Sunday, 27 September 2009

A philatelic story

This post is about my dad, and written by him.

I have been collecting stamps for most of my life. It started in earnest in 1948. We were under Arab siege in Jerusalem and the People's Directorate established a postal service and produced stamps - Jewish National Fund stock overprinted 'POST'. Here was a chance to start a collection of a new country from the very beginning.

The Jordanians were lobbing 3" mortars shells into the city, but at 15 years one is not fearful. So I hurried the 2 miles to the post office to buy the series of 3 values - on two different occasions (they changed the design) and to post the 'first day covers' to myself.

Various other Jewish sites issued their own stamps: Haifa, Safed, Rishon le-Zion - partly for postal service for their isolated residents and partly as a source of income from local collectors. Some weeks later the State of Israel was declared and the regular stamps arrived in Jerusalem.

My father had been an employee of the Palestine Mandate administration - which ceased on 15th May. He was now unemployed, pending the establishment of the Israeli structures. We had no income and the new stamps were expensive - so I did not buy them. Later I had to pay much more.

But soon I kept buying new issues as mint stamps and first day of issue covers. I became a member of the British Association of Palestine-Israel Philatelists (later the Holyland Philatelic Society) and I edited their Bulletin for a time. And later I added two other new stamp issues: the United Nations, and the Channel Islands. And as I resided in Britain, I also collected GB. When Britain started various devices for the mechanical cancellation and sorting of letters, I found it very interesting and joined the Postal Mechanization Study Circle.

It was clearly the thrill of collecting, and the possession of 'complete series', that motivated me. My family was totally indifferent, and time marched on. I stopped my subscriptions for new stamps. At the same time, the world scene of philately changed.

First, excess stamp issues just milked collectors: Who is interested in 'space exploration' issued by Yemen?!? And the designs were becoming far less attractive. Second, e-mail cut out much of the use of the little colourful labels and the conveyance of paper letters: the aggressive postal workers on strike are cutting off the branch on which they are sitting. And third, youngsters have shifted their time, interest and passion from philately to computers and ipods.

My wife has promised that if I die before I have disposed of my collection, it will all end up as a spectacular bonfire. So I am going to sell the lot, while I keep swallowing my pills and taking care when crossing the road, until it is completed.

If anybody among my readers is an interested collector, do drop me an email - maybe we'll find someone who would appreciate this type of collection. The mainstream dealers aren't showing much interest so far.

1 comment:

aims said...

I missed the little note at the top saying it was written by your Dad. At first I thought I was reading the beginning of a wonderful novel. Please tell him so.

I don't collect nor do I know anyone who does. If I ever come across someone I will let them know.