Kerala philatelist showcases rare collection on Football World Cup

With nearly 900 stamps of 80 countries, Saleem’s collection recreates the history of the World Cup from its origin in 1930 to the present day

October 31, 2022 07:59 pm | Updated 07:59 pm IST - MALAPPURAM

Abdul Saleem Padavanna displays one of his stamp sheets from his exclusive Football World Cup collection. Photo: Special Arrangement

Abdul Saleem Padavanna displays one of his stamp sheets from his exclusive Football World Cup collection. Photo: Special Arrangement

Football has inspired postal departments and postage stamp creators across the world. Take any nation with a postal service, and it will be hard to find one without a stamp celebrating football, the biggest sport in the world.

Abdul Saleem Padavanna, an antique collector-cum-philatelist from Manjeri in Kerala’s Malappuram district, testifies the craze of football across the world with a rare collection of stamps celebrating the Football World Cup.

With nearly 900 stamps of 80 countries, Mr. Saleem’s exclusive collection graphically recreates the history of the Football World Cup from its origin in 1930 to the present day. “I could become an expert on the history of the Football World Cup through my stamps,” he laughed.

A rare cornucopia

Neatly placed on special yellow sheets, each stamp in Mr. Saleem’s collection speaks a lot about the game and its evolution in the last 90 years. For a person who seeks to learn widely about the countries across the world, the Football World Cup stamp collection opens a rare cornucopia.

“From the currency of the country to the careful selection of the image, each World Cup stamp tells us a lot of things. They prompt us to google further into the histories of the times,” said Mr. Saleem.

He has arranged the stamps in such a way as to take an aficionado to each edition of the Football World Cup since the 1930 Uruguay event. With different sizes, shapes and appeal, each stamp takes the viewer not only to the World Cup event, but also to the country that has brought out the stamp.

“Interestingly, the stamps of some lesser known countries are more appealing than those of the bigger ones,” Mr. Saleem said, pointing out to a few Indian stamps brought out in 1986 and 2014. Indian stamps looked relatively smaller in front of others.

First-day covers

Mr. Saleem has several first-day covers and maxim cards in his Football World Cup collection. Great Britain’s first-day cover celebrating the English victory of 1966 edition has gained more popularity than many others. “I could find many Commonwealth nations bringing out stamps in that year,” he said.

Each World Cup edition has some speciality. “And I am trying to tell the people that speciality with the stamps.”

Hungarian stamps occupy a predominant position in his collection. When most stamps capture some significant moments through the football stars, including Pele and Maradona, one 1950 Spanish stamp stands out by depicting a ball in the net. Zarra’s famous winning goal for Spain that eliminated England from the World Cup is a classic.

“That’s why all these stamps have a higher value,” said Mr. Saleem, who takes pride in having most of his stamps in mint form rather than used.

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