OldCiren - Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
Before this day of online amusement to a time when a face book was the latest “Commando War story “ or other comics such as the Beano or the Dandy; in my childhood, collecting things was an extremely popular pastime. We collected postage stamps; postcards; Brook Bond Tea cards and the redeemable-for gifts coupons that your Mum got in her “Kensington” cigarettes. Some cigarettes brands had collectible cards; first introduced in the UK in 1887 by W.D & HO Wills as packet stiffeners, but I don’t remember seeing many of these in the 1960’s. Whatever collectible fancy you had back then; it called for stationary to fix them to to store and display. In Ciren you bought these from one of various stationary outlets we had in town back then.
In the market place where the Coventry Building Society is now, was Baily and Woods - an Aladdin’s cave of stationary treasure, a long cavern of Coloured paper, albums, glue, paper hinges to affix stamps, hole punches; an endless list of things to spend your pocket money on. At the bottom of Castle street there was another Stationers - which sold polythene bags of mixed used stamps. According to how much money you had to spend, the bags could be bought in different sizes from about a shilling for a small bag up to a princely 5 Bob for a big bag. The actual stamps were from all corners of the world and many were still affixed to parts of envelope. In some ways it was a bit of a geography lesson to sort through them; coming across both the exotic and the mundane as you saved some and put some aside to swap with your mates. Always the hope of finding a Victorian Penny Black but never finding much more than Queen Elizabeth Threepenny Red.