Paul Golin has been a member of the APS for five years. You can find Paul on Twitter and Instagram as @JustAboutStamps. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife, two kids, and a turtle. APS reached out to Paul to learn more about his experience being a member of the APS and his plans for the future in the hobby.
What about APS made you want to join?
I don’t remember when I first heard about APS, but I joined once I decided to take my philately more seriously. I had collected stamps in fifth grade thanks to the encouragement of a favorite teacher on Staten Island named Mr. Dugan whose recent obituary mentioned how he’d turned generations of kids onto collecting. I set philately aside in junior high, but decades later, on a whim, I attended the 2016 World Stamp Show in NYC and was blown away. Once the pandemic hit, I stepped up my collecting exponentially—as I know many others did—and that’s when I joined APS.
What stamps do you collect?
I have way too many topical interests. I understand that “anything I think is cool” is not a category! At some point I’ll narrow it down. Some of my broad areas are pop-culture including sci-fi, comics, and music; history especially military history; art and architecture; planes, trains, and automobiles; and sports. Some of my more specific categories include turtles, maps, toys, and stamps-on-stamps. It’s mostly all modern stamps (because of money) but I have a growing love for old two-color stamps too.
Part of Paul's "Jewpanese" collection, which he describes below
My topical area that may be most unique is “Jewpanese,” the combination of Jewish and Japanese interests, as that is my household configuration and I’ve moderated Jewpanese.com for over a decade. I collect Jewpanese subjects such as Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who sacrificed his career to save thousands of Jews fleeing the Holocaust and who has since been honored on stamps by several countries. I also have a number of pretty covers that were mailed between Israel and Japan in the ’60s and ’70s. And this year I designed and serviced my first-ever First Day Cover, of the Shel Silverstein stamp, showing his book cover of “The Giving Tree” in both Hebrew and Japanese and mentioning the influential time he spent in Japan.
What services do you look forward to using/ what new services would you like to see?
I read each new American Philatelist magazine cover-to-cover and love having access to the back issues, though I’ll never catch up! I hope to attend another big stamp show, but the timing hasn’t worked yet—October in NJ looks promising. And I especially appreciate the generosity with which APS shares its platform with partner and affiliate organizations. Through APS, I’ve learned of and joined American Topical Association, the International Society for Japanese Philately, and the Judaica Thematic Society. The JTS in particular is a small but feisty group that Zooms once a week and is organized by a kind volunteer in Liverpool named Gary, who has patiently taught me so much.
While clubs around thematic subjects or countries make the most sense, I’m curious if there might be room for a generational approach, specifically for GenX. Millennials and GenZ have APS’s Young Stamp Collectors and Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship. And I love what those younger generations are bringing to the hobby, particularly on social media and YouTube. As for Baby Boomers, well, you have all the rest of APS! Once again, GenXers are the neglected latch-key kids. I know it can’t just be me and Scott English with grey in our beards yet still some hair color on our heads! I’d definitely get on Zoom with fellow GenXers to speculate about, I don’t know, what kind of stamps each member of “The Breakfast Club” would collect or why the USPS hasn’t honored Kurt Cobain yet.
Has your knowledge of the hobby changed since joining APS?
Before I joined APS, I had no idea just how specialized philatelists can get about what they collect, and I love the depth and infinite possibilities. I also really appreciate the relative lack of judgmentalism. It’s not just that there’s no one right way to collect; there’s no wrong way to collect! I don’t see flame wars about whether to exclusively collect old or new, whether to never touch “wallpaper” countries… the hobby seems very accepting about “whatever floats your boat.”
Anything else you would like to add?
My day job is in non-profit community organizing and years ago I was asked by a women’s professional advancement group to sign a pledge to never be a part of an all-male panel of speakers. I signed on, and it’s provided multiple opportunities for me to be a good feminist ally, by explaining to event organizers why I’m stepping off if they can’t add a woman panelist. As a program organizer myself, I now know to make sure every panel has at least gender diversity, though there are other diversities to encourage as well including racial, LGBTQ+ and disability inclusion. I’d love to see APS take that pledge. There are enough women experts for any topic discussed. Racial diversity on non-profit boards can be actively recruited for. It’s not just that younger generations prefer diversity; we won’t stick around if we don’t see our own diversities reflected back to us. Philately can be such a great barrier-breaker! I’d love to see the full potential realized of being a truly global community.