The country’s first circle-level philatelic club, to be run by the West Bengal circle of the department of posts, was inaugurated at the General Post Office on Friday.
“We started school philatelic clubs across the country last year before Covid to spread the hobby among students. This would be the first for philatelists across age groups,” said secretary, department of posts, P.K. Bisoi after inaugurating the club.
“Our idea is to create a meeting ground which can be used for training and exchange of ideas. The members will include nominated representatives of government institutions like libraries, museums and universities other than young philatelists and winners of our philatelic contests. We will encourage members to suggest subjects for commemorative stamps which we will forward to Delhi,” said Niraj Kumar, postmaster general, Calcutta. The department plans to hold workshops and talks by eminent philatelists. Membership will cost Rs 500 per month.
A philatelic museum was also opened. “While we have a postal museum next door which chronicles the history of the postal system, this will be a temple of philately,” said Kumar. The museum houses a library of books on stamps that club members can use.
The central exhibits showcase how stamps relate to our lives. Thus. a baluchari sari hangs next to a stamp on baluchari. Next to a stamp on Lalan Fakir hangs an actual ektara while a sarod, a violin and a shehnai are exhibited with stamps on Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Allauddin Khan and V. Lakshminarayana.
A touchscreen kiosk has information on select stamps. A trumpet is heard if one touches a 1951 stamp on elephants. Similarly a Hemanta Mukherjee stamp issued in 2016 is linked to his song Runner, on the predecessor of postmen. Touching a screen with Netaji stamps plays the Indian National Army marching song Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja.
Debasish Sarkar, a postal employee, has contributed pastel drawings of some of India’s earliest stamps that look as life-like as photographs.
A gold-plated replica in silver of a stamp from India’s earliest series, Jai Hind, dating back to 1947, was released on the occasion.
“We plan to make smaller and affordable versions available soon,” Kumar said.
A two-day exhibition on Netaji and the freedom movement is under way at the GPO Rotunda, showcasing the collection of Raunak Dutta.