Monday, March 28, 2011

Stamp Collecting Rediscovered

David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen recently discovered that there are still stamp stores.

Dave pens,"I don't mean post offices. I never go in one of those by choice, any more than I would visit a tax office for the sake of the ambience. Instead I mean stores that supply stamp collectors with the materials of their hobby.

 "Picture this scene: an old office building, with grotty corridors, off a traffic-crashed street that has seen better days. You find the correct floor and door. And there, inside, is a small huddle of old men -my age, or worse -gathered around a sorting table, going through catalogues, albums, trays. And every one of them looks like a character, and there is light in every fine old eye."

There, Dave says, he found himself "shopping for the like of glassine envelopes and stock sheets; and thus in peril myself of stamp collecting again."

Dave, who comes from  four generations of stamp collectors, remembers, "My grandpa could never give it up, for to the day of his death (in 1978) he was sending his grandchildren unwanted First Day Covers. From out of the wreckage of human life, the family collection, full of memories from my own childhood, devolved upon me. Much had been unaccountably lost -or rather, such losses are easily explained by the speed with which the goods of the enfeebled old and deceased are junked or hustled, in our world full of "stuff." (Modern marital breakups also come into this.)"

According to Dave, "With the decline, nay death, of letter writing, stamps quickly exited our lives. An ever more specialized antiquarian market lives on, in which the price of rare and famous stamps remains astronomical. The hobby is still breathing in Asia, I'm assured. But here in the West, the mass of collectors are no longer schoolchildren. No mass at all, but a few old men with stories to tell, and only each other to listen."

Shown above, cover of the Feb. 27, 1954 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM