Saturday, 8 June 2013

Thomas G. Current, Founder of the Great Britain Collectors Club, 1923-2013

I'd like to depart from our regular topic to say a few words in memory of Tom Current, who passed away on May 27. Tom was a leader and doer who contributed much to philately in general and GB philately in the US in particular. He was also a friend and mentor to me.

Tom was an avowed Anglophile who started collecting British stamps in 1970. He formed a GB study unit in his local stamp club, the Oregon Stamp Society, which facilitated the members learning about and acquiring GB stamps and postal history.

He noticed there was no organization in North America that was dedicated to GB philately. "Scandinavians were all over the place," he said, "but nothing for the Mother Country?" He started what was then called the Great Britain Correspondence Club because, in addition to writing a newsletter and creating publications, he corresponded eagerly with collectors around the world.

Because there was no published guide to GB stamps that was suitable for the beginning or intermediate collector, he rounded up a team of authors and produced the GBCC Handbook of British Philately for the Intermediate Collector. This 700-page work is still available to members of the GBCC. He authored or published several other publications as well.

Tom accomplished much in his life, but he was never pushy or aggressive. He always had a smile, a good word, and a self-effacing comment or two. When he wanted to get something done, however, he simply kept at it until it was complete.

I joined the GBCC soon after its formation and joined Tom's legion of correspondents and friends. I was, even then, specializing in Machins, and since Tom preferred pre-QEII philately, he asked me to write a regular column for the GBCC. We each independently decided to call it "Machin Mania;" each of us wrote a letter suggesting that title, and the two crossed in the mail.

The experience and encouragement he gave me led directly to my time as a columnist for Linn's Stamp News. When Linn's published a request for a GB columnist in 1992, I figuratively grabbed my good friend, David Alderfer (whom I had met through the GBCC), and applied for the job. As a team, we wrote a monthly column for 10 years. I retired from that effort, but David still contributes. I also wrote briefly for Scott Stamp Monthly until that publication was discontinued.

My association with Linn's and my continued efforts for GBCC in turn provided me with many wonderful experiences, opportunities and friendships. I owe Tom a debt that I was never able to repay. Certainly, though, he would not have thought about repayment for one second. A smile and a friendly wave would have been enough for him.


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