At the beginning of 2017, my favorite stamp blog (Big Blue 1840-1940) began a series “to present a postmark calendar for all the 366 possible days of the year, represented by interesting appropriate date cancellation stamps from the [Ralph A.] Kimble collection.” I thought this was a great idea and began going through scans of my collection to determine whether I could do something similar.
I came up with 255 stamps I could use for a Postmark Calendar of my own; this does include some duplicate dates. At the moment, the best-represented month is March. I did find out a couple of things in compiling stamps for my calendar: my eyesight is getting worse (time for a checkup!) and some dates are difficult to determine even when the postmark is clear. My criteria was simple: the month and date had to be clear; if I had to squint to figure out the date, I wouldn’t use it. I prefer to have the year included, but this wasn’t always possible. I also decided that I wouldn’t include postmarks from first day covers and other philatelic items.
While I was still going through my stamps examining their postmarks, I came across the Postmark Calendar thread on my favorite stamp collecting online forum, The Stamp Forum. The thread was started on August 11, 2013, and is now 122 pages strong! I began adding stamps to it around a month ago.
I love the format Jim has been following for his calendar entries on Big Blue so I’ll follow his model. After all, “imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery” according to the quote by Charles Caleb Colton.
Kingstown is the capital, chief port, and main commercial center of Saint Vincent. Surrounded by steep hills, the town was founded by French settlers shortly after 1722, although Saint Vincent had 196 years of British rule before her independence. The botanical garden, conceived in 1765, is one of the oldest in the Western hemisphere. William Bligh, made famous from the Mutiny on the Bounty, brought seeds of the breadfruit tree here for planting in 1793.
Accra is the capital and most populous city of Ghana, with an estimated urban population of 2.27 million as of 2012. The city stretches along the Ghanaian Atlantic coast and extends north inland. Originally built around three different settlements, including a port (Jamestown), it served as the capital of the British Gold Coast between 1877 and 1957. Once merely a 19th-century suburb of Victoriaborg, Accra has since transitioned into a modern metropolis; the city’s architecture reflects this history, ranging from 19th-century architecture buildings to modern skyscrapers and apartment blocks.
Lake Forest is a city in Orange County, California, that incorporated as a city on December 20, 1991. Prior to incorporation, the community had been known as El Toro. Following a vote in 2000, Lake Forest expanded its city limits to include the master-planned developments of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills. This expansion brought new homes and commercial centers to the Northeastern boundary of the city. Lake Forest (along with its neighboring cities Mission Viejo and Irvine) is ranked as one of the safest cities in the country. The population was 77,264 at the 2010 census.
Founded in 1541, Santiago has been the capital city of Chile since colonial times. The city has a downtown core of 19th-century neoclassical architecture and winding side-streets, dotted by art deco, neo-gothic, and other styles. Santiago’s cityscape is shaped by several stand-alone hills and the fast-flowing Mapocho River, lined by parks such as Parque Forestal. The Andes Mountains can be seen from most points in the city. These mountains contribute to a considerable smog problem, particularly during winter. The city outskirts are surrounded by vineyards and Santiago is within a few hours of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Wesel originated from a Franconian manor that was first recorded in the 8th century. In the 12th century, the Duke of Clèves took possession of Wesel. The city became a member of the Hanseatic League during the 15th century. Within the Duchy of Cleves, Wesel was second only to Cologne in the lower Rhine region as an entrepôt. It was an important commercial center: a clearing station for the transshipment and trading of goods. Wesel is situated at the confluence of the Lippe River and the Rhine in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Around the time I began collecting stamps again in earnest, I stumbled across several local post stamps. Somewhat inspired by these, I set off on a tangent to my main philatelic pursuits and launched my own local post. I had two purposes in mind when I created Muang Phuket Local Post: 1) to learn how to use photo-editing software to design stamp-like labels and postcards and 2) to commemorate subjects that I felt were interesting but weren’t being honored by official postal administrations. Mostly, it was just for fun.
Muang refers to an administrative district for a community in Thailand, applied to the capital district (amphoe muang) of a province but is also generally the municipal equivalent of a town. Originally, the term was used for a town having a defensive wall and a ruler with at least the noble rank of khun. Other district subdivisions include tambon (township or subdistrict) and muban (village or hamlet). I happen to live in Tambon Talat Yai (“big market subdistrict”) in Amphoe Muang Phuket which most local people just call Muang Phuket or “Phuket Town”. Thus, the name for the local post.
The first issues in late 2013 were designed using a couple of different Android apps while the postmarks were done in Adobe Photoshop (a program in which I’m still struggling with the basics). Various other markings were pieced together using Microsoft Paint and sheet layouts were often done using MS Office Word. The 2014 releases were created using a Windows 8 app called Fotr while the January 2015 Penny Black issue and the yet-to-be-released ASEAN flag stamps were made using Paint. An issue I’m planning to mark my 50th birthday in December may be the most complex yet as with portions made using Paint, Photoscape, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I hope it comes together as I intend…
I “released” the first two Muang Phuket Local Post stamps in October 2013 – a definitive featuring an iconic building that serves as one of the symbols for Phuket Town plus a commemorative for World Post Day. Four additional issues appeared before the end of the year marking the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, 180 years of Thai-American friendship, and a 6-stamp Christmas in Thailand set. MPLP has participated in the last two World Local Post Days (the last Monday in January) with a single commemorating the centenary of the start of World War I in 2014 and the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black this year. A pair of stamps at the end of 2014 marked the tenth anniversary of the Boxing Day Tsunami.
Future releases include an eleven-stamp set portraying flags of the ASEAN member nations (plus the ASEAN flag itself) to be issued in early August, at least five marking my 50th birthday in December (which happens to fall on the same day as His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej), and a single designed for use at the English camps held by my teaching agency at various village schools on Phuket and neighboring islands.
To date, all MPLP issues have been imperforate, the 2013 issues printed on plain paper and affixed to covers using a glue stick. The 2014 and 2015 stamps have been printed on self-adhesive paper. All have been extremely limited releases, usually numbering less than fifty of each design printed with less than ten first day covers prepared for each issue. These are dual-canceled by the Phuket Town post office and sent through the mail.
Denominations are in either 25 or 50 satang, a very small unit of the Thai baht (100 satang = 1 baht = US $0.029). The tiny brass coins are occasionally given as change (rounded down) but never accepted for payment, at least here in Phuket Town.
First day of issue postmarks have also been made for each issue, the majority printed directly on the envelopes after stamps had been affixed. For the 2014 tsunami anniversary issue, I had a generic undated rubber handstamp made with a stylized wave which I’ve been using on all Muang Phuket Local Post correspondence (primarily Postcrossing postcards). I’ve also designed a few transport markings including “Carried by Elephant” and “Tuk Tuk Express” but thus far these have been printed by computer rather than actual handstamps.
The sole manner of conveyance is by my own footpower, transporting covers and postcards from my home to the closest mailbox or post office (usually the main one in Phuket Town, adjacent to the Phuket Philatelic Museum). Rather than doing hand-back service at the counter, I prefer to have these go through the Thai mailstream (i.e., FDC’s are always mailed to myself or another collector). I have sent envelopes bearing MPLP stamps (affixed to the lower left) internationally and all have arrived…so far. The local postings do illustrate the inefficiency of Thailand Post as they take at least a week and usually closer to two weeks to travel the two kilometers between the main post office and my home.
I’m currently at work creating a catalogue listing the stamps, covers, and postmarks of Muang Phuket Local Post. And I just realized that I should make stamp album pages as well…
Once again, I find it interesting the tangents that this hobby can lead you to pursue.
When I thought about creating a stamps only blog, I knew I wanted a design I could be proud of. However, I am not a designer by any stretch of the imagination and tend to put together half-realized ideas using cut-and-paste methods that would make Photoshop users cringe. I have nothing against Photoshop per se, it’s just that I’ve never been able to master even the simplest of tasks using it.
The rotating banners on “Philatelic Pursuits” all feature a similar design which started with a scan of a stamp in the 1946 Peace Issue omnibus, in this case the 2p gray black issued by Turks & Caicos (Scott #90) on 4 November 1946. Basically, I erased most of the design using Microsoft Paint keeping only the perforations and border.
I then cropped it to fit the proper size allowed by my choice of theme for the WordPress-hosted blog. That theme, by the way, is called Chateau and I chose it for it’s bright, clean look with the white being a nice contrast, I thought, to the black on my main blog at Asian Meanderings. There is also a host of customization features I can use should I want to.
In order to add the lettering, I turned to my second favorite photo editor — a piece of freeware called PhotoScape. I used the font Goudy Old Style for the blog’s name and played around with the outline and shadow settings until I had something that, to my eyes anyway, evoked something similar to that used on favorite classic stamps. I then composed a tag-line (something else I never seem to be entirely pleased with) using a member of the Segoe font family. To complete this simplistic design, I added one of the postmarks I’d created a few years ago for my private local post (more on that in a future blog entry…).
This, I felt was adequate. It was just, well, missing something… A banner for a stamp site needs stamps! But which stamps to include? I thought about picturing the Penny Black with the control letters using my initials, a decent copy of which I’d obtained earlier this year as my personal tribute to the stamp’s 175th anniversary. Better to save that for a larger image.
My second thought was to represent those places I’ve lived in during my life and narrowed it down to just the states and province — Texas, Tennessee, Kansas, New Mexico, and Phuket here in Thailand — and simply chose a favorite stamp picturing each place.
The reason I chose The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s home, rather than a statehood stamp for Tennessee is because we lived near there during the time that I first began collecting stamps! The Thai stamp portrays the Two Heroines Monument in Phuket, honoring two sisters who’d organized the armed force on the island (made up largely of women and old men) breaking a siege by Burmese invaders in the late eighteenth century.
Since philately is largely about variety, I decided to make a few more similar banners that would change each time somebody returned to the blog. I chose to create one (well, two) honoring the hobby itself and another using a few more Thai stamps picturing my current home of Phuket. I know it’s a simplistic design but I can easily create additional banners whenever I feel like a change.
I hope you like my meager attempts at design on “Philatelic Pursuits”. I’m pretty happy with these for now but please feel free to offer any suggestions for improvements.