Today is World Local Post Day, held annually during the last week of January since 1989. A local post is defined by Wikipedia as “ a mail service that operates only within a limited geographical area, typically a city or a single transportation route. Historically, some local posts have been operated by governments, while others, known as private local posts, have been for-profit companies.”
I’ve operated the Muang Phuket Local Post since October 2013 which falls into the “hobbyist” category, issuing “a variety of commemorative ‘stamps’ covering a wide range of events or personal interests, of subjects that are not normally issued by their own countries’ postal services….This sort of local post is effectively a ‘home-brewed’ postal system, and the typical hobbyist carries little, if any, mail (though some do carry mail over a short distance for themselves or a few people).”
Many of these local posters are members of the Local Post Collectors Society, organized in 1972. Originally a “national” observance, the annual observance designed to create awareness in local posting had its name changed to World Local Post Day in 2006 to recognize the hobby’s international status. Each year follow’s a different theme for local posters to create stamps in commemoration of. In 2014, the theme was the centenary of start of World War I.
The theme for this year is the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black, the world’s first adhesive postage stamp. This event will also be commemorated by many of the official postal administrations throughout the world. The following is taken from a press release announcing the issuance of a typically beautiful set of stamps to be issued by the Isle of Man on 17th February:
Postage rates on the Isle of Man and the rest of the British Isles had risen to a very high level by 1830 and as a result a campaign to reform these was led by Rowland Hill with the main aim of lowering the rate to one penny per half ounce. This in addition to introducing a method to signify if a letter had been pre-paid was developed by William Mulready.
The first step towards a change in the postal system then occurred on December 5, 1839 when the rate was reduced to four pence. This was a success and the penny rate was introduced January 10, 1840. At first the postage paid or due was written in ink on the letter by the postmaster and then on May 6, 1840 a new method of paying postage was introduced and the famous Penny Black was born, followed by the Two Penny Blue on May 8, 1840.
A number of devices were incorporated in the designs to prevent forgery including stamps being printed by the recess method, paper specifically made with a small watermark on each stamp, a machine used to make intricate background patterns, and the use of unique corner letters with each stamp on the printing plate of 240 stamps having a different combination of corner letters.
The Penny Black and Two Penny Blue were resounding successes. The 1840 stamps were found to be easily cleaned of the red cancellation and reused and this prompted a colour change to Red for the Penny Black stamp with new stamps issued in 1841.
Of course, I decided to participate with the first 2015 issue by Muang Phuket Local Post – a fairly easy design as I kept the elements of the original Penny Black and simply added the entity name (Great Britain, being the first nation ever to issue stamps has never included its name on its stamps using a portrait of the ruling monarch instead), the legend “Penny Black Anniversary 1840-2015” and changed the denomination to “25 satang” which is the face value for most of the MPLP’s “stamps”. The control marks in the lower corners of the original stamps had different combinations of letters denoting its exact position in the large press sheets. I elected to keep the letters the same for all, namely “M P” for Muang Phuket (muang in Thai is an administrative designation, equivalent to “town”, “city” or “town center”/”downtown”).
I think the design is quite pleasing, particularly when seen in its actual stamp form. The small-sized stamp was printed in two formats – a mini-sheet of 12 (three rows of four) and a larger sheet of 32 (four rows of eight). Both are self-adhesive and imperforate in a very limited press run.
Just a half-dozen first day covers have been prepared, some using the Penny Black commemorative in combination with earlier Muang Phuket Local Post issues. I didn’t design a special cancellation for this issue but will use the generic “wave” marking designed for last month’s Tsunami Anniversary issue in red ink on the Penny Blacks. As usual, these covers have the MPLP “stamps” and “postmarks” applied to the left portion of the envelope and the proper Thai postage on the upper right corner.
These will receive the official Phuket Town postmark at the philatelic museum later this afternoon. The reason for such a limited number of covers is that the clerk often hands me the steel die-stamp so that I can apply the postmark myself and I’m quite shy about that! (I’m also not that good as it’s a very strange, rock-hard ink and heavy steel handstamp that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of so most of my cancellations are somewhat less than crisp.)
If you are interested in receiving one or more of any of the Muang Phuket Local Post issues posted on a card, simply send a postcard to the address pictured above stating your request and I will affix the “stamps” on a Phuket postcard along with an MPLP “postmark” and send it back in the mail to you. If you would like mint copies, please enclose a self-addressed envelope with your request plus US $1 or the equivalent in mint postage stamps from any country and I will be happy to send several recent issues in return.
Currently available Muang Phuket Local Post issues:
- 20150126-MPLP016: World Post Day 2015/Penny Black Anniversary (25st.)
- 20141226-MPLP015: 10th Anniversary of Boxing Day Tsunami (50st.)
- 20141226-MPLP014: 10th Anniversary of Boxing Day Tsunami (25st.)
- 20140127-MPLP13: World Post Day 2014/World War I Centenary (50st.)
- 20131225-MPLP12: Christmas In Thailand 2013 – Stilt House (25st.)
- 20131225-MPLP10: Christmas In Thailand 2013 – Elephant with Gifts (25st.)
- 20131225-MPLP09: Christmas In Thailand 2013 – Water Buffalo Sleigh (25st.)
- 20131225-MPLP08: Christmas In Thailand 2013 – Santa on the Beach (25st.)
- 20131225-MPLP07: Christmas In Phuket 2013 – Phuket Catholic Church (50st.)
- 20131225-MPLP06: Christmas In Phuket 2013 – Central Festival Tree (25st.)
- 20131211-MPLP05: 180th Anniversary of Thai-American Friendship (25st.)
Upcoming releases will include an ASEAN member nations flag series (one stamp for each of eleven months, the final release being the ASEAN flag itself) and a special series designed for usage at the local English camps sponsored by my agency. When we conduct an English camp at different schools in and around Phuket, the “stamps” will be surcharged with the name of the individual school and/or camp theme.
I promise that I will let a Thailand Post professional cancel the real stamps on your cards…