WEEKEND: Strait Stamp Show to lure young, old collectors to Sequim
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Longtime stamp collector Phil Castell, right, checks the value of a stamp with an app on his smartphone for Julie Callahan during a special meeting of the Strait Stamp Society in advance of the group's annual stamp show, which will be at the Masonic Lodge in Sequim on Saturday.
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Stamps from all over the world, including these Nazi-era stamps from Germany featuring the image of Adolf Hitler, will be swapped and celebrated at the annual Strait Stamp Show. Photo by Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Digging through a pile of canceled stamps, 8-year-old Ruby Coulson plucks out one that features a trio of thoroughbreds racing toward the finish line next to what appears to be an Eastern European type.

“It's my favorite,” said the new stamp collector, whose focus is on postage picturing horses, outer space, American flags and Christmas.

Julie Callahan also has just begun collecting stamps, digging through piles to look especially for stamps featuring gorillas, an animal she fell in love with during a trip to central Africa.

“There's gorilla stamps from places that are nowhere near gorillas,” Callahan said, pointing to Japanese and French stamps that feature the beasts on a special display board she has made of her gorilla collection.

Both have been collecting stamps for less than a year. Both are hooked on the hobby.

“If you like a stamp, you keep it. There's no rules to collecting,” Callahan said.

“Once I heard that, I knew it was for me.”

The two new stamp collectors will join veterans such as Gene Haugen, whose collection dates back seven decades, at the Strait Stamp Society's annual Strait Stamp Show at Sequim's Masonic Lodge, 700 S. Fifth Ave., on Saturday.

The event is free and runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It's an easy way to see the world,” said Haugen, a retiree with thousands of stamps he began collecting to earn a Boy Scout merit badge as a boy.

Richard Tarbuck, another member of the society, said the exotic origins of some stamps helped him get started.

He has focused his collection on finding stamps from countries in which his father fought during World War II.

He also credited his stamp collection for helping him ace geography lessons as a boy in school.

Can be pricey hobby

Saturday's stamp show will feature boxes of stamps for newcomers to file through to find their own way into the hobby.

Some can be picked up for pennies; others are valued at tens of thousands of dollars.

“It takes as much as you want to put into it,” said Phil Castell, another collector.

He compared the price of an 1840 “Penny Black” stamp from his native Great Britain that was valued at $13.50 in his hardbound stamp pricing guidebook from 1924 but that now prices at $10,000 on the price guide app he has on his smartphone.

Local values

Tarbuck noted that some stamps with connections to the North Olympic Peninsula are sought after.

Stamps featuring a clear print of a cancellation with a kicking mule in the center are highly valued, he said.

The kicking mule cancellation was developed by a 1920s postmaster in Port Townsend, he said.

A special postal cancellation celebrating the Sequim centennial will be available at the stamp show.

Those interested can bring their letters to the show and have them stamped with the special cancellation.

After the show and through Sept. 10, people can take letters to the Sequim Post Office and request the special cancellation.

The Strait Stamp Society also has produced a special letter-sized envelope with the Sequim centennial logo.

Envelopes will be available for purchase at the show for $1 and for $2 with the special cancellation.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 09. 2013 10:01AM
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