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The Stamp Collecting Princess

As if the official duties that come with being a member of the Thai royal family wasn’t time-consuming enough, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn also manages to be a dedicated teacher, a figurehead for numerous charitable organisations and an avid philatelist—a distinction that has prompted many to call her ‘The Stamp Collecting Princess’. The following interview with Her Royal Highness about her life with (and on) stamps appeared in the September 2015 edition of Gibbons Stamp Monthly.

The special stamp issued on 2 April 2015 commemorating Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s fifth cycle (60th) birthday anniversary
A 5b. stamp to mark the 60th birthday of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand


On 4 April 2015, Thailand Post issued a 5b. stamp to mark the 60th birthday (or Fifth Cycle birthday anniversary if you prefer the Chinese Zodiac calendar) of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand. Her Royal Highness was born on 2 April 1955 as the second daughter of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX), and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand. As a member of the Thai royal family, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is used to appearing on stamps, the first being a 1991 issue marking her Third Cycle (36th birthday). However, she is also an avid stamp collector herself—something which has earned her the title of ‘The Stamp Collecting Princess’.

Figure 2
A 1991 issue marking HRH’s Third Cycle (36th birthday)

 

From an early age, stamps have been a big part of the life of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and growing up in the royal household certainly had its advantages for a budding collector. ‘Most of the Thai children love stamps,’ she told GSM. ‘I started collecting stamps when I was about six or seven years old. The Office of HM the King’s Private Secretary at that time did a great deal of correspondence and stamped envelopes were plentiful.’ She added, ‘One of my nannies, who graduated from abroad, also often gave me stamps from letters her friends wrote to her. I saw many beautiful pictures on the stamps and thought I could get some knowledge out of those pictures.

‘I also inherited some valuable stamps from a relative who was an avid stamp collector. When my collection became larger, I had to ask people with knowledge of the stamps to help in the categorisation of my collection.’

That early understanding of the educational value of stamps was to stay with her throughout her school years, in which she excelled, and into adult life. Even today, she often uses stamps to educate others in her chosen profession as a teacher.

Over her many years of collecting, Her Royal Highness has compiled an outstanding personal philatelic collection, selections of which have often been seen at philatelic exhibitions, especially those organised by the Philatelists Association of Thailand, of which she is patron. As well as many important foreign stamps, her collection is very strong in stamps that reflect the postal history of Thailand. These range from the ‘Siam’ inscribed stamps issued during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to that of the present king of Thailand, her father, King Bhumibol. The following images illustrate just a few of the impressive items in the collection and appear courtesy of Her Royal Highness.

Figure 3

Figure 4

Fig 5

Fig 6

Fig 7

fig 8
Philatelic souvenirs

Despite juggling life between her job as a teacher and her royal duties both at home and abroad, amazingly, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn still finds time to indulge in her hobby.

‘At present I buy stamps from the countries I visit,’ she told GSM. ‘I use stamps as reminders of the countries I visit in each year by attaching them in my diary. I often use them as teaching media when I teach my students about various countries. I also love to write postcards to myself from wherever I visit.’

These postal items collected from destinations around the world have formed a substantial collection in their own right; parts of which have been displayed at a number of exhibitions. The stamps and postcards she has collected during her travels have even featured in a book, written by the princess, entitled Pa Pid Phichit Warn (Her Royal Highness’s Scrapbook). Examples of these philatelic souvenirs include a postcard sent from Hong Kong on 30 June 1997, the last day Hong Kong was under British government, picture postcards sent during various royal visits to Great Britain and a visit to the second Chinese Stamps Exhibition in Bangkok on 9 December 1997.

postcardsHRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has given Royal Patronage to the Philatelists Association of Thailand and likes to get involved in philatelic events as much as she can. ‘I attend almost every philatelic exhibition organised by the Association and also lend some parts of my collection to be displayed as requested’, she revealed. ‘I think it is good for philatelists to display their collections to others who share the same interest.’

Fig 15
One of HRH’s paintings featured on a stamp marking the 125th anniversary of Thailand Post.

Of course, Her Royal Highness has appeared on several Thailand stamps over the years. We asked her what it is like to be a collector as well as the subject of stamps. ‘The Thai government will produce stamps to celebrate different important or special occasions to help people to remember and understand these events’, she replied. ‘The issues [I appear on] are often involved with some special occasions; for example, the centenary celebration of the Thai Red Cross, of which I am the Vice President. There are also stamps with cultural themes which can enhance people’s understanding of Thai culture.’

As well as a diplomat, philatelist, teacher and author, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is also an artist. In 2008 one of her paintings was even featured on a stamp marking the 125th anniversary of Thailand Post. I wonder how many collectors can say they have appeared on the stamps of their country as well as providing illustrations for them too! Not many I’m sure.

This article was first published in the September 2015 edition of Gibbons Stamp Monthly – to subscribe or find out more click here.

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The Rise and Fall of the Mulready Stationery – The demise and late use

Considered too radical for its time and ridiculed by the public and publishers alike, the fate of the Mulready was sealed soon after it was issued in May 1840. This is the third and final post on the subject, originally written by Edward Klempka for Gibbons Stamp Monthly.

The demise of the Mulready

The Mulready stationery was replaced by the One Penny Pink envelope (Fig 11) and Two Pence Blue envelope commencing in February 1840. Ironically, the paper produced to print the Mulready stationery was used to manufacture the new embossed envelopes. Plain in design, without illustrations, with stamp embossed in the topright hand corner, depicting the portrait of Queen Victoria; nothing could have departed more from Mulready’s design. … [Read More] “The Rise and Fall of the Mulready Stationery – The demise and late use”

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The Rise and Fall of the Mulready Stationery – the birth of junk mail

Considered too radical for its time and ridiculed by the public and publishers alike, the fate of the Mulready was sealed soon after it was issued in May 1840. This is the second of three posts on the subject, originally written by Edward Klempka for Gibbons Stamp Monthly.

Caricatures and advertisements

Whilst the fate of the Mulready stationery was being debated and alternative designs considered, it proved to be popular with stationers. Southgate produced a caricature of the Pope seated upon a donkey replacing Britannia with shield. Members of the public took matters into their own hands, hand colouring the design and adding glasses and tails. Thomas White printed ‘The new post office envelope’ which had no franking value. … [Read More] “The Rise and Fall of the Mulready Stationery – the birth of junk mail”

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The Rise and Fall of the Mulready Stationery – A less than warm welcome

Considered too radical for its time and ridiculed by the public and publishers alike, the fate of the Mulready was sealed soon after it was issued in May 1840. This is the first of three posts on the subject originally written by Edward Klempka for Gibbons Stamp Monthly.

William Mulready RA a renowned artist and President of the Royal Academy of Art was given the task of designing the envelopes and lettersheets which would forever after be referred to as Mulready stationery. Two values were issued: One Penny Black envelopes and lettersheets, and Two Pence Blue envelopes and lettersheets. … [Read More] “The Rise and Fall of the Mulready Stationery – A less than warm welcome”

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Happy Birthday GSM!

As Gibbons Stamp Monthly celebrates its 125th anniversary on Monday 20th July 2015, we pose some questions to the team past and present:

Dean Shepherd, Editor
Alison Boyd, Sub-Editor
Gary Keeping, Designer
Hugh Jefferies, Editor 1988-2013

What is your favourite GSM cover design?

DS: Front covers are the ‘shop window’ of a magazine so, for me, the best design is the one that is both visually attractive and tells the reader what the issue offers in a clear and concise way. So far, the cover that I think does this the best is the October 2013 issue.
HJ: My favourite would probably be one of the simple designs from 20 years ago – most likely with a single stamp that I really like!
AB: The May 2014 issue featuring the British Empire Exhibition stamp, which I really like for its visual impact.
GK: From a design point of view and from a deep respect for the bravery of the men that fought in either world war, I would have to say August 2014 was my favourite. It made me wonder if any of those men in the picture made it home to their loved ones. … [Read More] “Happy Birthday GSM!”

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