My first stamp collection started, like most of us, when I was a child. I started it with my Opa. I don’t know if it was at his insistence or mine, but I suspect it was mine. I think he understood that I needed projects to do when I visited them. Eating and watching TV weren’t enough to keep my imagination going.
We had had many other projects together. We had collected hockey cards. We had also filled numerous Panini sticker books together. I think he enjoyed them as much as I did, but for different reasons. I think he enjoyed being precise with the stickers–something a child could not really do. I remember him using all the double stickers to do his own book, probably with better results.
Collecting was something he had already shown an affinity for. He collected coins and often showed me his collection. I remember those blue cardboard books that held those Canadian and American coins. I was mostly fond of Canadian coins minted before 1920. They were bigger than any of the coins I saw during my childhood. To this day, I often ponder collecting coins like that.
So, one Saturday, we started a collection of stamps. I think we went to Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke. I have a memory of a stamp and coin counter off to one side in a department store. It could have been either Eatons or the Bay. Sadly the memory is not that clear. Sadder is the fact that stamp and coin counters don’t exist in stores any more (at least not in this country, but more on that later) to entice and encourage young children to collect.
We picked up a either a world stamp book and some stamps. I remember that the book came with some and I remember buying an assortment of stamps on a piece of cardboard and wrapped in cellophane. You could see some of them, but you couldn’t see all of them. In those days I saw mystery. In these days, I would probably see a rip off.
My most vivid memory is large postage stamps with paintings like the Mona Lisa on them, or incredibly bright stamps from Hungary. Maybe they were one in the same. (A quick Google search indicates that this is true–sadly, the only licence free photo isn’t a particularly good one.) The colours and the pictures were tremendous and eye opening for a young child.
The other stamp that caught my eye was the 5 cent Canada Expo 67 stamp. I remember acquiring that one quite quickly, but I don’t know from where. The colours on that one are pretty amazing too.