As luck would have it, I found myself in Vietnam again in December. I took another cycling trip–this time from Thailand, through Cambodia, to Vietnam. It was another great vacation and it gave me a chance to correct a regret.
On my last full day in Saigon, I went out to the various museums and to do a little bit of shopping. I had some money left, and I wasn’t going to change it back into dollars.
At the War Remnants museum they had a bunch of gift stalls. I looked through them and decided to buy some souvenirs. Among the things I chose were two different collections of stamps. One was mounted on stock cards while the other came in a stock book. The price wasn’t bad and I felt like I was righting my mistake from the last time.
So, I had my stamps. While I was happy with my decision, I felt pretty sure that I had now committed myself to becoming a stamp collector.
In January, I attended my first Stamp show. It was the Unipex stamp show. I found out about it from a Canadian Stamp News column and decided to check it out. I have been to model shows and train shows, but never any kind of collector event. I don’t know why, because I certainly should have gone to comic book show before they became about sexy girls promoting their websites…or maybe I should go to one now….
I wrote about my stamp show experience here, but I think now I have a bit more perspective on it. It was an interesting show and was a bit larger than I was expecting. I hadn’t really gone there with the thought to buy anything and didn’t take a lot of money. I still had the mission of seeing what a stamp mount was and I was hoping to see some stamp frames. While the latter did not happen, I did get a chance to see the former. In fact, one dealer had several volumes of a Japanese collection that were in albums with mounts. I desperately wanted to buy it, but the prices were just way too far out of my reach.
At the show, while most of the women were working the booths, I did manage to see some women collecting stamps. This gave me some relief as most of my hobbies seem very male centric and therefore not nearly as social as I would like.
The good thing was that everyone was friendly and the atmosphere was pretty laid back. I looked at a few things, but nothing caught my eye. I was looking for the elusive Calvin and Hobbes stamp, but nobody seemed to have it. One person had a block of sixteen stamps with four copies of the four different stamps. It didn’t interest me as I really only wanted two of the stamps and I wasn’t prepared to pay what he was asking. I had seen the same thing on Amazon and felt confident that I could get it if I wanted to some other day.
I spoke to one person from Montreal from whom I purchase a set of British cycling stamps and he advised me to focus on my collecting or I would have “too much to collect.” I was sure he was right. It was then that I decided to focus on Canada, Japan, and Vietnam because of what I already had. I also decided to choose a topic or theme because everything about the bicycle changed my life. It has given me exercise, helped me make friends, and taken me across the world. When I was in Vietnam, almost all of us found cycling related souvenirs.
I left the show with new found purpose, but was still not clear where I was going to go from there.
Luckily, I have made some blogging friends on the internet and it has yielded some great results.
The first was John from Ireland. In addition to entertaining and educating me, he was kind enough to send me some bicycle stamps from Ireland. For that I was very thankful. That he was nudging me (like Lawrence Block) into stamp collecting should in no way make you avoid his blog. His posts are cool.
The second was a man from New Brunswick, Chris, who writes a very in-depth blog on Canadian stamps called Canadian Philately He also is a dealer. After asking his advice about binders and pages and the like, he offered to sell me a pair of Lighthouse binders with mounted pages for Canadian stamps. His price was quite reasonable and though I took my time to think about it, I eventually couldn’t pass it up.
Once I invested the money in the albums, I officially started down the path. This blog is part of that path. I hope you have enjoyed the telling of my journey