Tom Broadhead Talks Stamps

Broadhead's the publicity director of the Knoxpex 2009 stamp show

How long have you been collecting stamps?

Off and on for about 50 years. I was seven when my grandparents gave me a stamp album and some stamps.

What about the "free stamps for children and beginners at this show?"

We have the equivalent of two copy paper boxes full of loose stamps from all over the world. New collectors of any age who want to know a little about stamp collecting can dig through those and take some home.

Which countries do you think have the prettiest stamps?

France certainly has a tradition and reputation for having very beautifully designed and printed stamps.

And San Marino?

Yes, yes. It and Monaco, and Vatican City, are little tiny countries that have always had a lot of collector interest.

How do you answer when people think your hobby is boring?

You can't really slap them around a little bit. But stamps reflect the history of a country. They are one of the few physical things that might date back 100-150 years that you can still lay your hands on or even purchase for 10 or 20 cents. And when you think about each one, it's like a little tiny piece of artwork that reflects the artistry of the designer, printer, and the engraver.

What is this "free commemorative cancel" you're offering?

When a stamp is used, the U.S. postal service runs an inked image over the stamp, usually with the name of the town and the date where it was cancelled. This show honors the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. In cooperation with the Knoxville Postal Service—they have to approve it. On Saturday, anyone can bring in an envelope or postcard with a stamp on it to get the cancel—it's a takeoff on the Lincoln penny design. Some stamp shows charge for that, but we won't.