Sunday, 15 May 2011

I don't believe it!

What?
For over fifty years I've been collecting stamps!  Yes, I'm a closet philatelist!
The collection hasn't grown much in the last decade due to time constraints ... it is a surprisingly absorbing and time consuming hobby ... and once you get out the magnifying glass many hours can pass without you realising it.  
Today I wanted to check up on a stamp that I'd remembered owning so down came some of the books and then it seemed that I could do my 365Project photograph from the collection as well.  The theme is travel ... and there are certainly many examples from which to choose!  I used the vis-a-vis Peugeot car.

 As a young collector it was exciting to be transported to "exotic" places ... often having to consult the school atlas to find out where they were.  I wonder did this contribute to my love of Geography and to choosing it as my first degree?  It did mean that from a fairly young age I knew a lot of countries with their cities, sporting achievements and often little bits about the economy or history that was celebrated through the postal system.  
 Through stamps it was possible to observe the changing fortunes of a country and see when independence was won ... or when inflation required the face values to be changed.  
 Sometimes countries weren't even printed on the old album pages and the child's writing here marks the creation of a page for Czechoslovakia!  This is a magical world of exploration and introduces design and colour as well as paying attention to detail.  Even the number of perforations is important to a collector and I still have the little printed card against which each stamp could be measured.  
With some relatives in America and in Australia those pages soon filled up ... and what variety there was!
 Each one soaked off carefully and handled with plastic tweezers until it could be mounted with gummed hinges ... it was a fiddly task ... but so satisfying to see the paper backing float away and then to dry off the undamaged stamp ...
 My favourite of all came from Malta.  I could not tell how many times this particular stamp has been studied and read ... there was something about the heroism of that little island that was an inspiration to all.  The stamp reads:  
The Governor. 
Malta. 
     To honour her brave people  
     I award the George Cross to the  
     island fortress of Malta to bear 
     witness to a heroism and devotion 
     that will long be famous in history.          
               George R. I. 
April 15th, 1942.
 Finally, the one that prompted the search!  This stamp was issued a few days before my interview at Queen's University where I wanted to read Geography.  On the application form there was a place to list your hobbies and I'd put stamp collecting.  One of the first questions I was asked was about this rather unusual shaped issue!  How glad I was that I'd mounted it in my album just the previous evening!  It may have been only the second unusual shaped UK stamp and clearly the professor was himself a collector!  There had been a Churchill (high value) one a few years earlier but this was intended for the ordinary letter post.
On looking through the albums today I notice that one complete country is missing ... and I had hundreds of stamps from it!  So my question to myself is ... what have I done with Swaziland?!!
A some stage I must have put them somewhere separate ... I did that with the Philippines and have them .... but ... where is Swaziland?  I've been there and for years had friends working there so the collection was considerable ... hopefully I'll turn it up safe and well ... they were such attractive sets of flowers, animals and scenes ... they'll be somewhere ... the question is ... where?
What better way is there to spend a rather blustery and cold Sunday afternoon (while the damp dog sleeps and the sun tries to break through) than looking at old familiar "faces" and sometimes even remembering who gave me the stamp or when I stuck it into the book!

Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life:
Raise us, who trust in him,
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
that we may seek those things which are above,
where he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Book of Common Prayer
The Fourth Sunday of Easter

2 comments:

paul said...

what a splendid collection

Mrs. Smith said...

All the stamps are so beautiful. My favorite one would also be the one from Malta. Touching.