A new complexity for stamp collectors

I remember the days when stamp collecting was simple, well sort of simple.

By that I mean that the hobby has always had a technical side. I’m pretty sure that even in the days of Rowland Hill, inventor of postal services and stamps as we know them today, some of the very first collectors were revelling in the fine nuances of stamp and paper production. However, collectors have always been able to sort of pick and choose with much detail what they wanted. Back in the days when I was soaking stamps off world mixtures and sticking them in my dime-store album, most stamps were definitive and neither rates nor designs changed that often.

Today things have certainly changed.

Take, for instance, the latest lineup of NHL stamps. Last year the program was complex, this year we have a few new wrinkles that took me a bit of time to get my head around. On the surface it seems simple; we have a group of stamps honouring famous players, and then there are sort of souvenir sheets for each player, which have an international rate, and are larger than regular stamps.

So are the souvenir sheets really just an oversized stamp?

Then we have stamps honouring famous Zambonis with team logos. The Zamboni stamps are sold on a souvenir sheet, in rolls of 50 and in strips of four or 10 which appear to be the same as the rolls.

Then there are the official first-day covers, and limited edition framed prints. Oh, and don’t forget the prepaid postcards.

Now if you want to think like a collector, remember that all of these items are related to a similar grouping issued last year of more than 40 products. A thorough collector will want an example of each stamp taken from the souvenir sheet as well as a booklet or roll stamp, since one is water activated with real perforations and the other is self-adhesive with simulated perforations.

Confused yet? Well this is just the second of a five-year program.

Don’t get the idea that I’m down on these stamps.

As complex and confusing as this can be taken all at once, it breaks down into a logical group of products, which I am sure Canada Post is hoping will appeal to a group of buyers very different from mainstream philately.

That’s the positive in all of this. While I personally think issuing a whack of stamps featuring ice-resurfacing machines dressed up in NHL team colours is kinda goofy, I’m sure that there is somebody out there who will scoop them up, possibly to add them to a collection of team memorabilia rather than a stamp album.

That’s the good thing about this – exposing new people to the hobby of stamp collecting.

Those of us who spend the early 1960s sticking common stamps in cheap albums could not be called philatelists, or in most cases even serious collectors. However, we were in good company, as many of today’s top collectors were doing the same thing as us back then.

Out of tiny acorns grow mighty oaks. I like to think that perhaps 40 years from now, a famous collector will talk about how he started out with a goofy Zamboni stamp.

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