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Julia Wilkinson AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

Julia Wilkinson is Editor of the AuctionBytes Blog and is author of the "eBay Price Guide," "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks," "My Life at AOL" and numerous ebooks about selling online. You can also find her writing on Yard Salers.
Tue Dec 4 2012 11:41:30

Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?

By: Julia Wilkinson
Sponsored Link
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!



Comments (12) | Permalink
Readers Comments

Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly
       
Tue Dec 4 14:54:55 2012
US Stamps can not be soaked off of paper any more so you can not collect used stamps since about 2002. Many of the new stamps are foolish. What old guy wants to collect The Simpsons or all the Disney junk?

Who sends post cards on a trip? Sad to see the hobby go. Kids were able to learn things.  
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Tue Dec 4 15:38:35 2012
Oh, I used to love collecting stamps as a child. I ordered a packet of them for FREE (''on approval'') from the back of a Betty-and-Veronica comic book.

My dad had to explain to me what ''on-approval'' meant and that I could only keep them if I paid for them... which he helped me to do for about a year... until my interest waned.

Obviously the actual value of these random assortment of US and foreign stamps was far less than the $2 or $3 a month that we paid... but it was still interesting to collect them and organize them.
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww
       Web Site
Tue Dec 4 16:17:47 2012
Gosh, Ed...I hear ya..but, I do still send post cards from trips! ;) Well, admittedly, only when I get my act together.

In writing this blog post I looked at so many of the cool stamp designs up on eBay, and it made me want to start collecting! ;)

And..I too wonder which stamps the Queen collects..maybe we can find out. :)
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
This user has validated their user name. by: Al G
       
Wed Dec 5 09:32:15 2012
We do seem to be losing a bit of our history.

I was recently at an auction where portions of the FDR stamp collection were auctioned off and a collector could have gotten a piece of it for $150 or so.

On the other hand, the high end material still commanded solid prices.

I miss the great engraving of the older stamps. The new ones are interesting for the most part, but I've stopped collecting many moon ago.
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
by: trigon This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 5 10:17:12 2012
Dying? No. Changing? Yes. It's not surprising that the print publications are disappearing. Print is going the way of the Dodo bird in almost all areas. Within a few years many of the major daily newspapers will probably be gone, too. But, look at the proliferation of online information websites and venues for buying and selling. Business appears to be good on some of them. Just this morning, Delcampe claimed that it's traffic is up 75% over the same time last year. I do know that our sales have been increasing rather than decreasing. We are active on two different venues now and looking at expanding into possibly two more.
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
by: stampman.cowell This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 5 12:47:44 2012
Modern, mass produce, 'wallpaper' stamps are killing the interest that youngsters have in the hobby, except for well produced thematics. But like rare china or furniture, there will always be a demand for classic stamps. Stamp collection is not dead or even dying, it is changing & quite dramatically.
One of the easiest things to sell on Ebay, easy to mail, easy to list, just a dream for good sellers with decent material. And, postal history is really strong. 'The world is your oyster' if you are prepared to deal & list worldwide. But sadly stamp shops are almost extinct in many countries due to the online sales. Nothing quite like a browse around a dusty old stamp shop!
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
by: bighorsecoins This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 5 15:49:46 2012
Dead in our area. We sometimes go to a coin and stamp show in the area and the stamp side is so dead that some of the dealers are actually asleep. People come into the shop now and then wanting to sell stamps that someone has left them. We always tell them that we are not interested.
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
This user has validated their user name. by: Rocky
       Web Site
Wed Dec 5 17:04:53 2012
Stamp collecting dying?  I almost have to laugh at the question.  Answer:  NO
I am a member of the American Stamp Dealers Association, American Philatelic Society, and numerous stamp collecting groups.  There is a healthy market in ''discount postage'' and always has been since the early 1900s.  That's not new.  Specialty collectors are always looking for the rare, scarce, or unusual.  The old idea of stamp collectors sitting around in a green eye-shade with bad lighting is not how it's done.
There is a local stamp club in my area with monthly meetings well attended.  We'll be having our annual Christmas party and expect more than 40 to attend.  The club has an annual show at a local community center and all the dealers (about 8 total) were VERY happy with the turnout and sales. They sign up a year in advance to attend next year's show.
Buying bulk postage at 70% of face value to use up personally is not stamp collecting.  It's just weird to conjoin the two.  In addition, there are many areas of philately that don't even include postage stamps.  First Day Covers is a very popular collecting area.
I could go on... but the idea is clear.
LEWIS BURCHETT  
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
by: andrewjtitcombe This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Wed Dec 5 22:32:01 2012
I was an avid collector as a boy through to my 20s but after that  I was inactive until one of sons started. Again he grew out of before he left school and has  been disappointed that his ''investments'' have gone down in value. I bought into the MINT market in GB (where we live) at the same time but am now simply using them for postage. I like to use REAL stamps instead of the printed tickets from the PO  (which is why I won't use online postage!) I think the ease of finding anything on eBay has destroyed part of what collectors used to love - the ''chase'' and the ''find'' Online it is all available at the touch of the button. I still have an interest in philately (it was my first business venture at school to buy and sell stamps) but a certain magic is missing for me AND maybe for others as well.   Of course there is also an age thing  (youngsters have other interests) and us oldies are moving on!  The fact that Post Offices now issue printed labels and  stamps are rarely used on normal mail means fewer people see actual stamps on a day to day basis so never think we used to see miniature works of art in our mail every day
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Dec 6 13:20:06 2012
In general, I think many hobbies are dying out. People now waste  time with their phone/tablet/computer/TV-- just like we're doing now! :)

--David
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww
       
Thu Dec 6 15:38:13 2012
Hi...interesting comments, all! Rocky/Lewis..that is good news! :)

Al..shucks...why'd you give up collecting? Hey you want to sell your collection? LOL.
Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?   Is Stamp Collecting Dying as a Hobby?
by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Sat Dec 8 13:22:17 2012
Like many others on here I used to collect stamps when I was younger. I still have them.
But there are so many other things to do these days, and the internet and Facebook have become peoples hobbies.


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