The past two issues have been a bit of a surprise for me.
In both cases I have spent a lot of time working on stories on new issues that were totally unexpected. Last fall, when I first wrote about the 2013 stamp program, neither Superman nor the NHL were on the list. Back then, I figured that in September I would be writing about Haunted Canada, quite a difference.
Now don’t get me wrong, ghost stories are all fun, and I was hoping for some interesting use of fluorescent ink or latent images to create some really off-the-wall stamps, but Superman is, well super; and is there anyone raised in this country that doesn’t like hockey? That’s probably what I like about these programs: both have the opportunity to interest non-collectors in stamps.
Take, for instance, Superman. The weekend those stamps were unveiled, Canada Post took a booth at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto. A friend of mine who doesn’t collect stamps went to the event in order to meet some of his favourite artists and creators; Stan Lee was a big draw to him. But there he was, surrounded by all things comic books, and he was drawn to Canada Post’s booth. Not only that, but he took pictures and posted them for all of his Facebook friends to enjoy. Sure, it wasn’t as if thousands of people follow my friend’s comic book weekend convention posts, but some people did.
More importantly, Canada Post and stamp collecting were made sort of cool. I expect that the same will be true of these hockey stamps. If Canada Post can get enough out, and maybe send some to revenue post offices instead of those flag-over-whatever definitives, we may actually see some of these turn up postally used by average Canadians. If you want to encourage stamp collecting, that’s what you have to do: get average people using interesting stamps.
The biggest challenge facing future growth of the hobby is that very few people actually send letters. I suspect, because of my job, I see a lot more stamps on mail, and probably get more mail, than the average Canadian. Canadian Stamp News readers like to write letters, and they like to get letters. What’s more, the stamps are interesting because many of my readers use commemorative stamps, quite a few order personalized postages, and a fair number of them use older stamps. The covers of my mail are interesting, and at least a couple of times a week I stop and admire a letter before opening it.
Stamp collecting is a passion, we need to find a fun way to pass it along. You don’t do that with beautiful engraved stamps that collectors love, although I’m sure we get at least one or two of those every year for those of us who appreciate stamps as art. You do that by making stamps kinda cool and fun.