This winter, APS Development Assistant Erin Seamans spoke with the current fellows in the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship, Victor Livesay & Trevor Bills about their experiences during the past year and hopes for their fellowship in the near future. YPLF supports young philatelists, offers them unique opportunities to attend stamp shows across the country, and connects them with experienced mentors in the philatelic world.
Read the full interview below.
How have you stayed connected to philately during 2020/2021?
Trevor: Since school and many of my other obligations were canceled due to Covid restrictions and preventative measures put in place, I’ve had substantially more free time than usual. As a result, I was able to spend more time sorting through stamps, putting stamps in albums, and other things that I would otherwise have to put on hold until Summer when I usually don't have school. I was also able to attend many virtual events to listen to various philatelic speakers. Some of the virtual events I attended included the APS Summer Seminar and various speaking events hosted by The Collectors Club and the Penguins on Stamps Study Unit. I also enjoyed reading the APS magazine, American Philatelist. All in all, this year has been a very bizarre situation, but I was able to make the most of it.
Victor: During this time I've extended my knowledge through books and online research, attended a limited amount of stamp shows, and expanded my collection through online purchases. My main focus has been growing my eBay platform and profiting in that arena. The link to my eBay is https://www.ebay.com/usr/westohiophilamatics. I attended a couple of local shows in Cincinnati at the beginning of 2020, while more recently I have attended one of the only stamp shows during the pandemic in Hilliard to set up as a dealer.
How has the pandemic impacted your fellowship year (good or bad)?
T: So overall, I'd say that the fellowship year was negatively impacted by the whole pandemic situation, but there were some good things that came out of it too, like a bunch of virtual events, so we're able to do more than originally planned, although it is virtual.
V: The pandemic has greatly impacted my fellowship year for the worse because normal experiences have not happened this year during my fellowship. I haven't been able to meet with my mentor, peers, or other individuals related to the YPLF program since the national stamp show in Omaha in 2019.
Did you attend Virtual Stamp Show in 2020 or Summer Seminar 2020? What did you enjoy most/attend a specific featured speaker?
T: I did attend Virtual Stamp Show, and although I can't choose just one speaker as a favorite because they were all so interesting, I would say that my favorite part of the show was the sense of community. I also attended Summer Seminar and my favorite part was the presentation about postmarks. It was a very bizarre situation where we were all living through a major historical event, but we were able to come together (virtually) and kind of set aside reality for a little while and focus on the greatest hobby available- Philately.
V: Though I would've liked to, I did not attend the virtual stamp show in 2020 because I did not have the time to do so between work and college preparations. Just like the virtual stamp show, I was not able to attend the summer seminar because of the same reasons.
Are you excited to attend Summer Seminar 2021 and if so what are you looking forward to?
T: I'm definitely looking forward to Summer Seminar 2021, I think it'll be a great event and hopefully mark the transition from virtual events into in-person events that could hopefully start again in the Fall with the Great American StampShow.
V: I am excited to attend the upcoming summer seminar this year. I'm looking forward to getting involved with the research opportunities and speaker presentations. I hope I will be able to attend the seminar somehow since it is virtual this year as well.
Who is your mentor for your fellowship year and what have you learned so far from your mentor?
T: My mentor is Alex Gill, a YPLF Alumni and I have learned a lot about cachet design.
V: My mentor for my fellowship is the US Revenue stamp dealer, Richard Friedberg. I have mainly learned about Richard's experiences starting his stamp business, his business strategies, and his thoughts on the market.
What additions have you made to your collecting/collection this past year?
T: As far as additions to my collection go, I'm a big fan of buying bulk lots on eBay and sifting through them for hours, I never really know exactly what I want to buy so I just buy these grab bags and take the time to sort everything out and find cool stuff. Also, a lot of postcards and covers.
V: I have made plentiful additions to my collection of only Match Medicine stamps and U.S. Classics over the past year. My research has been on U.S. Classics from 1847 to the turn of the century. Mainly plate variations, type varieties, and general rarities of specific issues. I've also read into the market for Match Medicine Revenues over the past decades, the scarcities of different M&M issues, and the history behind the companies who designed the stamps that were issued in that era.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your YPLF experience?
T: Although it was a very strange situation and continues to be, Dr. Brachbill has remained on top of things and continued to work hard to help me and Victor, the other YPLF fellow in my class, continue to learn and explore philately in light of current circumstances, and I'm very appreciative of her efforts. I also think that the APS has done a great job of continuing to churn out issues of American Philatelist for people to read during times of social isolation, as well as hosting virtual events. I think that the adaptations that have been made demonstrate that the APS is committed to helping collectors even in bizarre times, and reflect the strong work ethic of the society.
V: My sole physical experience at Omaha in 2019 was fantastic and I hope that such events will reopen soon.