My name is Christopher Owen. I was born in Redondo beach, California and currently reside in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, Kern river valley. Very quiet and nice fresh air, but no mail service.
What do you collect?
I've been a compulsive collector all of my life. I could retire today on the collection of Mattel hot wheels and Dinky toys I had at one time. I've collected so many things in my life from bottles to vestas, coins to of course toys.
At some point I got stuck on errors in coins and bills mainly. I collected all kinds of mechanical errors. One thing led to another and I purchased a wonderful #1470 Tom Sawyer color shift. This opened the door to the art and history of postage stamps.
Where does the passion for the hobby comes from?
I'm not sure what it is but something clicks on and I become most obsessed over obtaining a particular item for my collection. Sometimes the expense is of course a factor, so I spend a lot of time looking. The hunt is what I like, not only for the perfect example but for one I can actually afford.
What compels you to collect?
Every collection must be properly stored to retain it's original value. For a long time I avoided stamps because of their fragility. They must be kept very dry. With today's modern pages it's a lot easier to keep your collection secure. Although something must be said for the nostalgia of browsing an old hinged collection. A lot of hobbies are expensive to get into. Stamp collecting is one of the least. There are so many levels and categories for someone to collect. When I started, my whole collection was in dealers cards. Now I use the plastic pages which I like because the stamp is covered not half exposed like in some books. This also eliminates that unsightly crease line through the middle of the stamp I'm sure most collectors have encountered. They probably aren't the best method in humidity.
Do you know how much your collection is worth?
The value of my collection is totally open for interpretation. I've found, unlike coins, stamps rarely get professionally graded unless they have some real value. Stamps are so delicate that it always amazes me how they ever survived the trip through history. I've seen a stamp sell for hundreds and a better example sell for under a hundred. Everyone has a different opinion on the value of a stamp. That is why I prefer to view my collection as a time capsule or mini museum.
I do have some special stamps. Not so much for their rarity or perfection but for where they have been. What they must have been through or who might have licked the stamp. The idea that somebody licked the stamp, and if it's still on paper a little part of that person is there also. That's intriguing.
How do you acquire new stamps for your collection?
Living where I do doesn't afford me many opportunities to get out to shows or shops. Even though I've worked for years at a coin and sport card shop, they, like a lot of shops, will have nothing to do with stamps. So online, mainly auctions is where I obtain new material. If you are patient you can really find some excellent bargains online. It's getting harder for online auction stamp sellers because the service fees are often more than the stamp is worth.
Do you have any advice for newcomers?
My advice for the individual who has just started collecting is stay focused. So many stamps from all over the world but if you remain focused on one thing your collection will become great instead of a hodgepodge of inexpensive stamps. Also buy the best example you can afford. Don't waste money on fillers. I like to plan my page so each stamp has a place before I buy it.
If you want to now more about Christopher Owen you can visit his facebook profile.