Stamp Collecting

I was seven when my father received a letter from a friend in Trinidad. Its stamp, unlike any I had seen before, started me collecting stamps. It turned into a fascinating hobby and brought about a deeper understanding of both geography and world history. I have stamps from countries that have disappeared such as Serbia and Bosnia before they became part of Yugoslavia after World War II and from Fiume when it was a seaport, which Hungary lost after WWI. I have stamps going back to Queen Victoria and ones from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and Georges V and VI as well as one of Edward VII. A Belgian stamp from my father’s friend has a Nazi cancellation.

I earned a dollar an hour cutting grass. With my profits, I bought stamps from friends short of cash and from companies that sent out an assortment of stamps. You picked the ones you wanted then returned the remainder. This provided me with some of my first foreign stamps. I discovered Scott’s Catalog that listed prices of stamps depending on their rarity and condition.

At ten I was allowed to go from my home in Arlington into Washington on a bus to the new Post Office where for a dollar I purchased commemorative stamps and had lunch across the street. Postage for a letter was three cents at the time.

The US issued its first postal stamps in 1847. One had Washington on it and the other Benjamin Franklin, the first Postmaster General. My oldest stamp dates from 1861. In the 1890s, commemorative stamps of important national exhibitions followed by anniversaries of historical events were issued. I have stamps from the 1893 Columbia Exposition and the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition among others. I developed an interest in our national parks through a series of ten stamps issued in 1934. In 1938 there was a series featuring all 29 presidents from Washington to Coolidge, which I have. Martha Washington made it in there with a one and a half cent stamp.

After I turned fifteen, I did little with my collection other than tuck away an occasional stamp but a few years ago after I retired, I brought out my collection and placed the loose stamps in their proper places. Going through it I remembered the many hours of enjoyment collecting brought me.