During the breaks at school is when most of the exchanges took place. We stood in pairs at the end of the courtyard next to the rails and with folders at hand, we exchanged and traded stamps.
We tried to cheat one another. We tried to convince our schoolmate, that our own stamp was “rare” and that he would have to give us 2 or 3 of his stamps in order to get ours. The usual statement about rarity was that the stamp came from an “exotic” country. Congo, as an example, was susceptible to such handling. The other person however was not that foolish. When he observed that you had two-three similar stamps, even if they were from Congo, he would easily argue: “How did you get so many?”
Over time we were able to establish the foundations of philately knowledge as well as collection. This came through a slow and arduous process filled with interest as well as agony over a potential “rare find” during the next exchange.
The foundations of knowledge and life were laid in the courtyards of municipal schools. These included establishing stable friendships, a passion for sports and curiosity about of philately. Philately in itself was knowledge. Not only was it geography and history but also taught order, discipline and how to be critical. Philately was a way to face the historical facts and look at them critically. We were not afraid of getting fooled during an exchange because each stamp forced us to open up a dictionary and learn who was on that stamp and what that person had accomplished. This compelled us to ask questions, which enhanced our learning thus shaping our opinions in becoming knowledgeable citizens…
By Thanasis Papaioannou. Hard cover. 429 pages.
Excellent Gift Idea!