Getting back into Stamp Collecting
After 25 years of letting my stamp collection sit in the closet, I’ve decided to get back into the Philatelic thing. I really don’t know what has prompted me to do so. It was almost a spur of the moment decision. I could count on both hands the number of times I’ve even looked at my stamp collection in the last 25 years. I think the main catalyst for my decision was the desire to sell it. I’d pulled it out more frequently to see what I could sell out of it. And I guess just looking through the many boxes and glassine envelopes started to bring back memories of the past. I started collecting stamps at a very young age. My mother was the Den Leader of the Cub Scout Pack I was in, so of course I was required to have a hobby as per the Cub Scout rules. My choices were between collecting leaves or stamps. Even at that young age I knew leaf collecting was pretty much a dead end, so I chose stamp collecting. My mother immediately sped down to the local department store and bought me two envelopes of foreign stamps. One from Belgium and the other from Afghanistan (I still have those stamps by the way). I was on my way. I don’t remember any great passion for collecting then. Honestly, it was my mother that did most of the leg work. Clipping an occasional stamp from an envelope here and there. For Christmas I remember getting those little Topical sets the US Post Office would sell. When I was about, 10 or so, I suddenly became a little more interested in my collection and 2 events stand out in my memory. The first was a Christmas that I received a Harris US Liberty Album along with a few hundred stamps that my grandmother had clipped from old letters that had been saved from years of correspondences. I was told that the majority was actually love letters between my aunt and uncle when they were dating in the mid-sixties. The other was actually a “find” of sorts. Lafayette, Louisiana in the late 70s was still a rather small town and the northside, where I lived was still very rural. Well there was a group of old wooden buildings not far from my neighborhood. Well one day while driving by we noticed that all the buildings had been torn down and the contents had been thrown in huge piles throughout the lot. Well, my mother couldn’t help but go investigate these various heaps of discarded merchandise. I don’t remember anything of value, but we did happen by one particular pile that contained what appeared to be quite a few old seismographic readouts in boxes and envelopes. And on each box and envelope was……..stamps. Mostly old 3-cent Jeffersons and 2-cent Washingtons, nothing of extraordinary value, but I remember it was quite thrilling nonetheless. I added several dozen more stamps to my collection that day. Unfortunately, I left probably just as many as I took.
The years through junior high and high school were filled with girls, school, girls, part-time jobs, football, girls, goofing off and girls. There wasn’t much time devoted to my philatelic interests. It wasn’t until after I was married in 1985 that I started paying much attention to my collection again. Most probably due to the fact that we were broke all the time and there was nothing else to do, so I’d pullout my albums and packs of stamps and just look through them. My grandmother was actually still saving stamps for me and whenever we’d visit she always had an envelope with a dozen or so stamps in them, all clipped and still on the paper, some trimmed a little too close with perforations missing, but bless her heart, she was keeping stamps for me! At the job I working at the time, I started to have a few dollars I could purchase stamps with. Not much mind you, but an occasional $10-$20 dollars to purchase a packet from a dealer in Linn’s. This was the late 80s, and there was no internet, well not that I had access to. Acquisition of stamps was primarily from mail order. One other source was actually the post office. I don’t know how he got away with it, but there was actually a dealer in the building that sold entire MNH US year sets. I was able to get a few entire years for the US. By this time my wife had given me a Scott Minute Man Album for the US, so my year sets went right in. It just so happened that at the shop where I worked one of the inspectors was one of those sorts that had dabbled in numerous enterprises. One of those enterprises was dealing stamps. He actually had quite an extensive stock of stamps that I would purchase from him a bit at a time. Come to think of it, I think he gave me as many stamps as I bought from.
As time went on, more and more of my time went to family, church and work. I developed an interest in computers and in particular, Internet development. My stamps began to take a back seat to the everyday hustle and bustle of life. Over 2 decades soon went past, and it seemed the only place my collection had was in some closet in whatever house we were at the time. My kids never seemed to be very interested, so they just sat in their respective boxes that I had designated years before, each box separated by continent. The US, Germany and the British Commonwealth each had their own little box. There were also a couple of boxes for miscellaneous things like plate blocks and First Day Covers. All the covers and stamps still on paper that my grandmother had saved were still in dozens of various containers ranging from church tithe envelopes to plastic baggies. Those took up a couple of boxes themselves. All in all, my “accumulation” (it wasn’t really a collection) took take up the greater part of the average closet. I’ll just sell it one day, I thought.
Well, guess I’d been thinking more and more about just selling it, so I started searching the internet to try to get a good idea of how much I could get for it. As I researched more and more, and dug through those old boxes more and more two things became evident to me.
#1 — My collection hadn’t appreciated in value to any great degree, and
#2 — I still loved digging through my stamps.
It seemed the more I researched, the more I could see myself getting back into it. So one night, I pulled out my US Minuteman album and started actually hinging some US stamps in it — I actually had a packet of hinges still in a box, almost 25 years old. I enjoyed it so much, I did it again the next night. I had a blast. But more importantly, I found a great distraction from the grind my life had taken the past several years. At present, I’m working 2 jobs and I maintaining 3 websites in addition to this one. I find that my stamp collection not only gets my mind off it all and but gives me great satisfaction as I work on various “collecting” projects.
I hope to be able to chronicle my experiences and accomplishments here. I’m actually excited about many of my plans concerning my collection. One thing that is intriguing me is printing my own customized albums. Looking around the internet there are actually several resources to do this. There are even more sources for acquiring and learning about stamps. That pretty much brings my story up to present. If your a collector, I hope you check back in the future. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and stories on the topics I’ll be publishing.