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Friday, February 10, 2006

Remembering the Late Ernst M. Cohn

Many of my friends and co-workers find my fascination with colored pieces of paper on old envelopes eccentric. One of my mentors, the late eminent postal historian, Ernst M. Cohen, offered this explanation for what is more a (benign) addiction than an eccentricity:

Collecting is not only a first symptom of the belief in private property; it also provides a way to kill time, a form of therapy, the door to a wide variety of learning, a method for demonstrating achievement, a forum for public speaking, a vehicle for all sorts of writing (including lampoons of its practitioners, starting with oneself), a reason for doing research, a spur to artistic creativity, a means for making friends, an area in which to practice the art of organization, a place to develop political and diplomatic talents and a field for reasonably peaceful competition.

A Book of Postal History (Triad Publications, 1988), title page.

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