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Sunday, February 26, 2012

E-mail... SMS, what's that? Philatelic collectors leave their stamp on the city

GURGAON: At an age when e-mails and SMSs have almost replaced letter writing, postal stamp collection may appear to be quaint as a hobby. It may be easy to assume that just as modern technology has rendered letters themselves obsolete, modern times have made the collection of stamps old-fashioned. But that is not the case and as experts say, there is much more to philately - the study and collection of stamps - than meets the eye. "Stamps can sell for lakhs or even crores, at the stamp collectors' market," says Udai Saxena, an old-timer in this field. A stamp released in the country on August 15, 1948, carrying Gandhi's profile with a special inscription has a market value of at least Rs 90 lakh. "Only 200 of these were made, and some are in the national museum," he says. Saxena, like many of his fellow philatelists has mounted an exhibition of his collection of over 45 years at the state-organized stamp collector's event in Gurgaon named
'Parindey-2012.' Saxena started young, at the age of 6, and is still devoted to his hobby with a child-like fervour. A technical expert on food-security, his job allows him extensive travel. "And wherever I go, I take some time out to visit the local post office to pick up some stamps." Stamp collectors usually try to narrow down their areas of interest and attempt to build theme-based portfolios. Saxena's theme is greeting cards. That of Vinod Sabharwal, another stamp collector based out of Gurgaon, is Antarctica and Himalayas. Sabharwal is a professional philatelist as well as a businessman, and runs, a daily updated website for like-minded enthusiasts. "If you are lucky enough, stamps can sell for big money. But money isn't the only inspiration. Collecting stamps for years and looking them up after so many years is a strange feeling," he says. Postal stamps gain in value what they lose in time, and are as expensive as they are rare. It could turn to be a lucrative investment if the collector keeps tabs on the market prices and is shrewd enough with the buy-or-sell conundrum. Philatelists, in fact, will swear that you could make a living out of it. For instance, old Victorian stamps can fetch their owners decent amounts in the international market.
An 1854 four-anna stamp having a portrait of Queen Victoria, accidentally published upside down, is considered the most expensive in the country costing over a crore, and of which only 28 pieces were released. "I know many who just deal in stamps and make a living," adds Sabharwal. But, of course, as Sabharwal mentioned - money isn't the only inspiration. 'Pleasure' is a word that keeps coming up when you are talking to a philatelist. And then there are other values ascribed to the hobby. "You can learn about history, about that particular figure featured on the stamp. That's why I started collecting stamps some 20 years back," says Sandeep Kumar, who has come all the way from Sirsa to participate in the philatelic exhibition. Sixty-seven-year-old R K Bhatia, a collector and dealer in postal stamps has come all the way from Amritsar. "I started in 1956, and my collection includes all the stamps released in the country post-1947," he says with pride.
Bhatia is happy to see school kids participating in the event, and see the popular interest soar in what was earlier his hobby and is now his profession. The state has also started taking a fair amount of interest in philately - the Parindey exhibition was inaugurated by the chief election commissioner of India, S Y Quereshi, and the deputy commissioner of Gurgaon, P C Meena.And collectors are now mulling putting together an official platform to facilitate better networking. "Far from killing it, new technology has helped revive the hobby. Now you can interact with millions of collectors worldwide through the internet," says Bhatia.
'My Stamp' A Hit Among Students
On the sidelines of Parindey 2012, a unique service is being offered - participants can get their own pictures printed as stamp.
The My Stamp counter is in the city for the first time. Children particularly like this event. It costs Rs 300 to get a set of 12 such stamps. "Through My Stamp, one can get their own photograph printed with picture chosen from the various templates and use it as an official stamp," said an organizer.
It can be used for postal charges on mail items. School students are showing a lot of interest in the event which will be on till 23 February.
The Times of India, Feb 22, 2012

1 comment:

  1. While deciding reasonableness of the restriction the Hon'ble should have considered the existing state of affairs. In the given situation (the situation is that an average person is quite annoyed with the unwanted SMSs. The court should have reserved its decision when something concrete could have been done by the TRAI or others to ensure that the freedom of other people is not disturbed. It is really bothering to see that the courts miss out the ground situation in most of the cases.