Good News for Stamp Collecting!A lot of good things are happening in and around philately. Some you may know about, others may have escaped your attention. What are they?
We are now only a year away from Washington 2006, an eight-day international stamp show that will take place in our nation's capital May 24 - June 3, 2006. The show will be the most significant philatelic event of the decade and you won't want to miss it!
Fun and educational events for youths and adults are being scheduled for every hour of every day, and if that wasn't enough, there will be 200 dealers from a dozen countries offering an astonishing array of stamps and covers in every price range. Many of the world's postal administrations will send representatives so that you can acquire new stamps and postmarks directly from the source.
The U.S. Postal Service has promised at least one first day of issue ceremony, and other countries will probably follow suit.
There will be nearly 4000 frames of competitive exhibits, allowing you the opportunity to see the best collections in the world. An additional 500 frames will be devoted to the Court of Honor where some of the world's rarest stamps will be shown.
A short Metro ride from the Washington Convention Center will take you to the Smithsonian Institutions' National Postal Museum that will be showing the blockbuster Miller Collection on loan from the New York Public Library. This is said to be one of the finest U.S. stamp collections ever assembled, and it has not been seen in a quarter of a century.
And let's not forget what a terrific city Washington is for all sorts of other interests and activities! Make your plans now to attend Washington 2006. Admission is free, but you should pre-register. Visit their website at Washington-2006.org or write Washington 2006, P.O. Box 2006, Ashburn, VA 20146-2006.
The National Postal Museum is generating a great deal of interest and positive publicity for stamps and postal history. Last year's controversial deaccession of surplus revenue stamps created a lot of "buzz" about collecting revenue stamps both within and outside the hobby. The showing of Queen Elizabeth's collection from Great Britain brought many new people into the museum and exposed them to the wonderful world of stamp collecting. Future philatelic exhibits will give stamp collectors the world over good reasons to return.
Les Winick of the Collectors Club of Chicago tells me that their "Ask Phil" website has received a quarter million "hits". This commercial-free site is a place where those who are interested in stamps can go to have questions answered and get instructions on how to form a stamp collection. There is a lot to like about this fine website, run as a service to the hobby at www.askphil.org.
Stamp dealers tell me that the market is strong. "Big ticket" items are selling for record prices, but surprisingly there always seems to be an abundance of inexpensive material available to keep those of us with more modest budgets happy.
Leaders from every segment of the hobby including the trade, collectors, and the Postal Service are meeting periodically to "shape the future of philately" and assure our hobby's growth and well-being. A meeting in March, held in the USPS Stamp Fulfillment Center in Kansas City commonly known to us as "The Cave," afforded me the rare treat of touring this 300,000 square feet facility. I marveled at the mechanization process that converts your order into a package containing the stamps, covers, and other related products delivered to you within days of placing your order.
The meeting itself was very productive and progress is being made. A Department of Education grant is being sought for an educational program that uses stamps and covers as instructional tools to teach history to middle school students. Nancy Clark is acting as project manager, and as I write this she is busy assembling a workable program that draws elements from several excellent and successful established youth programs including those developed by the APS, the Postal History Foundation, The American Stamp Dealers Association, Stamp Camp USA, and Fitch Middle School.
The second Shaping the Future of Philately initiative is a public relations campaign being spearheaded by Wade Saadi and Roger Brody, who have written a superb public relations plan that focuses on three key target groups: youth, younger adults ages 30-60, and senior citizens. When fully implemented this plan will introduce the benefits and joys of stamp collecting as an engrossing and enriching hobby to tens of thousands of potential new collectors.
Allen Kane of the National Postal Museum, Dave Failor of the U.S. Postal Service, and stamp dealer Irwin Weinberg are exploring the possibility of taking part of the NPM's collection "on the road" so that people in distant parts of American can see some of the fascinating stamps and covers from our national stamp collection.
Additional tactics are being added to strengthen stamp shows, and make better use of the Internet as a worldwide marketplace and a vehicle for education and promotion.
I recently read a new Philip Roth novel entitled The Plot Against America. The story features a young stamp collector as the main character and narrator. The story takes place in a pre-World War II America, with Charles Lindbergh defeating Franklin Roosevelt as President. I won't give the story away because you should read it, but the young boy's affection and enthusiasm for stamps is a refreshing change from the way stamp collectors are usually portrayed in books and films. Those of you with writing skills can help promote stamp collecting. Write an article about stamps for a non-philatelic newspaper, magazine, or journal. Local newspapers and "in-flight" magazines are always looking for interesting copy, and other special interest publications may be happy to have an article about their subject, whether it be pets, gardening, food, or furniture.
You may have read that the Smithsonian National History Museum is renovating and plans to remove the old log Headsville, West Virginia post office from its premises. The APS has initiated preliminary discussions with the National History Museum about the possibility of placing the Headsville Post Office on permanent loan to the APS at our headquarters in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. It is far too soon to speculate on whether we this will come about, but be assured that every effort is being made to craft the American Philatelic Center into a desirable destination for both collectors and historians.
Philately is a vibrant hobby and the APS is at the center of it. You can help the APS grow by recruiting a new member. Your friend will thank you and you will earn yourself a $5 reward. Help us grow.
Your suggestions, ideas, and comments are always appreciated. Contact me by mail at P.O. Box 250, Pleasant Plain, OH 45162 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.