I am a retired engineer who has had a great passion for collecting articles since a very young age. It began with the collection of birds’ feathers, match box pictures, and letter stamps. This was merely a way to pass time for me in the early 1960s. In 1968, my uncle gifted me an impressive Strait Settlement note of King George V, which was used as a common colonial currency in five countries at that time. That grew my interest in the early 1970s when I started with the collection of foreign stamps. I researched more about the history behind each and every item that I collected. The realization that they had the potential to be repositories of history encouraged me to jot down short notes on them. Till date I have collected about four hundred thematic items in the form of currency notes, along with 65 items of stamps.
I was an attendee of the Chicago Bank Note Expo in 2011 and I was also fortunate enough to be a part of Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday celebrations at the Abu Dhabi British Embassy. During the celebration, I received the rare opportunity to exhibit the banknotes of all 33 countries that had Queen Elizabeth’s image inlaid on them. I consider the ‘Thank you’ letter that I later received from Buckingham Palace to be one of my most cherished possessions.
With my growing passion in the collection of stamps, I started a specialized collection of Gandhi theme stamps in 1985. Reading Gandhiji’s books and books written about him, I became fascinated with his social ideologies. Gandhian philosophy is rooted in ancient Indian culture harnessing universal moral & religious principles of truth & non – violence. I referred the catalogues of Scott, Michael and Stanley Gibbons to find the countries which issued Gandhiji’s stamps, simultaneously I was in constant contact with a number of stamp dealers, visited numerous stamp exhibitions, and regularly corresponded with stamp collectors from different countries to make my own list. Until then there was no collector who had ever attempted to build such a complete list.
I have been collecting Gandhi stamps for the last 4 decades, and most of them are yet to find their way into the hands of collectors, which I consider as a unique achievement in my life. To be honest, I could make this possible only because of the tireless and consistent work.
The most important and rare stamps in this collection are:
- World’s first Gandhi stamps issued in India in 1948
- United States became the first country outside India to issue ‘CHAPION OF LIBERTY’ Gandhi stamps in 1961
- Republic of Congo became the second country outside India to issue Gandhi stamps in 1967
- All the Gandhi stamps issued by 40 Countries to celebrate Birth Centenary of Gandhiji in 1969;
- Security Printing & Minting Corporation of India Ltd. (SPMCIL) In Nashik, Maharashtra printed two foreign country Bhutan & Somalia) Gandhi Stamps in 1969.
- Poland was the first foreign country to issue a Postcard outside India to respect Gandhiji.
- Romania was the first foreign country to issue an envelope outside India to respect Gandhiji in 1997
- United Nations Organization Declared Gandhiji’s Birthday as International Day of Non-Violence in 2009 and issued Gandhi stamps.
- World’s first Gandhi Silk Odd Shaped Miniature sheet issued from Maldives
- World’s First Gandhi wooden odd shaped miniature sheet issued from Republic of Guinea in 2019
- World’s First White Swarovski Crystal inlaid stamps issued from Malaysia in 2019
- High quality Indian Muslin Khadi fabric special Gandhi Miniature Sheet issued from Portugal in 2019
- North Korea issued odd shaped Gandhi Miniature Sheet on Paper silk cloth designed by an Indian Philatelist, issued in 2018.
- World’s First Gold foil stamp issued by Davaar Islands issued in 1974
- Britain’s Gandhi Postal Strike Mail Delivery Coupon issued in 1971.
- Mickey’s Visit to Gandhi Memorial at Cape Comorin issued by St. Vincent in 1989.
- Gandhi definitive stamps specimen essay in two different color variations, 6th Series D-144 issued from 1991 to 2000
- Complete Gandhi stamp issues of India from 1948 to September 2021.
For a six-part video homage to Mahtmaji through my stamp collection, please watch below:
While 161 countries paid tribute to Mahatmaji with their stamps, I made it into the Asia Book of Records for collecting Gandhi stamps from most countries of the world by gathering 154 of them. Since then, stamps from four more countries have been added to my collection, making it a total of 158 stamps. I also consider it a privilege to be announced as the record holder of stamps on January 30, 2021, which was the day of Gandhiji’s 73rd death anniversary, As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our independence and the 152nd birth anniversary of Gandhiji, it gives me immense pleasure to pay homage to him through these stamps.
Jacob Mathai is 68-years old from the Indian state of Kerala. He retired from Nael General Contracting Est. Abu Dhabi as a Construction Manager in 2017. Now he is a full-time Numismatist cum Philatelist. On 30 January 2021, he received the Asian Book of Records for collecting Gandhi philatelic items from most countries and an award from the Government of India for the Gandhi Jayanti Stamp Exhibition at Trivandrum in 2019. His ambition is to form a Gandhi Museum in Kerala for Spreading his Laws for Simple Living. He possesses a Gandhi Drawing – drawn with 4000 words History of Gandhi Biography – drawn by an Asia book of Record Holder.