Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Covers from Bhutan

In the small philatelic world, Bhutan is a country that is famous for its stamp issues that are often innovative, not to say eccentric. Between 1960 and 1980, Bhutan has multiplied the philatelic “premieres” such as: the first three dimensional lenticular stamp, stamps printed on silk or on steel, scented stamps, “talking stamps” in the form of miniature record that can actually be plaid on a record player.
What is less known is that those stamps are the creation of an American entrepreneur, Burt Kerr Todd, who convinced Bhutan government that this was an effective way of earning money. Todd has died in 2006, and his daughter continues his work.

If you read the philatelic press, or if you browse the web, you have probably learned about the CD-Rom stamps issued by Bhutan last year. What are they? They are small CD-Rom (actual CD-Rom that can be read on a PC) that contain videos about the country, and included in a plastic envelope. The whole item can be put on a cover and is valid for postage.

When I read about those stamps I was very doubtful about the real postal need for such item. I said to myself: this is the sort of stamps that we will never see on cover. Therefore I was rather happy when I saw that the main French philatelic paper, Timbres Magazine, was proposing to get those stamps on a cover that would travel through the postal service. I did not hesitate and decided to go for it.

Here is the first (registered) cover postmarked from Thimphu GPO that I received end of last week

It bears the first CD-Rom stamp issued to commemorate 100 years of monarchy. Monarchy has been established in 1907 in Bhutan with Ugyen Wangchuck (1861-1926) the First King. Four kings have followed: Jigme Wangchuck (1902-1952), Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1929-1972), Jigme Singye Wangchuck (1955-) and finally Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (1980), officially crowned on 6 November 2008. The CD-Rom pictures a portrait of each king with his name and the dates of his reign. The CD-Rom contains a video that tells the story of monarchy in Bhutan. I did not watch it myself, because, unfortunately, to take out the CD-Rom you need to destroy the envelope.

On the same day I received the second cover, bearing the second CD-Rom stamp that commemorates the engagement of Bhutan in the fight for Nature preservation. Again the CD-Rom contains a video on this subject.

Both CD-Rom are smaller than a standard CD-Rom, this is why they bear the instruction: Do not use on slot entry computers.

I’m still not convinced by this philatelic “innovation”, but I really think that the only interest was to have those stamps on an actual postal cover, so I’m quite happy at the end.

To tell you the complete story, when I got these envelops I have very upset. On both of them, there was a registering label stuck on the stamp itself. This was a French registering label, so put by the French postal administration. I had to fight a lot to be able to remove the labels without spoiling the stamps (fortunately the envelope of the CD-Rom is somehow plasticized so it was easier than with a normal stamp). Don’t you think that there was enough room on the cover to put the label to avoid putting it on the stamp? On one cover I would have thought of an accident. But it was on both of them, so it was done on purpose.

Normally Bhutan has issued two more CD-Rom stamps, so I’m expecting to get two additional covers soon. I will show them to you when (if?) I get them!


Jeevan Jyoti said...

Nice to read this post with details on CD Rom stamps from Bhutan. !
Jeevan Jyoti
Kullu, India

T-M said...

I didn't thought that someone woult realy use "stamps" like this on a cover. Realy intrersting.

PS: It's quite funny: The post of Buthan has CD-ROMs as stamps, but no registred labels.