On Stamps and Inspiration

StampsLast September, I blogged about returning to my lifelong interest in collecting stamps, detailing my personal philatelic background and announcing my plans to resume the nhobby.

But as with so many of my good intentions here in Thailand, this one quickly derailed.  Oh, I did buy a few new issues and their accompanying First Day Covers and I did write a couple of entries for my Facebook page but I got sidetracked by a heavy workload.

It wasn’t until the last two weeks or so that philately re-entered my consciousness. I count three main occurrences as providing the inspiration to further my collection. Hit Me by Lawrence Block, 2013First, I finally got around to reading Lawrence Block’s fifth entry in his Keller series, Hit Me.  These books concern the jobs undertaken by a hit man who uses his ill-gotten gains to purchase stamps for his collection, mirroring the author’s own lifelong passion.  This latest book has an even more philatelic bent than the previous entries and got me thinking about my own lost collections.

(By the way, I first discovered Block by way of another of his series characters — Bernie Rhodenbarr, a cat burglar with a particular interest in collectible books.  When the first of the Keller novels ended with our hero returning to his childhood hobby, I was thrilled!)

Thailand's first stamp, issued 4th August 1883The second source of inspiration for my own philatelic pursuits is the impending THAILAND  2013 World Stamp Exhibition to be held in Bangkok starting 2 August.  Although I will be unable to attend, I am lookin g forward to the upcoming stamp issues surrouewnding the event.  One of these will mark the 130th anniversary of Thailand’s postal services.  My primary interest in stamps these days is postal history and the classic 19th century stamps (and I do have a number of the earliest Siamese issues, including two copies of the very first).

Finally, yesterday’s inspirational source is probably the most important as it has provided me with a new area of specialization: The World!”

Wait one minute.  The collecting of worldwide stamps is the very antithesis of specialization, isn’t it?  It’s the most general of all collections and the most impossible to complete.

Worldwide stampsIn my earlier blog on the subject, I told how I’d started with my mother’s Modern Stamp Album but switched to a narrower focus in high school due to the overwhelming number of blank spaces I would never be able to fill.  Even Block himself (as does Keller) limits his collection to worldwide issues up to 1940.  But he still feels the need to justify that when “real” collectors balk at it.

Single Specimen World Stamp Gazeteer Album - Forward

I never would have considered a worldwide collection again but then I read a blog about the Single Specimen World Stamp Gazetteer Album.  The premise is simple:  just collect ONE representative from each and every stamp-issuing entity in the world, including the so-called “dead countries” that no longer exist.  This creates a total of just 612 stamps to include.

The best thing is that you get to choose which stamp to include from each nation (provided that it fits within the allotted 2-inch by 2-inch square, of course).

Single Specimen World Stamp Gazeteer Album - Sample PageThe album, produced by Terra Nova Publishing, really focuses on the educational aspect of philately as well.  Each country name is printed in either black (for current stamp-issuing entities) or gray (“dead” countries) and a brief synopsis is given, including the period of time during which each released stamps.  There is even a map next to each entry pointing out that nation’s locale.  I, for one, attribute my childhood hobby for my vast geographical knowledge (not to mention my interest in history).

For now, this album is a bit beyond my budget at US $65 plus approximately $20 shipping from America to Thailand (for a total of just over 2400 Thai baht.  But I think it will make an excellent birthday or Christmas gift to myself in five month’s time if I start saving now.  In the meantime, I can start looking for stamps to put into it and buying hingeless mounts for that purpose.

All in all, this idea has brought some excitement back into my life.  And that alone is very inspirational indeed.

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