I dont collect Phonecards. Again its a “preservation” and “conservation” thing. Irish Telecom introduced phonecards around 1988, initially as very functional and plain to be used in telephone kiosks in Ireland. Soon they became colourful and interesting.
There was a set series…in stamp collecting terminology “definitives” and again in stamp collecting terminology “varieties” were noticed.
I first saw these phonecards, carelessly disposed of in phone kiosks in Dublin around 1992. Understandably the nature of stamp collectors is to be interested in small colourful pieces of paper.
I think they also fascinated children who kept an eye on phone booths to get cards and swap them with friends.Most cards which I found were in isolated phone kiosks in rural Ireland. Indeed, much against the advice of my wife, I used to rummage for them in litter bins.
As well as the “definitive” cards, there were cards issued to commemorate events and people. And this of course made them more attractive to stamp collectors. Indeed for a very short period around 1992 to 1995, Phonecards were hailed as the “New Stamps”.
Dublin “freesheet advertising” printed wants/swaps/sales lists on a weekly basis. New Collectors outbid each other to get their hands on earlier issues.
But there was a problem.
Many commemorative issues had a very small print run.
Many events had their “own” limited number cards.
This meant that they became instantly collectible and the consequence was inflationary.
Indeed the suspicion grew that the market was being deliberately manipulated with “special events” and “limited issues”.
Factor in that some of the commemoratives were merely advertising for concerts, movies and alcohol (the latter being particuarly inappropriate) and this was a radical departure for (say) stamp collectors who saw Irish Stamps as being a reflection of the History, Culture, Folklore, Religion, Spirituality, Mythology, Sport, Music of the Nation.
An Irish Stamp Collection represents the best that Ireland hoyas to offer.
In comparison Irish Phonecards were…venal.
After enthusiastically throwing myself into Phonecard Collecting for maybe three years, I just gave up. I think others did too.
But they are a kinda footnote to mainstream “Irish” collecting…Stamps, Postcards and Coins.
In researching for this post, I came across an “online” dealer. Telecom Ireland do not seem to have issued phonecards after 2003. Changes in the industry itself perhaps.The telecoms industry is now in several “private” hands. Phone kiosks are rare. Everyone seems to have a cell phone and the Internet and Texting and the likes of Twitter have taken over.