Stamps—and How the World has Changed

About 35 years ago, an uncle left my mom his stamp collection. Mom wasn’t really looking for a new hobby, but she kept it for sentimental reasons. Now, all these years later, she is downsizing her life. Dad has passed away, and mom hopes to move into a condo. This means clearing out a lot of stuff one has held onto for sentimental reasons.

The albums are heavy, and mom doesn’t get around like she used to, so she has asked me to go through the stamps and try to determine if they can be sold. I’ve looked up a number of the stamps online, and nothing is astonishingly valuable–mostly just a couple of dollars each — but I do think someone will cherish these stamps. It is a fascinating collection that ranges from the mid-1800s to about 1930, and it is as much a history lesson as a stamp collection.

Going through the albums, the thing that struck me most is how the world has changed. There are pages and stamps for countries that no longer exist, for countries that were colonies at the time the stamps were issued, for countries that have broken up or joined together or vanished. And then there are the names that were spelled differently, such as Jugoslavia, Roumania, Porto Rico.

For Australia, the thing that I found interesting is that this far back, not all stamps were Australian stamps. There are several pages for Australia, but there are also pages for stamps from New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia. Most of these stamps predate Australian federation, which occurred in 1901. It’s fun to note that, even though the styles and colors have changed, very early on, Australian stamps began to feature the motifs that have carried on through the century: kookaburras, gums leaves, kangaroos, and so on.

Part of me will be sorry to let this collection go–but like mom, I don’t have time for a new hobby, and I know someone will be delighted beyond measure with these stamps. However, I have enjoyed my little walk through history, and am pleased to have had the chance to be reminded how much the world has changed.

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Filed under Australia, Geography, History

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