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.

Advertisements
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.

In Memorium, Thailand Philately

Thai Stamps for the Royal Cremation Ceremony

 

The Kingdom of Thailand is preparing for its final farewell to the most beloved monarch this nation has ever known. Even in Phuket, an island some 12 hours south of the capitol city of Bangkok by bus, one sees preparations for the massive funeral which will occur from October 25-29. Television, social media, and websites are almost exclusively black and white as of the beginning of this month and numerous commemorative items are beginning to fill local shops.

A new series of banknotes began circulating just under two weeks ago (I just received my first of the new 100-baht notes) and four commemorative coins are set for release in the near future; I may attempt to obtain the 100-baht coin but the gold 50,000-baht will have to remain a dream.

Three million copies of the new stamps are being released on October 25; I didn’t find out about the pre-sale (August 28-September 11) until a couple of days ago so hopefully I can find them on eBay or elsewhere (Thailand Post is certainly making it difficult to purchase their stamps lately). The stamps are really beautiful, but I can say that about virtually every stamp the Kingdom issues.

Three sheets will be released under the Thailand Post issue number TH-1135 and the official name “Royal Cremation Ceremony of the Late His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej Commemorative Stamps”. The first sheet will include nine 9-baht stamps bearing various portraits of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama the Ninth. The second sheet features three 3-baht stamps portraying major components of the Royal Cremation Ceremony — the Royal Urn, Phra Yannamat Sam Lam Khan (the Golden Palanquin with Three Poles), and Phra Maha Phicha Ratcharot (the Great Victory Royal Chariot). The third sheet contains a single 9-baht illustrating the Royal Crematorium and the candlelit mass mourning ceremony held at Bangkok’s Sanam Luang ceremonial ground on October 22, 2016. The background of this sheet features Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, where the body of His Majesty King Bhumibol is lying in state.

These stamps, as so many other details about the Royal Cremation, have received extensive media coverage so I expect them to be rather difficult to obtain. Several Thai-based stamp dealers are already offering attractive presentation folders for the set. Older stamps portraying King Bhumibol have already seen high selling prices offered on eBay and other online auction sites.

While I have had to forgo a previously-planned trip to Bangkok in order to view the funeral processions due to work commitments, the 26th will be a public holiday so that the entire country can mourn on the day of the actual cremation. Each of Thailand’s 77 provinces has erected replicas of the massive funeral pyre (as well as nine replicas in Bangkok plus the original) so that people who cannot travel to the capital can participate locally. I plan to attend Phuket’s ceremony. I assume that there will be big-screen televisions near the local replica, broadcasting the procession in Bangkok.