May 14, 2007

Proud Possessions

I came across a news item that mentioned two special stamps: The Forever stamp and a commemorative triangular stamp. The sight of the triangular stamp brought back some memories of the times when I was in school.

Collecting coins, currencies and especially stamps were a huge craze amongst my school mates and this nurtured my interest in those hobbies. My parents used to get mails from different countries in their office and I used to bug the life out of them to get me those stamps after tearing them from their envelopes. I guess this would have caused many mails to go with an envelope having a hole on it. I vividly remember the values with which we treated stamps from different countries. For example, England was so common that many would not even want to have it in their collection. Stamps from countries like Botswana, Egypt were considered to be 'rare'. I did not consider anything as redundant or useless and discarded it. So that explains the countless numbers of stamps of the same country, which I proudly mounted on stamp albums which during the pinnacle of my passionate involvement totaled to three. As for coins and currencies, I had a good share of them too. Unfortunately this avarice extended to my books collection too (novels and comics that is) and more than 200 books accumulated in my room (I am not exaggerating) until there was room for no more and many of the books were confined to a gunny bag due to lack of space. Recently when my parents shifted residence, the movers openly were amazed at the number of books and supposedly told them they have never seen so many books in a house before.

There is no point in just accumulating wealth if you do not flaunt it. So often we bring our prized possessions to school and look at everyone's collections. There were also frequent exchanges of the collectibles. Now this is most important for a budding philatelist/numismatist! If I am in need of an item a 'Fellow Collector' has and I have something which the FC is in need of, then we can exchange the items. But this is more complicated than FOREX. There is a value for each item and when we exchange it we should get something equal in value for return. Worthiness is decided by many factors: general availability of the item amongst FCs, special issues like commemorative stamps, special shapes like triangle, semi-circle,etc,. The trading policies are also complex. A stamp may not be valuable in its general format but a triangular edition of it is considered worthier. If we cannot offer a single item of equal value in exchange, the transaction can be made possible by offering more than one item, the sum total of which be deemed equal in value to the offered item. So we always need to have a sharp look out for clever and slick operators from whom we could end up getting a lemon. Since there is no benchmark values for the items, opinions as to the worthiness of the collectibles vary among collectors, often leading to bitter quarrel at times of transactions.

Many a times we used to get caught by our teachers who often interrupt us in the midst of a crucial trading period. We then get reprimanded for carrying out such 'nefarious' activities in school. Education in school is a humbug!! I think that my stamp and coin collections have taught me lot more history and geography than 8 years of textbooks ever could. I challenge my Geography teacher to locate Swaziland on the map. I am sure she does not know about the tools used by the African aborigines for hunting. Nor would she ever know how the Sultan of Brunei looks like or the dressing sense of Saudi Arabians or the Aquatic wildlife in Zaire for that matter.

Those were days!! There was time to be totally involved in hobbies. Now work takes up most of the time. But this Jamestown Settlement commemorative stamp issued by USPS has rekindled my interests. I am not sure how long this is going to last or if I will ever find time to gloat over my collections in the future. (I have sealed them within layers of plastic covers away from the probing termites and other pests and it nows rests peacefully back home in India). But its worth a try. Hope the USPS sells single stamps. If not, maybe I can tempt the sales clerk to exchange one for a special edition Burundi stamp I have......

2 comments:

Filarial May 14, 2007 at 4:24:00 PM EDT  

my great grandfather had a great passion for books and had about a 1000 at his villa in pudkottai added to by some of my grand uncles.. some of the PG wodehouse that u borrowed from me were bought when they were released .. there books of all genres from horror to humor to sci fi to biographies to classic literature..alas nobody stays there anymore and all the books were almost given of to the types of a raddiwals.. nobody had the time to go there index the books or do anyhing to tresure them..:(.. I am also unhappy that I never got to talk to my great grand father at any type of intellectual level..:(..

Santhosh C May 14, 2007 at 6:43:00 PM EDT  

Yes, you have already told me about it. A pity. I cant imagine 1000 books being lost.
And you did lose something in not talking to your grandfather much. Its great when we can talk to someone about the books we read and discuss about it with them.
And I forgot to add in the post: my hobbies were started off first when my Grandfather gave me an old 20 paise Indian coin made of Bronze.

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