- What Did You Call Me?by T B Botts
This work has reached the exceptional level
I like collecting certain postage stamps
What Did You Call Me? by T B Botts
Artwork by Cindy Sue Truman at

  Those who know me know that I'm fairly old-fashioned, and I don't adjust to change very well.  I still like to pay my bills with a check, even though I could probably save myself a hundred or more dollars over the course of a year if I paid online. There is something about physically writing the check and sending it off in the envelope that's provided that I find very satisfying. Part of the satisfaction is applying a stamp that might not be normally seen.
For some time now, I've been collecting stamps. I never really had much interest in doing such, it wasn't something that I started as a kid or in order to get a badge from Boy Scouts. When I was living in Hoonah and went to the post office to buy stamps, I started asking if they had anything better looking than the U.S. flag designs. It's not that I'm not patriotic, I just wanted my envelopes to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps the folks at Capital One would spot my envelope out of the thousands of others they receive daily, and would process my payment first. Plus if I was sending a letter or card to someone, I just thought that it showed that I cared enough to go the extra mile by sending a colorful stamp. I used to have to purchase two books of stamps. One to hang on to, and one to use.
When a new postmaster came to Hoonah, I mentioned to him that I liked to collect stamps. Not like a professional or an avid collector might, I just liked some of the designs and colors. He then told me that I was a philatelist. Not a fatalist, or a feminist or a Philistine, but a philatelist. The word almost sounded obscene. Being a philatelist doesn't sound like something most people would want to be associated with. It sounds like something you would be ashamed to admit. 
"Go hang out with your pervert friends, you philatelist!"
It turns out a philatelist is someone who collects stamps, so I guess in some respects I am one. Down through the years I've purchased stamps depicting Star Wars, Harry Potter, comic book super heroes, from both Marvel and D C comics, muscle cars with tail fins, stamps with endangered species, scratch and sniff stamps- those had pictures of ice cream treats that smelled good when you scratched the surface, stamps with music legends, and even stamps with a picture of the lunar eclipse that were dark, but if you put your thumb on them, the moon would show through.They were heat activated.
Mark, the postmaster, was a wealth of information. He mentioned that all international postage utilizes round stamps, although there were a set of stamps that depicted the D C comic book figure, Batman, down through the years. They were the only domestic round ones printed.
I have heard that the U S Post office only prints the current year's stamps and then discontinues them. You can still purchase them at places like Amazon, or on eBay, but will probably pay a premium for them.
While I never intended to become a stamp collector, I  have in my possession a fairly large number of them, and over the years I've spent a good bit of money collecting. I don't know if any of my kids or grandkids are interested in the collection. I'd like to give them to someone who will value them as I do. It would be tragic to break up the block of Tlingit Eagle designs just because you needed to send off the payment for your electric bill. For now I guess I'll keep gathering these little works of art and let the chips fall where they may after I'm gone.


Author Notes
The U.S. Postal Service has a website that shows all the stamps available for this year. There are other places like Mystic Stamp Company, as well as many others that sell stamps, both used and in their original condition. It's mind boggling to look at. Anytime I allow myself to gaze through the offerings, I find myself lusting after those beautiful pieces of miniature art. The colors and designs are fascinating, and the money you could spend on them could put you in the poor house.


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