Stamp Collecting: Flag stamps can teach history

By Breck Pegram/Ky. Stamp Club Published:

We have talked about flag stamps and how they lend themselves to topical stamp collecting. To my way of thinking, the issuing of state flag stamps beginning in 2008 was a high water mark for flag stamps.

Most of the 50 states have very attractive flags. I’d say less than eight are boring with the others doing a good job telling some of the story of their state. I’d certainly put the Kentucky flag in this category. Our beautiful flag tells the story of the state’s history of trying to get people with different political views to settle their differences and come together.

When Gov. Steve Brashear stood in the Capitol rotunda and spoke at the first day ceremonies for the Kentucky flag stamp in 2009 I could not help but feel proud to be a citizen of this state. The governor took the occasion to pay tribute to the U. S. Postal Service and thank them especially for their positive effect on small Kentucky communities. The Kentucky flag stamp was a beautiful part of these state flag stamps. The final series of eight flag stamps is coming out on Aug. 16.

I would imagine that 10 or so years from now a collection of these flag stamps with first day of issue cancellations will be quite valuable. For one thing anyone assembling a set of all the stamps on envelopes or covers as stamp collectors call them, would have to go to a lot of trouble to get them.

The stamps themselves were hard to get at times and a number of states regrettably did not have state capital post offices that wanted to go to the trouble of having first day of issue ceremonies. Most did a good job, but some did not.


The most unique topical stamp collecting I ever saw was a collection put together by two young ladies from Lawrenceburg, Allison and Emily Adams. They came to our stamp club and certainly added a carbonation to our stamp collecting activities with their enthusiasm.

I asked them several times what they collected—i.e. Great Britain, U.S., France, etc. I always got the same honest reply: “We collect stamps that are pretty.” This was certainly true, too. Their collections had a genuine quality to them that some stamp collections lack.

Something that has always puzzled me is how stamps and the stamp collecting hobby could be used as a teaching tool and yet educators rarely take advantage of this. Topical collecting particularly could be used as a means of getting and holding the interest of children. If children collected the topical subject maps for instance, this would help foster an interest in geography that might not otherwise occur.

Maps on stamps is an inexpensive topical collecting subject and the stamps are usually easily available. Children who might not otherwise take much notice of who Prince Henry the Navigator was would find that his maps and charts were of much interest to Christopher Columbus and helped Columbus in his voyages to the new world.


Additionally, the state flag stamps we’ve mentioned could be used as a tool to teach the state capitals, if that is still taught in the public schools. The addition of fun to these subjects would certainly help students, teachers and parents alike.

Another approach to topical stamp collecting would be the forming of what might be called Kentuckians and Kentucky towns and settlements on stamps. A number of U. S. stamps have been issued that would fall in this category.

A sub-category of this might be Kentuckians who were not native to the state, but came here and achieved fame and/or fortune. Prominent among these would be Daniel Boone and Henry Clay along with a number of others. Boone and Clay have been connected so completely to Kentucky that many people think they were born here, but of course that is not true.

If I had to guess the two most popular topical stamp collecting subjects, I’d say they were Art on Stamps and Dogs on Stamps. We’ve mentioned Art on Stamps, but not Dogs on Stamps. Both are a form of art and both are beautiful subjects and plenty of stamps worldwide are available to form a large collection. Here again, the collecting of these topical subjects will give the collector an education about this specialty.

For now this will conclude our coverage of topical stamp collecting. We’ll be going on to another stamp collecting area beginning next month.

For more information, I’d suggest that you attend our upcoming meeting Saturday, July 21, 2 p.m. at Memorial Baptist Church, 130 Holmes Street.

The members of the Kentucky Stamp Club will be glad to answer your questions about topical stamp collecting and any other part of stamp collecting that you might have.

Breck Pegram is president of the Kentucky Stamp Club.

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