My grandfather collected stamps, my mom collected stamps, and they passed their stamp collecting passion on to my brother and me. I was given a blank stamp album, probably for my eighth birthday, and encouraged to save stamps.
At first I was dependent on my grandfather sending me the torn off corner of correspondence he had received in the mail. He was a Dean at the University of Buffalo, and had world wide connections. He and my grandmother also traveled widely, and he sent me letters from his travels. My first collecting skill was learning to soak this fragment of a letter to loosen the glue off the stamp. Then I took the wet stamp and pressed it flat between two pieces of paper with a book on top until it was flat and dry. Then I could use a special paper hinge to attach it to the appropriate page in my album.
I learned about commemorative stamps and looked forward to my mother bringing one home from the post office when one caught her eye. When I was a child, the first class rate was 3 cents, then 4 cents, so this was a small expenditure.
I suppose that stamp collecting has disappeared as a hobby. At least I know of no children who are interested. But looking back over my collection, I am struck with how much history it reveals.
More on that tomorrow.