The digital age is messing with one of the world’s most popular hobbies: philately, the study and collecting of postage stamps.
“It’s been very damaging,” said Bernd Frazier, president of the Wichita Stamp Club.
American collections once lovingly handed from one generation to the next are being sold or given away, Frazier said.
Not as many letters are being written.
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Not as many stamps are issued.
But the hobby itself, Frazier said, is still one that teaches and is pleasurable.
The Cessna Stamp and Coin Show drew about 500 people this weekend to the Cessna Activity Center at 2744 George Washington Blvd., where the average age was 60 and older. The show ended Sunday.
“I started collecting when I was a child,” said Wichitan Neal Danielson, age 77.
The stamps simply fascinated him.
“They came on letters from relatives and it was something to know about them,” he said. “In those days you would get letters with stamps such as Washington and Lincoln on them.”
Most often family members sell or give the stamp collections away, Frazier said.
They visit the www.wichitastampclub.org website to contact him.
“In most cases, the collections probably don’t have much worth,” he said. “We did one gentleman’s collection that had sizeable holdings and the retail value was in the thousands.”
One collection will be auctioned at an upcoming club meeting.
Ralph Lott, who has organized the annual show since 1977, showed his collection which featured letters – some before stamps were issued in 1847; some when Kansas was still a territory, from 1854 to 1861 – and one from when Fort Leavenworth was still a cantonment.
“This is the history of Kansas,” Lott said. “Only 31 still survive and 14 are in the Kansas State Historical Society’s collections.”
One was sent to the Pottawatomie Baptist Mission, the address was “west of Missouri State.”
In more recent years, some of the more favorite stamps issued was a series in 1994 called, Legends of the West.
The series featured 16 individuals such as “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Jim Bridger, Annie Oakley, Kit Carson and others. But the series of stamps had to be recalled and celebrations postponed when it was discovered that the stamp honoring Bill Pickett was incorrect.
“I got a couple of them,” Danielson said.
“I stumbled onto one at the flea market,” Frazier said.
Internationally, some stamp collections are taking off, Lott said.
“It’s going great in China,” he said. “They have people emerging who have money and pride in their country. Collections are growing in other parts of the world.”