Stamp collection was something that Anil Kumar started way back during his school days. “I got a stamp or two and just kept it with me. A friend of mine and I started collecting stamps together, soon it became a competition as to who could collect the most number of stamps,” reminisces Anil.
A passion that grew with him slowly became a craze and an integral part of him. “I never bought any stamps, almost all the stamps that I have in my collection barring a few I collected myself. Sometimes even the local postman helped me add to my collection,” says Anil with a smile.
Anil Kumar hailing from the capital city works in the Russian Cultural Centre here as the administration officer and is also the deputy head of the Russian Language Institute. With a PhD in Russian and an undying love for Russia Russian stamps feature the most in his collection.
The proud owner of stamps from almost 60 countries, Anil says: “Philately and numismatics are not easy hobbies to maintain and carry on for a long time. Unless you have a real passion you might just give it up half way.”
“The process of philately takes a lot of patience. First of all one has to clean the stamps clear all the markings, then stick it with a ‘hinge’ a small adhesive tape that will stick one side of the stamp to the philately paper. These papers and ‘hinges’ are no longer available,” explains Anil while displaying his collection of neatly arranged stamps that are stuck on philately papers.
Anil who is not a member of any philately clubs learned all about philately and all the science behind it on his own by reading and researching. “One is supposed to arrange the stamps and date them and write down the details of each country, the currency and so on. That is the whole way to go about it that has been told in the books and by philatelists. But these days nobody takes the pain. I have lot many friends who say that they have plenty of stamps with them, but nobody has it all arranged and detailed, they just store it in a heap,” he says.
Anil even has topic- and occasion-wise collection of stamps. There is collection on The Great October Revolution in various hues of red, all telling a story of the Great Revolution. Then there is a collection on birds, animals, ships, bridges, planes, poets, artists, even an entire collection on London Olympics and folklores of Russia. Then there are the Russian postcards, all colourful with beautifully printed designs unlike the Indian postcards which are plain and undecorated.
Anil also conducts exhibitions of his stamp collection at the Russian Centre occasionally. He first held an exhibition way back in 1987 when he was just a student at the Centre. Ever since then he has conducted a lot many exhibitions at the Centre.
Anil, an ardent philatelist, also has a fairly good coin collection with him as well. Some of the coins date back to as early as Queen Elizabeth’s coronation ceremony.
“That was a rare coin that not many have. I got it through an uncle of mine who was in the Navy then,” he says. “Even numismatics requires a lot of patience; the coins need to be cleaned with chemicals and kept verdigris (klaav) -free. Sometimes this might be too tiresome as these chemicals can cause wheezing and such health problems,” he says.
He has currency notes from Indonesia ranging from (Rupiah) Rp 10 to Rp 1 lakh, then Russian currency notes from the Soviet era to the present.
“Russian currency during the period of transition used to be really unstable. The government at the time issued something known as ‘coupons’ whose value changed with each day. A coupon bearing a particular denomination one day may not have the same value denoted on it. The value may increase or it could decrease,” explains Anil showing a coupon.
With a huge and rare collection of stamps and coins, Anil Kumar has never valued his priced possessions and has absolutely no idea about the price of his rare collections. aNot just this, Anil Kumar is also a gifted artist, who once conducted an exhibition on complete ‘Shakunthalam’ in Indian Art style otherwise known as line drawing using a painting brush, a rare feat to achieve. A true philatelist and a coin collector who has not lost the vigour and passion over the years, Anil Kumar hopes to continue his hobby as long as he can.