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Stamp of success

December 14, 2006

Destiny sure has queer ways. I started collecting stamps to encourage my son to develop a hobby … and before I knew it, I was hooked. It’s a standing joke in the family that instead of the son it kept the father quiet and pre-occupied!

It’s been a passion for the past 50 years and still counting, but I can’t get enough. It is only today that I am selling stamps over the Net.

I never thought of monetary returns when I started out. For me, stamps are not colourful bits of paper in strange shapes and sizes. Each stamp is a moment, an experience, and, of course, a piece of history. Through it I got a chance to interact with a cross section of people who have enriched my life.

Almost every rare stamp has a story of how it came to me. My passion for stamps was so well known that ragpickers would search me out to sell the stamps they would find. Some of my most valuable stamps have come from the trash on Delhi streets!

After retiring from government service 22 years ago, I devoted all my time to further and maintain my collection. The Net breathed a new life into my passion. I started trading them on eBay. To my surprise I was offered handsome sums for quite a few stamps.

It is refreshing to see that in a world of gizmos, the youth are still addicted to simpler pastimes like philately. While building my collection I had a vague idea about the value of the stamps, but never had I dreamed that post-retirement it would spin money to the tune of about Rs 15,000 a month. I have even sold one s i n g l e stamp for $350 (Rs 16,000). However, such deals are one-off, typically there are good months when I make Rs 20,000 or more and there are months when there will be no sale at all.

To be honest though, I am not doing this for the profit alone. There are many stamps I just won’t sell, no matter what the offer—the ones released at the time of Independence and a few on Mahatma Gandhi are such stamps. Now that a good part of my 15,000 stamp collection is on the Net, it is more of a question of keeping me occupied and bringing me in touch with a curious set of people, driven together by a single passion: stamps!

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