Inquiry Question: What is the story of my family’s stamp book?
My significant object is a stamp book that has been passed down for three generations, starting from my grandfather. After the Korean war, my grandfather caught on to the stamp collecting craze and became an avid hobbyist himself, buying a stamp book and collecting the various stamps that were available to him in the newly formed South Korea. This stamp book is a primary source as the stamps were collected directly by my grandfather, and it was created when the stamps were being issued.
When my grandfather started collecting stamps, it was right after the Korean War, and the country was undergoing a lot of economic development. Poverty was widespread since the war had cost the country billions, and my grandfather was unable to afford stamps from overseas and was probably only able to afford local Korean stamps, as seen in the first few pages of the stamp book. A few pages later, I saw the first stamp about the inauguration of the 9th president of South Korea. Under the 9th president, Korea was able to grow economically, allowing a higher salary for everyone. This meant that my grandfather could start buying stamps from overseas, such as stamps from Hong Kong, the Philippines, or America. Later, when the stamp book was passed on to my father, the stamps started to change from mostly Korean stamps to newer Canadian stamps. After our immigration, Canadian stamps became more accessible to my father, so the number of Korean stamps decreased, and the number of Canadian stamps increased.
The stamp book is interesting because it quite literally tells a story of the lives of my grandfather and father in stamps. The choice of stamps, the specific events written on them, such as the inauguration of certain presidents, tell me what events my predecessors had to live through and shows how they went from being poverty stricken agrarian workers, to a middle-class family that could afford the luxury of stamps from overseas. I can’t explain how long it took to gather all the different stamps or why exactly my grandfather even created the stamp book to begin with. While I can make inferences, I will never know for sure.
Just from looking at the stamps, anyone can reason that whoever owned the stamp book was of Korean ethnicity, as hanja, Korean characters, are written on most of the stamps. I can also infer that my grandfather belonged to the middle class, as he was able to afford the luxury of collecting stamps and could even afford better stamps later. My grandfather probably created the stamp book so that he would be able to pass on the heritage and values of the family to future generations. Through collecting stamps that show snippets of the family’s home country and culture, he would be able to preserve the culture and history of his country in the minds of future generations. He valued his country’s culture and wanted to pass that on, so he picked stamps that showed the history of his nation, such as stamps with pictures of Korean traditional clothing and the inauguration of different presidents.
From examining this source, I learned the story of my predecessors and the events that went through to reach the place they are today. I now know the story of the stamp book and the significance of the stamps in the book, so I would say that I answered my inquiry question, but I am still unable to find the exact reason why my grandfather created the stamp book in the first place.