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

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…

My Life in Stamps

Birthday Covers, Revisited

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Last year, I read a thread on one of the stamp collecting online forums about a man who collected covers postmarked on his birthday each year. I set out to do something similar and quickly found that this is no easy task. The search parameters I used on eBay tended to generate lists of magazine covers (mostly TV Guide or Life Magazine); changing the year didn’t help much. I considered going through the Scott Catalogue looking for stamps issued on or near my birthday each year. Searching through the issues of the United States first, I only found one — a stamp released on my fourth birthday (1969). However, I soon tired of the boredom of this task.

I did find an Air France first flight cover (Paris to Las Palmas) dated December 5, 1965, two days after the date on my birth certificate but the date I’ve celebrated each year since moving to Thailand a decade ago. This is because it is a national holiday here as His Royal Highness the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born on December 5. Due to the nature of my adoption, however, the exact date of my birth is uncertain. The French cover is illustrated in an entry I wrote for Philatelic Pursuits on May 11, 2016.

Recently, I wanted to add more German stamps to my collection, specifically those with a philatelic theme such as portrayed on the annual Stamp Day (Tag der Briefmarke) issues. My search soon expanded to Austria and I quickly found covers bearing the 1965 Stamp Day issue (Scott #B321) and realized the postmark actually had my date of birth within — December 3, 1965. From the same seller, I managed to find three different first day covers of this stamp: one with a regular circular CDS from Vienna, one with a pictorial first day of issue cancellation, and one from an international stamp exhibition held at the Vienna Messepalast as this was the 30th annual Austrian Stamp Day. The first was held in 1935, the year of my father’s birth.

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The stamp itself is denominated at 3s and bears a 75g surcharge to support Stamp Day. The engraved blue green stamp portrays a postman distributing mail into mailboxes. It is perforated 13½ x 14.

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The sole United States stamp issued on my birthday was Scott #1386, an entry in the American Painting series. The 6-cent stamp portrays William M. Harnett‘s still-life entitled “Old Models” which can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The stamp was designed by Robert J. Jones and was issued in panes of thirty-two, with an initial printing of 130 million. Released on December 3, 1969, the stamp is perforated 11.

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I have many December 5th covers from Thailand. There were releases on His Majesty the late King’s birthday throughout his long reign (May 2016 was the 70th anniversary of his ascension). I believe last year’s issue (due to commemorate that 70th anniversary) was pulled as it disappeared from the schedule following his death on October 13. I never could get an answer at the local post office about it, either. The 2016 Thailand Post yearbook has yet to be issued (it’s usually available by early February) and the 2017 stamp release schedule doesn’t currently include anything on December 5.

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Maybe it’s time to start looking for a few of those elusive non-philatelic usages….

 

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.

Stamped Holidays, Uncategorized

Happy Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong (Thailand)

Today is the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar.  As such, the evening is being celebrated as Loy Krathong here in Thailand. Held throughout Thailand and Laos as well as a couple of small areas in Myanmar, Malaysia, and the extreme southern portion of Yunnan in China Loy Krathong is perhaps my favorite one-day holiday. It is at the very least the most colorful.

The Thai word loy (or, “loi”) is translated as “to float”) while a krathong means a “floating boat” or “floating decoration”.  The krathong are traditionally made from a thick slice from the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant.  Some modern versions are made from bread but increasingly, Styrofoam krathong are sold which pollute the rivers and take years to decompose.  They are decorated with elaborately folded banana leaves, incense sticks, colorful flowers, and a candle.  A small coin is sometimes added as an offering to the river spirits.  Fingernails or hair clippings are also occasionally added to the krathong as a symbol of letting go of past transgressions and negative thoughts.  The primary purpose of floating krathong in rivers, canals or ponds on the full moon night is to thank the Goddess of Water, known as Phra Mae Khongkha in Thailand.

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Most large organizations, corporations and government offices in the region create larger, elaborate krathong and their are many local competitions to determine the best of these.  Most communities will hold at least one “Noppamas Queen” beauty contest. This is to honor a consort of the 13th century Sukhothai king Sri Indraditya, who, according to Thai mythology, was the first to float a decorated raft. These pageants attract young girls, adults, and katoeys alike.

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According to an 1863 account written by His Majesty Mongkut (Rama IV, best known in the West via Anna Leonewens’ novel Anna and the King of Siam and the musical The King And I), Loy Krathong was adapted by Siamese Buddhists from a Brahmanical festival to honor the Buddha. The candle venerates the Buddha with light while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger and defilements.

In many Thai communities, people also enjoy launching khom loi, or Lanna-style sky lanterns, into the sky. These are made from a thin fabric such as rice paper, stretched over a bamboo or wire frame, to which a candle or disc of paraffin wax is attached. When this is lit, the resulting hot air is trapped inside the lantern and provides enough lift for the khom loi to float up into the sky.

Loy Krathong sky lantern, Patong 2006-11-06

For the first few years that I lived in Thailand, I loved to watch the streams of lit lanterns rising into the dark sky while sitting on my balcony. However, this aspect of the celebration is now being increasingly banned as the sky lanterns are a hazard to passing aircraft and can cause damage if they land on buildings or vehicles. Bangkok passed a particularly severe ordnance in 2014 following the military coup which states that “violators may face execution or a life sentence or serve a lighter sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison…” Fireworks displays have replaced the khom loi in a number of places.

On 10 November 2011, Thailand Post issued a set of four stamps and a souvenir sheet honoring “Traditional Festivals”.  Two of the stamps specifically depict Loy Krathong as celebrated in Sukhothai (along with the Candle Festival) and Tak while a third shows the northern Thai (Lanna) festival known as Yi Peng which coincides with Loy Krathong. This is the origin of the khom loi lanterns sky lanterns and locals decorate their houses and gardens with khom fai, intricately shaped paper lanterns which take on different forms including those carried hanging from a stick (khom thue) and those placed at temples which revolve due to the heat of the candle inside (khom pariwat). The most elaborate Yi Peng celebrations are in Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of the Lanna kingdom, where they are held concurrently with Loy Krathong. The final stamp depicts the Illuminated Boat Procession in Nakhon Phanom.