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.
blogWhen this cover was listed on eBay in mid-September, it didn't take long for some knowledgeable collectors to recognize this piece of postal history for the gem that it is: an early trans-oceanic survey cover for a Pacific route that included Midway Island, which would become famous as the location of a pivotal 1942 naval battle during World War II. Read More ›
blogThis month marks my fifth anniversary writing the monthly auction report for Linn’s Stamp News. That’s 60 columns, totaling more than 100,000 words (enough for a decent-sized novel), all about our favorite hobby. Read More ›
blogIn mid-September I traveled to London, England, to attend Autumn Stampex, one of two British national stamp shows sponsored by the Philatelic Traders’ Society, Great Britain’s national stamp dealers association. The show took place Sept. 16-19 at the Business Design Centre in Islington (central north London), a comfortable and attractive venue for a stamp show. Read More ›
September 28, 2015 03:30 AMAfter the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, postal workers not only saved the mail, they saved the new post office building. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses current events that relate to the stamp hobby, including the relocation of a stamp show in Sweden due to the Syrian refugee crises, and new stamps honoring Pope Francis and the British monarchy.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke talks about a record fifth win for wildlife artist Joseph Hautman in the federal duck stamp art contest, and see the painting that will appear on next year’s federal duck stamp
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz questions Bolivia’s choice for the design of a 2013 stamp honoring the country’s efforts to protect its migrants in foreign lands.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses the discovery of the upright Jenny Invert pane received in an order from Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City, Mo., and also reports on the Confederate Stamp Alliance.
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.