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Nov 19, 2009

Stamps opened his mind to the world

The following is the letter written by Professor Tommy Koh, Chairman, National Heritage Board published in today's Straits Times Forum Page.


I would like to share with readers my response to Mr Lim Chong Teck’s letter, "Do away with postage stamps” (Nov 10).

I was an avid stamp collector when I was in primary and secondary schools. Collecting stamps helped to educate me and brought me joy. It was through my stamp collection that I became knowledgeable about world geography and excelled in that subject in school.

The stamps opened my mind to history, historical personalities, arts, culture and the wonders of the natural world. Collecting stamps also taught me to be disciplined, methodical and to find happiness in a wholesome hobby.

Collecting stamps is something which parents and children can do together and is a bonding experience.

Let me quote a section from a lovely poem, Stamp Collecting, by one of Singapore's best poets, Boey Kim Cheng:

Starting with Australia, she slides the
behind the filmy strip, the album
promise in its fresh gluey feel, the world
being collected and unfolding as it fills up
shelf by shelf. As her five-year-old
gingerly slip the countries into place, the
spill out, like the stamps from an old
I opened yesterday, forgotten pressed
of a time when the world arrived
in a philatelic queue, surviving
emblems from my stamp-mad phase

Tommy Koh
National Heritage Board


Thanks to Professor Tommy Koh for sharing his stamp collecting experience with readers of The Straits Times.

If you would like to share your personal experience and joy of stamp collecting on this blog, you are welcome to post your comments here or submit your contribution as a guest blogger to Thank you.



Blogger PChew said...

I was a stamp collector when young. The design of each stamp tells a story. History could also be traced from the issue date of the stamp. I remember Queen Elizabeth II coronation day in June 1953. I still keep my wife's (girl friend then) letter with the Coronation stamp on the envelope.

November 21, 2009 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

That's nice, Philip. These are the collection of sentimental value (i.e the letter, the memories as well as the stamp ;)

November 21, 2009 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My dad was a stamp collector but sadly, we lost them. That was the good old days.

We are in a globally, borderless, computerised world. Everday, we are losing it - our individuality, our identity. So, I was not surprised to hear about a stampless world which rings the same tune as a cashless world.

However, I don't think that a person serving me tea, which allows pleasantries being exchange between people would be the same as robot doing the same service. Stamps are timelines of our lives, in our countries.

I take great pleasures in turning the pages of my stamp album, allowing me a walk through the past with my fingers, right into the future. One gets a glimpse of the changing nature of the creators of the stamps and the transition of my country from the colonial days to our present independent nation.

November 22, 2009 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you for sharing your joy of stamp-collecting, Jo. Great to know that you have inherited the stamp collection from your Dad and keeping this enjoyable hobby alive.

SingPost, as well as the international postal authorities, are committed to the long-term survival of the postage stamp markets to ensure that this traditional hobby will not die.

So lets hope that the days of a stampless (traditional postage stamps) world is just an idea in the air; that people everywhere will continue to enjoy the educational hobby of stamp collecting for a long time.

November 22, 2009 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

I have blogged about this childhood hobby of mine here and here. Today, there was an article in the Life section of the Sunday Times about Stamp Collecting. The reporter wanted to interview me becos he read my articles and thot that I was an avid stamp collector. I told him I had stopped for years and referred him to Dr Tan Wee Kiat instead. Dr Tan has written several stamp-based children's books. You can read about them here.

November 22, 2009 at 5:25 PM  

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