Fabulous finds

Alice Lundgren and Martin Blazevich may not know each other but they have one thing in common -- they love their collections and enjoy talking about them.

Lundgren gathers unique teddy bears and Blazevich is a philatelist -- a stamp collector. Lundgren's bears began with one she purchased on a trip to the United Kingdom. His name is "Wallace" and he wears a kilt.

"We bought him in Tewkesbury and he's from Melrose, Scotland," Lundgren said. "He's a Border Bruin."

Wallace is one of her two favorites, the other being a soft, cuddly bear made by her daughter, Susan. Her husband Ken thinks there were already bears in the house when they began their travels, but the Border Bruin became the cornerstone of the collection.

"We love to travel and occasionally combined our trips with teddy bears shows," he said. "Next thing you know we were on a 'teddy bear tour.'"

The tours took them to shows where Lundgren not only found bears she liked, but she had the opportunity to meet and have photos taken with the artists.

"They were all so very nice," she said.

On returning home, Lundgren would add the new photos and information to albums and a running list of the details about her bears. On a bus tour in England, they noticed a woman sitting across the aisle working on something and asked what she was doing. She was heading for the same bear show as the Lundgrens and was making a bear she hoped to have finished by the time they arrived so she could sell it. Ken Lundgren told her they'd buy it and the couple had the pleasure of watching her make their newest bear.

"They're all so different," Alice Lundgren said. "That's why I like them. I like them with character, something unusual about them. I've enjoyed them."

Much like Lundgren's world-traveling bears, Blazevich's stamps have come from the farthest corners of the globe to land on the pages of one of his albums.

"The reward in stamps is in the collecting," he said.

Out of more than 600 countries represented, Blazevich said he does not have a favorite, "although since my wife is German I lean toward Germany a little, but not very much."

His collection began in 1976. "It was something fun to do with my son and daughter," he said. "It lasted about two years and then they went on to other things. I didn't pick it up again until 1994 when I bumped into a stamp dealer."

Blazevich began working part-time after retiring and soon was hooked again.

"Then he started making me good deals on stamps," he said. After buying a set of stamp albums, he began to fill the pages.

"I really just collect the world up to 1985," he said. "After that, the stamps just aren't the same."

Blazevich enjoys the colorful pictures, especially paintings. He also has some specialty albums. Among his topical albums, one marks the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage.

"You can make a topical album out of any subject -- bicycles, Boy Scouts, telephones. Topicals are a good way to start kids in stamp collecting," he said. "There are a lot of choices out there as to what to collect. It's such a pleasurable hobby because of all the little pictures on little pieces of paper."

As far as an investment, Blazevich has a few words of advice.

"You don't really want to do it for an investment unless you have lots of money. Those of us on the East Coast used to think we had some fairly rare stamps. Once eBay opened up the world in the 1980s we found out that they weren't quite so rare," he said.