In September, we asked you to write in to tell us your stamp story — and many of you were gracious enough to do just that! Thank you to everyone who shared their story with us to help celebrate National Stamp Collecting Month.
I started in the hobby as a kid during the 60s encouraged by my dad...at times he enjoyed it more than I did....bringing home plate blocks of new U.S. issues...still have my worldwide album! 2 years ago, I became enamored with early U.S. issues and their beautiful art work. This time around I have focused on vintage pre-1940: Italy, Vatican City, early U.S. and just about anything else that appears noteworthy including first day of issues, different cancellations, sheets and plate blocks. Just put together a binder re US embossed including the numerous dies and variations. Currently VP of the Rhode Island Philatelic Society, the oldest stamp club in nation.
I entered the US Navy as a stamp collector specializing in Egyptian postage stamps from the monarchy, and it is incredible retiring over quarter century later from active duty the amount of Egyptian material encountered while traveling on official duty. From New Orleans, San Diego, and Norfolk to London, Rotterdam, Rome and Trieste, I have located amazing Egyptian material. This included illustrated first day covers, to stamps once owned by Egypt’s former monarchs King Fouad and King Farouk, auctioned by HR Harmer in Cairo, the same stamp dealer that auctioned FDR’s stamp collection. I have retired a US Navy Commander, still a stamp collector, and part of the pleasure is re-engaging with my collection using tongs (not tweezers) acquired on active duty in a stamp shop in Bethesda, Maryland. I firmly believe if one had all the money in the world and could purchase every rarity, it would rob one of the thrill of the hunt, the stories of discovery, and bargains struck.
Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)
My stamp collecting story started when my dad gave me his collection in 1967. I collected U.S. used commemoratives from the mail and foreign stamps each month from a dealer. I stopped in 1972. I restarted in 1990 and have been collecting ever since. I joined the Sequoia Stamp Club in Redwood City, CA and APS in March 2000. I really like unused copies of U.S. and foreign. I mainly collect U.S. panes, sheets, and rare foreign items. Thank you for allowing me to tell my stamp story.
Marty Moorbrink APS # 193388
Both my grandparents collected stamps and got me started as a young boy. Those little pieces of paper with wonderful pictures from faraway places held my interest. At the time, Jerusalem had many stamps stores downtown where we traded stamps we got in the mail for colorful sets of stamps that were mostly philatelic in nature. Later when we moved to Madison, Wisconsin and lived in an international community I would go door to door to ask for stamps people got in the mail. When we moved back to Haifa, I belonged to a stamp club where we mostly traded stamps. Most members were adults, I was a teenager. Later when we moved to Indiana, I belonged to the Indiana Stamp Club and the Indiana Postal History Society. I collected and wrote about a specific county in southern Indiana. I interviewed members of a certain community on how the local post office influenced their social life and published a small booklet. At the time I started exhibiting on various topics at local and national shows.
When I returned to Israel sixteen years ago, I joined a national topical club that lectures on various issues. Many of the members exhibit nationally and have won gold medals all over the world. I continue to exhibit at national shows and once even in an international show in South Africa. My medals are not very high as I do what I like and enjoy and to not adhere to the rules. One summer I attended the summer classes in Pennsylvania at State College which was very enjoyable. My latest exhibit will be shown at INDYPEX this fall on The Saint Catharine Monastery in the Sinai. For a time I exhibited at the local Bloomington post office which people saw when they waited in line and changed exhibits every month. My daughter helped me put these local exhibits together for a couple years. I put together an exhibit in honor my grandfather’s life through his mail. It has been tough to get my kids involved in the hobby. Since I am not good with technology younger teenagers in Israel have helped me at times set these up. This was a way to get them exposed to this wonderful hobby. I have even exhibited online during the Covid virus. I love the creativity this hobby provides and hope I have many more years to enjoy this hobby.
גל (Gal) Shifron
I have been collecting stamps for over 30 years. The hobby of collecting stamps started when my father was posted in Libya on a government medical assignment. Thereafter I continued my hobby as a student after returning to India in 1980.
Presently I live in Anand, Gujarat State and I am a life member of Anand Philatelic Association (APA)
I wish to contact other philatelists from around the world through APS.
C40, NDDB Campus
It all started with coins. That’s what I collected as a kid. My father worked at the Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park, Michigan Tractor Plant. In the mid-to-late 1950s, every Friday evening, my two younger brothers and I would meet our Dad at the corner bus stop on his way home. In one hand he carried his lunch pail and in the other a canvas sack of rolled coins. You see, my Dad would stop on the way home at the bank and cash his paycheck in for those rolled coins in return. That was part of the routine, the ritual. Hurrying home with our stash we would proceed to dump the rolled coins in the middle of our living room floor and carefully open the rolls, exposing our loot. We searched through the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters for any ones that were void from our blue Whitman heavy cardboard coin folders. When our search was over, we had to count out and re-roll those coins for deposit back into the bank sometime the following week. We learned trading skills, how to evaluate condition and math as we looked for quality pieces during those wonderful times together. I’m still missing that “holy grail” of all kid’s coin collections, the 1909 S-VDB Lincoln Head penny, but I have those blue folders to this day!
Our family all had the collecting bug. For me it was coins, then baseball cards, and now stamps. Those fascinating, beautiful, tiny pieces of art, every one holding in it a story waiting to be read as if it were a best-selling novel.
American Philatelic Society Member #226755
Venice (FL) Stamp Club Member #635
Cuban Philatelic Society of America Member #966
Civil War Philatelic Society Member #4019
The Perfins Club Member #4298
The Precancel Stamp Society Member #8533
I was in the 6th grade when my great-uncle (Hans) gifted me his stamp collection – started in his youth but expanded while he was serving in the U.S. Military in the 1940-50s. His collection included many complete sets of stamps from Eastern bloc countries that did not exist anymore (i.e., White Russia) and fueled my interest in world history.
His U.S. stamp collection was somewhat neglected, and I spent my middle school and high school earned income on “filling in the blanks” so to speak and eventually graduated with an extensive commemorative collection up to 1981.
Then came college and my early working years in the printing industry, and my collection was mostly stored away, out of sight. Selected singles, sets, and commemoratives were added here and there but life got in the way.
I have sold commercial printing and direct mail for 30 years now and always enjoyed the use of stamps, encouraged the use of faux mailers mark cancelations – and have collected some of these along the way. Some clients had relatives looking to pass on acquired stamps to worthy collectors, so I gladly took those in, but it was not an ongoing focus.
Now as my children are married, having started families of their own, and as I approach retirement, I have renewed interest in working on my collection again - in the new home we are building. Soon to be completed. Someday, I hope one of my grandchildren will show interest in my collection and become the beneficiary and caretaker of it when the time comes. Exciting to think about…
Cory M. Funk
I started collecting stamps when I was three years old. My maternal grandfather was a collector and a dealer who had about 100 customers. I was allowed to pick up stamps off the floor of his stamp “office”— I think he salted the supply when I came to visit – and he supplied the stamp hinges and sheets of paper for me to mount the stamps.
During summer vacation when I was in grade school, I would go and spend a week with him and attend his local stamp club. Attending these meetings became even more interesting after I received the New Age Stamp Album (Stanley Gibbons) for my 10th birthday. I still have this album 60 years later.
Grandpa also served as a Boy Scout merit badge counselor for the stamp collecting merit badge — one of the 21 I earned for the Eagle Scout rank.
Although I engaged in many school and extracurricular activities, I still found time for stamp collecting — often Grandpa gave me stamps for birthdays and Christmas, including U.S. souvenir sheets from the 1930s. He also signed me up for first day covers through his stamp club, and getting the mail was a special treat for me when first day covers arrived.
College and law school, and finding employment took priority, and it wasn’t until I settled into my first house that I was able to renew stamp collecting again, as well as joining the APS more than 40 years ago.
Working in Washington, DC for the Federal Government was stressful — and supervising a legal office of attorneys and dealing with political appointees amplifies that stress. I found that puttering with my stamp collection provided me with peace and relaxation. It also had a calming effect after a difficult week. While a bad day fishing still beats a good day at the office, working on my stamps was even better, especially during the winter months.
Now in retirement, I am looking forward to being the Grandpa that introduces my granddaughter to stamp collecting.
I began collecting misprints back in 1953! My interest grew from my grandfather's gigantic stamp collection; he had about 150-200 binders full of stamps, and carefully had notes written about each i.e. price, seller, oddities, and so on. I distinctly remember begging Dad to buy me a Curtis Jenny invert, the gold standard of misprints. His answer was always the same: "It's just a little piece of paper and will never be worth much." I was given a number of plate blocks when Gramp died – perfect mints.
In my late age my interest has been revived, especially because I've always been a "history nut," and where else to study it except by stamps!
A short P.S.: Grampa often used hinges, not knowing any better.
My name is Frank Ingiaimo Jr.; I started collecting stamps when I was young. My father had an old stamp album with a lot of stamps from the 50s and some from the 60s. So as of today I am collecting stamps from a lot of countries of the world. I am now 80 years old and still collecting, because it is probably the best hobby a person can have. All I can say to all the people out there is if you’re not collecting now, you are missing out on the best.
Frank Ingiaimo Jr.
I started as a stamp collector with a calling. I was 9 years old and we used to go to a Kresge department store. These later became to be known as K Mart by the late 1960s. There was a stairwell to go to the basement and on the right they had bright orange bags of Mission Stamps on paper for a dollar. The first time i saw them I didn't get them but I was curious. The next time we were going down that stairwell I asked my dad to get them for me. He bought 2 bags, one for me and one for my brother so there wouldn't be any problems. My brother didn't keep up with the hobby but I did.
I used to go to Woolworth's to buy 10c and 25c packets. I answered an ad for free stamps from H.E. Harris. I got my first approval set and if you bought everything it was $3 with getting some free stamps too. My uncle came over to visit and I had the stamps out. He said what do you have. I said some stamps I got in the mail. I was going to buy less than a dollar's worth because that's all I had. He gave me $3 to buy the whole lot. So I was off to the races as a collector. Later I think I used to tape coins to carboard because I had no checking account at that age.
I got my first album. It was a smaller one that was later replaced with the H.E. Harris Statesman. I bought my first Scott Catalog in 1969 or 1970. It was a big black book, Volume 1 & 2. I made mistakes early on. I can remember scotch taping stamps before I found hinges. However, I got more sophisticated over time.
I collected U.S., Canada, Ryukyu Islands (I used to buy stamps from the administration before they closed in 1972), worldwide and World War 2 topical. However, my main collecting area became Germany, including Berlin, DDR, Postal History, all territories and occupations like Bohemia and Moravia and General Government, and postwar local issues.
On a trip to see relatives in Ohio, I found that my cousin was also a collector and he told me about the APS. I became a member in 1977 and have been one ever since. It will be 50 years in 2027!
It's been an enjoyable ride. Now that I am retired, I have more time to devote to it compared to when I was working and raising a family. My mom said I would stop collecting stamps once I found girls but I guess she was wrong, LOL.
I retired five years ago after working in the IT industry for some 41 years.
I started collecting worldwide stamps at the age 10, both my father and brother collected. At age 13 I became interested in mint U.S. stamps with my first purchase of a plate block at the local post office of the 1960 4 cent winter Olympic stamp # 1146. I also made a great friend of the Post Master that day, who saved for me all new issues for the next 9 years until he retired.
We had a great local hobby shop in my home town where the owner would let me sit at his desk in his back office and look through hundreds of stamp packets he had for sale; I spent many hours at his desk. It’s too bad those local hobby shops are a thing of the past.
So, my main interest in collecting today is mint U.S. stamps (single, plate blocks, sheets, booklets and unaddressed FDC). I still collect worldwide up to 1970 — I needed to draw the line somewhere. Recently I am focusing on collecting all postal material issued doing the 1940s. I enjoy going to stamp shows and have enjoyed time as a member of Philatelic Society of Lancaster County. I do have a couple secondary hobbies, HO scale model trains and fishing.
My sister Rachel moved to Israel in 1955, when I was just 6 years old. She wrote a letter home each week using an aerogramme. My mother saved them all in a box in her closet. Sometime after I started to collect stamps I happened upon that box. Well, need I tell you what I did? I pulled the extra stamps off the aerogrammes (What did a dumb 12 year old kid know?). My mother got angry at me. Now, fast forward about 20 years. A dealer gets me interested in Israeli Postal Stationery. I go back to that box – and get angry at my mother for letting me ruin all those aerogrammes.
I live in Bordentown, New Jersey. Bordentown is on the easternmost point of the Delaware River – just south of Trenton and about 35 miles north of Philadelphia. Imagine it is August 1786. You want to send a letter to a friend in New York. The Bordentown Post Office will not be opened until 1800. There are no envelopes. So what do you do? You write the letter longhand on a sheet of paper, fold it to look like an envelope and seal it with wax. You then remember that a river boat runs from Philadelphia to Bordentown and a stage coach – THE BORDENTOWN AND NEW YORK STAGE – runs to just outside New York. So, you bring the letter to the stage office. The station master puts a special handstamp on the back and sends your letter on its way.
Only SIX of these are known to exist. I was collecting the mails of Bordentown at the time, and a friend had one. He was told by mutual friends that he had to sell it to me. Well, to buy it – I mortgaged my house.
No, my wife did not divorce me. However, it was NOT a good financial investment. But then again, we do not collect stamps as an investment. I exhibited this many times winning some nice awards. I wrote a book about the Mails of Bordentown NJ. I later sold the collection.
Sid Morginstin APS #74720
[Editor's note: Sid gave us the choice of either of these two stories to publish, but we couldn't pick just one!]
In 1956 when I turned 13 years of age, my Uncle Dan presented me with a Scott Plate Block Commemorative Album. In addition, he also gave me every commemorative plate block issued from July 1943 thru July 1856. It was an endearing bar mitzvah present.
My uncle had been a senior superintendent in the post office and was able to purchase these plate blocks from window clerks who were often reluctant to break up sheets of stamps for plate blocks.
The first cover page was embossed with my name in fine penmanship. There were also U.S. definitive issues of the Presidential Series. Missing were the high value prexies. I suppose at that time the cost was too high. As years went by I was able to acquire the high value presidential plate blocks as I was able to afford the high catalogue prices.
That was my start of stamp collecting. I became an avid collector/accumulator of every facet of United States stamp collecting. Including errors , freaks, and misprints.
I turned 80 years old in July and to this day enjoy the hobby. Some window clerks are still reluctant to break up sheets, and we don’t get the new issues on letters any longer in the mail as we used to. And when we do, it is difficult to remove them from the letters. My cancelled collection has to suffer for that!
E. Harold Schiffer
My father and mother collected stamps, coins, old documents, and antiques, and took me to visit historical sites and museums since my earliest childhood. Holding old letters with their postage stamps and postmarks and seeing their apparent age instilled within me the collector's sense of nostalgia, i.e., being mediately in touch with people and events of the past by directly holding old mail and feeling their tactile surface, seeing the old paper, old stamp designs, old-fashioned postmarks, reading the old texts and smelling their antiquity. As a child I felt transported back in time by antique stampless letters to the days of the Revolutionary War and felt a closeness to these people and times. Old postage stamped letters took me through American history and the cities and towns they were posted in. Collecting old mail one sees the evolution of U.S. postage stamp designs change through time reflecting the culture, people and events of their period in time. We also had foreign correspondence from Italy, Spain, France, England, and Monaco and this connected me to the world and fascination with all the nations and their stamp designs, places and events. In sum, stamp collecting gave me an appreciation of history and of humanity making me sensitive to others and how events change and shape the world.
John N. Lupia III
Rarites for Museums and Collectors
I grew up in a small, backwards town in East Texas. Lumbering and newsprint were the basic jobs. My father took a big city newspaper every day, as we had no TV and but one radio station that went off the air at 9 p.m. He would let me read the paper and I kept asking him about various countries mentioned and did they have stamps. Somehow he found the Littleton Stamp Company in far off Littleton, New Hampshire and I started getting stamps from them. This opened up the world to me. Here I was in the backwoods, and I could learn about other people of the world. What a wonderful experience stamp collecting opened up for me. So far, my wife and I have gone to 52 of them. Stamp collection opened up a new world for this deep East Texas Boy.
George Porter APS #136223
The first stamp I remember vividly wanting to have was the 1974 Skylab stamp. The colors and details captured my imagination and attention. My gramma took it off the envelope and gave it to me; I would have been 8. Over the years I grabbed the stamps that I liked and stuck them in a tin. My parents gave me a Scott album from the post office for Christmas when I was 12, but by the time I was 14, that got put away but not forgotten. Fast forward a lot of years. My son was getting involved in scouting and stamp collecting was a merit badge!! Out came my tin and my book and together we started collecting! We went to a stamp show and met some wonderful people, joined a local club, for a local show he designed a cachet for the Boy Scout stamp and together we have had a great time! And yes, I still have my first stamp.
I have been interested in philately since my youth. I also collected United States stamps. I am interested in Scott U.S. 594-596 and 613. Early on I collected United States stamps and letters and sold them at auction houses. In the last 5 years I have been particularly interested in the stamps of the Old German States. Stamps and old letters interest me. These are my hobbies. Kind regards,
I collect American stamps like my father did, whose collection I inherited.
Well I hope and pray my story don't offend anyone but I have always thought stamp collecting was for smart, non-social people who thought they were better than everyone else. So I never gave stamp collecting another thought. Until about 4 months ago I got a ton of stamps in a trade and I seen some on colored paper and it caught my eye so I started just looking through this huge pile of stamps for colored paper ones. The next thing I know all these stamps are organized and sorted and it was 5 hours later. Needless to say I am so addicted to stamps its crazy I even had to get me some stamp collecting shirts. I sit and think of how wrong I was all these years and stereotyped stamp collectors I am ashamed of myself cause in reality I guarantee they was having more fun than I was but age makes us wiser. I am 46 and I am so excited about collecting stamps I have to collect every kind I can get my hands on, it don't matter where they are from. I am a beginner and I have a lot to learn still, my family tells me they hope there is a stamp anonymous group cause I need a intervention from my stamp addiction. Thank you for reading my story.
I grew up in Buffalo, New York. I recall that towards the end of World War II, stamp collecting became the craze in our neighborhood. We all started collecting and trading, both boys and girls. My uncle served in Germany during World War II; one Christmas he gave me a very nice set of German semi-postals. I still have them. That really got me interested in Germany. One of the fun things we did as young collectors was get on the bus and go downtown to the Saturn Stamp Company. They had boxes of penny stamps and we could spend hours just sifting through and finding what we wanted. As I grew up, I continued to collect. I recall in 1958, my entire collection fit in one album. That was U.S., Germany, and my worldwide collection. Today my worldwide collection is contained in 36 volumes and I don't collect foreign stamps past 2002. I spent a career in the U.S. Army and lived all over the world. My five years in Germany helped to strengthen my interest in Germany. During my two years in Vietnam, I became fascinated with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Today I spend most of my time on the German and Southeast Asia collections. From time to time, I buy a mystery box of foreign stamps just for the fun of it. I have been collecting for almost eighty years and it has been a fantastic hobby. As I think back, I realize how much knowledge I gained from collecting. Collecting stamps has been one of the real joys of my life.
[transcribed from a letter]
I have been collecting stamps for as long as I can remember. With a father writing language programs for the Peace Corps, I was able to build a large worldwide collection before I was in grade school. But my passion really took off the summer I worked in London as a young adult. After discovering Stanley Gibbons and the other dealers on The Strand, their shops became my favourite haunt during lunch hour. I combined my passion and professional experience with lighthouses into a thematic collection at a time when very few countries had issued them. My prizes for that summer were some Cuban issues unavailable in the U.S. at that time, and a 1932 colour trial for Italian Somalia.
If you haven't had a chance to share your story yet, there's still time. Just send us an email at [email protected] or address your letters to:
Attn: Nora Bryson
The American Philatelic Society
100 Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA 16823