Stamps collecting (philately) past, present and future

By Ahmet Abdulaziz ….

My last column was regarding pen-friendship, where I had discussed how as a teenager I used to write and receive letters from penfriends. I had also expressed my views about the future of pen-friendship.

The hobby of philately (collection of postage stamps) is directly related to my previous column.

Just as I was starting writing this column, I had had a quick look on the internet about philately. There were a number of articles written on the same topic, where writers have come up to the conclusion that philately is fast becoming unpopular. There are a few staunch supporters who still believe in the revival of the hobby and are trying hard towards that goal.

Stamp collection used to be a hobby which was directly related to sending and receiving letters by post. Thus in those days, when I was a teenager, whether one is a serious stamp collector or not, having postage stamps of a number of countries was obvious, because almost everyone used to have penfriends.

I admit that I was never a serious stamp collector, but frequently came across friends of my age, who were stamp collectors. They had always been after me to grab some free stamps. My elder brother was somewhat more seriously interested in stamps as compared to me. But he too could not be declared as a serious stamp collector.

I remember I used to have an envelope, where all the stamps were kept.  I was never careful enough to arrange them country-wise. However, frequently when with friends, I used to take out those stamps, and with the help of them, arrange them country-wise, on a newspaper spread out for the purpose.

But the exercise never ended there. Once the stamps had been segregated country-wise then the process of sorting out the ones where were more than one in quantity. At the same time my friends also used to carry on the same exercise on  another newspaper sheet, with their collection.

Once finishing this initial stage, we used to enter into the phase of display and examination of the stamps. In this stage, each of us would put out those stamps where there were more in quantities, asking others if they needed one in exchange for their surplus.  I admit this process of exchange not everytime ended up with a smile on faces.  Frequently with the increase in demand of one particular stamp by more than one friend, obviously led to arguments. Frequently my mother had to intervene to calm us down.

However such arguments never affected our friendships, and we continued through the same procedure for years to come.

Now coming back to the real topic of this particular article, I do not have much hope about the future of stamp collecting. The reason for my pessimism is simple. Since digital chatting has taken the place of pen-friendship, nobody is writing or receiving letters.  With a drastic reduction in number of exchange of letters, particularly among teenagers, I do not see any future for stamp collecting. The physical quantity of postage stamps has also reduced, due to reduction in demand, so who is going to collect them?

Indeed there are some people who are still very serious stamp collectors, and they are doing their best to continue that. I just read an article where steps are being taken in different countries to attract the young generation towards collection of stamps. This is a good exercise, which I hope produces expected results. However personally I am not very optimistic on this issue.


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