Ram stamp champ

Ram stamp champ
Article is on Mr John Lowis, an avid stamp collector. This year, he has collected over 800 goat and sheep stamps from all over the world. He specializes in collecting stamps with the zodiac animal designs.

All manner of rams, goats and sheep are in his collection.

Of stamps, that is. And they come from all corners of the globe.

Among the more than 900,000 stamps in his collection, there are more than 800 different goat and sheep stamps from more than 60 countries, including Mongolia, Liechtenstein, Australia and New Zealand.

"I have collected about 95 per cent of the goat stamps available worldwide," Mr Johnny Lowis, 65, said with a hint of pride.

Some stamps from his collection have been exhibited in the Singapore Philatelic Museum since 2004.

He estimates the value of his goat collection to be about $1,500, based on catalogue prices.

"In fact, if it is not based on the catalogue price, it may be even higher," he said.

When asked about his favourite goat stamp, Mr Lowis sheepishly said: "They are all quite nice and important to me.

"Some are important because the design is beautiful. Others may not be as beautiful but they were hard to get."

For Mr Lowis, an attractive aspect of stamp collecting is the challenge of obtaining rare stamps.

After some cajoling, he admitted that one of his more special goat stamps is from Liechtenstein and costs a little over $50.

"It has a unique feature. It is cut with laser-cutting technology to mimic the Chinese paper-cutting technique."

About a dozen years ago, Mr Lowis, who started his hobby when he was 15, decided to collect stamps based on the animals of the Chinese zodiac.

"Zodiac stamps are actually one of the most popular collection of stamps, especially among Asian stamp collectors. Even some African and European countries are issuing such stamps, though it is not a part of their culture."

He exchanges stamps with more than 200 collectors all over the world.

He spends a lot of time online trying to find out the background of each stamp.

STORY

"Stamps have a story behind them. Some stamps may feature a cartoon drawing, so I want to find out the fable or story behind it.

"The stamps are not just to be placed in the album. I have to do write-ups for an exhibition in a museum or a club."

His goat stamps have led him to find out interesting facts about their countries of origin.

"Stamps can tell you a lot. Don't let the small size of stamps fool you. Different stamps can have a different story behind them," said Mr Lowis.

He hopes to exhibit his goat stamp collection after Chinese New Year.

"My collections may be exhibited in countries like Indonesia, the Netherlands, Croatia and China," he said.

And he has geared himself to start collecting monkey stamps for the Year of the Monkey next year.

"They require all year to collect. I have actually started collecting them," he said with a laugh.


This article was first published on February 20, 2015.
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