There aren’t a lot of stamp collecting podcasts but I’ve been listening to a new one called Stamp Show Here Today. They had an episode recently about the 2014 SESCAL stamp show and how it seems that people are starting to go back to some of these shows, following a mass exodus with the advent of the Internet because it’s cheaper and easier to just buy something online than it is to travel to a show and dig through dealer boxes.
Now I admit, I used to love stamp shows, back when they were huge and actually meant something. Even the best shows today are tiny comparatively, you get 30-60 dealers in a relatively small place. It seems to me that back in the 80s and early 90s, stamp shows were much, much larger, hundreds of dealers in convention center-sized venues that would take a full day to go around and see. Today, the smaller monthly shows are a handful of dealers stuffed into a small room that you can go through in an hour or so. That’s one of the reasons why I stopped going to shows.
However, the team at SSHT suggested that people are starting to go back to shows because of the social aspects, where you can talk to other collectors and show off your stamps. I agree that some people might do that but certainly that’s not why I’d go again. I don’t care about talking to anyone about my stamps, as I’ve said in the past, stamp collecting is a largely solo activity and I’m fine with that. I don’t care about showing off. I care about collecting. I’ve also mentioned that I view the hunt to be every bit as important as actually finding something I want to buy. It was true when I actively collected action figures, it is every bit as true with stamps. That’s the only reason I’d go to a show, to hunt for things that I might not even know I’m looking for. Finding things that are a surprise is important to me. That’s why I used to love getting stamp approvals, I never knew what I might get. The last couple of shows I went to, I not only didn’t find anything interesting, I didn’t find much of anything I cared about, that’s why I didn’t go back.
There are actually two larger shows coming up in early 2015 that I might try to hit, ORCOEXPO and AmeriStamp Expo. I haven’t been to ORCOEXPO in a very long time, I don’t remember if I’ve ever been to the other. Still, I might see if they’ve changed and maybe spend an enjoyable day looking through stamps. Or it might be an hour or two, who knows?
The other problem with shows, which is really a problem with the entire stamp collecting hobby, is that it is so geriatric top-loaded and that a lot of those old fogies really don’t want to be around anyone who isn’t their age. I’ve been to shows where 100% of the dealers and 99% of the collectors were in their 70s or older and they didn’t give the time of day to anyone who wasn’t 60 or above. It just drives away people who might want to start collecting and that, likewise, ensures that philately will be largely dying off after this generation of collectors kick the bucket.
But at least I’m willing to give it a shot once again, I’ll give a report what happens in late January after I hit the first show.