By Ron VandenBoom
The advent of National Stamp Collecting Month has prompted the U.S. Postal Service in Havre to team up with a well-known Havre stamp collector, Dr. W. A. Rader (ret.), to exhibit a portion of his collection to the public.
On display are Raders collection of the Colombian Series of 1893. The series, valued at $13,285, was first issued at the 1893 Chicago Exposition in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus rediscovery of America.
A special display case in the stamp store section of the post office has been mounted on the wall to house what Wayne Chagnon, the window clerk at the post office whos in charge of the store, said he hopes would be an on-going, rotating display that will remain as long as there is interest.
Im selling stamps and Im always interested in what (a collection) looked like, he said. People always come in and buy them so its kind of nice to see the results.
Rader has been an avid stamp collector since his youth and has reached what he calls the esoteric end of his collecting.
At one time, he said, you could buy 15 or 20 stamps for $10 and it was fun. Now its $300 just for one stamp. You have to have a huge budget.
Most of his fun today is found in exhibiting his collection throughout the United States a practice that has earned him many medals, he said.
Stamp collecting has never been very big in Montana, Rader said, while speculating that most Montanans are into coin collecting, instead. As far as Rader knows, there is only one store in the entire state that deals in collectible stamps and its in Billings.
Most of Raders stamps are today bought at auction and although many stamps have started to appear over the Internet, Rader said no really valuable or uncommon items have so far made the web.
According to Rader the value of a stamp is based on the number produced and on its rarity.
He explains that some stamps are valuable because they are defective in some way. The upside-down airplane stamp is the most valuable.
This was one sheet of stamps that had the airplane printed upside down, Rader explained. The stamp collecting world knows where each one of those stamps are and they sell for about $150,000 each.
Rader expects his next display at the post office will be the Trans-Mississippi Commemorative Series of 1898. The Trans-Mississippi Series was issued for the Omaha Nebraska Exposition in 1898 to honor the westward movement of American settlers.
The Havre post office carries a complete assortment of stamp collecting tools including albums and cases for stamp collectors and catalogs.
Also in the store are the stamps.
Chagnon said he sells Christmas stamps, self-stick stamps, flowery hearts, roses, and many more. One of the more interesting for the collector and non-collector alike, is the Decade of Century Stamps.
Century Stamps are representative of each decade of the century and contain stamps that relate to the major events of that decade.
They make great birthday gifts, Chagnon said.