Ross Howey, For the Independent
Most of us encounter stamps on a daily basis, but rarely do we stop and think of the significance these small pieces of paper hold. The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada, an organization of stamp clubs, has 85 Chapters across Canada with over 1500 members who meet monthly to discuss stamps and stamp collecting. They discuss new techniques and tricks for removing antique stamps from old postcards and envelopes without discoloring or tearing the stamp.
The Elmira Stamp Club met on Aug.15 at the Elmira branch of the Region of Waterloo library with a special guest, George Pepall, the President of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada. He was there to discuss the merits of stamp collecting and to show how the significance of stamps.
Pepall described how stamps are actually three objects in one: they are a work of art, a legal document showing postage has been paid, and a piece of history. Each stamp carries with it this history and significance, which is what makes them so interesting to so many collectors all over Canada.
Oscar Cormier, President of the K-W Chapter, also attended the meeting to share his knowledge and perhaps learn something new, which he says happens at every meeting he attends.
“You learn something new every time you come to a club meeting!”
Among the things that can be learned are the small details that differentiate between a stamp worth 50 cents and $50. Differentiation in the sizes of the perforation around the edge of the stamp, watermarks and many other small details are among the many things that can be learned from attending one of these club meetings.
Despite the fact that some antique and sought-after stamps can be worth quite a bit of money, Pepall said he discourages people from getting involved for the potential to make money. Stamp collecting is a hobby that can be done at a low cost and still be just as enjoyable.
Pepall recommends using old albums or binders to store stamps, not new ones. Pepall explained that the stamps are of value, not what holds them. He also shared that some antique stamps can be purchased at quite a low cost.
“You can get 70 to 80 year old stamps for not much at all.”
To enthusiasts of stamp collecting these are more than just pieces of paper; they are a gateway to history. They allow a collector to travel around the world and through time just by glimpsing at an album. Pepall likened it to teleportation through stamps.
Canadian stamps, in particular, give a glimpse into what it is to be Canadian and the symbols that define our nation. Everything from polar bears to prime ministers have been featured on stamps in Canada and each one shows a glimpse of what it is to be Canadian. For every collector of stamps, these are far more than little pieces of paper, but rather a connection to history and around the globe.
The Elmira Stamp club meets every third Wednesday of the month from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Elmira Library