It has been said that stamp collecting is a hobby that lends itself well to being a solitary undertaking. I suppose that is correct if you tend to be a loner. If you want to approach stamp collecting basically alone, you’ll miss much of the fun and the knowledge that the hobby provides.
For one, if you were a member of the Kentucky Stamp Club here in Frankfort, you would see how other stamp collectors approach the hobby. Maybe some are topical collectors who collect subjects rather than countries.
Perhaps they collect specific countries or areas of the world. Many collect only the United States, a country with many beautiful and meaningful stamps that generally tell the history of the nation well.
Great Britain and its colonies have many fans among stamp collectors. It would be almost impossible today to collect all of this area, but with enough time and money, I suppose it could be done. You’d certainly have a superior collection, if you succeeded.
Here is where the advantage of membership in a stamp club begins to kick in. In a stamp club you see what others collect and how they collect it. You get ideas and most of all you get helpful advice from your fellow stamp collectors. Many members of the Kentucky Stamp Club help each other with everything from the procurement of the stamps to helping order supplies needed to put stamps in an album or other fitting display units.
Some of our members bring stamps and even supplies to meetings to sell. The degree to which members help each other would amaze you. It seems to go with the hobby and be unique to the hobby.
I say this remembering the almost un-believable help provided years ago to the noted British stamp dealer H. R. Harmer of London when a well-known established stamp dealer/collector, Hugh Barr of New York, made part of his stamp office available to Harmer.
Harmer had come to New York at the beginning of World War II and he added to the competition that Hugh Barr would encounter in the trade, yet he (Barr) was glad to help, hoping to further the stamp collecting hobby in the process.
Business rental property in New York City at this time was hard to come by particularly in the stamp district in and around Nassau Street, but then as today the dealers wanted as much as anyone and probably more than anyone to share and pass on the enjoyment of the hobby to others.
As a postscript to the help that stamp collectors and dealers give each other, I can tell you that in my past hobby, toy train collecting, no such degree of generosity exists.
The pictures with this month’s stamp column show members of the Kentucky Stamp Club enjoying the club activities during our July meeting. Regularly, members bring stamps and other stamp related materials to meetings and offer them for sale.
The club has a large stock of stamps that are offered for sale at meetings for a very nominal fee and you can see part of this activity in OUTSIDE EXCURSIONS
Another activity that members enjoy is an excursion to Louisville to one of Kentucky’s few stamp shops, Collectors Stamps, Ltd. on Dupont Circle in St. Matthews. We usually stop at a good restaurant on the way and then spend several hours looking at and buying from Collectors Stamp’s vast inventory.
Additionally, various groups will attend area stamp shows in Louisville, Indianapolis, Lexington and Cincinnati during the year. While the stamp show trips are outside of regular club meeting dates, the excursion to Louisville does take the place of a regular monthly meeting.
Occasionally, there are joint stamp club meetings, usually in Louisville, during which a major stamp collector comes in to show and talk about an area of interest that we would not usually hear about such as Hindenburg crash mail.
Several years ago Dr. Cheryl Ganz, Chief Curator of Philately at the National Postal Museum in Washington came to Louisville and gave such a program. We would not have had the opportunity to hear and see this great program had it not been for the area stamp clubs.
Another popular stamp club activity is auctions. In most of these auctions anyone can bid on stamp assortments, supplies, stamp literature, etc., but only members of the club holding the auction can sell. The Kentucky Stamp Club has a variation on this in that we draw numbers and let members and any guests select stamp collecting prizes.
At some point in the activity they can swap prizes and then the activity ends when everyone has had the chance to swap. In our club this is a very popular program/activity and it is run by longtime member and former club president, Ben Wise. No one is better than Ben at enlisting fun and enthusiasm during one of these auctions.
We welcome visitors to our meetings and the Aug. 11 meeting will give you a chance to see a stamp club in action. We’ll be meeting at Memorial Baptist Church, 130 Holmes St., at 2 p.m.