Like many youths, collecting stamps was a cherished hobby. Back then stamp collecting was still a respected pursuit for both kid and adult alike. I’m not so sure in today’s society of fast video-game thrills and Internet-everything that stamps draw as much interest as they once did, nor in the numbers the hobby once enjoyed. And like many kids both then and now, collecting anything was a great diversion from the stresses of…well, now that I think about it, back then stress was pretty much nonexistent or rarely mentioned. But the tactile thrill of carefully handling, grading, and hinging (or sleeving) stamps, not to mention the treasure-hunting thrills finding stamps in grandma’s attic or an uncle’s box of letters from WWI or WWII was an enjoyable way to spend time wisely.
I stopped collecting back in my single 20s when I bartered my last collection (U.S. airmails, complete at the time except for the rares and the Graf Zeppelin series) to a painter to studify my condo. I thought that a “wow” decor would impress the chicks more than an album of stamps showing mostly old dead guys. I’d love to share whether that worked, but better not since my Mom reads these posts!
When I collected all U.S. stamps, however, the ones that held my interest the most were the old engraving styles illustrated well by my favorite series, the Columbian Exposition issues of 1893. Today’s commemorative stamps are certainly informative and remind us of our varied history and significant citizen’s celebrated achievements, but while I appreciate some of the topics and artwork, they don’t say “postage stamps” like the old engraveds did.
On a trip to the local post office on Monday, I was pleased to discover the new commemoratives released in May honoring the Lewis & Clark expedition. The design combines my beloved engraved look with some excellent color portraitures reminiscent of early 19th century portraits. I bought a couple sheets of the big stamp, but my post office was out of the portraits. And least you think I’ve suddenly gone all serious, I also bought a sheet of the Dr. Seuss stamps. After all, I need something with a bit more levity to affix to those damned bills I love to mail.