There’s been a fair amount of complaining about (and proposed solutions for) the state of the United States stamp program in our pages of late.
In recent weeks, I have received covers from readers with the stamps canceled with pens, ink markers and the like.
Their letters seethe with frustration over stamps that are no longer collectible — ruined because a postal clerk didn’t take the time to postmark them.
They usually conclude their missives by asking me to toss the cover in the “circular file.”
The distribution of the upright Jenny Invert panes continues to rankle many.
And on it goes.
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All of which got me to thinking about what attracted us to stamp collecting in the first place. It seems that some among our collecting brethren have forgotten about the joys and pleasures of a rewarding hobby.
What about you? Can you recall what drew you to stamps?
For me, it’s a familiar story.
When I was a youngster — eight or nine, I think — my Uncle John showed me some of the stamps that had been passed down to him from his father.
Vividly do I recall gazing upon the pages that housed his complete collection of Presidential series plate blocks. Wow, I thought, it would be grand just to own singles of those colorful stamps that pictured all of our presidents.
He taught me about properly handling stamps: using tongs, instead of one’s fingers; organizing and storing stamps in albums or stockbooks, instead of loose in boxes or envelopes.
A few years later, my uncle gave me a birthday present that launched me on my collecting journey.
It was a mint sheet file containing two panes of U.S. stamps: the 8¢ Boston Tea Party of 1973, and the 13¢ Canadian International Philatelic Exhibition of 1978.
I still have both of those panes, and each time I look at them, I am reminded of the seed that my uncle planted.
Aside from all the knowledge one can pick up from collecting stamps, there are other benefits that we all should keep in mind.
Chief among these is the inherent relaxation that comes from doing something that we enjoy.
Stamp collecting is a refuge from the frantic, hectic pace of life that so many of us keep these days.
When I get home, my first priority is to my family. But unwinding with stamps is often a part of my evening.
On occasion, one of my daughters helps me clip stamps from envelopes. She could become the next collector in the family.
Her quest, of late, is hunting for on-cover examples of the Harry Potter stamps.
Stamp collecting also gives one a much-needed measure of control and focus.
It is immensely satisfying to gaze upon an organized array of stamps on an album page, or to arrange stamps and postal history on exhibit pages.
While the collectible objects themselves provide much satisfaction, the hobby gives us a delightful bonus: friends. Aren’t you thankful for the many friends you’ve made through the hobby? I sure am.
So before you look for another nit to pick, ponder over what is great and uplifting about our hobby and give thanks.
Before closing, I have one reminder to share.
When writing to us, please note that our address changed slightly at the beginning of the year.
Specifically, we now use Box 4129, instead of Box 29.
Our complete address is Linn’s Stamp News, Box 4129, Sidney, OH 45365-4129.
The same box number is also used by our sister publication, Coin World.
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