When I was eight or nine years old, I started noticing the stamps on the mail we would receive and I quickly became fascinated by them. I loved how they had different important people on them, flora and fauna, and in some cases cartoon characters, amongst other things. Then I was told that there were people who collected stamps from different countries across different time periods. I thought it was such a cool thing (I still do) and so I told my family that this is what I wanted to start doing.
My grandparents were the first to help me collect stamps. Both my grandfathers would carefully take the stamps off the mail they would receive and give them to me. Anytime they saw an interesting stamp, they’d want me to have it. I loved this, and also asked some family abroad to send me letters and stamps from the countries they lived in. Soon, I had stamps from a few different countries and I was thrilled.
Then, one day, my mother gave me the name and address of a girl who was my age and lived in New Zealand. Through mutual friends, my mother had found out that this girl’s grandmother was looking for a penpal for her granddaughter and my mother asked me if I’d be interested in having a penpal. At age ten, this seemed like a great way to connect with a person I didn’t know who was on a different continent (this was back when I had no social media). So I wrote to her and I was so excited when she wrote back. We sent each other jewelry and stickers, and she sent me stamps, too! So now I added stamps from New Zealand to my growing collection.
Whenever I would travel, we’d go to the local markets of that place and most of them had at least one antique store. Most of these antique stores also had old stamps from that place and I would buy a few to add to my collection.
I love how stamps tell a story of a period in time. I like how they are used to commemorate events and historical figures. I also started collecting loads of stamps of various ships from the navy of various countries. Through this journey of stamp collecting, I came across stamps of all sizes and of various shapes too — like circle stamps, oval stamps, and triangle stamps!
A few years into collecting stamps slowly, my grandmother asked me if I would be interested in corresponding with another stamp collector in the USA. Her friend from college who now lived in Virginia had a neighbor who was collecting stamps and wanted to now share his stamp collection and knowledge with someone. I was excited and said yes. This old man, I later learned from my correspondence with him, was a Vietnam War Veteran. After returning home, he had started collecting stamps and had amassed a huge collection ranging from stamps of cartoon characters to those of various flora and fauna. He would ask me to send him stamps from my country and would send me those from the USA in exchange. He also wrote pages of tips and important information on stamp collecting that he had learned through the years.
Sadly, while I’m not in contact with him or my pen pal anymore, the stamps I have remind me of them and of many other fond memories I have associated with them. It was not just the collection of stamps that made it interesting to me but the human connection this collection enabled and the new people I was able to correspond with as a result.
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