Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Too old to suck my thumb ....

I remember sucking my thumb as a child. I’m not sure when I quit. Probably at three or four. It was comforting. It made me feel better. Then it wasn’t so satisfying anymore, and I stopped. So much for that. I’m too old to suck my thumb now. I tried it again today just to verify that there is no joy or comfort in sucking on a thumb. (No rude comments, please.)
            As we mature (Okay, some of us never mature, we just grow older.) we find comfort in other things. I collect stamps and write history books. I’d like to think that writing is an intellectual pursuit worthy of my membership in MENSA. It’s not, of course, it’s a mental pacifier. So is stamp collecting.
Stamp collecting is somewhat better than eating chocolate rum balls and sipping burning-hot black coffee. The rum balls disappear, and all one remembers is that they were good. You collect stamps, and you get to save them in your album and revisit them again and again. And you can’t complete a collection of chocolate rum balls. You wouldn’t like it if you did - All that mold and fossilized chocolate ….
            Stamp collecting came into my life not long after I gave up thumb sucking. My father gave me an old Scott Modern album and a shoebox of stamps – mostly to keep me away from his stamp album. I made a mess out of it, though I still have the album and all the stamps I more or less put in the right spots (With his help.)
I inherited my grandfather’s stamp collection. It’s still in the original brown Scott International Albums. My dad added to it, and I have added to it steadily since I was in my teens. The gems are the first two albums covering 1840-1920. I started my own Austria collection. My mom and a long line of ancestors were born there. And when I was in my teens I spent forty dollars to buy three sparsely filled Germany albums. (I have German relations too and strong family ties to there.)
            I’ve worked on the Germany collection steadily for some years. The Empire and Weimar Republic issues are virtually complete. It contains almost all of the Michel listed varieties. I’ve done this on the cheap. Finding something scarce for cheap is as good as thumb sucking ever was. Many of the nicest things, the stuff I couldn’t otherwise afford, came from large lots of junk or from European dealers who, unlike their American counterparts, want to sell their stamps.
            In the past two years I’ve purchased exactly two stamps from the local stamp dealers. They continue to price stamps as if it were as decade ago, asking a high percentage of catalogue. They have the same material they have displayed over the last four years. But hungry European dealers are willing to sell for less. So … I find most of my mental pacification via that route. The ultimate reward is completing a hard to find (read expensive) set. I just completed the Wagner set from Germany. It took a very long time, years, to do this, because the top values are expensive. I’ve been outbid repeatedly, but one by one I’ve acquired the whole set. Here it is:


Harry H said...

I didn't catch the reference until I enlarged the photo to see the detail better. Then I realized that the Wagner set referred to the musical works of Richard Wagner. Since my mother died I am probably the only one in our family who has listened to his entire Ring Trilogy. Mom taught my son to appreciate opera too, but she exposed him to mostly Italian opera.

I can see why you are proud of this set. Theses are beautiful stamps.

roberto said...

Yes I agree with Harry. Ffffantastic collection!

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