May 17, 2013


I don't think I've suffered much (yet?) from any mid-life crisis but I do have a serious bout of mid-philately crisis at the moment! It all came about when this item fell on my doormat the other day:

Nice enough, I hear you think, this variety of imperf bottom edge. And it is, and I was very keen to bid on it and happy when I was successful. But now it is just one of the thirteen 10c items I own and when making the album page for it I suddenly wondered what the attraction of it was. Why on earth go hunting for so many items linked to just the one stamp? Why not save all that money and spend it on different stamps? Instead of getting a full set of these imperf proofs:

I could have been the proud owner of Switzerland SG1. Because, really, wouldn't it be much nicer to have a varied collection of all sorts of stamps rather than a super specialised collection based on a few?
Be honest, which of the two images attracts your eye? This one, where you need to be told what you're looking at 'cause they're both the same:

or this one where you can look at various stamps?

My great philatelic friend who used to work in the printing industry always argues against collecting errors and varieties anyway, dismissing most of it as printers' waste which should never have left the printing house and which therefore should not have a place in anyone's collection. He is still known for his great collections so he can't be all wrong.

And so I was worrying away the days and then I suddenly noticed that a similar topic is being discussed in this month's Soapbox in Stamp Magazine. Talking about coincidence! The author, Edward Vincent, advocates each specialist should have a general world collection on the side as well, albeit mainly as a vehicle to inspire future specialist collections.

I would take it one step further and argue it might be best to have a general world collection as a means in itself. Wouldn't it be fantastic to do away with all our specialist items and go for those old, classic items which seem out of reach, but only are so because we're constantly spending our budgets on varieties, errors and such stuff?

I know the philatelic world needs specialists, but wouldn't it be fair to say that most of us are mainly just messing about, and not really contributing anything really relevant to the 'philatelic book of knowledge'? I know I feel that way about my collecting habits. Indeed, I would probably not be writing this or anything at all if it hadn't been for my general all-world collection.

It's a huge step if you've been so used to concentrating on narrowing down your interests, but it might be a very rewarding and liberating move to go back to the roots of philately and actually start collecting stamps again, just like we all used to do when we were kids. I'm not sure if I'm really ready yet to take the plunge, but I'm sorely tempted!

What about you?

See yous later


  1. Thanks for saying that. As one who has recently started collecting again after years away, all I hear is that I must specialize, specialize, specialize. And while some areas interest me more than others, I do like to keep adding to my worldwide collection as well.

    1. At the end of the day, it's your collection. Do what you like.
      That's one of the things I love about this hobby.
      If you've recently come back to the hobby, you may find the specialism (and what it should be) grows on you in time.

  2. I tried to be a specialized collector once. I'm Dutch, so I have a large Netherlands & former colonies collection. I lived in Paris for a while where I started with engraved stamps from Gandon, and color variations of the French blanc series. This quickly moved to a whole country collection of France, which then moved on to their former colonies, protectorates and offices, and the countries they've become after independence.

    My wife is from Germany, so I'm doing that now. The Germans overprinted stamps from countries they occupied in WWII, so it's nice to have the original non-overprinted stamps as well. Other stamps from these occupied countries from that period are nice. Berlin, and east Germany led me into other east European countries very quickly.

    I work for an US company, and they're very close to South America. I sure like all American Bank Note Company printed stamps. Have you seen those recent Canadian stamps with whales and other animals? Maybe I should "specialize" in commonwealth next. I found a nice website on Machins and I bought some.

    I'm about to give up, and just buy what I think is pretty or interesting, which I'm afraid is just about anything. This included specialized collections when I run into them (and can afford them).

  3. Re May 19 comment: My sentiments exactly, I could have written that! There are just way too many interesting collecting fields in philately so why limit yourself to only one? Just go for it and get the most out of it.

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