Phi­lately is more than a rub­ber stamp

The Borneo Post - - HOME - By Wil­fred Pilo re­porters@the­bor­neo­

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.

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