Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Stamp collecting, stories and Magyar Posta

Every item has a history and also tells a story. As humans, we often forget that inanimate objects have a past as rich as humans. I suppose that is natural because things cannot tell their own story. Humans can.

Hence, collectors are compiling an anthology of stories more than anything else. Ask a stamp collector about a particular stamp and he will tell you a story. Likewise, a coin or a matchbox collector has her own yarns to spin.
A full time mother will give you all the details about time, place and events surrounding each fridge magnet she owns. While only her husband may find the minutiae interesting, the point remains the same. The most insignificant items tell a story, if only someone is willing to take the time to listen.
As a child I remember going across the road to one of our neighbours to trade stamps. For my friends and I, stamps were a window into the outside world. Is there any other way to find out that Magyar is Hungary or Polska, Poland? And the CCCP, the Soviet Union or CH, Switzerland?
Stamps are perhaps one of the most common items people collect. The types of objects people collect range from the bizarre to the outright dangerous.
Some buy World War Two tanks, fix them up and race them around their European country estates! Tank collectors have their own specialized magazine.
A more interesting field for collectors are beer cans. A Google search of 'beer can collecting' brings in over twenty four million results!
Like humans, beer cans come in all shapes, sizes and colours. They originate in different countries (although their race cannot be easily defined!). Each can reveals several individual stories, including its year and location of manufacture. The brewery's history and, ultimately, the quality of the beer it contained.
Collecting (anything) encourages curiosity. Curiosity, they say, killed the cat. But cats have nine lives so I say don't worry about killing the cat. When it's time we all die. Not just the cat.

In the interim, remember that experiences are baked into everything we touch and see. Remember the movie, 'The Yellow Rolls Royce' in which a Rolls Royce keeps the secrets of the Yugoslav resistance against Nazis along with the exploits of Chicago gangsters in the 1930s?
It's a shame that so many tales are just never told. Instead they die along with their storyteller.

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