Do you collect stamps
Stamp collecting - the hobby is alive
Deutsche Post's first vintage stamps came onto the market 70 years ago. Is the hunt for stamps only for the elderly today? A conversation with a passionate collector about a fascinating hobby.
Bonn / Stuttgart - Collecting stamps has a dusty image. Those familiar with the scene estimate the number of philetalists in Germany at one to two million, around 30,000 of whom are organized in a good 900 associations of the twelve regional associations of the Federation of German Philatelists (BDPh).
Steeply towering roof beams: The first two postage stamps of the Federal Republic show a topping-out ceremony for the opening of the Bundestag. They were published 70 years ago, on September 7th, 1949. Since then, hundreds of thousands of collectors in Germany have kept millions of postage stamps. Is it a dusty or even dying hobby today?
"It depends on whether you enjoy collecting"
We talked to Reinhard Küchler, passionate stamp collector and managing director of the Association of German Philatelists, about the fascination of collecting postage stamps and the future of philately - stamping.
Mr. Küchler, does the death of the valley ring for philately?
No, philately is alive. There are no thematic limits to collecting today. You can collect from your private and business inbox. You can buy it on Ebay and from retailers. In my opinion, there will always be stamp collecting. It just depends on whether you enjoy it.
Postage stamps are still something special among collectibles because they enable a special form of communication and learning. So I can learn about geography, people, flora and fauna by studying postage stamps. If I then get a letter to myself with a stamp from an exotic country, that's really great.
When you receive a letter like this, do you just cut out the stamp or do you archive the entire letter?
For God's sake, the full letter. My name is handwritten on the front, the sender on the back. There are three or four stamps on it, the stamp is even legible - something very beautiful. Such a letter is unique.
The combination of letter, postage stamp and postmark is what makes it so fascinating.
Exactly. For me it's not just the individual stamp. Other philatelists collect mint postage stamps or postcards that were sent from Stuttgart to America, for example. You can collect first day letters, last day letters or stamps from postal agencies. The imagination knows no limits. I doubt whether that represents a value that can be afforded a vacation. But philetalists enjoy it.
How many stamp collectors are there in Germany?
An estimated one to two million. But there are no reliable numbers or surveys. The Association of German Philatelists has less than 30,000 members in around 900 associations. The philatelic associations have the same problems as all associations: They no longer address young people that way.
Are stamp collectors particularly meticulous?
Meticulous sounds too negative. You should be meticulous and have a certain love for order.
Read here: Philately in Stuttgart - hunters and collectors of postage stamps
And are philatelists more introverted or communicative?
Club members in particular are more communicative people. It's about swapping, talking about it, giving lectures - about the northern German postal district 150 years ago. Collectors are eager to learn, have fun and want to pass on their knowledge. We have 150 working groups in our association. There are countless publications - including digital ones - on philately, newsletters, offprints, books. And an incredible amount is being written and published.
That doesn't sound like postage stamp customers are threatened with extinction.
It is not either. For the next 50 years, I'm not bothered about that at all.
How does a philatelic passion typically develop?
For me it was the case that I started collecting postage stamps when I was nine or ten years old. Then came the phase when football became more important. When I was earning my first own money after graduating, I started collecting again. Others take a longer break, first start a family, build a house and then start again at 40 or 50.
Postage stamps are often works of art in miniature format. Is that what makes it so fascinating?
Also. My personal fascination is the exotic. I was interested in geography at school and have been collecting postage stamps from the former Portuguese colonies since the late 1940s. I have eight albums and a bunch of unassorted stamps and receipts.
Read here: Associations - Stamp collectors are rare
Is it still worth investing in stamps as an investment today?
If you know your way around and have special old Germany postage stamps, for example, you can earn money with it. If I went out with my Angola collection, I would only get a weary smile at auctions. That has no commercial value and is just a hobby that calms down and decelerates. If I can buy a letter from Angola for three euros, I'm happy like a snow king.
Reinhard Küchler, born in 1960, is a trained editor. Since 2017 he has been the managing director of the Association of German Philatelists in Bonn and a member of the Federal Working Group on Portugal and Former Colonies.
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