My Dad was a stamp collector so I became one too as a young boy. I don’t
think anyone now is one, but in the 1970s; pre internet with only 3 TV channels
and no daytime TV then ”hobbies” were a vital way to stave off boredom.
My father owned a business that exported all over the world so there was
always a plentiful supply of new stamps to look up in the massively heavy
Stanley Gibbons Catalogue- the world authority regarding stamps that had lists
of all stamps issued; with pictures and values. I would then stick into to my
album- pages dedicated to different countries.
Pocket money was saved and spent; sending off for stamps by postal order
to fill in any gaps of missing stamps within sets. Hour upon hour in school holidays
were spent in my local Wolverhampton stamp shop before I finally would invest
20p in another one!
I would go to The Post Office every time a new set of commemorative
stamps was issued and buy 2 sets- one to keep as “mint” or unused and one set
to stick on an envelope and to send to myself so I has a used set that had been
stamped. At school I was a member of the Stamp Club- the word “nerd” was not
invented for another 30 years- but you get the picture.
And the reason I know this is I have an Elizabeth 2 Gold Coast 2 penny
stamp (worth 23p today- I just looked it up) that has been overprinted with
that date. It was common for newly independent countries to use up the stamps
that were in stock before launching new designs. Ghana did that later in the
year. You can see both stamps here.
There were some practical benefits from being a philatelist (google it I
think my geographical knowledge is better than most and you learn a lot of
history because countries issue stamps at significant times in their history.
So ask me “When did Ghana become independent of UK?”- Answer: 6th
March 1957. What was Ghana called before independence? Answer: Gold Coast
There comes a time when you have to specialise when you become a serious
philatelist- so I stated to collect George VI UK stamps and when you’ve
collected all of those you go full nerd and start to collect the same stamp
that has been printed at different Security Printers- Thomas de la Rue,
Bradbury Wilkinson and Harrisons.
And that is why, when as a graduate in 1982, I applied to de la Rue and
other printers in that sector- ending up at Williams Lea as a Graduate
Management trainee- in the days when they were a City printer. With some irony
33 years later- 25 of those years in transactional and direct mail I am still
in an industry, now running a dynamic print operation- killing stamps one
letter at a time!