Computers & Stamps — By William F. Sharpe
The website called the Philatelic Database, it isn’t really a database, but it’s a well-organized, somewhat eclectic collection of information about stamps.
The site is run by Richard Turton and William Cochrane, who exemplify how wide the world wide web really is. One lives in England; the other in Australia. They coordinate using email and Skype.
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The home page seems somewhat sparse. The search box near the top of the page lets you look for items mentioned on the site. You’ll get a bit more information by clicking on the small, gray three-bar symbol near the right top of the page. However, if you don’t see the three small bars onscreen, just use the search box.
A graphic and a few text lines from articles about stamps are shown on the home page. Scroll down the page to see links to maps, puzzles, and directories.
You might find that the site looks somewhat different if you are using a tablet or mobile device.
Look at the “about” page to read the glowing description of the site in an article in Royal Mail’s British Philatelic Bulletin.
The search box on the home page allows you to look for articles of interest.
Once you have entered one search term, you’ll see the results. If you didn’t get any results, you can enter another search term. Even better, there’s a list of categories to the right of the second search box that covers other article entries by country or subject.
Scroll down this list to “topicals or thematics” to see articles about a variety of topical stamps.
I found an Australia stamp showing Santa Claus on a surfboard (Scott 669) mentioned in an article about 50 years of Australia Christmas stamps. I found this article by searching for “Australian Christmas stamps.”
This stamp might seem unusual to those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s the middle of summer in Australia at Christmastime.
Type “videos” into the search box and you’ll find several videos about stamps. I was particularly interested in the four-minute video about Australia’s railway post offices in 1985, because my uncle worked in a United States Post Office Department railway post office in the late 1930s.
When I typed “Shakespeare” into the search box, I found Jeff Dugdale’s lengthy article with stamp illustrations and quotes from Shakespeare’s plays.
The 1995 Great Britain stamp pictured nearby (Scott 1622) includes Shakespeare himself at the Globe Theatre, as well as several characters from his plays at the bottom of the stamp design.
You also can search for authors by name to discover other subjects they have covered. Dugdale, for example, has written seven other articles, including one about astrophilately or space-related stamps.
Unfortunately, the drop-down author list is alphabetical by first name. You are better off just entering the last name in a search box.
Type “Dictionary” into the search box to find an alphabetical listing of common stamp terms and inscriptions.
In the drop-down list, I was curious when I found “Philatelic Poems” as a category in the list. The following poem segment is from an 1871 article about Philadelphia’s postmen. It might not be as applicable now as it was then.
“Though scorching be the summer’s heat,
Though wintry winds may roar,
He brings his treasures daily,
And leaves them at your door.
These letters, what a volume
Of smiles, and doubts, and fears;
Of hopes that quickly vanish,
Of joys that last for years!”
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