Moving is my specialty. Every move involves purges and some of them are big ones. One of the things I most rue purging is my stamp collection. My kids said they had no interest in it, though my son’s ears perked up when I estimated what it was worth, which was waaay over what I got for it.
When I was about nine, we had a stamp club in our basement– me, my sister, and a dorky neighbour boy. We all bought packets of stamps through the mail, traded stamps, showed our collections. My sister gave it up and I think I incorporated her stamps and I have no idea what happened with the dorky guy.
I think my brothers were encouraged to collect stamps too, but I don’t think it took at all. Looking back, it is interesting that both my parents would encourage something like this. Although my dad would joke about collecting little bits of coloured paper, I think he approved of it. After all, his grandfather had collected stamps and I actually had his album and stamps. My mother’s mother also collected stamps and eventually those too were incorporated into my collection.
It was interesting to look at the stamps, especially the old ones. What was happening in the world then? It was certainly clear in Germany with the stamps full of Hitler. You could follow the reigns of British monarchs through the stamps. Some came from countries that do not even exist now– Natal, Tanzanika, Czechoslovakia.
Some people who were coming to Istanbul brought my stamp collection for me. A few years later, I was unemployed and spent many days organizing my album. There were a couple of stamp dealers on Galipdede so I could find stamp hinges (for lightly attaching the stamp to the page). I had acid free paper and I moved many stamps and added in the ones I had been randomly collecting for some years. It was soothing and interesting, and of course gave me something to do while I was not working. And then the work I took up was the cafe, so that was that.
People gave me stamps often. My sister would save some for me, as would friends and other relatives. They would randomly save interesting looking stamps. As I said earlier, I must have been given my great grandfather’s album by my father. My aunt sent me my grandmother’s albums several years after she (grandmother) died. I had big envelopes full of stamps collected over the years and even after I spent many hours and days on the collection I still had envelopes of extras.
Some stamps I kept on the post cards they were on so there were pictures of the countries too. Other stamps I soaked off, though I learned after many years that that had become a no-no. Unfortunately when I was a kid I sometimes used tape on stamps, which ruined them.
I had some really old stamps. Some were from the 1880s. I had the first Canadian Christmas stamp, issued in 1898. That year my grandmothers were one year old.
I literally put the world in order– alphabetical order. Generally each country started with one page, though some went on for several pages– Canada, the U.S., Japan, Turkey, for example, all countries i had lived in. The stamps were in lines as much as possible, in spite of the fact that stamps came in all sizes and a few different shapes.
My daughter recently commented that her baby son will never lick a stamp, as now they are usually self-sticking. Unfortunately he will probably also never collect stamps. I wish I had kept my collection to pass on to him, but chances are that he would not be interested. I can say that I had many hours of interesting looks at the political and art history of this world, connected to some of my relatives and friends by the stamps I inherited from them. It was a great pleasure.