Lisa Berthin is a beginner philatelist hoping to learn more about stamps, grow her collection, and explore the world of philately. APS spoke to Lisa about her journey in stamp collecting so far and her future plans, both for her collection as well as for her YouTube channel.
Below is a transcript of the interview :
Hi everyone, I'm Lisa Berthin, the face behind the StampCat Stamps YouTube channel. Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview.
How did you become involved in philately and stamp collecting?
So I'm very much one of those "pandemic stamp collectors". I became avidly interested in stamp collecting at the beginning of this year in January 2021. My province Ontario here in Canada has been quoted to be the "lockdown capital of North America" so we have all been spending a lot of time at home and a lot of time just with our close families or in our family bubble. So one day during one of our lockdowns I went over to my parents house and they were in the process of renovating the office in our house because my dad was now working from home. So obviously they had all of the furniture from that room taken out and books all over the place, and at the top of one of the stacks of books was one of my dads old stamp albums. So I picked it up and just started having a look through it and I was really impressed by his collection. So my dad collects stamps on stamps as a topical, which I'm sure you know or you can infer are stamps that feature a picture of another stamp in the design. It was really neat to look at his collection and see the old stamp or the original stamp right next to the new stamp and think about all the years that had passed in between the two and the different topics that countires were chosing to highlight in these stamp issues. And then of course the art on the stamps was beautiful as well. I just felt like I was looking at a mini art gallery or a mini museum with so much beautiful information to be gained from the postage stamps. After looking through his collection I went home and was searching the house looking for any old letters or any old postcards trying to find any old stamps that I had. I tried researching the stamps a bit more and since then I've been actively collecting or actively trying to get as many stamps as I can for my collection.
Who inspired you to collect stamps?
From my previous answer you can probably guess that my dad is my biggest inspiration to start collecting stamps. It's been really fun to have someone to share the hobby with. Every time I go over to their house to visit he's always asking me have I bought any new stamps and he'll show me any stamps that he's bought recently. Any time that we give each other cards for birthdays there's always a little surprise inside. Here's my birthday card this year with a packet of stamps inside that he put in. I've also discovered that once you declare that you are collecting stamps everyone just starts trying to give you any stamps that they have. This happened to my dad too but on a bigger scale. He's inherited a lot of collections from late relatives and also friends of the family who might have inherited stamp collections but are not collectors. They will just give it to you if they find out that you're interested in stamp collecting. It's been really fun to spend time with him and look through a lot of the different albums that he's got, because often times he himself does not even know what exactly is in there, so we have had a lot of fun times together looking through his albums and discovering what's inside.
What are some of your favorite stamps that you have collected?
The stamps that I seem to be the most obsessed with are these Pikachu stamps from Japan. Pikachu is a Pokemon and I seem to be collecting these the same way some people collect machins or penny reds. Even though it's the exact same stamp, every time I see one for sale I just want to buy it. I love Pokemon, I played the games when I was a kid and it just brings back a lot of fun childhood memories for me and I collect a lot of other Pokemon stuff too: keychains, bags, the plush toys, you name it. I just really like collecting Pokemon stuff. Behind me you can also see there is a souvenir sheet, also issued by Japan, that I really enjoy. Besides those there's a lot of stamps that I do find really beautiful. I'm still not very discriminatory in my stamp collecting. I've had a lot of trouble narrowing it down to a focus. I still don't really know if there's a specific topical or country that I am aiming for. Right now I am just collecting stamps based on how they look. So if they look colorful, beautiful, interesting I'll just add them to the cart. But my favorite so far are the Pikachu stamps.
What inspired you to start a YouTube channel?
My inspiration for starting a stamp YouTube channel is Graham Beck from Exploring Stamps. I know he's been the inspiration for a lot of people to start stamp collecting, and also for some to start stamp YouTube channels, and I am definitley one of them. I enjoyed watching YouTube videos or vlogs on other topics before I was interested in stamp collecting, mostly travel vlogs or food review vlogs, like people trying out different foods from around the world. When I became interested in stamps I went to YouTube to see if there are any stamp vlogs or stamp YouTube channels, and there really wern't too many and the main one that was there was Exploring Stamps. I was just so impressed by his channel. It's amazing what he does, and especially the extreme philately where he would travel to the locations pictured on the stamps as a way to learn more about them, and just the amount of detail that he went into when he was researching the stamps. I just thought that was so cool and so amazing, and so I wanted to make a YouTube channel too.
What is your favorite stamp video that you have made so far?
My favorite stamp video so far is the video on the first stamps of Bangladesh. I like that video because I literally didn't know anything at all about the whole country of Bangladesh until I got these stamps and until I started researching. Bangladesh is a pretty new country, at least in my opinion. It achieved independence in 1971, so all of this information that I was learning felt pretty recent, like it was just within my parents lifetime, within one generation ago. I also thought the story was so cool about how these stamps that were cinderellas became their first official stamps, I think that's a pretty unique thing to happen. I've also been getting so much love from people from Bangladesh in the comments section of the video. They're really proud of their heritage and really excited about the video, so that video is definitley my favorite one that I have done so far.
Any advice for other stamp collectors or YouTubers just starting out?
Keep in mind I myself am still a really new collector and new stamp youtuber. My advice that I would give is this: if you're thinking about starting a channel or making a stamp video just go for it. You don't need anything special. You don't need a special camera, you don't need special software, you don't even need expensive stamps or anything like that. I 've watched and enjoyed stamp videos that were 20 seconds long, just showing like a stamp of the day type of thing, and I've watched and enjoyed stamp videos that were 20 minutes long that go into huge detail about the topic of the stamp, so there's no right or wrong way to do it. The other thing that I want to say is this is your hobby. As long as you are enjoying the process of collecting, learning and creating, that's literally the only thing that matters. So just go for it!
My advice for new collectors would be if you're just starting out and looking to increase your collection, see if you can connect with an older collector. I don't necessarily mean older in age, I mean somebody who has been collecting for a little bit longer (than you have). Often they will have a lot of duplicates or they might be starting to narrow their focus a little bit more and they might have extra stamps that don't fit into the topics that they've chosen to collect. So they can probably help get you started with giving you any extra stamps that they have. If you're really just new starting out and not picky about the stamps that you're getting you can go from having zero stamps to hundreds really quickly that way.
Who are some youtubers that you have worked with or want to work with in the future?
This is a really interesting question for me because as they say, "ask and you shall recieve". I have not yet worked with any stamp youtubers so far, but obviously I would love to work with the famous Exploring Stamps. Another YouTube chanel that I really enjoy is Richard Philatelist in the U.K. I like his channel because I feel like we both got started at the same time so it's been fun to keep an eye on his channel and see how it is growing as well. Another channel that I enjoy watching is Ted Talks Stamps. But really I would love to collaborate with anybody who has a stamp YouTube chnnel. I'm not sure what a collaboration would look like. It's definitley somethink interesting to think about. For example if we would do a chainmail thing like keep sending each other the same item and adding stamps to it from our country or if we would do a series on the same topic or same set of stamps, I'm not sure.There's a lot of really good ideas here and something to think about going forward for sure.
How do you see your channel evolving in the future?
I really just want to have more content to the channel. Right now I only have ten videos, I'm still slowly adding more and making progress. I can't wait to get to the point where I can actually have playlists of videos that are on the same topic or the same country instead of just having a bunch of scattered stand alone videos. Also I really want to do some extreme philately like how Graham does in Exploring Stamps where he actually visits the locations on the stamps. Hopefully I can do some more of that as things open up again and as the travel restrictions start to ease up. That's one thing that I'm hoping to do in the future for sure!
Aythig else that you want to add?
Here comes my mascot, he'll say hi. This is Elon, my stamp cat! He's not too happy to be picked up. Anyway I just really want to say thank you to the American Philatelic Society for contacting me to do this interview, I've had a lot of fun thinking about the questions. Also thank you to everybody who's visited my channel so far, especially if you've left a nice comment or an encouraging comment. I've been really impressed by how nice the people in the stamp collecting world are. Even though I consider myself really new and still an amateur everybody has just been really accepting and welcoming in the stamp collecting community, which I'll tell you is not usually how the comment section goes on YouTube videos, especially for a brand new amateur channel. I've been really thankful and impressed by all of the encouragement that I've gotten. I really look forward to interacting with some more of you if you visit the StampCat channel. I'm excited to see what the future has in store for my collection and for the channel. Thank you so much for having me, bye!
Make sure to check out Lisa's YouTube channel and follow her on Instagram and StampWorld.