Stamp Collecting – The Ultimate Geek Hobby

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I mean no disrespect to rock hounds, model train enthusiasts, trekies, comic book collectors and such ilk by trashing their hobbies. However, there are some hobbies that are clearly more geeky than others. A lot depends on attitude. A person whose hobby is, for example, crafting fine rocking chairs from exotic woods might or might not be a geek. It depends on how long the person keeps you trapped in the workshop describing every excruciating detail of the process and, moreso, if that same person is capable of discussing any other subject at the dinner table.

For example:  I once had a friend here in Madang who was an avid train-watcher. He would come over the the house with his latest VHS tape in hand and we would sit down and watch four hours  of trains passing by. I could, in the name of friendship, get through these sessions, but only with the aid of a couple of stiff single- malts sipped slowly and deliberately. The depth of knowledge he displayed while supplying the commentary was disturbing. He would turn the sound down so that he could supply his opinions in place of the soundtrack. The erie effect of his drone accompanying the silent passing of the trains was quite indescribable.

I myself, if you can believe it, was a stamp collecting geek as a callow youth in my mid-thirties. I had, of course, a modest stamp accumulation from my childhood. When I was growing up, a stamp collection of some merit was a sort of proof of gender. Girls didn’t do it. A huge bag of marbles and a few hundred choice stamps were the keys to a smooth entry into manhood.

I pretty much abandoned philately when I took up the less sedate activity of SCUBA diving over twenty years ago. I keep our modest collection mostly for senitmental reasons, since my wife, Eunice, encouraged the harmlessness of it (kept me out of trouble).

I had the wacky idea this morning when I rose that somebody out there might actually be interested in seeing some of the first stamps that were issued for use in the country that is now called Papua New Guinea. I’m not going to go into a geeky soliloquy of the wonderfulness of stamp collecting or bore you with many details of what’s here. If you’re interested, the download files are about a meagabyte. They have sufficient detail so that you can look up details on the web. I’m far too lazy to do that for you and I’ve forgotten much about the stamps that we have.

Early on, the Eastern half of the island of New Guinea was colonised by Germany in the North and Great Britain in the South. The Northern territory was called Deutch Neu Guinea and the southern colony Papua. In this first page, you’ll see the era before the end of WWI displayed as Deutch Neu Guinea. Note that the territory took on several other names as time progressed: Territory of New Guinea, Territory of Papua New Guinea, N. W. Pacific Islands (as an overprint on Australian stamps). At the bottom of the page are some Papua stamps which actually belong to the next page. I left them there because I don’t like to handle them, even with tweezers.

Early New Guinea Stamps 1

On this page are the Papuan stamps. As you can see, the predominant themes were the Lakatoi, a distinctively Papuan sailing canoe and an image of the King.

Early New Guinea Stamps 2

Here’s a very early image of a Lakatoi from The State Library of Victoria. The details are: photographer, Lindt, J. W.
Lakatoi, near Elevala, Port Moresby. Date of creation: 1885.

lakatoi by Lindt, J. W. near Elevala, Port Moresby - 1885

I sometimes wonder how I would appear if I had not switched from stamp collecting to the equally geeky, but nevertheless more rugged hobby of SCUBA diving. I bet that I’d still weigh about 90 kilos instead of my trim and taught 59. I might even be dead.

Choose your hobby wisely.

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One Response to “Stamp Collecting – The Ultimate Geek Hobby”

  1. Steve Goodheart Says:

    Hitting on all eight-cylinders on this post, my man! Fun, entertaining, informative, vivid images, and those stamps are amazingly handsome as desktop wallpaper.

    Your account about the train fanatic and the image of you stoically (grimly?) sipping the malt liquor to make it through totally cracked me up….strange coincidence, when I was growing up, our family had train nut friend just like that…he was an acquaintance of my grandpa, who was an engineer on the Union Pacific Railroad. As a kid, I loved and worshipped steam locomotives, but this guy could even put me to sleep with his homemade movies of trains (he used to take train sighting vacations….his poor wife!)