What do stamp collecting and genealogy have in common? More than you might think! Each one can be a starting point for a person to venture into the other hobby. In other words, your interest in genealogy and family history can benefit from the knowledge you gain from your stamp collection (and vice versa).
James Tanner wrote an interesting blog post on Genealogy’s Star titled “What Collecting Stamps Taught Me About Genealogy”. Janet Klug wrote a piece titled “Stamp collecting and genealogy: stamps of ancestral homelands” for Linn’s Stamp News years before. It appears that there are people out there who engage in both the hobby of genealogy and the hobby of stamp collecting.
The National Postal Museum has an informative website for people who want to collect stamps from their ancestral homelands (or for those who are already doing so). They describe “ancestral homelands” as “the country from which your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents – your ancestors – came before they settled into the United States.”
Those who have put time and effort into genealogy probably have a very good idea about which countries are their “ancestral homelands”. This group already knows what countries to focus on when they take up ancestral stamp collecting. Those who have spent time collecting stamps probably have a good idea about where to get certain kinds of stamps from. This group might need to start working on their genealogy before they can piece together an ancestral stamp collection.
The hobby of stamp collecting requires a person to pay close attention to geography. Where did that particular stamp come from? How old is it? Genealogists might be able to find a stamp from an ancestral homeland that was newly issued at a time when one of their ancestors lived in that country.
Over the years, the boundaries of some countries have changed. Genealogists or stamp collectors who come across a very old stamp might need to do some research to figure out where in the world it came from. The name of that specific area of the world today could be different from what it was when the stamp was created.
Both genealogists and stamp collectors need to develop the skills that enable them to sort out fact from fake. Genealogists need to avoid copying someone else’s family tree because that other person might have made a mistake in their research. Stamp collectors need to learn how to spot fake stamps, and to locate reliable resources that can tell a person how much a particular stamp is worth.
A genealogist who embarks on a mission to collect stamps from their ancestral homelands could end up with a very unique heirloom. Display the stamps with a photo of the ancestors who came from the same country the stamps did.
Image by Jessica Spengler on Flickr.
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