It is now three and a half years since I came back to Stamp Collecting after a hiatus of twelve years. It is a strange thing that I fell out of love with Stamp Collecting in 2000/01 as I qas attracted to the new phenomenon of the Internet…and I think I returned to Stamp Collecting in 2012 as I was a little disenchanted with the Internet.

The position in 2000/01 was that I collected Ireland Stamps (mint and used) and I was about twenty stamps (mostly Seahorse overprints) from “completion”. The great problem was that the Irish Post Office was simply issuing too many stamps. It was simply impossible for me to keep up to date with new issues AND try and buy the twenty or so stamps from my “wants list”.

So where am I now?

Well the first thing to say is that “playing catch up” is taking longer than expected. It is not so much the expense of the stamps (2001-12) or even the stamps (2012-15) themselves. It is much more about the expense of albums, pages, mounts and travel and indeed the time and effort to get everything written up and organised.

The first thing to be said is that I have reduced by pre-2001 “wants list” by about three or four stamps. Obviously many of the stamps on my”wants list” are expensive, maybe even prohibitive. But I guess that before my eighieth birthday, it might just be possible. Or maybe there are just some stamps that are out of my league. I can actually live with that

Thru the Philatelic Shop at the General Post Office in Dublin, I have all issues from 2012-2015. A word of thanks here to the fantastic staff. I travel to Dublin maybe seven or eight times in a year, buy at least two sets of new issues and post some to myself, so that I have mint and used stamps.

The years 2005-2011, I was able to buy in Year Packs at face value from the Philatelic Shop. So I have them all mint and I have nearly all in used condition.

The years 2001-2004…I reckon I have about half of these stamps in either mint and/or used condition. My main supplier is Cathedral Stamps in Dublin and a lot of thanks is due to Declan O’Kelly, the owner.

All the 20th century Irish stamps are in eight black Stanley Gibbons “Senator Medium” albums. I have always felt that “black” is a classic colour but I am disappointed that Gibbons now produce “Senator Medium” in green and red. It is not an absolute disaster as I have now bought six green albums overthe last year or so and of course “green” is appropriate to Ireland. The six green albums now contain the stamps from 2005 to 2015.

For the record,one black album covers the period 1922 to 1971…ie all pre-decimal issues. And seven black albums covthe period 1971 to 2000. This demonstrates how just the issuing policy of the Irish Post Office changed thru the 20th century. The black albums are slightly over-filled and at some point I would like to buy two pre-owned black albums to make everything more tidy.

At the moment I am working on the years 2001-2004. Getting them on to album pages and around Christmas, getting them into albums. Periodic visits to Cathedral Stamps in Dublin and events such as the annual exhibition (Stampa in October) might mean that I can finally say that I have caught up by Easter 2016. That is the target.

Because of exchange rates, it is actually better to buy stamp albums and accessories thru mail order or thru the Glasgow Stamp Shop. I have been to Scotland twice this summerand will be going back later in the year.

World Stamps…I have less than 12,500. It is a very small number after fifty years but there is a “fun” element. It is very secondary to my interest in Ireland and while I consider that buying fifty stamps from Netherlands for £1 at a flea market is a bargain, it is too easy to get distracted from the main business of building an Ireland collection.

Of course, I do accumulate Irish duplicates but no real point in exchanging them for “world” stamps that I dont need or want. Certainly there are some nations…Republic of Korea (South Korea), Brazil, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia for example, which are under-represented in my World Collection and there are other nations…Canada, New Zealand, China, Australia for example that are over-represented.

Another (but welcome) distraction has been Irish Postal History. I have now got most low value Irish stamps 1922-1960 on commercially used covers and I have picked up some “censored” covers from the Emergency (World War Two). Used postcards from the “Golden Age” 1900-1922 (or “Britain Used in Ireland”) is an interesting avenue. These will of course show Irish views etc with British stamps and “English” postcards. Essentially there are two different price structures.The Stamp Dealers are much more expensive than market stalls. I now have maybe forty of these vintage postcards. A collection of maybe two hundred postmarked in different Irish cities, towns and villages is certainly possible.

Postcards…a distraction? Possibly. I have about two thousand unused Irish postcards in thirty five albums. They were originally bought as souvenirs of counties, towns and villages.

Postcards…from United States of America. I have almost eight hundred unused postcards from all fifty States.

Postcards…used. Now maybe three hundred from sixty countries.

Why exactly did I expand into Phonecards and Coins?

I think Irish Phonecards in the early 1990s rivalled the popularity of Irish Stamps but the balloon burst quickly. Mostly cheap and always colourful, Phonecards are almost a footnote to the Social History of the times.

Coins? It is very much about the (Irish) coins in my pocket and how pre-decimal coins were consigned to History in 1971 and how Euro coins were introduced in 2002. Completion is impossible. It is about Conservation.

American Coins? I suppose it is about handling them for the first time in February 2013. And their availability on market stalls.

It is impossible to collect “everything” and yet….I try. Plastic Toy Soldiers, Bubblegum Cards, Cigarette Cards, Autographs, Football Prorgammes, Records from the 1960s.

It is odd that there was a time when a single stamp album, a packet of stamp hinges and a packet of new stamps from Woolworths was enough.


About John

Dia Duit! Hello. My name is John. I am retired. I live in Ireland. I am on a five year mission to visit every city, town, village and place of historic and scenic interest in Ireland.
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