Published 9th May 2009, 3:38pm
The Cayman Islands Postal Service taught the basics of stamp collecting to 18 members of the Savannah Girls Brigade recently at the Savannah United Church.
Participants in the class ranged in age from eight to 16 years.
The class instructors, Ivan Burges and Karen McField, provided a brief history of stamps and offered insights into philately, or stamp collecting, as it is commonly known. The lesson dealt with practical matters on how to start stamp collecting -- where to go for stamps, soaking used stamps, what is a cancelled stamp, why stamps are cancelled, how to keep mint stamps in optimal condition, and how to hinge a stamp.
The class learnt that the first postage stamp, bearing Queen Victoria's profile, was issued by England in 1840. The stamp was printed using only black ink, and became known as the Penny Black. England is the only country in the world that is not required to have its name on a stamp because they were the first country to print a postage stamp.
As part of the Stamp Camp programme, which is jointly sponsored by Butterfield Bank, the Water Authority Cayman Islands, and LIME, the Postal Service equipped the Savannah Girls Brigaders with 20 stamp kits. Each kit includes an album, 200 new stamps, tweezers, and a magnifying glass to begin their new hobby.
Mr. Burges also presented the brigade leaders with a framed first-day cover featuring Cayman Islands Girls Brigade, which was issued by the Postal Service in 1978. An avid collector, he outlined the different types of stamps that people collect.
"You can collect by themes, countries, or even by something as simple as stamps issued on your birthday," Mr Burges said.
He encouraged youngsters interested in stamp collecting to let their family and friends know of their new hobby.
"A good source for acquiring stamps is friends, neighbours, relatives - even your teachers. People are usually glad to save their stamps for you. You may have to ask them to save the entire envelope or teach them how to cut neatly around the stamp, leaving a margin of paper so as not to cut away any perforation on the stamp. Business mail can also be an excellent source of new stamps for your collection," he said.
Mrs. Gwenda McLean, one of the leaders of Savannah Girls Brigade, said the girls learnt a lot from the class and that she expected some of them, if not all, will start stamp collecting. "I will, of course, continue with the programme throughout the remainder of the Girls Brigade year, which ends in June, as this is the educational section of the syllabus," she said.
Mrs. McField, who is the Postal Service's philatelic manager, encouraged youngsters and any organisations interested in starting a hobby to look seriously at stamp collecting. "Stamp collecting can be fun and it is a relatively inexpensive hobby. It encompasses so much more than stamps and is an educational pursuit," she explained.
"It promotes reading, writing and math skills, aids in concentration, promotes fellowship and fosters leadership. Stamp collecting encourages creativity, reinforces sharing, nurtures inquisitiveness and links children with a common interest. With all of this, what's not to like?" she questioned.
Any organisation or school that would like the Cayman Islands Postal Service to get them started with stamp collecting may call Assistant Postmaster General Tara Bush at 814-6506 for more information.