During the 1932 US presidential election, the hobbies of the two leading candidates were discussed by publications such as the Wall Street Journal, which informed its readers they were choosing between fisherman Herbert Hoover and stamp collector Franklin D Roosevelt. Linn’s Weekly Stamp News took a less partisan approach, printing “Boost a Philatelic brother” on its front page (“a million stamp collectors want a stamp collector for president,” it continued).
The stamp collector vote was a real concern during the ‘32 election. Hoover made an appearance at the Society of Philatelic Americans where he assured members that, even if he had not been an active participant, his family had been avid stamp-accumulators for years.
Roosevelt won the election, and while in office continued his childhood pursuit, reportedly amassing more than a million stamps. He reflected that “stamp collecting dispels boredom, enlarges our vision, broadens our knowledge, makes us better citizens and, in innumerable ways, enriches our lives”.
As well as his membership of various clubs and appearances at auction to buy and sell, the president was an enthusiastic collaborator with Postmaster General James Farley. During the 1930s the two frequently devised colour schemes and themes for new stamps, and Roosevelt would occasionally sketch new designs himself.
Roosevelt’s son later recalled: “I have vivid memories of father sitting at his desk... with his stamp books and an expression of complete relaxation and enjoyment on his face.”