Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Stamp of Approval

When you are rummaging through your basement and discover a box of stamps that was once someone’s prized possession, don’t throw them out.  We found a place in Tucson that treasures stamps – used or new.  Since we are ones who like to find the offbeat museums, we thought the Postal History Foundation and associated museum sounded interesting and we made a point of visiting.  

We were met by Paul who would serve as our tour guide and explain why they collected so many stamps and what they did with them.  During our hour and a half free personal tour we used the phrases “who knew” and “wow” in every other sentence.  We were awe struck by how many stamps were in one place! 

Stamps from all over the world are sent to the foundation where they are sorted, soaked, analyzed, categorized, and filed for various uses.  Some of the stamps are sold to raise money for the Foundation but the majority of them become part of the Youth Education through Stamps (Y.E.S.) Program.  This is a really neat program where stamps are incorporated into youth curriculum and provide a unique and hands-on learning experience with stamps.  The Foundation has thought of many ways to get kids interested in stamps and utilize the millions of stamps they have in their collection.  Teachers can request a lesson plan (of which there are nearly 100) and they are mailed a worksheet and a packet of corresponding stamps.   The lesson plans range from history to geography to science to fine arts, and so on.  The free stamps are not limited to teachers, kids can request them if they are working on a report or a scout badge.  For kids looking for a little summer fun that immerses them in stamps, they can attend “Stamp Camp.”  School groups are welcome to come for tours and kids are encouraged to design their own stamps.  And there are many more educational resources on the Foundations' website.  
The Foundation receives many stamps still on envelopes.
A quick soak in lighter fluid releases the
stamp from the paper. Baby powder is
used to mask any of the glue residue.
Now the stamp is free from the paper and
ready to be used.                

The Foundation is staffed by nearly 50 volunteers.  Many have been stamp collectors all of their lives. This volunteer has an experts' eye for foreign stamps and is sorting through looking for stamps of value.
The Foundation has been sharing stamps for over
50 years and has provided them to over 12,000
students around the world.
Paul showed us the many drawers and shelves filled with
curriculum and stamp packets ready for use.   

I choose the curriculum that I know a little something about - wetlands!
The "Treasure Chest" is commonly loaned to libraries.  
Kids pick through the treasure chest to find stamps that fill in words on a  worksheet.  
The Foundation is very proud of the Peggy J. Slusser Memorial Philatelic Library. The library contains over 30,000 books, journals, maps, photos, and other resources relating to philately and postal history. 
The library features a spacious reading room and is a great resource for educators, historians, and stamp enthusiasts.
Paul wanted us to be sure and share the website for the American Philatelic Society and spread the interest in stamps of which we are happy to do.  He enlightened us to the world of Philately (the study of stamps and postal history) and the great work the Foundation is doing.

I wasn’t much of a stamp collector as a kid.  I remember having a few stamps but my real collecting interest came when I lived in Europe and discovered how much I liked beer coasters.  You know the ones that are placed under your hoppy beverage on the dirty counter and that have decades of beer foam that seeped down into their pores.  Proudly I boast that my collection included over 250 different ones from all over the world.  I have a sneaky suspicion that after living in a box in my parent’s basement for 20 years the prized coaster collection is now in a landfill.  Now I have reason to start over!

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