Sunday, March 09, 2008

Postbox Collector

Isle of Wight electrician Arthur Reeder is proud owner of 190 letter boxes. In fact, he's probably the world's foremost authority on postboxes - British ones at any rate.

He happily refers to himself as a strange man' and is delighted to have received an award for being one of Britain's great eccentrics. And luckily for him, while his wife Kim doesn't share his enthusiasm she does indulge it, finding it rather charming.

Perhaps one of the reasons why Arthur is quite happy for the vast majority of people to think he, or his love of letter boxes anyway, is rather strange is because there is a small but dedicated band of people worldwide who share his enthusiasm.

Many of them, like Arthur, are members of the Letter Box Study Group, an international organisation which celebrates, investigates and supplies information on these pieces of street furniture which go unnoticed by many.

And a number of them also travel hundreds of miles to visit him and his collection - addresses in his visitors' book include ones in Ireland and Switzerland.

Arthur calls his 190-strong collection the Isle of Wight Postal Museum' but while he welcomes visitors, it isn't a public collection.

"I haven't acquired these things for show," he says. "I've acquired them for myself. I wouldn't mind if no one ever came to see them."

But that said, he does love showing people round and although he is self-employed will happily miss out an afternoon or even a day's pay to show his collection to visitors.

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