Terms & Tips

Philatelic Terms & Tips #1: Accessories

As an English As A Foreign Language (EFL) teacher in southern Thailand, I usually explain that one of the main requirements of a hobby is that some sort of equipment is used. I often need to explain that sleeping is not a hobby although most of my students insist it is their favorite free-time activity. Hobbies are actually a diverse set of activities and it is difficult to categorize them in a logical manner. A recent study by Robert Stebbins categorizes casual leisure and serious leisure by dividing hobbyists into five broad types of activity: collecting, making and tinkering (like embroidery and car restoration), activity participation (like fishing and singing), sports and games, and liberal-arts hobbies (like languages, cuisine, literature).

As we all are aware, collecting includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying and storing. This is appealing to many people due to their interest in a particular subject and a desire to categorize and make order out of complexity.

Collecting stamps has its own unique pieces of equipment needed in the pursuit of our hobby. We call these ACCESSORIES. Some accessories are used in varying degrees by all stamp collectors while others may never be used at all by the majority.

A few basic accessories are needed to collect stamps. Tongs are non-striated tweezers used because they are a reliable way to hold and move stamps without damaging or getting skin oils on them. Collectors have a choice in how to store their stamps, many opting for stamp albums using either stamp hinges or more expensive hingeless mounts, while others use stock books which hold stamps in clear pockets without the need for a mount. Magnifiers — either the traditional handheld magnifying glass or the modern digital counterparts — aid in viewing fine details. Other accessories aid in the proper identification of stamps including perforation gauges, watermark detectors, color charts, and UV lamps used to determine tagging varieties. Catalogues and philatelic literature can also be regarded as accessories. Each of these will have their own article in the “Philatelic Terms & Tips” blog series.

Collecting Worldwide, Today's Mail

Today’s Mail — 31st October 2015

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A busy ending to a long holiday month (school term break in Thailand) brought a major job promotion, watching my hometown baseball team win the first two games of the World Series and lose the third, not to mention Halloween which is viewed by Thais as an opportunity for women to dress in the sexiest witch outfits one can imagine and spend the night getting as drunk as possible with not a pumpkin or bowl of candy corn to be found.  By the looks of one envelope received today, Zorro is alive and well working for Canada Post – defacing a lovely block of four (Scott #913) issued in 1982 portraying the original “Bluenose” stamp (Scott #158) of 1929 which many regard as the most beautiful stamp ever issued.

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Another order had some recently-issued United States stamps affixed, including two of the recent “Charlie Brown Christmas” stamps – a television show which debuted on the day of my birth in 1965.  I must remember to order the full booklet in the near future!  I love receiving recent stamps on my mail more than the old 3c or 5c stock that most dealers tend to use.

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Enough of what was on the outside of my mail today.  What lurked within?  The “Bluenose” envelope brought yet another of my attempts to order stamp hinges that I can actually use.  The last several orders arrived in the middle of heavy downpours, soaking the envelopes and gluing together the thousand hinges each packet contained.  Normally, our local mailman will not even load up his 110cc motor scooter if the weather is foul but at some point he must brave the monsoons.  I will try and not place any orders next year during the rainy season (which runs roughly from early May through October); I was lucky more often than not this time around but…

Austria-Turkish Empire - 41 - 1906

The sole addition to my “A Stamp From Everywhere” collection is the 1 piaster ultramarine value issued by Austria in 1906 for use in their post offices in the Turkish Empire (Scott #41).

United States - 73 - 1863

I have been buying a few stamps from the early issuing years of the United States recently.  My budget has been that of a teacher’s salary (and teachers in Thailand being paid even more dismally than our counterparts back in the States) so I am sometimes compelled to buy poorly-centered “space-fillers” until I can afford a more beautiful specimen.  A case in point is this copy of Scott #73, two-cent black Andrew Jackson (known to collectors as the “Black Jack”), issued in 1863.  A well-centered (four margins, Very Fine) used Black Jack is valued at US $70.00 in my 2009 Scott Catalogue; I paid $6.50 for this one.  I like the fancy cancellation “X” made out of cork.

Hawaii - 75 - 1894

As an American expat, I find a certain fascination in the places that later became parts of the United States or that once held territorial status.   Probably such issuer holds more interest for me than the isles of Hawaii although I had to set foot anywhere within our 50th state (my parents once spent a holiday at Kaanapali Bay on Maui, however).  Prior to Hawaii becoming a U.S. territory on 14 June 1900, it issued its own stamps and postal stationary.  Scott #75, received in today’s mail, is part of a set designed by E. W. Holdsworth following his success at winning a competition.  The two-cent brown value pictures Honolulu harbor.  What I can read of the purple postmark leads me to conclude that is that of one of two different towns on the big island of Hawaii – either Paauhau or Paauilo – which sat on the northeastern coast about five miles apart in the wet region (Hamakua) which included a number of large sugar plantations.

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Interestingly, the nine stamps that comprise the pictorial issue (five issued on 28 February 1894, one released on 27 October 1894 with the final three put on sale in 1899) were issued by three different governments – a Provisional Government established in 1893, the independent Republic of Hawaii which was formed on 4 July 1894, and an administrative “Republic of Hawaii” which existed in name only following annexation by the U.S. on 12 August 1898.  At midnight on 13 July 1900, all Hawaiian stamps became invalid for postage and soon thereafter sent to Washington, D.C., via Honolulu where they were burned on 9 February 1901.

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A great website covering all details about the stamps and postal history of pre-territorial Hawaii is called Post Office in Paradise.  It is highly interesting even if you have no interest in the stamps themselves.

Happy Collecting!

Today's Mail

Today’s Mail — 24th October 2015

Scan20151024-001As expected, local mail delivery was halted during the almost-two-week’s long Phuket Vegetarian Festival as the street processions with their accompanying unregulated fireworks (thrown by the spectators) would have put the motorbike-driving postmen at great risk.  Yesterday’s national holiday marking the birthday of Thailand’s revered fifth king, Chulalongkorn, provided yet another no-mail day but I finally received a few items this morning.

I was pleased to receive the latest edition of Thailand Post’s new issues bulletin with MOST of the upcoming releases for the fourth quarter illustrated.  At this point, there are just twenty-one individual stamps in seven different sets remaining in the 2015 stamp program.  Of course, Thailand Post always issues a few more in December with little or no warning.  The next upcoming issue is a pair to be released on 2 November marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka.  As usual, I love the English headlines accompanying each description.  One commemorating the Department of Corrections has the headline “A Pride of Corrections the Protects the Society” while the World Post Day issue is described as “National Economic Support and the Global Connectivity.”  The catalogue reminds me that I missed out on a few recent issues over the past couple of months so it’s time for a trip to the Phuket Philatelic Museum in the near future.

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I received a pair of postcards one via Postcrossing which, I can honestly say, is the first I have ever received that didn’t bear a single stamp.  Instead, there is a very ugly Deutsche Post meter with a QR code upon it.  I was surprised as many Postcrossing members seem to be stamp collectors or at least aware that their recipients are collectors (indeed, I mention it in my profile).  The second postcard was MUCH more interesting as the first thing I noticed was that it had been posted from Mauritius – a island nation in which I have become quite interested lately.  This is due in large part to my recent reading of the wonderful book Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Rarest Stamps.  Imagine my surprise when I turned the postcard over and found it had been sent by that book’s author, Helen Morgan.  She’s enjoying her first visit on Mauritius in almost ten years and had discovered my blogs via a Google Alert.  How cool is that?

Scan20151024-008Next up, I received a “starter set” of Hawid stamp mounts ordered from a dealer in the UK.  I’m starting to find a few sources of supplies that don’t charge an arm and a leg to ship them to Thailand.  I’ve had bad luck recently in that packets of hinges I’d ordered happened to arrive in the midst of some of the words storms to hit Phuket since I moved here a decade ago, rendering them into a solid mass of stuck-together goo.  I felt that I would have better success with mounts, particularly since I have an increasing backlog of Mint Never Hinged stamps that I would like to take out of the stock books and onto my self-printed album pages.  I did take a few minutes from other pursuits to mount the first page of Abu Dhabi.  Very nice…

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Finally!  A stamp!  This one confused me as it arrived in an envelope mailed from Poland and I hadn’t ordered anything from there.  At any rate, it was a used copy of United States Scott #69, the 12c George Washington black from the 1861-62 series.  I’d won it from a dealer in Bissinghem, Germany.  No idea why it was mailed from Krakow…

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One final, semi-philatelic note on the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.  The post office left a stack of postal cards on a table in the new shopping center behind my home along with two baskets full of themed handstamps (most were made of metal) and three different colors of inkpads.  I’m lucky that I found this on the first day of the festival as the cards quickly disappeared and the ink dried up as very few people closed the lids when they were finished.  I spent an enjoyable few minutes applying the handstamps to both sides of perhaps a half-dozen cards.  With the post office inaccessible for the duration of the festival (it’s almost at “Ground Zero”), I haven’t yet had the chance to mail any of the cards.  I will have to think of some appropriate stamps as none have ever been issued commemorating this festival (this was it’s 190th year in Phuket!).  Perhaps next year, I will think to design a few for the Muang Phuket Local Post…

Happy Collecting!

 

My Life in Stamps, Supplies, Today's Mail

Today’s Mail–1st September 2015

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The first day of September brought more stamps to my home than I received in all of August.  I’ve been working on several thematic collections lately, including one dealing with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Although he is famous in philately as for having been an avid stamp collector, very few stamps have been issued portraying him as such.  I didn’t receive any of those today (already owning the issue from Monaco) but a mix of 30 stamps from Central and South American countries issued in commemoration of his 1945 death are a nice addition to my FDR topical collection.  I couldn’t resist the cover pictured below which was sent to Mr. Roosevelt at the White House from France, formerly a part of the presidential collection.

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In honor of my upcoming 50th birthday, I am also putting together a collection on pages showing “My Life In Stamps.”  I was adopted within the first month of my birth back in December 1965, through Hope Cottage in Dallas TX, and wanted to find a few stamps bringing attention to the adoption of children.  I’ve only found one – Scott #3298 from the United States, issued in 2000 – and bought a first day cover with Fleetwood cachet.

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Finally, I received a packet of Stanley Gibbons stamp hinges which weren’t a humidity-glued solid mass as were the packages of Prinz hinges received a couple of months ago.  I can’t wait until I have a bit of free time so that I can hinge a few hundred stamps onto my self-printed pages, finally getting them out of the stock pages and into a “real” album…

Happy Collecting!