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Semi-Crazy

Bob's Musings on Stamp Collecting

 

April, 2020
Unhinged Again

Right before the corona virus pandemic and before serious physical distancing, my wife and I had the good pleasure of taking three of our grandchildren to see the movie “Call of the Wild”.  We all enjoyed the movie, especially the fact that all the animals were virtual images -- they were not real.  But they looked real.  Technology has revolutionized the movie industry.

Later that same evening I sat down at one of my stamp desks to finish removing French semi-postals from a French Collection I had recently purchased.  The hinges were peeling effortlessly from the pages and the back of the mint and used stamps.  All was going well until I hit the 1970 issues when the brand of hinges changed.  It was almost impossible to remove the hinges without damaging the stamp.  I left the hinge on the mint stamps and made a large packet of used stamps to be soaked later.

I became unhinged!  It takes time (and thus money for a dealer) to soak every used stamp that is removed from an album.  If we can make a fake dog look real, why is there not a hinge available today that clearly works as well as the hinges of the past?  I am fine as far as my personal collection goes.  Being a dealer for over 25 years, I have bought hundreds of stamp estates and have kept all the “Dennison” brand hinges that came with them.  At shows, I could easily get $20 for a 29 cent package of old Dennison hinges.

Over the years I have campaigned the APS and ASDA to develop a viable hinge.  I have written scores of letters. Many reasons and ideas have been put forth as to why it has not happened yet, but the reason most often noted is it is not economically feasible.

It is my personal opinion that if we had a proper stamp hinge it would instantly enhance and enliven our hobby.  Used stamp collections would regain their value and we would not have all the expense of mounts and hinges.  It is a lot easier to start someone new in the hobby without asking them to spend more on supplies than stamps.  If you agree with me, please join me in talking to those who lead our hobby. After all, I am a Chicago Cubs.  I lived with hope for 60 years and it finally happened! 

I am off my soap box now.  I feel much better.  Happy Collecting!
©2020 Robert Voss

 

February, 2020
The Chase

Just a whiff of the men’s cologne “English Leather” will transport me to my adolescent years of 1965 and 1966. The “Beatles” had made it big and teenage dance clubs were popping all over. It seemed every high school had their favorite garage bands and the clubs were filled weekend nights with young people ready to dance. I can not speak for the girls that attended, but I know I was up to the challenge to find a dance partner and maybe even a girl friend.

The “Pink Panther” in Northbrook, Illinois was the club that my friend Billy and I frequented often. To attract the girls I wore a dark turtleneck and a red and black plaid shirt and lathered on the English Leather. The chase to find a dancing partner required making up a few white lies to impress the girls. My personal favorite was saying that I was a surfer from California in Chicago on vacation. The truth is I got a few dances, but never did find a girlfriend. Interestingly, I never told anyone that I collected stamps! Still, Billy and I enjoyed the chase and those days still provide pleasant memories.

Happily married for 50 years, my days of chasing after girls is long gone. But I still enjoy the excitement of a chase. Now I chase stamps. I collect worldwide semi-postal stamps. There is something exhilarating about finding the stamps or sets that I need to complete a country. I love to attend stamp shows with my want list and chase down the stamps that I need. As many of you know, it can be frustrating. I went to MILCOPEX this year with a list of 42 stamps I needed from “A” countries. I did not find a one. Still, I loved looking at dealer stocks and chatting with fellow collectors and dealers. I have never attended a stamp show I did not enjoy.

Recently, a stamp collector friend asked me to stop by -- she had a surprise for me! When I arrived she gave me an envelope and inside, in a glassine, nicely protected by cardboard, I found Angola B1 and B2. These two stamps had been on my want list for 14 years. After profusely thanking her, I went home and mounted the stamps on my Angola page. I poured myself a cocktail (a Bourbon Manhattan is my favorite), and gave thanks for my philatelic friends, another country completed, and our great hobby of stamp collecting that provides so many benefits -- like fulfilling the biological need of “The Chase” and the psychological need for completion. Now I think I will see if I have any English Leather left in my bathroom cabinet.

Happy Collecting!
©2020 Robert Voss


October, 2019
Are Stamp Collectors Crazy?

As stamp dealer Frank Bachenhiemer has reminded us with a sign at his stamp show table for years, "there is a fine line between collecting and mental illness."

As a pastor, I was expected to take two weeks a year and use them for continuing education.  In the late eighties, I noticed an increased up-tick in gambling related issues among congregational members due to the rapid increase in gambling casinos in Wisconsin.  I decided to attend a week long educational conference "Addictions" at the Hazleton Institute in St.  Paul, Minnesota to improve my counseling skills.

On the first day, we learned there were many kinds of addictions besides alcohol and drugs.  We learned about gambling addictions, sex addictions and several others.  We learned about the addictive personality, and we each took a test to find where each participant fell on the scale of having an addictive personality.

I have searched my files extensively, but never could find that test again.  But I do remember several questions: Do you think about your addiction often? Do you go to the Yellow Pages (today it would be the internet) to find a local source for your addiction when you first arrive in a new town? Have you ever taken money from your family to support your addiction?

OOPS! I was thinking about stamps most of my drive from Madison to St. Paul. The moment I checked into the conference hotel, I looked up the address of local Stamp Stores in the Yellow Pages. Worse yet, under my seat was a bag with a Great Britain stamp collection I bought that morning at ta local stamp store before the conference even began. Then I remembered how recently I had borrowed from my kid's college fund to purchase a collection at auction I thought I really needed. (I fortunately paid it back quickly! It was the good deal I thought it to be.)

The good news was that the test revealed I did not have a "Highly" addictive personality, but there were warning signs that I needed to be careful. That experience helped me realize that I must always keep my hobby in perspective, and not to let it take over my life.

Thank goodness I am only semi-crazy when it comes to stamps.

I hope you also can keep your stamp collecting in perspective. If we love something too much, it could turn into an addiction and wreak havoc with our lives and the lives of those we love.

Are stamp collector semi-crazy? Yes. I think most of us are, and that is what makes the stamp collecting community such a joy to know, serve and work with.

If you have thoughts about what I write, please feel free to contact me at lestamps@charter.net.



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