By Arnold H. Warren
I became a stamp collector when I was about twelve years old. I believe that I was the only stamp collector in the village where we lived. Certainly none of my boyhood friends were stamp collectors. If there was an adult stamp collector in the village he carefully concealed this fact from his fellow townsmen.
My pious, hardworking and thrifty parents took a very dim view of stamp collecting. They looked upon it as a deplorable waste of both time and money, if not actually immoral. I believe that most, if not all, of our neighbors held the same opinion. Even today, in spite of the fact that stamp collecting has become one of the world's most popular and universal hobbies, some of my friends hold a similar opinion. I do not now recall what first aroused my interest in collecting stamps. But it may have been the Stamp Department of the monthly magazine, THE AMERICAN BOY.
Even at the early age of twelve years I earned a little money by working for our neighbors after school hours and during the summer vacation. But my mother took from me and placed in the bank most of the money which I earned. This money, she assured me, would later pay a part of my college expenses. As a result of her thriftiness, I had more that $300.00 in the bank when I finished high school at the age of sixteen.
Now and then I was able to conceal a small portion of my earnings from the vigilant eye of my mother. As a result, between the ages of twelve and sixteen years, I spent a total of about ten dollars on stamp collecting. During this period I acquired about 1,000) varieties of stamps from perhaps twenty five different countries. I mounted these stamps in a cheap album.
I gave up collecting stamps when I entered college in 1909. I paid my way through college by working after school hours and during the summer vacations. I had neither time nor money to spend on collecting stamps.
For 26 years after I entered college I made no attempt to collect stamps. My interests lay in other directions. If any of my friends were stamp collectors I was not aware of it. In 1914, about a year after I graduated form college, I came to the Philippines as a teacher in the Bureau of Education. Early 1918,1 left the Bureau of Education to work in a sugar factory. For fifteen years thereafter I worked in various Philippine Sugar factories. Beginning in 1929, my wife and I invested a portion of our savings in several Philippine gold mines. By 1933 we had a comfortable income from this source which enabled me to retire form the sugar industry and to make my home in Baguio. For about two years thereafter I was actively, but unprofitably engaged in prospecting for gold.
When I gave up prospecting for gold in 1935 I found that I needed a hobby of some sort to occupy my idle time. I decided to collect stamps. After giving the matter some thought, I determined to collect only Philippine stamps. The amount of money which I proposed to invest in stamps was limited. I desired to convert this money into a collection which could eventually be sold for at least as much money as I had spent upon it. I realized that in order to invest wisely in stamps I must acquire in as short a time as possible an expert knowledge of the stamps which I proposed to purchase. I could acquire an expert knowledge of the stamps of one country in much less time than I could acquire an expert knowledge of stamps of several different countries. The amount of money which I proposed to invest was sufficient to acquire a fine collection of the stamps of a single country, but would yield only a very mediocre collection if it was dispersed upon the stamps of several different countries. Having decided to collect the stamps of only one country, I then chose to collect only Philippine stamps because in the Philippines both Philippine stamps and information concerning them are more readily obtainable than the stamps and information concerning the stamps of any other country.
Although I resided in Baguio, I spent the rainy season, about three months of each year, in Manila. During my annual sojourn in Manila I sought information concerning Philippine stamps form every available source. I consulted collectors who specialized in Philippine stamps- Don Jesus Cacho), Don Juan Mencarini, Dr. Ricardo A. Reyes, Dr. Gilbert Perez, Don Joaquin Pardo de Tavera, Don Vicente Arias, Col. Louis J. Van Schaick, Mr. Newton Comfort and others. I became a member of the Asociacion Filatelica de Filipinas and of the American Philatelic Society. I acquired a library of stamp catalogues and other philatelic literature concerning Philippine stamps.
At the same time that I was acquiring a specialized knowledge of Philippine stamps I was also purchasing stamps. Identification and classification of the stamps which I purchased directed my search for information into specific channels. The stamp dealers from whom I purchased many of my stamps contributed substantially lo my philatelic education by imparting to me the specialized knowledge which I purchased from them. Among these stamp dealers were Rogelio de Jesus, Joaquin Ortiz, Walter Bruggman, Newton Comfort and Jose Panganiban.
I discovered that many Philippine stamps were not listed by any of the published stamp catalogues. The demand for any stamp and, therefore, the price which it commands, is greatly increased by including it in a published catalogue. A very large majority of the stamp collectors of the world limit their purchases to the stamps which are included in the price lists of the standard stamp catalogues. The average collector does not have at his command sufficient information to determine either the authenticity or the value of an unlisted stamp. He is, therefore, reluctant to purchase it It was evident that the future market value of my collection of Philippine stamps would be substantially increased by the publication of information concerning the rare unlisted Philippine stamps. The publication of this information would eventually result in the inclusion of these rare stamps in the published price lists.
I also discovered that although the quantity issued of Philippine stamps was relatively small the number of collectors of Philippine stamps was also small. As a result of this limited demand for Philippine stamps the prices which these stamps commanded were relatively low. One reason for the lack of interest in Philippine stamps was the fact that very little information concerning these stamps was being published in the current philatelic magazine of the world.
In order to increase the future market value of my stamp collection by increasing the demand for Philippine stamps I prepared articles concerning Philippine stamps which were published in the current philatelic magazines.
When I began to collect Philippine Revenue stamps and revenue stamped paper I discovered that the information concerning these stamps obtainable form philatelic sources was very meagre. My search for additional information took me to the archives Division of the National Library in Manila. Here I learned that papel sellado (documentary stamped paper) had been in use in the Philippines continuously from January 1, 1640, to the end of the Spanish regime in 1898. The use of adhesive revenue stamps was begun in the Philippines in 1856. I translated from Spanish laws pertaining to stamp taxes and the revenue stamps and revenue stamped paper used in the Philippines during the Spanish regime. From various other .sources, including the records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Printing, I obtained information concerning the revenue stamps and revenue stamped paper issued subsequent lo the American Occupation of the Philippines in 1898. This information was compiled in a 500-page typewritten manuscript entitled, "A HISTORY OF STAMP TAXES AND A CATALOGUE OF REVENUE STAMPS OFTHE PHILIPPINES." The manuscript, which included more than 150 photographs of revenue stamps and revenue stamped paper, was completed late in 1941.
By the end of 1941, six years after I began to collect Philippine stamps I had acquired a very fine collection of these stamps. I had also achieved some recognition as an expert authority on Philippine stamps. In 1941 I accepted an invitation to join the Baguio Rotary Club. I was classified by the Rotary Club as a "PHILATELIST'. Col. Louis Van Schaik, the first President of the Baguio Rotary Club, was a personal friend. He also specialized in the collection of Philippine Stamps. We spent many pleasant hours discussing our stamps.
During the eight years which have elapsed since the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December, 1941, l have not been able to devote much time to my stamp collection. The three years of my internment were for me a period of almost complete philatelic inactivity. The gold mines which formerly provided us with a comfortable income have not paid dividends since the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941. Since the liberation of the Philippines in 1945, therefore, most of my rime has been occupied in earning a living.
The major portion of my collection of Philippine stamps and the manuscript concerning Philippine Revenue stamps survived the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. But a part of my stamp collection, my philatelic library, and my notes covering much unpublished information concerning Philippine postage stamps were lost when my home in Baguio was occupied by Japanese and subsequently destroyed by American bombers.
I am gradually replacing the Philatelic library which I lost. I continue to make substantial additions to may collection of Philippine stamps. I am still adding to my information concerning Philippine stamps. Several articles which I have written concerning Philippine stamps since the liberation of the Philippines have been published in philatelic magazines. I am still a philatelist.
My activities as a stamp collector have yielded many friends with whom I would not otherwise have become acquainted. Many of them reside in the Philippines. But there are others who reside in foreign countries and whom I know only through the letters which we have exchanged. Among these philatelic friends are government officials, merchants, lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers, salesmen, military men, teachers, primers, accountants, planters, realtors, bankers, schoolboys and detectives.
There are today more than 20,000,000 stamp collectors. They are to be found in every country in (he world. There probably is no other large group of men bound together by a common tie which ranks as high in intelligence, integrity, thrift and accomplishment as do the stamp collectors. The world could ill afford to lose them, Stamp collecting is a hobby which can be tailored to fit the financial resources of every collector. It is possible to spend a large fortune in accumulating a stamp collection. But there are many stamps which can be obtained at very small cost Even a schoolboy, who has very little money lo spend on stamps, may acquire an attractive collection.
Educators now recognize the value of stamp collecting as a means of teaching history and geography and in developing the students power of accurate objective observation. In many schools, junior stamp clubs have been organized. Several colleges in the United States have recently established courses which teach the student how to collect stamps. There are several daily newspapers which maintain columns devoted to news concerning stamps and stamp colleclors. There are radio broadcasts in the Philippines and elsewhere which disseminate information concerning the collection of stamps.
I collect stamps because I find it a fascinating pastime which stimulates mental activity and because I am convinced that my stamp collection is an asset which can eventually be sold at a profit. But there are many other equally valid reasons for collecting stamps. Some of them may eventually induce you, if you are not already a collector, to join the Philatelic fraternity.
Reprinted from... May 1950 A.F.F. Silver Jubilee Issue, pages 21-24.