October 22nd, 2020

The lonely postage stamps


By Submitted Article on May 13, 2020.

By Walter Kerber

The coronavirus has given us stamp collectors time to explore our collections. I have done a lot of that in the last few weeks. It has given me an opportunity to appreciate the fine detail and art that has gone into creating some of these miniature pieces of my collection. It has also shown me holes in my collection which were forgotten.

Like most art, postage stamps were created to be appreciated by the viewer. A lot of fine art ends up in vaults along with other parts of that collection. As philatelists, are we any different than those art connoisseurs? Our stamps end up on album pages, in thick, heavy, dusty binders, high up on bookshelves or also in a vault, never to be seen or admired by ourselves or anyone else. Trying to show another person, not a collector, my collection is like days of yore, trying to have an evening of slides of last year’s vacation.

It is nice to page through the collection, blowing off the dust from the top of the pages and scanning the engraving and colours of those minute images. You pick up the loupe to catch a closer glimpse of the pastoral scene or the petals on the rose, or that smirk on the lips of the Mona Lisa. All these things are there. The history of the money, as the rates go up from a few pennies to the billions, as you explore science and the technology of the country. It’s like going through an encyclopedia, like a comic book, with the small insignificant labels yelling out at you, shouting their contents, as they have for 170 years, since Britain issued the Penny Black.

That stamp, back then, was created to simplify our method of texting. When you were creating a message at that time, you physically wrote on paper, which was given to a courier and delivered to the one you sent it to. That person texted you back the same way, but with stamps it eliminated payments. Now you just pay for the service of the device and get nothing to appreciate the delivery.

So we explore our collection, give the stamps a breath of fresh air and let them smile. We put them back up on the shelf and tuck ourselves under our covers for another day of isolation.

Walter Kerber is a longtime member of the Lethbridge Philatelic Society.

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