Look at this page from Ghana in my British Africa album. It presents the first set of definitive stamps — the regular issue of 1959. Except it’s not the full set. Notice the gaping hole in the middle. It’s the 1/3 value, not particularly rare or valuable. (In fact, the set itself is not very dear — a few bucks at most.)
I’ve been a fan of Ghana stamps from the early days, and have the first four years of stamps and souvenir sheets nearly complete. The bold colors and designs and exotic or aspirational themes seem to capture some of the zest of Africa during the early days of independence. I like the way the stamps integrate the Ghanaian flag with its stirring colors of black liberation — green and gold and red — harking back to the days of Marcus Garvey and the Black Star Line.
I had assembled this set over the years from several sources. Somehow, the 1/3 kept eluding me. I began to keep an eye out, online and at stamp shows. I never managed to find what I was looking for, though — until now.
Look! There it is, the missing 1/3, dropped among the rest of the set, right beside its illustrated spot on the page. It turned out to be ridiculously easy to get. I was accumulating a range of inexpensive stamps from an online dealer and just stumbled on the Ghana 1/3. I was excited — in the quiet, contained way of philately. (I might have whispered to myself “Yes!” and shot my fist up in the air from the chair in my study.) Here, finally, was the missing stamp! Odd thing was, it only cost me 60 cents.
Now behold, dear reader, the complete set at last. It may not seem like a big deal to you. To this philatelist, who has been hankering to fill that middle space for lo, these many years, it is a consummation devoutly to be wished and avidly celebrated. I feast my eyes …
(You might ask: If the set only costs a few bucks, why not just buy the complete set? That way, you’ll have your missing stamp as well as the rest, and you’ll only be out a few bucks. My answer: Yeah, but then you wouldn’t be a true, dyed-in-the-ink stamp collector. You would be taking the easy way. Instead of “collecting,” you would be “amassing.” You already had every stamp in the set but one. If you buy a whole new set, what do you do with that nearly-complete duplicate set? Try and sell it? Give it away? Put it in an envelope and forget about it? What a waste of time and effort. Besides, doing it this way only cost 60 cents. All it took was a little patient attention, persistence — and fait; philatelic phaith that the right stamp would come along at the right time.)
TO BE CONTINUED