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Governor steals show with stamp collection
Meghalaya Philatelic Exhibition 2014
SHILLONG: The stamp collection of Governor Dr KK Paul is the major attraction of the three day Meghalaya Philatelic Exhibition 2014 which is being held at Anton Hall, Laitumkhrah.
Dr Paul developed the interest in philately or the fine art of collecting stamps when he was seven-years-old.
Revealing this secret about his interest in philately during his address at the inaugural function of the exhibition on Wednesday, the Governor said that his father had a very large number of scientist-friends abroad, and indulged in voluminous correspondence on matters of his professional interest.
“As a fringe benefit, the postage stamps used to be cut out from the covers and retained by me. They had to be soaked in water and then, after degumming, removed gently from the paper and put on a blotter for drying,” Dr Paul said adding that the stamps were often warped while drying and had to be pressed and kept in a heavy book for some time.
“Sunday mornings were almost entirely devoted to my collection which continued to grow into several albums till I joined the service,” he said.
He said that this art is almost like romancing a hobby and can be experienced only by a collector.
“Postage stamps, being very delicate, require a plenty of dedicated time, nurturing, patience and care. One gets hooked on to the hobby usually while at school. I did so,” he said.
Governor however admitted that times have changed and the impact of information technology can be felt in tall walks of life. The kids do their homework on computer and play video games.
“Postage stamps seem to be virtually of no use to them as their entire communication is confined to SMSes or e-mails or Facebook. Stories about stamps also do not interest them as they have so many other, perhaps, more useful diversions,” he said.
Dr Paul however told that it may come as a surprise to many, but at least on one occasion a postage stamp was able to change the history and geography of a country.
“The original proposal of linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans contemplated a canal through Nicaragua. The rival lobby in 1902, on the day of voting, circulated a Nicaraguan postage stamp with an active volcano. One does not know whether it was entirely due to the stamp or not, but the alignment of the famous canal surely got changed in favour of Panama, and in the process the stamp with a picture of Momotombo volcano overnight turned into a rarity,” Governor said.
Similarly, he said that considerable rarity value is also attached to some of the postage stamps belonging to the countries which had disappeared from the world map. After its absorption in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bosnia and Herzegovina ceased to exist as a country after 1909; till its revival after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
“Similarly, prior to the creation of Israel, the postage stamps showing Palestine with more or less the same map as that of Israel brings out stark historical realities. Some of the very rare stamps these days are also being used by professionals as investment propositions at auctions,” he said.
Stamps issued on personalities have their own charm. Stamps on Mahatma Gandhi have been issued by the largest number of countries. India has a healthy tradition of issuing commemorative stamps on illustrious personalities, both national and international.
“At times, deserving personalities do get left out. For instance, a stamp on Sahir Ludhianvi is to be issued on March 8 about 30 years after his death,” Governor added.