STAMP collecting was my favourite pastime during my primary school years.
Encouraged by my parents, my collection included local and foreign stamps of various sizes, shapes and designs depicting the faces of renowned leaders, national flowers, flags and other things.
Besides being used to pay for postage, stamps were also printed for commemorative purposes.
I remember purchasing foreign stamps at a provision shop near my neighbourhood and at stationery shops in town.
Since there were a good number of philatelists among my schoolmates, we would bring our stamp albums to the classroom to show each other during recess. We also bartered our stamps.
In addition, as an active stamp-collector, I also wrote to friends from other parts of the world who shared my interest in philately.
Stamp collecting is a noble hobby. But, alas, kids these days prefer pastimes such as playing computer games and use SMS as a means of communication.
Gone are the days when letter writing was the prime means of interaction which indirectly led to the development of an interest in stamp collecting.
At the recent launch of the inaugural stamp exhibition at Sutera Mall, Skudai, Johor Baru, philatelists Goh Lak Jin and Choa See Ho made a commendable effort to revive the hobby among schoolchildren.
I concur with Goh who said that stamps had historical importance and reminded us of past glories. By studying the stamps of a country, we can learn about its flora and fauna, architecture, great leaders and achievements.
Goh, a manager at the shopping mall, and Choa, a retired teacher, took up the laudable pastime some 50 years ago, when they were in primary school.
To date, they have both amassed well over 10,000 stamps.
Philately can be a profitable hobby. There is a regular market for the buying and selling of old stamps in many countries.
Some stamps fetch fabulous sums. A Chinese stamp that Goh bought for a mere RM3 in 1962 is now valued at RM2 million in China.
Another philatelist, Hatta Ibrahim, said he got hooked on stamps in his childhood.
The 49-year-old manager of a company in Senai said he had watched with fascination as his late father, Ibrahim Mohamed, purchased commemorative postage stamps and slotted them into a special album.
His precious collection includes a Russian stamp dating from the Czarist era, pre-investiture stamps of the late Sultan Abu Bakar, the father of modern Johor, the inauguration of Queen Elizabeth in 1952, the 1957 Merdeka celebrations, a 1935 stamp which featured the late Sultan Ibrahim and Sultanah Helen Ibrahim, and stamps of Sarawak, Kedah and Pahang.
Hatta said he wanted to get together with other philatelists to discuss organising a grand exhibition, especially of old and rare stamps, to inspire young stamp collectors. He also wants to set up a stamps collectors association.
Perhaps headmasters can also play their part by setting up philatelic clubs.