Colin Benbow shares a joke with former student, Hamilton mayor Charles Gosling, right.  *Photos by Amanda Dale
Colin Benbow shares a joke with former student, Hamilton mayor Charles Gosling, right.  *Photos by Amanda Dale
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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29: A philatelist’s collection of Bermuda stamps could cement the foundations for a national stamp exhibit.

Curators hope Colin Benbow’s generous gift will encourage other enthusiasts to donate or loan their stamps to the National Museum of Bermuda.

Mr Benbow previously displayed his collection at the Corporation of Hamilton’s City Hall offices, from 1983.

But — with advances in archival storage conditions — Mr Benbow and the City of Hamilton have opted to transfer the collection to the National Museum.

The Colin Benbow Collection was placed on permanent loan to the museum on Friday.

Generosity

It consists of postage stamps and items of postal stationery dating back to the early 20th century.

There are issues from King George V in 1910 through to HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and on to the year 2000.

Envelopes and wrappers, postcards, aerogrammes (1943-1985), franks and other marks, air mails (1925-1987), OHMS envelopes and letters from Boer Prisoners of War (1901-1903) are among the artefacts.

Stretching to 16 sections — each filling eight glass frames at City Hall — the collection was constantly rotated with the remainder stored in a vault.

Charles Gosling, City of Hamilton mayor, said: “It became obvious recently that it was beyond our ability to give the collection the proper care and attention, with what we now know today about storage.

“It became evident the collection would be best moved to the National Museum.” At the handover at City Hall, Dr Edward Harris, executive director of the National Museum of Bermuda, said: “It is an honour that Colin and the Corporation have placed the collection at the museum, where, in addition to its high visibility to the public, it may serve as a catalyst for the establishment of a national collection on Bermuda’s unique postal history from the time of postmaster William Perot.”

Trustee Horst Augustinovic added: “The Benbow Collection is a wonderful array of 20th century Bermuda stamps and postal history, and we thank Colin for his very generous donation of this valuable collection.

“This is the foundation of a national collection of postal stamps.”

Collection trustee Andrew Bermingham said: “The Corporation did a wonderful job over the years but all of us agreed the National Museum of Bermuda was the only viable option for the posterity of the collection.”

Not only is the museum humidity-controlled but it also offers greater public display and opportunities for research.

Mr Benbow said he hoped the collection’s new home would now enable “more people to see it”.

He said he became intrigued by the island’s stamps after arriving in Bermuda as a boy.

“I’ve always had an interest in stamps,” he said. “When I got to Bermuda I thought, ‘This is a small and interesting place. I wonder if anyone else is collecting?’. So I started off.

“The collection is Bermuda stamps of the 20th century, but of course there are gaps, holes that could be filled.”

Over the years, the father-of-three has had a variety of jobs, from store manager to teacher. Among his students, he taught mayor Mr Gosling history at Warwick Academy.

Mr Benbow, of Paget, told the Bermuda Sun stamps can open up a world of history and art to the collector.

“They’re very informative. You can get a sense of culture, a country’s customs and sporting activities.

“You can see how places develop, as they depict local scenes, things which may or not survive.”

Now at of 80 he no longer collects philatelic issues. “I’m too old to worry about that now,” he laughed.