Thursday August 21, 2014

Hobbies evolve over the long term

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Welcome to Week XCVII of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access to a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.

There is nothing like the arrival of something new for one's collection to re-fire interest.

For the last several months my topical collection of stamps based around sport fish, fishing and anglers has been somewhat stagnant. My existing First Day Cover collector sheets were full, and since that sort of thing is not available locally, had not been replenished. Yes they are available in Regina and Saskatoon but in this the winter of the 'big freeze' venturing to the big city for collector sheets never seemed warranted.

As a result my occasional purchase ended up going into an 'overflow' envelop, which is admittedly a bit boring. You can't just flip through the collection and enjoy the latest addition when it's packed away in an envelop.

But a friend headed west to 'Toonville' last week, and was good enough to make a stop for some sheets, and that has got me sorting through recent acquisitions, and yes even back on Ebay looking with a bit more interest in adding a few more pieces to the collection.

As regular readers, and collectors of anything from farm toys to Pez dispensers will know, collections have a way of taking on a life of their own. As collectors we generally start such endeavours with a focus which is quite specific, in my case First Day Covers of sport-fish-related stamps.

But collections are something like hard charging horses pulling a stagecoach, once it starts moving it is very hard to hold the reins.

And so, as discussed here previously stamp minisheets and maxicards have found their way into the collection, as have a few items which are of ancillary interest to a fishermen, like noted Canadian rivers, and some of the wildlife we tend to see around our favourite fishing holes.

It's an easy justification for a collector, as it adds to the overall enjoyment of a day perusing the collection.

And so it was for me as I let myself willing be lured into purchasing my first fishing postcard.

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This is the first of a two-part article on that side of my small philately collection.

I am sure readers can appreciate the rationale. An FDC is an envelop, and then a postal card was a simple side step, and they are essentially postcards created by postal authorities, so a commercial postcard was a pretty easy jump from there, and besides they fit so nicely in an FDC sleeve.

Now there is an inherent difference when you start looking at postcards. With anything stamp-related, there is a finite catalogue of material. Countries have only issued a certain number of stamps through the years, and those releases have been well-documented and catalogued. With some effort I could create a list of every sport-fish related stamp release and have an actual completion target for such a 'topical' collection.

Post cards are, by contrast, nearly infinite. Many are stock photographs which have been used repeatedly, the name of the lodge or lake emblazoned across the front simply changed. With so many postcards with fishing scenes I hold no illusion of ever owning every one. In fact that's not even a hard and fast goal on the stamp side of things.

This is more about having an aesthetically pleasing collection which allows me to get away from things during Internet searches for my next addition, and to be relaxed just paging through my books looking at an increasingly diverse grouping of 'fish stamp stuff'.

That is why I finally let myself buy the first postcard.

My first, usually memorable in most things, shows a man fishing from a birch bark canoe. The fisherman's back is in view, and really he is secondary to the art from which the postcard is fashioned. The eye is drawn to a First Nation's man standing in the canoe with a long pole in hand to maneuver the craft through whitewater as the other man fishes.

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The card was published by The Valentine & Sons Publishing Co. Ltd. out of Eastern Canada, and is not dated.

The art piece shows the name Frank Feller in the bottom right hand corner. Thanks again to the Internet I found Feller (1880-1910), was a Swissartist who settled in England and made a career as an illustrator and painter. His most famous painting was entitled The Last Eleven at Maiwand completed in 1882. It depicted a small handful of men from the 66th Regiment with their regimental mascot, "Bobby", making a last stand as Afghan horseman approach.

The postcard I purchased has 'Trout Fishing' in small print along the bottom, and while not part of the original painting, it might have been the name of the work.

Regardless it is a piece which drew me back to the ebay sale repeatedly before I finally succumbed and made a bid. I am glad I did.

Since then I have purchased several postcards; which break into three major categories.

The first are cards depicting fishing in Canada. I thought that was natural for me.

There are of course hundreds, so I occasionally buy one which attracts my attention for some intrinsic reason which is hard to explain without seeing each one picked.

Secondly, fishing some spot more exotic is a draw; a Scottish river, or a shore in Sweden. I am not likely to get those opportunities, so I live vicariously through the scenes on the postcards.

And then there are art postcards.

After the huge draw of Feller's card, I will admit I have searched out postcards based on art pieces. The beauty of art is that we get to see a part of our world through another's eyes, and being able to do that in regards to fishing I find compelling.

There is for example my postcard 'Muskie Fishing on the St. Lawrence' by Frank H. Taylor 1880, apiece depicting three fishermen in a canoe landing a monster fish. It is a favoured piece because of the vibrant scene it depicts.

As for Taylor, one website noted, he was "one of the most prolific viewmakers in the Philadelphia area over several decades before and after 1900 was Frank Hamilton Taylor, an artist and author who found a wide range of means to put his work before the public. He served as a "special artist" providing drawings and accompanying stories for many newspapers and serials, he acted as editor for a variety of illustrated books as likely to address the commercial present as the historical past."

See part two in next week's edition.



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