May 5th, 2015

Granite City Stamp Club marks its 82d birthday with a special meeting got to know that Granite City Stamp Club marked its 82d birthday with a special meeting. The Club was formed in 1933 in Quincy and continues to draw devoted stamp lovers to its twice-a-month meetings at the Tufts Public Library in Weymouth.

"Each stamp is a work of art on a one-inch paper", Carmela Varraso says.
Carmela Varraso, 81, of Braintree has been a stamp collector since she was 18 and finds new fun, focus and companionship at Weymouth Tufts Library's stamp club. Carmela Varraso and the Granite City Stamp Club were born at just about the same time.

That was back in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt became president. A group of stamp lovers in Quincy began getting together at a local bank to share their latest philatelic acquisitions and do a bit of stamp trading, and before they knew it, the new president stopped by on one of several trips to New England. That visit took place in June of 1933.

The tradition of collecting artistic renderings of important people, movements and moments in history, often on 1-inch squares, has continued for 82 years.

The club's survival is proof of the ageless appeal stamps can have. While membership is down to about 20 – the number was around 50 in the 1940s and 1950s – enthusiasm had endured.

"I love the commemoratives", said Varraso, 81, who lives in Braintree and attends the club's twice-a-month meetings, which are held at the Tufts Public Library in Weymouth.

"There are so many historic events marked by the stamps, and every little stamp is a work of art", Varraso said. "They have fantastic detail".
All but one of the club's members are over 50. The exception is the 10-year-old grandson of Rosalind DeRosa of Weymouth.

Members still trade stamps and have an auction at each meeting. But they cut easy deals, and the emphasis is on having a good time.

"You'd be surprised how much information and how intellectual a lot of the collectors are", Varraso said. "The type of stamp, the printing process, perforations, colorings – those guys really get into it".

"I buy occasionally, but I don't sell", said Nancee Greeley, 79, of Hingham, the club president. "I enjoy the art in the stamps, and I like some of the topicals. I love animals, so I like to collect animal stamps".
Greeley inherited her brother's stamp collection about 10 years ago and was hooked.

Frank Jesonis, 71, retired from financial services field, finds collecting a source of relaxation. He also enjoys learning about people, periods of history, foreign countries, and events.

"Stamps are produced with historical significance", he said, noting that he always did well in history in school because he collected stamps as a youngster.
Varraso was drawn in when she was 18, and her interest took off 30 years later when the 10-cent ZIP code commemorative "It All Depends on ZIP Code" was issued on Jan. 4, 1974. She hurried to the post office to buy a plate block.

As she saw more designs and learned more stories, she would try to get the stamps when they came out. She kept them in drawers and then albums.

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