Dr. Deborah Lee is a professor and Associate Dean for Research, Teaching, & Engagement at the Mississippi State University Libraries. APS interviewed Deborah to find out more about her journey as a relatively new APS member.
How did you learn about APS?
I was working on my doctorate in economics and the department head found out that I collected stamps. He also was a collector and encouraged me to join the APS. He gave me a copy of the American Philatelist and a membership form.
What about APS made you want to join?
I didn’t want to join at first. When it was first suggested to me, I thought what I did as a collector wasn’t specialized or “fancy” enough for something like the APS. I was encouraged to give it a try anyway. It was not until I attended the AmeriStamp Expo in Biloxi, Mississippi (2003) that I really began to see how the APS could help me grow as a collector.
What/who inspired you to collect stamps?
I began collecting stamps as a child. While in the 5th grade, I came across an essay in our class reader about stamp collecting. The author described what stamps were and why collecting them was a fun hobby. He mentioned that he began as a collector by answering an ad in his father’s Popular Mechanics. My dad also had copies of Popular Mechanics; when I got home that day, I checked out the ads and found (probably the same!) ad for HE Harris approvals. I wrote off for an introductory packet of stamps and a small booklet that provided information to new collectors. From that moment on, I was hooked!
What stamps do you collect?
It might be easier to tell you what I don’t collect! I am a World Wide collector and I thoroughly enjoy moving from country to country. Most recently, I’ve worked on Germany and Great Britain, two philatelically complex countries. Unraveling the history that produced the stamps is part of the fun. I made a conscious decision some time ago to focus on breadth and not depth of collection. Of course, this means I will always have incomplete country collections but that does not bother me. Mint, used, even CTOs are fine because they all contribute to the story of a country as it appears in stamps. (Some collectors chose to not include CTOs but I find that there are some stamps that I cannot (affordably) obtain any other way and it can be an interesting story about why a given stamp even exists as a CTO!)
Which stamps are your favorite?
While I collect quite broadly (across geography and time periods), I do prefer older stamps produced before 2000. Of course, if I end up with newer stamps in a box lot or in kiloware, I will still catalog and include them in my collection. My favorite country? That is usually the one I’m working on at the moment! I also greatly enjoy collecting and cataloging back-of-the-book (BOB) issues. These are the real work-horse stamps of any nation, often produced for very specific uses.
Some of the stamps in Deborah's collection
What membership services do you use the most?
I am an avid reader of The American Philatelist and look forward to receiving my copy each month. And while I do make reference to the online copies for research, I prefer to read each new copy in print. I also depend on APS social media reports for the latest philatelic news and have also had some very enjoyable shopping sprees in the Stamp Store. I often watch recorded StampChats at lunch (from YouTube) and have attended several online workshops or webinars. I know the APS had hoped to move the Summer Seminar to an in-person event this summer, but I am very excited about the decision to hold Summer Seminar online this year. I’ve signed up for the All-Access Pass. I can’t wait to explore all of the session courses and attend the featured speaker presentations!
What are you hoping to learn from being an APS member? Has your knowledge of the hobby changed since joining the APS?
The American Philatelic Association, like philately, is a big tent and there’s lots of room for all types of collectors. One of the reasons I love philately is that you are never done: there is always something more to learn, another area to collect. The opportunity to grow and evolve as member of the philatelic community is supported by the wide range of resources and services provided by the APS. I make a point to read every article in the AP, even for those areas that I don’t collect. Attending a StampChat about an area different from your own can be an excellent way to explore new areas of the hobby with a minimal time investment.
If you want to share your APS story, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.