By Janet Klug
Have you ever noticed that stamp collectors have a better grasp of history than most people? There is a good reason for this. Stamps do a fine job of documenting historical events in an engaging and memorable way.
The beginning of the new year is a good time to start a new collection that celebrates all those history lessons in miniature that our stamps teach us. Such a collection would be fun and could be put together inexpensively.
Perhaps your daily newspaper has a "this day in history" column. You can use that column to create your own "this day in history" stamp collection.
If your newspaper doesn't carry such a column, you can get the same information on the History Channel web site at www.history.com/this-day-in-history.
You also could do your own research using the public library or other sources that appeal to you.
The collection can be formed in several creative ways.
To begin, gather some good quality 8½- by 11-inch paper (standard letter size). Label the first page "January 1" and then start with events that happened on Jan. 1 throughout history.
You might begin your Jan. 1 entry with the United States stamp shown in Figure 1, the 33¢ Continental Colors Flag stamp (Scott 3403d) from the Stars and Stripes pane of 20 issued June 14, 2000.
Also known as the Grand Union flag, the Continental Colors is considered to be the first national flag of our country. According to some reports, Gen. George Washington raised this flag on Jan. 1, 1776, at Prospect Hill in Massachusetts (though other reports dispute this).
For a Jan. 1 entry that will not be disputed, you might try Jan. 1, 1858, when Canada changed from sterling currency to decimal currency.
That currency changeover can be illustrated using two Canadian stamps, one denominated in pence and one in cents. For example, Figure 2 shows the ½-penny Queen Victoria stamp of 1857 (Scott 8), and the 1¢ Queen Victoria stamp of 1859 (14).
Another choice is the establishment of the Republic of China by Sun Yat-Sen on Jan. 1, 1912.
To illustrate this, you could use a Republic overprint as shown on the ½¢ Chinese stamp in Figure 3 (Scott 146), or a stamp honoring Sun Yat-Sen as the leader of the revolution. Figure 4 shows such a stamp issued Dec. 14, 1912 (178).
Consider the many ways this type of collection could evolve. Perhaps you collect a single country. Limit your "this day in history" collection to just that country.
You could also choose to document a single event – World War II, for example – with a stamp that represents the main headlines from each day.
An almanac can be a great help in the project. Search the Internet for newspaper headlines, too.
A good starting point in terms of stamps documenting World War II is the U.S. Postal Service's series issued from 1991 to 1995 to mark the war's 50th anniversary.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, is illustrated on a 29¢ stamp (Scott 2559i) from the first pane of 10 in the series issued Sept. 3, 1991. This stamp, shown in Figure 5, would be an appropriate entry on a page devoted to historical WWII events for Dec. 7.
Finding the most appropriate stamps to highlight each event for any day in history will be a challenge, but the real fun of stamp collecting is the thrill of the hunt.
While this may not be the easiest collection to form, it will be a pleasing one, and you will learn even more about history.
When you are finished, you will have an album full of great stamps and interesting stories that will make you proud of what you have accomplished.
You can take this idea one step further, using the popularity of scrapbooking as inspiration.
Are you expecting a new family member this year? A new grandchild, son or daughter will enjoy having a scrapbook of the year they were born when they are older.
In addition to adding stamps that were issued throughout the child's birth year, you can include photographs, clippings from magazines, headline news and funny stories that will be cherished in decades to come.
Wouldn't you like to have something like that for the year you were born? Well, you can. You can make such a stamp-related scrapbook for yourself using the year you were born, the year you were married, graduated college or some other memorable life event.
Making album pages or scrapbooks require a lot of work. If you do not have the time or inclination, there is an easier way to create a historical calendar collection.
All you need is a wall calendar that has a page for each month, with each month divided into blocks, one block for each day.
You can mount a stamp in each block that defines something that happened on that day in history.
It is simple, fast and easy, yet you still get the thrill of the hunt and the learning experience of researching significant historical events.
There are so many ways to use your creativity and enjoy your hobby. Make 2013 the year you try something completely new.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Marty Frankevicz reports on the suspension of Canada Post’s cluster box conversion plan after the election of a new prime minister.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.