Barbara Palilki Kent of Concord is a biophilatelist, a stamp collector specializing in stamps that depict plants, animals and other wildlife themes. She and her husband, David Kent, are both members of the Merrimack County Stamp Collectors Club.
Kent grew up in Toledo, Ohio, where as a child she often visited the Toledo Zoo. Over the years, she never outgrew her fascination with the birds, mammals and reptiles she saw at the zoo. Also, she remembers seeing her father collect stamps, a hobby she has dabbled in during her 50 years in education. After retiring in 1995 from teaching math and earth sciences, her love for the natural world and stamp collecting has merged into the hobby of collecting stamps that celebrate and commemorate subjects of nature.
Another of Kent's hobbies is origami, the folding of paper to make artistic forms. Here again, Kent's love for nature is clearly evident as she makes images of birds, animals and butterflies by simply folding paper. She has taught origami in workshops for teachers and students.
The Merrimack County Stamp Collectors Club was organized in May 2004 and meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. in the Bow Mills United Methodist Church in Bow. The club founder and president, Dan Day, said the goal of the club is to bring stamp collectors together to informally share knowledge and experience. He said, "We come to sell and trade stamps and enjoy each others fellowship." (There will be no meeting in July.)
Stamp collecting is one of the world's most popular indoor hobbies, with over 20 million stamp collectors in the United States. Of increased interest in recent times has been arranging stamps according to a specific country, time period or subject known as thematic collecting.
On the day I visited the club, there were about 15 members present. Each one seated around the large table spoke about the specific theme of his or her stamps. I was intrigued to hear how passionate they were to find particular stamps for their collection. Eddy Swist collects stamps from Poland, Paul Bofinger looks for stamps from Newfoundland, Paul Holden concentrates on U.S stamps prior to 1950, Brian Titilah assembles U.S. plate block stamps and Robert Dion looks for stamps from Canada. As for Barbara Kent, her collection focuses on stamps that feature the world of nature, because she is a biophilatelist at heart.