JOHN LENNON WAS A PHILATELIST
Numismatic bibliophiles love coin books. But how about a really cool STAMP book? This article from Smithsonian magazine discusses a new exhibit showcasing the stamp
collection of Beatle John Lennon. -Editor
Lennon’s stamp collecting was inspired by his late cousin Stanley Parkes, who gave him the classic Mercury album (with a picture of the god Mercury on the cover) when John was
10 years old. The album’s new owner wrote his name on the title page, after erasing Stanley’s, and beneath it his address at the time: 451 Menlove Ave., Woolton, Liverpool. (The
house of his aunt Mimi, later bought by Yoko Ono and given to the National Trust.) As a boy, Lennon prefigured his future of counter culture cheekiness by sketching moustaches and
beards on the book’s images of Queen Victoria and King George VI.
The album found its way to the Smithsonian when the curator of the Postal Museum, W. Wilson Hulme, who died in 2007, read an article about it having been bought at auction in
London by a rare book dealer. I first wrote about the album when it was displayed in 2005, speculating that most young boys just want to be cool, and stamp collecting might seem
embarrassingly uncool. But Hulme told me at the time, “There was nobody cooler than John Lennon.” Amen!
The 150 pages of the Mercury album now contains 565 stamps, though Lennon’s front-page notations, written over his erased cousin’s name, show the number 657 in quotes, and the
number 800 crossed out. More mysteries. Was 800 Lennon’s hoped-for goal? Were some of the stamps in the album, perhaps those collected by Parkes, traded away or discarded as not
up to young John’s standards.
At some point, the young Lennon pasted his last stamp into his green book, put down the album and picked up a guitar. The rest is musical history, but at the Postal Museum,
philately history lives on.
To read the complete article, see:
Before He Was a Musician, John Lennon Was a Philatelist
Wayne Homren, Editor
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