All About Bhutan
Bhutan Stamp Collecting

Bhutan's Philatelic History Includes many World's First Stamps

Bhutan, a Himalayan kingdom between India and China, was principally closed to the world until the 1960's.  In 1962, the country began to fund its economic development by issuing postage stamps, which were innovative firsts in the world of philately.  Bhutan is responsible for the world's first silk stamps, steel stamps, holographic stamps, sculptural stamps, scented stamps, even the worlds first "talking stamp"- a small, vinyl phonograph record player that played the country's national anthem, other songs, and an oral account of Bhutan's history.  More recently, in 2008, Bhutan also issued the world's first CD-ROM stamp with web portal.  Another world's first, also issued in 2008, was the Exchange of Gratitude Color- Your- Own postcard stamp.  This makes a total of nine world's firsts in philately in nearly 50 years for the country of Bhutan. 

Bhutan Resumes World's First Philatelic CD-ROM Series

Bhutan Postal Corporation LTD announces its second issue in a series of world's first CD-ROM postage stamps with web portal.  The extraordinary computer-age postage stamps chronicle the remarkable recent accomplishments of the Himalayan country.

"Bhutan:  Voting for Happiness" illustrates the country's peaceful transition from heredity monarchy to constitutional democracy.  "Bhutan: Voting for Happiness" illustrates the country's peaceful transition from heredity monarchy to constitutional democracy.  "Bhutan:  Coronation 2008" documents the coronation of Bhutan's new king, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.  The colorful stamps illustrate Bhutan's recent history for all time.

These new CD-ROM stamps with web portal follow in the footsteps of the two CD-ROM stamps released by Bhutan in  2008, and are the latest in a series of philatelic "firsts" by Bhutan since the 1960's.  The stamps are mini-CD's that fit into exquisitely decorated, self adhesive envelopes.  When affixed to a larger envelope, the CD-ROM stamps are mini-CD's that fit into exquisitely decorated, self-adhesive envelopes.  When affixed to a larger envelope, the CD-ROM plays an 8-minute video about Bhutan, and also offers a web portal (hyperlink) to &let;>, with news about Bhutan in real time.  The "stamp that never goes out of date" also can be added to a collection or displayed in a frame.

The stamps were developed by Bhutan Postal Corp., LTD. in partnership with Creative Products International of Pittsburgh, PA, USA, a product design, custom outsourced manufacturing and importing company known for its innovative manufactured goods.  For the last three decades, Creative Products has been involved primarily in importing from Asia and the Pacific Rim to the U.S..

The company was founded by Frances Todd-Stewart, whose father, the late Burt Kerr Todd, is beloved to have been the first American to visit Bhutan, back in 1951.  He also developed more than 60 distinctive and unusual postage stamps for Bhutan throughout his lifetime.

The new CD-ROM stamps were offset printed by Toppan Printing Company, LTD of Hong Kong, and the CD's were replicated by Smartlink Group, also of Hong Kong.  Toppan is one of the world's top security printers, and is listed on the "Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations."  Smartlink is a worldwide leader in the secure replication of digital material.

More information is available at &

News from Enthusiastic Bhutan Stamp Collectors and the New Bhutan Stamp Collectors Society

The second international meeting of the newly created, informal Bhutan Stamp Collectors Society, was held the weekend of March 7th & 8th, 2009 in fabulous sunny Orlando, Florida, USA.  Attended were Iiro Kakko (fearless defacto leader), Alan Arora, Brian Kuehl and Nildo Harper.

Over the course of three days of intense meetings and stamp trades, many discussions took place regarding the future of Bhutan stamp collecting.  Looking through the material that everyone brought, everyone made new discoveries regarding stamps, postal routings, cancellation dates, etc.  Very exciting for the collectors (but boring for all the spouses!).

Some of the things pondered:  With the amazing number of stamps and covers offered on Ebay and Delcampe that sit there month after month and sometimes for years with nobody buying, these collectors want to come up with feasible ideas on promoting Bhutan to the general public and generating more interest among stamp collectors (which seem to be a dying breed).  Bhutan stamps are some of the most exciting, unusual and attractive stamps in the world.  We cannot understand why there aren't more people interested in them.

So, all is not yet lost (yet).  The big suggestion before us, championed
(and tirelessly promoted) by Iiro, is the production of a catalog of Bhutan stamps and handbooks on postal cancellations, the history of the postal service and development of post offices, and errors and fakes.  Iiro has the commitment of Bhutan Post to print these catalogs & handbooks, but the huge task before us is gathering the relevant information (with scans and pictures), compiling data, setting up the format of the catalog and handbooks, and presenting this to Bhutan Post for printing.  Nildo has been assigned the Burt K. Todd era since he is the "self-appointed" biggest fan of the early Bhutan stamps.  Iiro will assist with this era (along with Brian), and will also concentrate on post office openings and cancellations.

So, the Bhutan Stamp Collectors are getting on the Yak and riding to victory!!
Contributions/ suggestions/ comments/ new discoveries are always welcome!  We need everyone's input in order to get these projects done.  We hope to have something ready before the 50th anniversary of the Bhutan postal system (October 10, 2012).

At a farewell dinner, all goodbyes were said until our next meeting in California....Finland....Bhutan??
-Nildo Harper

Bhutan Old and New: The Story of a country as Told Through its Postage, 1962-2009

Many of Bhutan's old stamps tell the country's story, from images of the cultural treasures of the once hidden kingdom on the older stamps, to talking stamps that actually revealed the country's history and music when played on a phonograph. 

Nado Rinchen, Bhutan's Deputy Minster of Environment, said, "Bhutan was introduced to the outside world through stamps.  At the time, opening embassies was very, very expensive, and we used to say 'our stamps are our ambassadors.'"  Stamps helped to introduce Bhutan to the world.

Bhutan's newer stamps continue to tell the story of this rare country, too.  The first mini CD-ROM stamp informs viewers about the story of Bhutan's 100 years of Monarchy.

The second mini CD-ROM stamp details Bhutan's admirable track record in protecting its rare Himalayan environment which ranges from rainforests to permanently snow-capped mountians. 

Archery: Bhutan's National Sport Then and Now

For Centuries, archery has been the national sport of Bhutan.  A drawing of the Bhutanese archer was the subject of a postage stamp issued in the 1960's, and again in 2008 when the Bhutanese archery team went to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  Bhutan issued four stamps for the occasion.

One stamp features the phoenix, and another stamp features the dragon.  Both are legendary beasts from Bhutanese folklore protecting the tools of the archer: bow, arrow and target.  The third stamp features an archer taking aim at a target, while the fourth stamp features an archer dancing after a teammate successfully hitting his target.  Archers take aim at a target 120 yards away, or the length of a USA football field.

The stamp backgrounds depict colorful cloth in patterns from "kira" or traditional outfits worn by the Bhutanese women who cheer the archers on.

The Coronation of Bhutan's Fifth King

Dispatch from the Coronation of Bhutan's Fifth King, Jigme Khesar Wangchuck
November, 2008

The skies over Bhutan have been crystal blue for many days. the astrologers who selected this time for the coronation really knew what they were doing!

The stadium has been packed with more than 35,000 people.  The gates were finally quieted with promises that the celebrations would continue until each person waiting had a chance to see His Majesty, who walked through the crowds, stopping to chat, or to hold up a child for a loving kiss on the cheek, or to return a white scarf to the one who gave it, a blessing exchanged.

Dancers young and old performed incredible song and dance, filling the stadium grounds with color and cheer.  We all felt so honored to witness this celebration, knowing it was a once-in-a-lifetime event.  The memories will last a long time!.

We are so happy that we will be able to capture these moments through the release of the Coronation CD-ROM postage stamp.  Please stay posted for the release date on  Also check out to read news articles posted weekly from the country.

Bhutan: Preserving Culture

Bhutan:  Preserving Culture in and Ever-Changing World

The tiny kingdom-turned-democracy of Bhutan is featured in an exhibit of rarely seen vintage and recent photographs and elegant stamps from the archives of the Todd-Stewart famliy, the first U.S. family to trek to Bhutan back in 1951.

Burt Kerr-Todd fell in love with the people and places of the then-isolated Himalayan kingdom, during his first visit back in 1951.  In 1962, Bhutan's third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, asked Todd to help introduce Bhutan to the world.  An inventor and entrepreneur, Todd set out to develop a series of sixty-nine postage stamps for Bhutan.  These extraordinary postage stamps are tiny works of art that carried images of the mysterious kingdom around the world.

The exhibit was on display at Asia Society in New York City in Fall, 2008.  Parts of the exhibit have been presented at three additional locales:  Smithsonian Institution, Postal Museum and Heinz Center for History.

For more information on Bhutanese vintage stamp collections, please visit


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