For the ultimate collection, collect stamp collecting on stamps

Jan 28, 2008, 11 AM

By Janet Klug

Some topical collectors collect stamps-on-stamps.

Because many of the world's greatest stamp rarities are depicted on other stamps, this topic is a good way to have the unaffordable impossible dreams in your stamp album.

Bermuda showed its famous 1848-54 Perot provisional stamps on new stamps issued in 1949 (Scott 135-37) to mark their centenary. The 6-pen-ny green and rose-violet King George VI and Perot Provisional stamp (137) is shown in Figure 1.

For those who really love stamp collecting and all things philatelic, collecting stamps that are stamp-on-stamp designs is a tribute to our avocation. Such a collection is easier than you might think.

From time to time, international stamp show host countries issue stamp collecting stamps to promote the event. The stamps frequently depict stamp collectors using the tools of the hobby.

A good example is the 1986 booklet Sweden issued for the Stockholmia 86 show. Figure 2 shows a pane of four stamps (Scott 1588a) from the booklet.

The designs of the four stamps show an early Swedish stamp (Scott 33a) with a bull's-eye cancel; stamp engraver Sven Ewert preparing a stamp die; a page from a stamp album bearing two Swedish stamps (268 and 271) and a magnifying glass enlarging a United States 3¢ Landing of the Swedes and Finns stamp (836); and a boy using tongs to retrieve stamps for his collection from a bowl of water.

The stamps in this one booklet pane picture five essential pieces of stamp collecting equipment: magnifiers, tongs, stamp album, soaking bowl and stamps. Can we top that? Yes.

The 3-krona No. 836 Under Magnifying Glass and Sweden Nos. 268 and 271 stamp (Scott 1587) in the Swedish booklet was a joint issue with a U.S. stamp of similar design in the Stamp Collecting booklet (BK153) issued for the Ameripex 86 show.

The 1986 U.S. pane of four stamps (Scott 2201a) is shown in Figure 3. There is no soaking bowl in the designs of the U.S. stamps, but stamps, tongs, magnifiers, albums, covers, an American Philatelic Society membership card, a few postmarking devices and a first-day cover are present.

The cover of this booklet served as a free admission ticket to Ameripex, arguably the best stamp show promotion ever achieved by the U.S. Postal Service.

Magnifying glasses and tongs are identifiable tools of the stamp collector that appear on many stamps with a stamp collecting theme.

The 1972 U.S. 8¢ U.S. No. 1 Under Magnifying Glass stamp (Scott 1474) is shown in Figure 4. Its design depicts an 1847 5¢ Benjamin Franklin stamp, the first U.S. general issue stamp (1), under a magnifying glass.

The 8¢ stamp is fun to collect because the miniature 5¢ Franklin is not always perfectly centered in the box provided for it in the design. The off-center 8¢ stamp shown here pictures the 5¢ stamp as a three-margin example. A fun, inexpensive collection would use this stamp-on-stamp to illustrate the concept of centering within the context of stamp collecting.

An Egyptian 20-millieme Egypt No. 1104 Under Magnifying Glass stamp (Scott 1109) is shown in Figure 5. The stamp was issued in 1979 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Philatelic Society of Egypt.

The stamp-on-stamp design shows a left hand clutching a magnifying glass and the stamp being held by tongs in the right hand. But look closely at the tongs. Notice anything strange? The index finger seems to be inserted between the blades of the tongs. I defy anyone to be able to pick up a stamp using this tong-wielding method.

The proper use of tongs is depicted on the Wallis and Futuna Islands 9-franc Philatec stamp (Scott 167) shown in Figure 6. The stamp, issued in 1964, is part of an omnibus issue by the French community.

In the stamp design, the collector holding the tongs is obviously left-handed, because it is a left hand holding the stamp that hovers above a stamp album.

Collecting famous stamp collectors on stamps is another way to enshrine the stamp hobby within a stamp collection.

Most collectors know that Britain's King George V had a fabulous collection that today is owned by his granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

Artist John Lennon of the Beatles had a boyhood stamp collection. The Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum purchased the album in 2005.

I was surprised to learn a few years ago that Russian-American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, commemorated in 1999 on a U.S. 33¢ stamp (Scott 3308) in the Literary Arts series, was a stamp collector.

Many other fellow stamp collectors already reside in many stamp albums.

The 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, pictured on numerous U.S. stamps, was an avid stamp collector.

In 1947, Monaco, whose Prince Rainier III was also a stamp collector, issued the 50-centime Franklin D. Roosevelt Examining His Stamp Collection airmail stamp (Scott C16), shown in Figure 7.

There he is, the president of the United States, one of the most famous stamp collectors of all time, working with an open album, a magnifying glass, what appears to be a stack of albums and a Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue on the desk next to him.

The only fly in the ointment is that the stamp's design shows Roosevelt holding a stamp in his bare hand.

Maybe Roosevelt once could have tried to use tongs as illustrated in the design of the Egyptian stamp shown in Figure 5. If so, it is no wonder he gave up and used his hands.