Despite it’s long history and importance to the Thai economy as a popular tourism destination, Phuket has been the direct subject of only five stamps in the 130 years that Thailand has had a postal system. None of them are particularly rare or expensive and can form the core of a nice topical collection.
Remarkably, none of Phuket’s famous beaches has ever been pictured on a Thai postage stamp although several nearby islands and coastlines have. However, those all belong to the provinces of Krabi and Phang Nga.
A Phuket-themed collection can be expanded to include stamps showing aspects of culture and economy prevalent on the island. This could include subjects such as the Chinese gods stamps released the past several years in conjunction with Chinese New Year, stamps showing fish found in the waters of the Andaman Sea, and even those portraying the popular shadow-puppets.
I would even include the pair issued in December 2005 marking the first anniversary of the tsunami that claimed so many lives in the region.
Every Phuket schoolkid is taught the story of Chan and Mook, the “Two Heroines” of Phuket. Most expats eventually hear of their bravery in leading the local people during the Burmese invasion in 1785 and tourists will encounter the famous statue whilst traveling to or from the airport. It really is Phuket’s best-known symbol within Thailand itself, appearing in many local logos and designs.
To use their royal titles as conferred on them by King Chulalongkorn, Thao Thep Kassatri and Thao Sri Suthorn, were first honored on a stamp released on 20 November 1970. It was the one-baht value in a set of four showcasing Thai heroic deeds and is numbered 563 in the Scott Catalogue of Postage Stamps. The Government Printing Office in the Japanese Ministry of Finance printed one million of this design. Today, the stamp is worth about 45 baht (US $1.40) in mint, never hinged condition or 21 baht (US $0.65) in very fine used condition.
The sisters’ statue once again appears on a stamp marking the bicentennial of the Battle of Thalang. The two-baht stamp was printed by Harrison & Sons Ltd. in England and issued on 13 March 1985. Four million of Scott #1104 were printed and today it carries values of 21 baht (US $0.65) and four baht (US $0.12) for mint and used copies respectively.
The monument appeared one more time in a sheet of stamps — the third set in an annual series — portraying the official seals of each of Thailand’s 77 provinces. The seal of Bangkok (which isn’t a province) and a few other national symbols fleshed out the odd number. The Phuket provincial seal appears as the upper left stamp of the set issued on 9 September 2009 and is numbered 2440a in the Scott catalogue. The stamp bears the three-baht rate for domestic letter postage. The first day of issue postmark portrayed Phuket’s outline.
Most recently, Thailand issued a mini-sheet of ten definitive (as opposed to commemorative) stamps portraying various popular tourist destinations. This was released on 5 July 2012 and the stamps are denominated at the international letter rate of 15 baht. Phuket’s contribution is the popular sunset spot of Promthep Cape — the island’s southwestern-most point. It’s pictured on the top two stamps. I’ve actually seen these sold at the profit-hungry B2S bookstore in Central Festival for 45 baht per stamp. Save your money; you can easily purchase them at face value from any post office on the island and throughout Thailand.
I’ll close with the pair of Tsunami stamps, released on 26 December 2005, Scott #2211. While not officially semi-postal stamps, Thailand Post donated the proceeds from the sale of these to the Thai Charity for Tsunami Victims.
I would love to see some other aspect of Phuket pictured on postage stamps in the future. The historic Sino-Portuguese architecture would be my first choice and perhaps the sea dragon or tin-mining would make a worthwhile subject. If you have any other ideas for Phuket-themed stamps, please let me know in the Comments.