Image result for piles of stampsIn 1960 when a young person started stamp collecting the situation played out like this. A parent took you to a stamp shop or the Minkus concession at a Gimbels or other large department store. You looked at several world wide albums and usually settled on a Harris Statesman Deluxe (or maybe a Citation) which had spaces for 30,000 different stamps and cost a bit less than $5. You bought a pair of stamp tongs that were heavy and nearly took two hands to use,  a thousand Dennison stamp hinges and a world wide packet of probably 5000 different stamps. All told you spent ten or twelve bucks-a decent birthday or Christmas present but a bit less than the Pee Wee Reece model baseball glove which competed with it as as gift (for$19.95). It was the packet of 5000 different stamps that made collecting work in those days and it is the packet that is missing in today’s lure of philately for newcomers. The H E Harris company (and others) put these packets together from vast quantities of cheaper stamps that existed in Europe. The packets were assembled cheaply as wages in post WW II Europe were low and, as they rose through the 1950s production of these packets moved to Eastern Europe. The packets themselves were wonderful. Five thousand different stamps. Five thousand different  pictures, stories, monarchs, animals, scores of countries-all to be identified and perfed and examined, cataloged and neatly mounted in your album. Working for hours, you only got through a small portion of the packet and the 5000 seemed  an inexhaustible supply. There would always be more stamps to play with. Not everyone got the bug. But for those of us that did, it started with that little packet-five thousand windows to the world.

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