By Janet Klug
There are a multitude of inexpensive ways to collect stamps and to make the hobby a fun, family activity.
One good way to start getting the family involved is to use stamps to celebrate each person’s birthday.
If you can find a stamp that was issued on the very day the individual was born, that is an excellent start, but you can pursue other ways to make even a small, one-page “date you were born” collection.
Look for a stamp to represent an event that happened on the exact day and year of the birthdate, or expand the scope to include events happening on that day but in different years.
Pictured nearby is a page showing three stamps that commemorate events that happened on “Jake’s birthday November 10.” The page can be used as a birthday card, or framed as a birthday present.
How can you find what happened on the day you are interested in?
There are many books and websites that document historic events that happened on each day of every month, making research quite easy.
For example, Chase’s Calendar of Events is a book published annually since 1957 in the United States, and a copy might be in your local public library.
Online, a quick visit to This Day In History presented a list of key events that happened on Nov. 10. In 1775, the U.S. Marine Corps was begun. In 1928, Hirohito was crowned as monarch of Japan, and in 1969, Sesame Street debuted.
The next step is to find stamps that match or complement the events.
For U.S. stamps, you can consult the subject index in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue or Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers, or other sources such as The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps, which has a detailed subject index.
To locate non-U.S. stamps, you can use online search engines and, for example, search for “Hirohito postage stamp.” This search will reveal country names and year dates and catalog numbers for stamps with Hirohito’s image. With that data, you will be able to locate examples in the marketplace through your usual sources.
Once acquired, the stamps can be mounted on a page and accompanied by a sentence or two explaining the event.
This sort of project can be widely expanded, adding stamps that illustrate the family member’s interests, awards, career, and so on.
Encourage the family to work on the project with you — they will have their own ideas, and you might actually recruit a few new stamp collectors into the hobby.
The “this day (or month) in history” idea can stand alone with no connection to family or friends’ birthdays or anniversaries.
You can make your own pages, starting one day or month at a time, consulting websites or books that list the key events in history for the day or month, and then finding appropriate stamps that reflect those happenings.
If you love history, this is a great way to pursue and combine two hobbies at once.
Do you have a hoard of canceled stamps?
Convert some of that hoard into a calendar collection, using your stamps that have readable month and day postal marking dates (the year doesn’t matter, unless you are working on a far more challenging day/month/year collection). Your “stamp album” for the collection can be as simple as a wall calendar that has stamp-size blocks for each day of every month.
A calendar collection for the month of May is illustrated here. Thirteen of the 31 day-spaces are adorned with stamps with legible dated postmarks.
Keeping a record of this collection is super easy using a pocket calendar, such as the one pictured nearby.
Cross off the dates as you add an example to the collection, and you will always know what you have and what you need in order to complete the collection.
If you want to find a better stamp than the one you have for any particular day, circle the date rather than cross it off. The difficult date to find will be Leap Year Day, Feb. 29, but markings do exist.
Is there a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or some other youngster in your life?
Identify the child’s favorite activity and gather appropriate stamps to create a little picture book, using the child’s name to carry the story.
Better yet, have the child help write a story to go with the stamp images. You probably will be surprised and entertained by the child’s imagination and creativity, and it will be fun for both of you.
These are only a few ideas for new ways to enjoy your stamps. Let your imagination run wild, and bring your family into the fun.