Stamp enthusiasts share oddities, history

When Canada Post announces an increase in mailing rates, it affects some people more than others.
To most people it may be just pennies, nickels and dimes, but to stamp collectors it can mean a whole lot of dough.
Canada Post raised the cost of mailing a letter in Canada by two cents, to 54 cents, last Monday.
Sending letters to the U.S. also went up two cents to 98 cents, while postage for a letter going to all other foreign countries went up by a nickel to $1.65.
“People have quit collecting because of postage going up,” said Margaret Looney, president of the Lakehead Stamp Club.
She said the hobby can get pricey for enthusiasts who collect mint, or never-used stamps and corner blocks of sheets.
And when stamp prices go up, it doesn‘t necessarily mean collections will be worth more.
“It‘s not an investment. You do it for fun,” she said of the hobby.
By just looking around the room at one of the club‘s meetings it is easy to see what she means.
The club, which was established in 1947, has about 30 members who regularly attend twice-monthly meetings. It is a place where philatelists can go to compare collections, learn more about their hobby, buy and sell stamps, and engage in friendly conversation.
“If you collect as an individual at home it is a lonely occupation, but you get a chance to talk to others here and get different viewpoints,‘‘ said Larry Marrier. “You learn a bit . . . quite a bit, actually.”
He started collecting stamps about 55 years ago when he was a teenager attending Port Arthur Collegiate.
A teacher at the high school matched five of her students with people from around the world who wanted to exchange stamps. He was to send his stamps to a student in India.
His interest in stamp collecting stuck. He now collects mostly used stamps and a few mint condition stamps, and estimates he has about 40,000 in his collection when he includes doubles. He said he plans to give the doubles to either his son or great-granddaughter who also collect.
For many, the club serves as a good place to check out stamps being sold by the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada. The society sends a box of stamps once a month for club members to pick and choose from.
Others, like Laurie Sadko, get the bulk of their collections via the Internet.
“Most of the good auctions are on the Internet,” he said.
A stamp collector since he was a small boy living in Finland, he has what he calls a basic country collection which includes every stamp issued by Finland since 1856, the year they were introduced in the country.
“I started when I was six years old so that will be 52 or 53 years I‘ve been collecting,” he said.
He is particularly interested in the older stamps from Finland, when the country was under Russian rule.
“You can get all sorts of oddities,” he said.
Looney collects, according to her, too many countries.
She has mint stamps from Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, and has started to work on a “topical” collection based on the lunar new year.
Her favourite stamp, though, brings back memories.
“One of the first (stamps) I ever got was an Alexander Graham Bell one that was issued in 1948,” she said. “The engraving on it is so nice and it is one of the first stamps I ever got, so it has a soft spot.”
When asked what it was about stamps that was so interesting, Looney couldn‘t really explain how she felt.
“They‘re just pretty pieces of paper,” she said, doing her best.
Pretty pieces of paper that have a history.
The first stamps were used in 1840 in England. They were called the Penny Blacks and Twopenny Blues. Before they were issued, people had to pay for letters and packages when they received them. By making the sender prepay for postage, it ensured letters got to where they were going.
The birth of Canada‘s first stamps came in 1851, 16 years before Confederation.
The Lakehead Stamp Club (Chapter 33 of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada) meets twice a month from September to June on the second Wednesday and last Friday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Herb Carroll 55 Plus Centre. Visitors are welcome to attend two regular meetings before paying club membership of $10 per year.


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