The notion of strange bequests sent me rummaging in a spare cupboard, to look once more at the stamp collection I inherited from my father.
Whether he would have left it to anyone else is doubtful, as all my Dad’s friend’s seemed to have predeceased him, and it’s unlikely he would have left it to a society or museum.
I had expressed admiration for the collection. When shopping with Mum, in SE Asia, we were always on the lookout for stamps that Dad might like and anytime a new issue was announced by the local Post Office, we were expected to go and collect a set.
Having been made aware of Dad’s collection, I seem to have spent almost 50 years looking for stamps. It was something I thought would please my father and as there weren’t many things that did, I put some effort into it. Not that he ever expressed much excitement about my finds!
These Laotian stamps were among the first I bought.
Laos always had huge and some, quite beautiful stamps.
I found it ironic, given that Laos was such a very poor country. And still is, sadly.
My mother’s contributions were probably more appreciated, even though they seemed boring and unattractive. At the time my father had in mind to collect a complete set of one country’s stamps, meaning every stamp ever issued.
He selected Viet Nam, both North and South, as it was then.
Mum heard of a stamp dealer in Bangkok that could supply old stamps from around SE Asia. Old, they are. Beautiful, they are not!
The Vietnam collection was large but my dad soon realized that the complete “set” was unachievable.
The stamps on the right are from 1927.
In those days you had to provide your own glue.
Although he gave up the idea of collecting a whole set from any one country, my dad continued to collect stamps from SE Asia when he could obtain them. In the albums, he made annotations of historical events. Each stamp is in fact a speck of history.
These Thai stamps are much nicer, don’t you think?
Of course they were produced using modern technology.
My parents left Asia in 1965 and spent most of the next decade in Barbados where they ran a small apartment building.
I’ve come to view the collection as a sort of history of my parents movements around the globe.
While living in the West Indies, my dad took up a contract to go to Madagascar for a year, but he disliked the work and they soon returned.
My parents were still comparatively young and for the most part they were happy.
I remember those as years of sunshine and flowers.
But inevitably, my parents began to age and were tired of being responsible for looking after apartments that other people seemed always to make a mess of.
So they made the decision to move to Florida. When the stamp collection was unpacked, my dad began adding US stamps to the fairly large number he already had. These are now attractively laid out in three large albums, carefully annotated.
It all lives in a large box inside a spare cupboard and I very seldom look at it because it tends to evoke sad memories. And “one day” it won’t mean anything to anybody.