A passion for the past

Unique Hobbies

A passion for the past

There’s no dearth of people who collect stamps from different areas and time periods. But Sadashiva P, a retired scientist of ISRO, has a slightly different passion. Instead of stamps, he collects other stationery items associated with the art of letter writing, like envelopes and postcards. His collection is neatly stacked in folders and gives him a lot of happiness.

“The notion of stamps being the only philatelic items worth collecting is wrong. All sorts of postal stationary come under the category of philately. The older an item, the more its value — and this applies for almost everything,” says Sadashiva.

There is a special wooden closet in his bedroom, which has been designed specifically to house the many folders. he says, adding “Earlier, whenever I had time, I would just spread all the items out on the bed and look through them. I couldn’t keep them in the living room because then, I would have to move them every time someone came to visit. So, we decided to get an almira for the collection.”

Sadashiva has worked with people like former president APJ Abdul Kalam and other renowned scientists. Even though he was passionate about his job, he compromised on the work front in order to attend exhibitions and meetings to help add to his collection. “During my stay in Thiruvananthapuram, I saw an elderly man throw out old letters, envelopes and postcards that he had saved up for years. I sorted through the trash and kept aside what I thought was valuable,” he notes. This, he adds, was how he began his collection. “The oldest postcard I have is from 1895, which was when the East India Company was reigning. I’ve chosen and saved only those items that have clear identification and depict the era they belong to,” says Sadashiva. “My collection comes from all parts of the country, varying from Rajasthan, Kerala, West Bengal and Mysore among other places,” he adds.

If you are pursuing a unique hobby, do write to:
metrolife@deccanherald.co.in or dhmetro@gmail.com

“One of the most important item in my collection is an envelope which contains the seal released on August 15, 1947. The government wasn’t able to release a stamp to commemorate the occasion and so, they released a seal instead,” explains the philatelist. 

Glance through his collection and you’ll find a vast variety — for instance, albino envelopes, which have the colourless imprint of a stamp on them and envelopes as small as four-and-a-half inches by two-and-a-half inches from 1895, which were sold for half an anna then. His collection includes inland letters from Germany and France, as well as postcards from across the country like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Gujarat and Orissa. “Other colourful items in my collection include first-flight covers — that is, envelopes that are carried on a flight for the first time for a particular route. I also have postcards and envelopes that were introduced at different exhibitions depicting locomotives, places of history, wildlife, various dances and art forms,” he says, adding, “I started
organising my collection around three years back. Filing and cataloguing was a hard task, but worth the effort. There are more piles to be made and I’m working on it.” Oddly enough, he’s never displayed his vast collection at any exhibition. He explains, “I never started this for money, although I’m aware that my collection is worth lakhs of rupees.” Ask him if he still writes to people on the items in his collection and he breaks into a smile. “Till three years ago, we used to send our Ugadi greetings on postcards. But now, I only use envelopes for communication with ISRO,” he sums up.

If you are pursuing a unique hobby, do write to: metrolife@deccanherald.co.in or dhmetro@gmail.com 

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