailand Philately

New Thai Stamps for Late King


A set of stamps had been scheduled by Thailand Post last year to mark the 70th anniversary of the reign of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). These were due for release on what would have been the King’s 89th birthday; I believe this had the issue number of TH-1115. The designs had never been announced and the issue was quietly withdrawn following His Majesty’s death on October 13, 2016.

Yesterday (March 29, 2017), Thailand Post announced the release of a sheet of five stamps. A photograph appeared on page 2 of today’s Bangkok Post, the largest English-language newspaper in the country:

The caption reads:

Labours of love: Thailand Post Co. unveils a set of stamps featuring the late King Bhumibol Aduyladej at work in six different settings to commemorate the 70th anniversary of his accession to the throne. A 45-baht set consists of five stamps, each 17cm long, the longest in the world. The stamps will be sold across the country from Saturday.”

According to an even briefer article on the website for The Nation — Thailand’s second largest English-language daily newspaper — nine million copies of the stamp have been printed and will be released on April 1. Nine is considered a very lucky number in Thai culture, and most Thai people have been wearing black shirts during the one-year-long mourning period that include a stylized Thai number “9”, often with an inscription in English or Thai mentioning that the wearer is proud to have been born in the ninth reign.

The sale of black clothing over the last six months has been the sole “bright spot” in the economy; several times, black was in such short supply that the government offered to dye other colors to black at no cost.


Thailand Philately

Thailand Railway Stamps Due

A quick reminder that a very nice set of four circular stamps, plus a souvenir sheet, commemorating the 120th anniversary of the State Railway of Thailand, are scheduled for release tomorrow, 26 March 2016. This is a Sunday and so stamps will not be available for purchase here in Phuket until at least Monday. I will never understand why Thailand Post insists on issuing stamps when none of the post offices are open for business. In recent years, they have become even slower at distributing new issues to the provinces (and some NEVER arrive!).

Nevertheless, this is an attractive issue and I will do my best to purchase copies for myself. As the face value of Thai stamps is low (usually 3 baht, occasionally 5, 9 or 15 baht for the vast majority of issues), I tend to buy full sheets. Most stamps are released in sheets of just 10 stamps. Then, of course, are the first day covers which are sold at minimal mark-up from the face value of the stamps. All of these are easily obtainable at most local post offices. I am blessed in that I live within walking distance (approximately 10 minutes, most of which is through a shady park) from the provincial philatelic museum and their fully-stocked sales counter.

The ever-increasing numbers of “special folders” are harder to find and I have to resort to eBay; I don’t always hear about these scarcer collectibles until the price has risen or they’ve sold out completely. Lately, I’ve obtained several first day covers that have received multiple pictorial cancellations (mostly in locations around Bangkok); these are usually signed by the stamp designer as well.

I am still waiting to see illustrations of the next two issues due to be released (on April 2 and 7, each in a set of four) as these have yet to be revealed. At some point later this year, new definitives portraying HRH King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun — the first of the 1oth reign of the Chulalongkorn dynasty — will be released, probably with little (if any) advanced notice. Thailand Post also mentioned in the most recent stamp bulletin that there will be an issue marking the cremation of HRH the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in either September or October following the mandatory year-long period of mourning. Yes, as a teacher (a government employee), I am still required to wear black each and every day…

Thailand Philately

Thailand Post: Stamp Issuing Programme for 2017

Tscan_20170217he first 2017 installment of Thailand Post’s quarterly new issues bulletin finally arrived in mid-February, listing details for the first several stamps for the New Year.

January 1, 2017: Zodiac 2017 (Year of the Rooster)

As usual, the first stamp of the year was released on New Year’s Day — the annual Zodiac issue. This is the third year of the new series featuring hand-drawn animals by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who happens to be a stamp collector herself. The stamp design was executed by Mr. Udorn Niyomthum of Thailand Post.

The issue number for this stamp is TH-1120. Bearing a denomination of 3 baht, it measures 30×40.5 mm in a vertical format. Thai-British Security Printing Company Ltd. has printed 1,000,000 of the stamp using lithography with 10 stamps per sheet.

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January 14, 2017: National Children’s Day 2017

A single commemorative, issue number TH-1021, was released on January 14 to mark the 2017 celebration of National Children’s Day and to call attention to “Social Ignorance in Thai Youth”. The design of the stamp is meant to stress the importance of parents as role models to encourage their children to stop excessive focus on their digital devices. The 3-baht stamp was designed by Mr. Thaneth Ponchaiwong of Thailand Post and printed using lithography by Thai-British Security Printing Company Ltd. Measuring 48 x 30mm in a horizontal format, 700,000 copies were printed.

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February 7, 2017: Symbol of Love 2017

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Thailand as the Day of Love and stamps are issued annually to mark the occasion. Most often, these feature roses and 2017 is no exception. This year’s “Symbol of Love” issue was released on February 7 and features the “polygon rose” which is “formed by many two-dimensional facet graphics of which different-shaped facets and gradient colors superbly represent multidimensional love,” according to Thailand Post. They go on to call this the “queen of all flowers.”

The stamp is denominated at 5 baht (higher rate for envelopes bearing wedding invitations, presumably) and was designed by Miss Euamporn Supharoekchai of Thailand Post. Cantor Security Printing Company Ltd. of France printed 800,000 of these stamps by lithography in sheets of 10. They measure 30 x 48mm in a vertical format.

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For more about Valentine’s Day in Thailand, please read my post on A Stamp A Day.

March 26, 2017: 120th Anniversary of the State Railway of Thailand

Issue number TH-1024 is scheduled for release on March 26 — four circular stamps commemorating the 120th anniversary of Siam’s first railway line which linked Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima. This will be Thailand’s third circular stamp series and will feature a different locomotive on each of the 3-baht stamps: the GEK locomotive with 1,320 horsepower first operated in 1964, the GEA locomotive with 2,500 horsepower first operated in 1995, the CSR diesel-electric locomotive which first operated in 2015 with 3,800 horsepower and the Airport Rail Link which started in 2010.

The stamps were designed by Mr. Udorn Niyomthum of Thailand Post and 500,000 of each design has been printed by Thai-British Security Printing Company Limited using the lithography process. There are 10 stamps per sheet, measuring 38mm in diameter. There will also be a souvenir sheet of four (one of each design) which will be sold by Thailand Post for 28 baht.

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April 1, 2017: The 70th Anniversary Celebrations of His Majesty King Bhumibol Assession to the Throne

TH-1115 was originally scheduled for release on what would have been His Majesty’s 89th birthday, December 5, 2016, but was quietly withdrawn following the King’s death on October 13. The surprise announcement of it’s impending issuance came on March 29th and received wide press coverage here in Thailand due to it’s measurements: at 170 x 30 mm, it is the widest stamp yet released. The 9-baht stamp portrays the late King Bhumibol Aduyladej at work in six different settings, It was issued in sheets of five stamps printed by Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand. (Additional details coming soon…)

April 2, 2017: Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2017

This set of four three-baht stamps, issue number TH-1125, seem to portray murals from one of the Buddhist wats. More information should be forthcoming from Thailand Post in the near future…

April 7, 2017: Thai Traditions

Thailand Post issue #TH-1126 features “Thai Traditional Festivals” following the Songkran (Thai New Year) stamp sets of 2015 and 2016. Long boat racing is depicted on the four 3-baht stamps. Again, further information will be added once I receive it!

The schedule for the remainder of the year, as it stands now (no details or images yet) is as follows:

May 3, 2017: Vesak Buja Day (4 designs, 3 baht each)

May 7, 2017: 80th Anniversary of Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University (3 baht)

June 5, 2017: Chao Phraya River (4 designs, 3 baht each)

July 3, 2017: 120th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with Russia (3 baht)

July 4, 2017: 60th Birthday of HRH Princess Chulabhorn (5 baht)

August 8, 2017: 50th Anniversary of ASEAN Community (3 baht)

September 26, 2017: 130th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with Japan (4 designs, 3 baht each)

September 28, 2017: 100th Anniversary of Thai Tri-Colour Flag (3 baht)

October 9, 2017: World Post Day (3 baht)

November 15, 2017: New Year’s 2018 (1st Series) (4 designs, 3 baht each)

November 15, 2017: New Year’s 2018 (2nd Series) (2 designs, 15 baht each)

December 1, 2017: Thai Venerated Monk Amulet (9 baht)

The Thailand Post issues bulletin also mentions that 2017 will see the release of the first definitives of His Royal Highness King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (Rama X) and an issue marking the cremation of His Royal Highness the Late King Bhumibhol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX). I suspect the former may be issued around the time of King Vajiralongkorn’s birthday (July 28). The cremation of King Bhumibhol should be around mid-October, ending the year-long mourning period following his death on October 13, 2016.

There is no mention of the usual annual stamp releases for Thailand Post Day or Her Royal Highness Queen Sirikit’s birthday, both in August.

General Pursuits, Thailand Philately

Happy Thailand Post Day!

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Today is listed on my calendar as Thailand Post Co. Ltd. Establishment Day, marking the date in 2003 that Thailand’s postal services were privatized.  The stamp at left was released to mark the 10th anniversary two years ago and is Thailand’s biggest stamp released to date, measuring 62 x 62 mm.  I’m not really sure what rate the 10-baht face value was intended for (first class domestic letters are 3 baht; international postcards are 15 baht); it was released in a sheet of four.

I’d already planned a trip to the Phuket Philatelic Museum to buy a few new issues released since my last visit on 29 July (the release date of the Thai Alphabet set), this being my last day off until early October.  But first I needed to visit Phuket Immigration Office; foreigner residents are required to check-in every 90 days.

While walking back home from the immigration office, I witnessed the totally unexpected local celebration of Thailand Post Day:  Led by a highway patrol car with lights and siren to clear the traffic, I first saw perhaps a half-dozen red-and-white Thailand Post and EMS trucks.  This was followed with around 50 motorbikes ridden by local mail carriers wearing their red-and-white jackets and helmets.  It was quite a site – particularly as they were circling a locally-iconic clock tower at the time.  It’s a shame that I didn’t have my camera with me – one of the rare occurrences that I’d left it at home!  Next year, I will be waiting…

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As for the post office visit, the ladies manning the philatelic museum shop counter were sporting the red 12th anniversary polo shirts which I commented on.  To my shock, they offered me one but they didn’t have one in my size (a Thai XXL which, back in America would be a loose-fitting XL).  Thai people are nothing but hospitable.  They had all the stamps I needed but were sold out of the first day covers for the THAIPEX issues (beautiful purple-based stamps portraying musical instruments played by HRH Princess Chakri Maha Siridhorn who is celebrating her 60th birthday this year) as well as the FDC for National Communications Day (which happens to be on the anniversary of the very first stamps released by Siam in 1883).  They did have the covers for the Royal Thai Army stamp and ASEAN Day stamp, both released on 8 August.

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The ASEAN Day stamp is quite striking and will make a nice accompaniment to my Muang Phuket Local Post ASEAN flags stamps on outgoing postcards (the 15-baht rate is the international postcard rate).  Since it also saw a souvenir sheet release, it took some effort to explain to one counter-lady that I wanted that plus a full sheet of ten.  I discovered that they call the souvenir sheet a “sheet” and a full sheet should be ordered by saying, “per sheet”.  This was the first time I ever had a real lost-in-translation moment at Phuket Philatelic Museum as they are usually pretty good at interpreting my stamp needs. 

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While I’m thinking about it, I’ll go online this afternoon and try to find the missing first day covers; the post office also sold out of the princess’s 60th birthday stamp issued in March and I haven’t yet tracked one down.

The next Thai stamps won’t be released until 18 September, a pair commemorating a half-century of diplomatic relations with Singapore and picturing tasty desserts (sticky rice with mango for Thailand, ice cream sandwiches for Singapore), followed on the 22nd with a single stamp marking the 103rd annual World Congress of the World Dental Federation to be held in Bangkok.

Happy Birthday, Thailand Post!

Thailand Philately

Catching Up On Thai New Issues

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Because of my job as an English teacher in Thailand, it can be difficult for me to make a trip to the post office during business hours.  This morning, however, I was able to stop by the Phuket Philatelic Museum on my way to work and buy all of those issues that have been released since my last visit back in April.  In fact, the only item that was unavailable was the first day cover for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s 60th birthday.  I was surprised that they had today’s new release – a sheet of ten depicting Thai numerals – along with the first day cover.  Bangkok is getting much better at supplying the provinces!

I was able to buy three months’ worth of stamp singles, sets, souvenir sheets, and first day covers plus Thailand Post’s monthly stamp magazine – well illustrated but I can’t read a lick of it – all for 353 Thai baht.  That’s just a bit over $10 in U.S. currency.  Where else can you do that?

As I mentioned, the Thai numerals set was released today – 29 July – which happens to be National Thai Language Day.  According to Thailand Post’s quarterly new issue bulletin,  “Thai numbers constituting the numeric system in Thai is considered to be one of the national identities.  Their curvy, wavy, and gentle lines indicate the values of Thai art, the beautiful cultural heritage and the prosperity of the nation for having its own numbers and alphabets for over 700 years.  The numbers were designed by King Ramkhamhaeng, who adapted them from the Khmer numbers, which were derived from the Indian Devanagari.

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“Currently, the government has a policy to encourage the use of Thai numbers in official documents, according to the resolution of the cabinet in 2000, along with the use of fonts in the computer and the internet.  School students are also encourage to familiarize with the written Thai numbers to uphold the value of this Thai heritage.  This stamp series is the continuing series of Thai Alphabets in 2011.  The images depict Thai numbers from 0 to 9, together with 10 colorful numeric symbols on 10 stamps, which may also be used as a learning media for children.  This series will be launched on the National Thai Language Day on this 29 July.”

Aside from use on Thai government documents, the Thai numerals are also used to denote room numbers in government-operated schools.  Knowing these numbers has helped me on numerous occasions when I’ve had to substitute at a new school and couldn’t find anybody to ask the location of classrooms.

I’m happy I was able to go to the post office today as they will be closed tomorrow and Friday for the twin Buddhist holidays of Wan Asanha Bucha and Wan Khao Phansa (the ban on selling and consuming alcohol begins at one minute past midnight tonight). 

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The Phuket Philatelic Museum will be closed all of next week as the staff will travel to Bangkok for the resumption of THAIPEX –- the National Stamp Exhibition – for the first time since 2011.  Held at the Grand Postal Building in Bang Rak, the show will be presided over by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and will see the release of several stamps during it’s run from 3-9 August.  Admission is free, by the way.

Unfortunately, this means that I probably won’t be able to have the ASEAN Day Muang Phuket Local Post covers dual-cancelled with the Phuket postmark on 8 August.  They are receptive to my doing such things at the Phuket Philatelic Museum but counter clerks at the regular post office deny this sort of service.  It’s a bit of a shame as Thailand Post is issuing a very nice ASEAN Day stamp of their own next Saturday and I’d planned to make a few special first day covers.  We’ll see what happens…

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Happy Collecting!

Thailand Philately

On Collecting Thai Stamps in Thailand

Scan_20150117 (13)Because I prefer the classics, Thailand is the only country that I actively collect new issues of.  I find that most of the stamps are attractively designed, feature interesting subjects, and the face value is pretty darn low – usually 3 baht which translates to 10 U.S. cents per stamp.  While there are occasional sets of three or four in an issue, most are singles.  These usually come in sheets of ten so I usually buy them in full sheets as well as the singles and first day covers.  Thailand Post has been averaging about thirty-five issues per year which isn’t that many.

Scan_20141226 (51)While some issues do seem to be geared solely towards the collector’s market – digital TV, owls and frogs, for example – the majority honor royal anniversaries such as our monarchs’ various birthdays, Buddhist religious days, and the Red Cross (of which the eldest princess is the head).  National Children’s Day is always a popular issue and lately have seen designs featuring not only kids but trying to promote awareness of the ASEAN community’s ten member nations.  One forthcoming issue clearly motivated (likely ordered) by last year’s military coup is a pane re-iterating the 12 values for Thai youths to follow.  Hopefully, the English translation on the stamps themselves will be better than the flyers distributed to schools and portrayed on billboards last year, translations that had all of us English teachers rolling on the floor laughing at the unintended hilarity.  Lost in translation, indeed.

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In fact, I frequently puzzle over the stamp descriptions as published in the Thailand Post new issue bulletins.  On my other blog, I’d taken to transcribing them as printed in order to give my readers a chuckle.

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As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I do prefer the classics.  For Thailand (or Siam, as the nation was called until the 1940’s), that starts a bit earlier than the August 1883 solot issue.  The post office in the British consulate in Bangkok provided a mail service for foreigners (farang), initially using stamps from India and Hong Hong but finally began overprinting Straits Settlements stamps (Penang, Malacca and Singapore) with a large B.  These are quite popular amongst collectors in this region and thus far I haven’t been successful in obtaining one. I do have a rather poorly-executed counterfeit of the most expensive issue – Scott #22 which is priced at US $45,000 unused in my 2009 edition of the Scott catalogue.

As far as catalogues go, there are several options for the collector of Thai stamps.  Scott does cover the issues quite well, although I prefer Stanley Gibbons for the British Post Office in Bangkok postal history.  There are several different catalogues published here in Thailand, most are in the Thai language of course, but a couple are semi-bilingual.  The problem with these is that there always seems to be a lot more of the foreign language than the English equivalent; I just know they aren’t translating everything!

Scan_20141226 (47)The language barrier does create some problems, particularly at the post office.  I do have adequate Thai language skills that serve me well for basic conversation or when attempting to purchase food in the market but they don’t extend to philatelic terms.  Luckily, Phuket is in possession of a philatelic museum and I make almost all of my stamp purchases at their sales counter due to the slightly more than rudimentary English skills of the main sales lady.  She really tries to be helpful, even passing me the ancient and well-worn Phuket circular datestamp on those rare occasions when I want to make a commemorative cover of some sort.  (The handstamp probably dates from the 1920’s and I have never gotten a passable impression from this device.)

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Thailand021-rsOne of the most frustrating things is that issues of new definitive stamps never seem to be announced in Thailand and it can be difficult to find out details once they are released.  Also, an increasing number of commemoratives are issued in special limited edition mini-sheets of four the majority of which are NOT available in post offices.  They are usually distributed in souvenir folders at events associated with the subject matter and can be found on eBay at huge markups usually without the original folders.  Other back-of-the-book items and booklets add to the mix of annual issues (unannounced) and there are multiple pictorial postmarks for every new issue and many local events.  Some are announced in Thai language publications after the fact.  Thus, it seems to be virtually impossible to stay on top of things and form complete annual collections of Thai new issues.  At least that’s my take on things.

There are a few other mild irritations, including the complete lack of physical stamp shops on Phuket.  There are a few that remain in Bangkok so I need to spend some time in the capital at some point doing nothing but checking these shops out.  Also, there are always several issues each year that either are never supplied to post offices on Phuket or sell-out before I have a chance to get there.  The shelf life for many issues seems abnormally short.

On the plus side, there’s at least one major show each year in Bangkok but I have yet to attend one due to it being held during the school year.  If I had the time, there are also active philatelic communities in both Malaysia and Singapore.  The last time I visited the latter place, I spent an enjoyable couple of hours in the philatelic museum there.

I simply enjoy collecting what I can of the country, sticking with the items that I can find at the Phuket Philatelic Museum sales counter and if one of the harder-to-find items appears on eBay at a reasonable price, I will snatch it up.  I’m certain it would improve my collecting of the nation if I were able to read the Thai language but I’ve more or less given up on more than a rudimentary understanding of the language.  At least I’m having fun and that’s the most important aspect of any hobby.

Happy Collecting.