January 20th, 2021

It’s a hobby, not an investment

By Submitted Article on February 1, 2020.

Walter Kerber


Over the last year or so, I have been emphasizing the fact that philatelists are involved in a hobby. We are collectors of curiosities of the world.

When a person hears of us, they wonder what we are and what exotic things are about. Stamps are nothing but tiny bits of paper that have works on art on one side and some sort of glue on the other. So what is it all about and why is the hobby dwindling?

Like most hobbies, there are certain facets of interest. Usually a hobby involves crafting and some artistic skills. Philately also has that facet, but the artistic component is usually in the stamp itself, with a little that involves the displaying of them. The work, artistry and history of postage stamps cannot be appreciated unless they are visibly displayed and looked at. Art must be appreciated. One of Canada’s famous artists once mentioned that a stamp collector can own a copy of one of his paintings for just a few cents, on a stamp.

But that is the beauty of it. You collect works of art from all over the world. Each stamp is an intricate engraving, painting, photograph and crazy design. Almost all are different. Each year we have thousands from around the world to choose from. They are all cheap, costing pennies. The time spent on this hobby is immense. The cost in this hobby is cheap. Anyone can do it. So why is it disappearing?

Many of us forget that we are in it for the fun and passion, but books, dealers and the internet are encouraging stamp collectors to get that stamp they have missing, at a price. Suddenly, the hobby gains immense value and we are no longer collectors, but investors. Where has the fun gone? That became apparent to me recently, while looking at a collection. This was put together as a lot of love for stamps, but is now in the relative’s hands. Who wants this labour of love?

The internet and cellphones are killing a beautiful hobby, since we don’t sent letters anymore. Letters were written well before the first stamp in 1840, and people around the world started to save those little bits of paper called stamps. Today no more letters with stamps are sent when you push “send” on your phone. Stamps on parcels have been replaced by a label, spit out of a printer with a series of numbers with no artistic appreciation. So as time goes and the hobby grows old, it will eventually die, just like us collectors.

We have collections. They all have collections. We all collect the same items, so who wants more of the same? It makes me sad to say that we don’t need more. I love stamps. I like going through them and sorting them, but I don’t need more than one of each.

We need something to love on Valentine’s Day. We love our wives, our friends and our stamps.

Walter Kerber is a long-time member of the Lethbridge Philatelic Society.

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