You meet a lot of different people in this hobby. Some good, some not so good. Here are some classifications that I’ve come up with for various people in our hobby. Many times a person will fall into more than one category.
Entrepreneurs are typically leaders. The words “You can’t do that” are not in their vocabulary. These people push the envelope. They’ll collect/exhibit stamps you’ve never heard of. They’ll advertise in publications outside of the regular philatelic space. They look for opportunities for improvement and take calculated risks. The hobby could use a few more people like this.
Unlike the entrepreneurs, leaders don’t have many original ideas. They are active people, but they only steer the ship in the straight and narrow direction. That’s fine sometimes. Sometimes it takes an entrepreneur to keep things going.
Figure heads have a title, but do nothing to contribute to the hobby. I’ve been involved with stamp clubs where you get a few officers whom you never hear from. These people are content to let someone else do the work. The fewer people we have like this, the better off the hobby is.
Enthusiasts love what they are doing. They can tell you stories about their collections. They speak volumes about how great it is to be a member of their club. They ooze joy from head to toe. These people are a pleasure to be around.
You hear from nay-sayers every once in a while. The USPS puts out too many issues. There is nothing to collect. The hobby is doomed. They never have suggestions on how to improve things. If you ask them to help out, they are too busy to get involved. I wish we could eliminate this group all together. There is an opportunity here though. The challenge is to open their eyes and show them that things aren’t as bad as they make it out to be.
Picky people are never satisfied with anything. The lighting at the show is too dim. The gum on that MNH stamp shows a crack only visible under 100x magnification. They find lots of things to complain about. They are like nay-sayers, but not as negative.
Closet collectors are very reclusive. These people generally don’t read hobby publications. Outside of the immediate family or a few close friends, no one knows that they even collect stamps. They tend to not join clubs. A few may venture out of the closet and actually buy stamps from dealers.
Pack rats save everything. Cupboards, closets, basements, attics – they are all packed with boxes of stamps. The pack rat may save everything, but they never seem to find the time to read the publications, mount those stamps, or anything else.
Accumulators are one level above a pack rat. These people save lots of stamps too. But they do make some progress towards forming a real collection, or at least the start of a collection.
The methodical collector checks their lists like clock work. They know exactly which stamps they have and which stamps they need. They can quote you catalog numbers. These busy beavers spend more time tracking their stamps than they do getting enjoyment out of the hobby.
Blow-hards are one step ahead of everyone else. If a new discovery is made, they knew about it last week. If you bought a rare stamp, they have 10 duplicates that are better quality than your copy. These people are annoying, but generally harmless.
Trophy-seekers exhibit not for the thrill of showing off their material and educating other collectors. At the national or international level, these people dump tons of cash into a collection and sometimes have someone else make up the exhibit for them because they are too busy doing something else. At the local stamp shows, they canvas the floor (or garbage cans) looking for discarded paper ballots so they can pad the ballot box and be voted most popular exhibit.
Mentors enjoy working with others, particularly new and/or young collectors to the hobby. They take time to answer the most novice questions and they do so with a smile on their face. They spend hours showing others how to use a stamp hinge, read a catalog, or explain how to identify certain stamps. They derive satisfaction out of teaching others. We need more mentors in the hobby.
Followers go with the pack. They stand back and see what everyone else is doing, and then they do the same. They collect the same stamps that everyone else collects. If there is a vote at the local stamp club, they are the last to cast their vote or express their opinion because they want to see what everyone else has to say first. They love consensus.
Helter-skelter types are like followers, but more erratic. They latch on to the latest fad or whatever is hot. If bicycle stamps from Yugoslavia are the rage, they are already looking for printed album pages. Next week they’ll be on to something new.
Experts study their stamps inside and out. They tend to pick one thing to collect or sometimes a few select areas to collect. They read books. They study their stamps. They know everything there is about the subject, and more. We had more of these kinds of people in the past, like Carroll Chase, Stanley Ashbrook, and Lester Brookman to name a few. We could use more like this today.
Know-it-alls are the expert on everything. Tell them the sky is blue and they’ll try to convince you that it’s purple. These people are like the blow-hards, except they can do damage by spreading wrong or incomplete information.
Unfortunately our hobby has a few thieves. Their purpose is to gain at someone else’s expense. They will pilfer material when no one is looking. They’ll accept payment for items and then never ship them. The faster we throw these bums out of the hobby, the better.
Last but not least is the run-of-the-mill collector. This is where most people fall. There isn’t anything remarkable to say about this group. They study their stamps. They enjoy the hobby. They may serve as officers in a club. They may write an article about their favorite topic or they’ll exhibit their collection. You see lots of these people.
Have I covered all of the bases? Any category that I forgot to mention? How many of these did you read and think, “Oh, that’s definitely so-and-so!” How do you think others would classify you?