To many non-collectors, stamps are apparently becoming an amusing relic of the age before Internet, e-mail, and electronic bill payments. Even much of the real mail I receive bears no stamps. That made finding this image in a commercial e-mail that I received last week a special treat.
This header image from a message sent by retailer World Market depicts a fantasy stamp from “Kingdom Animalia.” What appear to be elephants are the stamp’s subject, while the reddish-orange design (with its English “Post” and French “Postes” in the margins) is reminiscent of Canadian stamps from the first few decades of the 20th century.
To the best of my knowledge, this “stamp” has never existed in printed form, but it’s nice to see a stamp—even an imagined one—used as a major design component in a piece of modern advertising.
Several months ago, Dave S. shared his story about how he got started collecting stamps. Dave’s father was responsible for sparking his interest in collecting. For another reader, Vince A., the story was a bit different. His first brush with stamps involved a paintbrush:
I was about six or seven years old and our school had a lot of activities that we could take part in on wet days instead of playing outside in the rain. On one occasion we were told that we had to draw, paint, or color pencil a picture of a stamp of our choice.
I spent quite a lot of time on my painting as i wanted it to be the best of the lot and for my teacher to be proud of me. My picture came fifth and although
I did not come out on top, I was still very happy with the result. This gave me an idea and i started to take an interest in any envelope or parcel that came to our house. I did not actually collect the stamps, but instead decided that I would draw and paint them in an exercise book that I had been given. It was soon filled with my artwork and I did not have any more room to draw anything else and stopped drawing stamps anymore.
It was about two or three years later that I came into our living room and on the TV was a static black and white picture of a library. There was a voiceover saying that someone had been assassinated in Dallas. As I listened to the commentary, I heard the name of John F. Kennedy and that he was the president of the USA.
For some reason that I do not even understand today, it made me take an interest in American history. I read books from our local library and started asking questions about the history of anyone who would listen to me. Some people thought that I was a bit strange wanting to know about American history when I was an English person born and bred in England.
From art class to history, the stage was set for Vince to start collecting stamps, but it was a trip to a barber shop that put him over the top.
I was at our local barbers’ having my hair cut and had a few pennies left over from the price of the cut. While I was waiting for my brother to have his haircut, I started looking around as the barbers sold all manner of other items. I noticed that they had packets of stamps on the back of the door. They were from lots of different countries, some really amazing pictures on many of them. I then spied a medium sized packet with the title of United States of America on the cardboard backing and it said that there were 75 stamps in the packet, for a price of sixpence (two and a half pence today). I bought them instead of any sweets. I could not wait for my brother to finish having his haircut, so that I could race home and open the packet of stamps.
I was amazed at what was in that packet. Stamps with past presidents’ heads, military battle commemoratives, American wildlife and much more.
This was the start of something really special to me and I realised that not only could I collect American stamps, but I could also learn a great deal of their history from the stamps. Collecting American stamps is still my first choice. I do collect world stamps as well, but for me there is nothing better than the American stamps that I manage to collect.
Vince goes on to say that U.S. stamps are difficult to come by in his country these days, and he depends primarily on online purchases for new additions to his collection.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Vince, and keep on collecting!
Michele, a sharp-eyed user of The Philosateleian, wrote earlier this week asking where to find a space for a 3¢ Eastern Bluebird stamp. In the process of tracking that down for her, I discovered a typo on one of the pages for stamps issued in 1990 and thereafter. Oops. Thanks, Michele!
The typo has now been corrected, and you can download the updated page for your collection.
Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about my mailbox. It’s not directly related to stamp collecting, but since mail (some of which bears stamps) is deposited into it, there is something of a connection.
At first glance, my mailbox seems pretty run of the mill. It’s part of a large array of boxes that serve the neighborhood in which my wife and I live.
My mailbox is special, though. It’s where I deposit my outgoing mail: letters to my sister, covers containing stamps to other collectors, and even appropriate decorated envelopes containing bill payments. And it’s where I find the mail addressed to my wife and me: letters, cards bearing happy news of weddings, magazines, and coupons. Certainly, the Internet connects me to the rest of the world almost instantly, but my mailbox connects me to the rest of the world in a more tangible way.
The best thing about my mailbox, however, is that it’s there each morning when I leave for work, and it’s there each evening when I get home from work. It is a solid symbol of stability in a world with a cracked and wobbly foundation.
The trouble is that someone decided that the array of mailboxes should be moved a bit further down the street, and when I got home this evening, my mailbox was in a different place than it usually is. In and of itself, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’m not a huge fan of change, but if there’s a good reason for it, then so be it. But that such a symbol of stability could be moved leads me to cry out: