Hobby feeling fresh entering 180th year

By Jesse Robitaille

Next year marks the 180th anniversary of the world’s first stamp, Britain’s “Penny Black,” which was issued in May 1840.

Its well-known portrait of Queen Victoria harks back to a far-off time whose technological, industrial and cultural legacies have long since been replaced. Every day, we witness the often-disruptive uprooting of old models – like email’s domineering dance with the post or digital currency overcoming cash – but some things, thankfully, will never change.

While opportunities abound for collectors to grow and learn about their collections online, it pales in comparison to the face-to-face affairs of a stamp show. It could be jovial jabber with a fellow collector or a major transaction with a dealer, but a show’s physical space offers unmatched unambiguity, efficiency and geniality.

If there are two main types of stamp collectors – solitary and social – then shows serve as the doorway for the former to become the latter (and as a personal anecdote, few people are able to combat the compelling camaraderie of a stamp show once they walk onto the bourse and actually sit down with a like-minded collector).

Looking ahead to 2020, there are stamp shows slated for every month of the year in Canada—nearly 90 altogether, including 16 in April and a dozen in September.

Even if you do all your business online and have no memberships in any clubs or societies, you might be surprised to see how attending a show can boost your hobby.

You can start planning ahead soon: next year’s shows will be listed in our 2020 Canadian Coin & Stamp Show Planner, which will be inserted for free into an upcoming issue of CSN and Canadian Coin News.


With 18 decades of collecting, researching, writing, exhibiting, forming clubs and hosting massive shows under its belt, the hobby today is looking as fresh as ever.

But similar to those living in the Victorian era, we, too, are in a time of swift change.

Looking back on philately in 2019, there’s much to be excited about. Between the compelling embrace of technology at Stockholmia this spring (“Stockholmia praised for Disney-like approach ‘we can learn so much from,” CSN Vol. 44 #12); the exciting evolution of postal history (“Parcels paving new ways for today’s postal services,” CSN Vol. 44 #5); or the ever-growing “Young Collectors” auction series (“Young Collectors turn up in full force at Trajan’s National Show,” CSN Vol. 44 #1), there’s a lot happening in the hobby.

Another highlight for us at CSN has been the overwhelming response to our 2019 Cover Contest.

In our second annual competition, which concluded Nov. 1 (see “Calgary club tops 2019 CSN Cover Contest” in CSN Vol. 44 #16), nearly 400 people voted on 10 covers submitted by collectors and clubs from across the country.

We’re hoping to see even more covers next year for our third annual CSN Cover Contest. More details will be announced in January—so keep an eye out, and happy collecting.

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