Daily Phuket #43: 24 April 2021 – Masked Mona

The days have blended together so seamlessly that I honestly thought today was Friday until I looked at the date just a moment ago. Each day has been entirely like the one before, the only differing factor is the book I am reading and the stamps I am looking at. I have finished three full books in the past several days (a couple were admittedly a little shorter than the behemoths I usually tackle) and have made some real progress on cataloguing my stamp collection and updating my website. Who says semi-lockdown makes one lazy?

With the rise in cases around the island and the news of reduced opening hours for those businesses selling things I want to buy (food! soda! ice cream!), I have not had much desire to venture outside all week. The fact that there have been fierce thunderstorms throughout most days certainly has helped to keep me tucked inside of my home. I did walk to the nearest moderate-sized grocery store this evening but they were out of all the food items that I wanted so I only purchased beverages (Miranda-brand root beer, apple juice, orange juice, and a liter-bottle of Pepsi should keep my thirst at bay for two or three days).

A new desk was delivered on Wednesday (or, was that Tuesday?) and I rearranged an entire wall to accommodate it. I have been spending hours working at it each day. It is much more comfortable working on my various projects sitting in a real chair rather than using a Japanese tray table on my bed. I am seeing productivity at a level that predates the viruses and its mutations. Once I get caught up on a few more “huge ideas”, I will think about writing a few lesson plans for the next school year. Still, it will be here long before I am ready for it.

I think the strangest thing to have happened all week is that mail deliveries have resumed, even with the news that Thailand has suspended outgoing mail to nearly 180 different territories and countries. I have received small stacks of mail each and every day. Some have been various small items that I have ordered (some as long ago as January and February) but many have been postcards via the Postcrossing project (I think this July marks my 15th year as a member). Even stranger is that, except for one card from Israel, every one has come from Indonesia! I have never received so many postcards from a single country in such a short amount of time. Perhaps they will inspire me to finally resume writing for my postcard blog.

Included in today’s stack of mail was sheets of an item I had all but given up on.

Last year I contributed a bit to the deluge of stamps issued by various countries throughout the world bringing attention to the Coronavirus (as if anyone needed to be reminded of it!). I had designed a character I called Mask Man as the mascot for the Pandemic Philately Facebook group that I set up with a couple of associates (one from Egypt, the other from Canada). This character, with a few modifications, appeared on two personalized stamps in Turkey and one in Canada.

Shortly after we began a second wave here in Phuket at Christmastime, I began thinking about a new design. I came across a Mona Lisa wearing a mask on a personalized stamp from Austria and decided to add some toilet paper and hand-sanitizer on her lap. I redid the mask as well. Since foreigners cannot utilize Thailand Post’s MyStamp service (yet another thing that seems to require Thai ID only), I decided this would be a candidate for my personal local post. My last issue for Phuketia Post (sometimes known as Republica Phuketia and before that, Muang Phuket Local Post) was a miniature sheet of four stamps showing a map of the island. I did that one back in December 2018, the last in a batch of stamps I had printed and perforated (that’s the separation holes) in Germany. I hadn’t had any professionally printed stamps made in all that time (although I designed a few nice ones around mid-2019).

I emailed my printer to send him the design and specifications just after New Year and received a email back from him shortly after confirming that he would put a “rush on it”. Then, nothing. I heard that Germany and other parts in Europe were hard hit with yet another wave. Time went on. Emails went unanswered. I feared the worse. But the package of 10 sheets of 15 stamps each printed on proper gummed paper and perforated (just like “real” stamps!) arrived today; the postmark on the outer envelope seems to read 22 March but the invoice inside is dated 3 April.

Bear in mind that these are not valid for postage. They are technically “hobbyist local post emissions” and can be used in conjunction with properly authorized pre-paid postage (stamps, meters, etc.). Some collectors term these as “Cinderella stamps” but I have never liked that term. In most countries, such items must be placed on the BACK of the envelope with officially-released postage applied to the FRONT. In Thailand, you can get away with putting them on the left side of the envelope (lower left is best). I think it’s a fine way to dress up my outgoing mail, particularly my Postcrossing cards. I think I may have to write a few more of those in the near future….

This photo is a close-up of the design as printed. I have not yet removed the sheets from the packaging so I cannot see the small details. Right now, it is difficult to see the denomination or the design credits but they are there. I will this tomorrow at 1200dpi so that the details can be better seen. At any right, I am very happy they made it through and I am quite pleased with the result.

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