Tuesday, 12 February 2013

First Class by Chris West

I was given this brilliant book for Christmas! It's full title is "First Class - A history of Britain in 36 postage stamps", by Chris West.  I have to admit, it was on my wish list, as I like to do plenty of background reading to the hobby of stamp collecting as well as my creative activity of making collages from stamps.

It's a great way to learn about the history of Britain by relating the different eras to the stamps issued at that time, as each chapter is headed by a stamp of that period.  It has also brought the stamps alive as I'm sure I'm not the only collector who has been guilty of collecting for collecting's sake, without always taking too much note of why the stamp has been issued. Some of the stamps are very familiar to me and others not so, but that's probably due to my "gap years" in stamp collecting!

Since I've been making collages and exhibiting them, I've become so much more aware of the stories behind the stamps - not all of them of course, but researching their stories has become an important part of the creative process and being able to tell their stories has also become part of the fun!

Christ West says on his introductory page, "Stamps tell stories. They speak to us across generations - if only we'd stop squeezing them into albums, and worrying about their catalogue values, and just listen to their voices instead."  So very true! I have had so many comments to this effect from viewers of my work, some stamp collectors themselves, and others who are not but are pleasantly surprised by what they see.  I'm often complemented about having them on display rather than shut away in a drawer. One comment from a visitors book read, "I never knew stamps could be so interesting!" I hope along the way that I may have brought a few people back to stamp collecting and also given some youngsters an interest in the hobby.

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