This entry marks a milestone of sorts; it’s my 300th published entry for “A Stamp A Day”, a blog I debuted back on July 1, 2016. I have managed to publish an entry every single day since that time; twice, I created two articles in one day. In that time, I have compiled entries detailing the histories (political and postal) of just shy of 200 different stamp-issuing entities. These have included not only actual countries but also many colonies, protectorates, provinces, states, government agencies, armed forces, and even a few privately-operated postal systems. The Netherlands, scheduled for publication tomorrow, will be entity number 200. The remaining 100 articles have used stamps to commemorate various anniversaries of historic events, births of notable people, local and national festivals and holidays (with a heavy dose of American and Thai festivities), as well as one “in memoriam” post following the death last October of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.
All of the stamps illustrated in the entries come from my own personal collection. As a general worldwide collector, sometimes I have but a single stamp from a particular stamp-issuing entity. These may not always be the most interesting of designs, hold little topical interest, and often have serious condition flaws (short perforations and heavy cancellations being the most common). While I would prefer all of my stamps to be in extremely fine condition, the sad fact is that many are not as I tend to obtain them through mixtures and feeder albums. I will not post a stamp which has a tear or crease (or is missing anything other than a corner perforation) but don’t mind publishing those that have centering issues, short perfs and the like in the hope that I will eventually be able to upgrade the visually-offensive, both in my collection and on the blog. In fact, I sort of subscribe to the idea that every stamp has some redeeming quality, including the “uglies” (and I’m quite drawn to the latter for some strange reason).
As you may have noticed, the articles have become longer and longer over time. I prefer the “kitchen sink” approach, leaving out very little — if I can find the information I want to include. The primary source for the entries is Wikipedia, but most are not simple cut-and-paste compilations. Certain entities are quite confusing and I often have to try to piece together coherent accounts from multiple Wikipedia articles and other sources. A few of my go-to sites include the wonderful Big Blue 1840-1940 blog, Dead Countries Stamps and Banknotes, StampWorldHistory.com, Stamp-Collecting-World.com, the long-defunct Stamps of Distinction (useful for the “A” countries), Stuart Rossiter and John Flower’s Stamp Atlas which has an abbreviated online version hosted by Sandafayre, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s Arago site. So many stamp issuers have their own dedicated web pages and specialized organizations one can join. However, other entities have little or no available information online; it can be quite difficult, for example, to find any stamp details from the vast majority of private local posts.
At some point over the past nine months, I began adding flags, coats of arms, and maps to the entries. I do plan to update the earlier articles with these illustrations in the near future. My favorite maps for “modern” countries and territories are created by the Nations Online Project and are free to use for educational purposes. Historical maps can be a bit more challenging to find and often occupy a great deal of my prep-work for any given entry. I occasionally include additional photos — primarily those I’ve taken myself but I also have used scans of postcards and vintage photos, paintings or illustrations either from my own collections or sourced online. I try to ascertain that the latter are in the public domain (copyright-free).
Along the way, I have learnt a great deal about the entities and the stamps in my collection that have illustrated each of the articles. It has been hard work: there have been days that I have not felt up to the task at hand (particularly when confronted with a “complicated” stamp-issuer) or have fallen prey to the often fickle Internet in this part of the world (an island in southern Thailand). It is really frustrating having spent several hours piecing together a coherent article only to have the image uploads fail repeatedly. I always keep at it and in the end always persevere, but there are days when I seriously doubt I will be able to publish an article. Then, there are the days when I compile two or three in a row and then can use the “scheduled post” feature of WordPress.
While I may have just started the “N” countries, this does not mean that I’m about halfway through. Not even close. There are still a great deal of stamp-issuing entities that I am still missing from my collection; this particular collection began life as “A Stamp From Everywhere” but I soon realized that I couldn’t limit myself to just one stamp from many of these issuers! I do aim for at least a few stamps (complete sets) from every place, organization, etc. that has issued postage stamps since the Penny Black’s appearance in May 1840. I tend to go with those entities listed in the Scott catalogue (but have recently decided to add various local post stamps I’ve obtained — usually as “bonuses” in assorted worldwide mixtures but occasionally have been sought-out, such as Lundy Island).
There are many entities for which I can never hope to obtain a stamp from; the various Confederate States postmaster’s provisionals spring immediately to mind. Occasionally, I break entities into additional parts by changes of government. The best example is Germany which I divided into the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Third Reich, etc. for the purposes of the collection and blog (but still counting as one “entity”). I have separated others when the name has changed although Scott lists them together (Belgian Congo and Congo Free State being one example). I am also trying to keep an alphabetical format rather than burying certain issuers under “parents” the way that Scott does (which lists, for example, Åland Islands following Finland or Alderney after Great Britain).
I have been working on an Excel spreadsheet that lists all of the issuing entities in true alphabetical order and indexes them with page numbers where they are found in my 2009 edition of Scott (I really need to obtain a more current set); I’m also (attempting) to count the stamps issued by each. Obviously, this is an ongoing project and one that I probably will never complete. Still, it serves as a “checklist” to see which entities I’m missing. For certain issuers, I have more extensive collections so I use the “stamp issued” counts to determine what percentage of stamps I own from those issued. Of course, working on the spreadsheet does take valuable time away from putting together the articles for this blog (and three others that I maintain, albeit with much less frequency).
I am not a professional philatelist by any means (one look at the condition of some of the stamps I post here should tell you that). I enjoy all aspects of the hobby; aside from obtaining the stamps themselves, my two favorites things are scanning them (bringing out beautiful details not seen with the naked eye) and cataloguing them. Reading and writing about them are high in the list as well. Adding to this blog is always an enjoyable part of my day (despite occasional bouts of laziness or Internet outages). I look forward to maintaining “A Stamp A Day” for the next 300 posts, and the 300 after that, etc. I hope you, the faithful readers, are enjoying it as much as I am!