Fri, Jan 22, 2010
The Straits Times
Heir to a stamp fortune

JOHNSON CHANG, 11, Fernvale Primary School

JOHNSON Chang's father Mr David Chang, 51, a contractor, had a plan for him.

Three years ago, he showed Johnson his collection of about 8,000 stamps and 750 first-day covers, valued at over $60,000. A first-day cover is a specially designed envelope bearing one or more stamps postmarked on their day of issue.

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He told him: "This will be yours one day." The only condition: Johnson had to take up stamp collecting too. Fortunately, the cheerful boy took to the hobby enthusiastically. "The stamps are very colourful and attractive," he explained.

He was also attracted by stories behind some of the older stamps.

"My father told me how people risked their lives during the Japanese Occupation to go to the post office, buy stamps and post letters."

So far, he has spent about $350 - from a weekly allowance of $20 - to bump up his collection to over 300 stamps.

There are benefits: He has learnt about many countries and cultures, he said, pointing to stamps from Gambia, Guyana and Mongolia.

He has become somewhat of a young ambassador for a hobby fast losing favour among his peers, taking every chance to show his classmates his album.

Do they try to steal his stamps? "I keep a close eye on them," he laughed.

When told of a recent Straits Times Forum letter that suggested stamps should be phased out to cut costs, Johnson looked stunned for a moment, then said: "I will print my own stamps!"

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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