In a post, two days ago, I wrote how at the end of 2000, I stopped collecting stamps.
I don’t know if I intended to take a few years break (as the expense was problematic to a family man) or if I saw the end of the 20th century as a natural time to draw a line.
I concentrated on collecting and painting plastic toy soldiers and I spent a lot of time on the Internet. Increasingly I believe the Internet has evolved. Effectively I have been online for twenty one years and it divides into two decades…the decade of AOL/Yahoo/Myspace/Live Journal and a second decade of “Social Media” Blogging/ Facebook/Twitter. I am aware of maybe a new age of Instagram but I am too old to care.
I prefer the hate-free zone of the first decade to the hate-filled zone of the second decade.
So probably around 2009 or 2010, I was already missing being a Stamp Collector. But in early 2012, I told my older son that the introduction page of the first Ireland Stamp Album signed on 31st October 1970 and later dedications to my wife (1982) and my older son (1983). Someday this collection will belong to him and it seemed right and fitting that I should resume.
It was of course easier being retired and having sons of 28 and 26 (already married and away from home).
So on 10th March 2012, I went into Waterstones bookstore in Belfast and asked about Gibbons “Ireland” Catalogue. Interestingly there was an edition just published. I ordered it and it was delivered to me 14th March 2012….not cheap at £15.95.
A catalogue is really a glorified price list but Gibbons, Scott, Yvert have taken on near Biblical significance. You choose your version…King James, Catholic, whatever. Back in 1970, I was guided by Gibbons. If a stamp is not listed in Gibbons then it doesn’t exist. If it is listed in Gibbons, then it is a “must have”.
As at 31st December 2000, Gibbons listed 1,382 Irish stamps….plus varieties.
As at September 2011, the most recent issue in the above catalogue, Gibbons listed 2,090 stamps…plus varieties.
In other words, merely to catch up, I needed 1,416 stamps (ie mint and used). Added to maybe forty stamps on my “wants list”, this would be a daunting task.
Two main sources here. The Irish Post Office Philatelic Service hold Year Packs for five years so that was a major source and at face value.
But the Year Packs are not totally complete…eg miniature sheets and varieties are not included.
So the second source was Dealers and around 85% of the stamps I needed (2001 to 2005 and later miniature sheets and varieties) were obtained thru Declan O’Kelly at Cathedral Stamps in Dublin. Everyone needs a reliable dealer.
It was frustrating at times. I still had to keep pace with New Issues. I set myself a target of five years (my 65th birthday in May 2017) to catch up on everything from 2001 to date. I also had to buy albums and accessories. So I was pleasantly surprised that I caught up a few months ahead of schedule.
In fairness, after over-issuing stamps in the later years of the 20th century, An Post adopted a more reasonable approach. But as I noted in my previous post, there are disturbing signs that An Post is returning to the bad old days.
For myself, I have changed a little. I collect what I want and I am not influenced by the tyranny of the Catalogue defining what I do.
I am maybe as obsessive as ever. But only in relation to Ireland. Re-discovering the “world” has been beneficial.
Ireland is an Obsession that drives me insane. The World is a child-like enthusiasm that keeps me sane.
Somehow, I am ………balanced.
The really good thing at May 2019 is that I only have to keep up with New Issues. In terms of a “wants list”, there are just 26 stamps. Two are early Irish coils and one is (maybe surprisingly) a variety from the 1990s. They are the targets for 2019.
This would leave 23 “overprints” all mint and used “Seahorses”. Of course this puts me into territory where a stamp does not cost the price of a packet of cigarettes or a pint of beer. This is different…the price of a new suit…or a new dress…or a new bathroom. It means I think twice and shop around.
But it also makes me think that “Seahorses”, overprinted British stamps are not in the fullest sense Irish.
Target dates……well its variable. For 31st October 2020 (the fiftieth anniversary of collecting Ireland as a speciality), Id like to have all the “Irish” stamps.
And other dates…10th May 2022 (my 70th birthday) and 10th May 2027 (my 75th birthday).
But maybe…the nature of being a collector is that completion is an aspiration. Maybe we are not supposed to be “complete”.