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This is no recent news, but while sorting through some recent US and German issues (those electronic non-fun modern stamps – the nightmare for collectors) got me thinking about the HP printer which makes it possible to print postage at home. Now, e-commerce is old already, but stamp e-commerce gets me worried about the future of philately.
I have heard many voice ramble on about the decline in young collectors (especially in phylatelic meetings and exhibitions in Europe), many put the blame on the decline in use of postal stamps, being substituted more and more by the boring electronic versions that look like a bar code. I see a point here – a kid that gets a nice post card from abroad no longer sees the nice interesting colours, pictures on the stamp, thus not being able to raise interest on it. And yes, fewer and fewer receive post cards nowadays since e-mails are here to facilitate communications.
This trend might point out an obscure future for philatelists – when the traditional stamps as we know it become extinct. With that, another problem may arise, that new collectors cease to exist (since contact with stamps will be harder and today’s hobby can be seen as something museums will teach your next generation about). Yes, I am being very pessimistic and dramatic: but let’s agree I may have a point.
Early this month I went to visit a local philatelic dealer that was having its annual well-known auction. When I came into the auction room all heads turned, and most were probably wondering what I was doing there. I was most likely the only one under 50 and the only woman (I’m 26 as some of you may know). I enjoy being around and learning from experienced collectors, and age and gender do not really make a difference to me, but definitely gets me thinking: who will I see in this room in 30 or 40 years, when I reach their age?
I will talk in my next post about modern stamps, using innovative methods to try to get some attention around – using technology and social changes to philatelic advantage. Some post offices, like to Swiss, have very useful information on philately, and may even be quite user friendly. Still, going to the post office itself may be quite disappointing: local post offices not only lack stamp diversification but also do not sell philatelic products or even market them (but you shall find a great range of products, from light bulbs to children’s books). Brazilian post offices are no different and worse: the website can be quite confusing and demand a great deal of time to expose information.
The city of Basel (Switzerland), may be quite small. It had over 20 stamp dealers between the 1970s and the 1980s. Today, this number was reduced to 1. Stamp dealers have used the technology in their favor, reaching a broader range of customers worldwide with online sales. Still, this broader range does not seem to be enough.
I have read a lot about stamp investing (my last blog post discusses about it), but collecting itself rarely makes the papers – or even the corridors of the office… or the corridors of the post office even. Most people I know (my social group, family, work colleagues, etc) either think it’s boring to collect stamps or don’t get the point of it.
Maintaining philately alive will be a challenge in the future – of that I have no doubts. Not that I actually think it will be an extinct hobby any soon, but a bit more has to be done to keep it a popular one. The question is: what to do and how?
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