You might get the bug like Bill Hamilton of Bridgetown did.
Hamilton is the exhibition chairman this year and things are gearing up for an impressive show on April 29 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
He says the reasons people collect postage stamps are many and varied and a lot of the time it has to do with history. But it could be anything from rock ‘n’ roll to countries, to numerous themes.
“The history is the big thing,” he said. “You may decide to collect Canada for instance, and then it’s finding the oddities, the rarities.”
He collects ‘Penny Reds’ first issued in 1841 in Britain. They were preceded by the ‘Penny Blacks’ the year before and that was the first adhesive postage stamp. For Hamilton, Penny Red Number 77 is the Holy Grail – the Queen has one and he knows of three others.
“Some of us still get a big kick out of soaking a bunch of stamps that probably don’t have a lot of value,” he said. “It’s fun soaking them off and then going through them and seeing if there’s something special there.”
He got people in offices around town to save stamps for him. Stamp collectors trade stamps among each other, you can buy collections if you can find them, or get them at club auctions. And these days there’s online.
He said some collectors are thematic and may collect all ships, or planes.
“Some people like to collect Great Britain, or the Caribbean,” he said. “Some actually go worldwide and they have a huge album for that. And they’ll source them out.”
He noted eBay and other online sites are popular for sourcing stamps.
“And there’s also a wealth of information on the Internet,” he said. “And there’s also closet collectors that you don’t know about. Every once in a while I’ll meet somebody and they’ll ask me if I’ve got something, or what’s going on at the club -- and I didn’t even know they collected stamps. But they’d been doing it for years.”
Hamilton never really considered becoming a philatelist – a stamp collector.
“I fooled around with it when I was a kid, but nothing serious,” he said. “After my mother passed away my brother had a bunch of things that she’d been accumulating and he was wondering what to do with them.”
Bill Hamilton said he’d take them and maybe but something together for the grandkids.
“Well the bug bit me,” he said, noting his mother had stamps and albums. “It was not a lot, but it was enough to get the bug to bite me.”
“You can trace postage back to BC,” said Hamilton. “The Greeks. They used a stamp – an official seal. But that was their postage and they actually delivered the mail to people.”
Of course mail was only between the educated, the higher up people, and government officials. And the Chinese had mail delivery as well, he said.
“Genghis Khan was a great one for moving messages or mail around with his horses,” Hamilton said. “He had horses set up every 10 miles. They carried the messages and kept him informed about what was going on.”
But postage, as far as the official stamp is concerned, goes back to about 1840 in Britain.
The Valley Stamp Club started in 1961 and this year’s exhibition will be its 57th.
Meetings are held the first and third Saturdays if each month from mid-September to mid-June in Port Williams. Currently there are about 30 members.