About The We

Marcie: Head Noob/Coffee Maker
Judy: Official Good Idea Creator and Chaos Control
Josh: Director of Sorting and Drinker of Milk

About the Blog

I inherited the stamp collection it took my dad a lifetime to build. Along with my friends, Judy and her six year old son, Josh, we are beginning our stamp collecting journey where he left off while continuing to build his collection and his legacy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Field Trip

Alas, for me, that I have never been to a stamp trading session before! Judy, Josh and I had the special opportunity to do just that yesterday morning. To begin, we journeyed to The San Diego Philatelic Library, which is located in Escondido, Ca. It is totally a volunteer and donor supported organization that helps local stamp collectors in southern California. It's a cozy little place, with big tables, chairs, and walls lined with old books, new books, catalogs, and nary a dust bunny to be seen.

We began with what every road journey must begin with: Starbucks. Then scooted on the 78 to Escondido to find the library.

Arrival was exactly what I expected... 4-5 retired looking gentlemen sitting at a table with their books and bags and boxes FULL of stamps. I walked in, first, holding my dad's fishing tackle box, full of stamp related tools and materials, like a timid first grader walking in on the first day of school. You know, gripped tight with both hands?

"Hi, I'm Marcie." Shook hands. "I inherited my dad's stamp collection and I don't know anything."

There were smiles all around, after the initial crooking eyebrow at my bizarre introduction. Judy then, kindly, took over and introduced herself. She's much more charismatic than I. Josh also served as a nice diversion since the stamp library has lots of donations that kids can go through and pick out to put in their books. Josh was shown the donation drawer, I signed my name in the check-in sheet under Judy's conversation, and proceeded to watch.

Stamp trading commenced with no fanfare. It was simply people handing out their books to others and a mutual agreement of how many to trade for. If you wanted a stamp and didn't have any to trade, duplicates were 5 cents each. It was conversation that came and went, like a tide, one moment full of action and then slid into quiet contemplation.

I felt at home, after a while, the gentlemen sliding over their books with comments like, "the girls should see this one." I think they liked that we were there and wanted to learn their lifelong passion. They invited us to come back on a week night and they would help us look through what we had, try and catalog some things, and help us get started.

While explaining this to a friend later in the day, it was like each man (and then a woman came in to trade!) had their each own, distinctive, personality. I could have written a sitcom based on our interaction that morning. Like "Cheers," just for a stamp club. There was the "East Coaster," full of bravado, but with the soft heart of gold on the inside. The leader, Tom, who was eager to help, but a introverted and cutely awkward. A foreigner, all smiles. The quiet, smart one. An older gentleman, kind but hard of hearing. And then the loud and goofy newcomers: US!

Judy, Josh and I had a lot of fun and got some good pointers. We need some tools, some special duplicate folders and things. As we drove off for home, Judy turned to me and said, "You know, I think your dad would have really liked this." I smiled. He really would have enjoyed stamp trading there. And in some cosmic, mystic, or spiritual way, he is.
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Saturday, June 12, 2010

How Hawaii Helped My Stamp Journey

I had the incredible opportunity to visit Hawaii this month. I was always under the impression that Hawaii had this cliche' persona about it. (You know how Florida does? Yeah, like that.) The electric pink umbrellas in one's drink, shiny palm trees, tourists with sunburns and socks pulled up too high... I thought that was it. Hey, don't judge me, I live in San Diego. Why go somewhere tropical when the Mediterranean seaboard comes to us, you know? Anyway, I was in for a surprising enlightenment. Hawaii was not like that. At all.

One of our day trips was to a Farmer's Market in the hillside above Kailua, Kona, Hi. It was a gray and humid day and along our journey, we discovered this little place:

Discovery Antiques! It is located on one of the main roads that clings to the edge of the foothills above the sleepy little town of Kailua, Hi. I am standing in front of a hole-in-the-wall pizza place in which the proprietor yelled something about how four women parking in front of his front door was a prayer being answered... But THAT is another story. (I was told the pizza was good, though.)

We dodged some incoming traffic and walked inside. It was a cluttered and friendly place. The owner was the kind of person who knew his store. He bustled around, assisting us Hawaii gringos. A mental light bulb flickered to life over my head and then screamed at me.

"Why, I could ask to see some old postcards or envelopes... FOR STAMPS!"

Real brilliant, Marcie. Like I said, I'm new at this.

The owner brought some up right away. I flicked through and pulled out some that I thought my dad hadn't collected. As I was looking through, he brushed past the counter, stopped, look at my stack and said, "What are you looking for?"

A bit taken out of my reverie, "oh! Stamps!"

"You're a philatelist, then?"

My mind tried to register the word. I had not been called that before. It's a nice word to hear being called. "I am, actually."

He smiled and walked away. I turned back to my postcard-hunt and heard him say, "One second, let me find some more stamps for my friend..."

A few minutes later he had pulled out an old collection from what I can only assume was his attic stuffed full of goodies. The books felt humid and compressed, like they had been stacked under something heavy. I greedily pulled the book closer to me, respectfully opened the cover...

It was weird opening someone else's collection like that. My only experience is leafing through my dad's books. It felt very personal. This person had hand written each country's page with long and loopy cursive. They had taken a lot of time to collect these stamps. I wonder who they were, and why they collected stamps.

In the end, it turned out the owner collected stamps of his own: he specialized in British stamps. I settled on some stamps from a few countries I had not seen duplicates of. He placed them in a manila envelope and we sealed it with tape so they would stay protected. I walked out with the envelope hugged to my chest, smiling. My very first purchase on my own, I hoped it was a good one!

Sadly, we left Hawaii a few days later. Yes, it was that nice. And coming from a biased southern Californian this is saying something.

I am a bit surprised that I took the next step of my stamp collecting journey in a most unlikely place; on an island I never thought I would ever visit and a store I would have never walked into if it wasn't for a hungry pregnant friend. (Love you, Krista!) I am really thankful for the experience and for the owner of that store. He recollected his own stamp collecting journey as we leafed through the musty pages, the reminiscing about past lives came easily to us both. It was an immediate connection.

I have never really considered stamp clubs, or groups, or meetings, or whatever they're called, but now I think I would like to go to one and see what it's all about.

This Friday Judy, Josh and I are going to the San Diego Philatelic Library and getting some help with our own collection. Just one more step to becoming a legit philatelist.
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Monday, March 29, 2010

First Friend Recommendation

I am now taking requests. Just think of me as the StampDJ. If anyone comes across a sweet idea or stamp that they like, I am keeping a running file of stamps to find!

My very first recommendation comes from Joe. He's on my blog list, too. Joe comes from Columbus, Oh., but we still care for him very much anyway. (Muwahaha)

Joe is obsessed with VW's! He came across this spiffy little number today and sent it to me:

I think Joe may have found his own stamp collecting niche! What do you think?
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Narrowing the Niche

I've been perusing through few stamp collecting sites, trying to get my bearings in this new identity of being a "stamp collector." I say to myself, "Self! I am a stamp collector!" To which the Self wrinkles the brow and gets a bit shifty eyed. Seriously? Collecting stamps? Weird.

This term "stamp collector" conjures up imagery, does it not?

Mostly this:

Actually, in my case, it would be more like this:
Now, before I make enemies with any legitimate members of Stamp Collecting Society as a whole, please let me explain myself. I am under the sway of any and every stereotype I have ever heard of what stamp collecting is and the kind of people who do it. I am in no way saying I am correct. I know I am not. So, please no lynchings!

I am, however, starting down the journey of collecting stamps. Just think of me as an outsider looking in on the window of the glowing, fire-warmed living room of Stamp Collecting. There is the child-like stereotype that only nerds collect stamps. And while I haven't technically met anyone yet who does collect stamps, I know this stereotype is invalid, but fun to write about!

I do notice that there seems to be an age gap with this hobby. I find links and lots of information for the "Stamp Novice" and they're always geared for the "Junior Collector." I also notice that a great majority of folks are of retirement age (lucky blokes!) collecting stamps in regional groups.

So, while I write this with a smirk on my face, I ask boldly: where are the twenty-somethings? Are we just too busy listening to rock and roll? Why is this a hobby that appeals to the very young and the retired?

A goal of mine in this journey is to meet others who share this hobby. I wish to share and trade some of my collection with others and network across the country, and hopefully the world! If anyone knows a friend or a family member who collects, could you please direct them to me?

My very, very next goal is to figure out where exactly I want my stamp collecting niche to be. I think I am leaning towards African stamps, horse themed stamps, or musical stamps.

In the meantime, I'll break through my stereotype issues, remembering that stamp collecting isn't nerdy at all... and watch my Star Trek re-runs.
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Beginning the Journey

We brought down the boxes from the closet. We made the coffee. We found the scissors. And upon opening the boxes for the first time in over a year, we brought out each folder and piece of my dad's stamp collection with reverence and excitement.

My dad was an avid stamp collector from youth. It's funny how he seemed to infect others with the hobby of stamp collecting, but never did get around to telling me why he himself loved it so much. When I was a child, I remember him getting big envelopes of brand new first day covers in the mail. Oftentimes, he would wait until I would get home from school so we could open and discover, together, what this month's delivery would be. I remember the big blue binders for the first day covers, his green tackle box full of discarded papers from stamp stickies, and his excitement in sharing his collection with me.

Then I became a teenager. And I'm sorry to say that I wasn't interested in stamps or the art of collecting them anymore. I'm also sorry to say that in my early twenties my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and after fighting valiantly and bravely for six years, died in March, 2006. I used to think it was too late for me to share the love of stamps with him, but after digging out his collection and sharing it with my friend, Judy, I know that I actually can share it with him again.

Which brings us back to today. After the boxes were breached (I had meticulously sealed every cranny with packing tapes months ago) we lifted out each folder and item with care and spread them all out over the table to see what we had. And we had a lot!

The tackle box was opened! Inside we found unsorted stamps from all over the globe. Dating from 1907 to the late 70's.

Many, many folders already filled with stamps my dad collected from who-knows-where. My finger's in there to get some perspective as to how stuffed each folder is.

A sample of some favorite stamps. Some are plain and some very ornate, colorful, and beautiful.

Another one I really enjoyed. I really love the vibrant colors and precision.

The best of the day was actually not a stamp, but a letter we found. It was written by my dad, at the age of twelve, with his meticulous handwriting already evident. It was to my great-grandparents in Texas and other than outlining how the Padres won the pennant against the Stars in minor league play that summer, he also went into detail about getting a shot "in his end" and his inability to sit down for a couple days.

It was how he signed off at the end of his letter that was very magical. I read it and realized that not only was it written for my great-grandparents over fifty years ago, but it was also written for me... today. It gently and innocently asks to please write again, to continue our relationship through the memories, which, I believe, the stamp collection now facilitates.

We will, Dad. Thank you for the collection.
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