Wednesday 23 August 2023

Finally, some Fun in Philately!

This most recent video from Stampcat features Lisa interviewing Conor Biggs and his new book which includes very short poems and stamp images. Speaking of humour, an LOL moment occurs when Conor is speaking about his stamp collecting journey and the closed captioning turns "I found stamp collecting" into "I found stunt collecting". Fun!

I'm not so sure about the 'little book' part because in the interview, Conor notes that the book profiles 100 stamps and weighs one pound. Regardless, I like his attitude, his good-natured swipes at those who only want to look at inverted watermarks and the like, and his obvious intention to keep his hobby enjoyable!

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Schlossing and Schussing through Switzerland


I stopped my 'long and noble crusade' to albumize accumulated stamps in March, taking a summer hiatus around the L-and-M countries for the summer. I made two exceptions, due to arrivals of large numbers of stamps for Norway and Switzerland. This means that of my Mom's penpal countries (Australia, Great Britain, Norway, Switzerland, (East) Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland, only he Grand Duchy needs updating still, because today I finished Switzerland. My Swiss collection went from a very neutral 170 stamps to a much more positive 810 stamps on 23+ pages.

My collection starts with older definitives and commemoratives, some newer definitives, a pleasingly quite complete Pro Juventute and somewhat complete Pro Patria and Europa CEPT pages, then commemoratives from 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 etc. francs (above) and all the way up to 200 francs. 

Interestingly, one of the stamps is the 20-franc 2000 Jahre Basel issue showing Munatius Plancus overlooking his prosperous cityscape along the modern Rhine. One of a handful of stamps printed on the cover of my H.E. Harris 'Traveller albums!

Friday 18 August 2023

Generalize? Specialize?

The topic of whether to collect everything, or to specialize in just a few things, has been discussed in stamp-collecting circles since at least 1894. In that year, an article in the Canadian Philatelic Weekly by Lewis G. Quackenbush began, 

"Though I am still treading the old paths and gathering in impartially the issues of all five continents, as well as the islands of the sea, I find it useless to shut my eyes to the fact that specialism is gradually strengthening its position. The methods of specialism, however, may be infinitely varied, and thus there are immense opportunities for discussion as to the most fruitful fields for philatelic study. No one can dictate what shall be collected."

His concluding sentence, dramatic but not definitive (no pun intended) continues the philatelist's inner angst and hobby-wide discussions on this topic. I intend to keep this post alive, adding thoughts and reasoning behind both positions as I come across them. 

The illustration at top shows the province of the generalist. Australian Kristie Corr decided to create a home feature wall as a pandemic project, beginning in July, 2020. In-progress photos:

Reminiscent of the early years of stamp-collecting, tiny definitives were glued to walls, pitchers, vases and many other objects as a form of self-expression by folks who had no artworks to hang on their walls. The number and type of stamps available at that time begat no specialists. In a field such as medicine, specialization is everything today. No medical resident worth his salts would dare to stand in front of a hall of colleagues and present a talk on 'Cancer'. More likely, a tailored topic relating to a specific target organ, highly-specific research or even personalized medicine would receive a much better response. 

If I say I collect 'worldwide', the specialist might consider me a gourmand or a generalissimo. But to my general mind, specialists are like surgeons or snipers. I can honestly say there is no stamp I won't consider for my collection. My current interests include:
  • British Commonwealth
  • polar philately
  • maps, militaria, flags, medals
  • transportation
  • stamp-on-stamp

Saturday 12 August 2023

70 Bucks o' Fun at the Gan Stamp Show!

I attended the Gananoque Stamp Show today, held in the upstairs room of the Gananoque Royal Canadian Legion branch. All the dealers I noted were selling stamps, no supplies. That's fine, because I wasn't really in need of supplies. In fact, my one and only buying stop was at Roy Lingen's table. Roy had two big banker's boxes of grab bags. They were slippery sleeves of scintillating stamps, I must say. I started putting ones that interested me aside, and soon had a pile rivalling K2, if perhaps not Mount Everest.
Winnowing of the winning windows of wondrous stamps continued until I had 70 bucks' worth! Look at those prices, nothing over $5 made it into my shopping bag. This is going to be hours o' sorting fun! 

I even indulged my British Commonwealth and polar philately interests with a couple of small packets. I've always considered myself a collector, not a buyer. Sitting at a table setting out to BUY specific stamps doesn't seem right to me. By buying these grab bags, I feel in some way that I'm being a somewhat-discriminating collector, sorting while looking just for what I want to collect and passing the rest on to others.

The show seemed well-attended, with overflow parking in use. Roy asked that I include a link to the Kingston Stamp Club, whom I note are holding their annual Stamp Festival this October 28 at Crossroads United Church.
Before long, we were heading east to the Gan McDonald's for some sugary and satisfying sundaes on Saturday, noting licence plates from Ohio, Vermont and Quebec while driving.

Joining ISWSC

This past year, I joined the International Society of Worldwide Stamp Collectors and I'm participating in their ISWSC Swap Circuits. For a few US dollars and the cost of one-way postage, 100 stamps arrive about each month. Each member removes some of the 100 stamps in the envelope, then replaces them with like stamps. Five ISWSC members' names are on each circuit, after which it is returned to a volunteer swap circuit manager. It's been enjoyable.

ISWSC members might have a challenge contacting me, as both my postal code and email appear to be incorrect!

In April, 2023 I participated in the ISWSC Grab Bag, whereby I sent two packets to Ramona Finley of the US - the Grab Bag co-ordinator - and got two other members' packets sent back. All participants had a chance of winning a free packet as well. There were 18 participants with 57 packets exchanged.

ISWSC puts out a colour, 40+ page newsletter via e-mail. It contains excellent articles and lots of information. 

My membership has definitely paid for itself!