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Will Stamp Collecting Survive?

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Pillar Of The Community
Canada
4993 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   5:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add lithograving to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
As I near the end of my collecting years I start wondering whether there will be any one collecting stamps lets say in 50 years or so.

If the hobby survives what would have been the reasons it did and what can we do now to insure it's survival?

Things have changed since I first started collecting.
Then letters, postcards, parcels where the main mode of communication
whether from across town or over oceans and kids would see these little labels daily in the incoming mail.
Then you had these cheap approvals offered by dozens of stamp dealers
like Harris and Kenmore to get you started after you answered an add for 50 FREE stamps.
Of course kids didn't have all these other attractions (distractions?) then as there are nowadays.

So here we are 2015. Everything is perfect for anyone pursuing our hobby, we can discuss anything with other collectors instantaneously, ask tons of questions and post super fine scans of our stamps.
Then there is eBay and other online venues where a collector can buy stamps at reasonable prices.

There are stamp forums like SCF, one of the best stamp forums in the whole world yet look at the numbers who are registered
here.
6800. Wow. Seems like a lot right ?
Really? Like how many are regular posters even?
There must have been at least a couple million stamp collectors in the USA alone during the 1950 - 80s
How many now, where are they? They sure aren't here.

Lets look at Stamp Community Family forum.
I haven't gone and crunshed the numbers but it appears to me
the majority here are from the USA which makes sense since it is an American based forum.
Then you have lots of Canadians, some from UK and Australia, the odd one from Europe and one or two from Asia.
The main interest in US is in the classic (expensive) era, more or less same with Canadian.
Except for wert who flyspecks even in the QEII era.

Does anyone really believe that stamps from the classic era will bring new collectors in the fold?
Sure you get these dreamers who believe they found a Harding 613 in grandpas collection but how long are they here after they finally find out what they believed was a diamond is just a piece of worthless coal ?

Ok what about Thematics? Draw them in like that? Birds, fish, flowers, famous men, women.
ships, planes, cars etc etc. Sure why not.

What are postal services doing to attract collectors? We all know they want to milk it for all its worth.
Look at the USPS with their Inverted Jenny scheme or Canada Post with the Hockey Defencemen packets or the $5 Flag cloth SS.
Is this good or bad for the hobby?

What I'm asking basically is, what can we do to make our hobby survive and even grow?

Do you think there is a future for stamp collecting?

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Pillar Of The Community
2013 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   5:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add area66 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
" Canada Post with the Hockey Defencemen packets or the $5 Flag cloth SS"

it's bad, I stop to purchase Canada Post marketing stuff since 1999, I'm redoing all the pages of Steiner to remove the souvenir sheet and keep only single stamps ..too much is too much. Did they really thing I will put cr... like that in my album ?


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Valued Member
Canada
351 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   5:36 pm  Show Profile Check gportch's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add gportch to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Lithograving, you have asked a fair question. There is no doubt that the number of collectors in the hobby is diminishing, but there is a huge number of "closet" collectors out there somewhere. These are the people who are collecting via eBay and new issue services -- they don't belong to stamp clubs -- they don't go to local stamp shows -- and, they don't go out of their way to do anything for the hobby.

I think it is up to the "open" collectors to get out there and beat the drum for the hobby. We need to be active members of local stamp clubs and we need to be members of the National clubs such as the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada or the American Philatelic Society. We also need to support the specialist societies such as BNAPS, ATA, AAPE and so forth because these are the guys that are building and maintaining the educational websites for the benefit of the entire hobby.

We also need to get off our collective butts and build competitive exhibits to be shown and judged at regional and national levels. Never mind the fact that every exhibit won't be awarded a gold medal, we need to show the world that there is more to philately than sticking a stamp in a preprinted album.

We really need to show the closet collector that there is a good reason to come out of the closet and become an active member in a thriving hobby.

No, philately is neither dead nor dying. It is simply resting until all of us do something about it.

Time to get off my soapbox before I fall and break my neck but thanks to all for tolerating my opinions.

GJP
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8275 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   5:43 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
In my opinion the hobby will continue to shrink but will not disappear.

The next major milestone will be the disappearance of the postal system and it will be interesting to see the impact this has on our hobby. Arguments can be made in both directions; it may generate a renewed interest in philately or it may drive less interest.

I do not believe that philately has done a good job at staying relevant with technology. Truth is that the internet was really the 'next generation' of postal systems yet we were very slow to adopt and embrace it. We still limit/charge access to a lot of philatelic content while lagging behind getting much of it digitized. The amount of philatelic knowledge that is not being recorded as hobbyists die is scary. And we still have not figured out how to compete and capture younger hobbyists via technology.

In my mind the big question is "why not?" I come back to a single answer; the hobby has strong ties to "knowledge selfishness". For decades this hobby has been one in which 'he who knows the most can profit the greatest'. Having special knowledge meant having an edge over competing for material. This simply does not translate well in today's internet world or younger people who think that Goggling a topic should give them everything they want to know about a topic. Without going off on a tangent of today's youth and their work ethic, we need to figure this out if we want to bring younger folks into this great hobby.
Don
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Pillar Of The Community
2013 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   6:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add area66 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Less collectors means more stamps on the market, so the price will go down, win win for the collectors and less for the investors and sellers. But it's also means collecros will have hard time to sell they duplicates to finance new buying .
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Edited by area66 - 03/01/2015 7:06 pm
Pillar Of The Community
Canada
4993 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   7:37 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lithograving to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
area66 I feel the same as you about most new issues.

I do buy some like the Hockey packets and the flag stamps
but after I scan them I use them up for postage.


gportch

I agree that joining local and national clubs would help
the hobby but how may do?

In all my years of collecting I only once belonged to a stamp club.
That lasted only about a couple of years and when I moved outside
of Toronto it was just too far to go for meetings.

I didn't find another one in my area and with demands of job,
kids & family life in general going to a stamp club was
not exactly a priority.
And yes I tried to get both my children interested in stamps
but even though they had some fun with stamps, it didn't
last.

In my opinion what would help is Philatelic Exhibitions like
CAPEX 78, 87, 96 and Canada 82 Int. Philatelic Youth Exibition.
I went to all of these as did thousands of others and you could see the
enthusiasm in young and old.
The hobby looked like it was thriving.

What happened?
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
1993 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   7:49 pm  Show Profile Check TheArtfulHinger's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add TheArtfulHinger to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well, maybe we can do a little thought experiment. Think back to the time of the first stamps of about 1840-1850. Imagine, for a second, living in that world. No telephones or electricity, the only motorized vehicles were the railroads. Most of the world was divided into colonizer and colonized, and democracies were few and far between. Slavery was still commonplace, executions took place in public, literacy was poor. Money was in hard currency of gold and silver. That's the era in which people started collecting stamps and they continued to do it through wars, revolutions, and technological advances which would make today's world utterly unrecognizable to someone living in 1850. Collecting has become and remained popular throughout the world, across time, and in many different cultures.

To have that broad and long-lasting of an appeal, there has to be something about the collecting and study of stamps that appeals to something innate in humankind. The same thing that appeals to philatelists in China in 2015 probably appealed to the German lawyer in 1867 that appealed to an American farmer in 1951. And will probably appeal to an Angolan doctor in 2136. Philately has survived the introduction of electricity, automobiles, TV, and...basically the entire world we live in. I see no reason at all why it wouldn't continue.

Philately will likely always have this appeal to a certain segment of the population. None of this is to say that some other diversion might come along that appeals to those very same people, and of course collecting habits and popular areas will come and go. But there is really no easier or better way to own small pieces of other times and places. Personally I think stamp collecting will be alive and well for at least as long as it's already existed. Who knows, our descendants may look back on this era as the Golden Age of Philately. All the common-ish material that's made its way out of the woodwork in the internet age may be long dispersed (and thus expensive) in a generation or two. You never know.
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Pillar Of The Community
1542 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   7:52 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add I Brake For Stamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I am more concerned with what will be the difference in the hobby in, say, 15 years. By then, many of the current good sellers will be gone for health or other reasons. I'm not trying to get morbid here, but to make a point. What will there be as sellers then? Many sellers uneducated in the nuances of the hobby just selling their inherited stamp collections one stamp at a time? Aging baby boomer sellers and buyers like us, would have to create some sort of change in the hobby around about then. I'm just sayin'...


-IBFS
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All science is either Physics or Stamp Collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford
Pillar Of The Community
Canada
4993 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   7:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lithograving to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply




Quote:
the disappearance of the postal system and it will be interesting to see the impact this has on our hobby.



Don, I believe when that happens it will be the end of stamp
collecting.
Fini Philatelica

Even though we all know that finding a stamp on incoming
mail is getting as hard as finding a needle in a haystack,
the fact that new stamps are still being issued keeps this
whole thing alive.
Look at the interest on SCF in the Canadian Flag cloth stamp
weeks before it was issued.
Or why we need a Mandela stamp or Chinese New Year stamps
etc etc.
Same I'm sure with US stamps and other countries.
This makes stamps still relevant and when this is gone
there goes the hobby IMO.


The only "collectors" will be investors or some rich
billionaire dude who are only interested in super rarities,
either for investment or bragging rights.
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Valued Member
Canada
411 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   8:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add NBSTAMPER to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
We could have a nuclear war in the next twenty years (or sooner) - hopefully not! But let's not worry about the future of stamp collecting and enjoy our hobby now while we're still around.
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
2289 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   8:11 pm  Show Profile Check eyeonwall's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add eyeonwall to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Litho - there are lots of things that used to be prpduced that aren't any more and yet people still collect them, so if USPS disappears, it doesn't automatically spell the end of our hobby, just the end of US new issues. With roughly 5000 different Scott numbers, there are plenty of already issued stamps to collect. You just won't be able to go to the PO to buy new ones or go to your mail box to find (on rare occasions) one on your incoming mail.
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
547 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   8:56 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add centerstage98 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have collected about 50 years now and it's been pretty much a solitary hobby as no one in my family or friends have any interest in it. So I had to find other ways to connect. I admit I never belonged to a stamp club, but I was lucky to have a job (newspaper) in which I could write an award-winning stamp column for nearly 20 years, plus I made sure the stamp club was represented in the newspaper - both with meetings listings and info about its big shows.

When the newspaper killed the column, I wrote a mystery novel that circles around stamp column.

I have written a blog or two about stamps and probably should do it more.

Through all of this experience of writing and reporting. What is interesting is that many times when I presented stamp info to the public (the stamp column, listings, novel, blog) I always received positive response from people. It always gave me a thrill when people would say, "oh, I didn't know that" or "wow, that's interesting."

I am not sure I have ever captured or created a new collector,but I do know that the interest is there. It might just be a matter of continuing to present and offer easy to digest information about the hobby in whatever ways are possible.
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Pillar Of The Community
1359 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   9:07 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
eyewall beat me to it. Does collecting the classic stamps depend on the existence of the USPS? I don't collect those, but I collect other philatelic material that is not currently being produced, such as early flight covers. That market would be unaffected by the end of mail as we know it today. My zepps will not suddenly become worthless.

I'm not worried.
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Pillar Of The Community
Canada
4993 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   9:54 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lithograving to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
NBSTAMPER, blcjr, centerstage98,


I'm not worried either whether there will be enough stamps
around for me or anyone else even if all the the Postal
Services stopped issuing stamps this very minute.

I know there is plenty out there to last us indefinitely,
given all those zillions that have been issued in the last 20 years.

The question is what about after us ?
I know some say they don't care what happens. OK fine.
I do care and wonder.

Probably there will always be some(a few?) who collect stamps.
Just like some collect match boxes or marbles or sports cards or whatever.

Pretty sad ending for something that was once the most
popular hobby and the Hobby of Kings.

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Pillar Of The Community
Canada
4993 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   10:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lithograving to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
centerstage98, looks you did your bit for the hobby and
you should feel good about that.

Like I said I tried to get my kids interested in stamps and hoped that they would get the passion like I did but it didn't happen.

Same with a couple of nieces and kids from friends if they asked
or showed any interest in stamp collecting.
I gave them an old album from my childhood, stock books and packets
full of stamps,older catalogues, copies of Linn's weekly etc.

Next time I saw them at Christmas or Thanksgiving and asked if the still collected, the answer was no.
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Pillar Of The Community
7124 Posts
Posted 03/01/2015   10:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wert to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It is simply resting until all of us do something about it.


Garfield...Litho...Kids are our future in stamp collecting..Simple as that.
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Edited by wert - 03/01/2015 10:22 pm
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