The utility of a postage stamp may have declined in the digital age, but its value as chronicler of history continues to stand the test of time through philately — the long standing hobby of stamp collecting.
At the second National Stamp Fair in the city, enthusiasts seeking to hone their hobby and meet like-minded collectors drooled over rows of precisely stacked transparent file covers filled with stamps documenting important events, celebrities and rulers from world over.
Taking off from its first edition last year, the three day event organised by the Philatelic Dealers Association (PDA) has brought dealers and philatelics under one roof.
‘It has witnessed a boost in the past few years, we have become more attuned towards our heritage and stamps are one of the most prized heritage,’ says Ashish Talwar, Secretary General, PDA.
Around 40-odd stamp dealers from across the country made a beeline to the fair to buy and sell their stamps and postal covers.
Jigjid, from Mongolia, who has been collecting and selling stamps for the past four decades has displayed his prized collection of stamps and postal covers of Jawaharlal Nehru on a separate wall in his section.
‘This is my fourth visit to India and the response is good,’ says Jigjid who is participating with his son Erdene, who he hopes will continue his legacy.
Across Jigjid, sits Zakir Hasan from Kolkata whose table displays stamps as well as coins of various countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and US, some of them dating back to the pre-Independence era.
‘I was interested in it from childhood. It was my hobby but with time I made it my profession,’ says Zakir.
Even though everyone is excited to be at the fair, some philatelists are worried about the waning popularity of the hobby.
‘I took up stamp collecting as a child but now philately as a hobby is declining. I’m not sure whether my children will take to it,’ says R S Gupta from Bangalore.
Gupta suggests philately to be encouraged in schools to prevent it from dying out.
The coming of emails, and instant messaging in the electronic era may have dented the utilitarian value of stamps but technology has definitely lent a boost to the auctioning of stamps.
Anwar Jamal, a stamp dealer from Varanasi, uses his laptop to monitor the bids on his stamps on an online shopping portal. He cites his business as ‘superb’.
However, his elder brother Sarfaraz, an accountant who deals in stamps as side business, says: ‘It is going good but this can’t be my only source of income. You can’t start a family just being a stamp dealer.’ The brothers, says Sarfaraz, had picked up the hobby from their father and found nuggets of history in the stamps.
‘Before 1957, 64 paise used to make 1 rupee. After 1957, decimal was discarded and 100 paise was made equivalent to 1 rupee. I came to know about it where else, but through stamps!’ he says.