Stamp Collecting: Great Analog Hobbies

For many analog hobbies, it is true that if you look near the heart of the thing, collecting can be found in some form or another.

For me the love of the stamp came naturally, and was partially detailed in a previous post, but here is the short version.  My Grandmother was a Rural Letter Carrier.   My mother worked there off and on, My grandfather also worked there, and later my grandparents would retire from that post office.  It is/was one of my favorite places in the world, it is the post office for home, Soddy Daisy Tennessee.  I used to play out in the parking lot, and there was a wall to keep the ground from collapsing into the lot.  If you climbed to the top of it there were railroad tracks, it was at this rural post office, as a boy, that I saw the tan tanks on trains heading off somewhere in the early 90s.

Stamp collecting goes back to the advent of well…the postage stamp.  I love history, and if you look closely enough, there is a history lesson in every postage stamp.  What makes it great as an analog hobby besides that?  Well, it does not require a lot of start-up capital or specialized equipment or the thing we all seem to be short on, time.  It can be as simple as buying a sheet of stamps that you like at the post office and putting it away.  Places like Hobby Lobby sell bags of around 300 stamps for about ten dollars a bag, and there is a big mash up of stamps in those.  You will, of course, come across many repeats, but there are great things too, I have pulled plenty of WWII war bond stamps out of those bags.

I collected ever since I was a child, and it usually consisted of putting away sheets of the stamps that had come out and my family bought me what they believed I would like. Remember for me, the post office was a deep part of life.  I looked forward to the post office picnic every year.  There were good prizes for the games, usually postal related.  The point is, I was never one to trace rare stamps, or to have a giant book, but what I did have was Classic Movie Monsters, Bugs Bunny, and I Love Lucy.  This hobby allows you to pick your own involvement level.  Minimal investment, a vague interest, and the willingness to research.

Here is where I will say this for the first time: Digital for the win.  This hobby has been improved through the wonders of the Internet and the personal computer.  Guides, and lists, that used to cost money, are now available for free online.  My real collection is the stamps of The Soviet Union, and a website called Collectors Net has saved me the price of a sixty dollar book.


You will all have to forgive me from this point on with this post, I was just informed that I lost a family member tonight.

I decided to involve my son in stamp collecting and so we expanded a bit.

We buy the bags together, sort the stamps together, and then we do his favorite part, we soak the stamps in hot water and peel them from the paper they are stuck to and dry them in books.  It is time together, not in front of a screen (minus part of the research, if we do not use the hard copy encyclopedias) and he gets to learn some things.  Stamps do not offer much in the way of the tactile, but even at four, the taste he had gotten was enough to make him excited to see the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. and as I said, it does not involve a video game or a television.  It steps into the real a little bit.

Bottom line-  You can start a quick and easy collection that can grow with your knowledge on the subject.  You can give the collection and the passion to your kids.  You will also be in some good company, FDR and Freddy Mercury counted among the great philatelist.

Let’s address that, philately, the study of stamps, is not stamp collecting.  However, you usually cannot collect stamps without some light philately, so do not get hung up on the two being used interchangeably.

The Bullets:

  • low initial cost
  • something for everyone-national icons, celebrities, sports, the stamp world almost has it’s own rule 34.
  • low initial knowledge need
  • Self-adhesive stamps are the devil

Tip  Bullets:

  • look up the Vario system, second to none stamp storage pages
  • The National Postal Museum has better articles than I could ever write on how to get started, right here.
  • get the kids involved
  • pick a niche at first-Hollywood, musicians, Soviet Russia, Cold War-era, the 80s, there is no limit to niches
  • Every year the post office puts out a complete guide to every U.S. Stamp ever, get it as your first serious purchase, runs about 45$
  • slow down, enjoy the learning, and the collection
  • pull it out and review it sometimes
  • Read articles
  • Getting a pen pal or two can help, they usually have cool foreign stamps if they are not from U.S.

Get out there and get an old fashioned stamp, and look at it.  If you are still collecting in a year, maybe you will be ready to study how they are printed.

Ganger-Bjorn, The Analog Savage

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Baseball: The Greatest (Analog) Game

If there is one thing we love here at Analog savage it is the great American game of Baseball.  Let us get one thing straight right now.  I am saying Baseball is American in origin, not in total distinction, the world has picked it up and ran with it, and I love how far the national pastime has spread.

Baseball has always been there for me.  I remember watching the Braves with my family as a kid.  Those were good, easy times.  I did not play as much ball, organized, as I would like to have now.  Baseball was always best with your friends, out on some crap field, slamming balls in a disorganized fashion.  I don’t think I ever said thank you to the guy who taught me to play catch.  I still can, I have him on Facebook.  Might be to weird for him…

Anyhow, here is why things like baseball are so important.  They are real.  Analog games are real.  I am not here to put down someone’s lifestyle, but give me something real any day.  What makes it real?  It is the other people (if the situation calls for them,) it is the tactile experience, the ability to engage your senses.  Without those things, something is just well, it isn’t real in a way.

Before someone throws down and threatens to get their ninja gear, I have played my share of video games, hell I collect them, any of them that multi-player essentially means you have to be in the same room, cords optional.  I have even played a good amount of World of Warcraft, but that was many moons ago and it isn’t the same, not even close.

Real is the feel of your hands on that wood, the smell of the dirt, that crack that surprises you every time you connect with that smooth ball.  It is the uncomfortable dug out seats, it is your kids squeezing in next to you to ask 5000 questions about the game because they want to be close to you, and they want to love that game on tv.  Real is the sound of a slide, you know the sound, when a human being heading for a base sounds similar to a vehicle stopping on gravel.  Baseball is real, and sorry to have to disappoint, football will never be the national pastime.

My team is the Boston Red Sox.  Being a kid from Soddy Daisy (Chattanooga) Tennessee, we watched the Atlanta Braves.  They were the closest pro team.  My brother in law in South Carolina loves them, and I’m fairly certain it is still a proximity thing.  How did I become a Sox fan?  I did it experiencing the real.

2007, The Savage was in Baghdad, Iraq.  I was walking through the PX on the big base one day while we were there, a real treat mind you, and I came across a sporting goods section.  The base we were on did not even have an American owned store, so this blew my mind.  I was angry that these spoiled people had time for such things.  Then I realized, so did we on our base, and I could not blame them for where they were assigned.  What I could do was buy a bunch of gloves and balls, and surprise the guys with a game of catch.  It became our thing.  We made sure they occupied some odd space in our trucks and when the bigwigs had to talk to the Iraqis leaders for hours, we sometimes tossed ball.  It did not occupy every free second, some of them, if they read this, may not remember doing it, but we did it, and we loved it.

One of those guys was from Boston.  He is a great guy, we are friends now.  We do not speak much, but we are friends, and he could ask me for a going to jail favor today and he would have it.  This is the case because there was a time where we lived the real together.  He may not even know he did this, he may suspect based on my Facebook posts, but he was the one.  We talked baseball, and he told me about the Boston Red Sox, and Fenway park, and the team’s history.  I was sold.  I was hooked just in time to pay attention during the 2007 World Series.   Now The Sox, and Fenway are very important in our house.  We even have a “Fenway Wall” where we chronicle our trips to the park to see games.

We do opening day right too.  There will be more photos at the bottom for that one.  I wrote an entry for the first time we went to see a game at Fenway, my oldest son and I, it is here.  It is about the real.

You get a limited amount of time here.  Do not waste it.  Do not be that person on World of Warcraft with their kids begging them for five minutes attention.  A game of catch transcends gender, it is timeless, and it is the open forum.  You look for a way to connect with someone?  Get to the real, share something real.  Real can be found in some video games, but there is a fine line.

Baseball is the top of the analog games.  It can even involve a television set, because my family and I, my friends and I, we are connected to something during that time.  We get the senses involved, we get the right hats and shirts on.  I even found a way to make it cross lines.  I recently took up scoring games.  What a mind blowing way to get deeper involved, to experience the game on a level I never knew.  We play ball, we collect the cards, we watch games as ritual, but scoring a game was like a drug.  Try it sometime.  Learning how may be a little daunting, the best advice I can give, to clarify the tutorials, just score your team.


I want you to know the beauty of the real, of the analog, and baseball is as good a place to start as any.  Go to a game, eat a hot dog, play catch with your kids and neighbor, have an old worn out glove and stick of American Ash cut in Louisville you write your story on.

Baseball was best summed up in the movie “Field of Dreams” by James Earl Jones’s character Terrence Mann, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”

I have talked enough, but here I will leave you with some resources for more on the greatest game in the world, and some summations of my take on ball.  Never forget, the first point and most important point is to experience baseball, then read about it and watch movies as it invades your soul.

  • Bats are made of wood, and Louisville Slugger is the best
  • The Art of Manliness made an awesome post about the 15 Best Baseball Movies, no need for me to re write it.
  • Here is some nifty info and a good score card download
  • Doping can and should be fought
  • I do not care about the designated hitter rule
  • Baseball cards have proliferated into madness, but Topps is best
  • The evidence says Joe didn’t do it, and it would be amazing to see him reinstated 100 years later
  • The best feeling is when the ball lands in glove
  • If it is not fun, stop playing, but never forget that you are there to win.
  • There will be a last game of catch, don’t let it be because you said no too many times and they stopped asking.

Ganger-Bjorn, The Analog Savage

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