*Disclaimer: In this post I get my geek on. If you are more Gucci than Da Vinci, you may wish to look away…
When I was about 8 my Dad gave me my first stamp album.
It was a small, red, hardcover book with thick card pages and lines of tight plastic fixed at three ends for slipping the stamps into. It felt like the most special book in the world.
He had included a small selection of stamps from his personal collection and I spent hours looking at the tiny colourful pictures with names of countries, some familiar, some I had never even heard of.
Over the next few years I learned how to steam a stamp off an envelope and collected enough stamps to warrant a much bigger, second album – this time blue.
I remember buying stamps from the science museum in Hong Kong (I was planning on being an astronaut) that featured satellites, astronauts and rockets. I acquired some huge butterfly stamps from Malta. And was given an unusual round stamp that went in my “special stamps” page.
As an adult I have now visited many of the countries that were once represented by tiny images with serrated edges, and many of them are still on my To Do list. The Maldives, Bermuda, Malta, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Guyana and more.
Buying Real Stamps in Ireland
Fast forward to 2016 and we are about to send 100 beautifully designed packages to kids around the world. For this project, I have had several musts in the design process that have created some interesting challenges for our printer, our designers, John and of course me!
One must is that our beautiful, colourful envelopes should not be ruined with a big white sticker from a franking machine. They simply have to have real stamps.
We went to our local post office with all our packages ready to give them an emotional farewell and found that we couldn’t buy real stamps there for what we needed. To buy real stamps we needed to visit the General Post Office (GPO) in town.
Seeing as we were leaving the next day for Spain, we jumped straight on the train. The GPO in Dublin is a grand historic building, with high vaulted ceilings and old fashioned counters.
I asked for stamps in the first counter and was offered stickers-that-have-stamp-like-image-on-one-side. I raised my eyebrows and was ushered to the Philatelic Counter… phew!
Here we worked with the wonderful Mary to find the most appropriate mix of stamps for kids to be sent all over Ireland and the world. Finding the right combination of value and picture was not an easy task!
Eventually we settled on Irish dogs and flowers for the international kids and flowers for the Irish kids.
She kindly advised me to call ahead next time, so that they could find the best stamps for our members, because our needs were a little unusual!
We took so long to work out the pictures and numbers that a small queue of elderly looking people started to gather behind us. I turned to apologise to the nearest – a smartly dressed gentleman with a wooden cane.
He simply waved his hand, gave me a knowing wink and told us to take our time. Stamps are worth waiting for.
€374 later I had well-packed envelope and joy in my heart, I doubt that 99% of the kids will even notice. But if just one child (or parent), somewhere in the world, appreciates these real Irish collectible stamps, it’s all worth while.