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Can philately make a comeback?

  • Published at 07:09 pm October 8th, 2017
  • Last updated at 05:25 pm October 9th, 2017
Can philately make a comeback?
In this era of the internet, one does not obviously need a postage stamp for the message to travel the distance. Once cherished as the hobby of kings, stamp collection is also losing much of its ground with the new generation getting much occupied with smartphones and other devices that only conforms the gradually getting paperless way of the world. But even today there are people passionate enough to think philately could be revived. The Dhaka Tribune is inviting the readers to spend some time with two seasoned philatelists in Bangladesh on the occasion of the World Post Day, which is being celebrated across the globe today. Patriar Jonson Gomes is a 52-year-old businessman and a proud collector of 8,000 stamps. The hobby to collect stamps grew in him since his early childhood. Now his collection contains antiques that are as old as the age of Bangladesh. Even before the Victory Day, the Mujibnagar government issued the 1st eight postage stamps of Bangladesh on July 29, 1971. Patriar is eager to offer you a look into a set of those priceless stamps. It is not a simple task to collect the stamps. To collect the stamps involves the task to know the stamps, their countries, currencies, languages, capitals, cultures and all that. And Patriar and his childhood friends were lucky enough to get in touch with Haji MA Salam, one of the pioneers of philately in Bangladesh. “I was inspired by one of the famous and biggest collectors Haji MA Salam, who died at the age of 87 in March this year. He ran a shop for selling stamps near our school [Tejgaon Polytechnic High School]. I was a fifth grader in 1975. I along with my friends used to go to the shop during tiffin period. We learned about the capital of a state or a country, or about the statues of the country, their population, language … all these from him. “He showed us a photo of a one cent ‘British Guiana’ stamp, which was one of the  expensive stamps in the world at that time. And that was the first time I felt interested in collecting postage stamps. “The prices of the stamps ranged from 25 paisa to one taka. Being a student, it was too hard for me to collect the stamps. I saved money from my tiffin budget. My family used to give me only 50 poisa or one taka for the tiffin every day. I spent most of the money on the stamps. But it gave me pleasure to think that I have the stamps of many foreign countries. “I want to arrange an exhibition of my collection so that the young generation may find some inspiration in it. I want my young daughters to become collectors like me. So I inspire them all the time,” said Patriar. Another hobbyist ATM Anowarul Quadir, general secretary of Philatelist Association of Bangladesh, started collecting stamps when he was in class one. “It was in 1966. The teachers gifted me view cards and stamps for good hand writing. It generated in me some affection for stamps since the very beginning of my school days. And I gradually became a stamp collector.” Anowarul had a copious collection of four to five thousand stamps when the Liberation War broke out in 1971. His family used to live in Saidpur town in Nilphamari at that time and the collection was looted. But a resolute Anowarul started collecting stamps again in 1978. Now he keeps 20,000 stamps. He wants to open a stamp museum in future. He is also hopeful that philately in Bangladesh can take a different direction other than being just a pastime. “Stamp collection is not merely a paper collection, it is an investment also. The value of a stamp never reduces, it’s the opposite. Today’s stamp of Tk10 denomination can gain a much higher value in future. Anyone can sell it at a higher value, if necessary.” “Take this 1996 stamp. Bangladesh government published it on the occasion of the 200 years of American independence. It was valued Tk5 at that time. Now its value has gone up to Tk5,000-10,000.  In 1986, another commemorative stamp was published on the occasion of upozila parishad election. It’s value has by this time has risen to Tk5,000 from the original value of Tk15.55. “The 1st stamp in the world with the portrait of Queen Victoria – the stamp is popularly known as ‘Penny Black’ – was published on May 1, 1840. It was a one penny stamp. Now it is worth Tk20,000.” Anowarul also noted that stamp collection can be viewed not only as a financial investment, it is also an investment in terms of knowledge building. “Generally we try to learn about international and national days, or the names of currencies, from the books, but it is easier to learn and remember those things through stamp collection.” However, he was quick to note that given the widespread usage of mobile phone and the internet, the younger generations do not actually have the same pull towards stamps like the older generations. “As letter circulation has reduced to a great extent in the era of the internet, there is not much enthusiasm about stamp collection these days. Most of the stamp collectors of today are mostly from our generation. We don’t find many teenager aficionados when we look around. “Since 1992, not a single national-level stamp exhibition was arranged. Exhibition, workshops in schools and different places can work to bring back some attention to this hobby,” he suggested. Anowarul noted that there are more than 500 active stamp collectors in Bangladesh. “The number can be as high as 1,000, but only 385 stamp collectors are registered under the Philatelist Association of Bangladesh. We arrange an auctions on the second Friday of every months,” he further added.
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