Ever since he was 9, Miguel Angel de Dios has collected stamps that hearken back to the colonial age of his native Cuba.
Now the 78-year-old collector serves as director of the Cuban Philatelic Society of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study and collection of stamps from Cuba and other countries.
The group meets at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the South Miami High School cafeteria.
“This is more than just a hobby,” said Dios, who left Cuba for Spain in 1967 and moved to Miami in 2003, after retiring as an industrial mechanic in Union City, New Jersey. “It’s not just cutting and pasting stamps. It’s about studying the history they bring.”
One such stamp is the “British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta,” the world’s most expensive and one-of-a-kind postage stamp that dates back to 1856 and was recently sold in New York for $9.48million.
“My favorite stamp collections are the ones of the English colonies,” said Dios, who has spent more than 40 years collecting and selling stamps from all over the world. “They have a special history.”
Stamps can range in a variety of themes, such as trains, butterflies, baseball, fish, flowers and rockets.
“You can collect stamps of anything you could think of,” said Fernando Iglesias, 66, president of the CPSA, who specializes in collecting postal history, including the pre-stamp period that ended in 1855 when postal seals were introduced in Cuba. “You can even do stamps of stamps.”
In addition to collecting stamps, the CPSA has recently merged with the Cuban Numismatic Association, whose members collect coins and currency before the Castro era of Cuba.
“In our philatelic group, we not only have people who are interested in collecting stamps, but we have people who are also interested in collecting coins,” Iglesias said.
Alfredo Rodriguez, who serves as vice president for the Cuban Numismatic Association, said that stamp collecting and bill collecting complement each another.
“Everyone likes collecting stuff in one form or another,” said Rodriguez, a retired lawyer who collects Cuban bills as a pastime. “It’s part of human nature.”
But for Alex Blanco, 21, director of the CPSA, hearing that stamp collecting is a dying hobby is something he’s become used to.
“There aren’t as many stamp shows as there used to be,” said Blanco, who sells stamps online for a living.
“The Internet has done two things: It’s killed many of the stamp shops in Miami, and it’s opened the door for more vendors to go out and buy stamps from anywhere.”
Yet, for Dios, stamp collecting will never die.
Sitting in a room trading stamps, Dios reminisces on the satisfactions that stamp collecting has given him over the years.
“Philately has given me knowledge, and I’ve made many friends throughout the years thanks to it.”
For more information on stamp collecting, email email@example.com or visit www.cubapsa.com
If you go
▪ What: Cuban Philatelic Society of America weekly meetings
▪ Where: South Miami High School at 6856 SW 53rd St, Miami, FL 33155 - in the cafeteria
▪ When: Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.
▪ For more information, contact: Fernando Iglesias at 954-236-0885