Hey all, I hope everyone’s 2018 is off to a good start. My timing was fortunate. I left for Florida the day before the snow came and returned the day after the freeze broke. I put the blog aside for a time since my return because I have been plugging away assiduously on the book about Civil War Era New York. I have another few thousand words to go. If I grind it out I may finish the draft as early as next weekend. I intend then to spend the rest of the winter revising, honing, fact checking and putting the bibliography into Zotero. I’m maintaining the energy level as I reach the finish line.

Last weekend I received the box you see below. About fifteen years ago my mother told me she wanted to start a stamp collection. She had had one when she was a girl, which ultimately went to one of my older cousins somewhere along the way many decades ago. She had great of fun building this new collection for about a decade until declining health rendered it impossible for her to continue. I told her when she began back in the early 2000s that there is no wrong way to collect stamps. One does it entirely for oneself and, if one goes about it well, the collection becomes an accurate representation of the individual who created it. Her knowledge of philately was never that extensive–neither is mine for that matter–but she managed with my help to create what grew into something special. Not valuable in a financial sense, but something that collectively was greater than the sum of the parts.

South Florida

As I mentioned she stopped adding to her stamp collection about five years ago due to health issues that rendered it difficult. Last year she asked if I wanted to bring it back to New York. I didn’t, hoping maybe she would pick it up again. This year she asked again and I knew that it was time; more than once she alluded to the fact that seeing the collection and not being able to work on it was painful. I didn’t press it. Two weeks ago today we pulled out the wicker basket containing the album and the supplies. It took fifteen minutes to dust it off–it had been that long. Then I sorted things out, packed them up for safe transport, and boxed them up. The following day, Sunday, we went to the post office in South Florida, put it on the machine, printed a stamp and label, and put it in the big locked box for USPS to start shipping the following day.


It came in the mail later that week. The first thing I did was open it to make sure everything arrived undamaged. (I had put the items, including the album on the right, in separate bags within the box and added packing material for safer traveling.) Thankfully it was all good. Since then it has sat undisturbed. I told my mother that while I will build on the collection because I do want it to be a living thing. For the most part though it will remain intact and much as it is. In the box are a sizable number of plate blocks and first day covers representing my mother’s various interests. One could call it a very feminine collection. I will sort and organize things in a systematic manner once I figure out how best to do all this. In the much longer term I will probably give it to my niece or nephew, if they want it, somewhere down the line. Time will tell.