Item #2: commemorative US 29 cent Elvis Presley stamp, with envelope
Acquired: Feb, 1993, Toronto
This is a classic example of something that’s always managed to make the cut whenever the desk drawer or box I’ve been storing it in for years gets cleaned out. Why? It just seems like one of those things you should probably just keep. It is “The King” after all, so you never know. And so I’ve kept it, for the past 20 years.
It never really was valuable, and it never really stood much of a chance of becoming valuable, in my lifetime at least. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100 million of these puppies were issued, about 3 of which were probably ever used to mail a letter. The other 99,999,997 were bought up by legions of Elvis aficionados, amateur stamp collectors, and suckers like me as a “collector’s item”, and are still being kept in pristine condition waiting for some distant day (after everyone else has thrown theirs away) when they finally become rare and we can cash in. Maybe one of my great-great-great Grandkids will discover it in the attic and use it as the subject of a history project then sell it to fund their college education. Or maybe they won’t even care who Elvis was (do you think that’s possible?).
But for now, it’s worth about 25 cents on a good day (yes, LESS than face value).
Naturally though, I never bought it as a serious investment. Elvis was on it, and at that time, that was enough. Believe it or not, I can still remember laying down a crisp $2 bill (it was pre-toonie days!) on the counter of the coin and stamp dealer’s shop that used to be in Toronto’s Union station, while waiting on a train back to Kingston, where I went to school. In those days I was not only an undergrad student at Queen’s but also a proud trumpet player in the marching band. I had only just begun discovering and getting into Elvis and his music, and because of that I somehow inherited the nickname “Elvis” in the band. Of the 80+ people in the band I swear some of them never knew me as anything else for the whole of 4 years.
One time, the entire band even took a detour into Memphis to visit Graceland during a bus trip down to the Mardi Gras parade – not entirely, but I like to think at least partially – for my benefit. I remember finding it funny how more than one person took me aside after the tour and asked if I was alright, as if somehow the nickname alone would have made the experience of visiting Elvis’ jungle room emotionally difficult for me.
Sadly, the nickname didn’t stick with me after University, but for whatever reason, the stamp did (if you’ll excuse a horrible pun). And I’m ok with that. And to all my old friends in the Queen’s Bands, let me just say ‘thank you…thank you very much’.