Archive for February 12th, 2016

Stamp Collection

When I was a toddler, my grandfather started a stamp collection for me.  He collected plate blocks: this is four stamps at the corner of a sheet of stamps next to a serial number.  Every time a new U.S. stamp would come out, he would run to the post office and buy a plate block.  It was an inexpensive hobby (the cost of the face value of 4 stamps), and he attended to it diligently and doggedly, careful to not miss a single new issue, taking great care to preserve the stamps in a special album dedicated to this purpose.  Over the years, the single album grew to four.  My grandfather urged me to continue collecting as I grew into a teenager and then had a driver’s license and could run to the post office to buy my own stamps.  And I did maintain the collection out of love, respect, honor and gratitude to him until he died, even though truth be told, I had no real interest in the stamps.

So now I’m clearing out stuff and I found the albums.  I inquired at two different coin and stamp stores, and it turns out that the stamps are worth less than the face value!  The reason:  there is simply no interest, so there is no market.  I was told by both vendors, “Kids today aren’t interested in stamps, they’re interested in computer games.”  Only truly rare antique stamps or stamps with printing errors have any market value.

Going through the albums is a bit like time travel.  It gives a fascinating glimpse of modern American history from  the 1950s to the 1970s.  The stamps in those early years started out with dour portraits and plain monochrome designs, but thanks to the psychedelic sixties, suddenly US stamps were instilled with Love and peace and diversity; dedication and memorials and celebrations; the Beatles, Hollywood celebrities, athletes, endangered animals, Nobel scientists, medical and scientific discoveries, moon and Mars landings, food and farmers and educators.

I feel bad that no one will enthusiastically inherit this collection, and indeed, my grandfather’s stamps will now be used for postage.  Because most of the stamps are in the two- to twenty-five cent range, they will fill and decorate the entire right side of an envelope since it will take so many of them to meet our current postage rates.  I don’t plan on using them on envelopes to pay my bills; to the sentimentalist that I am, it seems disrespectful somehow.  Instead, I’ll use the old stamps to write personal letters and send greetings to friends.

Of course, that may also be hard to do, since nowadays people rely on email and social media to communicate.  Alas, like stamp collecting, the art of letter writing is mostly a relic, doubtful to return to prominence anytime soon.







Quiet Family Time

In this day and age of over-scheduling, running around till you drop (while wondering what it is that you accomplished), battling with kids over homework and computer time and crazy schedules that don’t even allow families to eat together much less communicate other than by text messages, I was really happy to receive this candid photo of my son and two of his kids playing Clue together.  I’m so proud of them that despite all the craziness associated with urban living, job stress, and not enough time to breathe, they make the time for a quiet evening of togetherness.  Something tells me that these kids will not suffer much of the teenage angst of their peers.  Kudos to my son and daughter-in-law for getting it so right!