I was certainly at primary school,around ten years of age…in or around 1962…when I commenced collecting Stamps. It is certainly more than fifty years ago. As I recall, my father bought me my first printed album, maybe 64 pages in Woolworths in Belfast.
At the time, Woolworths had packets of stamps such as “25 France” or “”10 Iran” for sixpence and each weeK, in Woolworths I bought a packet. My father encouraged it. Stamp Collecting was “educational” and as the inside page of that first stamp album stated, King George VI of Britain and President F D Roosevelt had been stamp collectors. I felt I was in good company. And I imagined them buying “25 France” and “Iran” at a Woolworths counter and putting the stamps in their albums (cost two shillings from Woolworths).
That printed album was indeed educational. The capital of Peru was Lima and the unit of currency in Japan was the Yen. And good advice about Stamp Collecting itself…..use stamp “hinges”, bend them and moisten one third and attach to stamp And then moisten the remaking two thirds and attach to the album page.
Soon! I graduated to a larger printed album and all my stamps re-housed in it. Sadly the first album was thrown out…a pity because in 2013, it would be a nice heirloom. And indeed the larger printed album was eventually thrown out to be replaced by my first “loose leaf” album (a Selby Medium in blue). I would later add another (red) Selby which I still have.
Stamps were still bought in Woolworths. The majority of stamps were Space and Sport from the old Communist bloc, stamps from places that probably did not exist (Nagaland!!!) and stamps issued by impoverished nations for export to the Collectors World, rather than issued for genuine postal purposes (I still have three diamond-shaped stamps from Haiti).
I was eighteen in 1970 and I purchased a black Senator Medium album and started to specialise in Irish stamps. I am of course Irish but there was also the advantage that Ireland had only started issuing stamps in 1922 and maintained (at that stage) a fairly conservative stamp issuing policy.
Thru the 1970s I collected the World, specialising in Ireland (mint and used). But during the 1970s I became increasingly aware of the concept of “unmounted mint” and that I …and many other collectors had unwittingly de-valued our collections by using those stamp hinges on “mint” stamps. Stamp Mounts were the “new” thing.
I reckon that the 1970s was the decade in which I made many mistakes. I was too obsessed with “catalogue” order (Gibbons), too obsessed with neatness….for example some stamps are better left on the envelope. And probably I should never have thought First Day Covers were of any real “postal” importance. They are a distraction from Stamp Collecting….philatelic souvenirs basically.
Around this time Woolworths stopped selling stamps and I was now buying my stamps from one of Belfast’s (then) two stamp shops.
The photograph shows my Stamp Collection as it is today. Ireland 1922-2000 is housed in eight black Senator Medium albums. The green Senator Medium contains “Northern Ireland” regional stamps, propaganda stamps and Irish-themed stamps issued by other countries.here red Selby album contains Irish postmarks. There are two First Day Cover albums. But most of the shelf is actually unsorted material. The lower shelf contains seven Binders containing my World Collection….these are the pages which were mostly in the blue Selby album which fell apart. There are two Tower Standard albums, again stamps from the World. The three black boxes contain duplicates etc. I keep Postcards, Coins, Phonecards and Autographs in the cupboard under these shelves.
I think the 1980s was the decade in which I stopped making mistakes and started to look on myself as a serious Stamp Collector. I married in 1982 and started travelling to more Shows in Dublin and London and I also joined the Irish Philatelic Circle and I remained a member for about five years.
Living in Belfast, I had access to propaganda stamps. Also became interested in postmarks from Irish towns and villages.
In the 1990s I expanded my collecting interests to include Postcards, Phonecards, Coins and Autographs. The downside to the 1990s was that the Irish Post Office, which had an enviable reputation for a conservative stamp issuing policy was started to issue far too many stamps. A burden on anyone like myself, who collects “mint and used”.
The final straw was a series of stamps…thirty six to celebrate the Millenium.
To some extent, my main recreational interest for the past decade has been the Internet.
On 10th Match 2012, I decided to revive my Stamp Collection. Sad to see that so few young people are interested. At 2001, I had got to the stage where I needed less than twenty stamps to claim I had a complete collection of Ireland stamps….mint and used. Those stamps….I am not even thinking about now. The priority is the stamp issues from 2001-2010. The years 2011, 2012 and 2013 are now obtained.