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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The "Birthday" theme: Stamp Collecting for Fun

I think it may be a "natural progression" for stamp collectors to begin their collections in the broadest possible way (when I was a child, I wanted to collect "The Whole World"), and then become more and more specialized as time goes by.

Denmark Scott no. 294, cancelled 30.8.1946
I know this has held true for me. "The Whole World" gradually became "Scandinavia," then "Denmark and Sweden." As the years rolled by, each country got further subdivided, as I got interested in specialty areas: For Denmark, numeral cancels on classic issues; the Bicoloured issue and "lux" cancels. For Sweden, the "Ringtyp" issue, and classic town cancels.

Now, I'm not saying that specialization is a bad thing-- far from it!

However, I do think that sometimes our "obsessions" with specialized areas can become a major part what leads to the public image of stamp collectors as "stuffy old men who live in their office." Let's face it... to an outsider, just how interesting does it seem that someone dedicates their life to looking at the "upper right corner" of hundreds of the same little old pieces of paper? Not very inspiring, right? If I were to encounter that-- and the only perspective I can offer is that I have encountered such things, in other collecting fields-- I'd think something like "Wow... I admire the tenacity but pretty boring..." and move on.

I wouldn't exactly say that specialization causes us to "lose our youthful sense of wonder," (after all, WE remain in "wonder" at what we're doing, right?) but perhaps we end up taking ourselves a little too seriously. And perhaps the "side effect" is that specialization also means that what we consider to fall within the realm of "fun" becomes more specialized... consider, again, the "upper right corner" example, from above. I consider the the Swedish "ringtyp" stamps fun... as do 17 other people. But not thousands of other people. And certainly not potential new collectors.

For me, part of what keeps me in touch with the original reasons I started to collect stamps is that I start new collections from time to time. This not only allows me to retain "beginner's eyes" in the context of my new area, but it keeps me from getting stuck in too much of a rut of "Being A Serious Philatelist."

Today is August 30th. It is my birthday. And so, this article becomes about one of my "Fun, Light and Fluffy" collections: stamps postmarked on August 30th.

Denmark Scott no. 73, postmarked 30.8.1909
I started this collection about 15 years ago, when I found an older Danish stamp on my birthday and noticed it had been used on that same day-- August 30th-- 80 years earlier. And it gave me the idea to start the "birthday postmark collection."

This collection has proven to be inexpensive, yet quite tricky. After all, looking for a stamp postmarked on a particular day means you not only have to find stamps with readable cancels, but your chances of finding the date you need is just 1-in-365. But one of the fun things about it is that-- even though this is a "specialized" collection-- I can find stamps to add pretty much anywhere there are stamps sold or traded, and most of the stamps in the collection have cost only a few pennies each.

Within my "Birth Date Collection," I have particular "prizes" that I assign higher rank or rarity to: Any stamp that was cancelled on my actual date of birth-- August 30, 1960-- gets bonus points from me. Similarly, any stamps canceled on August 30th in one of the two towns in Denmark where I grew up-- Rungsted Kyst and Hørsholm-- also get "bonus points." So far, I have only found three examples of the former, and ONE example of the latter. But the hunt continues!

The "moral" of the story is that I take an active role in remembering what makes stamp collecting fun... and what made it fun for me, in the first place.

1 comment:

Muslim from Cairo said...

very nice ... I once tried to do the same ... but was not able until now to find one with my birth date 29-10-1964 ...