While growing up in Secaucus, New Jersey, I started collecting stamps as a project for a Boy Scouts badge when I was eight. My Czechoslovakian grandmother and French father were good sources for foreign stamps. Dad worked in the restaurant business in New York City and had access to lots of customers from all over the world. When I moved to France at age ten, my stamp collecting took off like a rocket.
I’ve never collected stamps as an investment, but rather as a hobby, and more importantly as a means to educate myself. Collecting stamps offered me opportunities to learn about history, geography, language, culture, art, currencies, and a host of other tidbits. To this day, I’m surprised that stamp collecting is not used as an educational tool in schools. As an adult, I still collect stamps, but I’ve become what is called a topical collector. I only focus on Judo stamps now.
The first Judo stamp ever issued was by Japan in 1953 to commemorate the 8th Athletic Meet at Matsuyama.
In 1956, Japan issued the second Judo stamp in honor of the 1st World Judo Championships in Tokyo. It features 10th dan Kyuzo Mifune doing his famous sumi otoshi. More nations started issuing Judo stamps for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Today, more than 170 countries have done so.
Japan’s latest Judo stamp in 2011 finally honors Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. Considering his accomplishments in the Olympic movement and in the field of national education, I’m shocked it took Japan so long to recognize him with a stamp. I guess that “better late than never” applies here.
I have over 250 different Judo stamps, but my guess is that over 400 have been issued. I’m interested in exchanging my duplicates with other collectors. I’d also like to see if any of my non-American readers can keep their eyes open for newly issued Judo stamps in their country. One of my former students was able to purchase for me the Japanese stamp honoring Kano, which is part of a 10-stamp souvenir sheet commemorating “Japan Sports 100th Anniversary.” I’d be grateful for any other help I can get to purchase Judo stamps.