Muscat: Philatelist Raman Shah is a passionate collector. Despite having a collection of over 50,000 carefully preserved stamps, he is never satisfied. At 75, he likes adding not only to his stamp albums but also to his impressive collection of currency notes and coins.The bulk of Shah\’s collection is stamps from Oman – not surprising since he has spent nearly 58 years in the country.A member of the Oman Philately Association and several other associations of such hobbyists around the world, Shah started collecting stamps in 1970. Since then he has been sorting his collection by themes and has meticulously labelled albums for each of them. In fact, his home is lined with cupboards stored with stamps, collection of currency notes and coins.\”I frankly don\’t know the value of the unique collection of things I have,\” he says.
A government authorised collector, for a long time Shah has been the only expatriate to represent Oman in philatelic competitions in the GCC.\”Being a member of the Oman\’s philatelic department, the postal department keeps me informed and updated on the issues of new postal stamps,\” he says.He has also attended most of the philatelic exhibitions in the GCC.\”The ones I can\’t I attend, I pursue with the rest of the Omani Philatelic Society,\” he says. Shah has First Day Covers of almost all of Oman\’s stamps issued as of date.
\”The First Day Cover is an envelope or a card bearing a stamp which is cancelled on the day the stamp is initially offered for sale by the postal authorities,\” he says.Among his rare collection is an original gold stamp which is a set of two commemorative stamps, one depicting a portrait of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and the other one bearing the emblem of the 20th National Day.His collection includes the commemorative stamp issued on the occasion of the nomination of \”Sultan Qaboos Rose\” depicting a portrait of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said with the photo of the specific roses titled after his name.Shah usually decides on a theme and then hunts for stamps in that category. For instance, he has an entire collection on birds, animals, marine shells and butterflies of Oman and other parts of the world.\”I source the stamps personally and from fellow collectors,\” he says.He says he has great respect for many fellow collectors and shares a great rapport with them. Shah sometime receives 10 to 15 stamp collection related letters from across the world.\”But I\’m fortunate to be in position where I share my hobby with my wife. She is has been the greatest support in my becoming a stamp collector,\” he says.His wife, Kamlatha Shah, is a keen partner in her enthusiasm for stamp collection and even travels with him to all the philatelic exhibitions.\”I can tell you about all his collections,\” she says with a smile. Post retirement, Shah spends a lot of time maintaining his collection of stamps. Gold and silver stamps from the GCC, scented sandalwood stamp from India, Swarovski studded stamps, Lady Diana stamps, 3D stamps, around 10,000 covers from worldwide are among his pride possessions.An avid philatelist, Raman Shah who has many exciting experiences to share about the magic world of stamps, has justly received many citations and awards for his collection.Ask him which one is his favourite, and he says, \”I have some attachment or the other associated with each stamp. It is never easy for a philatelist to choose.\”He regrets that in today\’s digitised world with mobile phones and e-mails, there is hardly any scope for youngsters to pursue this hobby.
Old coins of Oman, rupees circulated in Oman (a currency in use when he came to Oman in 1956), nine dollar US note, uncirculated coins from Singapore, other coins and currency notes from across the world, an Oman based telephone directory of 1961 when phones had three digit numbers are among his rich private collections.Shah is very attached to Oman where he has spent more than half of his life.
\”Initially, it would take us more than a week to reach Muscat since we had to come by ship. To reach Muscat, we had to take the Bombay-Karachi-Gwadar-Passani-Muscat route,\” he recalls.\”This country has given me and my family a lot. We feel at home for which my family and I are eternally grateful. I am proud to say that I have seen and witness the growth of this this beautiful and peaceful country during those 58 years and many more to come,\” he says.(Source-TOI)