Being away from Stamp Collecting for over ten years (2001-2012) has given me a new perspective. Certainly on a personal level, I intend to be marginally less obsessive than I was in the late 1990s. Stamp Collecting ceases to be enjoyable when it becomes obsessive.
It is all very well specialising in a single country and knowing something about obscure colour and perforation varieties but it is much more fun to know nothing at all. There is a simple child-like joy about a packet of twenty worthless stamps from anywhere in the world. Progressively since 1970 (when I started to specialise), I have lost out on a lot of the simple joys of being a stamp collector.
Apart from my chosen country…Ireland…I have had no major interest in the rest of the world except wanting to have all members of the United Nations (and four more nations who should be members) in a stamp album. Currently there are 193 UN members and the only countries I dont have are Georgia, Turkmenistan, Timor Leste and South Sudan. I can get these but at the moment my priority is the Irish issues 2001-2005 which are still missing. Hopefully I will have them in the next year.
But I think it is not entirely coincidental that I seemed to lose interest in Stamps when I became connected to the Internet in 1998. Nor do I think it is not entirely coincidental that I re-discovered Stamps when I became a little disenchanted with the excesses of the Internet and “social media”.
In terms of “Ireland”, I cant give a precise answer to the simple question of “how many Irish stamps do you have?”. Because a Stamp Collection is not just about “stamps”. More so, it is about “items”….stamps, First Day Covers, postcards, postal history, books, magazines, publicity brochures and anything that takes my fancy.
On the other hand, I can give a very precise number of stamps in my World (mostly used) collection. It is all on a spreadsheet. Burkino Faso (1), Korea Republic (4), USA (787).
Effectively I am involved in two very different types of Collecting….one is specialised and obsessive. The other is random and fun.
It is always nice to look at other peoples collections. The Internet has facilitated this. But I am intrigued that so many album pages contain several copies of one stamp. At first I thought that this was a very bad use of Duplicates. On reflection, it compares favourably to my own preferred method of dealing with Duplicates….throw thousands in boxes and forget about them.
There is merit in having pages of Duplicates. It adds to the sense of Ordinariness. Stamps and Stamp Collecting is both Ordinary and Extra-Ordinary. The Universal Postal Union, the national mail carriers are a historical success story. It is right to both celebrate it and accept the miracle as a matter of fact.
Yet I have never dealt with Duplicates well.
They are potentially “currency” for Trade. But “trading” stamps scares me. It should be a fairly straight-forward social act. The camaraderie. The mutual assistance. I get requests via this Blog (I dont publish any as addresses are usually included) but most are too specific and off-putting…the sociability is sacrificed to a business transaction …trades linked to Gibbons, Michel and Scott. While I prefer to swap on a one-for-one basis, I obviously regard some duplicates as being too precious to accept just one stamp in return. Swapping works best when trading in stamps without a retail value.
About four months ago, I sent small amounts of duplicates…twenty five ….to eleven different people in five different countries. I asked for nothing in return. …partly because I fear negative reaction to a 25 for 25 exchange. But in part it was an experiment. Eight of the eleven people sent me a message to say that they had received the stamps…and three did not send me a message. Possibly they didnt receive them but it seems likely that at least one or two could not be bothered.
This is the problem with Exchange. Unsorted Duplicates in boxes mean nothing to me. Sorting them and putting them in envelopes means a lot to me. And of course, posting them airmal to another part of the world means a lot.
I need to find a way to turn 2,000 duplicates into 2,000 new “world” stamps.