A rich personal collection of over 10,000 stamps from almost all countries of the world, including the first stamp of the world and the first ones used by Pakistan with several commemorative stamps on sports, was exhibited at the Arts Council here on 14th April 2012.The collection owned by Sindh Minister for Sports Dr Mohammad Ali Shah had been specially flown in by him from London for the exhibition. “I keep my collection in London as I only find the time to build on it there,” said the collector.
Some 10 albums of general stamps from all over the world lay side by side on a long table in alphabetical order. The Penny Black, the first adhesive stamp issued on May 1, 1840, by England was also a part of this collection. Dr Shah, who says that he has been collecting since he was a schoolboy, informed that he had bought it in London for 490 pounds some 10 years ago. “I get stamps to increase my collection from all kinds of sources. I buy and also receive them as gifts from people who know about my philately hobby,” he said.
Saying that he shared an interesting story of how he acquired a good number of priceless stamps while taking a walk in London. “I came across this elderly chap selling his old stuff on a footpath. Noticing a stamp album lying in a corner, I asked him how much he was selling it for to which he replied ‘two pounds’. I bought it immediately,” he said.
“It is said that philately is the king of all hobbies and the hobby of kings. Queen Elizabeth of England, too, is known to be a big collector of stamps. But due to email and the decrease in sending mail by post, one post office is closed down in England every month.”
The collection also boasted of the first postage stamps used by Pakistan soon after partition in 1948. “We used these until October in 1947 when our own stamps were issued from Bahawalpur. The Indian stamps are very rare today as they mention India as their origin but have been cancelled by a Pakistani rubber stamp,” the minister said. Also included was a rare early Pakistan stamp with the crescent printed in reverse.“Many stamps had already been bought by the time the mistake was discovered and the stamps recalled. They, too, are a rare collector’s item now. I bought mine for Rs25,000 about 20 years ago,” he added.“It takes me more than half an hour to study a stamp while archiving it,” said Dr Shah. “Just one little stamp tells you a whole story about when it was issued, why it was issued and from where, etc.,” he pointed out.
Knowing his interest in sports, the abundance of commemorative stamps issued by various countries on the occasion of holding of big sporting events as well as winning gold in a certain event was also understandable.Thus there were album pages after album pages of such stamps from Australia, Austria, Burkina Faso, Spain, Yemen, Hungary, Ghana, Vietnam, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guyana, Greece, Grenada, Germany, Italy, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Iraq, New Zealand, Indonesia, Poland, India, the Phillipines, Yugoslavia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Jamaica,
Portugal, Russia, Mexico, Pakistan and so on. For some countries there were many stamps like it was seen for USA, Russia and China, and for others as less as even two, as was the case with Saudi Arabia.“The first thing that I do after landing in a country is to visit a post office there,” said the minister. “This is how I have gradually built my whole collection. You won’t find a single stamp repeated here as I have archived all with care.”Asked how much his entire collection was worth, the philatelist said that he didn’t have a clue. “I buy only, I don’t sell,” he concluded.