I’ve collected stamps on-and-off for more than 30 years now. Sometime around my tenth birthday I was given my mother’s old worldwide “Modern Stamp Album” – 1935 edition. The blue cloth cover was faded and many of the hinged were brown and brittle with age but it was a great start to what would become a lifelong hobby.
During the Second World War, Mom – and her big brother, George – had lived across the street from the New Mexico state capitol building in Santa Fe. They used to raid the trash dumpster looking for envelopes with the stamps still intact. As the various government agencies received mail from all over the world, this was a great source for their collections. Some years after I’d been given Mom’s old album, I my Uncle George gave me his as well.
Throughout my childhood and teen years, I built up a respectable general collection of cheap worldwide stamps – mostly used. I also concentrated on postwar U.S. mint and first day covers. By high school, I was specializing in space as a topical particularly those commemorating America’s lunar landings. I branched out to NASA mission covers – an early autographed photo of Neil Armstrong sparked an interest in getting my covers signed by the various astronauts. The pioneers such as Robert H. Goddard and John Glenn were represented as were all of the Apollo, SkyLab, and early Space Shuttle missions (including the early test flights).
The great thing about such a hobby is the ability to shift focus once your interest (or budget) wanes in one area. When I moved to New Mexico (90 miles south of Mom’;s wartime home in Santa Fe), I began a collection of the area’s pre-statehood postal history amassing many nice covers from Albuquerque’s territorial postal operations and examples of mail carried by both Pony Express and Butterfield Overland stage coaches.
And this in turn sparked a concentration on the Classic Period – I became a real philatelist for the first time, spending much of my collecting time doing considerable research into all aspects of the mails and putting together a nice collection of early U.S. (starting with Scott Nos. 1 and 2, the 5-cent Franklin and 10-cent Washington of 1847). Later, I branched out to the first 100 years of British stamps (housed in beautiful Davo hingeless albums) and managed to add several examples of the world’s first postage stamps – the Penny Black of 1840 – to my collection, including two on-cover (one with a stunning Maltese cancellation although the stamp itself was missing margins).
I even managed to attend one international-level stamp exhibition. Pacific 97 was held in San Francisco during May of that year (the 150th anniversary of U.S. postage stamps). I even sold several of my Classics at auction during the event (the first and only time I’ve ever done this). My greatest memory of the show, however, was the fun I had with the Pacific 97 passport – obtaining current stamps from each of the national postal administrations attending and then having them postmark the stamps just as if I’d visited all of those countries in person. I wish I still had that little item!
Alas, I no longer have ANYTHING from the collections accumulated during the time I lived in the United States. Everything was lost when I moved to Thailand shortly after my 40th birthday. Everything, that is, except my photo of Neil Armstrong which he signed for me all those years ago.
During the first year I lived in Thailand, I attempted to start a collection of Thai stamps. However, other pursuits – and a full work schedule – intervened. I also found it simply too hot to spent much time with stamps. It’s not easy working with mint stamps when you are sweating so much (turning on a fan is not a good idea if you don’t want to blow your unmounted collection all over the house). The interest remained, however, and most months found me purchasing a copy of Thai Post’s Stamps magazine (25 baht an issue) despite my inability to read Thai.
My interest has recently been revived.
I’m not certain what first sparked it but a factor was learning that Bangkok will host an international-level stamp exhibition next year (as it does every ten years). Thailand 2013 will occur early next August and I’d really like to attend – I REALLY want to complete another stamp passport!
I’m serious enough about continuing my hobby that I recently started a Facebook page dedicated to Thai new issues. It’s called I Love Thai Stamps and will include scans and details of Thailand’s stamp issues as I obtain them (and perhaps a few previous releases as well).
The stamps themselves rotate between royal and religious topics, a healthy dose of historical subjects (usually anniversaries of government ministries), and tourism amongst others. Phuket was even honored as part of a series earlier this year (two stamps picturing Promthep Cape at the southeastern point of the island).
I’m very lucky in that I live within walking distance of the Phuket Philatelic Museum (the building of which has an interesting history of it’s own; I’ll blog about it someday soon). It’s very easy to visit the museum’s shop once or twice each month to obtain stamps and covers (which usually very affordable). All I really need is a decent album to house these in. I may have to wait until a visit to Bangkok to buy one…
Please visit the I Love Thai Stamps Facebook page and give it a LIKE – even if you don’t collect stamps, perhaps you will find the topical information interesting. I do love learning more about this wonderful country, and the stamp issues are a wonderful way to do just that!