General Pursuits

Stamp Art?

Photo by Mark Jochim on May 23, 2018
Photo by Mark Jochim on May 23, 2018

I have been extremely busy at work since the new school year began in mid-May (yes, we start as schools back in the U.S. are just letting out for the long summer holiday) and haven’t had much free time to work on most of my blogs. The workload shows no signs of lessening in the near future but I am trying to prepare a New Issues update with recent USPS design and issue announcements.

In the meantime, I offer this piece of “stamp art” on display in the Phuket, Thailand, shopping mall where I work. Now, Thailand at this time of year — the monsoon season — isn’t exactly the most stamp-friendly of environments. A collector really needs to be on a constant alert that his or her mint stamps are protected from the extremely high moisture content in the air as the humidity fluctuates from intense dryness to sweating walls. I’ve taken to (trying not to) order many stamps at all between around mid-April until October when the rains (usually) let up. I’ve had more than one packet sent from overseas that, upon opening, was full of mint stamps glued together.

France - Scott #C28 (1949) used (1)
France – Scott #C28 (1949) used (1)

At any rate, stamp collecting in a popular hobby in the Kingdom and occasionally comes out into the open with random images such as the one above suddenly appearing in odd places. The one above, portraying a French airmail stamp from 1949, is on the fourth floor of the Central Festival shopping mall in the center of Phuket island, past the cinemas (and preceded by a long line of “coming attractions” posters. It’s across from the “poor man’s” food court used mainly by mall employees. I don’t often venture to this area of the mall — my office and classroom are in the basement near the parking garage — but I accidentally came across some newly-installed ATM’s on the third floor (the ones by the banks on the second floor are always crowded and frequently run out of cash!) and, after happily withdrawing from one, I took an escalator upstairs only to see this stamp on the wall as I ascended. Hopefully, they will add more as time goes on….

France - Scott #C28 (1949) mint, never hinged
France – Scott #C28 (1949) mint, never hinged

I actually own three copies of France Scott #C28, one mint and the others used. Of course, neither has a giant bald eagle flying out of the right side of the stamp. Designed and beautifully engraved by Pierre Gandon, the 100-franc brown carmine airmail stamp portrays the Alexander III Bridge and Petit Palais in Paris. It was issued on June 13, 1949, to mark the International Telegraph and Telephone Conference in Paris, held from May to July of that year. With some 85,152,500 copies of the stamp printed, it’s not nearly as rare as some of the other French airmail stamps issued around that time at around US $7.50 for unused and $5.50 for used copies. I’m still holding out for Scott #C26 — 500-franc bright red with an aerial view of Marseilles (US $58 for a mint copy but a much more doable $6 used) — and Scott #C27 — 1000-franc sepia and black on bluish paper portraying an aerial view of Paris ($150 mint, $28 used).

Perhaps the biggest question is, Why did the management of Central Group pick this particular stamp to grace their wall? I can think of one other piece of local “stamp art” — in the historic Old Town, as a matter of fact — and that one features a French stamp as well, if memory serves. I’ll have to seek it out again the next time I’m in that area, this time camera in hand. If I see any others, I will feature them here on Philatelic Pursuits….as time allows.

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Editorial, Thailand Philately

What About the U.S.A.?

[url=https://flic.kr/p/24w2P7f][img]https://farm1.staticflickr.com/974/40377611310_6292bdafb3_o.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/24w2P7f]ef54ba8a-b2c7-11e6-b17d-d6b2ebc6f34a_image_hires[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/am-jochim/]Mark Jochim[/url], on Flickr
U.S. President Barack Obama meeting with the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a visit to Bangkok, Thailand, on November 18, 2012.

Sometimes I wonder what Thailand Post is thinking of when the stamp selection committee meets to choose topics for future issues. Tue, most subjects on Thai stamps are quite worthy and beautifully executed; we aren’t bombarded with the tons of frivolous wallpaper that some postal administrations churn out with regularity. There have been relatively few poor designs in the years since I moved to southern Thailand and began to avidly collect the Kingdom’s issues, past and present.

However, I feel that there have been missed opportunities along the way and that Thailand Post has repeated itself far too often in recent years. There are certain issues that are guaranteed each year: (Western) New Year’s Day, Children’s Day, Chinese New Year (which they actually passed over in 2018!), a Thai traditional festivals set coinciding with Thai New Year, at least one of the Buddhist holidays (Vesak Bucha being this year’s honoree), Thai Heritage Conservation Day, the King’s Birthday, Mother’s Day, World Post Day, and the multi-stamp flowers issue for the following New Year (annually released in November, they take the place of the Christmas stamps released by Christian nations).

There are also various joint-issues mixed in throughout most years. I quite like these but it is in this area that Thailand Post tends to make mistakes. For example, last week a nice pair of stamps was released to mark the 60th anniversary of Thailand’s diplomatic relations with Turkey with a stamp each portraying the nations’ national sports. A beautiful set and a worthwhile commemoration until you realize that the 50th anniversary of Thai-Turkish diplomatic relations was marked by a joint-issue a mere ten years ago. Is the nation going to mark the 70th anniversary as well? It’s not as if we are being overrun with Turkish tourists (I’ve only met one Turk in the 14 years I’ve lived here).

Thailand -Thailand Post #TH-1147, released on May 12, 2018.
Thailand -Thailand Post #TH-1147, released on May 12, 2018.
Thailand - Thailand Post #TH-1068 First Day Cover, released May 8, 2015.
Thailand – Thailand Post #TH-1068 First Day Cover, released May 8, 2015.

Thailand does seem to like oddly-numbered anniversaries as well. While many nations such as the United States or Great Britain will deem 50th, 100th, and 200th anniversaries of events as stamp-worthy, Thailand Post has issued stamps in the past few years marking the diplomatic relations between the Kingdom and Russia (120 years), China (40 years), Sri Lanka (60 years), Israel (60 years), and even the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — that’s North Korea to you and me — (40 years). Of course, the granddaddy of all of these was the joint issue with Portugal which marked 500 years of friendship (which predates both the Chakri Dynasty and the Ayutthaya Kingdom).

Yet, Thailand has never philatelically honored the United States of America — it’s longest-held diplomatic trading partner if you measure the birth of the nation as the beginning of the ongoing Rattanakosin Kingdom (อาณาจักรรัตนโกสินทร์,) which was founded in 1782. Perhaps the bosses at Thailand Post have forgotten that nearly every paved road and airport in the vast northeast region known as Isaan was not only designed but also constructed by U.S. Army manpower. The two countries have fought shoulder-to-shoulder in every major conflict since World War II, and even redefined their partnership to meet modern global challenges like terrorism and transnational crime.

I was reminded the other day that 2018 is the 200th year of friendship between Thailand and the U.S. This reminded didn’t arrive via a U.S. Embassy Resident Alert or mention on the media, or, as I would hope, by the announcement of a pending stamp issue. No, I made a rare visit to the local McDonald’s (sometimes you just NEED a Big Mac) and, as I finished my fries and moved the carton in order to attack the burger the message loomed large as life on the tray-liner!

Come on, Thailand Post! If a fast-food establishment — albeit such a sheer symbol of Westerness throughout the world — feels it is worthwhile to remind its customers that Thailand and the United States has been friends for 200 years, why can’t we have a nice stamp to commemorate that fact? Even North Korea has regularly portrayed its relations with the U.S. on stamps, although they aren’t exactly promoting anything remotely friendly or diplomatic..

North Korean anti-U.S.A. stamps issued June 25, 2017.

The first recorded contact between Thailand (then known as Siam) and the United States came in 1818, when an American ship captain visited the country, bearing a letter from U.S. President James Monroe. Chang and Eng Bunker immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1830s. In 1832, President Andrew Jackson sent his envoy Edmund Roberts in the U.S. sloop-of-war Peacock, to the courts of Cochin-China, Siam and Muscat. Roberts concluded a Treaty of Amity and Commerce on March 20, 1833, with the Chao-Phraya Phra Klang representing King Phra Nang Klao; ratifications were exchanged April 14, 1836, and the Treaty was proclaimed on June 24, 1837. The Treaty of 1833 was the United States’ first treaty with a country in Asia, making Thailand truly America’s oldest friend in the region.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Treaty, it was revealed that President Andrew Jackson had given the king (later known as Rama III) a gold sword with a design of an elephant and an eagle chased on a gold handle. The king had also been presented a proof set of United States coins, which included the “King of Siam” 1804 dollar struck in 1834. The set, minus a Jackson gold medal, was purchased for a record price of U.S. $8.5 million by Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Irvine, California on November 1, 2005. The set had been sold by Goldberg Coins & Collectibles of Beverly Hills, California, on behalf of an anonymous owner described as “a West Coast business executive,” who purchased it for over U.S. $4 million four years before.

Mural from a school in Koh Samui, Thailand, on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 2013.
Mural from a school in Koh Samui, Thailand, on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 2013.

Perhaps Thailand Post had ignored the United States considerable contribution to the Kingdom as an indicator of current U.S.-Thai relations.  Since the 2014 military coup, the United States has withheld military aid and high-level engagement, unwilling to resume them until a democratically-elected government is restored. That could be quite a bit in the future as elections have been postponed each year and were indefinitely put on hold by the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the ensuing year-long mourning period. As in the Philippines, China has been more than happy to fill this void with their own aid, steadily prying Thailand away from the U.S.-led alliance system.

While 2018 does mark the bicentennial of Thai-American contact, perhaps Thailand Post would like to mark the anniversary that the Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed, formalizing diplomatic relations. Still, 2018 is the 185th anniversary of that event. Please don’t make us wait another 15 years for a stamp marking our long friendship.

In the absence of a stamp issue, at least those Americans who live here or are just passing through can feel proud that McDonald’s has remembered us. If only they would give us a free Big Mac if we show them our passport….

The U.S. Consulate produced a nice logo in 2013 on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of 1833. The slideshow below includes a few additional anniversary logos and Thailand Post stamps…

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Sueng Bung Fai with traditional Isan dressing and local long drum show. Photo taken in Suwannaphum District, Roi Et, Thailand on June 6, 2015.
New Issues, Thailand Philately

New Issues: Thailand [April 2018]

After nearly two months without any new stamps, Thailand Post is set to release two sets within the next four days for a total of eight stamps and one souvenir sheet.

Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 commemorative stamp set, release date April 2, 2018 Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 souvenir sheet, release date April 2, 2018Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 First Day Cover, release date April 2, 2018

Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 pictorial postmarks, release date April 2, 2018
Thailand TH-1144 Thai Heritage Conservation Day 2018 commemorative stamp set with souvenir sheet, release date April 2, 2018

Due tomorrow, April 2, 2018, is the annual set marking Thai Heritage Conservation Day (วันอนุรักษ์มรดกไทย — Wan Anurak Moradok Thai). Marking the birthday of the popular Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (มหาจักรีสิรินธร), a stamp collector and designer herself, the special day has been observed since 1995. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information about the murals portrayed on this year’s stamp set. Four 3-baht stamps plus a souvenir sheet which will be sold for 15 baht are scheduled to be issued under the Thailand Post catalogue number of TH-1144.

Thailand TH-1144 Thai Traditional Festivals 2018 commemorative stamp set, release date April 4, 2018 Thailand TH-1144 Thai Traditional Festivals 2018 First Day Cover, release date April 4, 2018

Thailand TH-1144 Thai Traditional Festivals 2018 pictorial postmarks, release date April 4, 2018
Thailand TH-1144 Thai Traditional Festivals 2018 commemorative stamp set, release date April 4, 2018

On April 4, the annual set of four Thai Traditional Festivals set will be released under the Thailand Post number TH-1145. This year’s subject is the spectacular Sky Rocket Festival (ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ — Prapheni Bun Bang Fai), a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people throughout much of the Isan region of northeastern Thailand and Laos near the beginning of the wet season. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets.

Rocket Festival, Yasothon ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ จังหวัดยโสธร
Rocket launch at Yasothon, Thailand ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ จังหวัดยโสธร
Sueng Bung Fai with traditional Isan dressing and local long drum show. Photo taken in Suwannaphum District, Roi Et, Thailand on June 6, 2015.
Sueng Bung Fai with traditional Isan dressing and local long drum show. Photo taken in Suwannaphum District, Roi Et, Thailand on June 6, 2015.

Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia. The most famous celebrations are those held in Yasothon’s provincial capital staged annually over the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that falls in the middle of May. In 2018, I believe this is May 18-20 but haven’t been able to confirm those dates yet. It appears that the photographs used for Thailand’s new stamps were taken at Yasathon. The festival is one I’ve long wanted to attend and will make an extra effort this year (it can be difficult to take more than two days off from work). At the very least, I will put together an article about the Skyrocket Festival for my A Stamp A Day blog next month.

In the meantime, here’s some video from the 2016 Rocket Festival at Kut Wa in Kalasin Province, Thailand:

The next stamps on the Thailand Post calendar is a 2-stamp set marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic releations between Thailand and Turkey (TH-1146), scheduled for release on May 12. There is also a four-stamp set (TH-1147) scheduled for May 14 to mark Vesak Buja Day (วันวิสาขบูชา — Wan Wisakhabucha). This is a Buddhist observance commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha, traditionally at the full moon of the sixth Thai lunar month (May). In Thailand, it is also observed as National Tree Day.

April 6 in Thailand is observed as Chakri Memorial Day (วันจักรี — Wan Chakkri), which commemorates the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty and the founding of Bangkok by King Phutthayotfa Chulalok in 1782. Officially known as King Phutthayotfa Chulalok the Great Day and Chakri Dynasty Memorial Day (วันพระบาทสมเด็จพระพุทธยอดฟ้าจุฬาโลกมหาราชและวันที่ระลึกมหาจักรีบรมราชวงศ์), this year the date will see the release of the first new banknotes and coins bearing the likeness of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (มหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร). In the West, he is called simply King Rama X. Banknotes in the denominations of 20, 50 and 100 baht will be released on April 6 as well as coins denominated 10, 5, 2, and 1 baht plus 50, 25, 10, 5, and 1 satang (all of the satang coinage is basically useless, retailers usually will round up or give customers 25- or 50-satang coins in change but refuse to accept them as payment; the lowest values are so that banks can balance their account books and probably won’t reach circulation).

Thailand King Rama X Definitive Stamps (Series I), scheduled for release July 28, 2018.
Pre-Order announcement for Thailand King Rama X Definitive Stamps (Series I), scheduled for release July 28, 2018.

The first Rama X definitive stamps were originally scheduled to have been released on April 6 as well but are now delayed until July 28. That date is known in English as King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Birthday but in Thai it is วันเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษาสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัวมหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร — Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Maha Wachiralongkon Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun. Have I mentioned that I have given up trying to learn the language due to mouthfuls such as this? There will be twelve stamps released that date bearing Rama X’s portrait in denominations of 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 50, and 100 baht. The total face value is 220 baht, plus it appears that there will also be a souvenir sheet containing all 12 stamps to be sold for 250 baht. The stamps are now available for pre-order, as evidenced by the pictured advertisement I found on Facebook.

Although King Maha Vajiralongkorn accepted the throne on the night of December 1, 2016, and King Bhumibol Adulyadej was cremated on October 26, 2017, a coronation for the new king has yet to be held.

2018-01-01 Year of the Dog [TH-1141]
Chinese New Year, New Issues, Topical Pursuits

New Issues – Thematic Wrap-Up: Year of the Dog

Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year,  known popularly as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival (simplified Chinese: 春节; traditional Chinese: 春節; pinyin: Chūn Jié). For a number of years, my adopted home of Thailand issued Zodiac stamps usually on January 1 and then a Chinese New Year set (often depicting various deities) a few weeks later. Last year, there was no Chinese New Year stamp and that has been repeated this year as well. Many nations have released Year of the Dog stamps, most with a distinctive Chinese slant, and a few have released issues more focused on the Spring Festival itself. If you are a dog lover, there are some very attractive topical stamps issued so far in 2018. To read more about the background of Chinese New Year, please have a look at my article on A Stamp A Day.

BHUTAN: Year of the Dog, released January 20, 2018

2018-01-20 [Bhutan] Chinese New Year


CANADA: Chinese New Year, released January 15, 2018

2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year 2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year 2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year 2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year


PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: Year of the Dog, released January 5, 2018

2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year 2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year


PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: Spring Festival, released January 10, 2018

2018-01-15 [Canada] Chinese New Year


CHRISTMAS ISLAND: Year of the Dog, released January 8, 2018

2018-01-08 [Christmas Island] Chinese New Year 2018-01-08 [Christmas Island] Chinese New Year 2018-01-08 [Christmas Island] Chinese New Year


FRANCE: Happy New Year, released February 2, 2018

2018-01-08 [Christmas Island] Chinese New Year


FRENCH POLYNESIA: Year of the Dog, released February 16, 2018

2018-02-16 Chinese New Year [French Polynesia]


GIBRALTAR: Year of the Dog, released January 30, 2018

2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year


GUERNSEY: Year of the Dog, released February 3, 2018

2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year


HONG KONG S.A.R., CHINA: Year of the Dog, released January 27, 2018

2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year 2018-01-30 [Gibraltar] Chinese New Year


INDONESIA: Chinese New Year, released February 1, 2018

2018-02-01 Chinese New Year [Indonesia] 2018-02-01 Chinese New Year [Indonesia]


ISLE OF MAN: Year of the Dog, released February 8, 2018

2018-02-01 Chinese New Year [Indonesia]


JERSEY: Year of the Dog, released January 5, 2018


KAZAKHSTAN: Chinese New Year, released January 1, 2018

2018-01-01 [Kazakhstan] Chinese New Year miniature sheet


KYRGYZSTAN: Chinese New Year, released January 30, 2018


MACAU, CHINA: Year of the Dog, released January 5, 2018


MALAYSIA: Working Dogs, released January 13, 2018


MONGOLIA: Year of the Dog, released January 5, 2018

2018-01-05 [Mongolia] Chinese New Year


THE NETHERLANDS: Year of the Dog, released January 29, 2018


NEW CALEDONIA: Year of the Dog, released February 16, 2016

2018-02-16 Chinese New Year [New Caledonia]


NEW ZEALAND: Year of the Dog, released January 10, 2018


SINGAPORE: Year of the Dog (personalized stamps), released January 5, 2018

2018-01-05 [Singapore] Chinese New Year [peronalized stamps]


SLOVENIA: Year of the Dog, released January 26, 2018

2018-01-26 Chinese New Year [Slovenia]


TAJIKISTAN: Year of the Dog, released January 26, 2018

2018-01-26 Chinese New Year [Slovenia]


THAILAND: Year of the Dog, released January 1, 2018

2018-01-01 Year of the Dog [TH-1141]


UNITED NATIONS: Chinese New Year personalized sheet, released February 2, 2018

2018-01-01 Year of the Dog [TH-1141]


UNITED STATES: Zodiac Year of the Dog, released January 11, 2018

2018-01-11 [United States] Year of the Dog [Honolulu, HI]


WALLIS & FUTUNA ISLANDS: Year of the Dog, released February 16, 2018

2016-02-16 Chinese New Year [Wallis & Futuna]

Love on Stamps, New Issues, Topical Pursuits

New Issues – Thematic Wrap-Up: Love 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A week ago, I posted a blog entry about Thailand’s Symbol of Love 2018 stamp release. Of course, the Land of Smiles is not the only nation promoting the theme of LOVE philatelicly. Below are images of other stamps that have been released recently which you may wish to use on any Valentine’s Day cards you’d like to mail (people do that, right?). At the very least, these may inspire you to buy something special for your significant other on what we call in Thailand Wan Rak (“day of love”). I recommend giving flowers or chocolate, NOT stamps or first day covers unless your loved-one also happens to share your beloved hobby.

AUSTRALIA: With Love, released February 6, 2018

Australia - Love, released February 6, 2018Australia - Love, released February 6, 2018

Australia - Love, released February 6, 2018


FRANCE: Valentine’s Day/50th Anniversary of Fashion House, released January 12, 2018

France - Valentine's Day/50th Anniversary of Fashion House, released January 12, 2018

France - Valentine's Day/50th Anniversary of Fashion House, released January 12, 2018 France - Valentine's Day/50th Anniversary of Fashion House, released January 12, 2018


IRELAND: Love & Marriage, released February 8, 2018

Ireland - Love & Marriage, released February 8, 2018


LEBANON: Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018

Lebanon - Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018

Lebanon - Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018 [sheet]

Lebanon - Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018 [First Day Cover, front]

Lebanon - Spread Your Love, released February 7, 2018 [First Day Cover, back]


MOLDOVA: Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018

While this stamp from the land-locked Eastern European nation of Moldova looks similar to the other stamps in this theme, the purpose of this issue is actually to promote Organ Transplants which are probably the ultimate gift of love!

Moldova - Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018Molodva - Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018 [sheet]

Molodva - Organ Transplant Promotion, released January 11, 2018 [FDC]


SLOVENIA: Love, released January 26, 2018

Slovenia - Love, released January 26, 2018

Slovenia - Love, released January 26, 2018 [sheet]


THAILAND: Symbol of Love, released February 7, 2018 [Thailand Post #TH-1148]

Thailand TH-1143: Symbol of Love Postage StampThailand - Symbol of Love, released February 7, 2018 [sheet]

Thailand - Symbol of Love, released February 7, 2018 [FDC]


UNITED STATES: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [Scott #5255]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [Scott #5255]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [sheet]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [sheet liner]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [fFDC]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [FDC with digital color postmark]

United States: Love Flourishes, released January 18, 2018 [first day of issue cermeony program]

New Issues

Issued Today (February 7, 2018): Thailand – Symbol of Love

Thailand TH-1143: Symbol of Love Postage Stamp
Thailand TH-1143: Symbol of Love Postage Stamp

Thailand Post is issuing its annual Symbol of Love stamp today — February 7, 2018 — at post offices throughout the Kingdom. The single 5-baht stamp has been given the issue number 1143 and is released just in time for Valentine’s Day (วันวาเลนไทน์ — Wan Wal-en-thyn), which is a very big event here in Thailand. Most Thais refer to it as Wan Rak (วันรัก) which means “day of love”.

While giving boxes of chocolate is not very popular (it melts easily in the heat — February tends to be one of the hottest months in Thailand) and I have never seen a candy heart here, flowers seem to be even more popular of a gift than in the United States. Even though the price does increase a bit this time of year, the cost of bouquets and individual long-stemmed flowers is still dirt-cheap compared to most Western countries.

In the early morning hours the day before Valentine’s Day, thousands of street stalls suddenly appear EVERYWHERE and start selling anything that is red or pink or both: stuffed bears, plush hearts, and tons of flowers. In the schools, the students (and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in kindergarten or a high school senior) will walk around plastering all manner of heart stickers on each other’s shirts. By the end of the day, everybody is covered head to toe in pink and red stickers (including some of the teachers!). One finds hearts that have fallen off of shirts affixed to sidewalks for weeks afterwards.

Photo taken by Mark Joseph Jochim at Piboonsawasdee Municipal School on February 14, 2013.
Photo taken by Mark Joseph Jochim at Piboonsawasdee Municipal School on February 14, 2013.

Yes, Valentine’s Day in Thailand is mostly about who gets the most gifts and flowers to show off (and the girls love walking around carrying bears and huge bouquets all day long).

While many will go out to eat dinner, it is rare to see Thai people holding hands in public other than the younger generation (no doubt, influenced by us Western visitors who aren’t so chaste). For those who stay at home, there are special Valentine’s Day television programs shown all day long on almost every channel. Mostly, these are cheesy game shows and comedies.

For philatelists (some in Thailand actually have girlfriends and wives!), a number of the Bangkok area post offices have special Valentine’s Day cancellations available. These are in addition to the regular first day of issue postmarks (again, most branches in Bangkok will offer special pictorial cancellations today). I often wish that Phuket would do something similar (at least the Philatelic Museum counter) and have occasionally thought about moving to the capital simply in order to obtain postmark-filled covers on release dates. But then I think of the traffic congestion and pollution and come to my senses.

Photo ©2018 Thai Stamp Museum

The postmarks, press release and first day cover pictured above came courtesy of Thailand Post’s collector-oriented Facebook page (called “Stamp In Love”). The following images were shared this afternoon on the Thai Stamp Museum Facebook page:

Photo ©2018 Thai Stamp Museum
Photo ©2018 Thai Stamp Museum
Photo ©2018 Thai Stamp Museum

I hope all of you enjoy Wan Rak with your significant other. If you want to be a little adventurous, why not give these Thai love phrases a try?

Photo ©2018 Thailand Stamp Museum
Photo taken by Mark Joseph Jochim at Piboonsawasdee Municipal School on February 14, 2013.
Photo taken by Mark Joseph Jochim at Piboonsawasdee Municipal School on February 14, 2013.
New Issues

New Stamp Issues (Jan 2018): Thailand & the U.S.A.

It’s been nearly four months since I’ve last posted anything to Philatelic Pursuits; most of my free-time energies have been dedicated to putting together material for A Stamp A Day. That being said, I do have a few items in the works for this blog so please stay tuned. The first is a periodic overview of new stamp issues for a few of the countries that I’m interested in philatelicly such as Thailand (where I live and try to keep up with new releases) and the United States (which puts out so much material each year that I often don’t pay much attention). I may add other countries at times to serve as reminders to myself to seek out certain stamps that catch my eye.

Thailand has only released two stamps in 2018 and I have yet to get to the post office to buy either of them. Unusually, Thailand Post has only announced new releases only up until the end of May rather than the full year as it has previously. These include the regular annual issues such as “Symbol of Love”, “Thai Heritage Conservation”, “Thai Traditional Festival”, and “Visak Day” as well as a new entry in its long list of “Diplomatic Relations” stamps (Turkey this time) and a joint issue with Romania. Just announced is the first set of definitive portraying the as-yet-coronated King Maha Vajiralongkhorn (Rama X), due to be released on April 6. New coinage bearing his portrait has also been recently revealed but still no word on the new reign’s paper currency with the new series of King Bhumibol Adulyadej banknotes having been released at the time of his cremation last October.

Thailand - 2018-01-01: Zodiac 2018 (Year of the Dog) 3 baht single stamp
Thailand – 2018-01-01: Zodiac 2018 (Year of the Dog) 3 baht single stamp

As usual, January 1 saw the release of the annual Zodiac issue with a single 3-baht stamp marking the Year of the Dog (Thailand Post issue number 1141). Once again, the stamp features a painting by Her Majesty Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

Thailand - 2018-01-13: National Children's Day 2018, 4x3 baht stamps
Thailand – 2018-01-13: National Children’s Day 2018, 4×3 baht stamps

  The second Saturday in January is celebrated in Thailand as National Children’s Day and a set of four 3-baht stamps featuring traditional Thai crafts including kites and parasols was released on January 13 (Thailand Post issue number 1142). A number of post offices in the Bangkok area had Children’s Day activities and featured the usual myriad of individual first day of issue postmarks. Most of the handstamp devices are also available in the large atrium at Bangkok’s old General Post Office in Chinatown and many collectors go there and apply the various chops to their own covers rather than try to travel throughout the capitol, visiting each post office in turn.

Thailand - 2018-02-07: Symbol of Love 2018, 5 baht single stamp
Thailand – 2018-02-07: Symbol of Love 2018, 5 baht single stamp

The only upcoming stamp announced (so far) to be released in February is the annual “Symbol of Love” 5-baht emission due to be issued on February 7, just a week before Valentine’s Day (Thailand Post 1143). The design appears to be a crocheted heart. The next issues on the calendar are set for April 2 — a four-stamp Thai Heritage and Conservation set (Thailand Post 1144) — and April 4 — four designs for the Thai Traditional Festival set (Thailand Post 1145), which annually is released just prior to Thai New Year (Songkran, April 13). No images for either of these two set have been revealed yet and I suspect that we will also see releases soon for the annual Chinese New Year and Red Cross stamps.

Thailand - 2018-04-06 King Rama X Definitive Series I - 12 stamps in various denominations
Thailand – 2018-04-06 King Rama X Definitive Series I – 12 stamps in various denominations

The Thai-language Stamp magazine is the source for the image above — the first set of definitives depicting His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn who took the throne following the October 13, 2016, death of his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX). These range from 1 baht to 100 baht and will be used on the majority of stamped mail within Thailand for the next few years. While these have yet to appear on Thailand Post’s website or on the official release schedule, a Facebook post by a well-connected Thai collector mentions that they will be issued on April 6. I will attempt to create some unofficial first day covers as I doubt Thailand Post will sell official ones.

There are a number of very interesting stamps on the early release calendar of the United States Postal Service. Five stamps and one stamped envelope have been released in January so far and one more is due tomorrow (January 30). One of the reasons I long ago gave up trying to purchase one of each new stamp from the United States is the expense. The stamps released thus far this year have a total face value of US $39.60 (which is 1240.17 Thai baht, making it sound even worse!). While the designs are striking for the Priority Mail rate issues, I doubt I will ever purchase any. However, some of the U.S. stamps slated for later this year are ones I definitely want to pick up featuring such subjects as the end of World War I, scenes inspired by “America, The Beautiful” and British music legend John Lennon. I’m not excited by the Mister Rodgers stamp but to each, their own.

United States - 2018-01-11: Year of the Dog - (49 cent) Forever single stamp
United States – 2018-01-11: Year of the Dog – (49 cent) Forever commemorative stamp

The United States’ Zodiac 2018 stamp was released on January 11 in Honolulu, Hawaii 96820, in a PSA pane of 12 printed by the Banknote Corporation of America. The Year of the Dog stamp is the 11th of 12 stamps in the current Celebrating Lunar New Year cycle. The artwork focuses on some of the common ways the Lunar New Year holiday is celebrated. It depicts an arrangement of lucky bamboo. On the red paper to the right, the Chinese character fu — meaning good fortune, rendered in calligraphy — is a common decoration on doors and entryways during Lunar New Year festivities.

United States - 2018-01-18: Love Flourishes - (49 cent) Forever special stamp
United States – 2018-01-18: Love Flourishes – (49 cent) Forever special stamp

Love Flourishes, the latest stamp in a series that goes back to 1973, was released on January 18 in Phoenix, Arizona 85026 in a PSA pane printed by the Banknote Corporation of America in panes of 20. It features a fanciful garden of colorful flowers surrounding the word “Love” in cursive script. The First Day of Issue site is Creativation, the annual Craft & Hobby Association convention that brings together the global creative products community from designers to manufacturers, some of whom may want to incorporate postage stamps in their designs. The flowers on the stamp include stylized roses, peonies, and dahlias in pink, coral, and yellow, with pale blue-green berries and gold fronds and leaves.

United States - 2018-01-19: Meyer Lemons - 2 cent definitive stamp
United States – 2018-01-19: Meyer Lemons – 2 cent definitive coil stamp

The 2¢ Meyer Lemons stamp is the latest in the current Fruits low-denomination definitive series. It was issued on January 19 in Kenner, Louisiana 70062, printed in coils of 10,000 by the Banknote Corporation of America. The Meyer lemon is native to China, and is thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It was introduced to the U.S. in 1908, but in the 1940s it was discovered that a majority of the Meyer lemon trees being cloned were symptomless carriers of a virus that had killed or rendered useless millions of citrus trees all over the world. Most of the Meyer lemon trees in the U.S. were then destroyed, after which a virus-free selection was developed in the 1950s and certified and released in 1975 by the University of California as the ‘Improved Meyer lemon’.”

United States - 2018-01-21 Bydo-In Temple - $6.70 Priority Mail Rate stamp and stamped envelope
United States – 2018-01-21 Bydo-In Temple – $6.70 Priority Mail Rate stamp and stamped envelope

The Byodo-In Temple — a popular tourist attraction in Hawaii, is featured on a $6.70 Priority Mail flat-rate envelope as well as a $6.70 stamp released in panes of four released on January 21 in Kansas City, Missouri 64108. These, and the following stamp, are the latest entries in the long-running American Landmarks series.

United States - 2018-01-21 Sleeping Bear Dunes - $24.70 Priority Mail Express rate stamp
United States – 2018-01-21 Sleeping Bear Dunes – $24.70 Priority Mail Express rate stamp

With this Priority Mail Express stamp in the American Landmarks series, the Postal Service celebrates the Sleeping Bear Dunes, a national park in Michigan that takes its name from a Native American legend. It was released in panes of four on January 21 in Kansas City, Missouri 64108.

United States - January 30, 2018: Lena Horne - (50 cent) Forever commemorative stamp
United States – January 30, 2018: Lena Horne – (50 cent) Forever commemorative stamp

Due for release on January 30 is a single stamp portraying Lena Horne in New York, New York. Horne is included in the USPS Black Heritage series as a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color when in fact, her fame and her contributions were much broader. As a performer her 70-year career was capped by a one-woman show, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music,” which ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway and then on tour across the United States. And as an activist, her defense of the civil rights of all Americans led to her being blacklisted during the infamous era of McCarthyism and the Red Scare. Released in panes of 20 printed by the Banknote Corporation of America, the stamp features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s, with an added background reminiscent of Horne’s “Stormy Weather” album.

Next to be released by the United States are four Forever definitive stamps (currently 50 cents) in two double-sided panes of 20 and two coils of 100 scheduled for issue at Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33310 on February 9. I will provide images of that release, as well as more new stamps, next month.