I think the first stamp album I ever had was a paperback album called “Trusty”. It cost the princely sum of two shillings in Woolworths about 1961.
The inside cover had some information about Philately (President F D Roosevelt) was mentioned. And there was some instruction as to how to use a “stamp hinge”. The album was of course pre-printed in alphabetical order. Most “big” countries like Germany and Italy had a page to themselves. There was an illustration of a stamp for identification purposes. For example, “Suomi” was Finland. And there was also information about capitals, currency, language and population. Of course in the early 1960s, there were still such places as (among others) British, French and Portuguese colonies.
Within a few years, I graduated to a larger, pre-printed album with a harder back. But as a teen, I was learning more about Stamp Collecting, thru library books and magazines. The “Holy Grail” was a loose leaf album and in the late 1960s, I bought (seperately) two “Selby” albums. And of course I bought lots of extra pages. Of course, the great problem with loose leaf albums and their “spring back” is that eventually they break if too many pages are included. The “blue Selby” broke but I still use the “red Selby” for Irish postmarks.
The library books told me how to “write up” a collection. It was not simply enough to put stamps at random under a page marked “Bolivia” or “New Zealand”. The magazines brought up the subject of “unmounted mint” stamps. A “mint” stamp is de-valued each time a stamp hinge is used.
The great transition to “adult” stamp collecting occurred when I was 18 years old. In October 1970, I decided to concentrate on Irish Stamps. A black Senator Medium album was purchased and using a library book about Irish stamps, I painstakingly started to mount and write up my collection. In retrospect, I overdid things. A page for each issue. Black pen. And hand-writing which I could read easily in 1970 but I did not realise that my eyesight as a teenager would be much better than it would be decades later.
Stamp Collecting is all about completion. Certainly in 1970, it did not seem totally impossible to complete an Irish Collection. Ireland had after all been only issuing stamps in 1922, when the hobby of Stamp Collecting was already established. And since 1922 had pursued a very conservative policy on issuing stamps. Really only one “coil” stamp is out of the reach of a mainstream Irish collector.
Of course, I do not envy any “new collectors” who are intent on completion. Ninety plus years of Irish stamp issues and progressively from the 1970s, Ireland’s policy was too many issues.
The situation reached rock bottom in 1999 and 2000 and towards the end of 2000, I just had enough. It was impossible to collect new issues …mint and used…and make inroads into a “wants list” of older stamps. I simply gave up.
In October 2000, I actually had eight black Senator Medium albums and that first album contained the pre-decimal issues 1922-1971. And the seven other albums contained stamps issued from 1971-2000. That gives an indication of just how out of control the stamp issuing policy was.
Stamp Collecting is about more than a single pre-printed album from 1961. It is about eight albums for Irish stamps, another for “Norn Iron” regional stamps, propaganda issues and stamps issued by other countries on Irish themes. It is also about First Day Covers, magazines, information bulletins. Over fifty years, it grows from an album and a packet of hinges to cupboards and even a “stamp room”.
It took twelve years for me to resume Stamp Collecting. I don’t know why. Perhaps I had always intended to resume or more likely I always intended to tie up loose ends from 2000.
Buying a catalogue was the first task. And methodically preparing spread sheets and an action plan. That was in March 2012. It was daunting but at least Year Packs going back to 2006 were held at the Philatelic Bureau. And there were visits to Dublin to visit a stamp shop AND keep up to date with new issues.
Where am I now?
Well I have all new issues stamps (mint, used) and miniature sheets from 2006 to October 2014. I have most stamps (mint, used) and miniature sheets from 2001 to 2005. It is my intention to be methodical and obtain these stamps before STAMPA 2015. I think it is possible.
But this leaves me with the task of mounting and writing up the collection for a period of fourteen years. I have most of the pages and hinges (for used stamps) that I need. I need a lot of “Lighthouse” mounts in various sizes. And I need a LOT of patience.
It is a full time job but now that I am retired, I can do it. We are at the end of October 2014. And over the past few days, I have mounted and written up the “loose” stamps I had from 2000. They are now in an album. This leaves fourteen years to be mounted and written up. I intend to complete this by Christmas 2015… a rate of one year per month.