Monday 25 September 2023

Dutch Deep Dive

Thanks to an exchange with Vincent in the Netherlands, I was able to send two packets of 300 topicals in exchange for two packets of Netherlands. This grew my fledgling Netherlands collection about ten-fold! Sure there were a few doubles, and those have made their way into my Netherlands doubles for re-trading with other exchngers.
Sorting by orientation - vertical vs. horizontal.
Then grouping by face value. This elucidated several sets.
My original Netherlands page. Definitely definitive-heavy:
I then put the sorted stamps into a stock book. Then it's time to albumize. I like to have all supplies ready at this point: stamp hinges separated and folded ready for use, my custom stamp pages printed on home printer, both ready for the sorted stamps!

Saturday 23 September 2023

Joining NTSC

As a Canadian Stamp News subscriber, I read an article last issue about exchanges and stamp club outreach. I was pleasantly surprised to find the North Toronto Stamp Club does not require you to live in...North Toronto! In fact, as part of their so-far successful campaign to increase their membership in their 85th anniversary year, membership dues have been reduced. I was definitely interested! Especially when I read about the club's swap circuits, of which there are several. I've found this to be an inexpensive way to:
  • choose high-quality stamps for my collection
  • deal with duplicates someone else might enjoy more
  • enjoy a cost-effective scheme, ideally with less-costly domestic postage rates
  • get stamp mail!
Before long, I'd completed the easy online membership form, sent dues, and had a nice, prompt reply from the club president. I'm looking forward to next 16 months of NTSC fun. This is a great example of stamp club outreach. And another example of how the pandemic was not all bad - Youtube, Zoom, online newsletters as well as encouraging out-of-town participation will no doubt grow the NTSC's membership by leaps and bounds! I received the NTSC Member's Guide by email. Say hello to the club's newest member #930!

Monday 11 September 2023

ISWSC Swap Circuits and Grab Bag Time!

In the latest edition of the September-October 2023 ISWSC The Circuit, I noted notices about the renewal time for circuits and the ISWSC Grab Bag program.

The swap circuits are a nice, inexpensive program. For a nominal $3 US membership fee, then a small fee per circuit joined averaging $5, an ISWSC member gets two years of circuits by mail! I signed up for three of the 100 large size exchanges. They're loaded with nice stamps, many contributed by fellow circuit members. Application form:
I tried the Grab Bag in the spring, and I sent in two entries for the second time this year. This is a true swap, where my 100 stamps are swapped with another entrants. Perhaps a short- or long-term exchange will ensue. Either way, I had to be careful to put US postage on my SASE! I'm looking forward to the results appearing in my mailbox!


Thursday 7 September 2023

Standing Up my Soak Box*

I have been checking out two stamp forums lately. Stamporama is extensive but requires a registration fee after the first month. Meanwhile, over on the Stamp Community Forum, an equally extensive site awaits, at zero cost for registration. However, access to buy, sell and exchange takes 50 posts. OK, challenge accepted!

A community member commented on the daunting contents of his soak box. This resonated with me because I was not daunted, diving into the soak box and filling two five-foot paper towel sections with the results! Most of what's shown here is on-paper from stamp show purchases, and some from incoming stamp mail. First was worldwide, then my less-full Canada soak box.

As usual, I soak en masse, in this case in two Tupperware pans of warm water, then spread to dry on paper towels. Once dry, I carefully dump them off the paper towels (to black plastic tray, above) then press in large, hardcover books, then the fun begins once the flattened stamps are dumped out and sorted.

Here's my sorting hierarchy:
  • stamps for my collection or further triage
  • stamps for specific collectors: space, music, triangles, topicals
  • stamps for envelopes of in-demand countries' duplicates for exchanges i.e. UK, Scandinavia
  • stamps for the duplicates box for exchanges of worldwide
  • stamps for Oxfam

*You read that right! Not standing on my soap box, though I've regularly done that and will continue to do so, sometimes preaching to the converted.

Sunday 3 September 2023

Philately: An Aging Population or an Asian Population?

In the most recent Canadian Stamp News, John Sheffield, the retiring executive director of the Canadian Stamp Dealers Association (CSDA) gives a revealing interview in which he notes that at one point, the CSDA counted 280 members. There are now fewer than 80, and the organization can no longer hold a financially-viable stamp show. Then he shares his memories of the halcyon days: collecting stamps as a young paperboy, going to the local stamp store with his father and becoming a full-time dealer in 1988. CSDA shows twice a year at the Toronto convention centre and in Montreal, and annually in Ottawa. More people are getting out of the business than are getting in, with age and death drawing down the numbers. He suggests the biggest challenge facing Canadian stamp dealers is relevance.

Well, how relevant is this? In the same article, he notes that in Asian countries, stamp shows are attended by hundreds of thousands of people, most under the age of 30. Taiwan alone can count 2.7 million collectors, about 13% of the population. The recent five-day Taipei 2023 (top photo) attracted over 180,000 attendees! In a 1997 article from Taiwan Today, a Christie's dealer says, "A lot of children love collecting, but they get distracted as they get older, although one day they may come back to it. At this point, most collectors are middle-aged men, at least that's certainly the case at auctions." Interestingly, there are many more women collecting stamps in Asia than in the North American old-man market. While we're at it, let's change the names of stamp shows to leave out the -PEX suffix. Who knows what an ORAPEX is anyway, and does that encourage new, inquisitive collectors or just leave them walking away, scratching their heads?

Sheffield says the biggest change in the stamp industry has been the internet, opening up gaping new worldwide markets. Indeed, those who had an internet presence were able to weather the pandemic's economic downturn, all while thousands of collectors had time at home to return to their stalled collections. "The future must be embraced by stamp dealers of they're going to go the way of the dinosaur", he dryly notes. Hey, here's a suggestion for dinosaur dealers: instead of dying with your stock in hand, sell low to those willing to buy thereby kick-starting a resurgence here in Canada. 

But will they?