At the Unipex Stamp Show


What I said then

Do you remember when I said I was trying hard not to become a stamp collector? Do you remember me telling you that Lawrence Block, with his fantastic Keller (the well adjusted, stamp collecting, cool as a cucumber, hit man) series was creating the urge to start a stamp collection, and that I was fighting it.

Yes, I know, I have relapsed a few times. I have bought some magazines.  I have taken the catalogue of Canadian stamps out of the library and renewed it the maximum number of times.  I have started conversations online with stamp dealers (enquiries, just enquiries).  I have even purchased a few commemorative stamps for Canada’s 150th birthday.  And Lastly, I purchased and brought back some stamps from Vietnam as souvenirs.

That, seems to pale in comparison to today.

Fate intervenes

Today, I succumbed to fate. I am not sure how I discovered the information, but I did. I guess I will blame it on random internet searches….or Google.  Anyway, I found out that there was a stamp show relatively close to where I live this weekend.  To top it off, admission was free.

So, I went to my first stamp show. Having been to train shows, and model shows, I know the ability to not spend your money is hard at these things.  There’s probably something to tempt you there.  They’ve got catalogues, magnifiers, books, cases, a wide variety of tweezers, and of course the stamps themselves.  I sort of guessed that I would buy the catalogue of Canadian stamps.  If I can’t have the stamps, I can at least see what they look like.

As for the people, while I did not see any children, I saw both men and women, young and old. I saw people checking off numbers in small notebooks, unwieldy pieces of paper, and even a few ipads.

Some dealers were organized and others were haphazard, but all were knowledgeable. In fact, I should probably add that everyone was very friendly.

Lessons learned

What’s my takeaway from this?

  • You’re bound to spend more money than you budget for.
  • There are lots of friendly people in the hobby.
  • There are some attractive women who collect stamps (I met one who was interested in Japanese stamps and wished I had asked her out for coffee).
  • The stamps themselves aren’t necessarily expensive.
  • There are way too many categories of stamps and stamps. You could get swamped by it all.  One dealer, told me that if I jump in, it would be better to pick one country or one theme and stick with it.  It’s good advice, but nobody else seemed to be taking it.
  • You’ve got to invest not only money, but also time in the hobby.

My overall experience was good. I saw many interesting things, but was able to hold off buying.

Near Misses

I was hoping to get the Canada Post Souvenir car for my birth year.  Sadly, many dealers mentioned having it, but deemed it unworthy to bring to the show.  I understood.

I did find the Calvin and Hobbes stamp set I wanted, but thought the price was a bit uncomfortable.

I did come across something that made me almost buckle. There was a collection of Japanese stamps in hingeless mounted albums.  It was fairly complete.  The price was ….certainly more money than I had, ….or that I could spend…..but I wanted it.  I really wanted it.

Thinking upon it now, hours later, I still want it.

I did pick up an inexpensive set of bicycle stamps. I don’t know whether this is the start of a collection, or just a passing fancy.  I had spent quite a bit of time talking to the dealer, and felt I should spend a little money at his booth.

I don’t suppose I could start a kickstarter campaign that would allow me to buy stamps…



Stamp Collecting Magazines


I have been trying to avoid becoming a stamp collector.  Since the hobby is not nearly as prevalent as it used to be, you would think that would be easy.  Financially, I will never be a big time stamp collector, but I think I have dipped my toes into the world of philately.

You see, I bought some stamp collecting magazines.  Why?  Curiosity mostly.  Normally, I would just borrow these things from my library and hopefully get it out of my system without too much cost to myself.  Sadly, my library does not cater to the philatelist.  I could complain, or try to order the material in…but that just seems like a bit too much work.

Today, while browsing through the bookstore I came upon three publications that they sell and decided to buy them.  The British one was the most expensive, but also the thickest.  The Canadian ones were very reasonable, and seem quite packed with information.  I haven’t had time to dig deep into them, but I am sure I will find some interesting things.

Things like this are probably on offer at stamp stores/shops?  collecting stations?  I don’t know what to call those places.  Stamp dealers?  However, there are none in my local area.  I am sure I could find one if I looked in the city.

The bookstore had no books on stamp collecting, but they had magazines.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Despite their size, they don’t seem to carry everything.  Even online bookstores don’t seem to have much.

I suppose I could have just gone online, but I prefer magazines.  I can read them in a variety of places and they are so portable.  Maybe I just prefer the glossy pages to that of the computer screen.

Does this mean I am going to be a stamp collector?  As I said before, unless this blog or my other blog take off and I start to get some extra income, I doubt it.  I will still be fascinated by stamps and what other cultures deem worthy of commemorating this way, though.

I did buy the Formula1 stamps and the Canada 150 stamps.  They looked too good to pass up.  I didn’t buy the Star Trek stamps, though.  Now. if only I could get those Calvin and Hobbes Stamps.



Hobby Inspiration from an Unusual Place

It is weird where hobby inspiration comes from.  I get the itch to start a new hobby quite easily.  Often it is from talking to people.  When someone is passionate about something, then you can’t help but be intrigued.  Often it is from television.  Exposing the masses to something will certainly catch some people’s interest.  Most recently for me, it was from a book.
Looks pretty and organized.
I started reading Lawrence Block’s Hit Me on a recommendation from a friend.  He had recommended another series by Block, but I couldn’t find them in the library so I settled on this one.  The basic story was that of a contract killer who loves….. wait for it…not alcohol.  Not fast cars.  Not loose women……stamps.
The character (his name is Keller) had such passion for stamps.  He also had a lot of knowledge to impart on this impressionable reader.  He detailed the equipment and literature, as well as quite a lot of historical information about stamps.

When I was young I shared a stamp collecting hobby until that person took it over and became obsessed with it.  I don’t even know what became of it afterward–probably someone benefited from it.  Either way, I do remember looking at the stamps and thinking of exotic places.  I loved the themes–trains, cars, paintings, space travel, …. the ideas were endless.  For some countries, it is really interesting to see what they value enough to put on stamps.  Of course, for some countries, they are hoping other people from foreign countries will value them enough to collect them–hence the Disney stamps produced by some countries–I guess some country has already produced a Frozen stamp.  I wonder if that is a big part of their GDP.  (note…I checked, and yes, a stamp already exists)

I would love to have this one.

As for me, yes, there is an itch….but I won’t even scratch this one.  There is just too much out there.  Too many stamps from too many countries.  While the tool collector in me loves the idea of all those specialist tweezers, there is just too much involved.  On top of that, since I really am more interested in the pictures than the collecting aspect, I would be better off buying a full colour catalogue.  I could enjoy the hobby is a much more confined way.

As for the novel….I enjoyed its episodic nature and reading about stamps.  It was entertaining and certainly made my commute more enjoyable.

Calvin and Hobbes

There is nothing that makes me more nostalgic, or take me back screaming to my younger days than Calvin and Hobbes.  There is no denying it, it was a fantastic comic strip, and it makes me laugh every time I open the book–and I do that a lot.

I am not sure if it was the theme of a boy and his tiger, or the time travelling, or the incredible daydreams….. but it struck a chord with me that has never stopped.  I love it now as much as I did the first day I read it.

It raises the hard what if question.  What if Bill Waterson hadn’t stopped when he did?  Would we still be laughing at the exploits that precocious boy and his rational, sceptical tiger?  I would like to believe that we would.  In that way the world would be a better place.

I still find a few comics worth reading.  Zits and Retail come to mind.  In recent months Dilbert has also come to have greater importance.  They are funny, and occasionally profound.  However, if I miss them, it doesn’t cause any fuss.

All I can say about Calvin and Hobbes is that profoundness along with humour were a given.  If I missed a day, (and this was pre-internet) I was crushed and recovery was a hard road.

I miss you Calvin and Hobbes.