Philately is more than a rubber stamp
TO an ordinary person, a postage stamp is just a miniature piece of adhesive paper stuck to an envelope but to a stamp collector or a philatelist, it has value and is a form of investment.
Stamps, kept over the years, also serve as a reminder of the past, allowing collectors to look at important events or subjects captured on a small piece of paper.
For philatelist Goh Chun Oh, 72, apart from the value of keeping something rare, collecting stamps also helps him to recall the many subjects and events not only in Sarawak but also other countries.
To him, philately draws the world community of stamp collectors closer together.
“I started collecting local and foreign stamps as a hobby when I was a teenager. Later, it became an enterprising venture.
“I remember queuing up at the post office and looking for friends from overseas in magazines and newspapers to source for new stamps,” the septuagenarian told thesundaypost. Goh said much of his teen years was spent collecting stamps from all over the world and in the process, he not only made new friends but was also able to bolster his collection. Connecting with people He said during the colonial period, not many stamps were issued in Sarawak while those that came out mostly had the image of the Queen of England, adding that the stamps issued at the time only had two to three types of design. “Our choices were absolutely definitive. That was when I started looking for more stamps from friends abroad – like in Southeast Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong Macau, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Macao, Mauritius and as far as Malta.” Goh noted some of the stamps such as
I started collecting local and foreign stamps as a hobby when I was a teenager. Later, it became an enterprising venture. — Goh Chun Oh, Philatelist
those in Singapore and Hong Kong bore the same design and image – that of the Queen of England.
“That was very boring, so when I got stamps from places like Burma and Mauritius, they were really different and often gave me more excitement.”
He added that stamps from non-British colonies were much more attractive with colourful characters.
“You have more choices and you always want to look for more. So, at the end of the day, the idea of making friends from overseas is to get stamps from different countries. “For me, this is what makes
stamps very interesting and a more meaningful hobby. Money is not on my mind.”
Over the years, Goh has gotten acquainted with many like-minded people from abroad through his stamp collection. He believes even though he has not met them in person, it is still the best way to connect with people from different countries. New Malaysian stamps He also remembers queuing up at the Kuching General Post Office to get new Malaysian stamps after the formation of Malaysia. He still does today. “There are many more people in Sarawak collecting stamps now. That’s where we tend to get together and see each other early at the post office to get the First Day Covers,” he said. Goh remembers when he was young, he used to exchange stamps because he could not afford to buy new ones from friends in Sarawak or overseas. “Of course, things were different after I had a job and owned my business. I could then afford to buy more stamps.” He said he could not remember any of his stampcollecting penpals now but what still remains vivid in his mind is a stamp commemorating the South East Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games held for the second time in what was then Burma in 1961. “It’s one of my best ever collections,” he enthused. He used to have a rare stamp from China, albeit a miniature one, which he later sold. “It can cost a collector a lot of money to get especially the miniature sheet of May Lan Feng stamps from Shanghai, China,” he revealed. A souvenir sheet or miniature sheet is a small group of postage stamps still attached to the sheet on which they were printed. Enterprising business
Goh said more Malaysians are collecting stamps these days as they know it could be an enterprising business.
According to him, philatelists can make 30 per cent income from selling their rare stamps. Collectors will bid for them.
The bidders are from different countries and the ones who put in the highest bid get to collect the rare stamps. Competitive bidding makes the stamps appreciate in value – which is good for collectors.
He said he had among his collections rare miniature sheets worth more than RM10,000 on the market.
“But only collectors know their value. That’s why all these rare stamps make for a very lucrative hobby.”
Goh said nowadays, people know where the rare stamps are and who own them, adding, “People are linked by Internet and they also read stamps magazines available in almost every country.
Philatelists subscribe to many of these magazines where collectors advertise their stocks – that’s where more information on stamps can be obtained.
“For example, if philatelists want to know about stamps in Sarawak and Sabah, they can get hold of a magazine called Sarawak Specialist Society to look up events, auctions and other related information. This is how we connect – it makes life much easier,” he added. Value of stamps
According to Goh, the value of stamps can appreciate if they are rare, limited, very old or different from others of the same issue or issue that commemorates certain events that once happened at a particular place.
“All these can make the stamps valuable – that’s why people collect them.”
He also said most philatelists assembled “cancelled stamp collections” because they are more rewarding to collect than mint stamps. He further explained when a postage stamp had been circulated but with its physical appearance kept intact, its value would rise on appraisal.
Goh hopes to pass his rare collections to one of his sons who has a similar interest.
“My son knows the value of the stamps and I think he will keep up with my collection.” He said he would encourage young people to cultivate an interest in philately as it is a good investment.
“It also creates friendship and allows you to know history, culture and people better.”
He is happy to note schools in Kuching are holding stampcollecting competitions and teachers have gone to see some of his collections depicting events in the state and Malaysia.
“This is very healthy hobby and I hope schools do encourage their students to become philatelists,” he said.
Goh shows the much sought after stamps issued in Shanghai, China. The Kuching General Post Office.
A magazine for checking the latest stamps available from China.
Goh (right) and other stamp collectors wait at the Kuching General Post Office to get First Day Covers issued by Pos Malaysia.
Goh (third left) with fellow philatelists at an eatery in Kuching.
Old stamps among Goh’s collections.
The room where Goh keeps his stamp collection.
Goh’s Straits Settlement stamps.