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Profile of an ABM Stamp Volunteer

Caroline Bowyer, far right, with ABM staff Merlina Nixon and Fiona Richardson preparing the stamps for auction.
Caroline Bowyer, far right, with ABM staff Merlina Nixon and Fiona Richardson preparing stamps for auction.

August 2018

ABM has been accepting used postage stamps as part of our fundraising over many years. We continue to receive stamps on a regular basis from all over Australia. These are then sorted by a large number of hard-working ‘Friends of ABM’ who spend hours trimming and sorting. Sometimes we also receive whole collections from stamp collectors which may be very valuable. The money raised from selling the stamps at auction supports the work of ABM and our Partners which is much appreciated.

We recently caught up with Caroline Bowyer who has been a stamp volunteer at the Sydney office since February 2016, and asked about her ABM experience: 


Why did you decide to volunteer for ABM?

One of the best things about retirement is being able to volunteer for causes I believe in, and deciding which to assist in this way. I am fortunate in attending a church which supports ABM.

What particularly attracts me to ABM is the fact that, unlike some other mission agencies, ABM seems to aim to serve individuals holistically, in mind, body and spirit, rather than seeing them simply as souls to be converted.

For many years I have been a keen recycler of stamps, which I used to send to a number of charities. When I discovered that ABM was one such agency, I was delighted to have the opportunity to become involved in this fund-raising activity.


What do you most enjoy about sorting the stamps?

I find sorting and preparing the stamps quite an addictive process. Some of this work I do at home, and some in the ABM office which helps me to not feel guilty sitting too long in front of the television. When a huge bag of stamps arrives, it can be somewhat daunting, but most satisfying working through them gradually, sorting into the various countries and denominations, seeing the beauty of some, and discovering the enormous variety of stamps I haven’t come across before. 


Have you learnt something new from working with the stamps?

What has surprised me is the enormous number and variety of Australian stamps most of us probably never see.  It’s a pity, because some are really beautiful works of art. Also most interesting is the veritable history lesson provided by seeing the changes in the names of some countries over the years. The only negative side to this is the fact that it makes me very aware of my age, since I can remember when many of them were known by their former names. These stamps are often seen in the albums we sometimes receive, which I always enjoy looking through.


Which is your favourite stamp or the most interesting?

There are many extremely beautiful, highly coloured stamps produced around the world.  From some countries come large, lavish versions, obviously intended for the collector’s market.  Many of these don’t give the impression of being used for regular postage, in fact some I have seen are so large they would occupy at least half of a standard envelope.  Amongst these are some stunning examples from the Vatican and from Eastern European countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.  Although a regular sized stamp, one of my favourites is actually a fairly frequently used $2 Australian stamp portraying the famous 1802 painting, held in the Art Gallery of NSW, “On the Wallaby Track” by the famous colonial artist, Frederick McCubbin.


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