Is it alright if I laugh.


I read and enjoyed the "Matter of Opinion" column by Bernie Doherty (Stamp News November 1994) regarding Challenges and on becoming a GASCER. (Great Australian Stationery Challenger) Although the specific field outlined (Stationery), did not appeal to me, I did find the basic idea FUN and it made me take a different look at my own interests.

As competitors we philatelists take ourselves pretty seriously.

Take a look at the competition entries, not only at international or state level, but even at club meetings and you will find little to laugh at. We are so bogged down by "guidelines" (more like rules these days) that individuality and scope become very limited. The fact that stamps can be very easily stolen if not protected, means the associated problems of security and insurance also add to the serious side of the hobby.

is a very basic part of my lifestyle and it is a recognised fact that laughter helps alleviate stress, so perhaps I can inject some into my collections.

Some 20 years ago at a local society meeting. I saw an entry entitled "Birds on Stamps" entered in the Thematic section of the competitions. The stamps and covers showed various ‘Miss World" entries, famous women and paintings featuring feminine subjects, all beautifully laid out and with tongue firmly in cheek.

It was well received by a lot of the general members but frowned on by the judges. It did, however, break the ice a bit among the visitors and provided a talking point for those who did not understand the deeper points of philately.

Obviously such an entry these days would be thrown out by the gender lobby plus a few other groups, but there is still scope for a lighter look at most types of philately.

Probably the nearest thing to this idea at the moment is the "As you like it" competition initiated by Anne Grace and held at local level in Queensland, It is judged by members of the public rather than philatelists but it is a maximum of five pages and so is rather limited.

Could I suggest a trial run for a competition to be held at a State level exhibition.

Fifteen pages of "Philatelic Frivolities" with no rules or limitations except the normal criteria of "good taste" and page size. It can include anything from postal history (perhaps using the contents ot letters) to the latest issues so long as it is philatelic in some form.

Hopefully, the competitors, having a sense of humour, would not crack up if their entry did not win.

We need to attract people to our hobby and perhaps this would offer some light relief for the casual visitor or the not quite so interested spouse of the committed philatelist. Maybe, by revealing a lighter side and different perspective to the hobby, some of these may become hooked.

Humour is, of course, a very personal thing and two people could see the same thing in completely different lights. With that in mind. I would offer a couple of examples of the type of thing I would use for such a concept.

Philatelic Terms — 'Gutter Pair'.

Twas an evening in November. as I very well remember,
I was strolling down the street in drunken pride,
But my knees were all aflutter so I landed in the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Yes, I lay there in the gutter, thinking thoughts I could not utter,
When a colleen passing by did softly say,
"Ye can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses," —
At that, the pig got up and walked away.

(Anon — from Dublin)

Frama Labels.

For use in vending machines and very handy if you get caught without a stamp. Only available during office hours because as soon as the staff leave a little plate bearing the legend "Not in Use" magically falls across the coin slot.


Part of a sheet of stamps surrounded by a selvedge margin.

Complete pane taken from a stamp booklet.

Also "Pain" to describe selvedge inscriptions designed to sell 10 stamps instead of one.

.....And so on..... Each with an example of the type of issue.

Judging may be difficult and should probably be done by not less than three people. Perhaps a marking system taking into account the usual parameters of condition, philatelic content, general presentation etc. but allowing a good percentage for originality.

I would not want my earlier comments to suggest that philatelists are miserable or lacking in humour, but I would like to see some of the fun injected into collections.

Would there be enough interest to warrant such a competitive class or am I just laughing in the wind?

As it says in the last lines of a prayer found in Chester Cathedral:-

Give me a sense of humour. Lord,
Give me the grace to see a joke,
To get some happiness from life,
And pass it on to other folk.

References:- Verse and Worse, Arnold Silcock (Faber);

The Everyman Dictionary of Quotations and Proverbs (Chancellor Press).

First published in Stamp News January, 1996.
with Walter Owen.
Amended slightly for this article
Copyright Ears Leisurewrite.

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