Sheet of Acadia National Parks Stamp

The Philatelic Experience

Selvage on sheet of stampsStamps have long been a fascination of mine. As a kid, I would visit the US Post Office in Old Salem (it’s now long-gone) with my mother. As much as it probably embarrassed her, she would acquiesce to my pestering and ask the desk clerk if I could have some of the “edges off the stamps” – for you stamp collectors, that’s the selvage. The kind gentleman that was always there would pull out a couple of sheets and tear off the wide margins for me. I’m sure he never thought he was fostering a lifetime love of stamps.

Like so many other collectors, a thoughtful relative actually introduced me to stamp collecting (and art for that matter). My aunt Carolyn gave me a H. E. Harris Explorer World-Wide Stamp Album and a variety of stamps and supplies. The passion was ignited and I gathered stamps from any source I could find. Our preacher did mission work in Central America – my Nicaragua collection swelled. Somehow, I ended up with a penpal in the U.K. – suddenly I had album pages full of Machins. My grandmother let me sort through her closets and my US collection grew. Any stamp was welcome in my collection. The attraction, at least then, was difficult to explain. At one point, I excited to thing I was building something of value until a local dealer destroyed my hopes there. I simply enjoyed the process and liked to look at these tiny pieces of art.

I never really gave up stamp collecting but it became one of those interests relegated to the back left-hand side of the bottom of the closet. Teenage distractions and plans for a glorious military career pushed a lot of things out the forefront and stamps just couldn’t compete for limited time, money and brainpower. Into boxes everything went and was nearly forgotten for decades.

Fast forward a few years  (don’t you just hate when authors use that phrase) and life is totally different. An injury changed both the career plans and the college of choice. Studies in global politics and international strategy are replaced with art history and the design of advertising. Suddenly the interest in stamps is renewed and with greater meaning. In stamps there is convergence of both interests and capabilities: for virtually every stamp there is an aspect of art, the mechanics of printing and the influence of history and culture. As my personal passions emerged, stamps tied the interests together. Finally, I had a greater understanding of why I loved stamps.

West Point StampI write all this by way of introduction as to why I collect stamps. It’s probably as much for me as for anyone else and I suspect I’ll edit this post from time to time.  I’ve got a number of stamp-related projects and goals and this will be a tool for pursuing some of this objectives. Today I collect mostly US Mint (unused) stamps but am working on getting more specific with my collection. The original National Parks series, the first West Point stamp and postal items related to the battleship USS North Carolina are all becoming focal points. I’ve also taken an interest in the stamps and postal history of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

Periodically, I will add philatelic posts and images and I’d love to see you collections and hear your stories. I get to a few shows each year (mostly in the Southern US) – it’s great to meet fellow collectors. I’m sharing all of this in hopes of encouraging new collectors to take up the hobby. If you’re a collector, share your wish list.

If you’re not a collector, would you like to be? As long as I have duplicates and money for postage, I’d be glad to send a few stamps to help you get started. Just message me with your mailing address.