General Pursuits

The State of the Blog


I am spending this February tropical day (a bit overcast with a cooling breeze, 23° C at 12:15 in the afternoon) in Phuket, Thailand, trying to think of ways to resurrect Philatelic Pursuits as a frequently-updated blog.

My philatelic blogging focus since the beginning of July 2016 has been A Stamp A Day (ASAD). I have been successful at posting at least once entry each and every day of the past six months. The articles have become much longer over time and I am now including maps, flags, coats of arms, and occasional other images.

The research for each ASAD article takes quite a bit of time (more so for certain more complicated entities than others), although my primary source is always Wikipedia with a lot of cut-and-pasting. Much of the time, it takes multiple Wikipedia articles to combine into one entry. I try to supplement the postal and philatelic histories from a variety of other sources.

All of this work is done in my limited free time outside of my full-time job as the deputy head teacher for a large language school (we contract teachers out to most of Phuket’s government-operated educational facilities). It can often be difficult getting online and uploading images (all of my scans are done at 1200 dpi) as the Internet at my location in Thailand is often dismally slow (and seems to have been throttled-down significantly by the government since the beginning of this year). Time-outs and dropped connection are the order of the day.

My other blogs — The POSTCARD TRAVELLER (formerly, “Please, Mr. Postman!”) and Asian Meanderings — have fallen by the wayside as well. It’s not that I don’t have a strong desire to maintain each of these sites, it’s just that I’m committed to A Stamp A Day and the process often leaves me exhausted.

That said, I do not want these blogs to die off completely. The articles I’ve been posting on ASAD have essentially replaced the “Stamp Issuers” series I began here on Philatelic Pursuits. I have thought about reprinting the ASAD articles here, reformatted and including more scans from my collection. That’s a lot of work made much more difficult due to the lack of reliable Internet speeds. If you are interested in a particular entity, I refer you to the Index page on ASAD (I try to update it once or twice every few weeks).

Other ideas include “How To’s” (I’ve wanted to write one about my inventory process for quite some time) and “Collection Galleries” for certain entities which I have nearly complete collections of. I’ve only recently delved into topical collecting (none of which yet have very many stamps) and I would like to feature some of my favorite themes.

At any rate, I hope to make a “return” to this blog sometime very soon. If I can manage two or three entries here each month, I will be happy.

Any suggestions for what YOU would like me to include on Philatelic Pursuits are most welcome!

General Pursuits

Introducing My Philatelic Pursuits

Welcome to my “Philatelic Pursuits.”  Allow me to introduce myself and this blog.

My name is Mark Jochim and I was born in Texas.  For the first 40 years of my life, I lived in the United States where I collected stamps off and on from the age of ten.

A decade ago, I made a very big change in my life. I became a teacher of English As A Second Language (ESL) and moved to Phuket, an island in southern Thailand.

I recently returned to the world of philately and occasionally wrote about the hobby on a blog called Asian Meanderings.  At the end of each month, I summarized my stamp collecting activities in a wrap-up called “Philatelic Pursuits.”

However, I feel that writing about stamps distracted from the main focus of Asian Meanderings which is to record my life as an expat in Southeast Asia. Thus, I have decided to create a stamps-only blog.

This will give me an opportunity to write in greater detail about my interests in various areas of philately as well as share some of my experiences trying to collect stamps while adjusting to a new culture and language. Along the way, there may be occasional how-to articles, collecting tips, country and topical profiles, new additions to my collection and much more.

One of the primary reasons I enjoy the hobby is that I am constantly learning new things — not only about the stamps themselves, but the issuing entities, the subjects they portray, the history they represent.

Starting out in the hobby, first in rural Tennessee and then in northeastern Kansas, I was a general worldwide collector.  Back then I had a Scott Modern Album, 1938 edition; my mother had mounted her stamps in it when she lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the Second World War. 

By the time I was a teenager, I owned a World Traveler Album and had also started my first two country collections — the United States and the United Nations (New York issues) — using H.E. Harris albums before graduating to Scott Specialty albums. 

In my twenties and early thirties, I put together nice collections of Great Britain, the Faroe Islands and Åland in Davo hingeless albums.  I also became extremely interested in the postal history of the Western United States, particularly New Mexico where I was living at the time.

As I approached the age of forty, I’d all but abandoned the hobby and when my life took a turn and the opportunity presented itself for a “reboot” in Southeast Asia, the old collections were sold in order to finance my move.  It wasn’t until I was settled in Thailand that I returned to stamp collecting. It’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve really devoted a lot of time and effort in furthering my philatelic pursuits.

So, what do I collect now?

My return to philately following perhaps fifteen years of non-activity found me concentrating on the stamps of Thailand.  After all, it was my new home.  There happens to be a philatelic museum rather close to my apartment in the provincial capital of Phuket; while the displays aren’t very interesting it’s the best place at which I can purchase new issues.  As always in my personal collecting history, I became more interested in the classic stamps (when the nation was still known as Siam) and now have a decent collection ranging from the first general issues of 1883 up to the most recent releases.

Currently, I’m having a lot of fun collecting “A Stamp From Everywhere”.  Since there have been more than 3000 stamp-issuing entities since 1840, according to the list on Stamp World History, this will keep me busy for a very long time.  I’ve just started designing my own album pages for this collection, something I’d never done before.

In fact, I’m enjoying the page design process so much that I’m starting to think about another collection that I’m tentatively calling “My Life in Stamps.”  The idea is to include some philatelic and/or postal history representation of each place that I’ve lived, perhaps places I’ve visited (or want to visit), stamps portraying significant events that have occurred during my lifetime, other interests (such as favorite books and authors), and anything else I think might be fun.  Since I turn 50 years old later this year, this can serve as a personal commemoration of my first half-century.

My modest collection is currently housed in a few small stock books.  Supplies are hard to come by in Thailand!

There are a number of countries that I dabble in, mostly what I’d call mini-collections of countries that I became interested in merely by following my “A Stamp From Everywhere” pursuits.  Amongst those I enjoy are places as far flung as the Falkland Islands, Pitcairn, Bohemia and Moravia, German East Africa, Penang, and Barbados.  In a way, I’ve almost come full-circle in that I could consider myself a general worldwide collector once again albeit without a proper album.  I need to remedy that fairly soon…

I also have a few topically-themed mini-collections although most of them consist of very few stamps but with the desire to obtain many more.  These include ocean liners on stamps (particularly the Titanic and the Cunard Queens); stamps marking the 50th anniversary of the ascent of Mount Everest (I met Sir Edmund Hillary in London on that particular anniversary); stamps portraying various aspects of education (students, teachers, schools, etc.); stamps and covers related to the territorial period of New Mexico; stamps portraying Charles Lindbergh and/or the Spirit of St. Louis, The Wright Brothers; Mark Twain and Charles Dickens (or characters from their books); and stamps marking the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

I don’t really consider myself to be a specialist in anything.  I don’t go out seeking color shades (unless it’s a major catalogue number — I primarily use Scott but I also have Stanley Gibbons and Michel catalogues on hand); I don’t check for fly-speck varieties.  I do somewhat prefer postally used copies for classic era stamps simply because the stamp has done the job it was designed for — the conveyance of the mail — but only if the postmark is clear and doesn’t obscure the design of the stamp.  For unused stamps, I don’t mind if there are hinge marks or even if the stamp is missing it’s gum up to a certain era (remember, the earliest philatelists used to paste their stamps into albums using gum of Arabic and similar adhesives).

Finally, I also collect postcards, particularly those sent to me via Postcrossing and the like.  I have another blog where I write about those.  If you’re interested, “Please, Mr. Postman!” is waiting…

I hope that you find this blog enjoyable.  Perhaps you will learn something interesting or decide to start a new collection based on something you read here.  Perhaps you will have further information you can provide to expand my own limited knowledge.  I always encourage you to leave a comment, a suggestion, a correction, or an addition.

Happy Collecting.