The Irish National Stamp Exhibition took place from Friday 5th October to Sunday 7th October. I attended on two days (Friday and Sunday).
This is my seventh successive “Stampa” since I returned to Stamp Collecting in March 2012. Maybe five of those years were taken up with obtaining the issues (mint and used) that I had missed out on from 2001 when I gave up collecting.
The past eighteen months, I have really found myself in the same position I was in 2001. Several trips a year to the Philatelic Counter at the General Post Office in Dublin , where I buy two sets of new issues. One set is retained as “mint” and the other set, I send to myself so that I have a used version. And of course there is my “Wants List”…those stamps issued from 1922 to 2001 which I never owned.
Of course “Completion” is the El Dorado of Stamp Collecting. Part of me believes that we are never really meant to be “complete”. It is always an ongoing process.
As I have said before, Stamp Collecting (with secondary interests in Postcards, Irish Coins etc) is my only vice. I have never smoked or drank alcohol in my life. So it never seemed wrong to buy a stamp which was the price of a packet of cigarettes or a bottle of beer.
As a married man, priorities change. Children need shoes, clothes, toys. A mortgage has to be paid. As a retired couple, priorities change. Yes we have grandchildren who are pampered but our outgoings are less. Its a new life.
So where am I? Well I just edited my “Wants List”. There are just 26 stamps on the list.
To paint an optimistic picture just three of these stamps are fully “Irish” in the sense that they are of Irish design. This is one stamp (a used variety) from the 1990s Definitive series. Theoretically it is not expensive but no dealer seems to have it. The other two stamps are obtainable but one is very expensive.
The other 23 stamps (8 mint and 15 used) are “Seahorse” stamps…ie British design high values 2s6d, 5s and 10s featuring “King” George V but overprinted in Irish as “Irish Free State” or “Provisional Government of Ireland”.
At the beginning of this year, there were 34 stamps on my “Wants List”. I obtained one earlier in the year and seven at this weekend’s “Stampa” so I am happy at this progress.
So this is the first task, listing them and setting out a target. Realistically I must shop around. Discounted “good used” or even “badly used” stamps are a better option than higher priced “fine used” especially as I also collect mint versions. These are high end stamps so only sold by the better dealers and are more likely to be seen at “Spring Stampa” (April) and “National Stampa” (October) rather than mainstream collectors fairs and flea markets. There is also the question of trusting a reputable dealer more than a casual dealer.
So I like that I can focus again. New issues are of course a drain on finances but that’s the nature of striving for “completion”. There is no real END. And of course I enjoy collecting cheap “world” stamps at fairs and flea markets. But also a drain on finances.
Target Dates? Well I started to specialise in Ireland on 31st October 1970 so in just over two years, I will be collecting Ireland for fifty years. This two years seems too optimistic. More realistic perhaps is my 70th birthday (10th May 2022).
It would be nice to be “complete” and finally sit in an armchair and enjoy my stamps rather than be distracted by empty spaces in albums.
In many ways “Stampa 2018” was like “Stampa 2017” and “Stampa 2016”, the third in the new venue of Griffith College. Same dealers at the same tables. Admission was surprisingly Free. I am not sure if this welcome development made for larger crowds but a lot of dealers seemed to think they were doing well.
For me, the worst moment of the weekend was overhearing some casual racism. Whether this says something about just one asshole or says something deeper about Stamp Collecting, I don’t know. But I am never comfortable with the group think of men of my generation.
Surprise of the Weekend? Well on Friday night, I was reading the quarterly bulletin issued by the Irish Post Office and it referenced some SOAR (Stamps on a Roll) issued in August. This was news to me. The website also references these new stamps.
On Sunday, my second day at Stampa, I bought them.
Eight “new” stamps (seemingly the most popular commemoratives of 2017/18) sold in two strips of four and a third strip featuring the two of these eight designs and two (the most popular) designs from the definitive “100 Objects in Irish History”.
The stamps all bear the date imprint “18214” which is 2nd August 2018 but were not made available to Philatelic staff (and the public) until the first day of Stampa. I do not know if and when they will be available in the post office network but if it is the case that they will only sold to stamp collectors, then it means that these stamps will be relatively rare.
Secondly the issue of these stamps undermines the status of the “100 Objects in Irish History” as definitive.
Thirdly the eight commemorative designs are indeed popular and more so attractive. But the most popular commemorative of 2017 was Che Guevara. It was of course unpopular with conservative Americans (I cant say I care about them) but the stamps sold out …twice!
As I wrote earlier in this post, making plans about “Wants Lists” is undermined by (unexpected) new issues.
As for my other purchases at Stampa, I bought some cheap Irish First Day Covers and maybe ten cheap used “world” stamps. Perhaps I am most pleased with this commercial cover which cost just 60 cents. My first mail from Mozambique.
So Stampa 2018…yes I enjoyed it.