Thailand has wonderful tradition of issuing beautiful postage stamps. Thanks to my father, Richard W. Bryant, who collected stamps his entire life, and his father before him, Robert Enoch Bryant, who was also a stamp collector, I grew up with an appreciation of postage stamps. Deciding what to do with Dad’s collection of international stamps (which included his father’s collection and all that his two older brothers collected before their premature deaths as well) was one of the most significant decisions made after Dad’s death in 2008, for he passed on to his four children a love a stamp collecting and an appreciation of the role that stamps play in recording the history and traditions of the nation that produces those stamps.
Thailand issued its first postage stamp in 1883, about half a century after the first postage stamp was issued in the world. Pictured above, it features a portrait of Rama IV, the monarch who ruled Thailand at the time. Kings of Thailand have been heavily featured in the stamps of Thailand and some of the most beautiful stamps are portraits of the King or the Queen, usually issued on some auspicious occasion. One of the stamps in this grouping of stamps shows King Bhumipol Adulyadej (Rama IX) holding stalks of rice – a stamp issued on the King’s birthday and honoring his role in the advancement of agriculture in Thailand. There is actually a grain of rice glued onto each one of these stamps. I anticipate that there will be a significant number of stamps issued on the King’s birthday this year, as it will be a significant birthday celebration. King Bhumipol turns 84 on December 5th and will complete the seventh 12-year cycle in the lunar calendar of his life, a time of high significance in Asian astrology.
But apart from the famous people and historical events that are featured on Thailand’s stamps, Thailand also shows off her handicrafts and art. And, just when you think all of the stamps have some weighty significance, Thailand issues stamps that reveal the people’s love of children and their sense of humor. These incredible stamps feature the Thai alphabet, each with a drawing of the object associated with that letter of the alphabet. It is the way that the children here learn their alphabet in kindergarten. (I was going to surprise my siblings with a set of these stamps, but I guess it won’t be a surprise after all.)