Question: I haven't collected stamps systematically since high school, but I still find them fascinating. Last summer I joined 250 Americans and 200 Soviets for a peace walk from Leningrad to Moscow. Along the way I bought three small albums of Soviet stamps.
It occurred to me that it would be a good confidence-building step if stamp collectors in the United States and the U.S.S.R. corresponded and exchanged stamps. Especially young people. I believe the thousands of stamp collectors in both countries could do a lot toward lasting peace and international cooperation.
What are some things I could do to get this idea off the ground?--B.L.
Answer: It is legal in both countries to exchange stamps by mail between collectors in the United States and the Soviet Union. I once carried on a 3-year correspondence with a gentleman in the Ukraine, exchanging stamps and post cards as well as information about such subjects as our jobs and relatives.
Under Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet Union has relaxed some of its "closed society" rules a bit, but you'll find mailing letters to and from Russia to be somewhat different from correspondence to Western Europe. Mail often gets lost or delayed for reasons that aren't always clear.
Still, your idea has merit. Try writing to International Pen Friends, 9 Porter Road, Wolcott, Conn. 06716. Also: Papyrus, 7301-VD Jefferson N.E., No. A239, Albuquerque, N.M. 87109, and enclose a stamped envelope for a reply. Also: Philatelic Department, V/O Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga, Moscow 121200, U.S.S.R., and tell them you want to trade stamps with Soviet citizens.
Q: How can I verify if a stamp dealer in a foreign country is legitimate and ethical?--R.A.
A: This is hard without trying a few sample orders to see what kind of service and value you get. There is an organization that many foreign dealers belong to, and you could write to them and ask if they are aware of the dealer you are investigating. Contact Philatelic Trader's Society, 27 John Adams St., London WC2N 6HZ, England. Enclose a dollar to help pay for their reply.
Q: A pen pal in the Philippines sent me a set of stamps illustrating President Aquino and other subjects, including a parade and the military. Do these have value?--T.N.
A: Issued in May, 1986, this set is too recent to be of great value: 85 cents mint, 43 cents used for the set of four.
Krause, a member of several national stamp-collecting organizations, cannot answer mail personally but will respond to philatelic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Stamps, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles , Calif. 90053.