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Passionate Nerd, Dull Date: Encounter With a Stamp Collector

"Their album - it's an excuse." Stamps from Austria
Last week I received a packet from Austria. It came with two old fashioned looking petit point stamps. I do not collect stamps and would not recognize a Blue Mauritius if you sent me one but the stamps from Austria caught my interest. As my fingers were running over the stitching I couldn't help but wonder: does anyone still do petit point? Are young people here in L.A. or even back in Europe still acquiring the craft?

I learned to stitch, sew, and knit in elementary school in Austria but handiwork was not my forte. On the contrary. Crafts used to be the one subject I loathed - though I believe that my mother still keeps the red and blue pot holder I crocheted in second grade. (It was supposed to be a square but ended up an irregular trapeze.)

The other thing I was wondering about when the packet arrived is whether young people still collect stamps. When I was in high school I knew a guy my age with a collection. Someone had warned me about young men with stamps: "If they ask you to come and look at their album - it's an excuse." I went anyway.

My stamp guy was the nerdy type, very intelligent but socially awkward. His passion for stamps fascinated me the way alien things often do. By visiting him I hoped to find out what fueled his excitement for small, sticky backed pieces of paper.

We spent an hour together, went through the collection. There were no petit point items and no Blue Mauritius either. All my nerd had was a book with rows and rows of flat, two dimensional stamps from Austria, Germany, and France. I failed at seeing behind his passion, and the album was no excuse for anything, the date dull as a crafts class.

To this hour I cannot understand what drives people to collect stamps - or to spend their days doing needlework. One day I hope to find someone who can tell me. Until then I'll hold onto my petit point stamps from Austria.


debi said…

Great post as always.

I'm one of those nerds that loves to do needlework, but since discovering almost two years ago that I love to write more, the needle and thread have lost all hold on me.

Changing the subject -- I saw you added the Technatori link to your site, and I went out there to "like" your post. I found where I can like Technatori but haven't found how to like "Across the Pond".

Anyway, I decided I will join Technatori; interesting possiblities. Cheers.
Thanks, Debi.

I'm glad you replaced your passion for stitching with writing. Not sure we would have met otherwise... On that note, I'll make sure to catch up with your screenplay today.

Good luck with Technorati!
Petrea Burchard said…
Hi Christina,
Thanks for visiting my blog.
I have a vague understanding of how people get the collecting bug, but why it should be stamps I don't know. Perhaps it's a desire to travel to the places the stamps come from.
Needlework, I'll never understand!
Lorraine Seal said…
I neither collect stamps nor inflict my handiwork upon the world, but I find something very appealing about the miniature graphics, in so many styles and moods, of the first and in the colours and textures and (sometimes) the beauty of the second.

As it is though, I can't keep up with those things for which I have real passion . . .

I will ask my youngest sister if she knows what petit point is. Time certainly has changed. Will young people still pursue an activity or hobby if it’s not tech-involved and considered cool?

Your post reminded me of some old stamps which my grandma gave me when I was little. Most of them were from Japan, China, & England before the World War II. Since I was young and rarely a collector type, I gave the stamps away after keeping them in a book for a few years. I wish I could have kept them with me! Not only for its value, but as a rememberance of my grandma. They carried some fascinating patterns and images which are still vivid in my mind until today. Modern-day stamps may not have such appeal anymore.
Petrea -

Thank you for stopping by. Over the years I have been infected by various collecting bugs: marbles, rocks, sea shells... The one gathering addiction that has stuck with me is books. Sometimes I think I'd be better off with stamps. They take up so much less space.

Lorraine -

You are such an attentive gatherer of impressions I am not surprised you days are full. Thank you for following your passion for observing and writing and sharing it with the rest of us.

Reese -

Thanks as always. I too have given away things my grandmothers gave me, things that could remind me of them: a hand knit sweater, trinkets... The memories of both women are still there. They have stayed with me as I moved from here to there, around, and back again. Moths can't get to them, customs don't ask me to put a value on them, and moving companies can't break them when they do sloppy packing work. Can't beat that!

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