Yesterday I was at the National Stamp Exhibition in Dublin…the event takes place between 14th October and 16th October.
To some extent, I have already written about the decline in Stamp Collecting in Ireland and previewed this years Show in negative terms. Yesterday I was looking for evidence that I am wrong to be pessimistic.
I think I will write seperately about my purchases. This post is an overview.
First of all, the change of venue. Traditionally “Stampa” is held at the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) and in recent years held alongside the annual Coin Fair and there was a lot of casual visitors from other Shows held in the RDS complex. Opinion seemed divided on the wisdom but the new venue (Griffith College) will be used for at least two more years.
The standard of Exhibitions was high. In some respects, appreciation of an exhibit is a personal choice. Some always seem too intensive, often of interest only to the exhibitor and hard for the casual visitor to share his enthusiasm. But 1916 being the centenary of the Easter Rising was reflected in two excellent exhibits…and it is not necessary to be a stamp collector to find them interesting.
A reader of this Blog…Keijo in Finland makes the point that the Saturday and Sunday attendances might be more family orientated as younger people will have work or school but Friday is more suited to retired people. Keijo is of course right but this is my fifth successive “Stampa” from 2012 and I have attended on Saturdays also. Sadly the trend is managed decline rather than managed progress.
The number of stamp shops in Ireland has dwindled to just two, one of which (the excellent Cathedral Stamps) is based in Dublin and the second shop is in Cork. Excluding two auction houses at the top end of an atypical market, there were only eight dealers (including the two stamp shops) at the Show yesterday. In the long run, this is not sustainable. Increasingly, collectors are less interested in the “world” and focus on Ireland. This (and I am guilty…with mitigation) changes the dynamic of collecting. Some Dealers no longer stock new issues.
In previous years the Post Offices from other countries have attended Stampa but certainly since 2012, only the Irish Post Office has attended. And certainly in the 1980s I used to travel to local stamp shows…Dundalk, Sligo, Limerick….I think all of these local clubs are now no longer in existence.
Attempts in the 1990s such as the Voyager Club, supported by the Irish Post Office, to promote Stamp Collecting for young children have been long abandoned.
Conversations yesterday seemed to be typical “old man talk” that things are not as good in 2016 as they were decades ago. The Country and the World has “all gone to Hell”.
All of this is a very negative narrative. I dont enjoy contributing to the narrative but the first and only rule of Blogging is to be HONEST.
There is maybe a natural ebb and flow to Stamp Collecting. In the 19th century, few ordinary people could afford the luxury of leisure activities. For the most part, Stamp Collecting is a product of the increased leisure activity of young people in the 20th century, especially in the years after the end of the Second World War. Certainly in Ireland and Britain, collecting stamps was a rite of passage for 10 year old boys…but most gave up after two years while others like Peter Pan resisted becoming adults. With no rite of passage, it is harder to take up stamp collecting and nearly impossible to carry on into adulthood.
Maybe we should be grateful that Philately spent up to four generations as the “world’s greatest hobby” and that we were part of it.
I attended Stampa ’83 with my wife Geraldine and baby son Seán (he was only nine weeks old). The 2016 catalogue is from yesterday.