Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
As Jamaica celebrates its 50th year of Independence, Rhudal McFarlane from Garlands in south St James is revelling in his pre-Independence stamp collection from his childhood days.
"It was while I was going to primary school that I started stamp collecting as a child. It was just out of curiosity; the stamp collecting was just during my school days," said the 63-year-old stamp collection owner.
McFarlane, who was born to William and Lena McFarlane on July 13, 1948, and is one of 17 children for his father, said that he collected more than 300 stamps during his childhood. He recently found the book accidentally while doing some cleaning at home.
"I would take the stamps and paste them in my English book at the back. I could have collected ... 300 stamps, or more, but most of them got destroyed," said McFarlane.
"I was going through some of my old books from school days because from those days, I had bought myself a set of encyclopaedias in about 1970, and I have collections of several books. I have this passion for literature and reading, so I had these books, and I was taking a stock of them when I found the book with the stamps."
McFarlane - a former educator who served as principal of Cambridge High School in St James from 1983 until his retirement in April 2010 - noted that his stamp collection consisted of British-issued stamps with portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and King George VI.
'POUNDS, SHILLINGS, PENCE'
"In those days, it was the 'pounds, shillings and pence' days. You had the half-penny stamp, the penny stamp, and the two-pence stamp, and some of them had pictures of King George of England because all of our stamps had the King or the Queen on them. It was after Independence that we started to have our people on the stamps. So at the time, it was Queen Elizabeth and King George, her father," he recalled.
"Even though King George died after World War II, his picture was still on the stamp. Queen Elizabeth's pictures started coming on the stamps after she was crowned because she didn't get crowned immediately after her father died," he added.
"It was Winston Churchill who was running the country, because Elizabeth was still a young girl, until 1952, when she ascended the throne and was crowned in 1953."
The stamp collector said he preserved his collection for his four sons and grandchildren.
"They are very valuable to any stamp collector. I haven't got a clue how much they would cost, but I could part with some of them and keep a copy of one or two," he stated.
"Many people who lived in the days prior to Independence don't have anything to show from that time. These are some of the things that we should cherish and preserve, but we're not the kind of people who reflect on our history."
Photos by Christopher Thomas