On being Freshly (im)Pressed

03Jan15

I was surprised on Thursday when I awoke to a bunch of comments awaiting moderation. Then the page views started piling up by the hundreds, as did the new subscribers — and they were all coming here for one reason.

“Waaaaait a second …” I thought. Sure enough, my post about stamp collecting (or “philately,” if you’re fancy) had been Freshly Pressed.

Freshly Pressed 2015 BLOG

I’ve been honored by this privilege thrice (thrice!) before. The response to my post about street art was pretty overwhelming. But this time, it has been just plain … rewarding.

Thank you to all of the kind people who said I’d either inspired them to revisit their own collections, or to see stamp collecting in a new light. Telling a writer that they’ve inspired you — even in some small way — is the highest compliment. So thank you for that.

Thank you, also, to all of the readers who asked thought-provoking questions. Like, “How do you keep your stamps clean?” (I handle them with stamp tongs and store them in an archival binder.) And, “How can kids collect stamps without ‘buying’ them?”

My response to that question came in two parts. I suppose kids can ask adults in their family or community whether they have any old stamps to share. Kids can also approach local organizations — like libraries, businesses, and universities — and ask whether anyone there might save stamps for them.

Another alternative is to find a collector (like me!) who likely has a tin somewhere full of extras and duplicates they’d be happy to share. And if the kid(s) can find a classmate or two who is willing to do the same, they can start a stamp club and have swap meets.

The question that most intrigued me, though, was also the simplest: “What’s your most treasured stamp?”

I tried to think of the one stamp I’d miss most if I lost my collection, but I couldn’t think of just one. I love so many of them, for so many different reasons.

Take these simple tax stamps from Peru, for instance. They’re not particularly beautiful.

Peruvian tax stamps BLOG

But for me, they’re steeped in memories: That shield in the center used to be on the back of every single Sol I would save for Triangulo Rojo chocolate bars when I was a kid in Lima, and on the patch that adorned my state-mandated school uniform.

Peruvian tax stamps detail BLOG

Ditto for these French stamps. Known as the “type semeuse,” they depict a farm girl sowing seeds at sunrise. According to one superb stamp blog,

La Semeuse … first appeared … in April 1903. The graceful figure (of model Charlotte Ragot) wearing the Phrygian cap of liberty … came to symbolize Republican France throughout much of the 20th century.

France Semeuse BLOG
Perhaps they’re not particularly ornate, but for me they’re emblematic of the ideals and history that I’ve come to associate with my favorite city, Paris.

Speaking of beauty, many of you commented on a fact I inadvertently downplayed in my original post: Stamps are miniature works of art.

For example, you can almost feel the farmer’s gaze in this beautiful old vignette from Bosnia-Herzegovina …

Bosnia Herzegovina stamp BLOG Bosnia Herzegovina stamp detail BLOG

… and you can hear the soft swish of the water as it yields to this gondolier’s oar.

Venice stamp BLOG

But — as beautiful and evocative as stamps may be — do you know what my favorite thing is about keeping a collection? If you do it long enough, it becomes an intensely personal journey. I think that’s why I was honored that so many of you appreciated my post.

So, thanks a million for stopping by and for making my weekend with your readership and kind comments. I’ve truly been Freshly (im)Pressed by this virtual community of ours.

 

Want to learn more about collecting stamps? Here’s a website with a trove of helpful links. And check out this fascinating story about Edith Faulstich, who was a pioneer both in journalism and philately (with many thanks to her granddaughter, Alice M. Fisher).

 



23 Responses to “On being Freshly (im)Pressed”

  1. I started following because I saw your post of Freshly Pressed. I think that is one of the strong points of using WP. Your post was good and it deserves to attract people’s attention. Congratulations.

    • 2 hmunro

      Thank you, Anthony, for starting my day with your kind words — and a big smile.

  2. I am SO excited for you! I love your blog and I love chatting with you through comments. We’ve gotta find you a turn of the 19th century Nicaraguan stamp!

    • 4 hmunro

      “We’ve gotta find you a turn of the 19th century Nicaraguan stamp!” You are SO AWESOME. Thank you! 😀

  3. Congratulations! Well deserved for your post and all the wonderful posts you share with us.

    • 6 hmunro

      Aw, Tom … thank you! And thank you for being my most loyal and supportive reader. (PS: It’s 5 below right now, with a brisk wind out of the north. Thought you might enjoy hearing that. 🙂

  4. 7 A. M. Fisher

    TY! Great article & mention about my grandmother! ~Alice M. Fisher

  5. 9 betternotbroken

    Congratulations!

  6. I used to have a stamp collection and always thought I was weird!! Nice to know its not just me- Grace

    • 12 hmunro

      Isn’t it nice to discover that there are *so many* weird stamp-collecting people? 😉 Nope, I don’t think you’re weird. In fact, I’m beginning to think that stamp collectors are among the coolest and kindest people out there. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great Sunday.

  7. Your posts are pretty enjoyable so people commenting and following you are natural. Keep writing about your passions! Kinda new to the WordPress community so I hope to learn a thing or two from your posts;)

    • 14 hmunro

      Aw … thank you for your kind words, AllyCat. I’m no expert, so I’m not in a position to offer advice — except for echoing what you’ve said so beautifully: Write about your passions, for your own enjoyment. Happy blogging!

  8. I am one of your new subscribers and I was attracted to both your writing style and your stamp photos. I am a bit of an aspiring stamp collector. I tended to keep all my envelopes with cards and letters (from pen friends and relatives) ever given to me since childhood for the handwriting (sentimental reasons) and remembered I had another gold mine of beautiful things called stamps. Thanks for the delightful post!

    • 16 hmunro

      You’ve just made my entire day with your kind words, cheshirelizzy! Thank you.

  9. A lovely post! I used to collect stamps as a child because my Grandfather started me off… My hugest regret was a set of 4 pristine 1950’s Japanese stamps, each in their own small wax envelopes, going missing… They were beautiful…

    • 18 hmunro

      Those Japanese stamps sound beautiful, Ritu — I’m heartbroken for you! But if that was your hugest regret about your collection, what was your biggest joy? And do you still collect?

      • Alas… I do not collect any more!
        But, up until I lost them, those stamps were definitely my biggest joy!

        • 20 hmunro

          Well … I suppose we can’t collect forever (because who has room for that many stamps?). But I hope your life is full of many, many new joys. All my best for the year ahead!

  10. Congrats and thanks for the additional stamp intel 😉

  11. HOORAY and CONGRATS!!!
    All things stamp’s are awesome so well done!! 🙂


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