Watching Ideas Spread: The Stamp Collecting Community in Action

One of the greatest changes to the stamp collecting landscape over the past 20 years has been how the hobby has embraced the Internet. Technology has brought collectors together in more ways than ever before.

We buy, sell and trade online. We share what we’ve learned with collectors around the globe. And we spread ideas with a serendipity that constantly amazes me.

First Stop: The Stamp Forum

Here’s a fun example which hit me right between the eyes at our last Regina Philatelic Club meeting. But it started online, as most of my stamp collecting adventures do.

Last year I joined an online forum called The Stamp Forum (TSF). For me, TSF members are the perfect mix of beginner and experienced collectors and there’s lots of interaction between members. Everyone happily and unashamedly shares pictures and stories of their ‘gems’, whether the stamp is worth $2000 or 20 cents. I love that; it’s exactly the spirit we have at the Regina Stamp Club too.

One of the long running threads on TSF is a daily Postmark Calendar, where members post pictures of their stamps with a readable postmark on the current day.  It’s been looping around the calendar for nearly four years now.

A stamp in my postmark Calendar
My first contribution to TSF’s Postmark Calendar thread. January 10, 1956. King Frederick IX of Denmark with a Copenhagen cancel.

I had shared some of my Sweden collection on another thread, and Steve commented that some of the postmarks were nice. Maybe I should post them on the Calendar thread too?

So I did. A few TSF members encouraged me to continue, so over the Holidays I started a Postmark Calendar of my own, where I mounted stamps by date to fill in an annual calendar (and posting on TSF as I can.) I think I have 70 of 365 days completed so far; a long way to go but it’s a lot of fun.

Next Stop:  The Big Blue Blog

Mere days after starting my Calendar project, Jim Jackson, one of my stamp blogging heroes, posted about his friend who had completed a full postmark calendar using only classic stamps (that is, stamps issued between 1840-1940.)

a screen shot from the Big Blue Blog.
A partial screen shot from Jim Jackson’s Big Blue stamp blog. One of my favourites and well worth subscribing! Click the image to go to Jim’s blog.

Wow! I guess I was on to something, even if my newbie calendar contained mainly modern, common Danish duplicates. I kept adding to my calendar with renewed vigour.

Gimme a “P”

Now this story leaves the Internet and gets back to the Regina Stamp Club. One of our recent meetings had an activity around the letter “P”. Everyone was encouraged to bring in something stamp related that connected with the letter P.

My (P)ostmark Calendar fit the bill, so I brought my binder and shared the current state of my project.

a page from my postmark calendar album
My Postmark Calendar for February. It’s a work in progress. 🙂

Kicking It Up A Notch.  Or Three.

I don’t think I impressed too many people with my rudimentary calendar (it’s early days for me after all), but I inspired one member at least. Two weeks later, Bob G brought in three large binders to show me.

The first binder contained a postmark calendar full of stamps with clear Saskatchewan town cancels. He’s only missing 2-3 stamps in the entire year!

Bob's Postmark Calendar
A page from Bob’s postmark calendar, featuring 100% Saskatchewan town cancels. Wow!

The second binder contained another calendar, also full of Saskatchewan town cancels, but all are on paper (that is, the postmark covers part of the stamp and the rest is on the surrounding envelope paper.)

Bob's on paper calendar
A page from Bob’s “on paper” postmark calendar

And the third binder is full of duplicates. All Saskatchewan town cancels, all sorted by day. Zowie!

Bob's Duplicates
Bob has more duplicates than I have stamps in my calendar. For now. 🙂

Bob, who is the club’s resident expert in Saskatchewan town cancels, joked that he was lucky to be sick for a week so this project gave him something to do. I was some kind of impressed, believe me. Plus, Bob gave me a small bag of town cancels to add to my calendar. I’m a lucky guy indeed.

Stamp Collecting Can Be Social

And this, dear reader, is what I mean when I talk about ‘sociable stamp collecting.’

Sure, when we’re actually building a collection, there is lots of time spent alone with one’s stamps. But with the network of local clubs, stamp blogs and online forums, there’s also a wonderful web of support and encouragement for all aspects of stamp collecting. The encouragement and support I received so far with my postmark calendar project is but one example of hundreds that I’ve seen and experienced over the years.

So join a forum and get involved. Share what you have and ask a lot of questions too.

And join your local stamp club. Save the work of scanning your collection and instead just bring it to the meeting and share it at the club.

And if you’re in or near Regina, Saskatchewan, join the Regina Philatelic Club. We’d love to see what you’re collecting.

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