When I was a child, I remember liking the stamps on the post my mother received, including letters from her brother in Australia. I decided to collect stamps and had a world album book with the quadrille paper, sticking stamps in with those pesky hinges. Stamps were removed from paper n the bath, with me also in the bath, playing with the stamps as they came off the paper. I bought stamps from a little market stall, and from a big chain newsagents/bookseller (they still do collector albums, stamp hinges, and packs of thematic and worldwide stamps). I had penpals as a teenager and liked seeing the different stamps they used. then, with 'A' Levels and university, penpalling and stamps fell by the wayside by the distraction of studies and student social life, although my collection was kept. I had half forgotten about my collection.
In 2008, I started penpalling again and joined Postcrossing. This rekindled my interest in stamps, mainly using them and just appreciating them being used on postcards or letters to me. My son liked looking at the stamps, and was interested in having his own collection. We started him off with a world builder album and starter stamp packs but he has only put about 100 stamps in (well, when I say he, I mean me - he wasn't keen on the stamp hinge adhesive), and now his collection is neglected. Perhaps when the nights draw in more, we'll work on our collections.
I bought a newspaper in the newsagents on Monday and the customer behind me bought a postcard but also wanted a single stamp which the newsagent was unable to sell: they only sell booklets of stamps. I mentioned to her that the post office was not far, and they might still have some of the commemorative stamps issued last week, or the dragon first class stamp (one of the Welsh definitives) I showed her on a letter I was about to mail. I saw her again coming out of the post office and asked her if she got what she wanted. She told me that she bought a couple of the merchant navy ship stamps although she had to wait for another cashier to sort some out for her! She had only wanted one stamp but bought at least 2! I also mentioned to her the next issue will be dinosaurs next month.
This brings me nicely to a letter written to a stamp magazine a couple of years ago (I bought this magazine in a charity shop at the weekend). The letter commented on the observation of the lack of commemoratives on mail received. The letter then went on to blame the Machin stamps and suggested discontinuing them, replacing with a range of pictorials issued/changed regularly. However, I don't believe that would solve anything because the are a lot of people who do not buy their stamps from the post office (booklets of first or second class stamps, "only" sold in Machin designs), and do not realize that there are nice commemorative issues. I can't remember the last time I saw a poster in the post office for the special issue stamps, and sometimes the post office counter staff do not know (or do not care) when the stamps are issued.
I was talking to an old friend today who would like to take up stamp collecting again. He had a collection started about 50 years ago (and no longer in his possession) but doesn't yet know what he wants to collect this time round. My friend had some of the Wildings and earlier monarch head stamps, as well as British Empire. I am sort of a stamp collector at present, and am not really into the Machins but do know of people who are interested in collecting them. I mentioned to my friend that I will be collecting thematic stamps in the themes I am interested in anyway, and suggested to my friend that it might be a good place to start.