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How Did You Start Collecting Postcards, Postal History or that Priceless Stamp Collection?


How Did You Start Collecting Postcards, Postal History or that Priceless Stamp Collection?

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When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my aunt who lived in Seattle, Washington sent me the odd letter. 

Of course the stamp was U.S., The Statue of Liberty on letter to Calgary, Alberta Canada.

 Well, that triggered my interest and that started me off collecting stamps. At around the same time, I became aware that my uncle inherited a collection from his father.

I immediately thought about it, and then concluded that the collection must be worth between 1 and 2 million dollars. Really old and valuable.

Okay, Okay, when you are 8 years old uncles are kinda old, and a stamp collection older than dirt must be worth a ton. I desperately wanted to see the collection, but never did.

Soon after that, I found an old beater of a stamp album. So, one by one upon finding a stamp, with LePages by my side, I glued them in. Good idea right? Or?

Well, even better. Soon after that, a used photograph album entered into the picture, excuse the pun.

So, I took out the scotch tape, and made horizontal strips on each page. Thereafter, every new stamp in my possession was carefully put under the tape and stuck down. Yes, I really did. 

Now, some of you maybe be thinking “hinges”? Why not use such adhesives?

Well, the only “hinges” I was aware of at the time, were the “hinges” on the small picket gate outside.

We now progress to my being 11 years old, with the purchase of a used Canadian Lyman’s stamp catalogue in my hands. 


Now I’m an expert, but I wondered why the stamps carefully stuck down in my album were worth less than 2 cents each.


Soon after that, my mother who was not a philatelist, got a job at Mortifee Photos. Customers would take their film rolls to the local Drug Store or mail them film directly to Mortifee. 

My mother would then deliver the finished product back to the Drug Store, and at the same time received approval to keep the mail delivered stamps.

The result, thousands of the Canadian Queen Elizabeth 5 cent Cameo (red) were soaked off, then stuffed into a large shopping bag.

Additionally, my cousin who lived in Libya, Africa at the time, was sending me Libyan stamps. All good stuff.

However, my interest started to fade. I’m done collecting. 

My million dollar collection, gaining value everyday I thought, would have to wait. Wait until when? 

Well, from the 1960’s to 1980.

So it’s now the early 1980’s, I’m in Edmonton, Alberta and employed by the City of Edmonton. 

Then, I get sick and must stay at home for a lengthy period of time.

Totally down, out and bored I stumble upon this million dollar stamp collection in the shopping bag full of red Canadian stamps. 
I was sure at the time that the value of the stamp collection once cashed in, would at minimum offset a few family expenses. With the five (5) of us, a dollar or two to help with our kids expenses would be just great.

Our three (3) young boys. Mark, Jeff and Russ. (MJR) were involved  in various activities. 

Good Luck 🧲🧲🧲 with that idea, turning my stamps into cash was NOT going to happen. But was there value in these stamps?
My interest was “tweaked” so I started on a very, very steep learning curve and took my collection of scotch-taped-down stamps to a Dealer for appraisal. Pretty scary stuff.

Okay! Okay! So, imagine yourself as a Stamp Dealer and this guy walks in with this? This....close to a perceived $1 million dollar collection. 

Well, it was very painful experience. It was almost like going to the Dentist and having your teeth extracted without the freezing. Humbly, I left, still broke.

But not to be discouraged, I ventured out and found what I thought, was the “big one”. 

Not a heart attack, but a pricey, pricey stamp. 

It had a guy on it with a hat, and included two horizontal straight lines through the middle.
Now what should I do? Cash it in, that’s what I’ll do, cash it in.

But where? Should I take it to the previous Stamp Dealer? Somehow, I think he would remember me.

Ok you guessed it, I did. The exact same Dealer.

I took the trip to downtown Edmonton, entered the shop and carefully took the priceless specimen, then revealed it to the Dealer. 

How much is it worth, I asked........anticipating, anticipating, big bucks?

He looks at me and calmly says “maybe 2 cents”.

What? What? Two cents, he repeats.

Now, at this point would you “pack it in”, or would you carry on with stamp collecting?

Well, I bought an up to date stamp catalogue and continued on venturing into my next collecting phase. 

I’m now a real philatelist, or am I?

The story continues.

As time permits and with limited finances, I start to collect, guess what Canada.

One mint, one used VFNH for the mint and VF for the used with the odd “space filler”,

I then become a member of the Edmonton Stamp Club ESC, and buy the odd item at auction every couple of weeks.

Now, to put things in to perspective, interest mortgage rates were up to 21%, job security was“iffy” and kids are actively involved in sports, drama and other activities.

So stamp purchases were minimal, or not at all. But at this time I realized that stamp collecting was a lot of “fun”, without cost. The benefits are endless as many as you collectors know. 

Consider these few:

Education and learning at a local level and on the world stage. 
Collectors meet others, creating a great social environment. 
Kids make new friends, confidence and interaction becomes a reality.
Communities become stronger.

Concentration improves, the hobby is relaxing, it can reduce anxiety and it creates an interest as far as the mind can wonder. 

The topical aspects of collecting stamps or postcards are endless. It’s FUN, so go for it. 

Now on to the next stage of this steep philatelic learning curve. 

Why not ask my Stamp Dealer who is now a friend, as many questions about every aspect of stamps, business, shows and more?

So I did. 

To learn as much as I could, I attended ESC meetings, talked to friends attending a philatelic show, read literature, joined clubs and societies.

Next, a year or two passes and I’m always looking.

An estate sale, newspaper ad, auction house, flee market or wherever. 

Now I must confess, I do continue to fumble and stumble along this steep learning curve.

Then it happened.

What happened?

Read on if you will. But Next Week.

 Take care,
John Bucci


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