I believe I started collecting as a child, but I have no specific memories of playing with stamps and no childhood stamp album. I do have vague, distant, but very pleasant feelings associated with stamp collecting, which I now recognize as my first ventures into “stamp world.” When I started collecting seriously in my mid-twenties, somehow I already knew that Helvetia was Switzerland and Magyar Posta was Hungary, and how to use stamp hinges.
For the past 40 years, my interest has been exclusively topicals, with a lingering appreciation for filling spaces in a worldwide album. My topics are varied and are stored in approximately 60 manila envelopes, each containing stamps for a different topic. These range from such serious subjects as the Vietnam War and Raoul Wallenberg to cartoons like Peanuts, Looney Tunes, Garfield the Cat and Superheroes.
I have an extensive Disney collection which includes every issue to 1998. This collection kept getting larger and larger because I never met a Disney stamp I didn’t like. On the more serious side, I also have a World War I collection including ephemera such as soldiers’ mail from Europe. This collecting interest began after I read a World War I historical fiction trilogy and learned that the resolution of World War I led to World War II.
My stamp story includes a few activities in addition to collecting stamps. In its sixth year of development is a competitive exhibit on Mark Twain which I sincerely hope will have its debut within the next year. I have a special interest in “free style exhibiting” which involves noncompetitive exhibits ranging from one page to one frame. I choose topics of special interest to the non-collectors who wander through the exhibits at stamp shows. I have two goals. The first is to show the non-philatelic public that stamp collecting can be fun and informative. Secondly, I hope my exhibit gives traditional philatelists the opportunity to see what can be done with a relaxed, low key approach to the hobby. My latest exhibit tells the story of Scooby-Doo.
I have been very active in the American Topical Association and have coordinated the ATA “Hot Spot” project. This is an outreach program to ATA members across the country in which the central organization of the ATA works with selected regional shows to promote topical collecting. I also work as an ATA Ambassador at stamp shows. As an Ambassador I sell ATA products and recruit new members. It is particularly gratifying to meet topical collectors, hear their stories about their collecting experiences, and offer them ways to grow their collections through ATA membership and its checklist service.
Finally, and probably most importantly, what has kept me in philately for all these years is the time I spend in “stamp world.” Here I have complete control. All the stresses of life go away, and I emerge a more relaxed and happier person. What more can one expect from a hobby …
If you would like to tell your Stamp Story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Stamp Story.” Please keep your submissions to 500 words or less and be sure to send us a picture of yourself!
Editor's Note: The “My Stamp Story: Carol Costa“ article was published in the March 2020 issue of The American Philatelist. We are bringing the archives of The American Philatelist to the Newsroom - stay tuned for more columns and articles from 2020, and read the full March issue here. Happy Women's History Month!