|Tue Dec 4 2012 11:41:30|
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
By: Julia Wilkinson
A recent trip, as well as the results of the shipping survey we recently conducted, made me wonder if stamp collecting is dying out as a hobby. I was in an antique mall in the central Virginia area, and a young twentysomething couple in front of me had just finished purchasing various old items. "It's nice to see young people are still interested in collecting antiques," I commented.
"Yeah," the store's cashier said. "It is; some of 'em are dying out, like the stamp collectors."
Surprised to hear this, I responded, "Really?"
"Yep," he said. "You can buy 'em for less than face value."
Then I remembered a comment someone made in our shipping survey: "I can buy discount postage from stamp collections at a large discount to face," the respondent wrote. "Legitimate discount postage is also available on eBay," they continued, although they added, "Some discount postage on eBay is likely to be counterfeit. I know how to tell the difference."
Although it's nice to know you can get postage at a discount, is this really true that stamp collecting is dying out as a hobby? Nosing around online, there seem to be varying opinions.
"It might be terminal, but death is still a long way off," wrote one hobbyist on a StampCommunity.org forum. "Demographics, alone, support the notion of it surviving for another generation, as baby boomers start to enter retirement. I'm not a boomer, and yet I run across quite a few people in my generation who are participating, and it seems like there are more all the time, so that seems to account for another generation." This person concluded it's too early to tell whether the hobby has legs after that, "but I think there are at least 40 or 50 good years left."
A few others lamented the demise of some of the old stamp collecting publications: "It's too bad all those great stamp magazines - Stamp Collector, Stamps - that's two that I can think of did not survive. Linns is a shadow of what it once was. When I joined the APS (American Philatelic Society, http://stamps.org/Home/) in 1973 I believe it had 58,000 members - now 35,000. So what's left? The Internet - I don't know what the hobby would be without it!"
The mention of "Stamps" magazine brought one poster to recall, "You just brought back one memory for me from my teenage years (1970's): "Stamps: The Weekly Magazine of Philately." I used to be a subscriber back then and actually enjoyed it more than Linn's."
Still another thought what the hobby needs is a little celebrity endorsement. "What is missing, or at least one aspect that is missing, is the promotion of the hobby by popular figures. King George V and VI and Queen Elizabeth II come to mind. American presidents have promoted stamp collecting...If a popular figure does it, wears certain clothes, has a certain dog, eats certain foods, a lot of us want some of that...I still get a thrill when I think the Queen collects stamps too, although I don't know much about how she does that or what she collects."
This person also theorized, "It is perhaps the overflow of information we have today that is causing stamp collecting to become lost in the mob. If the only access to media information you had was a newspaper or a radio for an hour or two each day, for instance, and some of that information flow was devoted to stamp collecting then I think a lot more people would be exposed to the idea of stamp collecting."
What do you think? Is stamp collecting dying out, or are rumors of its death way premature? And while I can't picture "The Bieb" singing the praises of philately, would other celebrities talking about it help?
Or, at least, will you now consider buying your postage online at less than face value? Post a comment here!