Stamp Collecting is a Dying Passion

When my father was late in his life, he pulled me aside one evening on a visit and said in the most serious and sincere tone of voice, “Brian, I want you to have my stamps. Take these boxes back with you.” For him, his stamp collection was a way to see the world from a distance. Every postage stamp told him a story – entertained his fantasy to travel, to meet interesting people and see fascinating places. I am afraid that collecting postage stamps is a dying passion. I don’t know anyone who seriously collects stamps today, but I still collect postage stamps. While I was looking at a box of his old envelops from the ’30s and the ’40s, I knew why stamp collecting was no longer appealing to young people today.

Aside from about two years studying physics at the University of Cambridge in England and a trip to France with my mother while he was between semesters, Dad’s travels in his life were limited to North America. Granted, there is a lot to see close to home, but the rest of the world is much, much more… And stamps were his window to the rest of the world he would never see first hand.

A cancelled postage stamp can cost nothing to obtain. My father came from a modest family with no disposable income to dedicate to his hobbies, but stamp collecting cost my father and his family virtually nothing but time.

Stamp collecting fed my father’s obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was a classic illustration of OCD… He collected everything – books, antiques, stamps, coins, engravings and lithographs, and on and on. I think that stamps were his first obsession.

Stamp collecting can also be very social. My father would talk and talk to people he knew, and just before saying “goodbye”, he would ask if they had any postage stamps. He had dozens of his friends “on the look-out” for postage stamps, and stamps were his excuse to visit many of his friends. I think this was good for my father.

It is a treat to look at my father’s old stamp albums – one from about the age of 6 or 7 came with a companion book for duplicates labeled in pencil and illustrated in crayon: “Stamps – Traders – Dominion of Canada”. See the somewhat polar view of North America? See the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean with the rather longish Pacific coastline south of Alaska? You can just barely make out “Dominion” in pencil across the Territories.

Today, the Internet provides that fantasy “window to the world” very effectively. Today, society provides many surpluses to feed a person’s OCD. Today, most children would rather sit in front of a TV or a computer. Today, time seems to be too precious. Today, stamp collection is a dying passion – but it is still one of My passions.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess.

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2 Responses to “Stamp Collecting is a Dying Passion”

  1. mikesoper Says:

    I am a life-long stamp collector. I have recently moved from a big city to a small town with no stamp clubs. Have you found an on-line stamp club? If not, should we start a stamp blog club? Your post is a great example: a blog post looks like a perfect venue to show and tell a stamp or cover or two at a time. Regards, Mike

  2. mikesoper Says:

    Brian, I’m starting a club. See michaelsoper.wordpress.com
    msoper (at) embarqmail (dot) com
    I’m not selling anything.
    Just tag your philatelic postings Stamp Collecting, and we will find them.
    Regards, Mike

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