SEQUIM — Their tastes differ but they all share a passion for stamp collecting.
Whether it’s seeking out lighthouses, flowers or superheroes, each member of the Strait Stamp Society has a special niche as they come together once a year for their biggest event: the Strait Stamp Show.
The 23rd annual show will be from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Sequim Masonic Lodge, 700 S. Fifth Ave.
Admission is free to the show, which will include free stamps for children, a penny-stamps table, door prizes, collection appraisals and exhibits, plus U.S. Postal Service special cancellation for the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty.
As is tradition, some club members gather up their latest finds and create elaborate displays for all to see.
Cathie Osborne of Sequim remains an adamant collector of bell stamps and is planning a display.
Her collection started with physical bells, but she found costs began to escalate. She figured she could start with collecting Liberty Bell stamps instead.
“It shouldn’t get too big, right?” she said.
That subsection of stamps grew into dozens of others and is now in a dedicated room where she has more than 60 cover albums, 25 stockbooks and several Tupperware bins.
Now she’s found herself collecting bells into even farther reaches, such as stamps of bellflowers and even more obscure references.
Osborne said she read some history about author Arthur Conan Doyle and how he based Sherlock Holmes on a professor, Joseph Bell, who influenced him heavily.
So now she’s tracking down a few stamps of the popular investigator.
She’s also picked up a campaign envelope from John Bell, who ran against Abraham Lincoln in 1860 for president.
Club members all attest the hobby can lead to daily history lessons.
The itch to collect can kick in anywhere, too.
Dick McCammon of Sequim said it started for him in a store in Thailand.
He saw some stamps and it reminded him of his childhood collection.
He joined the club shortly thereafter and began collecting stamps from all over — Britain, the Shetland Islands and even Antarctica.
Bruce Halstead, a biologist and stamp collector, said he recently visited the Galápagos Islands, where travelers deliver the mail for the sender depending on where they are headed.
Halstead said he left a letter there just to see where it goes in the world before coming back to him.
Don McIntyre, known for playing Santa Claus locally for Toys for Tots, said his favorite stamps might be heading north — way north.
McIntyre collects Christmas stamps, which he says are readily available, although the lower-value stamps, 3- to 5-cent stamps, are becoming harder to find for various reasons.
“Maybe Santa is taking them up to the North Pole,” he said.
Julie Tarbuck, a fairly new collector, and her husband, Richard, a seasoned collector, said they collect to learn history and because it’s cheaper than other hobbies.
She started with finding gorilla stamps from countries she’s visited, which quickly expanded into African masks, costumes, vineyards and even more.
“Whatever interests you, that’s what you collect,” Tarbuck said.
As always, club members donate stamps for a table of stamps that collectors can buy for 1 cent each. There can be as many as 40,000 stamps on the table.
McCammon said some collectors sit there all day long sorting.
“We have to kick them out at the end of the day,” he joked.
Sequim’s show is a popular jaunt, members say, for Victoria’s three stamp clubs, whose members make the trek for the show.
Local club members shuttle the neighboring Canadians from the ferry and back.
Other notables for the show include several dealers who are available to appraise collections and the USPS, which will be on hand to sell envelopes and a cancellation stamp of the 100th year of the Migratory Bird Treaty.
For more information, call 360-683-6373 or visit www.straitstamp.org.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]