Why I Rarely Trade Stamps

I should preface this post by saying that two months ago, I sent off 25 stamps to eleven different people and specifically asked for nothing in return. The stamps I sent were duplicates and of no real value. No big deal. The fact is that one guy in particular sent me stamps to encourage me when I was making the difficult transition from “novice” to “serious” collector. I owe it to that man (now deceased) to do something similar to other collectors….WHEN I have duplicates available.

I should also say that two weeks ago, I had a very good experience with a collector in France. We have exchanged stamps before and I am sure we will do so again.

As I have said before, I do not like how some people make trading stamps more complicated than it should be. Sending off 25 unwanted stamps to Australia or Switzerland should be simple. All I want is 25 unwanted stamps in return. As to value…generally speaking there is no value at all…obviously I dont send mint stamps or rare used stamps as they have a premium. On trades…”you win some, you lose some” and it all balances out in the end.

So I expect other traders to exchange within the same general framework. Thus traders who emphasise that exchanges are conducted in line with Gibbons, Scott and Michel catalogues are best ignored.

As i collect Irish stamps “seriously” and World stamps “for fun”, there is realistically no way that traders in Australia or Switzerland can make my Irish collection better. Yes they can send me 25 Australia or Switzerland stamps “for fun” but they should not expect any Irish stamps of value in return.

Yet it strikes me that it was easier for me to send 25 stamps to USA in the 1970s, USSR in the 1980s and Germany in the 1990s than it is for me to send anywhere in the world in 2015. It was once so easy. Stamp magazines posted monthly columns, listing people who wanted to exchange stamps. And I happily did so…as far as I was concerned the collector in India, Pakistan, USA, Israel, West Germany, East Germany, USSR was just a person like me. …a Stamp Collector and that bond was stronger than any feeling we may have had about their nation or nationality.

In sending stamps to USA, I did not assume that the recipient was a Democrat or a Republican, voting for Nixon, McGovern, Ford, Carter etc. Nor did I assume that a Russian collector was pro Brezhnev or anti-Gorbachev. It was irrelevant.

So surely the Internet and “Social Media” should make life easier for stamp traders?

Seemingly not. Facebook invites us to set a profile, a timeline and to assert (quite rightly) our nationality and political persuasions. Insofar as people assert a world view, then we have a right to assert the opposite. And one of the means of so doing is to decline social contact with people.

Is it about Nationality? No. Is it about (party) Politics? No.

More so, it is about issues such as Racism, Homophobia, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Imperialism, anti-Christianity, Sexism….and the totems that are used to suggest a more sinister agenda. If you assert and promote an agenda …no problem….but it is my absolute right to avoid social contact with you.

Thank you.


About John

Dia Duit! Hello. My name is John. I am retired. I live in Ireland. I am on a five year mission to visit every city, town, village and place of historic and scenic interest in Ireland.
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11 Responses to Why I Rarely Trade Stamps

  1. Timbrofil says:

    It’s a very good point of view, with which I totally agree! I collect Romanian stamps “seriously” (by years) and WW stamps “for fun” (by theme), and I prefer to use Colnect.com to make swaps, not social media. I think that is a much better way to socialize with other collectors, but also to always learn something. Kind regards! Catalin

  2. keijo says:

    Interesting note about the ease of trades in different decades. But I do agree with you. Life of casual stamp exchanger pre-internet was easier in a way because world seemed ‘safer’. These days a lot comes down to trust – both in good and bad.

  3. johnjgmooney says:

    I have two Facebook accounts…one is specifically for collecting and I have not added “friends” and I have declined all requests. I do not think I am anti-social but I did have a third Facebook account for “Post Crossing” (postcard trades) and I did have “friends” on that account. I think it was a mistake.
    Inevitably this means acceptance of a set of values which I may or may not have.
    This is I think true of Americans especially.
    I cant remember who said that USA and “Britain” (I am not British of course) are two nations divided by a common language. I think this is true of USA and Europe in terms of values…where “Freedom”, “conservative”, “socialist”, “liberal”, “conservative”, “human rights” etc have very different meanings. With USA the dominant nation on the Internet, it is a problem. I see too many posts about Confederate flags, Donald Trump, rights of gun owners, fiscal conservatism, militarism, etc to really have anything in common with people who would want to add me as a friend on Facebook. Yes of course we have “stamp collecting” in common but I reserve the right to stay clear of ideas that I cant support.
    To quote Groucho Marks…”I would not join a club which wants me as a member”.

    But I think it is NOT a new thing related to the Internet. Certainly on 1970s 1980s visits to London, I found myself wanting to keep a distance from fellow stamp collectors. It would be a cliché for me to say that stamp collectors are disproportionately “conservative” …because many are not. But NOSTALGIA plays a part in all forms of collecting and I think it was my experience that many collectors I encountered longed for a period in history that has long passed.
    There was always a nostalgic feeling that the world would be so much better if there were still places like Northern Rhodesia, the Gold Coast, Union of South Africa, Nyassaland etc and that some people were using their stamp albums to preserve this.
    so I think I have always had difficulty discussing general views with fellow collectors.
    In the 1970s and 1980s I could maybe make assumptions about general views based on nationality, interests etc….but the Internet profiles and postings removes all doubt.

    • keijo says:

      Of course we can always close our eyes and ‘see nothing but stamps’. Not sure if it’s the 2010s way of doing things (and especially to people in US it may seem rude to skip all the small talk), but it does make life simpler at times.

      • johnjgmooney says:

        I dont think it is only a matter of seeing other agendas.
        If good men and women do nothing then Evil triumphs.I must emphasise that I have no issues with religion or mainstream politics of the right or left.
        But I have no time for Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Monarchy etc.
        I would never directly promote my own politics or broader feelings in a public Facebook page.
        It is sometimes dosappointing to see a good point made …or a request to trade ….on a Facebook page …and then looking at a profile page and find that the person isnot even the sort of person I would have a coffee with.
        So I tend to put my agenda on my own Facebook profile so that such people will find me as offensive as I find them. 🙂

  4. Brad Fallon says:

    Hi John,

    I have lots of used Canadian stamps that I would trade for used world-wide stamps – even Ireland. Like you, I collect my main country (Canada), but can’t seem to cut the rest of the world out, so I collect world-side, but generally try not to spend my limited stamp budget on those. I am not conservative, but a very liberal minded 50-year old Canadian male that would be grateful for any kind of trading. 25 for 25, 50 for 50 – it doesn’t matter. Commemoratives / Definitives – either is great. What I could do is send you complete (or almost complete), used Canadian by year of issue. Or, we can be less structured and just trade 1 for 1 – no questions asked. Frankly, if I find 1 stamp out of 10 that I needed and that was in good condition – I would be thrilled!! I am not fussy and have no real expectation. I just like receiving mail. If you are interested, please email me at maltonmanor at hot mail do t co m . All the best, Brad Fallon

  5. Brad Fallon says:

    Hello John,

    There are a number of your recently posted Great Britain traders that I would be interested in:
    6, 8, 26, 47, 50, 55, 60, 74, 85, 95.
    Would you like to throw another 15 in the mix of maybe Irish stamps and I can send you 25 Canadian?

    Feel free to email me if you want to take this off line. I am not sure how strong your Canada is. I can put some together and scan like you did. then you can choose what you want. I am easy though. Let me know.



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