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Vintage Views: Anna’s Stamp Set

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There was a time, over a century ago, when my dear maternal grandmother lived the typical life of a young teenager here in our small town. Her parents were recent immigrants and her list of friends was limited because she was not born and raised here like the other children. She warmed up to new friendships and her new friends warmed up to her in time. Although she spoke English well, her first five years in Europe provided her with a distinct accent which she worked tirelessly to erase, without the expected results. As Grandma adjusted to her new community in America, she remained close to her family, venturing into those young friendships that only blossom with time. His nature was to be studious. Influenced by elders to pursue a hobby to occupy her spare time, she pursued stamp collecting. Her name was Anna and her hobby was stamp collecting.

To this day, I have his extensive collection of stamps dating back to the 1800s, bound in a thick collector’s album. I hold this volume with solemn respect. This album contains many values, the most important for me is the sentimental value transmitted from one generation to another and finally to me. It is a young teenager so eager to please her parents who has invested in a very empty notebook to place the stamps she has acquired. Gently placing each stamp she collected in her collector’s book became a passion she loved. Collecting stamps allowed my grandmother, young Anna, to engage her very active imagination and travel the world with every stamp she bought. His older sister Barbara traveled aboard a steamer to the old country every year, always bringing a small packet of stamps to her beloved little sister.

In 1845, the United States began issuing stamps; the first stamps being only local stamps. These original stamps were commonly referred to as Postmasters’ Issue stamps. Localities, towns and villages had jurisdiction over these stamps and they eventually became very valuable and sought after by collectors such as my young grandmother Anna. It was said that there were issue stamps of known postmasters produced in towns in Virginia, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and the small town of Boscawen, NH Each stamp produced as a postmaster’s issue is very rare and very valuable.

There was a gentleman by the name of Arthur Hind who was a stamp collector when my grandmother was a child. Mr. Hind was a very wealthy man and he collected stamps from all over the world, just like my grandmother did a century ago. Mr. Hind was said to have had a stamp collection worth a million dollars or more a century ago, and he had his mind set on Boscawen. Arthur Hinds located the only known copy of the coveted Boscawen, NH Postmasters issue stamp. He paid $12,000 for this local stamp, which was on the entire envelope and bore no cancellation mark. It had no perforation and was printed in dull blue ink on very thin paper. In the upper left corner of the envelope, the handwritten note “Boscawen, NH, December 13” was written by the postmaster at the time of the original mailing. This rare Boscawen stamp was posted from Boscawen to Concord. This beautiful stamp which Mr. Hind added to his extensive collection was formerly in the collection of Hiram Deats of Flemington, NJ, then passed into the collection of Baron P. Von Ferrary. When this stamp was purchased by Arthur Hinds, there was publicity, lots of publicity. Newspapers ran the story, and New Hampshire residents started looking. They searched the entire state for another Boscawen stamp. At this time, no other examples of this highly collectible stamp have been found.

In 1847, the United States Congress abolished the local Postal Service and centralized the entire United States Postal Service. At this time, the first regular U.S. postage stamp was printed in two denominations; a 5-cent stamp bearing the profile of Benjamin Franklin and a 10-cent stamp bearing the image of George Washington.

The days rolled on for young Anna as she built her stamp collection day by day. This loving little girl who would become my grandmother made many friends here in our small town. She grew into a beautiful woman and met a young man from Ireland, someone who embraced her beautiful European accent by becoming husband and wife. As the days went by, she tidied up her stamp collection with fond memories of her childhood in America a century ago.

Yes, I have Grandma’s stamp collection to this day. As I turn the pages of her album, I feel her presence always with me. This girl with a European accent so eager to make friends and collect stamps, my grandmother Anna.