Tuesday, July 3, 2012


"Philately" is a fancy word for stamp collecting. As a small boy, I noted that King George V was a stamp collector, as was FDR. I began the usual way, with a commercial packet of 500 "Assorted Foreign" stamps, and began to look forward to mail from my uncle, an electrical engineer who designed the original power system at Abadan in what was then Persia, as well as the system in Basra, Iraq. He was for many years employed by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later Anglo-Iranian, predecessor to BP (British Petroleum). My uncle sent many stamps, and I still have a concentration of Iranian stamps from before WWll. Stamp collecting greatly helped my interest in Geography and History, supplementing my studies in those subjects, which formed part of the academic curriculum at my primary and secondary schools. Ideally, stamps should be steamed off envelopes, but I wasn't very successful at that. I learned that one could put the stamps, face up, in a bowl of warm water, and that would loosen the stamps. Next, one put the stamps on a towel to dry. On a few occasions, I would buy some unused stamps, purportedly from some small state, such as Brunei or Nauru, probably printed in the UK and never leaving its shower but for most of my life I have just collected used stamps from anywhere, including those issued while I lived in the UK, and later those (especially "commemoratives") issued by he US Postal Service. For some forty years or longer, I have done nothing except accumulate stamps. The plan was that when I couldn't get around as much, I would attend to my stamp collection. It would give me something to do! (I also had the illusion that at least one of my sons would become a philatelist. It didn't happen.) Well, I no longer get around much, but television and the Internet have come into our lives. I have finally decided to stop collecting stamps, and see if I can sell my albums from pre-war days and my large number of stamps not yet detached from the scrap of envelopes.

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