13/10/2021 Sandafayre

Sandafayre catalogue and stamp collections

My Start in Philately

Vincent Green of Sandafayre reflects on his start in the hobby.

My father is from the North West of England (imagine the Liverpool / Manchester region), my mother from the Dorset coast (imagine rolling hills) and as a child we moved between north and south as my father took jobs in both parts of the country. As a nurse my mother would work at the local hospital. My grandparents opened a student’s hotel in Bournemouth, an area rich in foreign- language schools. For a while, perhaps a year, we moved into the huge house and my mother helped her parents with their new venture.

This would be around 1973, I was 7 years old and I had the time of my life doing whatever little boys do, I recall playing a lot of football, digging (for what?) in the garden and being made a fuss of by the residents who were pleasant, educated young people from every corner of the globe. My 8th birthday came along and a new resident called Leslie presented me with a small stock book. He was Chinese, or Korean, no one remembers exactly, we think he was an engineering student and he hadn’t been at the hotel for long. I was shy of him, I hadn’t met anyone from Asia before and I had been avoiding him. On the morning of my birthday I was being carried on my father’s shoulders and Leslie approached us, he handed me the little blue book, I was non-plussed “It’s a stamp collection” my father explained “say thank you”

“Thank you Leslie”

It was a collection of East German and Chinese stamps. The DDR stamps were mostly the small 1954-56 Official stamps, a small design with the ‘hammer and compass’ symbols of agriculture and industry; the PRC stamps were mostly reprints of the 1950’s commemoratives. A giant magnifying glass (when I wasn’t using it to start small fires) helped me get lost in those finely engraved designs – I even noticed that the German stamps appeared to have slight changes to the central motif (I’m still rather proud of spotting that, it was years before I was shown the different Litho. and Typo. centres in the catalogue!)

I spent a few years rearranging those stamps, they kept me quiet for hours upon end but other things took over until I chanced across a stamp shop in 1978 and I saw in the window the new “Volcanic Rock Formations of Ascension” miniature sheet, the stamps a se-tenant strip of five creating a continuous mountain range effect. Shortly after I also bought the new Archbishop Makarios se-tenant strip of five from Cyprus, and a little later still I stumbled (quiet literally, I was on an adventure holiday, a rain- soaked and near frozen 13 year old) into a general store in the Lake District and bought the new GB Cycling and Horses sets.

And that was it. I never saved pocket money again, stamp fairs and stamp shops benefitted from my largesse until I decided that I needed to get on the other side of the counter and secured a Saturday job with a local stamp & collectibles shop.

If Leslie sounds like anyone you know. Please ask him to get in touch, I need to say “thank you” again.