Of a never ending search

An old and stout gentleman stood in a corner, minutely observing the stamps with his wrinkled fingers, intermittently smiling and gushing out to the stall owner, “More than 60 countries in the world have issued stamps on Gandhiji till date.”

The owner RK Bhatia acknowledged the old man’s passion with the same spirit. That moment struck an instant camaraderie between the two. 

At the outset, it’s a scene full of serenity, washed in the whiteness of linen clothed desks set against the bare walls of All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society.

Little can you guess the worth of this treasure trove, till you amble inside to find fascinating collection of coins, medallions, books and stamps in the fourth National Stamp Fair organised by the Philatelic Dealers Association recently.

Sounds of intriguing questions, search for a long lost treasure or a momentous gasp over finding something new overlap each other as you walk through the two rooms where the dealers set out their stalls.

On one end, a dealer from Mathura throws a winsome smile to himself on finding an antic medallion, on the other a philatelist negotiates over the price of the 2 paisa coins as he believes Rs 400 per coin is a little to exorbitant a deal.

Lined on both ends of the room, there were stalls comprising catalogues on the history of stamps in India, first day covers of stamps marking important events around the country, old coins, and medallions amongst many other treasures. All one needed is a trained eye to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Nikhil Parikh, a stall owner from Mumbai, says he is a regular at stamp fairs across the country. With that he describes the display at his stalls, saying, “I have all the special numbered notes with me. You can ask for something like a six digit, 111111
or 666666, whichever you may like.

Besides, you could gift special birthday or anniversary notes, that mark the exact date as
your friend’s anniversary.”

As the connoisseurs went around stalls to buy the best of the exhibits, one could easily mark the conspicuous absence of the youngsters in this exhibition.

A bespectacled gentleman, Sanjeev Suri, explains the scenario, relating a story.

“When the Asian Games of 1982 were organised in India, the same year the country witnessed colour TV. I still remember my cousins came from Canada where they could watch 24*7 television and demanded to watch a show on TV at 3 pm. We laughed at the thought, because there were only two telecasts around the day. And my cousins wept all day long to go back to their country, so that they could watch TV.”

 “That is exactly what the problem that this generation has. You have round the clock television, with the option of surfing throughout the day. Who would like to keep a hobby like philately in a scenario like this?” rues the father of a 24 year old son, who doesn't follow his father’s favourite pursuit.

Sanjeev takes pride in his collection of stamps and coins, describing, “The oldest coins that I have date back to 1835.

In the world stamps exhibition back in 2011, I sold some of my stamps, such as  the one with the Parliament street post office and Presidential inspection of naval fleet, for around 15 to 18 thousand rupees.”

He points out that as a philately enthusiasts, he wants the list of postal stamps archives at the India Post’s site should be regularly updated.

Following his complain, Metrolife also found out that the cited link repeatedly asks a surfer
to try later as the data is inaccessible.

As Sanjeev went on to mark a list of stamps and coins that he owns in his collection, Metrolife enquired if there’s anything specific he was hunting out for.

The philatelist instantly replied, “Be it a matter of accident or design, the department of post didn't issue out a stamp on the 50th death anniversary of Pandit Nehru on May 27, this year. I would have definitely wanted to have that!”

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