The 26th of December marks ten years since since a tsunami caused by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra devastated the region surrounding the Indian Ocean and beyond. Although local resorts and government officials like to pretend it never happened in order to not “frighten” potential tourists, remembering the terrible loss of life has deep meaning to many long-time local residents, including myself. It’s unfortunate (and, indeed painful to the families involved) that – in order to keep the actual death counts for Phuket low – many victims are still officially listed here as “missing”. In fact, Phuket originally wasn’t planning to mark this year’s anniversary (and spent the intended budget on the recent Asian Beach Games) but an outcry from family members intending to visit on Boxing Day seems to have taken care of that.
I always find myself working on my stamp collections more during the last part of the year than at any other time. 2014 has continued that trend. I don’t know if it’s because I look forward to seeing new Christmas stamps (one of my thematic collecting interests) or if it’s because I always feel relieved once I pay for my annual visa extension and work permit renewal and want to buy something special for myself. Whatever it is, my mind has been philatelicly filled to such a degree recently that I feel the time is right to launch a new blog series summarizing my current collecting activities. Welcome to the first installment of “Philatelic Pursuits.”
The last Monday in January is marked as World Local Post Day, originally established in 1989 as National Local Post Day. The Local Post Collectors Society decides on a theme for local posts to design stamps around each year. The theme for 2014 is the centennial of the start of World War One.
Somewhat delayed, the inaugural Christmas release by Muang Phuket Local Post will be issued on Christmas Day itself. This will consist of six individual designs, printed in sheets of fifteen stamps with two different layouts). In addition, there is a special first day of issue handstamp and three seasonal variations of the regular MPLP postmark. We’ve also added a “Santa Mail’ service to the ‘Tuk-Tuk Express’ and ‘Carried by Elephant’ modes.
In 1818, a merchant ship from the very young United States of America first arrived in the ancient Kingdom of Siam in the first recorded contact between the two nations. The ship carried a letter of greeting from U.S. President James Monroe. Christian missionaries soon arrived, becoming the first Americans to settle in the region. Additional ships brought fabrics, arms and other trade goods. In the early 1830s, the famed co-joined twins Chang and Eng became the first Siamese to emigrate to the United States.
In 1832, another American president — Andrew Jackson — dispatched the sloop-of-war Peacock to the courts of China-Cochin, Siam and Muscat. On board was his official envoy Edmund Roberts whose mission was to negotiate the first U.S. treaty with an Asian nation. As gifts for the Siamese king, President Jackson sent a gold sword with a design of an elephant and an eagle chased on a gold handle, along with a proof set of Americans coins. This included the “King of Siam” 1804 silver dollar. The set, minus a Jackson gold medal, was sold for a record price of $8.5 million in November 2005.
While Siam had previously established diplomatic and trade relations with Portugal, France and Great Britain, the negotiations conducted by Roberts marked the first time that Siam recognized America as an equal trading partner.
The resulting Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed on 20 March 1833 (2376 B.E. on the Buddhist calendar) with the Chao Phraya Phra Klang representing the Siamese king Phra Nang Klao– known in the West as Rama III — thereby establishing Thai-American diplomatic relations. It is the 180th anniversary of this friendship that is commemorated on the fifth release by Muang Phuket Local Post, scheduled for issuance on 11 December 2013.
Muang Phuket Local Post (MPLP) announces the release of a new artistamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas. This single 50-satang stamp is the second in MPLP’s ‘Americana Series’ which began with the Gettysburg Address stamp issued on Tuesday (19 November). It has been printed in imperforate sheets of 15 (three rows of five stamps each). The Americana Series is intended to mark the 180th year of Thai-American diplomatic relations.
November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.