And Now For the Sticky Topic I Meant to Talk about Last Week But Got Carried Away Complaining About Things I Probably Can't Do That Much About.....
Did you think I was kidding last week? I actually did get carried away in my post of last Tuesday and got off subject with a negative rant against government agencies. In reality, I am pretty darn pleased with the United States Postal Service. I think they do a great job of getting our mail to us in a timely manner (even if it is mostly junk mail) and it is one governmental agency that is run like a business for the most part. They have quite an array of retail products available, my favorite being the stamps--most specifically the commerative stamps.
In my adolecent and preteen years I was an avid stamp collector. During the 50s and 60s we often heard about hobbies and having a hobby was highly encouraged for kids. A number of hobbies were promoted in special sections of the variety stores of the day such as Ben Franklin, Woolworth's, and Kresge's--stores that were often referred to as "five and dime stores". Even some of the larger department stores such as May Company would have a stamp counter much like one might see the jewelry or perfumes counters. Shopping expeditions with my mother were always looked forward to as a time when I would be able to explore the world of stamps and if I were fortunate enough to have some spending money I might invest in my hobby.
There were many options available to the novice stamp collector like me. For prices ranging from ten cents to a couple of dollars or more, one could buy varying packets of stamps from different countries to fill the empty spaces in their stamp album. If one wanted to be more adventurous, they might opt for a large stamp assortment that might guarentee many different stamps or even large assortments that were unsorted and might contain duplicates. Some of these assortments were giant bags of stamps still on the paper backing of the envelopes from which they were torn. An assortment of stamps could literally provide hours of entertainment as one sorted through them and mounted them in a stamp album.
Stamp collecting was an education. I learned a great deal about geography as I would memorize country names and look them up on a map; politics from the stamps that depicted world leaders and country flags and symbols; history in the depictions of events and famous people; arts, culture, sports, and the list goes on. Depictions of everything can be found on postage stamps. Some stamps were mundane and utilitarian in appearance, while others were beautiful or just outright interesting.
A stamp collector can start a general collection of stamps from around the globe. Or a collector might specialize in collecting stamps from just the United States or some specific country; topical themes such as sports, animals, transportation or any specific topic; or even oddly shaped stamps such as triangular, diamond-shaped, or round stamps--any topic or theme is fair game for a collector. They can be mounted in albums, display cases, or frames --however a collector wishes to present their collection.
My stamp albums and organized files still remain in my closet. I don't intend to get rid of the collection anytime soon and it is there for me to break out any time. As far as I know, there are no longer stamp sections in variety stores. Independent stamp stores are not as common as they once were. I still see ads in magazines and Sunday newspaper coupon inserts presenting special offers to stamp collectors who wish to pursue the hobby through mail order.
The U.S. Post Office still promotes stamps as collectables. Even though I would not call myself a very active stamp collector, at the post office I still sometimes purchase stamps that interest me to add to my collection. Stamp collecting choices are now so vast that it might be difficult for a novice collector to know where to start collecting and what to do once you start.
Stamp collecting is a wonderful hobby and I would highly encourage parents to help their children start a stamp collection. It is the kind of hobby in which the entire family can participate and find enjoyment. Much like a board game or a jigsaw puzzle or other similar activities, the family can sit around the table exploring the world through postage stamps.
Are there any stamp collectors out there? Did you collect stamps as a child? If you did and stopped, why did you stop? What are some of the other hobbies of collecting in which you readers participate?