Bolster your hobby today from the comfort of home

By Jesse Robitaille

With most of us still locked away in our homes as the pandemic’s peak only begins to flatten, collectors are quickly adjusting to their new environment.

If you needed more proof of philately’s deep-rooted camaraderie and outwardly social nature, it’s never been more evident than it is today, with even the most old-school collectors dipping their toes into the digital realm. As the world’s focus shifts from physical to virtual as we all try to carry on despite COVID-19, philatelists have eagerly followed suit.

This April, the American Philatelic Society (APS) began hosting live weekly “Stamp Chats” through GoToMeeting, an online video-conferencing platform. All of the interactive sessions are also archived on YouTube for later viewing.

And as you’ll read in the latest issue of CSN, New York’s Collectors Club recently launched a lecture series (“Five free live-streamed lectures offered through June,” CSN Vol. 45 #2) using another online platform known as Zoom.

The American Philatelic Society and its library held a live-streamed public board meeting on April 23.

LEARNING FROM THE BEST

While these initiatives are excellent opportunities for in-depth learning, they also offer collectors a chance to interact directly with some of the world’s top philatelic minds.

The ranks of the Collectors Club have included famous philatelists like Alfred Lichtenstein. An accomplished collector of classic stamps, Lichtenstein was a signatory of the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists (RDP) and a member of the Canadian Philatelic Society (known as the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada since 1959).

Today, the long-running Collectors Club – established in 1896 – remains a “who’s who” of worldwide philately. Its lecture series, which began April 29 with a talk by club Treasurer Roger Brody, is evidence of that.

Brody, who’s also an RDP signatory, spoke on the United States’ 1902 stamp series, which he has exhibited extensively (all the while earning many awards, including the Hopkinson Trophy plus several gold medals and Grand Awards).

The other lecture speakers include:

  • Mark Schwartz (May 13), who has competed in the APS “Champion of Champions” competition three times;
  • Gordon Eubanks (May 27), who was crowned the Champion of Champions in 2012 and 2014;
  • Wade Saadi (June 10), another RDP signatory who served as the president of the organizing committee for World Stamp Show-NY 2016; and
  • Bill Schultz (June 24), who is a long-time (and award-winning) postcard exhibitor and judge.

OPENING A DOOR

North Yorkshire, England’s Suzanne Rae, the owner of Art Stamped, promotes her stamp art at Spring Stampex 2017. (Photo by Philafrenzy via CC BY-SA 4.0)

But it’s not just that; these seminars are also opening the door to the next cohort of collectors, something highlighted in a widely shared story published by The Guardian this April.

“Anybody who’s been on social media has seen that great article about Millennials jumping in, and I think there’s a real bounce in philately and that bodes well for the hobby and for membership,” said Heidi Lauckhart-Rhoades, APS content marketing specialist, in an April 21 Stamp Chat entitled “Ask the APS Directors.”

“Philately is tangible: it’s relaxing and unplugged. It’s also very Instagrammable,” 37-year-old Suzanne Rae, from England, told The Guardian’s Nicole Mowbray.

“Twitter and Instagram enable young collectors to find people like them, and see that it’s not only a geeky old man’s pursuit,” added Rae, who’s the woman behind Art Stamped, which she describes as a “one-stop shop for beautiful, fun and creative stamp art, postal-themed gifts and postage stamp supplies.”

Rae is also only the second female chair of the Philatelic Traders Society – the British dealers association that hosts the biannual Stampex shows – in its 91-year history.

“There are lots of younger people there,” Rae said about Stampex. “It’s not fuddy duddy; it’s engaging. You can … spend a lot of money but it’s a hobby you can enjoy inexpensively too.”

FREE DIGITAL ACCESS

Lastly, the APS has also opened its digital collection database to everyone – even non-members – through May.

The digital library is available through the American Philatelic Research Library at digital.stamplibrary.org. To view the collection, log in using “APRLDigitalUser” as the username and “temp2020” as the password.

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