It was a project given in the class five, which started Daniel Monteiro’s love affair with stamps that continues to this day. What’s more, Mr. Monteiro (50), who now works as an office assistant at St. Mary’s Syrian (SMS) College in Brahmavar, holds the Guinness World Record for having the largest collection of stamps featuring birds, which he made on December 24, 2011, displaying 4,911 stamps.
Mr. Monterio’s is a story, which shows how passion and determination is all that one needs to attain a goal. Sumitra Puthran, his Kannada teacher in class five in Mandya, had asked students to present any collection they might have.
Different students brought different collections, including those of match boxes, pictures, coins, and feathers. But young Daniel’s collection of stamps was appreciated in the class.
But Daniel got a shock when he was not allowed to participate in a philately exhibition later that year in Mandya because he had pasted his stamps on to a notebook.
Meanwhile, Mr. Monteiro’s family shifted to Kumrugodu village across the Sita near Brahmavar. A philately exhibition called “Udupex” was being organised by the Udupi Philatelic Association in 1978. Mr. Monteiro went with his collection of stamps to association president Vittaldas Shanbhogue.
Mr. Shanbhogue, who saw the collection, told him that he had all kinds of stamps, but to make a mark, he should choose a theme such as birds, animals, freedom fighters, butterflies, aircraft, or flowers. “This was my second failure,” he said.
One day, when Daniel was walking in his garden in his village, he saw some birds flying by and he got his theme — birds. “I started collecting stamps on birds right away,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Monteiro, educated till PUC, had got a job as an attender at the St. Mary’s Syrian College in Brahmavar in 1983. “It improved my finances and I could invest money on stamps. Mr. Monterio soon became an avid birder.
“I have watched and identified 190 birds from Kallianpur to Kota villages,” he said.
Soon, he was invited by the Department of Forests and schools to give lectures on the occasions such as World Environment Day and Wildlife Week celebrations. “This helped me to overcome stage fright,” he said.
Although Mr. Monteiro has about 8,000 stamps, he now specialises only in stamps on waterfowls. He has participated in over 165 local, State, national, and international exhibitions on stamps. He has organised over 31 workshops on philately and environment. He has won 12 international-level awards, 21 national-level awards and 13 State-level awards.
On his future plans, Mr. Monteiro says: “I dream of getting a gold medal in an international philately competition. I am missing it because I am unable to breach the barrier of 90 points. I should have old and rarer stamps to breach it. I also want to write a book called ‘Anche Chitiyalli Pakshigalu’ (Birds in stamps) as there is no such book in Kannada”.
He holds a world record for the largest collection of stamps on birds