Stamped Out

In the Sept 29 online issue of the New York Times there was an interesting opinion column by contributor Eugene L. Meyer, lamenting the state of our hobby, fueled by the apparent disappointment of the value of his childhood stamp collection:

“I got rid of my stamp collection the other day. It was no great loss from a monetary standpoint. The emotional loss, though, was enormous.

There was a time when my collection might have fetched a good amount, because there was a time when people cared about stamps. They used them to mail bills, letters and postcards, and in the process paid attention to what was on them. You didn’t have to be a collector to value the beautiful, quirky and rare.

Today, many if not most bills are paid online. Letters are rarely written and sent; email suffices. Stamps are still used occasionally, if rarely saved or savored. And most of what passes for stamps are generic images printed on demand at a postal kiosk.

Stamps were, and sometimes still are, things of beauty and history, links to distant places that spawned a global hobby known as philately, or, simply, stamp collecting. Putting a bright spotlight on the hobby was none other than President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the philatelist in chief, often shown in official White House photographs with a magnifying glass, viewing his collection.

Before hours wasted on video games and other ephemeral pleasures, the hobby transfixed and transported youngsters. Stamps were the adhesive coins of the realm, a way to learn geography, history and politics…”

You can read the rest of the column HERE.

Let’s hear your opinion after reading his story. True, the amount of stamp collectors out there seems to be down (and the APS member stats reported in the article certainly appears to bear this out); stamp values for common items certainly have fallen; and you would be hard-pressed to find a brick and mortar stamp shop these days. Do all these signal the end of a “dying hobby”? Or do they just reflect the collecting realities of a new, digital age?