Tuesday, November 3, 2015


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Stamp collecting is not as passive as people think. Consider a stamp that indirectly brought about the Panama Canal-in Panama.
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My mother was an avid stamp collector,  a cheap and interesting thing to do during the depression. If you were poor you collected used stamps. If you could afford it, you collected new stamps. In my mother's case, she did both. Old stamps like these from the 1800's were pretty uninteresting compared to newer, brightly colored stamps like the sample below:
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 For the most part, stamps commemorate historical events. And, stamps have changed the world in interesting ways.
DSC06952 (Copy)Trout Stamps of the 1950's helped keep fishing healthy. Just as Duck Stamps supported wetlands. That money made an enormous difference even though they never landed on a letter.
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A protest poster against President Reagan for ignoring the Aid's crisis through both of his terms resulted in this stamp:
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Once the public swarmed to buy these stamps to support aids research and cures, the breast cancer stamp was issued and is still available.
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Like everything else, stamp collecting evolved. More expensive then simple stamps soaked off the envelopes, collectors began buying First Day of Issue envelopes. The post marks were educational,  geography, exotic. Dig out the atlas and look to see where Titusville is and read why they chose that location.
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If you collect, who wouldn't want better looking first day of issues than the old ones above? The way it works is a company would commission a drawing of what person, flower, building, etc. was being commemorated in a stamp and get them stamped for you. The presidential selections set me back $17.
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California Statehood cost $12 for this single envelope. Stamp collecting is no longer cheap. If you kept up with your philatelic magazine, you could buy the stamp address the envelope to yourself and mail it inside of another envelope to the post office designated and request the postmaster to stamp you first day of issue. Timing was everything. If you missed the date, curses!
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And regular stamps became more exotic. You can barely see the stamps among this beautiful scene. My husband would say, "...the US Postal Department is  pandering to collectors. You buy every stamp that comes along." It was true.  I promised him I'd quit after the year 2000. As it turned out, that was the year he died. And, I quit collecting stamps.

In the meantime, the Postal Department made a lot of money on stamp collecting since collectors didn't use the stamps. The popularity of  email has taken over the world. Now Postal Department revenues come from advertising. Email changed the equation for stamp collectors, as well. Selling a stamp collection is no longer an option. Young people have many diversified interests and aren't interested in stamps. Now, I'm using them on my letters and bills, and enjoying them anew, in a sense.

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