Once upon a time, our favorite hobby was thought of as a solitary pursuit for the idiosyncratic, tucked away in an attic or basement room behind green eyeshades. Interaction with others of similar eccentricity was largely limited to local clubs and the occasional bourse, and only rarely did we have the opportunity to venture to an organized stamp show with exhibits. But in just a couple of decades, how the world has changed!
We have always had the philatelic press, and we still rely on our trusty periodicals, books and monographs, like The American Philatelist that you are reading now. But the Internet and the digital age have revolutionized philately. The sheer amount of information available to us has multiplied a hundredfold or more.
We still can find a small-scale sense of community in our local clubs, even though they have been grievously disrupted by the pandemic. St Louis, leading the way for shows, again has staged a successful show in March, and other large shows are re-appearing across America. Scientists appear to be in the process of winning the battle against COVID-19. We will soon have regular club meetings, and we will see our philatelic friends again. However, an unrecognized effect of this pandemic has been the acceleration of internationalization of our hobby. It has become so much easier to transmit information, including images and even our virtual presence.
We will soon have regular club meetings, and we will see our philatelic friends again. However, an unrecognized effect of this pandemic has been the acceleration of internationalization of our hobby. It has become so much easier to transmit information, including images and even our virtual presence.
When our shows include scholarly or entertaining presentations again, you may notice that an increasing number of presenters are from abroad. There is a huge upside to this phenomenon. Great philatelic scholars reside all around the planet, and if they are from a particular country which we choose to collect, they have an unparalleled advantage in doing research… they live there! Philately is globally pursued, but so many successful collections depend on knowledge that is, in essence, local.
Globalization has enormously affected the philatelic market. We can still find local or regional dealers, but through the internet, we have vastly expanded our ability to search for needed material. Not to mention, we are better able to find and connect with helpful individuals, often dealers or specialists, who can answer our questions and help us in buying or selling, or simply learning more about what we have and what we should look for. With a computer, we can find such people, local and worldwide, and we will have better collections for it.
You can use your globalized knowledge to your own advantage when you come to a show, refining your want list and recognizing material that will truly develop and fill in what you already have. Do not forget to consider going to shows as the pandemic (hopefully) fades away. Two good possibilities to consider: the Great American Stamp Show, to be held August 12 to 15th in Rosemont, in suburban Chicago, and the UN EXPO 2021, to be held October 29th to 31st at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, PA. Mark your calendars, good luck, and happy collecting!