If you ever have the opportunity to read stamp publications of, say, 100 years ago, there are dire predictions about the state of the hobby and how it’s dying. There are too many stamps to collect. There are too few young collectors interested in philately, and so forth. The letters to the editor you read today that contain similar predictions. They are not much different than they were 20, 50, or 100 years ago.
Don’t believe any of it. There is proof that the hobby is alive and well. And in my opinion, it’s growing.
Yes, I’ve been critical of some of my experiences on eBay. However, as of this writing, there are just over 800,000 US stamps listed on eBay. If you consider auctions only, there are just over 180,000 auctions. The other 600,000+ items are “Buy it Now” with a fixed price. Most auctions are for 7 days, so that means there are about 25,000 US items listed per day on eBay. True, not all of them are sold. But that is a lot of stamps and thousands of them are selling every day. Coupled with sales through ordinary stamp dealers like myself, there are an awful lot of stamps being sold every day.
And that is just US stamps. When you throw in the worldwide listings, it adds many thousands of more stamps.
Someone is buying all of those stamps! And it’s not a handful of philatelists with deep pockets that are buying all of them. There are many, many thousands of “stamp collectors” out there who are buying these items.
Not all of these buyers are members of a stamp club. Not all of these buyers subscribe to philatelic publications. Opinions may differ on the number of casual collectors – but there are a lot of people out there who collect stamps
One thing that I’ve come to realize over the years is that there is an enormous market of casual collectors.
Many of these casual collectors will go on for many years, buying and selling stamps that they like. They won’t subscribe to stamp publications, buy catalogs, or anything else. They’re happy and there is nothing wrong with that.
Some of the casual collectors may become interested in more valuable stamps, buy a catalog, belong to philatelic organizations, and read philatelic publications. That’s OK too. But organized philately is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Dying hobby? Sorry, I’m not convinced.