I was twelve and my mother had rumbled me.
“Where is your savings book?”
I handed it over, still warm from my back pocket.
“There’s twenty pounds missing, what did you spend it on?”
Not a reasonable question in my opinion, the money was mine after all, saved from paper rounds.
“For your collection?”
I now understand that twenty pounds was a lot of money for a young boy to spend in 1977, but at the time I was sure I had a bargain and Mum would understand. I dipped into my bag and pulled out a black stock card.
“What is it?”
“A 5 shilling Seahorse”
“What’s that?” How could she not know? My first Seahorse high value (still with me after countless house moves, fires & floods) shone up at my mother in all its perfect Bradbury Wilkinson glory.
She was not as impressed as I expected “how could you spend so much money on a stamp!” I opened my mouth to explain, but not quickly enough “go to your room, and wait till your father gets home!”
Obviously I’ve had a lot of fun with that story over the years, I regularly take it out and dust it off at family gatherings, my mother’s horror magnified just that little bit more with each telling.
I then bought a “Mission Mixture” from an advert in a magazine, lots of Machin definitives and a singular Victorian Penny Red. I loved that stamp and bought more line engraved reds at the next stamp fair. At the same fair I overheard a discussion on the King Edward VII stamps and was given a short lecture on the myriad of shades available. I had some KEVII definitives at home and tortured my poor parents “is this dull blue-green or just blue-green” or “dull or deep purple?” and so it went on.
Christmas 1979 saw a Penny Black and the love affair was complete. No schoolboy collector could resist the lure of this iconic stamp and so it was with me. I had the tweezers, album, catalogues and price lists (filled with unattainable goodies); retaining lessons on Chemistry and Maths may have proved difficult but the smallest little bit of information about an obscure definitive stamp lodged easily in my mind.
I discovered it was possible, on a small budget, to own examples of most GB stamps, even the highly- catalogued Victorian ‘surface prints’ which with heavyish postmarks came within my reach. Over a few short years (and several Christmas’s and Birthdays) I amassed a reasonably comprehensive collection. No 19th Century high values (or anything higher than 5 shilling before 1939) but I found enough stamps for every page of my “Windsor” album to have at least some colour!
That is why I love GB stamps; they were my introduction into philately and allow collectors to start on a budget, slowing filling gaps and improving quality at their own pace.
We have a nice array of GB stamps in this sale; stamps I would have given my eye teeth for back in my school days!