As we have now passed the mid-point of 2017, this seems like a good time to review the year so far.
This year is a big year for me. I am now 65 years old and I can travel FREE to and from any part of Ireland. This travel is now the big thing in my social life but it is related to my various “collecting” activities.
Irish Stamps…well there are two aspects. Keeping up with New Issues is easier as there is no travel expenses involved in any journey to the Philatelic Counter in Dublin. And this means that I can post the new stamps from any town or village in the Republic of Ireland, again no travel cost is involved.
Wants List…I have surprised myself that I have not been more active in finding and buying stamps from my Wants List. It’s hard to come up with one reason but obviously there is some expense involved and I think these purchases are best made after “shopping around” or best made at annual events such as Stampa (the National Exhibition in October). There is no great hurry. But I think that there is a part of me that believes having a Wants List is a key part of being a Collector.
Stamp Fairs…I am now a regular visitor to monthly Collector Fairs in Belfast. But information on Fairs outside Belfast and especially in the Republic of Ireland is not good. Yes, there is a website which advises location and date but not much information so that I can judge if a (free) trip to a “Car Boot Sale” in Dublin or Cork is worthwhile.
World Stamps…I have concentrated on Irish stamps for over forty years. This means that my “World Collection” is not as big as it should be. It also means that it is unbalanced. I am trying to deal with this by setting up a spread sheet which shows the number of stamps I have from every stamp producing nation AND a target t achieve by 31st December 2017.
There are 193 countries in United Nations and with Taiwan, Vatican, Palestine, Kosovo, Northern Cyprus, the ridiculous Sovereign Military Order of Malta and United Nations is a neat total of 200. There are also of course colonies about which I am largely indifferent. At Fairs and by Trade, I have been adding stamps on a regular basis and in some cases, for example, USA, Japan, Thailand and Austria, I have already exceeded the 2017 targets. These are of course worthless stamps bought for pennies. There is always an imbalance. Some countries, Australia, New Zealand are easy to get but used stamps from Baltic States, ex-USSR states, ex-Yugoslavia, South East Asia, South American, Pacific Islands and ex-French colonies in Africa are more difficult to get.
Trade/Exchange…recent experience has been mixed as a lot of people want Ireland stamps and I suppose Ireland is middle-ranking in terms of being easy and hard to get. But disproportionately offers of trade and exchange come from people in countries (eg Germany, USA, Australia) which are relatively easy to get. The whole point is that Trade/Exchange should be the cheapest form of adding to a collection but I have found myself actually buying duplicate Irish stamps so that potential traders will not be disappointed. I am not interested enough in mint new issues from countries to make it worthwhile to trade Irish new issues.
Modern Irish Postcards…I have nearly 2,000 unposted cards. This started as collecting souvenirs from trips going back to the 1970s. Postcards date quickly. Buildings, cars, fashions, people …and cards need updated. In 2017, it seems that the traditional market-leader, John Hinde, has been taken over and the cards on racks at gift shops seem more limited in range. It is probably due to all tourists owning camera-phones. Certainly I have been disappointed over the past coup;e of months.
Vintage Postcards…There is a “golden age” (say 1900-1922) when postcards were used in much the same way that we use “text messages” today. From an Irish perspective, the added interest is that this is a period which is pre-independence and the postmarks will be in English. I now have around 130. They can be picked up easily at Fairs but there is the complication that people who mainly postcard collectors are interested in subject matter (eg Saint Patricks Day or Humour or Location) and the publisher. This can mean that prices are variable. As most of the cards I have bought are at Belfast Fairs, then there is an imbalance. I have a lot of postmarks from County Antrim and County Down.
Foreign Postcards…I have long preferred these to be unwritten and unposted. And this remains the case with USA (I have about 900). But now I prefer cards to be posted. I LIKE snail mail (as it is unfairly called) because it is a great civilising factor in the world. I have posted cards from around 75 nations.
Irish Coins…well not much progress. I have about 90% of all pre-decimal (1928-1970) and decimal (1971-2001) coins. Some of the missing coins would be impossible to buy but I really need to make a list of some coins that are at least possible. This interest in Coins is very secondary to Stamps and Postcards. It stems largely from 2002, when Ireland adapted the Euro and all Irish coins became historic.
USA Coins…an interest that stems largely from my only visit to USA (Texas in 2013). Again this is largely about coins that are in circulation. Condition is not an issue for me and American coins can be picked up at flea markets. While “date” is important, I am not overly fixated on the “P”, “S” and “D” inscription which denotes that a coin originated in the Philadelphia, San Francisco or Denver mint. I particularly like the States Quarters series and some of my American friends hold these coins for me.
There is very little to report about my other collecting interests, Bubble Gum cards, Cigarette cards, Phonecards, Football Autographs etc.
The big news seems to be the way that this Blog has taken off in the last month. I do not know why but I am getting a lot of visitors. Yesterday I had visitors from 17 different nations. Thank you.