I'm writing this in the hope that my experiences over the past ten years will give some newer collectors "pause to think" before proceeding down the path.
Like many, I collected stamps in my childhood ('50s) and did some in my early married years (mid 60s). Then I dropped out until about ten years ago. I suddenly realized that I had the ways and means to be a semi-serious collector, and with the availability of Ebay, I could really get into the hobby.
I started out with the Scotts National binders & pages and decided to collect thru the year 2000. This included all the BOB and other issued US stamps. My dealer was Bill at NOLA, and he was a great help in introducing me back to the hobby - and the APS.
Today I have pretty much all the affordable US stamps - many mint - and its a nice collection. But in hindsight, I should have stopped at 1950, for in my now "biased" opinion, most every stamp issued after that are "stickers".
So then I yearned to collect worldwide. I was "smarter" now and decided to collect WW thru 1960. I picked up the appropriate Scott International binders and pages and began collecting in earnest. As a teen, I lusted for these albums but they were way out of my reach.
I joined the APS early on (GREAT move) and got on this Forum (GREAT help) and this involvement added to my enthusiasm.
My WW albums started with 5, but slowly moved up to a very full 16 regular Scotts International albums. What happened? Well, I was buying collections off Ebay, picking them and then reselling. And then I discovered the APS Circuits, and that continues to be a huge help and lots of enjoyment.
While I greatly admire "Big Blue", I realized there were a lot more stamps issued than what the albums provide spaces for. I presented the problem to this Forum and they suggested Steiner pages. So I purchased the Steiner software and I was just amazed. Everything I needed was in that software, and all I had to do was print it.
Thru trial and error, I found that Subway Stamps offers the perfect blank pages to match Scotts (G&K VR-W04R2). So with the HP 7720 printer, I was able to print double sided all the pages I wanted.
I started out printing the pages of those countries I had accumulated a lot of extra stamps (no space in Scotts). I replaced the Scotts pages and transferred the stamps to the Steiner pages. This was a good move, but certainly time consuming and an awful lot of expensive Dennison & Fold-O-Hinge hinges ended up in the trash.
Of course as I replaced various country pages, the need for binders increased and frankly at 16, my space is maxed out. And over the last couple years its given me pause to think and question...
First of all, while some stop at 1940 (Classic Era), I should have stopped at 1950 to capture the War years. While the stamps of the '50s are great and bring back childhood collecting memories, they really are just taking up space.
And, I should have bit the bullet and started out with the Scotts Classic pages or the Steiner's. Either would have required more "up front" money, but it would have been a big savings of both time and money in the long run.
Obviously, hindsight is everything. When I got back into the hobby I had no clue how involved or serious I would get with it. And I suspect anyone reading this would have been or are in the same boat.
But again, my purpose for writing this is to perhaps give "newbies" pause to think before they make expensive and time consuming decisions. Stamp collecting is still the "Greatest Hobby", one that even this 78 year old can still enjoy and be actively involved in.
Hey, all of the above is "for what its worth", but I wished I had read this ten years ago - and perhaps it would have made a difference!
Quote: But again, my purpose for writing this is to perhaps give "newbies" pause to think before they make expensive and time consuming decisions. Stamp collecting is still the "Greatest Hobby", one that even this 78 year old can still enjoy and be actively involved in.
What a great testimonial about your journey - thank you for sharing it. I think that many of us can identify with it. A new collector would be wise to contemplate these issues before diving in too deep!
. You enjoyed your quiet time and enjoyed doing your own thing . You learned a lot and kept your mind sharp . Congratulations ,the value of the stamps on your desk is not important ,it is the mental health and enjoyment .that carries you thru life .
This is a great story. I'm sort of at the beginning of your ten year odyssey myself.
It is very helpful to read about experiences like this but for some reason I have to go through some of the pain myself. And there are things I can't make up my mind about - printing my own pages (AlbumEasy) vs a really good album (Schaubek).
Your advice about the APS circuits is also good. I wished I'd have signed up for them sooner.
Very nice and timely post mobilman. I came back to the hobby, and joined this forum, about a year ago with some ideas on what I wanted my stamp collecting journey to be. My thought was to do a lot of reading and learning from those who have "been there" and pick up some of the lessons learned.
Here I am a year later, and I'm still somewhat suffering from paralysis by analysis because I don't want to invest time and money into the hobby only to redo things in 2-5 years because I wasn't thinking ahead. My random accumulation from a year ago is now a mostly well organized accumulation, with not a single decision made on type of album or self printed pages to use, not to mention the type of paper and binder if I was going the Steiner route. Wait, I could just design my own pages. and I'll need spreadsheets to track what I have. Oh, and mounts, what mounts to use. Damn, what color paper do I use if going the Steiner route...and what if I don't like that paper after printing and beginning to mount my Finland stamps.....on and on. Took me until the end of 2022 to realize whatever I decide won't be perfect, but it will be considerably better than staring at hundreds and hundreds of glassines full of stamps and thinking how nice it will be to someday start mounting them.
As the calendar turned to 2023 I've finally started making decisions because otherwise I might as well just pack up my well organized chaos for another number of years. Mainer was spot on when saying we have to feel some pain on the journey, and I'm looking forward to this year with the hobby be it good, bad, or somewhere in between. It's finally time to turn my accumulation into a collection I can enjoy working on.
Thank you for starting this thread. Now...back to searching older posts to help with a paper decision
If I was a new and younger collector, I would be turned off by the frequent comments disparaging modern stamps as just stickers. I like the modern stamps most more so than the classics. Many of the used older stamps I see for sale are often in poor shape and wouldn't spend money on them. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I find it a real turn off every time I see these types of comments so it doesn't encourage me to want to participate or bother frankly keeping up the tagging DB.
Thanks for the positive response. I've been wanting to write my "trip" down and pass it on for some time now. A couple of comments:
- Of course we all have to make our own mistakes. With four adult children, I've seen that in practice over and over. I just hope that the mistakes are fewer and less significant than they would be otherwise.
- I guess my comment on newer stamps being "stickers" wasn't well received by all. What I should have said is that for someone my age, who started collecting almost 70 years ago, the older stamps had more meaning - especially to the issuing countries. Now a younger person, growing up with today's stamps, may likely feel that today's stamps are the standard for their collecting efforts.
- I obviously appreciate the potential dilemma "newbies" would run into. I wish I had given it all more thought before I jumped in, but I truly had no clue if it would be a "passing fad", or the long term endeavor it has turned out to be. And if I had known the answers, I would have saved myself an awful lot of time and money.
All that said, the real object of the hobby (IMO) is to ENJOY!!!
Quote: If I was a new and younger collector, I would be turned off by the frequent comments disparaging modern stamps as just stickers.
This is a legitimate complaint. The bottom line is that everyone should collect what they want to. Used modern self-adhesives are harder to process and for the purist, just don't have the visual appeal of the engraved stamps of yesteryear. But, ultimately, it is a simple matter of personal preference.
I agree that the hobby should support whatever and however a person wants to collect. But we should also always support people who have opinions and provide a platform for voicing those opinions. I think it important to have tolerance for differing opinions.
But the truth is that our hobby's history is full of organized fights against 'frivolous' stamps being issued. This attempted influence goes all the way back to the 1800s with the 'Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps' which was supported by the APS and the Royal Philatelic Society. At the time, Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps declared the 1898 US set of Columbians as being an unneeded, money grab by the USPOD which was taking advantage of collectors. The Columbian set, which totaled $16.34 per set (around $400 in today's money) was just one of many examples which the Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps attempted to promote as not being collectible.
And organizations continued to try to earmark some stamp releases as 'bad' and tell collector what they should and should not collect. The APS ran its' "Black Blot" program from the early 1960's through the early 1990's, treating collectors like mindless lemmings who not could not make their own decisions. Add to this catalog/album publishers which also exert a level of influence over what hobbyists collect. In my opinion, these efforts were ill-conceived. Instead of trying to lead collectors by their nose, they could have offered information on quantities issued vs. populations, frequency of postally usage, etc. and allowed folks to decide for themselves what and how they want to collect.
But in the context of philately and life in general, I think this a relatively small issue and I try to not sweat the small stuff.
So I recommend that we celebrate differing opinions, show some tolerance, and go grab a beer together. Don
Quote: Instead of trying to lead collectors by their nose, they could have offered information on quantities issued vs. populations, frequency of postally usage, etc.
I doubt it will tell you much. The UK issues commemorative sets of a range of values. Second and first class inland rates, likely, have more frequent use than stamps prepaying the rate to Australia. Yet, the percentage of stamps used for postage that survive may be higher for the latter as the former may have been used more on commercial mail and discarded.
A first class stamp from a miniature sheet, may have a much higher survival rate mint than the corresponding stamp issued separately from a counter sheet. A Doctor Who stamp may have higher philatelic sales than a royal palaces stamp.
I also doubt there are reliable figures on the number of stamps of a design used to prepay postage.
If the data are available, there are so many variables determining its relative scarcity in the market, most people cannot infer anything from such figures.
And then we get to the varieties. Stamps may be available from sheets, stamp booklets and even generic and personalised Smilers sheets. What do you count and publish? All? The ones from the Smilers sheets may have mostly philatelic use. They are sold above face value. Stanley Gibbons does not catalogue them because of that, but does mention some of them.
When I was 10 or 12 years old, and showed continuing interest in stamp collecting, my parents gave me my grandfather's stamp collection. He had died years earlier (1964) and that's when his collection ended. After some time in the hobby, I decided to 'stop' my collecting after Scott #1247 (the last stamp in his collection - he died the following week). I did this for a few reasons. First, I agree with the OP - I thought stamps later were becoming 'stickers'. Second, with all the multiple designs coming out in the 1970's, collecting 'a' stamp meant buying blocks or even sheets (State stamps, Birds & Flowers, etc). Third, postage had gone up so any stamps I bought from the PO, I was paying more than those from the local stamp shop's face box. I just realized that it was going to cost me a butt-load of cash to get the post-1964 collection up to the standard of the pre-1964 collection. That would leave me no $$$ to buy the early stuff that was missing from Gramp's collection, which was really where my interest was.
To each his own, I say!! But, be realistic about your goals. If your goal is completeness of some modern country, understand that so much you spend on simple 'maintenance' will take away from the budget to fill in the early stuff. Also, bear in mind that some of the early stuff will be prohibitively expensive. Perhaps, find a field in which you can specialize. Most advanced collectors have found their 'niche' - why not try to do that early on? Also be realistic about your budget. What you think is reasonable may not be what your spouse thinks. Or your children's college funds. Also, realize that life comes first, and the hobby may have to take a backseat for periods of time. If it doesn't, well, it has probably become an obsession. Just stuff to think about.
Quote: If I was a new and younger collector, I would be turned off by the frequent comments disparaging modern stamps as just stickers. I like the modern stamps most more so than the classics. Many of the used older stamps I see for sale are often in poor shape and wouldn't spend money on them. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I find it a real turn off every time I see these types of comments so it doesn't encourage me to want to participate or bother frankly keeping up the tagging DB.
This was similar to my initial thoughts when reading the OP.
I'm all for collectors doing their own thing and what makes them happy. There is no right or wrong way to collect stamps... although I might not agree if someone licks and sticks their stamps to album pages
Modern stamps are a wealth of knowledge. My personal motivation for collecting a new country in the past was that I would learn more about the history and people of the country. I've only branched out twice so far from USA, which were Ireland and Luxembourg (which have personal ties). It was great learning new things about each of these countries just from the stamps.
As I mentioned the 1800s Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps, with support of the APS at the time, denounced the US Columbian issue. I guess we are all bound to repeat/ignore the mistakes of history.
Interestingly enough, the Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps failed at their charter after only 7-8 years. It turned out that instead of decreasing interest in the stamps they were trying to portray as speculative the opposite happened, and many collectors used their list to start buying more of those stamps! Don
Thanks for adding the Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps story Don. Fascinating piece of history there and it points out the subjective nature of judgments about philatelic (as opposed to monetary) value of particular stamps -- they saw the Columbians as a wrong turn and we see them as iconic.