Who would believe it? The Faroe Islands recently issued this COVID stamp.

Keith Shockey is a relative newcomer to the City of Vision, having moved here in 2019, but he’s no stranger to the stamp-collecting hobby.
And although he may not be the first through the door Saturday morning at the NewMexPex — back in town after the pandemic canceled the 2020 show — he’ll be hunting a stamp or two for his collection.
Born in Denmark, his interest in stamps began when he was a youngster and found he could learn about myriad subjects from stamps — “travel, history and animals,” he said.
Stamps have been used for hundreds of years, and they weren’t intended to become a hobby — they were functional, representing that someone had paid to have the message contained inside, or, in the case of postcards, on it, delivered.

Rio Rancho stamp collector Keith Shockey searches for a stamp to show a visitor. Gary Herron photo

As a youth, Shockey also lived in Malta, and he began collecting that country’s stamps, adding them to his Danish collection. He purchased a large accumulation of German stamps from a collector when the Shockeys lived in the suburbs of Tacoma.
Flash forward a half-century — he’s 65 now — and he’s got thousands of stamps in his collection. Although one might think “countless” would be an appropriate adjective here, Shockey’s in the process of counting them — he says there’s no way it’s shy of 10,000 — and logging them on his computer.
He spent 20 years working for the U.S. Postal Service, “three on the street, 17 in the office.
“I’m glad to be retired,” he said, also having put in 24 years with the U.S. Air Force.
That Postal Service stint provided a way for him to enhance his collection.
He’s hoping to rid himself of about half of the nearly 200 binders of stamps — 13 of them are all “modern Africa,” he said — in his home office. He’ll save the other half with its many topics and pass them along to his Korean-born daughter.
Shockey’s wife, Kum Suk, is Korean and a woman he met during his tour in the Air Force.
What are the stamps all worth?
Who knows? Not even Shockey.
After all, as he puts it, “You can’t eat it and you can’t (use it for money, like coins),” but he’ll keep collecting nonetheless.
He doesn’t go out to the bars or casinos, isn’t a drinker and basically considers himself a loner. His wife doesn’t mind the number of hours he spends honing his collection, because then she can tune into her favorite Korean soap operas.
Understanding the hobby is still basically for an old — let’s say senior citizen — demographic, Shockey hopes the NewMexPex will be an opportunity for youngsters seeking a hobby, or their parents hoping to find an enjoyable one for them to pursue.
“Don’t collect the world,” he said, “just start out collecting what you’re interested in.”
Name a topic, and there are more than likely stamps from someplace on the globe that will be a place to start — and eBay is an ideal place to search for stamps.
Shockey attends Rio Rancho Stamp Club meetings at Meadowlark Senior Center, home of the NewMexPex. As the club’s project coordinator, he looks for new ways for members to stay interested in the hobby.
He also said the NewMexPex is a place former collectors might find a dealer to purchase their unwanted stamps or collections — the show will have at least seven dealers on hand, most from out of the state.
Or, “They can donate them to the VA or contact the Rio Rancho Stamp Club. … I’ll be happier than heck to tell you what you’ve got,” he said.
Plus, the show will have gifts for the kids, a “What’s in Your Attic?” table and a U.S. Post Office desk on site.

What: Sixteenth New Mexico Philatelic Exhibition, aka NewMexPex.
When: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23-24. (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.)
Where: Meadowlark Senior Center, Rio Rancho.
How much? Free.

About the author

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer