August 2020

Every stamp tells a story

Meet John Simper, a 40-year-old ex-Royal Air Force serviceman and stamp collector for 30 years.

He now shares his knowledge with new collectors on social media under Philatelovely and runs a monthly stamp subscription service on Patreon. Today, we speak to him about his Collector's Journey.

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When did you start collecting?

I have been collecting stamps for close to 30 years. Like many of us, I started collecting stamps at a young age. My interest fuelled when my Dad split his collection up and shared it between my brother and I.  The first stamps I remember collecting were Australian KGV "Head" stamps and Kangaroos. I loved the design and all the different colours of the same stamp.  

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To begin with, I would get stamps from friends and family, I am lucky to have family in Australia and the United States so whenever I got a birthday card or Christmas card there would be a wonderful new stamp for my collection. I soon wanted every stamp I could get my hands on. I enjoyed being able to finish sets of stamps off and displaying them in folders.  

As time passed by I reined in my expectations of having every stamp and focused on stamps from Great Britain and the British Commonwealth. I then started buying from stamp fairs which were great fun, meeting and talking to other people with the same interests was amazing.

What do you like about stamp collecting?

Then learning about the people or topic on the stamps. In my teenage years, I went to the local library and borrowed all the Stanley Gibbons catalogues, which was a lot of books, a car full if I remember!! Looking through them was incredible, seeing all the stamps I had, and also, more importantly, all the stamps I didn't have.  

I knew very little when I started collecting stamps, so the information in these catalogues was invaluable, especially as the Internet hadn't been invented yet.

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What do you collect these days?

These days, I am still an avid collector, I still love being able to finish offsets of stamps and the thrill of finding that one stamp you need is as exciting now as it was when I was younger. I also continue to enjoy the history of each stamp and I'm a true believer that each stamp is an individual piece of physical history. 

My collection nowadays takes up most of my house, in fact, I think I've got stamps in nearly every room! My main core collection is 40 large, black paged stock books, two covers albums and various albums here and there. I don't think I will ever stop collecting and adding to my collection. I certainly don't think you could ever have too many stamps.

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How do you share your hobby with others?

In February of last year (2019), I was diagnosed with male breast cancer, which is quite rare. It was a total shock and still is. After two operations, six cycles of chemotherapy and 15 days of radiotherapy I'm pleased to say I'm now cancer-free and recovering well. 

The past year has been a whirlwind, to say the least, and it still doesn't seem real talking about it. Whilst recovering, I found myself with a lot of extra time as I wasn't at work. This gave me the perfect opportunity to go through my collection thoroughly. I started to watch stamp collecting related videos on YouTube, and then I followed a few Philately related accounts on Twitter. It was then I decided to start my own stamp collecting Twitter account, I called it Philatelovely.  It has gone from strength to strength and I now have over 900 followers. It also led me to start Philatelovely on Facebook and Instagram.  

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I also run a monthly subscription service via Patreon, where my followers receive a monthly pack of stamps. I love doing it, and I think people enjoy what I do. Being able to share the hobby with others is the best thing.


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