Stamps – Lessons in Travel, History & Geography

I’ve collected stamps since I was a little girl in the 1970s. Stamps have always represented exotic far away places for me. They are an illustration of a place or time and serve as a starting point for your mind to fill in the gaps dreaming about what it would be like to see it in person.  They provide a spark to go on adventures. Stamps can also provide a connection to historical events and people.

I was so excited when my family members and friends would send me stamps from their travels.  We did not have email back then (I feel so old writing this), so correspondence was by snail mail – letters and postcards. Since this was pre-internet or Google; our sources of travel, historic and geographic information were National Geographic magazine and Encyclopedia Britannica which you couldn’t even buy at the store but instead from the door-to-door traveling salesman.

My Uncle was in the Navy and he would send letters from places like Diego Garcia and my great Uncle sent some from far away Asia. My grandmother also collected stamps, I would spend hours digging through her boxes and enjoyed listening to the stories and history behind the letters and stamps, the places she and granddaddy had visited. My collection is not worth much but its value is in all of the fond memories it holds.

I’m not an active collector but I still like to pick-up stamps from new countries I visit. Last year I met a wonderful man in Venice who owns a really neat stamp shop just off St. Mark’s square. He lived through the Mussolini times and was so grateful to be free from his rule – he is holding a picture of himself taken during that time when he was a young boy. 

I bought the stamps below from Italy and Greece from his shop. The ones from Italy I purchased in honor of him as they were issued during his childhood.

Here are some of my favorites. An American Legion 1919 – 1939 First Day Cover from my grandmother’s collection. A First Day Cover is an envelope with the stamp attached and canceled on the first day that the stamp was issued. Finally, a Prince Charles and Diana Wedding First Day Cover from Bermuda that my Mom and Dad sent to me while visiting and stamps from a trip to France.

What do stamps mean to you; do they inspire you to travel?

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