Stamping ground

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stamp collecting

Avid philatelist Dr Barry Doran of My Family Dental in Bowen, QLD, has a stamp collection that’s starting to take over his home.

“I have a collection of Red Cross stamps from around the world that’s held in 40 albums. The rest of my Red Cross collection is kept in five cartons. I also like to collect stamps from Spain and Portugal and their colonies, and USA WWII patriotic covers. I have about 4000 of them. In my home office there are three bookcases, a desk and a cupboard full of stamps. There’s another full bookcase in the hallway and the second room has a cupboard and table full of stamps with boxes of stamps piled under that table. My wife’s getting a bit concerned because there’s another six boxes of stamps in our bedroom.

“One interesting area of my collection is Tongan Tin Can Mail of the 1930s and ’40s. As there was no deep-water harbour in Tonga at the time, the mail was put in tin cans or biscuit tins and swum out to the boats. Return mail was thrown overboard in cans where it was fished out of the sea with poles or nets. There was a series of special postmarks created for this mail. 

“Another area I find fascinating is the German occupation of Croatia, 1941-45. I’m building my collection of that subject at the moment. It’s hard to pick my favourite stamp but there’s one from Serbia that was printed with the wrong colour. There’s only five of these stamps in collections around the world and I own one. It’s probably worth about $4000. 

“Some people invest in shares or property but I have a Stamp Investment Portfolio. Like shares, you plan for it to increase in value each year. It’s all a matter of picking the right stamps from the right country at the right time. Stamps from China and Macau have been a licence to print money over the past 20 years. At present, I’m selling off some of my collection so I work on it every day.

“Having a stamp collection is great therapy. After a hard day at work, it’s nice to come home and get lost in it. I find it endlessly fascinating and a great way to gain knowledge about other countries and their history. I also love stamps as an art form. The printing work is absolutely magnificent, especially with older stamps when the printing blocks were engraved by hand. Collecting stamps has given me decades of pleasure.” 

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