Dubai - Till date, Ramachandran said he must have spent nearly Dh100,000 on his vintage collection.
Vintage collection is his passion and he has not left a stone unturned in keeping history alive.
Indian expat PC Ramachandran is now one of the senior collectors of the Emirates Philatelic Association with a collection of more than 100,000 stamps from across the world.
He has been recognised for the outstanding efforts taken in collection and preservation of the vintage and antique collectibles and has been honoured for his commitment shown towards the programmes, activities and ideas in the field of archaeology and heritage.
His fascination with stamps began in his school days as most of his relatives were based outside India and would often send his family letters.
"Every letter had colourful stamps on it and that's how my fascination with stamps started. I began collecting stamps from letters and from wherever I could. But when I came to Dubai in 1973, I began collecting in a professional way and started dedicating my weekends making meticulous books and catalogues of my stamps."
Till date, Ramachandran says he must have spent around Dh100,000 in stamp collection because what started as a childish fascination swelled to a collection of several thousands which he regularly updates. "For many people a stamp is just a stamp, but for me there is much more to it. This is a great and quick way to learn history of any country and culture as the country's complete culture and history is displayed on these stamps. Younger generations can learn a lot of things about a country's history, culture and values through their different currencies and stamps. Stamps basically encapsulate the culture and history of a particular place and era. When any stamp is issued, it comes with a leaflet giving complete information about the stamp and the country and culture it depicts."
Paying tribute to the UAE, which gave him an opportunity to enjoy and pursue his passion of stamp collection, Ramachandran has a complete collection of stamps not only after the formation of the UAE but also those in mint condition that were used in the Trucial States and even when the UAE was divided into princely states. "I have complete collection if stamps from the time the UAE started issuing stamps, which was in 1973. Earlier, the issuance quantities were around 500,000 but now, it has come down to 40,000 or so because no one uses them anymore."
He also has a huge collection of all Indian stamps that were issued after 1947. Apart from stamps, Ramachandran has a collection of currencies of 193 UN-approved countries, many of which have ceased to exist. "Some of these currencies are of dead countries such as East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Burma (Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). I keep memories alive through these collectibles... It fascinates me."
Ramachandran added: "Although I pursue this just as a hobby, I know many people who do this as business as this is a costly affair and if done correctly can be transformed into a full-fledged profitable business. The stamps that we got for Dh5 in the earlier times can be sold at Dh30-Dh50, which is hugely profitable. However, for me this started as a passion and will remain as one."
"In my youth, I would spend between Dh500-Dh1000 a month on stamp books, stamps and currency collection. Every month, I would buy a variety of vintage items and what I valued most about them was the enriching information and history that came along with it," he said.
Ramachandran has dedicated a section of his apartment to vintage collection and also possesses a collection of thousands of telephone cards and telephone directories issued in the UAE. "I have a variety of telephone cards that include chip cards, tamura cards and prepaid cards, many of which show different historical sites of the UAE."
Till date Ramachandran, 65, said he must have spent nearly Dh100,000 on his vintage collection, adding that it is dearer to him than anything else.