To kick off the Buyers Guide to building a stamp collection, the APS has found four experienced collectors to act as mentors to you, the readers of The American Philatelist. What follows is a series of advice – from lived experience – from collectors who have navigated the murky waters of building their own collections. Their successes and misfortunes are now yours to learn from.
My history with philately is different than most. First of all, I’m a woman, and I know times are changing, but it’s been a heavily male-oriented hobby. It’s common to hear that male collectors start out as young boys and put stamps in their albums, and then they get older... Well, as my late husband [Harvey Mirsky] said, he collected and then in high school he discovered girls and stopped collecting. He came back to it when he retired. That seems to be a pattern with a lot of philatelists. My story is much different because I didn’t collect anything as a child, and I had no interest in stamps. When Harvey went back to collecting, I was a supportive spouse and went to shows with him.
After Harvey died, I decided to sell his collection at auction. I also decided that I wanted to be in the hobby - and it is because of Harvey that I’m in the hobby today. I didn’t want to give up going to the shows and seeing our friends. It was really as much about the people as about the material. I took the money I got from the auction, and just went and bought what I liked... I didn’t know much about what I was doing.
What is in your collection?
I knew I wanted to collect something with stamps because I wanted color and I wanted design, because I come from a design background. I wanted postal history because I wasn’t technical enough to just study the stamp. I liked the history. So those interests narrowed it down.
I decided I would collect transatlantic mail, because I thought it was romantic. That is strictly the only reason. Sailing ships, immigration - it seemed very adventuresome and glamorous. No location was off-limits, I was interested in anything coming to or from the United States. As for specifics, I only collect adhesive stamped material. So that gave me the year to start, 1840. I have a beautiful cover with a penny black, one of two coming to the United States and that always starts my exhibit. And then I decided that I would end my collection with the UPU, in 1875, because that’s when everything got standardized and you have to end it somewhere.
This story is reprinted from the March 2021 Buyers Guide Issue of The American Philatelist. If you are interested in gaining access to members only benefits such as this highly acclaimed monthly magazine join the American Philatelic Society's Together We Grow page today!