Leon's Quest for a Specialized Album
by Leon Lutje
2nd of August 2015
Things were getting out of hand. After returning to the hobby I had been acquiring mixtures, packets, lots, kilo ware and grab-bags like a squirrel preparing for winter. There was too much stuff. Wading through the mess, I realized I needed to bring some sort of sanity or at least order to the madness. The core of the problem was I was fickle. Every morning I would choose a different color, theme, denomination, country or type of stamp to specialize in collecting. After a couple of months . . . well, you get the picture. Therefore, one day in frustration I decided to get some advice or direction from my favorite source, my lovely wife Bunny Marti.
“Darling,” I ventured, “I am in a quandary.”
“What?” she asked over the din of the mixer, “You want to do the laundry?”
“No sweetheart, I said I was in a quandary.”
“Oh. Is that all? I thought you wanted to be useful.”
“I truly need your advice.”
“Should have thought of that thirty-five years ago,” she muttered. “What is the problem?”
“I simply have too many stamps.”
I am not certain what she said in answer however, I believe it started with “no” and ended with “Sherlock.”
“I need you to help me decide what field of stamps I should concentrate on collecting,” I stated.
“Oh, just choose something. I am sure you will make the right decision. By the way, how’s the stock in Enron coming along?”
I could see this was going nowhere; therefore I repaired to my den and tried to concentrate. While thumbing through a Scott Vol. 3, the solution hit me right between the eyes. You see, I have always had a fascination for German film and actors. I discovered not only did Germany have a few sets of stamps honoring German film stars; three of my favorites were in the same set from the year 2000. Any country cool enough to have Goldfinger on a stamp would have my devotion. Germany I would collect and by-golly the year 2000 would be my starting point. I few mouse clicks later I had a complete set of MNH Germany 2000 on the way. Of course the next morning I opened a box lot and found a Canadian Flying Squid stamp which caught my eye. No! Control yourself I thought, Germany is it, end of story.
Six days later a package came in the mail. It was very thin but bigger than a standard letter and it was sort of light brownish and a few US commemoratives were attached for postage. “What’s this?” Bunny Marti asked.
“Those are my new stamps from Germany.”
“I didn’t know James Dean was German?” she asked surprised.
“Not those stamps silly. I mean the ones inside.”
“This isn’t from Germany, it’s from Kansas.”
“The dealer is from Kansas. The stamps inside are brand new and from Germany?
“If you say so, but how did a person in Kansas get brand new stamps from Germany?”
“Well, they probably bought them from another dealer.”
“In Kansas?” she asked apprehensively.
“I don’t know where they got them. And I don’t particularly care as long as they didn’t print them, themselves.”
“I am not an expert at stamps. But it seems to me if you want to buy new stamps from Germany the best place to start would be, oh, I don’t know, what about GERMANY?”
“Germany, does not sell these anymore. They are from 2000 and are fifteen years old. The German post office does not have them in stock. Please just give me the package so I can store it safely.”
“Aren’t you going to open it?”
The look of shock I gave her actually made her step back. She has only stepped back like this one other time. (Perhaps another story in the future.)
“Open it? Are you mad? Of course I am not going to open it.”
“You mean to tell me you have been following the mail carrier around for the last three days and she finally delivers what you want and you are not even going to see what’s in the package? What if there is only a note in there saying, “Ha-ha. I fooled you, all the best from Kansas.”
“I have to wait until I find a place to mount them. I do not want to expose them to any danger or mischief until I decide where they should go.”
“They are postage stamps,” replied Bunny Marti, “They are designed to be stuck on envelopes which are subject to innumerable dangers and mischief, not to mention snow, rain, or gloom of night. Look! The James Dean triplets made it all the way from Kansas in fine shape, except for one poor Dean who has “Tonganoxie” stamped on his forehead.”
I answered, “I read on a discussion board once, exposure can be damaging to stamps. I even read on another discussion thread, some people emit a sort of fume or ray from their eyes which can cause a stamp to disintegrate very quickly. I wish to take no chances.”
“Well, if it was on the internet it must be true, right? She retorted. “Ridiculous.”
After a fine lunch and a cursory lawn mow, I was once again sitting at my desk examining the envelope, snuggly protecting my stamps. I had read Germans were very serious about their stamp collecting. I had no desire to collect German stamps in a half-hearted manner; therefore I decided to be very serious as well about my new founded German collection. I wondered if the Germans were so very serious about their collections, perhaps there was a German company which made stamp album pages on which to affix my stamps. Wouldn’t you know it, there is! I contemplated contacting the company directly; you know, sort of go all out and buy the pages direct from Germany. However, as my German is limited to “Tag der Briefmarke” which I suppose would have been enough in a pinch to get my point across, I thought better. So I called a company based in the United States, who sells such items as I required. I wanted to buy this item by phone as opposed to the internet, just for old times’ sake. The conversation went as follows.
“Thank-you for calling X”, (the company shall remain nameless,) “your place for every stamp collecting need. How may I direct your call?”
“Yes, I am looking to purchase a stamp album please.”
“Very good sir, hold a moment while I direct your call.”
Holding the moment, I waited. Not long, only a matter of seconds.
“Hello, this is (insert name here). How may I help you?”
“I am looking to purchase a stamp album for Germany from the company in Germany who makes stamp albums for German stamps.” Looking back, I suppose this was a bit excessive.
“Very good sir, are there any specifics such as year supplement, type of pages or color?
“No,” I answered, “I want it all. If I have any German stamp, I want a place to stick it.”
“Great! Would you like our specially made for our pages album covers?”
“Fine, would you want our specially made slip covers in which to store our specially made album covers?”
“Hold a moment sir while I calculate our special price.”
Once again holding the moment, the friendly salesperson came back on the line and quoted me a price.
Oddly enough, the first thing going through my mind after hearing their special price was thankfulness I was not on speakerphone and Bunny Marti listening. Otherwise, she certainly would have yanked the phone out of the wall as you see in the movies. Understandably, my thought was there was some sort of mistake.
“I am sorry,” was my reply “Perhaps you misunderstand. I am not looking to rent a castle in Bavaria for the summer. I simply want a few pieces of paper on which to stick my stamps.”
Forty-five minutes later, it was decided the only thing my monthly philatelic budget could afford was a standard Germany 2000 year supplement consisting of nine pages. No cover, no slipcase, no frills included. Five days later a package arrived. This time there were no commemorative stamps attached. It was simply a cold, heartless, computer sticker which looked like it came from a future century. I had only ordered nine pages yet the package was roughly the size of second base. No longer concerned my eyes were emitting a ray which would destroy anything, I opened the package. Inside was another package or large envelope with an illustration of a, I suppose German father, bending over the shoulder of a, I suppose German adolescent, and both were examining stamps having smiles on their faces. I mean the father and young boy; I do not know what the stamps had on their faces. Inside of the huge envelope where my nine pages from a German company, who make German album pages in Germany which would hold my 2000 German year set. I did not remove them. I assumed they would be sufficient for my needs as the nine pages together were approximately the thickness of a piece of Texas toast. I was assured they were acid free, whatever that means. I suppose it means there is no acid in the paper. Frankly, I never knew there was acid in any paper. Remembering all of the thousands upon thousands of pieces of paper I must have touched in my sixty-three years, I instinctively looked at my fingertips to see if there was any indication of some sort of burning, however I found none.
My pages sit on the bookshelf. They are waiting for me to get the courage, knowledge and funds I need to acquire mounts. Every once in a while I take them out of the outer package and gaze fondly at the smiling German father and child. On the table where the young boy is sitting and at which the father is leaning, there is an entire album filled with pages which I assume are all from the same company as my pages. I daydream and imagine what the father does for a living as to provide this fortunate lad with such lofty philatelic paraphernalia.
Yet another disclaimer. Bunny Marti wishes me to inform you that she would never utter such vulgarities ascribed to her in the “no/Sherlock” reference. I concur. At least not if there was any danger of it being heard by someone of consequence. As I do not inhabit consequential status I stand by my conjecture.