When my kids were in grade school I decided to take up stamp collecting as a way to teach them about history.
Honestly, it began when I read an article in the paper that the US Post Office was going to publish their first ever Looney Toone stamps starring Bugs Bunny! I thought my kids would love this and I went to the post office and bought them. They were so cute and adorable, I started checking into what other stamps were available, and in the early 80’s they were also going to start printing a new series called Legends of Hollywood. Marilyn Monroe was the very first starlet to appear on a postage stamp!
I had already collected a few stamps when I realized Marilyn Monroe was out. Actually, it was very, very close to being off market and no longer availabe through the US Postal Service. I remember I was at the philatelic office at the downtown post office and I asked if they had any Marilyn’s. I was told they were off market, but that she had a customer who had bought two pages and returned one of them. So, I was able to buy my only page of Marilyn Monroe’s from the US postal service price. I was so excited I teared up that day. To this day, years later, they are still my favorite!
My collection started, however with the Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny series. I thought my kids would love them and they each have their own copy, but kids weren’t that interested. However, I became fascinated with stamps. They are so colorful and artistic.
I later saw there was a series coming out about the 20th century, WWII, and the Civil War. There were just the type of issues that I would use to teach my kids American history. I’m not sure they found them as interesting as I did, but they are a super cool way to get to know our past in a visual way. Learning history in school was boring to me if all I was taught was to memorize dates and events. Once I would put a date with a face, a photo, or a picture, it all came alive for me and for my kids!
All of the Hollywood Legends are my favorites. I think the rule is they have to be dead at least 50 years before they can be momorialized in a stamp. Don’t quote me on that, as I don’t know if that is a hard and fast rule, but I think it is.
When Princess Diana was tragically killed in the car accident in Paris, the British Philatelic office printed a commerative stamp in her honor. I was able to order those online and I remember how excited I was when they arrived in the mail. Now I actually had a sheet of British stamps, and they were of our beloved Diana. She was as beautiful as a princess should be and I well remember how she and Prince Charles married about the same time I did, in 1983. Even my wedding dress looked a lot like hers with the huge puff sleeves, fitted waist and princess skirting. Even my hair was cut like hers in the early 1980’s!
After that, as the kids got older I found less and less that interested me, but I do remember when the commerative Harry Potter stamps came out and how special there were. There were arranged in a small book and I remember thinking how cool they were. And they still are! My daughter read every single one of the Harry Potter books and her love of reading is what, I believe, propelled her to a full academic scholarship and to graduate school!
Just a few months ago, I had an estate to sell as part of my real estate business, and the youngest son, who was the executor of the estate was cleaning out his mother’s belongings and mentioned to me she had an old stamp collection. I told him how exciting I thought that was and he said he would let me look a some of the stamps at some point during our transaction.
I well remember the seller asking to take me to lunch one day to review paperwork. Of course, I showed up with my file folder of paperwork as did the seller, which I thought at first was sort of odd. It wasn’t until after we had eaten that he haded me his portfolio and they were his mother’s Russian Space Program stamps together with a signed commerative stamp of Edmund Hilary’s summit to Mount Everest. When I told him how special I thought these were and how he should do something with them, he looked at me and said he was giving them to me. I was dumbfounded. Rarely, if ever, have I ever received a gift from a client. It is always the other way around. To say the least these are some of my favorite, not because they are so rare, but because of the way them came to be mine. I am still so very grateful.
All in all, I have found stamp collecting to be an exciting and colorful hobby that doesn’t take up much time or space to store them. Mine are kept in sleeves in ordinary notebooks and can be flipped through and admired easily and at any time.
There is always something exciting happening at the US Post office, so be sure and check out what they have to offer. I think you will find it to be one of the easier and exciting things to collect in your spare time, with spare change and cash. I have never cashed in or sold any of my collection. I’m waiting to pass them down to my grandkids one day. I hope they enjoy them as much as I do, as the collection truly has become my pride and joy.