I’ve been thinking about this recently, seeing that the hosts of my favorite stamp collecting podcast Stamp Show Today started commenting on a previous post. I had said that I’d try to get to a couple of local big stamp shows, which I didn’t do, mostly because I forgot all about them. The next local show of any size is Sescal, sometime in the fall, and once I have actual dates, I’ll put it on my calendar in an attempt to remember it.
But the more I think about it, the more I’m asking myself why.
Now this isn’t about liking to collect stamps, I most certainly do that, but let’s be honest, philately isn’t a team sport. It isn’t a group activity, most people have their own individual collections which are assembled independently. I cannot recall a single instance where any stamps in my collection, over the course of more than 40 years of collecting, has been selected or purchased by anyone else. I built my collection and I alone. It’s a wholly solo activity. The same goes for my wife, she has been collecting for less than 20 years, but in all of that time, I have never bought a single stamp for her, nor has she asked me to. We might occasionally talk about stamps but when we’re actually mounting stamps or buying stamps, we don’t compare notes and, truth be told, I don’t remember the last time either of us has looked through the other’s collection. She has her albums, I have mine. She has her interests, I have mine.
As I’ve also said in the past, I don’t collect for the history or the background on the stamps. I honestly don’t know what it is about stamps that attracts me to collect them, I’ve been doing it off-and-on for most of my life but I couldn’t tell you why. As such, I find no real reason to be social regarding my stamp collecting. I have nothing to share, I have no interest or desire to show off my collection. There is no ego involved in my collecting, I am not doing it so people will be impressed by my acquisitions. There were three online stamp forums that I was reading religiously for a while until I realized I wasn’t actually getting anything out of it. Mostly, it was people showing off. I don’t really care what they have in their collections. At best, I’d just want to talk about the act of collecting, not playing who has the best collection. I therefore haven’t logged onto any of those forums for many months now.
It strikes me that stamp shows suffer from the same problems for me that many other conventions do. As I’m about to leave for Wondercon in the next couple of days, something I wrote a long time ago about modern conventions applies equally well to stamp shows. I’m struggling to find anything beyond “looking around to see what’s there” that would attract me to go. I can do that online and not have to drive a long distance or rent a hotel room. I don’t have to deal with the old-folk cliques that are rampant in stamp collecting. I don’t have to fight crowds (such as they are at stamp shows), I can browse from the comfort of my home, select the stamps I want to add to my collection, type in my credit card number and have them arrive in the mail a couple of days later. I’m struggling really hard to figure out what it is about a stamp show that gives me something that I actually want that’s better than what I can already do at home.
If someone has any ideas, please enlighten me.