‘Look at this, my father called me over.
‘Hey, it’s our hornbill! It’s so beautifully drawn. On such a tiny piece of paper!’ I was hooked.
I was six years old when my father gave me my first stamp. Now I have three albums. Most of my stamps were given by my parents and relatives. I also exchanged some with my friends. I am especially proud of my album on Malaysian wildlife. I remember waiting eagerly for the postman to come, hoping to get a new stamp – one that was not in my collection.
The artwork had drawn me to collecting stamps when I was six years old. Then I started to look out for important personalities. I have stamps of our first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Queen Elizabeth, my favorite actors and actresses. I collect stamps from all around the world. Whenever an important event is going to take place, I will rush to buy the first day covers. My most prized possession is the stamp commemorating our country’s independence. Stamp collecting is a wonderful hobby. I can learn about the history, socio-economics and important personalities of a country.
I would not consider myself a philatelist; merely an avid collector of stamps. When I am feeling down, a quick flip through the pages of my album will cheer me up. The stamps have sparked my interest in my other hobby, postcard collecting. Many of my friends sent postcards to me. I found the postcards as fascinating as the stamps.
My first postcard was one of the funicular train in Penang Hill. My brother had gone on a school trip to Penang and had written home to tell us about his trip. From then on, I would coax or badger anyone who is traveling to get me a postcard.
I have been lucky. Many of my cousins travel widely. I have postcards of the seven wonders of the world. They are now vintage postcards. Like the stamps, these postcards are windows to the past. I have a postcard of a rural scene of Malacca – a farmer and a bullock pulling a plough. Another is of a tin mine in Perak. They are all part of a vanishing landscape. Such postcards give an insight to what was life then. I once went to a postcard and stamp exhibition. There was a collection of postcards by German photographer A. Kaulfuss who was based in Penang in 1900. It was a time of horse-drawn carriages and bullock carts and ladies holding parasols. I would not have guessed it – if not for the postcards.
What is required of a good collector is some creativity and an orderly system. My hobbies have definitely made me neat and systematic. I learnt the hard way as many of my stamps were torn because I was too impatient and careless.
My hobbies have given me much pleasure. Nowadays my family and friends do not ask me what I would like when they are traveling. They know the answer – ‘Get me a postcard, please. And get it stamped, if you can.