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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Why millennials have fallen in love with stamp collecting?

Philately is gaining popularity with younger hobbyists, who are drawn to its vintage - and Instagram - appeal


It was once a byword for boring, but it seems stamp collecting is finding a new – young – audience, despite the fact that some hobbyists have never actually posted a letter.
Illustration from The Children’s Golden Treasure Book for 1937. Today people share their stamps via Twitter and Instagram. Photograph: Getty
Philately is gaining popularity among millennials, many of whom see the creative pursuit as an escape from their screen-based lives, says 37-year-old Suzanne Rae, from North Yorkshire.

“Philately is tangible: it’s relaxing and unplugged. It’s also very Instagrammable,” says Rae, who is only the second female chairman the Philatelic Traders Society has had in its 91-year history. “Twitter and Instagram enable young collectors to find people like them, and see that it’s not only a geeky old man’s pursuit.”

Rae gave up her job as a management consultant two years ago to make her hobby her business by starting an online stamp shop, Art Stamped. “We were one of the first stamp businesses using social media,” she says..

Nicholas Challinor-Halford, business manager at stamp auctioneer Harmers of London, believes that part of the millennial boom is the result of romantic notions of pre-digital life. “For Generation Y… [stamp] collecting is escapism with a nostalgic slant, giving collectors a physical link with the past.”

Sadie Medhurst, a 31-year-old fan, agrees: “Stamp collecting is presumed to be a solitary endeavour reserved for the older members of society, but this could not be further from the truth. Each stamp tells a story: I often like to think of the many hands they have passed through.”

Instagram stamp art by Suzanne Rae
Rae’s love of stamp collecting was instilled in her as a child, thanks to her grandparents.

“I grew up in Edinburgh where there was – and is – a stamp shop just around the corner,” Rae says. “I started off buying British stamps with my pocket money. As I travelled for work, I built up a Ghanian Gold Coast collection. More recently, though, I just collect what I like – stamps that tell stories or are graphically appealing.”

This feeling is echoed by 29-year-old Constanze Dennis, a senior auctioneer at Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions in London, who says stamp collecting ties together many elements she loves. “I have a scientific background, so the analytical side really appeals,” she says. “My personal philatelic interest is crash mail, envelopes salvaged from plane crashes. Definitely morbid but equally fascinating.”

One of the highlights of the stamp collectors’ calendar is the Stampex show, held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, north London every autumn. “There are lots of younger people there,” says Rae. “It’s not fuddy duddy; it’s engaging. You can … spend a lot of money but it’s a hobby you can enjoy inexpensively too.”

“From the outside looking in, stamp collecting makes no sense,” says 34-year-old collector James Leigh, who also works at stamp dealer John Curtin Ltd. “Why are people spending sometimes vast amounts of money on little bits of paper that look almost identical? [But] I find them utterly fascinating and I don’t care who knows it.”

“Stamp collecting is so much more than a hobby,” says Medhurst. “It’s a lifestyle, a community.” And, perhaps, the perfect salve for these constrained times.

Source: The Guardian

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