More Projects from the Couch

I have another project in the works for my sister Sharon.

I’m using my surgery recovery time to carefully remove hundreds of postage stamps from one of our dad’s stamp collections. When I’m fully mobile again, I’ll move on to phase two: a stamp-covered table.

postage stamps Antigua

Antigua Half Penny Postage Stamp 1916-18

Our dad had many hobbies, but the one we remember the most is stamp-collecting. Mom kept his albums for years after he died.  She eventually sold a few and gave each of us the money toward college. It wasn’t much, but it was important for her to turn his collection into something more tangible for our future. Thankfully she hung on to a few albums.

Ascension red postage stampl

Ascension Postage and Revenue 1935

Dad died when we were 8 and 9 respectively, a short time after immigrating to the United States. Dad started life in Oldham, England, moved to India, twice, immigrated to Canada where he met our mother, and then ended life in California at the age of 54 from lung cancer.

His albums took on a certain status. They were our connection to our beloved father. I don’t remember looking at them individually, but more as a collection and a representation of what to us seemed like an exotic life.

warm stamp Ceylon postage

Ceylon Postage and Revenue, over-stamped with War Stamp

Assorted colors postage stamps Chamba State India

Multi-colored India Postage embossed/stamped with Chamba State, 1907

I wrote about the emotions around his stamps back in March of 2015. Here is an excerpt:

Last August, on the anniversary of my father’s death, I was finally able to re-frame my feelings about his stamp collection. I once viewed his stamp albums as life interrupted. They reminded me of my loss instead of the joyful hours he spent pursuing this hobby. The stamp albums sat in a cupboard, revered. Now I see them as a gift to be shared, and as a way to celebrate my father’s kind and curious nature. I hosted a blog giveaway and sent many of Dad’s stamps to friends and acquaintances around the world. It was an extraordinary exercise in letting go. If you would like to read the post in its entirety, you’ll find it here: Vintage Postage: A Daughter’s Love Letter and a Blogging Giveaway.

Five years ago I made a round accent table using postage from my album. I created a few cards using his stamps, and then mailed extras to bloggers around the world. Pauline King turned several of them into a wonderful piece of art. It’s a treasure!

Sharon loves my table and asked if I would make one for her using stamps from her album. So here we are.

I’ve removed about 400 stamps so far, each meticulously mounted in the album with gummed labels. If those stamps could talk. I’m sorting by color as I go, with a special pile of multi-colored stamps that I plan to use along the table’s border. I’m thinking a lot about my dad as I go and about my sister too. We’re both excited about the table.

Here are a few more pages from his album.

Trans-Tasmanian New Zealand postage stamps

India postage stamps imprinted C.E.F.

India Special Issue China Expeditionary Force or C.E.F., 1882 to 1900

Here is a gallery of Pauline King’s art made incorporating some of Dad’s stamps, along with my postage stamp table, and a few greeting cards.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

32 thoughts on “More Projects from the Couch

  1. How sad to lose your Dad when you (and he) were so young. I’m sure he’d have been delighted to see his collection extended beyond his lifespan into so many lovely projects. Of course, Pauline has made some beautiful things and I look forward to seeing your table.

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  2. My husband developed a love for stamp collecting after we took a trip to Ottawa and saw a Canadian stamp collection at the national museum. Like your father, he’s enjoyed many joyful hours pursuing his hobby too. Did your father collect any Canadian stamps while he was living in Canada? I think it’s awesome that they’ll be displayed and enjoyed in a much different way now to celebrate your father!

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    • Sara, how I wish I still had his Canada album. There were original 10 or 12 large stamp albums. I don’t know what mom sold, just what’s left. If I can find some vintage Canadian stamps, shall I send some? I’m not sure if I have your address, but you can share it privately using my form.

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  3. I’m with Derrick. A beautiful labor of love. My dad also died of lung cancer when he was 54, but I was much older than you were. I was in my late twenties. Still, what a loss! I so love the way you are honoring your father.

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  4. They’re like tiny works of art on their own aren’t they? Are you looking for purple ones or all colours? I wonder if it’s still a popular hobby for some? Am I asking too many questions? LOL!
    I’m thinking some of them might really be work a bit of $$ given they’re well over 100 years old now. You might want to ancher that table down to the deck firmly. Have fun lovely !! xk

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    • They really are. I think stamps are beautiful throughout the ages. I plat to paint the table top a deep purple and, you guessed it, I’ve been pulling as many purple stamps as I can. It will still incorporate all the colors since I’ll need over 400 stamps to cover the surface, but I hope there is enough purple/mauve/lilic as they are referred to in the album, to make an impact. I’ve looked at the prices for stamps, as this concern came up in the past, but they don’t really hold any value unless they are extremely rare. I’ve discussed it with Sharon, and she’s happy to go this route.

      Thank you for cheering me on.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really do love your table and Sharon will love hers too I’m sure. A little bit of your dad living on with both of you in a beautiful and practical way! This preparation of the stamps is the perfect ‘legs up’ activity. I hope the recuperation is coming along well. It’s great to see the old mixed media again 🙂 I’d do it differently now of course – but that’s time and tides for you! I also have my ‘P’ card sitting in a cubby, along with a ‘P’ pin Cynthia sent me before she passed. They are helpful for when I forget who I am 😀

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    • Thank you, Pauline. I’ve really enjoyed sorting the stamps, and I did some research too. I’ve educated myself on the monetary value of vintage postage, mostly to arm myself with information for the haters. It seems to bother a small group of people who think it is a heresy that I would use my dad’s collection in this way. I declined to approve two such comments. They made me feel bad about something I’ve put a lot of thought and heart into. Since Sharon is 100% in agreement, we’re good to go…once the shops open once again.

      The stamps that bring in the six-figure bucks are extremely rare. One sheet of stamps, for instance, was printed upside down. The printer was ordered to immediately destroy them, but a few survived. Some stamps survived a ship fire, and it’s believed that only four survive. It’s fascinating reading, but honestly, how I would choose to spend half a million dollars/euros/pounds is quite different from a stamp-collector willing to fork out that dough.

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      • The haters will hate, its just a thing they do – carry on and do what you are are doing, they don’t know, or care to know, anything about you, your dad, your family circumstances or anything else. Hating says everything about the person who spreads it and nothing about the person who receives it xoxo I think the same thing could be said for people who spend the big bucks on things and not people in need… but hat’s just my opinion.

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  6. My husband calls such things ‘holy relics’ – tongue in cheek, but it means they must be handled respectfully. The things you’ve created here clearly express that and bring the collection out for others to enjoy.

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    • Eliza, thank you so much. I like the term ‘holy relics’. With your permission, I may start using that with my organizing clients. I have a friend that uses the term “granny gear” for things like china, crystal and plated silver that the next generation doesn’t want but that they feel holds value. I appreciate your support.

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    • I’ve done my research, and feel confident that I can move forward and create a sentimental gem. The only postage that holds true value is extremely rare. These were all pasted in a pre-printed book so their value lies in the sentiment it evokes for the two of us.

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  7. Your table is lovely Alys, and it must bring back strong memories of your Dad every time you use it. A similar one for your sister will be another treasure. The triangular ones in the centre are perfect.
    I collected stamps as a child/teenager. I think I was in love with the beauty of them, miniature works of art on something as ordinary as a stamp. Some countries who created very exotic stamps used them as a revenue stream.

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    • Thank you, Anne. I wish I could have been a few weeks ahead on getting the tabletop purchased and painted, but for now, the project is on hold. I’ve had a lot of fun sorting the stamps and have thought intensely about Dad. Lots of memories floated to the surface as well.

      I’m happy to hear that you were also a stamp collector. They are works of art, and it’s remarkable to me that so many have survived through the years. I treasure the ones we have.

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  8. You know, after an initial instant of horror at actually *using* those lovingly collected stamps, I think your father would appreciate the beautiful things they are making. Patchwork in the tiny… perhaps that’s why I love illustrated stamps so much. They’re tiny, iconic jewels, and I’m glad you’re letting them shine.

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  9. I’m glad you are finding projects to do from the couch. Most often when we have been set down to rest, we don’t feel well enough to do any projects. I’m glad you are finally feeling up to take on another wonderful project for your sister. I know she will delight in it. You and Pauline did such excellent work with the stamps you already used. It’s a lot like me holding on to my mother’s needlework to keep her memory fresh every day. Looking forward to seeing the end result…after you are on your feet again. Sending love and healing hugs.

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    • Hi Marlene, It took a few weeks before I could tackle this project, but it was just right when I started feeling better but also unable to walk. It’s on hold now, since I can’t get to a hardware store to purchase a tabletop and purple paint. I have a plan though, so now the stamps are sorted, and I had fun doing research, I’ll be ready to go.

      It’s lovely that you have some of your mother’s needlework. My mom was a knitter, so her work ended up in socks and mittens and the like. I used to do cross-stitch embroidery, hooked rugs and needlepoint, along with sewing my own clothes, but so many of those dropped away when the boys were young and time felt scarce.

      Thank you for your love and friendship. xo

      Liked by 1 person

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