I can picture him now, plain white undershirt and khaki pants, cross legged on the carpet in front of the TV in our living room. Sometimes there would a card table set up and he’d be sitting in a metal folding chair. Either way it always looked completely uncomfortable to me, but I knew this was how he relaxed. He was in his happy place studying stamps, organizing stamps, categorizing stamps. He’d spend hours “playing with his stamps, as we would affectionately call his favorite activity.
There would be a magnifying glass in one hand and a pair of tweezers in the other. Occasionally he would call me over and say, “you have to see this, isn’t it beautiful?” I’d roll my eyes and nod in agreement, “sure is Dad.”
My father had dozens of binders of stamps he had collected from all over the world. They filled the entire closet in his study. He acquired them in all different ways; personally living or visiting the countries of origin, giving money to friends he knew would be somewhere he hadn’t with a request and even ripping them right off envelopes from letters anyone in our family received.
He was a member of several philatelic clubs and his specialty was collecting stamp on stamps, a stamp depicting a stamp.
As one of the world’s most popular hobbies, I never really understood stamp collecting but I certainly can now appreciate how lovely they can be and I’m so happy my dad had this activity.
My sister and I sold the majority of his collection when he and our mother died. Although he had it insured for several thousands of dollars, it wasn’t worth very much. We kept all of his US postage stamps and I haven’t had to purchase a stamp in the last six years because he had that many!
If you received a holiday card from us then you also received a couple of stamps that my dad collected. I always enjoy flipping through the historic figures, trains, planes, automobiles, endangered species, sports, Olympics, Americana, pop culture, Disney, music legends, athletes, cartoon characters, world events, PSAs, celebrities, tiny insects, gargantuan dinosaurs, shaped stamps, unusual rarities, new stamps, old stamps and everything in between! There’s always a twinge of guilt and I wonder how he’d feel about my actually using them.
My only wish now is knowing how his passion for stamp collecting evolved. I suppose his love of history and curious nature played a large part. I’d think he’d want us to use them and I know he’d love that I am saving some that just seem more special than others for Lucas. Maybe he’ll take after his grandfather…