The philatelist


When I was a kid I was something of a sticker collector. It was a required activity for all girls who attended University Avenue Elementary School in Blaine. I was a big fan of Lisa Frank and anything that might have included a glittering unicorn.

While many of the girls in Mr. Naegle’s 5th grade class traded stickers willy nilly, I was a hoarder. The thought of peeling a unicorn from it’s protective back nearly broke my heart. If that unicorn had a rainbow mane, there was just no way in hell that was going to happen. Around the 7th grade while putting together my scrapbook filled with pictures of The Outsiders and John Stamos, I came to the conclusion that a sticker was born to be stuck. Keeping it pristine was of no good to anyone. Nobody enjoys a sticker still on the sheet.

Once I became a grown-up my sticker fetish became a stamp fetish. Stamps were like stickers, but served a purpose. While a sticker that smelled like pizza might get a few sighs of jealousy on the playground, a stamp could actually send something somewhere.

However, even with a purpose, I still had have a hard time parting with my favorite stamps. I’m ashamed to admit how many Superman stamps are stuffed into my Mr. Lunchbox address book. The Superman stamps are only worth 39 cents. That’s two rate increases ago.


I think I still have a stamp from the mid-90s classic comic strip series. Okay, I know I still have it. It’s the Yellow Kid (considered the very first comic strip) one. I couldn’t mail it off. It was certainly too good for bills and I don’t think there was anyone in my life worthy of the Yellow Kid.

Tonight as I was writing out some cards to send off, I turned to the Eames stamps. They are glorious. It doesn’t help that I’m going through my mid-century modern phase where I have totally fetishized all that Eames stuff. So it’s like double-plus fetish night here at Supergenius HQ. Eames stamps, robot cards — gah!

I picked up the sheet of stamps and scrutinized each one. Trying to decide which of the beauties was the “ugliest.” Once that was determined I peeled it slowly from the sheet and I think my heart actually squeaked. I grabbed the second card and went for another stamp. This time there was no scrutiny. I just wantonly pulled a stamp off hoping the quick method was less painful.

I was wrong! It hurt so much that the next three cards got lame Liberty Bell stamps. I’m sorry Liberty Bell stamp receivers. It’s not you, it’s me. I was just not strong enough. It’s not that I love you less than the Eames receivers, it was just a simple twist of fate that your card was not at the top of the pile. I hope you understand.

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  1. Peabo 06.Feb.09 at 10:04 pm

    I had those animal stickers. The little bear in the bottom right corner, for sure, and I’m pretty sure I remember the skunk also, which would mean I had the others since they came in a set.

    And I was a hoarder too…but that’s because I was (am) an only child and I hoard everything.

  2. Jason 07.Feb.09 at 8:27 am

    Is it because they are small? There was an exhibit here in Boston a few years ago about Japanese postcards. Postcards started off as sort of a primitive email and then people started collecting them. So Japanese artists started doing clever things with the art and you could eventually subscribe to postcard magazines and it was a big thing. I absolutely loved these little postcards, wished I had a collection, and I think their size had a lot to do with it.

  3. Lerren 07.Feb.09 at 11:03 am

    So don’t part with your favourite stamps. Frame them. (There are lots of people who do this – I have a framed set of Muppet stamps) Put them in a Superman stamp album (It does exist). And buy Liberty bell stamps for everyone else. And, by the way, if you want other superman stamp stuff (postcards, envelopes with pictures of superman on them with superman stamps, superman stamps from other countries) – drop me a line, I can tell you how to get them.


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