Posted in Writing

The Power of the Postage Stamp

English: Early Victorian Postboxes, Bath Posta...
Victorian post boxes at Bath Postal Museum (Image via Wikipedia)

The mid-January cold snap finds us in search of an indoor venue for a family day out and we alight on the Bath Postal Museum. This tiny gem, tucked beneath the city’s central Post Office, is packed with hands-on exhibits to nurture my daughter’s brand-new hobby: stamp-collecting.

Living as we do in an old Post Office, we’re naturally interested in the history of the postal service, now at risk of redundancy in our modern internet age. Surely it’s only hope is the rise of online shopping. Though an ardent emailer, I still get excited when a “proper” letter arrives in the post, handwritten and bearing a decorative stamp – a miniature work of art in its tiny perforated frame. To me, every stamp album is an art gallery for The Borrowers. An international stamp collection smacks of adventure, each small square of paper having travelled from far and wide before finding a home in your album.

Both collectors of whales and penguins on stam...
Image via WikipediaPhilately is a great geography lesson and politically I find it very pleasing that the least powerful countries often produce the most stunning stamps.

The Postal Museum reveals that Laura is in good company. Celebrity stamp collectors have included King George V (his own profile must have featured on most of his collection, in those heady days of the British Empire), Franklin D Roosevelt, and, to our complete astonishment, Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen.

The man behind the museum shop’s counter proudly regales us with the highlights of his own collecting career, including buying a stamp for £20 that he later sold for £600. He offers Laura lots of advice before realising that the conversation has been rather one way. Then he gives her an opportunity to speak.

“How long have you been collecting?” he asks.

She answers truthfully: “Since yesterday.”

It’s a conversation killer, but I realise there is one redeeming feature: we ordered her stamp collecting kit online from Stanley Gibbons and it arrived, very fittingly, by post.

Long live the stamp (and our village post office!)

This post was originally written for the February issue of Hawkesbury Parish News.

Author:

Author of warm, witty and gently funny fiction and non-fiction, including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series, beginning with "Best Murder in Show", inspired by her life in an English Cotswold community, short stories and essays about country life. As Commissioning Editor for the Alliance of Independent Authors' Advice Centre, she writes guidebooks authors. She speaks at many literature festivals and writing events, and is part of BBC Radio Gloucestershire's monthly Book Club broadcast. She is founder and director of the free Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival which takes place in April, a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, and an ambassador for children's reading charity Read for Good and the Type 1 diabetes charity JDRF.

5 thoughts on “The Power of the Postage Stamp

  1. I still love getting a letter in the post, far more exciting than an email I often think. My 3 year old has just discovered the joy of posting her painting’s and drawing’s to her Nan and Grandad and is still a bit mystified as to how it reaches them 🙂
    How lovely to live in a building with a bit of history to it too btw x

    1. With the wisdom of hindsight, just realised I could have put a photo of my house on there – I’ve got an old picture of it when it still had a postbox by the front door, with the postmistress of the day – c. 1950! Oh, well, I’ll dig that out for another time!

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