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Stamp Club collecting little pieces of history

The value of a stamp is determined as much by its story as its rarity

Every stamp collected by the 100 Mile and District Stamp Club tells its own story.

Some are stamps from countries that no longer exist. Others are rare misprints with upside-down monarchs or misspelt words. Longtime collector Georgia Johnson said sometimes the history behind the stamps is almost more interesting than the stamp itself.

“We learn a lot by collecting stamps. It’s not just putting them in a book,” Johnson said.

Whenever the stamp club meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at the Cariboo Regional District Library 100 Mile Branch they share their new stamps and their stories around the table. While their numbers have shrunk since they were first formed 12 years ago, club president and former teacher Glenna Metchette said they still have a great time.

Most stamp collectors begin collecting at a young age before rediscovering their love for it in retirement. Since Johnson joined the club 11 years ago, her collection has grown from a few scrapbooks to an entire room in her home.

Metchette said she began as a teenager when her grandfather died and left her his old stamp collection. She said that sparked an interest in stamps and history in her, which stayed with her for all her life.

“There were no video games back then and we didn’t get TV until the 60s so we needed something to do,” Metchette said.

Johnson meanwhile said she was 10 when she started collecting pictures of flies from the back of her mother’s cigarette boxes. When she joined Brownies her leader encouraged her to try stamps instead because they didn’t like a little girl collecting things off cigarettes.

Alan MacNaughton was 14 when he started collecting stamps as a paper boy when he received a collection of vintage Italian stamps from a client.

Since then, he has collected thousands of stamps, only taking a break during the early years of his marriage.

“I had started collecting mint stamps, which are very costly, and then I got married,” MacNaughton recalled. “Then I had to write to some of the countries I was collecting stamps from and tell them I could no longer afford them.”

Back in the day, Metchette said there used to be a network of stamp-collecting pen pals that would mail each other stamps from all over the world. It was a fun and affordable way to partake in the hobby, she added.

These days they typically get their stamps through friends donating their collections or through auctions run every month in B.C. Johnson and Metchette usually put their bids in online while MacNaughton is still proud to use the post office to mail in his bids.

For every member of the club, the actual value of the stamps doesn’t matter. Instead, it is the sentimental and historical value they appreciate.

“I’m not collecting the stamps for the money, the value I think I’m going to get,” Johnson said. “I don’t think any of us are going to be millionaires thanks to our stamp collections.”

The jewel of Metchette’s personal collection is an original cut piece handstamp from the old Fintry post office, where her other grandfather served as postmaster. She received it as a gift from an older collector, despite being willing to pay for it.

“There’s a list where they classify the rarest stamps and they classify them from A to E, with E being the rarest. This is an E, this cut piece, and there’s an estimate there might be only 10 still existing.”

As they resume meeting Metchette said the entire club is hoping to attract new members this year. Be they young or old, a first-time collector or a veteran, they’re welcome to come and join the club.

“We’re a nice friendly and happy group,” Metchette said. “We used to get people who’d come in and say I’d have a really valuable collection of old stamps, old to them being 1950 to 1960. Anything past about the 1920s you can still use as postage stamps and that’s about it.”

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Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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