Monday, August 15, 2011
Stamped in my memory
What was your gateway drug into collecting?
A lot of us card collectors were addicted barely out of toddlerhood. We were "using" as 5- and 6-year-olds, mindlessly consuming without even knowing that we had a habit.
For me, there were two collecting addictions before baseball cards came along. One was Matchbox cars, and the other was stamps.
Matchbox cars were my first love. My interest in them was so long ago that I can't remember the first one I ever owned. I do remember specific purchasing highlights, and going to the drug store with hard-earned allowance money to score a sweet Matchbox hanging in the toy section. But I shunned Hot Wheels. Not realistic enough.
At some point, subconsciously, I realized that I'd never stick with collecting cars and moved onto stamps. I became so enthralled with stamps as a "big person's pursuit" that I treated it as if it was going to be my job someday. One day I would be A Stamp Collector, Esq.
I received one of those stamp album 3-ring binders for Christmas. It was separated by country with dozens and dozens of stamps for each country, many of which I've never heard of before (and some of which do not exist anymore). It was a prized possession. My grandfather would find me stamps from other countries and I'd learn the fine art of steaming the stamps off of envelopes using a tea kettle.
But like most kids, I had no clue what I was doing. The stamp album was much like a sticker album with spots to place specific stamps. I couldn't lick the stamps and put them in the album because most of them were off of envelopes. So, I'd roll up a piece of Scotch tape and affix it to the back of the stamp and place it in the designated spot.
That's a big no-no.
I found this out when I was in fourth grade, and the school set up some sort of "diversions/hobby" elective week. Each afternoon for a week, you would go to your diversion of choice and learn about some hobby. I picked stamp collecting. And that's when I found out that you were supposed to use some other sticky source to affix stamps. Tape was, basically, for morons.
I could barely look at my stamp album when I came home.
I tried to find ways to fix it, but there was just no way. I think I bought another stamp album -- it wasn't as nice as the previous one I received -- but the interest was gone. Perhaps this crushing realization is what pushed me headlong into baseball cards. I don't know. I was collecting cards at the same time by then, and I'm sure I thought about how collecting cards seemed a lot less complex than collecting stamps.
So, I probably owe stamps for my current decades-long card collecting habit.
Knowing that history, you might think I'd go wacky for all the stamp cards that are in Gypsy Queen and Heritage this year. But I don't. I do appreciate that Lifetime Topps sent me this Billingsley (and that Shields guy) stamp card from this year's Heritage. They're not easy to find, it's numbered to /62, and it does say "congratulations" on the back.
But a stamp just doesn't do it for me like it once did. Neither do Matchbox cars. I don't understand why people shell out big bucks for the stamp cards, coin cards, or a lot of the other things affixed to cards these days. But I've talked about that before.
However, this stamp card shall remind me of my second collecting love of stamp collecting. And that makes the card wonderful in its own way.
(Note that the top corner of the card says '62-'10. Isn't this 2011 Heritage? Do they all say that?)
Lifetime Topps sent a few other cool cards, too:
The final Dodger card I needed from this year's Heritage. Get well, floating head Jansen.
A gold parallel of the Albuquerque Dukes' second baseman.
A Target Throwback of the alternately amazing-agonizing Hong-Chih Kuo. Who knows what the bullpen will look like next year.
A Goodwin Champion card of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. I really don't know what to do with this card. Maybe I should test my airbrushing skills and see what Mattingly would look like in royal blue.
It's been 35-plus years since I collected a stamp. Now, I'm like most people and try to keep my stamps at a minimum because they cost too much.
Kind of sad, in a way. But I can handle only one hobby at a time.