World Stamps

Jay Bigalke

Town collections provide an opportunity to make philately relatable to a new audience

March 02, 2018 12:45 PM

  • The boxed postal marking of Lysekihl in Sweden on this 1853 cover is a key item in Nordic Postal Scene columnist Christer Brunstrom’s collection of his hometown. Sharing covers and postal history items related to your hometown can be a great conversation starter to introduce others to the hobby.

Philatelic Foreword — By Jay Bigalke

Flipping through envelopes and stamps at shows and online is a frequent activity of mine. I thoroughly enjoy the chase and find great joy in discovering items related to the Wisconsin town I grew up in. This town is small — approximately 75 residents — so you can guess how infrequently I find items postmarked at its small post office.

Nordic Postal Scene columnist Christer Brunstrom struck a chord with me with his article “Postal history helps shape a hometown collection from Sweden” in this issue of Linn’s. It made me think about my collection, and I have a feeling that it will have the same effect for a number of you, too.

Collections of this type aren’t limited to a strict hometown focus. I know collectors that save items by county, by state or by a town name that exists in several states.

I recently found an 1850s cover from the town that I live in now. The price was about $10, so I picked it up as a conversation piece. On my next visit to the local post office, I took it with me to share with the postal clerks a piece of the town’s history that had crossed the postal counter about 160 years ago. The cover was met with enthusiasm, and was well worth the small investment for the conversation value.

Also, sometimes covers like that one can spark a noncollector’s interest in the hobby of stamps and postal history.

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For us collectors, all it takes is a little hunting and a way of displaying our finds on album pages or in holders to communicate the enjoyment we derive from being caretakers of the postal history of our hometowns.