Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Impact of the Internet on Stamp Collecting

The impact of the Internet on stamp collecting is nothing less than -----enormous. Over the past few years and even past few weeks I have had verbal discussions and emails with friends, associates and admirers (a few not so admiring, oops) about this very subject. Generation X collectors, like myself, know the Internet resuscitated stamp collecting. By the mid-80's you couldn't find a stamp store in your community unless you lived in a major city. Stamp Shows were a once-in-a-year event often miles away from your home. That's a heck of a trip and a long wait to buy some supplies, stamps in lots, and trade shop talk with experienced dealers and collectors. To make things worse book stores stopped carrying stamp magazines making it harder to establish mail contact with stamp supply companies, stamp clubs, etc., etc. Thank God, for the local library which still carried hobby magazines of all types. For all intents and purposes stamp collecting went underground, refusing to die, but also unable to challenge the Age of PacMan

This is where people in the stamp industry get upset. Many would prefer to believe stamp show and stamp clubs kept everything going until the Internet came along. But I was there at shows where dealers outnumbered collectors and clubs where free beer couldn't get someone in the door. In my opinion the Internet saved stamp collecting from oblivion and made it exciting and educational again. Here are the reasons why:


it keeps people connected, you can send stamp images, word informational attachments in minutes sometimes seconds---really helps with tough questions on id's, watermark issues

World Wide Web:

the major companies got on board and their sites now offer more products and information and then their former printer catalogs--a lot of free stuff too---what a switch!

Software Downloads:

Software programs are the newest product in stamp collecting to come along in years and the most exciting. For US collectors the Scott software program is the best to track every stamp in your collection by image, value, date, year, --just incredible and easy. Plus there are dozens of generic programs for basic collecting and you can provide your own images.


It's impact on stamp collecting is monumental. Between its thousands of stamp auctions and fixed stores, Ebay has brought stamp collecting to the forefront of hobbies again by simply reintroducing it to the public at prices that wont scare away the uninitiated. It also helps that you get to see the stamp, product, etc., and have a decent description. I have always said once stamping was revived the marketplace would correct the past obscene prices of the business side of collecting and level it off for past, present and future collectors; thus preserving the passion of philately without going broke in the process.

Irony and Snailmail:

Past detractors of computers and Internet used to lament about how technology would reduce people contact and possibly formal letter writing and postal mail services (i.e. snailmail).

1st point: a poor public perception of stamp collecting and stamp shows few and far between did a fine job of reducing people contact.

2nd point: the reduction of formal letter writing was on the decline years before email came along in fact email was increasing writing by people in general, many write letters on computers, print them and then mail it.

3rd point: computers and the Internet did not reduce postal mail services in fact it increased them by many fold. I get dozens of stamps from stamp shipments, friends and relatives from the mail which first starts off as an email.

The impact of the Internet on stamp collecting is significant and continues to expand in many different directions. There are sites where you can create your own stamps for actual postage using your own designs and photos. The horizons are unlimited and benefit stamp collecting in the most incredible ways, you can now actually visit the country you are collecting on the Internet and see amazing photos. But like anything of heartfelt value we must not succumb to rewriting history because the world changed and we didn't. At least this time we did and we as a global stamping community are reaping the rewards of a journey that must last to the next generation. If we do our jobs right and teach the hobby with love and respect the next generation will figure out how to take it to the next level.


Anonymous said...

Did you see “Stamp Collecting Round-Up’s” post today?

Did you find it for Schilling to post? Now that’s fun with duplicates, and kids needing stamps! Too bad the U.S. Postal Museum wasn’t in existence back then to save that car. I’m sure it would be fun to let kids decoupage another one today, and it would still be newsworthy.

Comstock Park, MI

Anonymous said...

Yes, I did. He really does a job of a stamp journalist. Great Stuff.