A to Z April Challenge

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Life as a Stamp Collector

Photograph of random assortment of US and Cana...Photograph of random assortment of US and Canada postage stamps, private collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Stamp collecting used to be more popular than it seems to be these days.  Any self-respecting variety store--five and dime stores they were usually called--had a small section devoted to stamp collecting supplies and albums and an assortment of packaged stamps from around the world.  Most of the packages were priced at ten cents or a quarter, but some larger packets might be as much as a dollar or more.  Many of these items usually came from the H. E. Harris Company in Boston, Massachusetts.

         I first started collecting stamps in the third or fourth grade, most likely having been inspired by my father who had collected stamps when he was a boy.   I started with the small paperbound Discoverer album from the Harris Company.  The album came in a kit that included an international assortment of stamps, stamp hinges for mounting the stamps in the album, a small guidebook about philately (the actual name for stamp collecting), and a small plastic magnifying glass.

         The thrill of opening a stamp assortment was always a new adventure. Learning how to identify the countries that the stamps came from was an educational experience which was enhanced by the themes depicted on the stamps.   A stamp collector can learn much about history, geography, flora and fauna, and culture of countries by studying the illustrations depicted on the stamps.  I would take things further by finding the countries on a map and looking in the encyclopedia for more information about the countries that particularly intrigued me.

          More than once I used stamps for school assignments as they were ideal accompaniments for projects in history, geography, or science.  Stamp collecting was also the topic of a merit badge in cub scouts. I found several friends who also collected stamps and we inspired others to start.  The communal experience of collecting together, admiring each others collections, and trading stamps allowed for many hours of fun that was intellectually stimulating.

         My old stamp collection still sits in a closet in my home office.  I even occasionally purchase new stamps from the post office and save them for my collection.  Whenever I see an stamp on an envelope I'll tear it off and tuck it away in a large envelope I keep for stamps.   I'm not a very active stamp collector these days.  But maybe someday I'll get back into the stamp collecting habit.  It can become a habit--and a relaxing one at that.

          Did you ever collect stamps?   Do you collect them now?   What are some things you have collected or still collect?
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18 comments:

Wendy said...

Nope, never been interested in stamps or coins. I would see others enjoying doing so, but it all looked too confusing to me. I do like to use the special-issue stamps more than the standard American flag or Liberty Bell.

Journaling Woman said...

How cool is that?

My mom used to say that we'd better appreciate stamps and the post office because it helped put food on our table. Yes, she is a retired Post Master. As you can imagine she has quite the stamp collection. But not me and I don't know why.

T

thea said...

My father collected stamps, among many other things, and he wanted all of us to get into them so all of us kids had stamp books. I wasn't much interested so I never pursued it, however, I am a collector of sorts. I collect the things I like. I have Judy Bolten books (sort of Nancy Drew), Tintin books, beach glass, bottles, jars, pitchers. I don't have lots of anything, maybe one day I'll complete my collections (the ones I can), but for now I just have very small collections.

Arlee Bird said...

Wendy -- Stamp collecting is pretty simple--kind of like a mini-library collection of books or anything else. Once you start studying the stamps and learning the differences it because very simple and quite entertaining.

Teresa -- I've heard of a lot of post office employees being stamp collectors. I guess the appreciation of stamps becomes instilled with them--or maybe they loved stamps so much they decided to become postal employees.

Thea -- I think many caring parents dream of an activity the family can do together, but usually kids have a different idea. Like you, I have a lot of collections started with none of them being serious enough pursuits to get me totally absorbed in them. I like collecting things.

Lee

D.G. Hudson said...

I've never collected stamps, Lee, but I do remember many that did.

Hubby likes coins, found coins, not purchased ones. He would like to go dig in the mud in London with those guys that find the old Roman coins.

I tend to collect unusual pottery (humourous animals), blue glass,vintage clothes, things that eventually form little vignettes in our place.

P V Ariel said...

Hi Arlee,
Great Post,
What a coincidence
I was an ardent stamp collector, since my childhood and it continued many years but due to lack of time now i am not active. but still collect and keep it safe for further use, recently i have posted a knol in this regard you can read a migrated copy of it in my blog. here is the link
Fascinating Story of philately

Lynn Proctor said...

my grandson used to collect stamps---hmmmm when i was a kid i had a ceramic dog collection--your collection sounds nice!

Aguilar Elliot said...

i've never been a stamp collector, but thanks for sharing your stamping ways : )

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. I used to love my stamp collecting and it certainly taught me geography as a child .. now I can see it would teach a great deal more - with the artistic work that goes into stamps.

They provide a history of the nation too .. as you say in your post.

I still have my stamps ... the challenge with stamp collecting is putting them out (or keeping them out) .. so it's an ongoing practise.

When I was in Zimbabwe when it was still Rhodesia .. some friends of my uncle - had their stamp collection out - it covered a huge table, in a very big room .. lots of space to work!

Cheers Hilary

CMSmith said...

I never did, but always thought it would be a cool thing to do. You might have a valuable collection by now.

Arlee Bird said...

DG -- I wouldn't mind finding some of those old coins myself.

Phil -- Stamp collecting is another one of those time consuming ventures that I've put aside to do other things.

Lynn -- Ceramic figurine collections are popular and can be quite fun.

Aguilar -- Thanks for stopping by.

Hilary -- I think once you get hooked on stamp collecting you never totally lose interest.

CM -- I'm not sure about the value. I went to a stamp show several years ago to see what it might be worth and I was not too encouraged by what I saw.

Lee

Dee said...

Dear Arlee, I never collected stamps, but I knew a stamp collector who said many of the things you've said here about the educational value of doing so. It seems to me that the stamps we get at the post office today don't have as much interest as some from a few years ago.But maybe I don't ask to look at what they have often enough. Peace.

Vagabonde said...

Dee told me about your post. I used to collect stamps while growing up and still have boxes in my closet, just like you. Because of some stamps I went to a French island in North America – I don’t think I would have gone if not. I wrote several posts about it. It is the French island of St Pierre et Miquelon in front of Newfoundland (most people are not aware that there is still French land in North America.) Here is the first post about it: http://avagabonde.blogspot.com/2009/08/recollection-little-stamps-and-dream-of.html .

Nicole said...

Stamps are cool! -- but no, I never collected stamps. I did put some aside every now and then, if I liked the design but I wouldn't consider it collecting because I don't really know where they are today! LOL

I did, however, hold on to these film industry stamps that I found at the Post Office one time. They weren't in the regular inventory, so there were only like 8-12 in a pack, maybe, instead of 20. Each stamp represented a different part of films such as cinematography, editing, sound, acting, etc. -- they were and still are my favorite stamps.

Some of the things I have collected include dolls and stickers. I used to collect two-pocket folders and they disappeared over the years due to family members always asking "Do you have an extra folder that I can use for my school paper; legal documents; letters; photos, etc." -- So needless to say, I'm hesitant to share my stationery these days ;)

~Nicole
Blog: The Madlab Post
@MadlabPost on Twitter


~

Arlee Bird said...

Dee -- The educational aspect of stamp collecting was highly touted when I was a kid. Now when I go to the post office to buy stamps (not often since I don't use stamps often) I always ask to see what they have on hand. I pick out the ones I like best. Sometimes I never use them and end up adding them to my collection.

Vagabonde -- Yes, I remember St Pierre et Miquelon stamps. Those were among the ones I fancied most. I will check your post.

Nicole -- I'm not sure if I have those film stamps, but I have many stamps of movie stars, singers, comic book heroes, and other entertainment related stamps. Some stamp sheets I've considered framing and putting on display, but never have.

I can relate to the office supply thing. I have so much stuff here and rarely use it. I like having lots of supplies just in case in need them.

Lee

Inger said...

I collected stamps as a kid. I remember old King Gustav V of Sweden on the current stamps. It was that long ago. Then I completely forgot about it. Thanks for this trip down memory lane and thanks for checking out my follow widget. I have had two people mention that they tried to follow, but it didn't work for them. One an experienced blogger. I'm glad it's working now. I loved the A to Z Challenge and really appreciate you and the other hosts. It was my second year and I already have my Theme for next year.

Arlee Bird said...

Inger -- I can recall the dreaded stamps from Spain that pictured Franco, the president at that time. Those stamps seemed like they were everywhere and we always had too many of them. Glad to help other bloggers when I can and thanks for supporting the A to Z Challenge.

Lee

Andy David said...

Dear Arlee,
Never collected stamps or coins, but you make it sound simple and interesting. Now sure if I will ever have the time. Thanks for sharing my friend.