by Robert Taylor
I have seen many changes in the stamp collecting hobby/business these past 50 years.
When I was a young teenager, my dad would sit in his easy chair and hinge stamps he had bought from the mail order businesses. They were not of any significant value but these mail order companies did a lot of business. After all, you could buy a bag of 1,000 mostly world stamps from places like Mystic Stamp Company, Kenmore Stamps, etc. for $2.00 a bag. You might be able to get a second bag of a 1,000 stamps for an additional $1.00! For the pure hobbyist, 2,000 stamps would keep you occupied for days on end. Remember, television was embryonic (Kukla, Fran & Ollie anyone)? One thing you always had to keep in mind with those 2,000 stamps was that they were very common and had extremely low real value. That was how it was in the mid-1950’s and even earlier. No computers, no I-phones or I-pads, no Twitter. We went to the Saturday movies for 15 cents and a box of popcorn for 10 cents and hoped they were preceding the movie off with a 3 Stooges clip.
Today when I appraise collections, many of these collections are inherited or handed down to children over the years. Just because many of these collections had stamps 80+ years old does not make them valuable. They were acquired at $2.00 a bag of 1,000 stamps and today, that is probably their current worth.
Now, let’s determine why stamp collecting as a hobby is not as popular as the 1930’s to the 1970’s.
Here are a few points as I see them:
* Kids growing up today are into more competitive sports related programs
* The computer explosion from the 1980’s on up
* The social media outlets plus the enormous amount of television programming available
* The i-Phone usage—unbelievable
* Peer pressure making stamp collecting look like a “nerd” hobby
Our parents and grandparents did not have discretionary money to purchase valuable stamps which would have great value today. There are less and less “bricks and mortar” stamp stores. Many but not all dealers work from their home offices. The average age of dealers at the stamp shows is probably low 70’s. Average age of the attendees is probably in the 60’s. Not very often that I see a youngster with their parent or grandparent at any formal show.
It’s a shame we are unable to attract new members to replace those who pass on. It is such an interesting and educational hobby. Maybe things will change in the future. I remain hopeful.