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Are You Serious?

Sometimes I see it in want ads: "SERIOUS collector desires to complete collection of Lower Apsland..."

Other times I see it in editorials, columns or articles: "I am a SERIOUS collector, and I think...."

What is a serious collector? When I see or hear the words I immediately envision a dour-faced person bent over an album, oblivious to his/her surroundings. But maybe serious doesn't necessarily mean a serious expression on one's face. Maybe it means serious study, effort, or single-mindedness. I wonder if I am a serious collector? And if I am, should I be concerned?

Recently I had a letter from my friend and fellow-APS member John Lievsay. He has been thinking about what makes a serious collector, too. He says that a serious collector:
  • Has equipment for the hobby that includes a magnifying glass up to 25x pocket microscope, tongs, watermark dish and fluid, perforation gauge, and perhaps an ultra-violet scanner.
  • When using an album, inserts extra pages for varieties and covers, some of which may not be in prime condition but are good for reference. Or, will make pages him/herself and insert them into transparent sleeves to display the material.
  • Promptly puts new acquisitions into albums, not envelopes or boxes. That includes taking items out of glassines or off auction lot pages.
  • Owns an standard catalog. May also own a specialty or foreign catalog, perhaps some handbooks or society publications for reference.
  • Belongs to the American Philatelic Society and probably to a specialty Society.
  • Subscribes to at least one other general publication such as Linn's.
  • Has a stamp purchase budget. These days a number in the range of $1000 - $2000 a year, including Internet purchases, will distinguish the casual accumulator from the more ambitious. Bids at auction sales and inspects lists of prices realized to get a sense of market movements.
  • Insures his/her material. For this purpose at least a summary of the holdings is required, but the thoughtful collector has kept a list (and where the material is located) for whomever is to handle the estate. Perhaps also there is a brief memo suggesting persons that might help with various parts of the property.
  • Has obtained expert certificates for the most valuable items in the collection.
  • Belongs to a local or regional stamp club, and attends meetings frequently. Volunteers to help when (if) the club puts on a show or has a social event.
  • Attends every year, health permitting, a national or local stamp show, and actually spends some time looking at exhibits, even material outside personal collecting interests. Of course he also spends some time and perhaps some money in the bourse.
  • Has a least one junior or adult collector friend to whom he/she has acted as mentor.
OK, maybe I am a serious collector. There is not a mention of a scowl anywhere in this description. Maybe a serious collector is all of the above and in addition knows that stamp collecting is a fun hobby to be enjoyed by oneself and shared with others.

Hence the purpose of this column. Stamp collecting is FUN. I sometimes think that we occasionally lose track of that and begin to take ourselves too seriously. When that happens, the hobby becomes less enjoyable. We make others around us miserable and we give philately a bad name. You can be a serious collector without taking yourself too seriously.

Washington 2006 International Show

Are you ready to have some serious fun? There is no better place to start than Washington 2006, an international show and THE philatelic event of the decade. It takes place May 27 through June 3, 2006 at the Washington, DC Convention Center. There will be meetings, seminars, post offices from all around the world, new stamps being issued at First Day of Issue ceremonies, youth programs, exhibits, demonstrations, and maybe best of all, a world marketplace of philately. For more information visit the website at washington-2006.org and begin planning your philatelic vacation.

Can you add to the list of qualifications that makes one a "serious" collector? Write to me at P.O. Box 250, Pleasant Plain, OH 45162 or e-mail me at tongajan@aol.com. I like hearing from APS members. Seriously!

Janet Klug
March, 2006

Published by permission. ©2006 Janet Klug

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