He’s known for creating some of the greatest music of the 20th century, and changing the face of rock and pop forever. He was also a kid who avidly collected stamps.
Lennon had a difficult beginning in life; his father was a merchant seaman who was away for months at a time. He went missing without leave when John was 4, and though he returned later that year and offered to fulfill his financial duties to the family, John’s mother (who had found another partner) refused. John’s aunt Mimi took him in, and though his father once tried to take John and emigrate to New Zealand, the child ultimately stayed with his aunt in Liverpool. His cousin Stanley, who was 7 years older, lived nearby, and often took John to the movies.
When John was about 10, Stanley gave him a partially-filled stamp album that he had been working on. John studiously erased Stanley’s name and began filling the empty spaces in the album. (In true boyish nature, he also drew facial hair on the images of Queen Victoria and King George VI on the cover of the album.) John removed the stamps from letters that came in from New Zealand, America, and other countries, adding them to the appropriate pages.
While the stamp album is still incomplete, it’s not hard to picture the future musician as an isolated child, sitting with his stamp album and dreaming of visiting the countries the stamps came from. None of the stamps in the album are particularly valuable in themselves. Former National Postal Museum curator Wilson Hulme commented to Smithsonian Magazine, “Typically, young boys aren’t interested in rarity,” he said. “They tend to concentrate on geography and colors. If they come back to collecting when they have more time and money, that’s when collections become exceptional.” Of course, as a Beatle, John Lennon did tour the world, and not only visited the countries represented in his album, but was himself eventually featured on stamps around the world as well.
(All images from Smithsonian Magazine, used by fair use.)