I had to go to our local US Post Office today. It was definitely a blast from the past. My preferred messenger/postal carrier is FedEx (which has a location conveniently opened 24 hours a day, directly across the street from me).
As I waited (im)patiently in line, I looked around the room – wood paneled, with service windows that have shown a lot of wear and tear over the last 50 years. Then I came across one shadow box window, in a more obscure corner. It sat quite innocuously until I fully comprehended the contents. That was the window that had stamps for amateur and professional philatelists to collect stamps.
I remember as a young child receiving hand written letters from relatives. My father is the tenth child of ten children, and my mother is the second of five children. I was one of the youngest one to be born on my father’s side. By the time I was born, I think we could have fielded a full soccer team, replacement, trainers, and a few ball boys! Except for the fact that my family was distributed between mainland China, Hong Kong the UK, and disperse across Canada and parts of the US. (Talk about an international team).
I would love collecting stamps from all over the world. My parents taught me that stamps that were not cancelled were worth more. I would wait at the post office for the first day covers and covet the remarkable number of postmarks from all around the world.
As I grew older, I thought the collection would be worth something. (Frankly, if it were to be worth ANYthing, it would been a jackpot for me!) As I grew up, and took up interest in other hobbies – girls, cars, etc., I abandoned my interests in philately. Soon, I would have forgotten all about the collection. Through my various moves, and subsequently my parents’ move to their present downsized home, the collection has been lost.
Apart from this endearing story that I wanted to share with you, there is a point to this!
As we move to electronic and digital “things” – such as “Likes” on Facebook, digital photos that will never be framed, embarrassing videos on vacation, and maybe Bitcoins – how are we really going to collect anything? I remember my HK$0.01 coin that had H.M. King George VI’s bust on the back. (Actually, I also remember his head on an early stamp I collected).
Think about this situation: we acquire several newly minted virtual currency in 2012. Ten years later, apart from the face value of the coin, how else could we value the virtual currency? How do we preserve and track the provenance of the coin? What will happen to Numismatics?? After all, showing a digital photo of an “ancient” 2012 virtual currency 100 years from now, is not nearly as exciting as holding a one hundred year old coin that may have a slight defect during minting that makes it more valuable and unique compared to coins from its contemporaries.
So far, what has the technology industry done to me in terms of collecting things:
- Abandoned coin collecting;
- Abandoned stamp collecting;
- Recycling older electronics A/V equipment – now an iPod produces better quality sounds (with the exception of the great symphonies from Bach to Rachmaninov recorded by the Deutsche Grammophon company. I don’t think there will be anything better than listening to these records for whatever reason!)
- Recycling older laptops and desktops – I’d rather have the latest and greatest!; and
- I don’t even collect printed out recipes – I just reprint them next time I want to cook it, or move my tablet to the kitchen!
Can anyone help me to introduce something that is worthwhile collecting to my son Charlie?