Sunday, August 30, 2009

Postage Stamp Quotations

"Things did not delay in becoming more curious when they came across Pierce's stamp collection, thousands of coloured windows into time and space, ex-rivals for her affections that would be broken into lots."
--Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49.

"Son, stamp collecting is like life. It stopped being fun a long time ago."
--Homer Simpson to Bart on The Simpsons TV show

"In science there is only physics; all the rest is stamp collecting."
--Lord Kelvin

"All science is either physics or stamp collecting."
--Ernest Rutherford, physicist

“Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it. Those who do not do it, think of it as a cousin of stamp collecting, a sister of the trophy cabinet, bastard of a sound bank account and a weak mind.”
--Jeanette Winterson

"Everyone's calling me a dork now. I mean, it's just a hobby."
--Closet stamp collector and tennis star Martina Sharapova as quoted by James Barron in his book The One Cent Magenta

"The philatelist will tell you that stamps are educational, that they are valuable, that they are beautiful. This is only part of the truth. My notation is that the collection is a hedge, a comfort, a shelter into which the sorely beset mind can withdraw. It is orderly, it grows towards completion, it is something that can't be taken away from us."
--Clifton Fadiman in Any Number Can Play.

"What should I do? I think the best thing is to order a stamp with my face on it."
--Charles, Emperor of Austria 1882-1922 on learning of his accession to the throne.

"What do you call the stamp guys? Philatelists or something? Well whatever it is, it’s some Greek or Latin root meaning 'complete nerd.'”
--Chris M. Keating (

"For seventeen years, he did nothing at all but kill animals and stick in stamps."
--Harold Nicolson, the official (!) biographer of England's King George V.

..."the thrill of the quest, the desire to hunt down that really rare stamp that you read about when you were at school and there’s almost the feeling that when you’ve got it you’re not so interested any more and you move on to the next one."
--Simon ­Garfield, The Error World: An Affair With Stamps

"little nothing stamps"
--One dealer's dismissive term for common stamps found in every worldwide album. Reported in Simon ­Garfield, The Error World: An Affair With Stamps

Synonyms for collectable postage stamps: "sticky treasures," "collection of paper heads," "pretty bits of paper," and "colorful scraps."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

"He was an enthusiastic stamp collector, and taught the boys to learn the history and the geography of the issuing countries, as well as to keep neat, orderly albums. And that was his downfall."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

"...about the pristine perfection of the things, the enchantment of engraving, the pleasures of perforations, and the glories of glue..."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

"...Father puttered on, mounting bits of colored paper with more fearsome relish than some men mount the heads of stags and tigers."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

"...There's a new set of stamps coming out soon...Same old picture of King George's head, God Bless 'em, but tarted up in new colors."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Synonyms for a stamp collector: Stamp wallah (Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie)

"A Collection...[is] an obsession organized."

"You must kiss our fair Queen, or her pictures, that's clear
Or the gummy medallion will never adhere;
You will not kiss her hand, you will readily find
But actually kiss little Vickey's behind."
--A ditty inspired by the newly issued "Penny Black" entitled "Lines on the Post Office Medallion," June 6, 1840, The Town

"A new mania has bitten the industriously idle ladies of England. To enable a large wager to be gained, they have been indefatigable in their endeavors to collect old penny stamps; in fact, they betray more anxiety to treasure up Queen's Heads than Harry the Eighth did to get rid of them."
--Punch, 1842

"Is it the intention to establish a cheap portrait-gallery of living princes and rulers?...What curiosity can any reasonable being have to possess the commonplace effigies of the most commonplace-looking people in Europe?"
--Charles Lever, Irish novelist, writing on the new stamp collecting fad in Blackwood's Magazine, 1864

"Philately starts where the catalogue ends."

“In Norway during winter, you became religious, took up drink or collected stamps.”
--Richard Ashton, Sotheby’s (as quoted in "The Once and Future Philatelist: A writer’s sentimental journey into the clubby world of stamp collecting" by Jonathan Kandell, Arts & Antiques, September 2010

"Stamps and coins are not prep. Why? Because."
--Preppies are collectors, but of things like miniature Eiffel Towers, according to True Prep by Lisa Birnbach with Chip Kid.

"He was stable and sane, an avid art enthusiast with the same mutant gene as the stamp collector...--except that there were glorious buildings erected solely to house and protect his objects of interest, objects that commanded the attention of scholars, historians, and news bureaus, giving undeniable proof that they were worthy of devotion."
--An Object of Beauty, a novel by Steve Martin.

"Can you imagine Archie Bunker collecting stamps? Well, I can't."
--Earl Apflbaum in reference to the educational aspects of the hobby.

"Chris: Couldn't we just stop philateling?
"Peter: Too late.
--Family Guy "German Guy" Episode

"Look but don't touch! I paid $27,000 for that stamp."
"You paid too much. That's a red stamp. Everybody knows that red stamps only cost 2¢. The most I ever paid for a stamp was 8¢, and that was for one of those airplane ones."
--Early to Bed, a 1936 Hollywood comedy

"This year the USPS released stamps with portraits of Pixar characters, Selena and Mark Twain. Do you think that's what stamp collectors are into? Stamp collectors are into eating TV dinners alone and crying. Put out a stamp series of famous people eating TV dinners alone and crying, and there's your $10 billion [needed to get the Post Office out of debt]."
--From Joel Stein's article "Pushing the Envelope" in the September 26, 2011 issue of Time Magazine.

"Next time ask my barber to approve them before you issue stamps with my portrait."
-- King Christian X of Denmark. I found this quote on the Quotes and Sayings website which also explains the reference.

"Lay the hinge on your palm:
moving top and bottom: in love
curling sides: fickle
turns over: false
motionless: dead
curls up entirely: passionate"
 --By DRB who repurposed instructions for the Magic Fortune Fish; posted on

"The President of today is just the postage stamp of tomorrow."
--Gracie Allen

"Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste."
--William Butler Yeats

Interviewer - "Why, you're a fatalist !"
Yogi Berra - "You mean I save postage stamps? Not me."

FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT: "When I was a young man -- before my marriage of course -- I found that showing one’s stamps was a very helpful way to get a young woman’s attention."
BERTIE (King George VI of England) "Was it?"
FRANKLIN: "They have to sit close to you. Share the magnifying glass."
He ‘winks’ at Bertie. And smiles.
"But I suppose if your father’s the king... Who needs stamps?"
--From the film Hyde Park on Hudson, script by Richard Nelson

"Mrs. Roosevelt was asked if she had any hobbies to balance her husband's love of postage stamps. 'One collector in a family is enough,' she said. 'If you had ever lived with one you would realize that.'"
--Quoted on Thanks to wt1 on the Stamp Community for finding this link.

MAN: '...and my dream is to become the Bill Gross of duck stamps...New Mexico issued duck stamps only from 1991 through 1994, ending with the crown jewel of all duck stamps, Robert Steiner's supernaturally beautiful Green-Winged Teals in flight, of which I happen to own a plate block.'
WOMAN: 'Which someday,' Gladys announces chirpily, 'I am going to take out of archival plastic, compromise the gum on the back with my slobbering tongue, and use to send in the gas bill.'
MAN: 'Not valid for postage, honeybunch.'
--Thomas Pynchon. Bleeding Edge.

"In my experience most collectors and dealers have little interest in stamps that have been issued during their adulthood. Most of us concentrate on the stamps of our childhood and before. This has always been the case with collectors."
-- Apfelbaum's Corner: John Apfelbaum's blog on Philately, October 7, 2013 writing about Max Margolies

"The great collectors of stamps were all men of passion. If they did not have passion when they started collecting, they soon developed it, for there is no mistress so demanding as stamps. 'You just don't know what stamps can do to a man,' says one collector almost breathlessly. 'Stamps are an addiction for which there is no cure,' explains another. 'No real collector ever sells his stamps in his lifetime--unless it is to buy more stamps.'"
--Life Magazine, 3 May 1954, the "Rare Stamp" issue

DETECTIVE: "So how long you been a philatelist, Fred?"
CRIMINAL: "Hey, watch your mouth, pal. Fred Cana don't go that route."
DETECTIVE: "Philately is the study of stamps, Mr. Cana, which you would know if you were, in fact, a collector."
--Castle TV series, "Den of Thieves" episode

"I used to collect stamps but I gave it up when people stopped writing to me."
--Broadway Melody of 1940

"A tax upon letters is in effect a tax upon speech. It is worse. It is a fine levied upon the affections. It is an impost upon the love of kindred. It is a penalty on commerce; an amercement upon the diffusion of knowledge and a drag on the progress of civilization."
--Lord Ashburton arguing against the idea of charging for the delivery of letters, American Whig Review of 1848

"A boy of 12 was a dedicated stamp collector; until the lad next door also bought an album. 'He buys every stamp I do,' the boy complained to his father, 'and he's taken all the fun of it away.' 'Don't be a fool, my boy,' said his wise dad. 'Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of philately."
--From the Edinburgh Evening News as quoted on Don Schilling's blog, The Stamp Collector's Roundup

" reassemble the whole of the stamps issued in one country, in a certain part of the world, or if possible, of the whole universe, and not to estimate the value of stamps according to their beauty of engraving or design."
--Maurice Burrus, The Philatelic Magazine, 21 October 1922.

"I began to think furiously of the future interview with the owner at 'The [Heavenly] Gate.'"
"I crave admittance."
"Have you fed the poor, visited the sick, relieved distress?"
"No, I really hadn't time, but I have here a 1 cent British Guiana stamp, in a grease-proof envelope, for which I paid £7000. Even his Majesty the King of Great Britain personally congratulated me upon acquiring it. Would you like to see it?"
"Such tiny fragments of paper will readily burn in Hell."
--Rev. E Bruce Concord, M.A. imagining a conversation between St. Peter and Arthur Hind, owner of the unique and famous British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta stamp

"We are a nation of flower-lovers, but also a nation of stamp-collectors, pigeon-fanciers, amateur carpenters, coupon-snippers, darts-players, crossword-puzzle fans."
--George Orwell writing about the English in his essay "The Lion and the Unicorn" (1941)

“Rare stamp sold for record $9.5 million. Last owner was crazed killer.”
—Headline in the ‎Jun 18, 2014 Washington Post on the sale of the British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta

FBI AGENT PETER BOURKE: “You have to admit. The stamp [heist] is a pretty exhilarating mission.”
CONMAN NEAL CAFFREY: “I don’t think ‘exhilarating’ and ‘stamp’ have ever been used in such quick succession.”
White Collar TV show episode “Return to Sender”

FBI AGENT PETER BOURKE: “My dad and I spent Sunday nights poring over a stock book; magnifiers, stamp tongs, hinge mounts.”
CONMAN NEAL CAFFREY: “Ah, Wally and the Beav ever stop by to join in all the fun?”
BOURKE: “You laugh. I still have my membership card in the American Philatelic Society.”
CAFFREY: “I hope you realize how lucky you are to have ever kissed a human female.”
White Collar TV show episode “Return to Sender”

"The 'collecting' of stamps is the essence of the hobby. Wasn’t there something really enjoyable about the simple act of placing a beautifully designed stamp in a printed album? And, then, wasn’t it terribly satisfying filling the last empty space on that album page?”
— Introduction by Charles F. Shreve to Robert A Siegel auction of David B. Markowitz Collection of France and Colonies, 22 January 2015

 "Not philosophers, but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society."
--Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

"Because of the money involved, once you own it, it owns you."
--Irwin Weinburg, a former owner of the British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta

"Never underestimate the calming effect of filling an album or checking off numbers on a want list."
--Scott Trepel, writer, researcher and auctioneer

"He [Brown] is a man of the strictest morals, is a church member and philanthropist and is a good, sincere, honest man, but the stamp business has no use for these qualities. It is the first class liar and knave who makes the most successful stamp dealer." 
--S. Allan Taylor in letter regarding a New York Stamp Dealer. From 1935 Stamp Lover article by Melville quoted by Richard Frajola on his PhilaMercury discussion group 

"It's not that I don't still love stamps, it's just all the spaces were filled...There are limits at some point to a collector's portfolio because if pursued long enough and admittedly with enough money it's possible to fill in all the spaces in an album – in other words to get them all."  
--Bill Gross on why he is selling his complete collection of United States Stamps and giving the proceeds to charity [interview on CNBC]

"You are not interested in philately, Mr Cumming?" observed the stranger.

"I think 'at it's a cranky man's game," said the G.P. emphatically. 
--From the newspaper article "STAMP COLLECTORS, PHILATELISTS AND THE GOVERNMENT PRINTER in the Truth (Brisbane, Queensland) Sun 17 Nov 1912 as posted by Satsuma on

“Silent diplomats.”
--Meiso Mizuhara talking about stamps


Additional quotations can be found in this thread on the Postage Stamp Chat Board

1 comment:

ChrisW said...

Great quotes!

I have seen some collectors use some version of "All science is either physics or stamp collecting" in their signature for various stamp collecting forums.

It should be pointed out that here "stamp collecting" is used in a disparaging way. Such as written elsewhere on the web:

"When a physicist considers a chemist or biologist, he sees someone who is merely cataloging and categorizing observations (stamp collecting), whereas the physicist himself is interested in the truly fundamental laws of nature."