I never made it as a postage stamp collector when I was a child, I had no patience with the gummy hinges and trying to fill a book pre-printed with particular stamps that you were supposed to find. I do however love the art on postage stamps. People say mail is dying out and in many ways it has, but post offices keep designing and releasing wonderful stamps with wonderful art. I’ve recently been using these lovely hydrangea stamps from Canada Post on letters to people.
Mmmm, yummy super delish!
I bought a book years ago that is still in print is called Stamping Through Mathematics by Robin J. Wilson. It’s a history of mathematics, countries, and people through various postage stamps from around the world. It has beautiful large clear pictures of stamps and the text is more of an overview, just enough for those of us who aren’t stamp collectors, but full of meaty examples for people who do collect.
Yesterday I decided to look up and see if there were any similar publications to this and found two books by Chris West. One was called A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps, and the second was called A History of America in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps. Very expensive to buy, but my local library has the one on British stamps so I’m going to hurtle in and borrow it.
I find the older monochromatic or duotone stamps kind of boring visually but a book like this will have the history and stories behind them so you can’t beat that. Expand my awareness why don’t you Chris.
Up the library. Everybody sing.
I always like to mention a book about one of my heroes, science or otherwise, physicist Richard Feynman. He was a stamp collector when young and back in the 1930s desperately wanted some postage stamps from Tannu Tuva which is a country in Siberia just outside Mongolia. This ties in nicely to exploring stamps and being passionate about learning. One of my favourite quotes is this:
“The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery…” [Richard Feynman]
It’s rare to find people who feel that way. I’m like that, Richard Feynman was like that, there are others of us in the world, beavering away finding out about stamps and art, armillary spheres, the origins of words, what plastic is made of, insects, reptiles, poets and writers, and a tiny country named Tuva which has throat singers who sound eerily like the Inuit throat singers of Canada, leading one to speculate about ancient land bridges to North America from Siberia.
Tuva Or Bust: Richard Feynman’s Last Journey by Ralph Leighton is a sad book in many ways because Feynman’s life was winding down, but it pinpoints this thirst to know and explore that is the best part of being human.
Plus it has postage stamps, you can’t go wrong.