We receive with great regularity letters from readers who lament the graying of the hobby. With each passing year, they remind us, the average stamp collector is getting older.
They wring their hands and fret over the dwindling number of youngsters who find satisfaction and pleasure in collecting stamps.
Well, as the old saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun.
Similar complaints were voiced many decades ago. And if you peruse older issues of Linn’s and some of the now-defunct philatelic publications, you will see photos taken at stamp shows that reveal quite clearly that many stamp collectors were older folks with gray hair.
I’d wager that it always will be thus.
Of course, attracting a younger generation to the joys of our hobby is a laudable goal. Worthy efforts in recent years are showing positive results.
The Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship, for example, is doing a superb job identifying bright, enthusiastic teens who can take the hobby in new directions.
Some of these fellowship participants learn about the ins and outs of being a stamp dealer; others pursue the study of philatelic exhibiting or writing.
Of these three tracks, I’d wager the most important is the dealer track.
If stamp collecting is to be a vibrant hobby in the future, the key will be developing and nurturing new stamp dealers.
Dealers are the lifeblood of the hobby. Without them, we collectors would be hard-pressed to acquire the material that keeps our interests alive and thriving.
Now some might argue that there is no hobby without collectors. Yes, both collectors and dealers are needed.
If, however, the population of dealers crashes, the number of collectors heading for the exits will increase substantially. And let’s not mince words: If the dealers disappear, so will the stamp shows.
All of these thoughts came to the fore for the first time last fall when I attended the Chicagopex show in Itasca, Ill.
During the course of my rounds on the show floor, I struck up a conversation with a dealer who is a perceptive observer of the hobby from his side of the table.
I enjoy talking to him because he pulls no punches and doesn’t take himself too seriously.
It didn’t take long for him to voice his concerns about the state of stamp dealing.
“Look around the room,” he told me. “All of us are getting old, and I worry about who will take our place.”
As we talked, it occurred to me that this was the first time that a dealer had openly voiced such concerns to me. While I didn’t seek confirmation from other dealers at the show, I suspect that my friend was not alone in his sentiments.
So, my fellow collectors, it is essential that we support the stamp dealers of today, and do what we can to bring the next generation of dealers to fruition.
Dealers are the conduits through which stamps are united with collectors who will cherish them.
They also are vital subject-matter experts, adding to the storehouse of knowledge from which we all draw, regardless of our level of experience.
It’s also important to remember that dealers make this publication possible, through their advertising support.
Yes, the hobby is about collecting, but dealers make it happen.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Marty Frankevicz reports on the suspension of Canada Post’s cluster box conversion plan after the election of a new prime minister.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.