Thursday, August 1, 2013
The Summerville based International Primate Protection League has received a wonderful gift – a remarkable collection of stamps from around the world. What makes the collection remarkable is that the only stamps in the collection are those that feature primates.
Baboons, chimpanzees, gibbons, spider, gorillas, and species most have never heard of. The stamps are from every country in the world including countries that no longer exist, says IPPL director Shirley McGreal.
The collection was bequeathed to the organization by David Rand – a long-time friend of McGreal’s and an avid life-long collector of primate stamps.
“I first met David in Bangkok in 1975,” says McGreal. “He has been a friend ever since.”
Rand contracted a rare form of encephalitis while in the Far East and returned home to California, last year, where he died last October.
His brother Laury Rand contacted McGreal recently to ask if she would accept the collection and to tell her his brother had also bequeathed a third of his estate to IPPL to help fund primate protection organizations in Asia.
David Rand led a fascinating life, said McGreal. His brother says David had many avocations but “I am not sure if he had a vocation…what a wonderful way to live life.”
“He was a tour director,” said McGreal, “for wealthy American tourists to obscure places on unusual trips…off the beaten track.”
In a farewell missive to family and friends, Rand wrote:
“In time, like an hour glass, the era inexorably nears the end of its reign and it tells those of us who are listening that ‘your era is to be turned over to those who are younger, with more energy and spirit.’
My era is ending.
My wanderings have taken me to 299 countries; my airline hobby has permitted me to fly 1650 different air carriers.
My fascination with nature has allowed me to seek in the wild 70 percent of the world’s species of primates and all the wild cats apart from the jaguar (#1 on my bucket list).
I have been able to send seven boys and girls to higher education and help set up scholarships for girls here in India, [so] that they get full apprenticeships and acceptance. Also, I have supported conservation projects for primates and their habitat.
Love and hope have ruled my efforts, also here in India, to improve the lives of street dogs in Orchha and elsewhere.
It is time to move on, within this era, and leave space to those younger and more clever.
As I move beyond this scope, I think back and thank you all and go out as one of the luckiest men on the face of the earth.”
McGreal thinks everyone who knew him is pretty lucky and certainly IPPL, which has benefitted from his largesse.
“The stamps are just amazing,” she says.
The collection, which Rand says he began during his first trans-African journey in 1972, includes more than 200 species as well as stamps that depict primates in art, statuary, cinema, space, literature, money, cartoons, computer games, masks and carvings. For each stamp, Rand has created a typewritten page telling the species, scientific name, diet, habitat, gestation, maturity, endangered or not, country found and miscellaneous information, where the stamp is from, the year it was issued and if there are any imperfections.
The earliest stamp in the collection, says Rand, is the first primate stamp from North Borneo issued in 1899.
A long-time customer of Stanley Gibbons Ltd. in London, the collection also includes many communications between Stanley Gibbons and Rand.
“We will never consider selling any of them,” exclaimed McGreal. “They are his life’s work.”
They are kept under lock and key and they will build special locked cases to display them and keep them in a climate-controlled environment, she said.
McGreal is an old hand in the philatelic world – when she was a girl, she and her father used to collect stamps.