Photos: Indian expat’s collection of 200,000 stamps is rare treasure

Ashwani Kumar and Ryan Lim

Published on February 19, 2021 at 19.50

The Abu Dhabi resident built up the collection over four decades.

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Abu Dhabi resident Anil Kejriwal has a legacy collection of more than 200,000 stamps gathered over four decades.
Each leaflet of his numerous files is filled with stamps describing stories of historic significance and celebration of momentous occasions.
Kejriwal has themed his collection on the greatest apostles of peace Gautam Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
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Philately – the collection and study of stamps — Kejriwal noted, is the king of hobbies. But for this 53-year-old Indian expat, his treasure trove is a reflection of his passion and dedication since starting the journey as a schoolboy in the state of Bihar.
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“With stamp collections, you have to be very selective about your themes. I focused on Buddha, and Gandhi and Sheikh Zayed, the founding fathers of India and the UAE," he said.
"These three great personalities are symbols of peace and unity in the world."
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I started collecting stamps on Sheikh Zayed after landing here in 2013. I have got a full collection issued by the UAE since 1971,” he added, displaying stamps on the UAE national days, Arabic symbols and heritages, Year of Zayed, Year of Tolerance, Year of Reading, golden jubilee year, history of the UAE’s civil aviation, achievements like the Hope Probe and more.
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“Gandhi may be the most popular personality across the globe. About 85 countries have issued stamps on Gandhi and I have collected almost 80 of them. I have a first day cover of Gandhi stamp issued by the UAE. It was signed by the then Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri,” Kejriwal said, flaunting the stamp.
“I travelled to Sri Lanka for stamps on Buddha. I have 2,000 stamps on Buddha from India, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.”
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Kejriwal’s collections are from 100 countries comprise a whole gamut of shapes, sizes and types: seed of Ghaf tree, wood, 3D, crypto with QR codes, meteor, rubber, plastic, elastic, gold, silver, copper, silk, ceramic, Swarovski crystal, embroidery, gramophone record, perfumed, puzzles and braille embossed ones too. Stamps on Harry Potter series describes the entire sequences of the fantasy films.
“When we say stamps, we think of paper but nowadays there is so much variety. Crypto material is the latest one. Spain is very creative with their stamps,” said Kejriwal, who is director of Jindal Saw Gulf in Abu Dhabi.
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Kejriwal has a range of first day covers and many priceless possessions and experiences to share.
“I travel a lot and whenever I visit a new country, I post a letter to my home address. I have a stamp posted on December 12, 2012. And since I had a 2pm flight to catch, the post office staff surprised me by posting the stamp at 12.12 pm.
"I also design my own covers and get stamps cancelled by the post office of the issued country," he added. "I have a stamp commemorating January 30, 1948, when Gandhi was assassinated. For casuals, it is for 10 Indian rupees. For me, it is priceless. In collectors’ market, the first day cover costs 200,000 Indian rupees.”
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Kejriwal keeps a tab on the new arrivals by following updates on philately groups, Facebook pages, news, social media, dedicated websites, well-wishers and friends.
“I also exchange with other collectors. I have a big challenge in keeping this huge collection intact.”
Kejriwal is well supported by wife Madhu, daughter Khushi and son Arnav. “New generation is not interested in such a hobby. But this is a wonderful world to be in.”
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