|British Guiana 1 cent magenta|
I can appreciate how Laurence can spend so much of his time focused on his collection of postage stamps. When I was a teenager I thought every day about my collection.
Some of the time I was considering the options for adding to my collection. Most often I would get packets of stamps from dealers through the mail on approval. After examining them I would return the stamps not purchased. Rarely would I have the chance to get to a stamp dealer and actually examine stamps in a shop.
I spent time examining the stamps. Some were mundane. More were miniature works of art. Living in rural Saskatchewan there were no major galleries or art museums for me to attend. Buying stamps was my only opportunity to buy art.
Stamps fueled my interest in countries outside Canada. I wanted to learn about the places, animals, objects and people featured on stamps.
Handling the stamps properly took quite abit of time. To avoid damaging them or reducing their value required me to be precise and careful.
In 1967 I went to Expo ’67 in Montreal. I spent as much time in the shop of each country’s pavilion looking for the stamps that country had issued for the Exposition as I did exploring the exhibits. Reading the book prompted me to go back and look at my old album in which I had mounted my Expo stamps. They are still as fresh and vivid as when I placed them on the pages.
As an adult I collected stamps and I have maintained my membership in the American Philatelic Society but I have not been an active collector for several years.
While there was a time in my life when I could have spent as much time with my stamps as Laurence there was a fundamental difference to our respective collecting.
I never had any valuable stamps. Laurence had the resources to assemble an impressive collection.
Any object which is rare can provide a financial motive for murder.
Earlier this year in Split to Splinters by Max Everhart it was the baseball thrown by major leaguer, Jim Honeycutt in his 300th win, whose immense value as the symbol of a great sports moment brought about murder.
In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie it is a variation of the first postage stamp, the penny black of mid-Victorian England. Only two copies of this variation were said to exist in the world.
Just as baseball fans will pay exorbitant amounts for a baseball so stamp collectors will spend comparable sums for a tiny piece of paper.
Currently the most expensive stamp in the world is the sole known copy of the British Guiana 1 cent magenta stamp which sold last year for $9,480,000 in an auction last year to American designer and shoe manufacturer, Stuart Weitzman. It is the only major stamp not in Britain’s Royal Philatelic Collection.
While post offices are struggling around the world and email dominates communication the lure of postage stamps remains strong.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley