Reprinted from Outer Banks Voice
On Dec. 12, the second Sunday of the month, the Outer Banks Stamp Club gathered, as it has been gathering for the past 25 years, in the Outer Banks Presbyterian Church in Kill Devil Hills.
With six members in the room, a seventh, Reid Hinson, called in via Zoom. The club has been in existence since 1996, according to club President Rick Kinner, who joined in 2013.
“We have a number of members that are from the original group,” he added.
Kinner drives down from Corolla for meetings and probably has the longest ride to get there. There is, however, one club member who is currently in Idaho with his wife.
“Honestly, we’re a very active club. We usually have four to seven attending and three to five virtually,” Kinner noted. “We want to get the message out. There are a lot of people out there that have an interest in stamps. They’re just not aware that we operate.”
The club members are mostly in their 60s and 70s now, with a few in their 80s. Most of them have been collecting stamps almost all of their lives, and usually the story begins with a family connection.
Kinner’s story is typical. It was a rainy day in Brooklyn, New York, and he was visiting his grandfather. He was 12 years old and restless, so he kept taking the dog outside. After a few hours his grandfather had enough.
“My grandfather comes over and says, ‘You’re not taking that dog out anymore.’ He said, ‘Come upstairs,’ and he takes me upstairs and brings me to a room and he pulls this (stamp collection) out, and says, ‘I started this, then your father did this for a while.’ I was 12 and from then on I was hooked.”
For Hinson, the stamps represent a family history and legacy, a way to recall his grandmother’s French origins and his father’s service in the Navy. His grandmother “used to get a lot of letters from France and Germany,” Hinson said, recalling that when he was a young boy, “she used to tear the stamps off and send them to me because I liked them.”
His father was a career Navy man, beginning in the 1920s and serving in World War II on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp that was sunk off Guadalcanal on Sept. 15, 1942.
“My father was a stamp collector,” Hinson continued. “In the 1920s he was on submarines…and he wrote quite a few letters … from those submarines to my grandfather … Of course I wasn’t born then. But I still have some of those envelopes with the early airmail stamps on them that were postmarked U.S. Navy.
Hinson pointed to a common thread throughout the personal histories of the club members.
“Stamps are history. And they’re also family history if you’re fortunate enough to have a grandparent or even a parent that will save their mail for you and their stamps for you,” he said.
History also comes into play at this meeting since the club chooses a subject to explore in depth each month. This Sunday, the Universal Postal Union, or UPU, is the topic.
The UPU, the members explained, is the reason a package can be sent from the U.S. to Canada, England, France or almost anywhere using U.S. postage — and the reason a letter can come from those countries using that country’s postage.
Now a part of the United Nations, the origins of the UPU date to the American Civil War. After a general discussion on its history, Kinner picked up the story in 1863 and 1864 when the first outline of an agreement was signed. The official date of the organization’s founding, however, was 10 years later.
“Montgomery Blair was the postmaster general and he realized that with the war going on, even (with) mail going to Mexico and Canada there were all sorts of problems,” Kinner explained. “So they had a meeting of 12 countries in Paris. They were all European countries, the United States, Brazil. That started it, and then 1874, that’s when they had 22 nations get together and really created it.”
Despite all the time that has passed since then, the UPU remains in force today and, according to Kinner, it claims to be “the oldest international organization existing. And its claim to fame is it’s the only one that really works.”
The Outer Banks Stamp Club is affiliated with the American Philatelic Society, or APS. The club meets the second Sunday of the month with the next meeting set for Jan. 8 at the Outer Banks Presbyterian Church in Kill Devil Hills.
For more information contact Kinner at 908-303-2489 or email@example.com or Vice President John Webster at 252-256-1942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is provided courtesy of the Outer Banks Voice, a digital newspaper covering the Outer Banks. Coastal Review is partnering with the Voice to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest about our coast.