"Time is the only true currency in life."
"Finance is the art of passing currency from hand to hand until it finally disappears."
Robert W. Sarnoff
"Where there's hope, there's fire."
Ok, maybe that last one is a mix-up of two common sayings but it will relate to today's blog eventually.
story began eight years ago when a multi-generational family stamp
collection was passed on to me. The four boxes full of stamps and albums
were reviewed and roughly sorted before going into a closet for further
storage. Two weeks ago, I was inspired to find a resolution to the
collection when I found myself with some downtime while awaiting a
business proposal response. It led to a personal detour into the world
of stamp collecting. I only emerged from my philatelic cocoon last
night at midnight and I thought I would share my thoughts from the
are a currency. Since 1840 when the first stamp was issued in Britain,
they have been a necessary expense to facilitate sending physical mail.
For most of the last 150 years, significant artistry and creativity has
been employed by over 200 countries to proudly design and sell an
incredible array of stamps. As a result, for most of the 20th century,
collecting, trading and selling mint and used stamps has become a
now the industry is slowly dying. The quality of modern stamps has been
decreasing for years. The prime mission of stamps is disappearing as
most correspondence now happens online. There aren't new collectors
coming into the philatelic world. There are even threats from
governments of removing the value from older stamps which would collapse
90% of what remains in the value of stamp collecting.
my case in order to find resolution for the stamp collection, I needed
to become better acquainted with the process of stamp collecting and its
dynamics. I threw myself into long days of familiarizing myself with
the routines of sorting, typing, displaying, researching and organizing a
collection. After it was presentable, I consulted a respected
collector, the largest stamp dealer on the west coast, and a noted stamp
auctioneer. Each echoed similar sentiments that in the current
environment if time and supplies were included, stamp collecting wasn't a
profitable venture except in high volume or very specialized
circumstances. One dealer shared his own personal history of developing a
collection over a couple decades that reached a peak value of $50,000
that today is valued at only $500 due to devaluation of stamps from
like a lottery perspective, the dream of finding that one lone $10,000
Haiti stamp or the $2.3 million 1855 Swedish Treskilling Yellow stamp
keeps many involved and active in the field. Personally, I enjoyed a
number of elements of working the 1880's to 1960's collection; the
historical appeal, the geographic appeal, the artistic appeal, and the
challenge of curation. I can see the reasons that relatives spent many
hours collecting during the last century. But in the current diminishing
stamp collecting environment, I could no longer justify the time if
there wasn't to be a significant monetary benefit. My time currency
outweighed the fading stamp currency. I have prepared the collection
and will submit it for a twice-yearly stamp auction this fall. The hope
of seeing that big payoff will now pass to that future winning bidder,
but I appreciated my brief but engrossingly intense look into the world
of specialized collecting.